Monday, 12 September 2016
Hooptedoodle #234 - Donkey Award - The Auld Firm
My mother has been having worsening problems with her mobility, and on Saturday I was obliged to call in an emergency doctor, who agreed with me that her difficulties with vertigo required some prompt investigation, and suggested that a visit to hospital would enable this to be checked out, and would also allow the Occupational Therapists to see if it might be possible to get her to walk with her zimmer frame with more confidence.
Accordingly, he arranged for her to be admitted to the Western General (in Edinburgh), and for an ambulance to collect her from home. Since it was about 10pm when he arranged this, we were led to expect the ambulance to arrive around midnight. We packed a bag for her, and waited for the ambulance.
And waited. From about 3am we started getting calls from the ambulance control team, to apologise for the delay - apparently they were having an unexpectedly busy night, and, quite rightly, any 999 (emergency) calls received take priority. Such was the flood of 999 calls, in fact, that it was 7am before the ambulance came, by which time my Mum (who is 91), was not very well or happy at all.
Can't really complain - money is tight, we are lucky to have the services we do have, and the doctor and the ambulance crew were all marvellous. So what strange thing was going on in Central Scotland on Saturday night then? - was there an outbreak of Dengue Fever, or had an aeroplane crashed on a city centre? Was it the Great Fire of Bathgate? How could this be?
The answer, of course, is the Auld Firm game. You probably could not care less, but the two biggest rival soccer teams in Scotland are Celtic and Rangers, both based in Glasgow, and both drawing fans and support from all over the country. Since some financial difficulties (too complicated to explain here) resulted in Rangers' being demoted to the lowest division a while ago, there have been no league games between the two for some 4 years or so.
However, cream always rises to the top, as all sewage workers will testify, so Rangers very quickly won promotion through the lower leagues, back up to the Scottish Premier, and on Saturday the magnificent tradition of the Auld Firm match against Celtic was renewed. Terrific.
Well - to a point. Scottish football undoubtedly needs teams with the drawing power and wealth of the Glasgow giants (I nearly said cyclops twins), but the traditions of these clubs, I regret to say, also involve a history of religious and sectarian bigotry (and we are speaking here of Ulster history, rather than Scottish), and a century and more of mindless, drunken conflict. I am confident, I hasten to add, that a lot of very decent people take their kids to the big games in Glasgow, but they are not the ones you see or hear. The Auld Firm game is, mostly, as far as you can tell, about hatred, and about such topical themes as the Battle of the Boyne and Irish Republicanism.
Depressing. Saturday served to remind us of what the tradition really consists of. Not that it matters an awful lot, Celtic won 5-1, which probably turned up the heat a bit. My Mum's ambulance was delayed by the need to look after critically ill people - people who had suffered heart attacks, people who had been injured in accidents - no problem with any of that. But by far the majority of the unusually high demand was football fans, in the aftermath of the big match; guys who had alcohol poisoning, guys who had hurt themselves falling down in a drunken stupor and - most of all - guys who had spent the evening in a frenzy, kicking lumps out of each other.
Thank you, my friends. Thanks for everything. It is a pleasure to share a planet with you.