I’M transported back in time to Castlemilk with the news that the Scottish Parliament has passed the Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Bill.  

The edgy but charismatic housing estate on the far southside of Glasgow featured unwittingly the first time fox-hunting was debated at Holyrood, some 24 years ago.  

On that occasion the legislation which sought to ban it didn’t quite work, leaving too many loopholes which politicians feel have since been exploited.  

The two-decade fight to leave our foxes alone began early in the life of the Scottish Parliament. That was when the former Labour MSP, Mike Watson, won the ballot to introduce Holyrood’s first-ever Private Member’s Bill. This led to a degree of bemusement among the citizens of Castlemilk, many of whom had voted for Watson who thus duly became MSP for Glasgow Cathcart.  

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Now, as those of you who know and love Castlemilk will attest, the neighbourhoods which form this sprawling estate are surrounded by many arboreal features. And, doubtless, very many furry beasties reside in them. Yet, until then, no-one had yet seen any evidence of men and women dressed as 18th-century toy soldiers chasing foxes through the fields with galloping steeds.  

I feel sure that Castlemilk bows to no-one in its affection for foxes, but I think its voters were hopeful that among the main priorities of their new MSP would have been seeking to address the acute social inequality that disfigured their community.  

Now, 24 years after Watson introduced his Protection of Wild Mammals Bill, there may be a similar measure of bemusement among some communities as our MSPs congratulated themselves for banning hunting with dogs (apart from the fact that it won’t actually ban it outright).  

Goldie years 

AS the first diet of the Scottish Parliament began to grapple with the issues confronting the newly-devolved Scotland, civil servants struggled to cope with the raft of new legislation and the updating of existing ones. Naturally, there was some early confusion around what was devolved and what wasn’t. 

This also affected some journalists, including me. When I was executive editor of HM Daily Mail in Scotland we were invited to take tea with the formidable but gentle Annabel Goldie then leader of the Scottish Tories.  

Read more from Kevin McKenna at heraldscotland.com

Ms Goldie was held in genuine affection on all sides of Holyrood and spoke with the sort of accent that made the Queen seem like a schemie.  

Occasionally in my four-year sojourn at the Daily Mail I reverted to political type and quite forgot my surroundings. Thus, when I began talking about the need for Holyrood to express its opposition to yet another UK military adventure, she turned to me and, in a voice channelling Miss Jean Brodie in her prime, chided me elegantly. “But Mr McKenna, thet, my dear boy, is a reserrrrved metter.” 

She also favoured us with an elaborate arching of her eyebrow as she considered another piece of early Holyrood legislation, the one concerning the banning of mink farms in Scotland. “As fer as I know, there err no mink farms in Scotland.”  

Gone to the wall 

TO East Ayrshire to drink in the aftermath of Darvel FC’s astounding Scottish Cup victory over mighty Aberdeen.  

Sitting just behind the goal is a memorial wall, whose bricks are inscribed with the names of supporters and their families, past and present. Some of Scotland’s larger clubs, such as Celtic and Rangers, also have walls like these.  

But Darvel’s is the only one I’ve encountered which faces the pitch and witnesses the deeds of today’s heroes.  

Read more: Liam Bryce on how the Darvel dream unfolded from pubs to terraces on day of Scottish Cup magic

One of the names on the wall is one Sir Alex Ferguson, who although he never had any playing connection to this part of Scotland, had forged a lasting friendship with an old Darvel supporter, known as Postie, whose name sits alongside him. 

Quite what Sir Alex would have made of his beloved Aberdeen – who defeated Real Madrid in a European final 40 years ago – losing to Darvel is anyone’s guess.  

He certainly wouldn’t have appreciated the joyful Darvel supporters singing “You’re getting sacked in the morning” to Aberdeen’s hapless manager, Jim Goodwin. Or the Aberdeen travelling support joining in.  

National treasure 

ABERDEEN’s victory against Real Madrid in 1983 will doubtless feature in forthcoming editions of The Herald this year as the paper celebrates its 240th year in business.  

That Aberdeen side was one of the finest ever assembled in Scotland and all of them, like Celtic’s great Lisbon Lions, were born and raised on these shores.  

The Press & Journal, our esteemed newspaper sibling in the north east, has laid claim to being 275 years old and we congratulate them for reaching such a landmark this year.  

The P&J is a great wee paper which serves its locale brilliantly and with some style.  

The Herald, though, is the oldest, continuously published daily national newspaper in the world.