POOR old Barack Obama. The former US president cycles all the way over from the States to make an important speech to a world conference, and nobody remembers anything he said, other than that he pronounced Glasgow as if the last syllable rhymed with “cow”, referred to Scotland as “the Emerald Isles”, and claimed our national bard was William Shakespeare.

Well, he has the right to make mistakes – it’s the ninth amendment of the US constitution – and when I said “nobody” above, I meant nobody in Scotland, the world capital of Nobodia (pronounced like “Cambodia”).

In the grand scheme of things, what with the world petering out an’ all, mispronouncing the city you’re in and confusing countries’ poetic names, doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, and what Scotland thinks has never mattered anyway.

If you’re unrepentantly foreign, let me explain that Glasgow is pronounced Glas-go, though inconsiderate natives may confuse matters by referring to “Glesga” or “Glesgae”. These people have not been sufficiently educated in English, the language of the Scottish. I allow that such matters can be confusing.

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Emerald Isle, singular, refers to Ireland, a country similar to Scotland but in a different place. Scots and Irish are essentially the same people, which is why they keep fighting each other.

As for the national bard, that’s a can of wee wriggly things. Strictly speaking, many folk refer to Rabbie Burns as Scotland’s bard, while Shakespeare is England’s. However, some call Shakespeare “Britain’s bard”, possibly confusing England with Britain. At least he wrote a play about a Scottish king going off his onion.

What all this tells us is that Scotland is not taught in American schools, which is understandable because, until recently, Scotland wasn’t taught in Scottish schools.

Besides, other countries are routinely confused by the rest of the world. People frequently mix up Scandinavian countries with each other. They confuse Sweden with Switzerland because both begin with Sw. We all confuse Canadians with Americans though, to be fair, they sound more similar than Scots and Irish do.

English comedian Russell Brand once described Scotland as England’s Canada, prompting his chat-show host Craig Ferguson to riposte that Scots considered England to be their Mexico.

That’s just geographical banter. The problem with Barack’s boo-boos is that they could have been avoided by ten minutes’ simple research or checking on yonder internet. Still, he’s a busy man. As for his thoughts on climate change: ach, who cares?

Sleep over

TO bed, perchance to sleep. Who sleeps nowadays? It’s so 19th century. Still, if there’s anything worse than sleeping, it’s being awake, and when the Lord spoils our sleep in the middle of the night, allowing us no respite from the hell He has created, we just lie there, wishing we could conk out, if for no other reason than it might help our synapses connect more efficiently on the morrow.

Last night, as I write, I resorted to yonder YouTube for guided meditations on getting to sleep. This was against all my better instincts, but I’d hoped the passage of time would have improved these self-help aural therapies since last time I tried them.

Nope. Same running tap water, making you get up for a pee, and a slow, sleazy voice trying and failing to sound hypnotic.

The first comes with the rubric: “Sleep guaranteed in seven minutes.” The faux-ethereal voice begins by saying: “Make sure you are sitting comfortably.” Wait, what? Sitting? Jeezo. It’s just generic claptrap. Breathe in deeply. Oh, you don’t say. Now breathe out. Oh, there’s an idea.

Worse still, the voice refers to something called a “cheh”, which infuriates me. I sit up, shouting: “It’s chair, you pillock! Chair with an air! Why can’t you English speak English? And, no, I’m not breathing in eh either. I’m breathing in air. Eh, aye, aargh!”

The next one guarantees sleep in 12 minutes. Here’s your first clue it’s not going to work: it’s over two hours long. Another one isn’t too bad until at the end of the 10-minutes – still awake, of course – loud pop music blasts out for a hair conditioner advert. Even if you had fallen sleep, this rammy would have roused you again. Thus this world: designed by a weird deity to drive us mad.

Another audio talk tells us that three in the morning (when most of us wake) is when you’re most in touch with your “source”. So, don’t try resuming sleep. Do something creative.

I’ve read that Alexander McCall Smith staggers up to write his novels at that time. But I can’t be bothered putting my clothes back on. Crivvens, I only just took them off.

You say: “Why not wear a dressing gown?” Unhand me, madam! Who has a dressing gown nowadays? Well, OK, we all have that one bought from Markies for a stay in hospital, but it’s at the bottom of a drawer, all crushed, as are the matching pyjamas, bought for the same purpose and now similarly foosty.

Naw, I’m no’ getting up. I’m just going to lie here all annoyed, with this message to the source: just let us sleep, you get.

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