By Russell Bruce
With apologies to Oliver Hardy for borrowing his catch phrase used in 17 films between 1931 and 1951. Hardy was born in Georgia which has been in the news recently in providing Biden with 2 Senators to take control of the Senate following Trump’s endless rants and persecution of Republican elected politicians and state officials of whom he demanded they find him 11,800 non-existent votes.
Hardy’s screen partner Stan Laurel was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in Ulverston, Cumbria. His parents moved to Glasgow where his father managed Glasgow’s Metropole Theatre.. Wikipedia records he attended Rutherglen Academy but it was always my understanding that he was a pupil at Queen’s Park Secondary School in Glasgow. He certainly appeared on the school records and we were often told about the luminaries who had been former pupils. His parents moved several times and when they moved to 17 Craigmillar Road, Mount Florida Laurel moved to Queen’s Park School. Laurel later emigrated on the same ship with Charlie Chaplin to the US and was Chaplin’s understudy for a time.
Some other Alumni of Queen’s Park Secondary School
Queen’s Park produced a number of significant political figures including Winnie Ewing, Red Clydesider John McLean, and former Labour minister in the Attlee years Mannie Shinwell. Other former pupils included footballers, notably Robert Smyth McColl founder of RS McColl, weatherman Ian McCaskill, Kelvingrove curator Tom Honeyman and singer Anna Neagle. Then there is Helen Fraser a really significant political campaigner, feminist, suffragette and educationalist who should be better remembered.
We all knew Isaac Wolfson donated money for a swimming pool but it never materialised at the Grange Road site, now a car park opposite the New Victoria Infirmary.
Getting back to Donald Trump and Stan Laurel, both were known as entertainers but with a big difference – Stan brought laughter and joy to people in a career that spanned the first half of the twentieth century, appearing in 190 films. Trump ‘The Apprentice’ bully morphed into a bully politician. Many politicians have been accused of being a bully but Trump has taken this to a very different level in a democratic country.
Much of Trump’s outpourings over the run-up to the 2016 campaign and his 4 years in office have fused comedy with tragedy. For many a comic figure he none -the-less captured something in many Americans that will take time to work through and for a more responsible Republican party to find sanity in their political positioning.
The insurgency Trump promoted resulted in shocking events on Capitol Hill with repercussions that will last for many a year, especially for the most dangerous and foolhardy of participants and in restoring America’s reputation around the world. There is a stench hanging over Trump and Capitol Hill that will not fade with President Trump’s chosen ignominious end.
A pathetic revolution
Despite the serious nature of the vandalism and violence, as an insurgency, attempted coup or an actual revolution it was pathetic and doomed to failure. Trump has now renounced his contorted assurance that the smooth transition to President Biden will go ahead. It will. His condemnation of those involved in the violence has been retracted with 17th January indicated for some kind of round 2 of the revolution.
For a President with just 10 days left Trump has made himself even less comic and a really pathetic figure in international politics. Opportunity for peaceful protest is essential in a democracy. A constituent base unable to distinguish protest from riot and revolution is something the Republican party will have to take head on. For four years they have humoured Trump in a comedy of errors. where Trump’s ‘good guys’ turned out to be rather sinister.
The photograph of Stan Laurel is by Stax, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons