Friday, 4 April 2014

Cybernats Ate My Hamster

Should No campaigners venture out into the streets without body armour?  That’s the question currently being posed by self-styled influential commentators after a study by IBM (Incredibly Biased Media) revealed that Cybernat rudeness is reaching epidemic proportions.

“It was bad enough when Cybernats were confined to their bedrooms,” said one political figure, wearing a paper bag over his head for anonymity.  “Having the word PISH tweeted at you isn’t very agreeable when your Scottish cringe is normally greeted with nods of approval in the House of Lords.  But at least they used to be out of sight, unless one of them accidentally managed to Skype you, so you didn’t have to gaze with horror upon their sweaty countenances and grubby semmits.

“Now we’ve let them get hold of iPhones, so they’re able to go outdoors, meet up in huge gangs and go on…. on…. sticker rampages.”  The last two words came out in a scarcely audible whisper, and he needed a nice cup of camomile tea before he could continue.

“Did you read about what they did to Ian Murray’s constituency office?” he sobbed. “Ian takes great pride in its appearance, taking pains to ensure it projects just the right amount of soul-sucking negativity.  And those… those vandals…. came along and allegedly stuck at least one and possibly more Yes stickers on the window, in full view of his core vote! 

“We all know how dangerous Yes stickers are.  With the light blocked out and the office in darkness, a staff member banged his knee against the corner of a desk, and unleashed a volley of swearing that sent two colleagues home in tears.  So the job of removing the stickers fell to the not-very-bright intern, who accidentally swallowed the sponge he was using and had to be rushed to hospital.  Meanwhile, several people walked under his ladder and will have bad luck for the next seven years.”

I asked Police Scotland about this vile hooliganism, but unfortunately they didn’t have the faintest idea what I was talking about.  However, journalists who had been amongst the first emergency services on the scene were happy to provide corroboration, although their emotions were understandably too raw for them to agree on all, or indeed any, of the facts.

Meanwhile, inevitably in a country as dreich as ours, indoor Cybernattery continues unabated.  I was contacted by “Bill”, founder and patriarch of the holiday company Bawheid Travel, who explained how devastating an impact it can have on businesses innocently trying to railroad staff.

“All I did was e-mail my employees saying that after independence the firm would be buggered, because European law would immediately impose a 500-year ban on us offering anything more than weekend breaks in Millport.  I told the staff it was basically up to them, but if they voted Yes I would have them fed to giant mutant cockroaches while I sprayed them with tomato sauce.

“Well, you should have seen the abuse I got!  And that was before the e-mail even went public.  After that, we started trending on Twitter, and not in a good way, as Cybernats piled in saying that they’d rather hack out their spleen with a potato-peeler than do business with us.  Not that it really mattered by then, because most of the staff had gone off in the huff and I’d had to sack the rest for insubordination.”

Was it possible, I enquired, that people weren’t doing business with Bill’s company not because of his pro-Union views, but because it was run by a complete idiot?  His rejoinder, an unoriginal but forceful combination of sex and travel, suggested a possible future for him in the 18-30 holiday market.

I had to know more.  Fortunately, in an entirely unlikely scenario I’ve just made up, one of The Scotsman’s senior journalists agreed to speak to me, with the proviso that he could keep his face hidden behind a large yucca plant.  His diagnosis was stark.

“This ‘independence’ notion may seem a clever idea to Alex Salmond as he sits in a champagne bath in his luxurious American hotel suite, but it’s incredibly divisive.  Look at the places in the world that have recently experienced civil war, and you’ll see they’re all independent countries.  What does that tell you?

“This toxic debate will ruin friendships, tear apart families and have people smashing mirrors in an attempt to throttle their own reflections.  It’s like the worst excesses of Nazism, Communism and the French Revolution rolled into one.  Someone may even get hurt before long, which would be a blessing in disguise because then we’d have a reason to call the whole silly thing off.”

Blimey!  Was this the official view of Better Together, I wondered?  I dialled their 666 hotline number and, after 45 minutes on hold listening to Land Of Hope and Glory over and over again, I became so irritable that I was easily able to convince them that I was Alistair Darling.  A senior manager, “Blair”, agreed to meet me at a local coffee shop on condition that I bought him several doughnuts.

“Cybernats have got no respect,” he whined. “You wouldn’t believe their potty mouths when they’re online!  Half a dozen of the GCHQ listening staff had to be referred to trauma counsellors, and most of the rest don’t understand the meaning of the words used.  Although it is fair to say that Alistair Carmichael resembles some of the body parts quoted, if observed in a slightly dim light.

“They’re everywhere now, handing out saltires in the street, fixing us with quizzical stares and meeting in groups of more than one.  You can’t trust any of them:  the old women have unexpectedly pointy elbows and can do you a real mischief with a shopping trolley, the pensioners can fire their false teeth with deadly accuracy at any target within twenty-five paces, and even the uninterested-looking youngsters can unleash sarcasm on you at the slightest provocation.  Some of the younger ones are even able to deliver inspiring speeches! What's the point of infiltrating the teachers’ unions if that’s going to happen?

“It’s just the problem you get when you’re dealing with a mass movement of people.  We don’t have any human beings in Better Together, so we’ve gone with politicians instead.  We’re convinced it will come right eventually, since no-one will believe the depths of depravity to which our mouthpieces are actually prepared to stoop.”

I’d heard enough.  “I don’t agree with you, since I still have some moral fibre,” I said, “but thank you for your honesty.”

I shook his hand, and he immediately grasped his head and went down like a footballer in the penalty box.  “Help, police!” he yelled.  “Cybernat attack!”

As I was led away by an uncomfortably swift gathering of officers, two thoughts forced themselves to the front of my brain.

Firstly, would there be a PC in the prison library to enable me to continue blogging?

Secondly, would they let me wear my one and only, slightly grubby semmit, as long as I promised not to use Skype?


I was halfway through writing today's blog post when I heard about the death of Margo MacDonald.  It was sad to hear of the passing of one of the greatest influences in Scottish politics in the last 40 years and more. Whatever the shape of the new Scotland after September, Margo will have played a major part in bringing it about.  It's a great shame that she will not live to see the results of her life's work.

Like those of many people today, my thoughts are with Jim Sillars, Margo's husband, and with her family.