A NEW digital depiction of Bonnie Prince Charlie in his latter years shows him still to be a decent-looking cove, indeed better looking than in his younger years, when portraits show a right jessie.

I will be quite candid with you here and confess that I have doubts about these reconstructions. Certainly, those from the Flintstone era remain largely works of the imagination. But this latest one of BPC is said to be based on his death mask.

Obviously, the aim was to create an image of a man still alive, but no longer young and sprightly. Certainly, he doesn’t look 67, his age when he died, such longevity doubtless attributable to his heavy drinking. That probably accounts for his decent mien too.

As you’ll know from newspaper stories about celebrities with drug and alcohol problems, such folk always look a picture of health, and certainly better than common or garden joggers and other health freaks that you see hirpling along the street.

Charlie died in 1788, but a sketch of him made in 1776 shows a dumpy, double-chinned bloater, looking, ironically, not unlike his brutal adversary, the “Butcher” Duke of Cumberland.

I suppose Prince Charles’s looks are as much subject to revision and argument as everything else about the Jacobites. I’m not going to re-re-rehearse all the frequently aired smarty-pantitude about it not being Scotland against England, Highland against Lowland, Protestant against Catholic. We ken a’ that noo. And Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster. Give it up, will you?

It behoves us instead to ignore all the facts and focus more on uninformed speculation, such as: what would have happened if the Jacobites had won?

As history records, Charlie’s Jacobite army got as far as Derby before getting cold feet and turning back towards Scotia, the typically Caledonian mindset being: “This isn’t us. We’re losers.”

Say, they’d marched on to London and given the cocky Cockneys a tanning, what would have happened then? Well, oddly enough, it might – I use the word “might” in its ancient Etruscan sense of “probably not but anyway” – have been for the good of all.

For a start, the Jacobites had a record of pacific intentions towards their constitutional enemies, as their manifesto drawn up in Italy in 1722 makes clear: “[We] will make no inquisition for anything that is past; we will acknowledge him [George I, Elector of Hanover] in the same dignity of King in his native Dominions … We will live in brotherly amity with him …”

They also wanted to ensure that “every English man may hereafter live quietly under his own Shade, enjoy his conscience undisturbed, and rest upon his pillow in peace”, while hoping too to secure alliances further afield, “conducive to the peace and tranquillity of Europe”.

The document concludes: “Our desire is to embrace the whole body of our people without any distinction or reserve, to root up the very seeds of prejudice and division.” Lordy-lordy, this is half-way between a Guardian editorial and the manifesto of the Socialist Workers Party.

Indeed, elsewhere there is opposition to big finance – wracking up national debt to fund wars – and, in exile after Culloden, Prince Charles drew up another manifesto that even contained the first indications of a putative welfare state: “We shall take under the protection of the state the children of poor parents.”

Of course, like most political manifestos, these documents probably weren’t worth the parchment they were written on. But they might, in the ancient Etruscan sense, suggest that Prince Charlie was not just a pretty face.


LIKE many decent ratepayers, I was discomfited when a horticultural expert called upon us to ditch our bird feeders and bird baths – because they weren’t in accordance with his vegan ideals.

Now, while unconvinced that veganism is the right gastronomical road to take, I don’t like to diss vegans as at least their motives are decent. But even many vegans bridled at Matthew Appleby’s suggestion, based on his belief that bird feeders and baths serve to create a personal zoo in the garden.

But the birds aren’t caged in. And, in my garden, they’re healthy and happy, and that’s how I’m going to keep them. We’ve mucked up their natural habitats and food sources, and are obliged to give them something back to help them survive.

Matthew’s other prescriptions include “hugging a slug” rather than blootering them to protect plants. I admit I don’t like killing slugs either. Some people advocate putting “ouchie” egg shells round your plants or even making wee copper fences, but I think we’re getting into the realms of fantasy here, as well as tempting us to think that perhaps we’re not making the most of our lives.

For a short while, I confess I invited slugs to drown themselves in beer (to which they’re attracted) as I thought that’s probably how I’d choose to go. Gave them craft ales and everything. However, sometimes, they’d drink the beer and get out of the trap. Then their drunken singing would keep you up half the night.

ON the face of it, a “silent disco” sounds like a good idea. At least, you wouldn’t have to listen to that awful music, the absence of which would also inhibit lewd and libidinous bodily movements of the sort that often lead ultimately to marriage and its associated miseries.

However, silent discos are a feature of new bizarre walking tours, where participants are given headsets into which the music is pumped (so it’s only silent to others). They’re then invited to sing and gyrate as they troop along the street looking at local landmarks of archaic interest.

In Edinburgh, decent ratepayers, shopkeepers and civic groups have risen up in opposition to the practice, saying it makes tourists “behave like complete idiots”. There’s a novelty.

They also claim the tour groups are becoming a road hazard. Accordingly, uninformed sources tell me the council is planning to put up signs saying: “Beware: gyrating idiots crossing.”