IF the jazz, classical and traditional music programmes that BBC Scotland intends to axe weren’t very good, it would be difficult to make a case for saving them.

But some of the programmes under threat are very good indeed and meet the corporation’s target to deliver cultural programmes of a high quality across various platforms.

In particular, they might want to look at their dreadful coverage of football on radio. BBC Scotland pays the Scottish football authorities millions for exclusive coverage of the Scottish Professional League.

Effectively, they use their privileged, state-funded position to cut all the independent stations out of the picture. In any other industry, this would amount to unfair competition.

What makes this even more regrettable is that what passes for commentary and analysis of football on Radio Scotland is a long, rambling, semi-literate statement of the bloody obvious. It’s devoid of innovation, wit or cold, objective analysis. And it has a record of failing to stand up for its journalists whenever they attempt to speak truth to power.

In the west of Scotland, it’s easily outgunned by Radio Clyde which, with far fewer resources, is everything Radio Scotland’s football coverage is not: witty, intelligent and no stranger to the English language.

The BBC already commissions programmes from the independent sector. I’d be thinking about outsourcing its expensive and unsatisfying football coverage to Clyde and some of the other independents.


THERE are reports of a new anti-ageing drug that could extend human lifespans. Researchers at an outfit called Rejuvenate Bio have trialled it on mice and with startling results.

And of course, Rejuvenate Bio absolutely does not conjure up images of dystopian disaster thrillers where experiments go wrong and small remnants of unaffected humanity spend their time fighting off bampot zombies going bananas on the ‘juvenation juice.

In popular culture, it’s always mad billionaires who want to get their hands on these lotions. Who can forget Steven Spielberg’s thoughtful study of this hopeless folly in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade? Harrison Ford’s towering and sensitive depiction of the heroic archaeologist who wants to prevent the Nazis getting their hands on the essence of eternal life still resonates.

Eventually of course, some kind of potion which halts the ageing process will be found and only the super-rich will be able to afford it. I mean, you can’t be giving the juice of eternal life to people in neighbourhoods which are already jangly.

The miracle drug may also increase resilience to those diseases that ensure that none of us gets ideas beyond ourselves, such as cancer and dementia.

This conjures another book and movie; The Time Machine by HG Wells. In which humanity evolves into a race of super-healthy, beautiful but indolent, lazy bastards – the Eloi – who are menaced by subterranean Morlocks, an ugly and predatory race who quite obviously couldn’t afford any of the anti-ageing unguents on the market in the centuries prior to AD 802,701.


IF humanity does actually survive that far into the future we’ll probably have long since discovered how to control minds. Society will then be able to thwart crimes before they take place.

In Scotland, various agencies – including our own Government – have been trialling early approximations of this. The Health Secretary Humza Yousaf was keen on including dodgy thoughts in his Hate Crime Bill.

Now the National Galleries of Scotland is keen on retrospectively condemning Robert Burns for a thought crime he committed 237 years ago. That was when the poet thought about taking up a position on a Jamaican sugar plantation.

But having thought about it, he decided not to and instead penned a masterpiece called The Slave’s Lament.

No matter, it was clear that Burns “thought about” taking this job and so, according to the hanging judges at the National Galleries there must be a reference to this in the text accompanying Alexander Nasmyth’s famous portrait of him.

“The past is a foreign country,” wrote LP Hartley, “they do things differently there.”

And now you can get a spell in the future, virtual pokey if you don’t watch your step in the present.


IN the present world of heavy metal music, they also do things differently. Thus a Swedish band called Sabaton celebrates European military history with melodic etudes bout old wars and battlefield strategies.

The band was even in line to win an important cultural award for their work – until it emerged that they might also have had a wee proclivity for ultra-right Russian nationalism.

They should have probably stuck to the tried and tested formula beloved of other Scandinavian metal bands celebrating more common-or-garden themes such as Satanism, orgies and bevvy.

My favourite among these was a Norwegian black metal band called 1349; this being a reference to the year the Black Death engulfed Norway. No messing about there.