MY two-week visit to Glasgow as Nicola Sturgeon’s special COP26 envoy is going swimmingly. What a wonderful city. This is the first full day of the Summit and as I take an early morning walk along the banks of the River Clyde I’m greeted by a rather sweet and touching little scene.

The body of a dead Alsatian dog is being fished out of the river by mindful bystanders. What seems at first to be rather tragic soon becomes a metaphor for COP26.

Having carefully laid the dead mutt out on the grass in a loving manner, they gather round it and read some poetry. I approach and enquire as to what they intend to do with the body. A thin, bearded chap, carrying what looks like a Native American tepee on his back, greets me and invites me to add my own tribute.

The words of the Blake Shelton classic, Ol’ Red spring to mind and seem appropriate for the moment.

Well, I caught my wife with another man

And it cost me ninety-nine

On a prison farm in Georgia

Close to the Florida line

Well, I’d been here for two long years

I finally made the warden my friend

And so he sentenced me to a life of ease

Takin’ care of Ol’ Red

Now, Ol’ Red, he’s the damnedest dog

That I’ve ever seen

Got a nose that can smell a two-day trail

He’s a four legged tracking’ machine

You can consider yourself mighty lucky

To get past the gators and the quicksand beds

But all these years that I’ve been here

Ain’t nobody got past Red

A little ripple of applause breaks forth from these wandering mourners and tears aren’t far away.

We decide to bury him in a grassy escarpment beside what looks a disused dock facility in the shadow of the great Finnieston Crane.

The National: The Straw Locomotive hung from the Finnieston Crane for 48 days in 1987

It matters not that we know nothing of the old chap. It was simply enough to acknowledge his presence on this earth, given to us by The Almighty as a loving companion for the entire human race. I’m invited to repair to my new friends’ encampment which they’ve set up nearby for the duration of the Cop. I’m invited to join them in a few herbal cigarettes. It would be rude not to.

Ashes to ashes; fun to funky …


IN the Green Zone of the conference centre I meet some of my old friends from the Department of Social Affairs. They’re up from Westminster and consider the entire fortnight as an audacious little jolly. I now find that their prattling conversation about Champagne parties and fabulous-looking “gels” is grating on my nerves. Did I once behave like this?

“Oh Rupert,” says Nigel Pemberton Darcy, “we were having such a divine time of it up here in bonny Glasgae, until something rather tawdry happened last night.

“We rounded up some rather exotic-looking activists from one of the reservations round here: Paisley, I think they said – and asked them to take us to some of the low dives they frequent. They transported us to a rather charming tavern called O’Hanlon’s on the eastern approaches. I took one of the official Jaguar SUVs they’ve laid on for us.

“The gels seemed really impressed and I thought I might be, you know … in with a shout later on. The evening was going great and we even joined in with their patriotic tunes like The Soldier’s Song and one about Rockall which they said was very environmental. They kept talking about 1967, doubtless in memory of the great explorer, Sir Francis Chichester who completed his round-the-world voyage that year.

“But then the gels just suddenly disappeared. And so did the keys to the Jaguar SUV. It was discovered early this morning outside a nearby council house. Some of the locals were still having a rave inside it.”

I’m tickled at this story and find myself falling in love with Glasgow a little bit more.

The National: Peter Murrell


CATASTROPHE! I’m summoned to a confab at the nearby Hilton Hotel for 6am sharp. I realise, right away, I’m in trouble. Peter Murrell (above) and Liz Lloyd are there along with two of our press team.

Murrell’s chilly smile is like the silver nameplate on a coffin lid while Liz (whom I’ve always found very charming and helpful) is giving me a stare that would freeze the testicles from a charging rhino at 50 paces. They throw down some grainy, black and white pictures which have obviously been snapped from a considerable distance.

It shows me smoking a gigantic reefer with my new chums after we buried the old dog. It seems the Glasgow Times also have the smudges and are planning to run with them the next day. I have precisely three hours to take evasive action.