I texted my pal to inform him the chances of catching my ugly mug on the big screen were well south of zero. Both the TV and radio versions of Question Time have become something of a thing among the 'YES' movement over the last few years. You only need to watch or listen to any episode to realise the BBC will go to all kinds of lengths to ensure a nice fat majority of roaring Unionists in the room.
A couple of years ago I had a fuming dog walk whilst listening to a podcast of the radio version. The broadcast purported to come Dundee. You know the place. The so called 'YES' city where almost three quarters of the population support independence. Bearing this in mind, it seemed somewhat strange when a rousing chorus of boos poured through my earphones every time the word 'Independence' was mentioned.
I wrote a raging blog about it and an explanation soon appeared in the comments section. The show was aired from a small village a few miles out of the city and audience selection was sub contracted out to a true blue committee from the village hall. There was no bus service from the city to the village. Mr Putin must have been quietly impressed, as would 'Joey the Crip' Goebbels.
Well Dumfries is far from being a 'YES' town. In 2014 Dumfries and Galloway voted to carry on hanging onto Westminster's apron strings by a whopping two to one. So much for the efforts of the likes of me who had campaigned in the other direction. BBC Scotland laid on a live radio debate and I got an invite to team up with Mike Russell to put the 'YES' side of the argument. I wasn't entirely surprised to be the token 'Ordinary Joe' in the midst of three professional politicians. The guys from the local BBC actually asked me if I know of any fellow 'Ordinary Joes' who were willing to front up for Better Together. I didn't. It didn't seem like there were any to be found.
Over the years I have done countless comment spots for the local BBC. Sometimes they have wanted my take on a drug story or a crime story. Other times they have wanted to get the low down on local poverty and hunger. Whenever we have sent out a press release about something we feel is important, they have almost always given us air time.
All of which would suggest a seat in the audience for Question Time wouldn't be too big an ask. Well I guess in a Walt Disney world where impartiality and fairness rule the roost such a thing might be possible. Aye right. All of us who have been arguing for Scottish Independence over the last few years have long lost any kind of wide eyed innocence when it comes to the media in general and the BBC in particular.
Every game is rigged by guys who have been rigging games on behalf of the British Empire for the last four hundred years. They are old hands. Dab hands. Sadly for them, the Empire is a somewhat shrunken affair these days and Scotland is the last colony of any great worth. Little wonder they are hanging on with such frantic tenacity.
The written press drips out poison to order on a daily basis. The owners have clearly been given a crystal clear message from the corridors of Westminster power. If you want us to play nice with you, well we expect you to play nice with us. And basically that means a constant, unrelenting attack on Scottish Independence and all who sail in her.
My favourite recent example is the Unionist outrage over new Scottish mothers receiving a free 'Baby Box' care of the tax payer. There have been howls of outrage at hard working families being fleeced. In a series of brutal attacks, the Unionist papers claimed almost 30% of new Scottish mothers are not using the free cot and instead are choosing to buy a new one.
Now you best brace yourself here. These wicked baby boxes are costing each and every one of us Scottish tax payers £4 each. £4!! When a government does something so utterly wicked and despicable, thank god we have our magnificent men of the press to shine a light on it.
To get a handle on just how wicked and disgraceful this £4 we are paying really is we need to compare it to an example of true value for money. As subjects of London, we are required to contribute our fair share to any major investment which is deemed to be of vital 'national importance'. You know - Cross rail, Trident, Hinkley Point, the M25. That kind of thing. Basically anything which is south of Birmingham and costs a shed load. This is why each and every one of us is required to cough up over £2000 for HS2, a railway which is unlikely to come within 150 miles of our border. Now this is what you call real value for money. A copper bottomed investment for any Scottish tax payer. No wonder the press were so upset at us having to pay £4 each for baby boxes. Thank Christ these lads have our backs!
It has become painfully obvious the BBC have completely caved to Westminster pressure. They watch a succession of ministers beat a path to Rupert Murdoch's door to lick his shoes and wet themselves in terror. Please don't privatise us.... please don't take away our lovely licence fee.... please don't listen to that horrid little Australian gnome.... please don't take our lovely pensions away ... oh pleeeaaaaaassseeee..... We'll do anything.... anything you ask... you don't like those Scottish Nationalist types... fine... neither do we.. we hate the bastards.... hate them, hate them, hate them.... we'll show them.... just wait and see..... oh please don't take my pension away..........
So, no. I'm not surprised to be watching Question Time on the tele tonight. I have no doubt my name is on plenty of lists. The 'Enemy Within' lists. The mate who sent the text probably thought Carol and I would have been given the nod as managers of our region's busiest food bank. And if we had kept our mouths shut about Independence, I am sure we would have got our invitation to the ball. But the BBC are required to paint a very particular picture for the world to tune into tonight. And whenever the word 'Independence' is uttered the boos with shake the room. The demanded message will be duly delivered.
Nobody here wants IndyRef 2!! Everyone HATES the idea of Indyref 2!!! We all absolutely know our place here!!! We are poor and pathetic and weak and wretched. We are forever grateful to be given the chance to live our miserable little lives care of scraps from London's table. We are lazy and fat and thick and poor and we are each and every one of us smack addicts in the making.
Is that OK, sir? Really. Oh thank goodness.... and my pension.......
So London doesn't like me. I don't suppose I will lose any sleep. I still have my pals in Moscow when all is said and done. I haven't written many blogs over the last couple of months. And when I don't post anything new, visits to my page slow down to a trickle. And of course if my page goes quiet for too long, then it might not jump out as the first hit when someone types 'Mark Frankland' into Google. I can't say I have ever worried about this, but there are pals from the East who worry about it on my behalf. You see, every time my page is in danger of going to sleep it suddenly receives a flood of enthusiastic visitors from Russia. They come in their hundreds. They pick me up and dust me down and push me back into the limelight.
Rather alarmingly this puts me in the same camp as Trump and Le Pen and 'Alternative for Germany' and Marine Le Pen. It has been this way ever since the 2014 Referendum. Someone, somewhere deep in an FSB cyber farm, my name must have been put forward and accepted. I guess I was deemed to be a thorn in London's side and therefore worthy of some online support from Putin's merry men. No doubt one day this unasked for and rather unwelcome support will be used by Unionists to name and shame me as a fascist lackey of Putin's Russia. Well such is life I guess. Nothing I can do about it when all is said and done.
Oddly enough, I reckon the reason for this page receiving so much love from Moscow is exactly the same reason why I will not be in the Question Time audience tonight.
It's Trident of course.
London has no love for Scotland. The Tories in particular must sometimes yearn to ditch a place where so few people vote for them. But any such wishes are well and truly trumped by good old Trident. Those missiles are the very last vestige of British global power. London once ruled over an Empire over which the sun never set. Now the Empire is down to Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, the Falklands and an archipelago of tax haven islands. Without Trident, London would be a bit part player. The old drunken uncle with all those well worn tales of his youth who everyone avoids at Christmas.
If we won our independence and gave London an eviction order for Faslane and Coulport, it is pretty clear there is nowhere else willing to play host to the treasured missiles and thereby become number one on Moscow's thermonuclear hit list. Trident is the main reason why London will continue to hang on to us with such unholy desperation.
On the flip side of things, Moscow is well enough aware that just about every one of the missiles on a Trident submarine are targeted at Russian cities. Not surprisingly they are not over keen on this idea. So not surprisingly, they must kind of like the idea of an Independent Scotland kicking the nukes out. So they offer their online support to likes of me.
This week, the Army's top brass have been out and about telling us we might struggle to take on the Russians should they decide to attack us. Apparently we need to spent lots and lots more. Nobody seems to ask the question of just why on earth the Russians would have any wish whatsoever to invade us. We are surely their most useful ally. The City of London launders all their grubby cash and delivers it all starched and clean. We have made Mayfair and Belgravia available to them and their oligarchs' offspring are lovingly educated in our public schools. They are about as likely to pick a fight with us as a drug lord is likely to behead his accountant.
Oops. I shouldn't have said that. Vladimir might not like it. Sorry Vladimir. Just a slip of the tongue. Please forgive me. London doesn't like me. I really don't want to lose my friends from Moscow....
What a barking mad world we live in!