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Saturday, 11 May 2013


Image of Homer Simpson to illustrate this story about rants at Friendly Encounters
I began this blog with a post about trying to escape a rant from my son. But I actually enjoy a good rant, especially if it's verbally inventive and soars into flights of fancy. 

In this clip, McGlashan, a Scottish nationalist ranter, treats his agent to an entertaining tirade on how the Scots invented everything, then the English stole their ideas. "The English," he shouts. "We even invented them. We did. We took all the people in our country who were poofs or perverts. Or deviants. 

"Or bastards. Or girls. And we put them down south and said 'Right, you can be the English. You just stay there and we'll come down and kick your arse every now and again.'"

As this clip illustrates, a good rant is often accompanied by shouting and arm-waving, which is why some people dislike them, failing to find the humour and seeing only aggression.

So I'm driving my son back to his flat the other day, after meeting him at Tesco's, where the zombies got us, and a girl walks in front of the car, lost in her own earphone world, and forces me to stamp on the brakes.

It doesn't bother me any, but it sets him off on one. "What is it with young people these days?" he demands. "They walk out without looking and expect you to stop for them. It's insane."

"They don't know how dangerous the world is," I suggest.

"Well, somebody should've taught them," he says, as I start the stalled engine and head along Great Western Road, towards his flat. "Why do they expect everybody else to look out for them?" he demands.

"I'll tell you why," he continues without a beat. "Nobody gets to chastise kids these days. You have to reason with them, share their pain, persuade them of your point of view."

He draws a breath. "Send them to conflict resolution classes!"

By now we're stopped at the traffic lights just past Kelvinbridge and his raised voice and apparent agitation is attracting the attention of pedestrians, who look like they're wondering if he's about to explode or smack me around.

But this is not aggression and it's not directed at me. It's just good old-fashioned rantingness. "Maybe it's better to bring kids up like that," I suggest. "More enlightened than the traditional way."

"More enlightened?" he barks. "Are you mad? Do lionesses reason with their cubs, if they're getting too close to a big male? Do dogs consult the charter on the rights of the child if their pups are being a pain? No! They cuff the little fuckers and so they should. It's how kids learn. When I was a toddler, all cute and curly, crawling around your house, trying to eat sick, drink bleach and explore the electricity sockets, you didn't sit me down and explain human biology, did you? You smacked me."

"I'm not sure I did," I say. "It was a long time ago."

"Well you bloody should have!"

"You'll be telling me next that friendly neighbourhood cops should be encouraged to give kids a clip round the ear," I say, as we pull up outside his flat.

"Cops!" he shouts, seemingly oblivious of the young constable walking past on the pavement. "Don't get me started about cops! All they do is protect rich bastards from the people they've screwed."

"It's all right, officer," I say through the open window. "Care in the community - he's harmless."

"Get him off the street, sir, he's causing a disturbance," he says.

"I will," I say, taking his arm lightly and guiding him towards the door. "Let's get you inside and have a nice cup of tea."

"Tea!" he shouts, with a wicked grin the cop can't see. "Don't talk to me about tea. Those stupid bags don't have any tea in them. They're just dust, mouse-shit and spiders scraped off the factory floor."

I pat his arm for the benefit of the cop, who's still watching us. "Get inside, pillock, and put a sock in it," I say quietly.

"Socks!" he shouts, as I finally get the door open and shove him safely through. "Don't talk to me about socks!"

PS Alternative link to McGlashan. Catch it while you can, because Channel 4, who own the rights, have already blocked it at several websites.

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