When Val Met Nicola

Scotland’s second best crime writer with Scotland’s second best leader

A wee while ago Jaggy had a bit of hairmless fun with a book containing the selected speeches of Nicola Sturgeon. Well, who doesn’t like shooting fish in a barrel, eh? Actually, the post shone more of a spotlight on the adulatory introduction to that volume, penned by one of the First Minister’s most star struck groupies, Val McDermid. Despite my hailing her as Scotland’s second best crime writer, Ms McDermid instantly blocked Jaggy from her Twitter account. This is most distressing since I really miss Val and Nicola’s social media exchanges about chocolate mousse (seriously, they’ve done that). Then again, I have always preferred Ian Rankin’s tweets, as well as his books.

Anyways, that unfortunate misunderstanding set Jaggy to thinking when and where did Nicola and Val first form their mutual admiration society? I was just about to submit a Freedom of Information inquiry on this very subject to the Scottish Government (that’s the sort of thing FOI is for, isn’t it?) when, by pure serendipity, I discovered that they’ve had at least two sessions together. The first one was at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2015, when Val was interviewed by Nicola about her latest page-turner (although expecting the Dreghorn diva to shine the spotlight on someone else for a whole half-hour was never going to quite work out that way, was it?)

Their second recorded encounter, just under two years ago, was billed as a Night of Inspiration. Following on from the Women’s World Cup, “two of Scotland’s most successful women” were invited to inspire the players from Raith Rovers Women and Girls. (Bet they were dancing in the streets of Raith about that!) Big Val is such a fan of the Kirkcaldy club she’s even had a stand at Starks Park named after her.

Personally, I’d rather have seen the hugely popular crime writer take more of a stand against the Hate Crime Bill than simply appending her signature to an open letter from 20 writers, artists and comedians meekly suggesting this legislation – now on the statute books – could have “unintended consequences” for Scotland’s creative community. There’s nothing unintended about the carefully crafted Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021. It’s (very much intended) consequence is having a chilling effect on bloggers, tweeters and women who might want to defend their rights against gender ideologists, even just by appending a few stickers to lampposts in Kirkcaldy. All that said, you might care to view one or both of the aforementioned films – if you’re not absorbed in the latest unputdownable thriller by Ian Rankin.

13 thoughts on “When Val Met Nicola

  1. Big Val must be the only woman is Scotland who does not understand that far from being a ‘feminist to her fingertips’ Nicola Sturgeon is quite happy to throw women under the bus. Just ask Marion Millar. A few stickers and ribbons and it’s quick, call the Polis!

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  2. I will hunt aforementioned films down Rob.
    I’m surprised at Val being so sensitive, she always struck me as a forthright, confident woman.
    Why she can’t see through Sturgeon is beyond me.
    Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading your blog, even if I don’t agree with all your political views, they are well written and always interesting.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Aye, Jaggy, intended consequences can have unintended consequences, that, had you marshalled your legal eagles and social observers, who are paid by the public to do just that for you, you’d have known about before you embarked on your elevation to to the clay feet brigade. That is, NS should have known, not you, Jaggy.

    Val McDermid is a lesbian, so she may well be in support of the other part of the equation, GRA reform. The two, the Hate Crime legislation and GRA reform were intended to be a twosome, quite literally cutting the feet of women from under them if they dared to voice any suggestion that jolly Uncle Stonewall was a bit of an authoritarian and had far too many fingers in far too many political, social, economic and philosophical pies, not to mention children’s welfare – or lack of it – for comfort. How anyone who has attended or watched a Pride March could have missed the grown men in adult nappies with pink dummies in their gobble mouths and not wondered what heading of womanhood they appear under, needs to visit Specsavers and a brain surgeon, preferably on the same day.

    Auntie Stonewall had opened her door to all in sundry who had any notion to claim that he or she was ‘trans’. Had you been travelling on, or intended to travel on, at any future date, a very long, Russian train heading for the frozen wastes, and crossing into former Gulag territory, you would qualify to access, without any particular ticket, all women’s spaces and rights that are tied to their status as people of the female sex, the sex category that ensured, through millennia, their subjugation.

    Now, as soon as GRA reform was mooted, women who had supported NS began to wonder; then, when the Hate Crime legislation came along in advance of it, they all began to understand what was going on, having once supported trans rights. It was meant to be a fait accompli, and anyone who questioned the twin legislations was obviously a bad person, even when lesbians and other women were seeing their rights and spaces eroded. I think Val is a very smart lady, and there is no way she doesn’t see what is coming if we let it. Nicola is star-struck by talented women and wants to laud them. So, you have a kind of mutual admiration society going on.

    When she finally admits that she has been conned like the rest of us, Val will react – and react with anger. Either women are women or everyone is, including you, Jaggy – potentially. She will, like so many, start to question why we are having all this legislation forced us, yet no legislation whatsoever, has been passed in favour of independence. Or, maybe, Val will just go along with the gently, gently catchee monkey approach, that doesn’t even work with monkeys. By the way, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid are two writers who take very different perspectives. Personally, I like the work of both.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Many thanks for that very fulsome explanation of the motivation behind these twin pieces of legislation, Lorna. Believe me, I’ll be the first to applaud if Val McDermid takes the right stand on both. Who knows, she might even become equal tops in my estimation of Scottish crime writers then.

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      1. I can’t agree with that. Genius in any branch of the arts is an absolute. Its merit does not rise or fall in accordance with the political stance or ephemeral social approval/disapproval of its possessor.

        Anyways, Rankin is in a different league. Think Hibs versus McDermid’s Forres Mechanics.

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  4. It’s a puzzle, isn’t it? What passes for Scotland’s celebrity culture or ‘intelligentsia’ seems dazzled by La Sturgeon’s success in taking control of Scottish society. As to the GRA legislation and Hate Crime Bill someone like McDermid appears unmoved or untouched by the consequences for natal women. ( You might think that people whose occupation is wordsmith might make them more sensitive to what many of us ordinary folk perceive as Double Think and News Speak. Have they never read 1984?)

    You keep thinking this whole political situation is incendiary material for a firebrand satirist to set alight, yet all is silence or fawning adulation. (What happened to Frankie Boyle? Discovered his inner misogynist or simply ingratiating himself with the woke overseers at the BBC?)

    This whole scenario would qualify for a Black Mirror screenplay. How an elite took out its brain and replaced it with a facsimile in pretty colours whose vocabulary and pronouns had to be checked out against a central intelligence.

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    1. jgedd: they simply don’t care. Women are not highly prized in any sphere of life, anywhere. Many gay people absolutely support this bullshit; many certainly don’t. As for the likes of Frankie Boyle, I have yet to hear him make a joke about this nonsense. The very talented comedy writer – and not just on Father Ted – Graham Linehan, received precious little support from his fellows in the industry, some of them long-time ‘friends’ when he stood against this stuff. The Triggernometry lads are the only ones I can think of who allowed him a voice. Most people are just scared senseless of this vicious lobby, Stonewall and its allies and activists. They are afraid to be cancelled and have their careers ruined, basically. This lot of biology deniers are probably one of the most vicious groups we have seen in Scottish and UK society, and many, many of them absolutely hate and detest women even as they want to BE us. Some of them actually believe, quite sincerely in their deluded state, that half the human race is an aberration of nature, a mistake, dirty and and offensive.

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  5. There is a history, isn’t there, of even quite exceptional artists adopting the role of ‘courtier’ towards the politically powerful for whatever set of reasons – perhaps complex rationalisation with some – simple avarice with others. Like Jaggy and the rest here I’m puzzled by the current trappist-like silence from such a large swathe of the literary figures here in Scotland. Look across to our auld alliance partners in France – their literary world is fizzing with anger and contempt at the increasing illiberal tendencies showing through at the Elysee on a daily basis.

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  6. So much depends on any government in the UK handing out the lolly that some just can’t see why is in front of their noses. NS herself, does have a tendency to fawn, too, so, as Jaggy says, you have a mutual admiration society. Blair was like that, too. It is the vacuous, navel-gazing, insubstantial celebrity culture that we have at the moment. The Hollyoaks trans thing was so skew-whiff as to be laughable when reality was brought to bear – facts such as the one that no trans woman has been beaten up by imprisoned women. It’s crap. Ordure. Yet, those with the intellectual capacity of a peanut believe it because it’s on a TV programme for the terminally unthinking or for those not above fourteen years of age. If you ever wondered how Hitler became so powerful so quickly, now you know: Goebbels harnessed radio, newspapers, movie stars, etc to his propaganda cause. Something tells me, though, that Scotland’s cultural eagles are not entirely convinced and could be sharpening their beaks and claws as we speak.

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  7. TV dramas have a lot of influence over cultural attitudes and yet it is hardly ever acknowledged nowadays. For instance, many people have the impression that as many women as men commit murders which is not borne out by statistics. However, I think that in the case of drama writers, this is simply plot driven with no sinister intent. Simply, the genre often demands that the audience should not be able to guess the culprit and if it was nearly always going to be a man, as reflected in reality, there would be little suspense for the audience since half the cast would be eliminated from suspicion! Still has an unintended consequence though in people’s attitudes to real statistics.

    The drama you mentioned, lorncal, would then appear to have a distorting effect of actually portraying a fictional event that would be perceived by the uninformed as having the essence of truth. ( It is a soap aimed primarily at the young?) Whether sinister in intention or not ( might just be trying to follow a fashionable storyline the writers thought was already appealing to a young audience) it could have the same effect.

    You are right. What has happened to Graham Linehan is shameful and indicative of how shallow and mercenary are those ‘creatives’ who could not find it in them to give him their support. I’ve just been listening on radio to a criticism of those who didn’t stand by Shostakovitch and other artists by members of the intelligentsia in the Soviet Union. At least they were afraid for their lives or being sent to the Gulag ( often meaning the same thing). Our so-called intelligentsia are silenced by being denied a platform or a stint on TV or a commission for a screen play.

    (Have you sensed a sea change, lorncal? I really hope that that happens – and soon.)

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