27 December 2010

The Gray who stole Christmas!

What sort of wicked pantomime villain would you have to be to cruelly mock the sartorially pulpsome Salmond for this splendid blue capello romano hat? Or demand that the First Minister live up to the dignity of his office by assuming an air of senatorial steeliness whenever he is pictured in public, clutching a humble Tunnock's tea cake? Speaking to the Scotsman the reliably sour LOLITSP ("Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament"), Iain Gray, scorned the Salmond Saturno and the Eckly "cookie monster" aspect, arguing that...

"... what I think the Scottish people don't need at a time like this is a politician like Alex for whom it sometimes seems that photo opportunities in silly hats are more important than taking the serious and hard decisions that are needed for Scotland..."

He then added, without any apparent trace of irony....

“This is an election campaign in a time of anxiety and people need someone who is serious, a serious politician and serious about their concerns.”

A sure-fire victorious stratagem, that. Pledge to run a miserablist hatless teacakeless administration, with nary a flutter of glee, unremittingly devoid of frivolous well-timed jokes or alleviating japes. I suppose it is traditional at Christmas time to supplement holly-garlanded cheerfulness and a cacophony of celebratory bells with the dud notes of relentless gripes and the brooding presences of life's scapegraces and malcontents. In a previous spot on this blog, Iain Gray was identified as the portrait-basis for an Edinburgh pub's representation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Mr Hyde.  Alternatively, we might go further back in time to look for Gray's anticipators, and the ideal type of Charles Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge. I struck me that this description of the soor ploom moneylender from his (1842) novella, A Christmas Carol, rather neatly captures Gray's own angular, unrelenting negativity...

"...Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas..."

By contrast, in the peat worrier household, our good cheer overfloweth. Amid these snow-addled and pudding wine soaked days, it struck me that Gray not only echoes the most famous Christmas sourpus (assuming we exclude good King Herod) but if you dyed Gray's heifer-slurped hairdo a vivid lodgepole pine green, he's also the dead spit of Dr Seuss' eponymous Yuletide-swaggling anti-hero Mr Grinch.  After these glacial reflections, and bitter pill treats, I thought perhaps a singsong was in order. Merry Christmas Iain Gray! All together now...

You're A Mean One, Mr Gray

You're a mean one, Mr. Gray
You really are a heel
You're as cuddly as a cactus
You're as charming as an eel
Mr. Gray.

You're a bad banana
With a greasy black peel.

You're a monster, Mr. Gray
Your heart's an empty hole
Your brain is full of spiders
You've got garlic in your soul
Mr. Gray.

I wouldn't touch you, with a
thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

You're a vile one, Mr. Gray
You have termites in your smile
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile.
Mr. Gray.

Given the choice between the two of you
I'd take the seasick crocodile.

You're a foul one, Mr. Gray
You're a nasty, wasty skunk
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Gray.

The three words that best describe you
Are as follows
And I quote: "Stink. Stank. Stunk."

You're a rotter, Mr. Gray
You're the king of sinful sots
Your heart's a dead tomato splot
With moldy purple spots
Mr. Gray.

Your soul is an appalling dump heap
Overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment
Of deplorable rubbish imaginable
Mangled up in tangled up knots.

You nauseate me, Mr. Gray
With a nauseous super-naus
You're a crooked jerky jockey
And you drive a crooked horse
Mr. Gray.

You're a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich.
With arsenic sauce.


  1. This attempt to spin a negative (Gray's boringness) as a positive (he's "serious") is reminiscent of IDS and his "quiet man" business. Given the media reaction to this one - the newspapers haven't even illustrated their coverage with the Tunnocks photo, as Labour must have hoped - I expect they'll quickly revert to making up or selectively quoting figures on crime, teachers and so on, which approach has served them well so far.

  2. Colin,

    A tragic pity that the lieges were deprived of another chance to take in Eck's splendid "adoration of the teacake". The whole assault really is ridiculously frivolous. Strategically speaking, I can see how Gray simply must make a virtue of necessity (namely, the necessity of his remorseless charmlessness. Also I thought an echo of G Broon). I didn't mention Gray's other attempt to revive old Ming Campbell's formulation of no time for a novice. Clearly, he's picking all the historically winning lines. Curiouser and curiouser...

  3. Wasn't "no time for a novice" Broon as well? I'm sure I recall him aiming that bit of verbal wizardry at one or both of the Daves.

  4. Quite so. The redootable Broon played the same old tune in a desperate attempt to buttress his crumbling defences, before his defeat.

  5. Who make up the fab 'think sink' that instructs Mr Gray how to saw through the branch on which he is perched? Although I could be persuaded it's all his own bungled whittling from his consistent wooden productions.
    Broon and Gray - colourless figures cleft from the same hollow stump - at least the Grinch is only fictional.
    Happy New Year...........

  6. I have sometimes wondered what became of the infamous "jimmy wig" picture of Alex Salmond from the 1998 world cup in France.

    Has SNP HQ bought up all the copies and buried them in a lead-lined vault underneath Gordon Lamb house? Or have Labour managed to sneak a couple of copies - will this be their secret weapon in 2011?

    That would be a mistake because Alex's clownish side - and he definitely has a clownish side - just makes him seem more approachable and human than Iain Gray. The Jimmy wig picture doesn't just show us a senior politician arsing around in France, it shows us a senior politician who is capable of arsing around with Scotland supporters and having a laugh at his own expense. AS is quite happy to spear his own pomposity - as was also illustrated by his Rev I M Jolly skit where he took the piss out of his own predictions of victory in Glenrothes.

    Is Iain Gray capable of laughing at himself? It seems unlikely that he is capable of laughing at anything, least of all himself. That is just one of the reasons that it is quite genuinely worrying to imagine him in a position of power.

  7. Rather well put, the both of you, and an excellent point on the perils of mirthlessness, Indy. I'm sure Gray's rictus grin might be sufficiently plastic to pull into something warmer, however, heaven knows what could prompt such a metamorphosis...

  8. LPW, you weren't the first to look at Mr Gray with a skewed eye and compare him to an animation!


  9. Does that make Mr Gray's Shadow Cabinet "the Gruesome Twelvesome"?


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