Susan Morrison: Scots like a name to conjure with

SO it's to be RRS Sir David Attenborough, then, is it? Ah well, the dream of Boaty McBoatface was glorious, just for a moment.

Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 10:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 11:57 am
RSS Boaty McBoatface aka RSS Sir David Attenborough. Picture: NERC/PA Wire

Apparently, they are planning to name one of the research minisubs Boaty, although really it should be Subby McSubface, I guess.

It shows how little the big brains in science, and the tiny brains in politics, know of the Great Unwashed. The opportunity to name a big shiny ship that looks alarmingly like a sea-going branch of McDonald’s would always stoke our national inner imp and it could only end one way.

Let’s face it, we are an impish lot. It’s one of those things that we have in common with all the corners of the UK, aside from that bit around Westminster, that is, where the humourless Captain Mainwaring at Number Ten and his little sidekick live. Why, even our home-grown Tory leader seems far jollier than the southern brand.

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Of course we were going to go for the ho-ho option. There is nothing nicer than a bit of pomposity pricking, is there not?

Here in Scotland, back in the days when Donald Dewar stalked the land, we were invited to name the office of our political leader. It was a darned close thing, but I recall Grand Clanjamferie just edged out High Heid Yin. The politicos thought better of it and went for First Minister, which I think rather dull. Ah, to hear Nicola introduced as She Who Must Be Obeyed.

It’s the streak of impishness that causes the Scots to nickname anything, whether its Hurricane Bawbag or a big shiny hospital named after the Queen, which suddenly transformed into, amongst other things, The Death Star, or to earnestly campaign to have the new bridge over the Forth named Kevin.

It might be all well and grand for our American cousins to name their space missions with titles dripping with antiquity, such as Apollo, Odyssey or Saturn, but you can bet your bottom dollar that had Dan Dare really made it beyond Earth’s orbit, there would have been a rancorous Scot lurking in the engineering division that would have referred to him as “Poshy McPoshvoice, jumped up Space Driver”.

Let’s laminate David to keep him forever

Mind you, the Boaty McBoatface folk should cheer up. It accidentally became the greatest engagement exercise science has carried out in years. Now we all know we’re going to have a research ship, which to be honest, most of us were blissfully unaware of.

And it is right and proper that Sir David Attenborough should be honoured in such a way. He’s a wonderful human being, one of those people you want to have laminated or somehow protected so that we can keep him and his wisdom forever, particularly given the Grim Reaper’s energetic work this year so


Election flyers are pet hate in my household

Is the election over? Is it safe to come out now? It’s been unrelenting, and my poor letterbox is about to wear out. We have to rush to the mat to pick up the post, since our old Burmese boy Sully has taken to registering his disapproval of post by peeing all over it if we don’t get there sharpish.

Ah, should explain, Sully is a cat.

In the final days of the campaign he seemed to make his wishes known. He seriously did not like the solo Lib Dem effort. He gave it a right old mauling and then liberally watered it. He carried the Tory flyer all the way to the litter tray and buried it. He basically ignored Labour, then chewed Nicola’s face. I should point out that’s a sign of affection.

I’m thinking of starting a campaign to allow pets to vote. Paws for Parliament. Might catch on, till someone renames it Petty Politicians, I guess.

Whisky branding is a no-brainer

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to meet with a gentleman who made fine whisky in Fort William. The distillery is owned by the Japanese and they are doing a roaring trade exporting excellent malts to China, which has suddenly discovered the golden glow of a smooth dram is an extraordinarily good way to fire up the brain.

Jings, you don’t think we, the Scots, came up with telephones, penicillin, and oh, everything else by drinking low-sodium mineral water, do you?

Every now and then they launch a new whisky onto the Chinese market. The name, of course, must be registered here with the Scotch Whisky Association, and the marvellous man of Fort William was responsible for registering that name.

It was with much regret that he had to report back to his friends in the Japanese marketing department that the SWA would not countenance the name “Big Brain” for their newest brand.

We may know that whisky unleashes the creative juices, but we can’t really back it up on a label. Good nickname, though...