Here’s a deep dark secret I have hidden for a long time. I realise that this may mean I have to hand in my jotters as a Scot.
I shall probably be forced into exile and go live somewhere like Berkhamsted, which is one of those places I suspect doesn’t really exist, like a sort of English Brigadoon, where the village only comes to life once a year, and then it’s to complain to the council about the state of the roads.
This terrible admission could lead to me being piped to the border and ceremoniously booted over by the First Minister, but I have to confess that I do not actually like Irn-Bru.
There. I’ve said it.
I hasten to add I harbour no ill wishes towards the beverage, nor do I bear ill feeling towards our fizzy drinks barons, the Barrs, who, along with the Tunnocks and the Baxters, form a sort of trinity of calorie peddlers keeping Scots fat and happy, and their families rich.
No, sorry, I’m standing by this decision. It’s taken me years to admit it, but Irn-Bru is just not for me. I think it’s the colour. And the taste. Never drink something you can’t identify, that’s always been my watch word for beverages. And never drink something that can stain your favourite shirt if you snotter it out of your nose because you’re trying not to laugh at Billy McQuade trying to chat up Angela Miller at the sixth-year disco. Cheesecloth that blouse was. Never could get the stains out.
Even the fact that the government has forced them to cut the sugar in Scotland’s other national drink fails to redeem it in my eyes. I imagine it was Nicola, wasn’t it? (Editor’s note: the sugar tax, which prompted the recipe change, was actually introduced by George Osborne when he was Chancellor). I can just see her picking up the phone and rapping out her commands to a reclusive millionaire lurking in a lochside baronial pile. “Cut the sugar, Barr, or I’ll send in Shona Robison to talk to you in a concerned manner.”
As ever when someone tells them what to do or, worse, takes something away from them for their own good, the Scots rose in rebellion and started rattling sabres. Petitions were signed, online campaigns started, and boycotts threatened.
And, of course, just like the smoking ban, once the sugar cut came into effect, it made not one jot of difference. Barrs have just announced that their sales have remained buoyant despite meddling in the sacred recipe. People just shrugged, bought their bevvy and added extra sugar.
I’ll bet Nicola (Editor’s note: or maybe someone else?) has teacakes in her sights next, in which case I would be forced to man the barricades. Nobody, but nobody, messes with the Tunnocks teacake. Not on my watch.
Is Irn Bru even a hangover cure? I’m not even sure that Irn Bru cures hangovers, an ironic claim for a drink that got an early career boost as a temperance drink.
The biggest societies of Glasgow looked benevolently upon the Bru because unlike ginger beer, there was no taint of alcohol, not even in the name. I know this because my granny told me. She was a dragon of the Church of Scotland and a high priestess of the Band of Hope.
She made me sign the pledge to reject the Demon Drink for ten years. I was five at the time.
Held the pledge, though. Just.
Scottish dynasties’ global mission The Barrs, the Tunnocks and the Baxters got their wealth by feeding us sugary drinks, chocolate-covered caramel logs and oxtail soup.
None of this shady property sharking and arms dealing malarkey for our millionaire dynasties, no sirree. Why bother with a volatile property portfolio when you can increase your wealth by exponentially expanding the waistline of the world?
Admittedly you’d have to down quite a lot of oxtail before it significantly raised your BMI. When I was a kid, I used to wonder that they did with the rest of the ox.