Talking Point with Gazette chief reporter Ron Harris

Every toon has its ain Benefit Street...and we have several in oor patch, according to Ron!
Every toon has its ain Benefit Street...and we have several in oor patch, according to Ron!
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Find out what’s getting on oor Ron’s nerves this week!

AH doot if Maw Broon in all her 70 years feeding her massive Glebe Street brood has dished up as much mince as the telly does oan a single nicht.

Aye: there isnae much tae entertain you unless you go for the likes o’ Channel 5 Victorian freak show-type ‘The Boy With Seven Bahookies’ rubbish or court a heart attack wae the sheer, naked excitement o’ watching Eighties soap has-beens baking cakes.

In your desperate search o’ some distraction you micht even stumble across a pure masterpeice o’ televisual mince cried The Landscape Channel on which, quite literally, you can sit and watch the grass grow.

Dootless, some eejits somewhere deep in telly land are currently working on new shows wae enticing titles like ‘Live Paint Drying’ and ‘Coma Ward’.

Onyway, seldom in these days o’ visual wallpaper posing as programmes does onything oan the box cause much o’ a stooshie but its seems the new ‘reality’ series Benefits Street is getting pelters for no’ being quite, er, reality.

Y’see, some Suit doon in London had the absolutely wizard wheeze o’ sending a camera crew intae a cowp in the North and filming, for the education o’ the middle class viewer, a shower o’ work-shy alcoholics going aboot their daily borderline-criminal lives, whooping it up at the taxpayer’s expense.

Ah see there has been some backlash tae this, wae wan local meenister frae the aforementioned cowp oan breakfast telly, beating his chist and greetin’ aboot the whole community being totally misrepresented and stigmatised by the Middle England Media Mafia.

Of course, as in ALL stories, the truth lies somewhere between the twa.

There’s no’ wan o’ us – or, at least gey few – who DISNAE know some lazy nyaff milking the system for a’ its worth. Oan the ither haund, mah heart breaks tae meet, week in, week oot, bright, eager young folk aroond us here in Clydesdale DESPERATE tae pit their full talents tae use only tae be shunted behind some pub counter or supermarket checkoot.

Exactly when in the past 40 years Britain picked up this habit o’ criminally squandering its greatest human resources ah dinnae ken but we’ve got it doon tae a tee noo’.

Onyway, this Benefits Street notion Channel 4 had is auld hat tae ony local newspaper hack.

Every paper’s patch has its equivalent o’ Benefits Street and ah could risk having the Gazzy’s windaes panned in by naming here and noo four streets in Lanark, three in Carluke and twa each in The Forth and Rigside which will be awfy familiar tae ony regular reader o’ oor world-beating Sheriff Court coverage.

Noo, ah’m auld enough tae mind when ALL yon streets were whit they cried ‘respectable’ and ah’m also lang enough in the tooth tae mind HOW they became the middens they are noo.

It was the policies o’ the successive local cooncils tae blame, turning certain pairts o’ oor toons and villages intae ghettos – or “hard-to-let areas” – where they just dumped everywan the cooncil reckoned tae be feckless.

Aye, gie a street a bad name and it’ll stick for years and it’s no’ just aroond here.

In recent times ah’ve taken tae nomadic wanderings at weekends through Glescae, seeking a new abode and this has led me doon some highways and byways of yon city that even hardened Glaswegians are feart tae tread.

When ah recounted wan o’ mah recent expeditions tae wan o’ mah Weegie pals, his coupon turned an ashen-white and he exclaimed wae trembling voice: “Ye didnae go THERE did ye? Are ye turnin’ suicidal or whit, ye numptie?

“See at yon high school roond there, if you’re absent frae class twa days running, the teacher marks ye doon in the register as ‘Missing, Presumed Killed in Action!”