There is a reputed Chinese proverb which states ‘may you live in interesting times.’ Far from being a good will message about happiness and prosperity it is said to mean may you live in times of trouble and chaos and is thus a bit of a curse. We’ve certainly been living through some interesting times of late with the worldwide Covid 19 pandemic causing huge changes to the lives of millions of people. Here in Scotland the virus seems to be in retreat as people generally act sensibly. Of course it could all change if folk get blasé and fail to heed the guidelines laid out but we live in hope that we’re turning a corner.
Those of us looking forward to the return of Scottish football had the fixtures to talk about earlier this week. Season 2020-21 if just three weeks from kick off and it didn’t go unnoticed that the first derby game is in mid-October. Those of a more suspicious disposition suggested Celtic were hoping their home tie with Rangers would have at least some fans in the ground and had somehow influenced the SPFL’s fixture computer. The truth is likely to be more prosaic with Sky TV pouring millions in this year and perhaps wanting the showcase game of Scottish football to be the dramatic spectacle it usually is. The reaction of some to the fixture’s date does hint that the coming season will be fractious and full of tension as the possibility of Celtic winning a tenth successive title becomes clearer.
Reactions to the prankster who somehow scaled the City Chambers building in Glasgow and hoisted a Celtic ‘Nine in a row’ flag were telling too. Most Celtic supporters thought it fairly amusing coming as it did a few days after Rangers had projected their new crest onto various public buildings in the city. The prankster hoisted the flag for a few seconds probably in complicity with friends below who were ready to film the moment and then returned the saltire to its usual place.
The prank led to some predictably over the top reactions. The group calling itself ‘Scottish Protestants Against Discrimination’ released one of their pompous and self-important statements about a ‘flag of ill repute’ being hoisted over the city chambers and said that Celtic fans had also recently been in the city centre to ‘erect inflammatory signage’ although temporarily renaming streets after people who fought slavery is unlikely to inflame anyone but racists. Just why this group had anything to say about a football flag at all is not hard to figure out. It clearly demonstrates their conflation of Celtic and Catholicism which some in Scotland still have. This amused many of Celtic’s non Catholic followers (of which there are many) one of whom said on social media; ‘As a Protestant Celtic fan I think this is very funny.’ I’m not sure how ‘SPAD’ saw the flag as a discriminatory act but as my old man used to say; ‘when all you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.’
A Tory councillor who represents Shettleston, one of the most deprived areas in the United Kingdom, said of the short lived hoisting of a Celtic flag above the city chambers, ‘Concerned to see a Celtic flag being flown from the city chambers this morning.’ Firstly, it wasn’t ‘being flown’ it was hoisted up and hoisted back down in about ten seconds. You’d think the council sanctioned it on a cursory read of his statement rather than it being work of a prankster. Perhaps the councillor should be more concerned about the 37% of children living in poverty in his constituency or the 29% of people there who live on out of work benefits. But then the Conservative councillor is playing to his gallery. That a Tory has been elected in an area as poor as Shettleston at a time of increasing poverty tells you much about who voted for him; it is more to do with constitutional politics than the life chances of people in the area. The Children’s Society said recently…
'Four million; Almost a third of children in the UK live in poverty- that's around nine in the average classroom. The situation is getting worse with the number set to rise to 5 million by 2020. Shockingly two thirds of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work.'
Those stark facts are much more ‘concerning’ than a football flag being hoisted over Glasgow city chambers.