The Great Conflagration…
…continues apace on our foolish planet. But what would you save from the flames? Colin Montgomery is about to grill you
First up, a confession. Actually, it’s not really a ‘confession’ in the strictest sense of the word. For a start, I don’t want to go within 10ft of a priest, let alone blabber insincere guilt through a grille to one. Plus, irreligious sect-baiting aside (NB. I cannae be doing with any flavour of God, but respect your right to indulge them), you have to be confounding or surprising folks to make a confession.
And this following statement is about as unexpected as a last-minute penalty for Rangers in a friendly against the Knights of Saint Columba Reserves. So, to the ‘confession’…
I’m no eco-warrior. No green fan boy. No tree waver, smiler or winker me… let alone tree hugger. Anyone who knows me will attest to that. You won’t find me out there bringing traffic to a standstill with a sit-down and some placards. That said, in Edinburgh, we have temporary traffic lights to do that job; The Mail, aka the Daily Heil, will be declaring them ‘woke‘ soon enough. But even this chippy old misanthrope, who still tootles around in his ageing Seat, can see that the planet is on fire. That’s old news. A done deal. A dead cert.
‘Dead’ being the word of course. I mean the planet will go on. But the species won’t. Not at this rate. I don’t want to go all Private Fraser, but we really are doomed folks, and no amount of me clattering last week’s wine ration into a bottle bank is going to change that.
Sorry for the pessimism. But fundamentally, much is the same with the capitalist system that is now eating itself, we require root and branch change, total recalibration, and a great reckoning for corrupt, avaricious and destructive corporatism. Which I can’t see happening.
Not because I don’t believe in it incidentally. Oh no, I’d love it to happen. But the same folks that bemoan their lot, their crumbling public services, their increasing impoverishment, their festering resentment, and the parlous state of their lives in every regard will – if the last few years are anything to go by – be duped by the grotesque lies, hate and fear-mongering distortion of huckster populist puppets into negating their own interests while shoring up those of others. Denis Healy’s pips are being squeezed. But it’s not the rich that are squeaking.
Fast forward then to the bonfire of all of our vanities. And we’re not talking a cheery hearth with some smouldering chestnuts and a mulled lager… oh no, this is a gas mark gazillion, pit of Hades, ‘ouch there goes my face’ kind of deal. All-consuming in other words.
But ah… is it ‘all’? For, in this parlour game we are about to play while the flames creep ever higher, I wonder, what would you save from the flames? Not the most light-hearted enquiry, I know. But aye, what’s on your ‘To Save’ list as you barrel in with a damp towel over your heid?
I’ll fire in first (pun not so much intended, as registered four years in advance with the British Pun Board). My wee list of stuff I deem too important to be burnt to a crisp. But before I reveal all, a quick note on rules of this idiocy: I’m not talking loved ones and pets and stuff. They’re a given – well for most folks they are.
Unless you have a heavily insured pet that you’ve been trying to bump off. Which is unlikely. And just plain evil. So yes, we’re talking experiences, memories, a feeling, a taste, a cherished sex toy perhaps. It’s all up for grabs.
Who doesn’t love a good sports jacket? I’m very partial. Indeed, I snaffled two beautifully checked Crombie numbers for the paltry sum of twenty sheets from an unsuspecting charity shop yonks ago – the shame of it! A rough approximation of the Daks classics sported by old Arthur when he fronted up Scotsport back in the day. Circa late 70s. Well worth a singeing.
Davie Cooper’s Drybrough Cup goal V Celtic
Another sport-themed ‘save’. Not literally; the keeper didn’t stand a chance. Cooper was a man with a wand for a left foot. And this goal was pure magic. It was captured on some shonky pitch-side camera, that grainy footage from a sun-bleached Hampden is nothing short of freeform football jazz. Go YouTube it. It was the day ‘Worldies’ were invented.
Mince and Tatties (nae carrots, made with OXO)
Over-consumption of beef is one of the reasons we’re all headed for a good roasting, right? My game, my rules. And I say that homemade mince and tatties, with the beef bought from Wright Bros the Butcher in the Village, East Kilbride, minced twice, and steeped in stock made from two cubes of OXO is so profound a memory that it should avoid cremation.
Jeff Buckley, Live at the Belle Angele, August 1994
The gig nonpareil. Watching the late Jeff Buckley and his band play their debut album, Grace, song for song, at a smoky, sparsely attended Belle Angele on my birthday. By Christ, it was as near to spiritual as I’ve ever been at any live performance. The note he held on Hallelujah, for a week, was fittingly angelic at the Angele. And no diabolical fire shall ever have it.
Frans Hals’ Laughing Cavalier, 1624, oil on canvas
Finally, to make up this first five, one of the most astonishing portraits ever painted. Hals painted this exuberant gent in his finery, with such brio, such vivacity, and such vitality, that, should you see it in the flesh (at the Wallace Collection – I highly recommend it), you think he’ll lean over and tell you a joke. Maybe about our foolish species as we watch it all burn… ■