HER preferred spot, I think, is at the entrance to TX Maxx on Sauchiehall Street just to the right of the down escalator so that she isn’t a hindrance to shoppers. I’ve encountered her many times over the past couple of decades, tiny in her simple nun’s habit of black and grey and holding a collecting tin which silently solicits the generosity of strangers to help poor children.

She has the kindest face you could ever imagine and it’s all in the eyes. These twinkle like a child’s as she says “God bless you” when you stop to drop a few coins into her tin. When it’s cold and rainy I’d place her age at around 80 but on other days she could be much younger.

There’s hardly anything of her and all you can see is her face. Many years ago she would have walked out of her family home for the last time and moved to another place with other women old and young and similarly clad head to toe in the colours of austerity.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson's input on the burka should be welcomed by Muslims

For the rest of her life she would be required to pray for the world and its peoples while forsaking its delights. Even within the community that reared her, this path can be open to contempt: what a waste of a young life and its gifts, to be spent on its knees in futile supplication for the salvation of strangers. What kind of saviour asks his own creations to sacrifice their femininity and reduce themselves to the status of a vassal? In a world programmed to acquire and consume and to seek instant gratification this little sister of the poor might as well be an alien species.

She and her sisters, though, are never regarded as a threat; merely an occasional jolt that a simpler and more austere way can be lived. No-one would be stupid and callous enough to mock their appearance and to invite the hatred of the far-right mob to fall upon their heads. No-one would compare them to a letter-box or a bank robber and not just because you can at least see most of their faces. If you chose to you could find other ways to find fun in their appearance. But you wouldn’t do this because it would be bullying behaviour characteristic of the lower sixth dorm at Eton and it would make you look like a wretched and deeply unpleasant human being.

Boris Johnson knew what he was doing when he chose to make fun of those few hundred Muslim women who choose to wear a burka when they go about their business. These women will never be a threat to Johnson’s vision of what Britishness ought to look like. They are in a minority even within their communities. They are, though, an easy target for someone like Johnson and his apologists who have all come crawling out of their nests these last few days when you want to sow division, fear and mutual suspicion amongst communities.

READ MORE: Chaos has a habit of favouring populists like Boris Johnson

When you know that an economic apocalypse is imminent and that it will hurt those without the resources to absorb it then other targets must be found to keep the mob’s gaze from falling on you, the one who lied to them and told them that everything would be alright. This wasn’t racist behaviour by Johnson it was something much more disgusting and sinister. It was choosing a small, innocent and defenceless target to foment hatred and to make your country look small and tawdry and thus allow you to sneak out the back while no-one is watching.

Unseen effect of Glasgow’s week in the sun

IN the rural villages that lie to the north and west of Glasgow last week local residents discovered what it was like to be held prisoners in their own homes. Lennoxtown, Balmore, Torrance and parts of Milngavie were effectively cut off for an entire day to allow the progress of a cycle race which took barely an hour to pass through these places. All roads in and out of these villages were shut for 12 hours and more.

The National:

Small businesses were treated with contempt by East Dunbartonshire Council when they asked what compensation might be available and how to obtain it. This council for many years has been the object of scorn and derision by locals for its persistent incompetence. This included removing all the traffic lights from one of the busiest intersections in the entire local authority area in Kirkintilloch and then expressing surprise when it resulted in several serious traffic accidents. 

READ MORE: Letters: Why was cycle race allowed to imprison the locals?

One taxi-owner friend asked the local authority if they could suggest a way of allowing him to return to his home in Balmore when he finished his night-shift at 5am. “You’ll have to park your car four miles away and walk home,” the Council suggested. East Dunbartonshire further avoided responsibility by directing all queries to Glasgow City Council. 

There was absolutely no consultation with residents about the best way of accommodating the European Championships cycle race while causing the least amount of inconvenience to local Council Tax-payers. Instead they were told simply to make the best of it. Memo to Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council: please supply details of how local residents of East Dunbartonshire can obtain financial compensation for lost business and I’ll be happy to pass on.    

How to get an MoD job

THE Ministry of Defence encountered a spot of bother when it revoked the security clearance of Chris McEleny who worked at its facility in Beith. McEleny fell foul of his employers by standing for the position of depute leader of the SNP. He was subsequently visited by MoD officials and subjected to a bizarre interrogation that included questions about Northern Ireland and Rangers FC. 

The National:

In a spirit of patriotism arising from a desire to maintain the security of the realm I now offer a paragraph to be inserted into all MoD job descriptions. It could come after the question “What school did you go to?”

READ MORE: The philosophy of politics highlights the dilemmas of nationalist identity

“Successful applicants for the above position will be expected to display a thorough knowledge of the history of Rangers football club and in particular their run to the 1972 European Cup Winners’ Cup and the later events that led to their liquidation in 2012. Knowledge of how Employee Benefits Trusts work will be considered an advantage. 

“Applicants who are known to have sung The Wild Rover or Jug of Punch outwith designated safe periods must show good reason for this. A list of these can be found on our website and include Aunty Rosie’s wake; Wee Tommy’s First Holy Communion and Joe and Maureen’s wedding. A sound knowledge of British Military History and the ability to name all countries annexed and occupied by the Crown and the British East India Company is also recommended. The question: ‘How old is your granny’ may also be asked at your interview and you must attempt to answer this without laughing.”