Distance learning

My footsteps echoed in the deserted, cavernous hall. I was the only person walking through Glasgow Airport, everything was shuttered, the departure boards were switched off, no bulbous men in shorts or brawling weans. It was eerie. All that was missing was an Ennio Morricone soundtrack and clumps of tumbleweed.

It wasn’t until I was through the electronic entrance and into the security area that I saw the first person, the sole man operating the one luggage conveyor in front of the X-ray machines.

All of the other stations were deserted. I passed through and took a sharp right at the gated duty free area then along a narrow corridor to the departure lounge where there was a sprinkling of people, the combined fares of which wouldn’t have paid for more than a dollop of fuel on the flight. This was last Saturday and the easyJet flight to Luton.

The contrast at the other end could not have been more marked, with crowds of folk, few with masks, some shops open, but not those selling alcohol. It was the first day of the pubs opening in England, however, and when I got off the direct train to East Croydon (don’t ask) I walked out into a queue of people, none masked, waiting to be admitted to an open, basement-level mall which was rammed with dozens of tables and hundreds of people. Not a mask to be seen, apart from on the security staff.

It was the same in the street. A complete absence of facial coverings and social distancing. I don’t know whether it is release fervour, or the belief that the virus doesn’t affect the young or the booze-fuelled, but if any of those in the hordes I saw was Covid asymptomatic then we have real problems looming.

I have never understood why flights into the country and internally have largely remained open throughout this pandemic. If we follow the science – and it’s clear that our leaders follow the science they want to believe in – then we now know that the first carriers weren’t coming from China, but from Spain, France and Italy.

Even if we didn’t know the source we should have had a short, sharp and total lockdown, as they did in New Zealand and other countries. You still can’t visit New Zealand unless you’re a native, and no wonder they won’t let us in.

The Scottish Government has maintained that it didn’t have the power to close the airports. Tory Jackson Carlaw asked the First Minister the wrong question about the numpties and their publicity stunt at the Scottish border a few days ago to keep out English visitors.

He should have asked why they weren’t demonstrating on the runways of our airports.

Witch guide

You don’t see many witches around these days, although according to one conspiracy theory it’s they who have brewed up the current pandemic. One of the reasons for their scarcity may well be that their line was largely extinguished in the 15th century, thanks to the handbook on how to detect and deal with them – red hot pokers were a favourite – which was the

second-biggest seller in the world after the Bible.

The Malleus Maleficarum, the Hammer of Witches, covered detection, extracting confessions and exterminating them. Those that know say up to 50,000 witches were killed off.

Apparently “witches deprived men of their vital member”, among other alleged evil acts, which doesn’t account for warlocks but does amplify misogyny.

I don’t know if there was a witch school to train them – JK Rowling should investigate – but they were certainly prolific in dying in custody. Possibly because they knew what was in store for them, many did a “Jeffrey Epstein”, hanging themselves in a cell.

Or perhaps there was another hand? The book records that in 1597, the “Scotch warlock Playfair, having killed Lord Lothian by witchcraft”, was found hanging in his cell the morning after Robert, Lothian’s son, visited him late the night before.

Which some might have found suspicious. “But never more inquiry was made who had done the deed.”

Sax and drugs

It took them more than 200 years to readmit him but, thanks to a motion from Ross Macfarlane, Thomas Muir was readmitted to the Faculty of Advocates. Muir, who lays claim to being the father of Scottish democracy, was, of course, expelled and persecuted for challenging the establishment.

There ought to be a film of his amazing life – transported to Australia for sedition, escaped to America, then to Havana and ending his days in France, dying of old wounds. I’m thinking Johnny Depp for the lead if he can master the accent. Well, he’s in the country.

Ross Macfarlane, who had Muir readmitted to the faculty, is an interesting character, a real man o’ pairts, a QC, sheriff, a writer, artistic director of the Faculty of Advocates choir, and sax player in the faculty band, the Reclaimers, with the bass player and chanter Lord Carloway. Perhaps he could write the Muir screenplay.

Bolt (1) ...

The greatest sprinter of all time Usain Bolt and his partner Kasi have revealed the name of their daughter. It’s Olympia Lightning Bolt. Obviously.

… and (2)

Apparently we should socially distance ourselves from penguins, should we come across them, or risk being hit by their excrement. A penguin can hit an expel velocity of two metres per second and reach a range of over one metre. This is from researchers at as Japanese university on the “projectile velocity of penguin faeces”. These guys get paid for this stuff. But anyway it clearly isn’t safe to p-p-p pick up a penguin.

Faking it

The old joke about why can’t men hear women’s orgasms (they’re never there at the time!) needs to be updated. There’s now various internet sites where you can access recorded orgasms at a keystroke and even upload your own anonymously. It’s all commercialised of course, selling sex products mainly. Perhaps they’ll even insert climax soundtracks in these sex robots?

I wandered into this train of thought after watching football on TV with the fake applause, which does little to build atmosphere. Why should it stop there? I’d quite like a fanfare of trumpets when I come in through the outside door. Or a voice saying “were you born in a park?” when someone leaves the back one open – it saves my vocal cords. And at work, if we ever get back there again, the computer muttering “brilliant stuff” when finishing an article.

There used to be, in many public places, a Speak Your Weight machine, but we’re now all so obese it would run out of voice, or we’d attack it for for embarrassing us. In Peter Yates’s surreally mad film One Way Pendulum, Jonathan Miller plays a character who collects the machines and teaches them to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. In these grim times we need much more of this.