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Just a Game?

What have we lost?

Monday, April 29, 2024
2 mins

How Much Have We Lost?

by Rab Clark

Have a wee look at the image above.

It's a frame from the 1979 BBC Play For Today, Just a Boys' Game written by Peter McDougall, starring Frankie Miller.

A link to the drama is below. At 14mins 26 secs in (the image above) a sticker can been seen affixed to the table on which the television is sitting. It says 'Shipbuilding Must Not Be Sold', with the SNP logo partially visible to the left.

(Almost 30 years have passed since Miller suffered a brain aneurysm and spent five months in a coma. He is still alive, as are Peter McDougall and Gregor Fisher.)

We're not going to wax lyrical about 'the good old days'. For those who can remember that far back the film does a great job of conveying how grim Glasgow's image was at the time. Then followed the Garden Festival/Year of Culture period which helped accustom citizens to the idea that the city and environs had to be 'sold' as attractive, even if they weren't. How many Glaswegians (or Scots generally) actually believed the 'Glasgow's Miles Better' spiel is unknowable.

Almost half a century on, how much have things improved? It is hard to find accurate child poverty stats prior to 1994. That's the metric we always go to when trying to assess the state of the country - it is currently hovering around the 24-25% mark and is slowly rising.  

People now may possess more 'stuff', but how valuable is it? Most of us have big televisions, cars, mobile phones, credit cards. But a lot of our furniture is made of compressed sawdust and clothing is mostly imported.

How much hidden debt are Scots carrying right now?

How many citizens are even aware of what percentage of their council tax payment is destined for shady offshore bank accounts due to exorbitant PPP/PFI deals struck by local authorities almost 20 years ago and with a decade yet to run?

How many are aware of the threat posed by Freeports?

How much are we paying for government virtue-signaling via taxes on tobacco and alcohol?

How many generations of Scots to come will be paying for seemingly endless wars that we have no say in?

How much oil/gas/whisky revenue has gone straight to London since Just a Boys' Game was screened?

Fintan O'Toole (in an article we cannot locate) once bemoaned the cosmetic improvements to Dublin vaunted as evidence of the Celtic Tiger's success and asked 'What have we lost?'

We're too close to Scotland to be objective about its current state. But using valuable social documentary such as Just a Boys' Game helps gain a perspective. It may well be that the truth, viewed 45 years from now, won't appear any less grim.

Play for Today - Just a Boys' Game (1979) HD BluRay by Peter McDougall & John Mackenzie FULL FILM (youtube.com)

Just a Boys' Game - Wikipedia

Just a Boys’ Game and the work of Peter McDougall | Gonzo Magazine

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