Well, that’s this year’s Christmas Number One taken care of – Fairytale of New York.  In this woke climate, I’m almost scared to say I can’t stand it!  Not that I don’t like the tune and the folk influence, I do, and it’s all good until Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl start ranting about ‘scumbags’ and ‘faggots’.  That’s not Christmas, that’s the pits!  Christmas is supposed to be magical.  It’s White Christmas, Last Christmas and Driving Home for Christmas NOT a drunken brawl.  It’s supposed to be feelgood, an escape from reality – a pause for perspective.  If I wanted to go to Wetherspoons on Christmas Eve – or, frankly, Tiger Lily – then I would …  In a word – or several – Fairytale of New York takes all the enchantment and shoves it down a drain!  That said, my extensive research suggests that it is generally considered the most popular Christmas song of all time.  Don’t be ridiculous!  Just checking to see if that’s a quote from Omid Scobie …  Regardless, following the premature demise of Shane MacGowan, there is little doubt that the song will become an earworm over the next three weeks.  Note to self: refrain from mentioning, every time it comes on, not only how much you dislike it but, also, that Kirsty McColl was run over by a jet ski.  It was a speed boat!

Sorry.  Perhaps I could cite medical grounds in defence of my ‘bad’ taste?  Seems to be the new Get Out of Jail Free card.  For those of higher intellect, I am, of course, referring to I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!  ITV, for goodness sake, one should know by now how left-wing and biased it is going to be – and, clearly, Ant and Dec – but credit some of us with a brain; sad lives, maybe, but a brain!  Paid a small fortune to spend up to three weeks in the Australian jungle, undoubtedly, it is a spring board for wannabes and has-beens but it does tend to separate the wood from the trees, not least when it comes to the trials and team spirit.  Nella Rose, of course – the YouTube ‘influencer’? – is still there, she of the huge chip and mis-placed confidence where there should be a brain.  The racism card is her shield, used, masterfully, in her ‘discussion’ with Nigel (Farage) about cultural appropriation.  Out of her depth – in general – Nigel is very gentle with her, as he was on this occasion, realising it is pointless but all she can see is a politician – and a white one, at that!  In truth, she probably has no idea who he is but the internet is her god and victim culture, her domain.  She is programmed.  A diva, to boot, she was repeatedly voted, by the public, to do the trials and, I would say, was on the verge of walking until she pulled the medical card and was, subsequently, granted an exemption from the next (and, turn outs, many more to come).  Clever.  Cite mental health.  After all, both Grace Dent and Jamie Lynn Spears did, leaving ‘on medical grounds’.  Suitably vague, it’s perfect.  Just saying.  Honestly, if I didn’t hate the programme as much, there would be no point in watching it!  The participants, though, are stripped bare and, deprived of the make-up and lights, it can be quite an eye-opener.  Fortunately for Nella, her following will not change.  You see, like her, they don’t understand …

Last night, prior to the jungle, I thought I would tune into Piers Morgan Uncensored in light of the Omid Scobie Royal furore and the naming of the King and Princess of Wales as the two, alleged, members of the Family who dared to surmise as to the colour of Archie’s skin.  Named in the Dutch version of Scobie’s new book, Endgame – despite his pleas of innocence – the information was freely available on the internet, though not in the British press.  That is, until Piers Morgan took it upon himself – in the interests of the Royal Family, of course – to divulge the same.  Utter mayhem, last night, as Piers and his panel ‘discussed’.  Being someone who thrives on controversy and argument – Piers, that is – by that, read he shouted down anyone who dared to disagree.  Age-old Piers, of whom I was never a fan until Meghan Markle, at which point I moved into cheer-leading mode!  We, then, met him in St Andrews during The Dunhill of 2019 and he could not have been nicer.  Then came 2020 …

Piers Morgan and I parted company in 2020 and there is no turning back the clock.  Mlitant in his views on Covid and, particularly the vaccine, he was vicious in his attack on those who chose to exercise their right to freewill and bodily autonomy; those who, for their own reasons, chose not to be bullied into having an injection, still very much under trial and whose long-term side-effects could not possibly be known.  Far from anti-vaxxers – as they were, so ignorantly, named – Piers Morgan believed them murderers and himself, God!  Ignoring all the alarm bells – of which there were so many – his behaviour was unforgivable and, moreover, belied that of a man of intelligence.  There was no middle ground, as there never is with Piers.  How embarrassing, then, when the truth could no longer be hidden – the vaccine did not prevent transmission and, subsequently, those who chose not to have it did not have blood on their hands.  Ironically, Piers Morgan would have had them incarcerated while, turns out, they – astutely – merely chose to dodge a bullet!

Covid is far from over.  The divisions remain, the repercussions long-lasting and ubiquitous …

On a ‘lighter’ note, the pandas of Edinburgh Zoo and their imminent return to China.  Hailed as a ‘symbol of friendship’ between the two countries, they arrived in Scotland in 2011 to a tumultuous welcome.  2011.  Had we learned nothing?!  The two bears, subsequently, have cost the Zoo £750,000/year in a rental agreement with China, notwithstanding the costly enclosures and tons of imported bamboo.  Imported food?  I watched the news footage in disbelief.  Disbelief at the continued ignorance and the lack of empathy for these poor wild animals, imprisoned for human entertainment.  No, no!  It’s all in the name of conservation …  To quote the Senior Keeper in charge of the pandas, while conceding that all attempts at breeding have been unsuccessful: ‘What has made a difference, in terms of conservation, is the research and the knowledge’, AS SHE UNPADLOCKED THE DOOR OF THE CAGE!  What knowledge?  What can one learn from a wild animal in captivity, deprived of all that is natural?  Surroundings, climate and natural social interaction, for starters.  This is 2023!  There is no excuse.  Pandas may no longer be classed as endangered but they deserve to be free; to live and die in their natural habitat.  Conservation lies in protecting wild animals in the wild; in preserving their habitat and learning about them in the wild, as nature intended. Who are we to challenge nature?

Why not ask Darren McGarry of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland?  His comment on Wednesday night’s Reporting Scotland was priceless – and, once again, highlights the problem.  I quote: ‘I think it’s been more than worth it.  We’ve brought giant pandas back to the people of the UK.  They’re synonymous with conservation programmes.’  Now, there’s a claim to fame, bless him!  So little to work with …

We could learn as much about lions by studying them in their cages as we can about men by studying them in their prison cells.’

Bill Travers, The Lions Are Free.

This is Trish, signing off.

Update: The definition of stupidity?  Voting Nella as Camp Leader …