My Column

Eco protest didnt quite float my boat

  • Date: Monday 22nd July 2019
column Picture

Eye-catching vessels docking in Glasgow are nothing unusual – after all, the city was once the envy of the world with a fifth of all ships launched globally originating from the Clyde.

Even so, you really don’t expect to see a purple 25 foot sailing boat blocking the street as you make your morning commute.

Climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion decided to change that though last Monday, positioning their distinctive yacht at the intersection of Glasgow's Gallowgate and High Street – just in time for the morning rush hour.

The group, who also staged a "die-in" protest under the skeleton of a dinosaur at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in April, chained themselves to the vessel in the hope of raising awareness of climate change.

I’d hoped that choosing a boat to cause maximum disruption within the city was a tip of the hat to Glasgow’s rich maritime heritage, but it seems the ship theme was in place at four other protests around the UK on the same day with London, Leeds, Bristol and Cardiff also affected.

The boat was in situ at the Trongate for a good few hours, and I was surprised to see that it wasn’t towed away - especially with Glasgow City Council bringing in further car parking charges for motorists just two weeks earlier.

I’m being flippant of course. I do believe that Extinction Rebellion have a point. We have to think more about our planet and what we are doing to the environment, especially if we want future generations to enjoy what we have.

There are plenty of ways to have your voice heard and make your point, but I’m not so sure this was the best way for Extinction Rebellion to convert hearts and minds.

Also, with the Scottish Government setting ambitious green energy targets of generating 50 per cent of Scotland's overall energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030 and decarbonising our energy system almost completely by 2050, perhaps they would have been better protesting elsewhere.

The environment is a hot topic, and unfortunately like the world’s climate, it’s only likely to get hotter. Nevertheless, with the SNP’s proposed 25p ‘latte levy’ on disposable cups being slated by business chiefs and rivals, it seems that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

The SNP government is looking likely to force coffee chains, cafes and takeaway vans to hit customers with the surcharge within two years after agreeing to back an expert panel commissioned to look into so-called environmental charging and other measures.

Led by Dame Sue Bruce, the panel has spent a year looking into single-use disposable beverage cups. Keep Scotland Beautiful believes that nearly 500 million such cups are given out in Scotland annually.

With society becoming more aware of the impact that single-use plastic has on the environment and many retailers looking at ways to reduce packaging for their goods, the levy certainly makes sense.

I’d back a 25p ‘tax’ if it meant positive long-term environmental impact. However, the money needs to go back into better recycling and schemes to promote reusable cups, much like we are seeing just now with reusable water bottles being promoted by Scottish Water.

If it goes ahead, the levy on single-use disposable cups in Scotland could be the first of its kind in the UK, especially as Chancellor Philip Hammond rejected a similar idea that was put to Westminster last year.

Extinction Rebellion’s purple boat in Glasgow was emblazoned with the message ‘Act Now’. I believe the Scottish Government are slowly, but surely doing this.



When it comes to fitness, we’ve all come up with an excuse or three not to go to the gym.

Well, now thanks to Glasgow gym AG Fitness Training, you can no longer use the excuse of having to get home to look after your dog, because the gym has become canine-friendly. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘gym pants’.

The team there are actively encouraging people to bring their four-legged companions to personal training sessions – with AG Fitness claiming to be the first dog-friendly gym in Glasgow.

They’re certainly not the first to come up with the concept, with several fitness studios in London opening their doors for canines and there are other services in Edinburgh such as Joggy Doggy and Cani-Sports sessions but these are all outdoors only.

Gyms can be a daunting place for newbies, but as long as you don’t have a fear of dogs, this could be a unique way for people to enjoy the gym experience more and stick to a healthier lifestyle.

Dogs are known as man’s best friend and, let’s be honest, most people show more love and care for their pets than some relatives, so I’d say it’s a pretty smart move for businesses to become more welcoming for canines.

We’ve seen it in hotels, restaurants and cafes for years with the trend undoubtedly increasing in popularity.

Venues have been getting savvier to the trend too, with comical and cute sandwich board signs advertising that dogs are welcome and having water bowls and treats on hand to entice both people and pooches through the door. Some hotels even have resident puppy mascots to act as a special furry welcoming party for guests.

Now that gyms are jumping on the bandwagon, who knows what will be next, but the trans-fur-mation is a welcome one.



Last week saw the sad news that Steven Brown Art Limited – the name behind the rainbow-coloured McCoo brand – had gone into liquidation.

The Ayr-based business previously reported a turnover of £11.5 million and employed 21 staff, but with both the Ayr gallery and warehouse closing immediately, they’ve now all been made redundant.

The business grew rapidly with its designs gaining a cult following since launching in 2016.

Whether you’re a fan of the colourful McCoo prints or not, you can’t deny they have found a place in Scottish culture.

It’s always a shame to see a business with proud local roots suffering from serious cash flow problems.

All of its assets are being sold through liquidation. However, I’m sure it’s not the last we’ll see of those colourful prints.



Police Scotland and comedy don’t often go together, but as a nation we appreciate a bit of tongue in cheek humour.

And it seems whoever is looking after Lothian Police’s social media accounts has this in abundance.

They’ve previously cracked us up on Twitter with some witty rephrased lyrics regarding safety ahead of Spice Girls and Kylie concerts in Edinburgh.

And, with the Proclaimers coming to town, it was time to strike with the comedy baton again.

Ahead of Craig and Charlie’s gig at Edinburgh Castle, they posted advice for fans packed with a quite frankly impressive array of lyric references from hits including King of the Road, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles, and Sunshine on Leith.

It certainly brought a bit of sunshine into my life.



Back to column listings

Recent News

News Archive