Susan Morrison: Game of Thrones takes lead from Scottish history

THERE is a thing on the telly that every one seems to be watching, it's called Game Of Thrones. I've not managed to catch it, but I am reliably informed that it involves murder on a colossal scale, dragons and copious amounts of naked ladies.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 5th July 2016, 11:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th July 2016, 12:41 pm
James III of Scotland
James III of Scotland

The writer, George RR Martin, would seem to owe a debt to our aristocracy’s violent history, where the Scottish court was a dangerous place for the ambitious career climber. Scotland’s greasy pole was slippery with rivals’ blood.

To borrow a phrase beloved of the Mafia, assassination was just business, nothing personal. Murder was looked on as a sort of career development plan.

Being royal didn’t really help. Leadership style issues could generate unrest in middle management, which could lead to James I having an unfortunate incident in a sewer or Lord Darnley being strangled and blown sky-high.

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Sometimes the Stuarts cut out the murder route altogether. They had a pretty poor health and safety record, James II blew himself up up with his own cannon, James III and IV got hacked to bits in battle and James V packed it all in with a weary sigh.

Just as an aside, did no-one in our royal history suggest a re-branding of our king, since clearly the James moniker wasn’t particularly lucky?

Mary Queen of Scots and Charles I both dodged the James bullet, but they still managed to get beheaded, although we outsourced that to our southern cousins.

For a very long time, we had a king-shaped hole in our national life. We also had a population largely under the age of 40, awash with alcohol and with massive anger management issues - looking at you, Earls of Bothwell.

Our power-hungry nobles fought over the throne for centuries, and it was rarely pretty.

A wild night out for the Scottish nobility could involve a bulls head being chucked on the table, guests getting hurled out of windows or claimants to the throne ending the evening locked in dark dungeons and subsequently starved to death.

We think we’re pushing the boat out with a touch of frantic dancing and a blast on the karaoke.

Posh people having succession battles could be a bloody business, as the Tories are discovering.

Meet the modern Westminster Macbeths

Who could possibly have seen Gove, the upstart from The North, suddenly transform into the Macbeth of Westminster politics? Mrs Gove becoming Lady McB, wielding an email in place of a dagger before her?

Posh boy Boris felled, the knife sticking out from between those beefy shoulder blades?

And all the time, pale and wanly loitering, David Cameron, the Banquo of the piece.

There are times when I felt like whistling up the popcorn and pulling up a deckchair, this makes Game Of Thrones look like a Year 2 Nativity Play, but without the dragons, of course.

While we’re on the subject, no naked ladies, please.

I am so sorry. Theresa May suddenly fielding a press conference in nowt but her birthday suit is an image I’ve put in your head, and there’s nothing I can do to take it away.

The fury but not the sound

I finally got around to watching the latest film version of MacBeth.

There’s enough blood-splatter and gore to keep a Bothwell happy, then three witches appear, doing a spot of shrieking on the moor. They take a break to shout helpful career suggestions at Macbeth.

I assume MacBeth heeds this advice because they’re just about the only characters in the whole film you can actually hear. Everyone else, with the honourable exception of the mighty David Hayman (pictured) mumbles into their beards. Even the women.

It’s not just MacBeth. I’ve lost count of the number of TV programmes where the remote gets wielded like a light sabre, always on hand to turn the volume up on the drama, but, by jings, be ready for sharpish manoeuvres when the adverts come on.

You bet they’ve deployed every trick of the sound engineers arsenal to make sure you can hear every single word.

You can’t have too many queens

Ah, no fears of sewers, exploding cannon or battlefield gore for the present queen.

Indeed, what a relief it must be for her to open the Scottish Parliament. None of that driving about in the Irish state coach, waving at over-excited tourists for us.

Here in Edinburgh, it’s just a quick pop across the road, shake hands with Nicola and then off for a nice fish tea somewhere.

Of course, this year, Edinburgh really pulled it out of the sequinned clutch bag and held the State Opening on the same day as the Pride March. Edinburgh was awash with Queens.

Next year, let’s go one further and have Liz as March Mascot and send the greatest drag queen in Scotland to open Parliament.