Gary Johnston


A former BBC Scotland comedy writer, Gary has lived in Australia for over 10 years, working as a fruit picker, nightclub bouncer, waiter and then, somewhat bizarrely, a probation officer in the town of Nimbin: Australia’s Marijuana Capital. He currently teaches English and Drama at a secondary school in the mountains of Victoria. His hobbies are various outdoor pursuits, playing guitar and observing Scotland from a distance. Gary’s latest “project” is a Clydesdale/Appaloosa foal he’s named Hugh in the hope that the local horse breeding society won’t realise the significance of its second name being Jarse.

You can follow Gary on Twitter @gjp3003


  • One such fear is that on which the criminal justice system is based. And, like most fears, it’s not entirely rational.

    I’m talking of course about the myth that any infraction of the law can and very well might result in long term incarceration in a grey-walled, spartan prison cell. Then, once ensconced in this sorry hell-hole, you’ll be immediately two-ed up with a large, unfeeling beast who goes by the name of Big Bubba and personally organises an extreme, violating, 'welcome to chokey' party that you’ll never forget.

  • Through a combination of shrewd tactical know-how, ruthless flint-faced calculation and incredible self-belief, he came to be acknowledged, with all respect, as The Godfather.

    But to everyone else, he is simply, Fergie.

    Born and raised in the bucolic village of Govan, where a pastoral, sleepy setting camouflaged an underbelly of inherent corruption and wrongdoing, the young Don Fergie instinctively appreciated how self-respect, hard work and, most of all, loyalty to the family could lead to success and fulfilment. 

  • And he doesn’t even have a nice personality.

    I say 'he' because I’ve always seen Mr Booze as a particularly masculine sort of substance.  Oh, I know it can turn women mental too – believe me I know – but nevertheless, there’s something essentially mannish about The Swally. 

    Not very subtle.  A bit brutish, sometimes.  Not easily given to compromise, but, in the right circumstances and controlled quantities, not a bad bloke really. 

  • Having lived in New Zealand for a couple of years, I generally find your average Kiwi to be amazingly Scot-like in his demeanour and mien – a bit dour and remote until you got to know him, but then funny, engaging, loyal and fiercely patriotic.

    That initial crabbiness could well be - like ours - a result of having a larger, more confident nation as neighbours (in their case Australia, in ours, of course, Wales), a neighbour what’s more, who constantly delights in making cheap stereotypical jokes at the expense of the poor old put upon Kiwi or Scot.

  • ‘You’re not being censured for going to the funeral’, said the chairman of the disciplinary committee convened to chastise the hapless miscreant.  ‘You’re being censured for not dancing on the grave’.

    As news of Mrs Thatcher’s demise found its way to Australia, with clips of suspiciously-too-young-to-remember-her post-punks dancing Highland flings in George Square appearing on telly a lot more often than any reverential tributes did, I felt a bit like the Wee Free man at the funeral mass. 

  • Dean Martin’s famous Neapolitan ditty used to comprise more flattering lyrics when he was a Celtic favourite, but right at the moment your man Paolo is proving himself to be – yet again – a football  controversy magnet.

    As everybody knows, Di Canio is currently dodging the flack after he professed an abiding affiliation with a secretive, undemocratic, malign organisation of yesteryear. 

    And what’s more, as well as being an alleged champion of the Knights of St Columba, it seems he’s a fascist as well.

  • What’s more, I’m not alone.  Recent statistics have revealed that a staggering 60% of British emigrants to Oz return to the old country within 5 years. 

    The reasons for the change in mind?  Well naturally they’re many and varied but a major justification is – and frankly this is hard for me to fathom – rubbish Australian television.

  • Call me cynical, but I suspect they asked me because every other bloke they approached suddenly became unavailable, in the anticipation of being personally held accountable for every nefarious act perpetrated by men stretching way back to the mists of time.

    Maybe even as far back as when it was considered acceptable to bash the missus over the head with a blunt instrument prior to dragging her into your cave and forcing her to rustle up a some dinosaur casserole. 

  • Aye, it’s being so cheerful ….

    The calendar doesn’t tell the full story however.  To fully appreciate the passage and for that matter ravages of time, nothing quite beats the moment when you inadvertently catch a glimpse of your reflection in a shop window. 

    ‘Blimey, who’s that miserable looking old git?’, you instinctively ponder before harsh reality kicks in and you realise that the vaguely familiar aged misery-guts in question is, in fact,  you.

  • Reading this on a typically grim Scottish February day you might feel in desperate need of some dazzling down-under therapeutic summer warmth, but before you think about selling the family car, boarding out the kids, (or vice versa),  and signing the emigration papers, you should consider some of the less alluring elements of life in the Land of Oz.

  • Fair enough, it wasn’t an open invitation to do as you pleased; innkeepers and publicans in exotic locales didn’t actually invite you to marry their daughters and covet their oxen, but we were certainly better regarded than some other nationalities I could mention.

    Like, for instance, off the top of my head,  the English, who, in my experience at any rate, were often regarded as haughty, pompous and self-regarding. 

  • As Scots we’re used to disappointment. Some might even say we like it that way. Saves time later on.

    Inside the Rod Laver Arena, you can tell which particular members of the Murray Mob are truly genuine Scots.

    The ones who, like me and my posse, don’t really expect the Big Man to win.

    Years ago, during the World Cup of 1982, me and a bunch of mates were at the Brazil game - famous for David Neary’s “toe-poke” goal.

  • The Big Man needs a test.

    That’s the unanimous verdict of the wee group of people I’ve been watching the tennis with. We’ve bonded, the same way you do with those people you sit next to at the football.

    There’s me and Billy ‘Mr Zydeco’ Abbott of course, his daughter Nina Simone, Dave the Scot, Beryl the delectable Kiwi, Alan fae Dufftown, and Ped who won’t give me his full name because, as he says: ‘I’ve got more warrants out for me than ‘Bible John’.

  • ‘You know what’s it like when you’re fighting a wee skinny guy in the National Health glasses’? says my mate Billy Abbott high up in the stand at Hisense Arena. ‘You take it easy.  It’s almost impossible to go completely radge.  You feel kind of sorry for him…’

  • It’s not easy to tell which of the two players on the court at Rod Laver Arena looks the most Scottish but Big Andy’s opponent, Ricardas Berankis, just shades it.

    Oh Andy looks pretty Scottish, we know that, the ginger hair being a bit of a giveaway but Ricardas, from Lithuania, reminds you of a certain kind of Scot.

    A Ned, to be honest.  A wee Schemie.

  • It’s 41C.  That’s 106F in the old money. You could fry an egg on the pavement outside Hisense Arena except you’d probably burn it.

    Hot.  And humid.  ‘Okay if you’re with a women, not so good at the tennis’, as Robin Williams nearly said in the film Good Morning Vietnam.  

  • Like every sporting event, it’s different when you’re actually there.

    As Andy Murray strides on to the Rod Laver Arena, in glorious Melbourne morning sunshine, it’s simply impossible not to feel proud.  

    And yes, I admit it, patriotic.  He’s Oor Boy.  And he’s a superstar.  

    Thanks to a Facebook spoof which portrayed him as Mick Dundee, Andy, now known locally as Crocodile Dunblane, is absolute top drawer.  Pure class.

  • It’s hard to believe – and about as easy to swallow as a Tunnocks Teacake if you’re reading this on a typically Baltic Scottish winter’s day - but it’s a picture perfect high summer here in Australia.

    There, that makes you feel much better about the wind and the rain doesn’t it?

    Yes indeed, blue skies and searing heat all the way through to April, which potential bush fires and sunstroke aside, still beats the keech out of whatever Ma Nature has in store for Pitlochry, Pittenweem or Partick.

  • We never had a dog when I was a kid and as for cats, my Mum’s attitude was best summed up by her short yet surprisingly insightful appraisal of the blockbuster Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same name.

     ‘Duff.  It wiz aw aboot bloody cats.’

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Gary Johnston

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