People often refer to budget flight as travelling ‘cattle class’. I can assure you, having escorted a number of cattle on planes around the world in my younger days, that cattle are treated far better than us mere humans when it comes to aviation. Yes, once again I am traversing the channel with Ryanair and boy, is it tedious. Bovine beasts are also nicer to each other, don’t push and shove half as much and, in general, smell better too. Honestly, it is easier to load a 100 head of inbred Limousin stirks on to a cardboard barge than fill a 737 full of numpties with the combined IQ of an egg sandwich. Ordinarily, I try and avoid travelling in the busy season but this trip North is to conclude the remaining outstanding jobs on our project in Fife, cracking the whip loudly because nobody seems to do any work as soon as I am off site. In fact, perhaps I should bring a cattle prod with me to liven up the workforce, then at least I could to get my cramped airline seat ahead of the stampede.
The France I leave behind has had a few weeks of political turmoil, resulting in yet another smooth respectable president in charge, although his spouse is already in the headlines and I suspect it will only be a few months before he gets photographed with his mistress. The country I am currently passing over at a mile high, England, also has a similar upheaval in the corridors of power, keeping the pundits in overtime pay and the TV channels cluttered with wannabe cabineteers. However, it is the country for which I bound that gives me more of a headache, for yet again a minority is attempting to stir up the past, Claymore in hand, to fight the auld foe, only this time the troops are headed up by one of the Krankies! With shameless self-interest, I was more than glad that the last referendum finished with its NO vote, as I had just invested some hard earned cash in a few properties in a run-down part of Glasgow. Over the next year or so, in a settling economy, the housing market steadily picked up and, for once, my gamble was on the right horse. But now everything Scottish is balancing on such a realm of uncertainty that even Mystic MacMeg would struggle to predict the outcome, and with my wallet caught firmly in the crossfire. Are we heading for a Franco-Scot alliance perhaps, with Macaroons and Sturgeons jointly headlining on the same menu? Or will a Scoxit mean everything north of Carlisle deteriorates into a country more third-world than a Syrian allotment by the end of the decade? If Nicola has her way, by the time Danny Boyle gets to making Trainspotting 3, will there actually be any trains to spot in Scotland’s capital? Or will the wheels of industry have long since headed southwards from the platform? It is all as alarming as it is confusing for an old sheep farmer such as myself. Unfortunately I cannot spell Armageddon, but that’s not the end of the world!
I think I need a stiff drink! ‘That will be ten euros, please,’ says our yellow-attired in-flight cabin-attendant, service with a scowl.
So, it’s back to the Kingdom of Fife once again for a few week’s graft. I do love the fact that Fife has retained that title through all the country’s ups and downs. A long while ago the wild and rebellious race of Picts ran around the place causing mayhem until a self appointed King took charge and ruled them from Dunfermline palace with a red-hot poker. Although his seat got lost to the SNP sometime in the Middle Ages, the county’s handle still remains. Britain doesn’t have many Kingdoms, in fact this may even be its only one. That makes me quite proud to live there, albeit part-time, until, of course, it is taken away and thrown to the wolves of independence, complete with baby and bathwater. Just saying.
While in Ecosse we will also get chance to take in the European rugby cup final in Edinburgh and, when I get back, my ever-thoughtful wife has treated us to a couple of tickets at the French Open Tennis in Paris. I am not quite sure when it was that I turned into a Live Sports junkie but I have to admit, watching professionals at the top of their game, up close and personal, gives me a huge buzz. Over the last decade we have visited Rugby World Cups, British Lions Tours, Golf Ryder Cups and the World snooker championships, all of which are played out in electrifying atmospheres. And so it is that we have started saving our pennies, or Yens, to visit the next major event on the horizon, the RWC in that little-known rugby-playing nation, Japan. It feels like only a few years back when I went on a school trip to witness a Japanese touring side playing against Wales in Cardiff and getting 100-0 tanning. And back then at 5 foot nine in heels, I was probably a good few inches taller than most of their team. Well not any more. Over the last decade or so the land of the rising sun now sports a squad full of players of monster proportions, each and every one carrying twenty stones of muscle that would come in right handy carrying plasterboards up three flights of stairs. An outside tenner could do worse that pick them to lift the Webb Ellis trophy. You heard it here first.
Right, I am off to eat some sushi. Sayonara!