Donald MacInnes: When offal is used as a tool of repression

  • @DonaldAMacInnes

Circus impresario Phineas T Barnum is credited with inventing three things: the first was disproportionately large clown shoes. In the past, clowns had been content to pad around in trainers or felt moccasins, but one day Barnum realised the solid comic potential of a bigger shoe. His second innovation was to sell tickets. Prior to this, circuses had not been open to spectators, but had taken place in remote fields.

Barnum realised something had to change, as it was becoming increasingly difficult to explain why he was disappearing into a tent with an elephant and a bucket of buns.

His third contribution was to invent the phrase: "There is no such thing as bad publicity", (although when he said that, he had probably never visited Wapping).

While the longevity of his maxim is admirable, it's worth bearing in mind that this was a man who knowingly employed tragi-comic men in garish make-up and ludicrous trousers (actually, maybe he did visit Wapping). Anyway, I was reminded of Barnum's wisdom yesterday, when the only unbroken pane of glass in our bedroom shattered and a haggis, wrapped in paper, thudded onto the carpet, just missing my fiancée, who was sitting on the floor, playing Ker-Plunk. "Not another one," she sighed. I unwrapped the aromatic projectile. On the paper was a message, its sentiment clear: "Piss off, Jock. Go back to your Highlands and meddle with the private areas of sheep and so on."

It was another unmistakeable sign that I should never have utilised this paper on Wednesday to advance my dangerous views on the trials of being un-English in England. All I said was that sometimes it's hard: people don't understand our talking voices and you're way better at football than us. And while my inflammatory views certainly increased the attention paid to this newspaper, the publicity generated (judging by the fact that I now have the local glazier on speed dial) is beginning to impact our lives negatively.

Yes, I had a few tweets agreeing with me, but they also asked me to send them pictures of myself in overly snug slacks, so I'm beginning to question their motivation. So, before I find myself nailed to the Wembley arch, let me make my peace. English folk, I mean you no harm. My kilt hides nothing that should frighten you. Let's be friends.

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