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Tam Cowan: Gay Gordons at school still gives me a Vietnam style flashback

As a Motherwell man who grew up in the shadow of the Ravenscraig steelworks, I never thought I’d start a column by praising a top Tory MP but let’s hear it for Michael Gove.

Turns out I’m NOT the worst dancer in the world!

Did you see the wee man’s moves in that Aberdeen nightclub?

I have to say right away he should have been wearing a mask.

Nothing to do with Covid restrictions – if you danced like that, wouldn’t YOU wear a mask?

Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood gave the Govester three out of 10 for his techno routine – surely the first one ever attempted in a blazer & flannels – and I imagine even Len Goodman wouldn’t have given him a seven (and he gave EVERYONE a seven).

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Despite the fact it’s been on our screens for two decades, I’ve never actually watched a full episode of Strictly Come Dancing. Nope, not even when one of my heroes – the late, great Bruce Forsyth – was presenting it.

(Reminder: if you still haven’t seen the funniest half-hour in the history of British television, check out YouTube for Brucie’s first stint as guest presenter on Have I Got News For You. It’ll blow you away.)

I don’t watch Strictly ‘cos I don’t like dancing. Never have done. Never will.

I’m convinced I was born with two left feet (I dance as though I’ve got THREE) and I always remained on the sidelines at kids’ birthday parties the minute the music started.

The Hokey Cokey? I put my whole self out – and stayed out.

Even though I boasted a great attendance record at school, the gold stars tended to disappear on the run-up to the Christmas party season when we’d be forced into the gym hall to learn The Gay Gordons, The St Bernard’s Waltz and The Canadian Barn Dance. Those were truly horrific times and I still have Vietnam-style flashbacks about ­Scottish country dancing.

Yep, while most folks’ anxiety dreams about school involve running late for a maths exam, my recurring nightmare is forgetting how to do The Military Two-Step.

As you can imagine, I have a phobia about New Year parties and ceilidhs.

Why can’t folk just leave you in peace to enjoy your drink? Why do they have to DRAG you onto to the dance floor for a Dashing White Sergeant or ­Eightsome Reel?

It’s not MY fault they’re always short of numbers for those dances. Leave me alone! To my eternal shame, I think I also had to be coaxed out of my seat on the evening of June 4, 2005… yep, I wasn’t even too keen on the first dance at my wedding!

All kidding aside, I’m actually amazed I ever found a partner. In my 20s, I totally blanked nightclubs and discos – in fear of having to dance – and felt a lot more comfortable on a Saturday night at Shawfield greyhounds followed by the casino.

But you know what’s weird? On the rare occasion I did go to “the dancing” – usually a stag night or a mate’s birthday – the girls must have sensed I wasn’t all that keen as, sure enough, not one of them ever asked me up..

The question on everyone’s lips as I go gigging again

Question Time host Fiona Bruce says she’s missed working with a live audience so much that she’s ready to kiss every single one of them when they’re back.

So can I just assure the punters attending a charity lunch I’m hosting in Glasgow tomorrow that I WON’T be taking the same approach..

It’ll be great to be back – I haven’t been on stage with a microphone in my hand since March 2020 – and with nerves sure to be an issue after such a long lay-off, I’m just praying it goes well.

At least I know it can’t possibly be as bad as my worst EVER gig (although, strangely, this wee story still makes me smile).

A good 10/15 years ago, I was booked to do a Q&A at a big hotel in St Andrews and, well, let’s just say it was starting to drag on a bit. After what felt like a turgid eternity, I asked the audience if anyone else had a question and a wee woman at the back (85 if she was a day) put her hand up.

“Yes, Tam, I have a question,” she said. “Would you mind if we all went to the bar?”

It was the only time the audience laughed all day…

Suet yourself Ange but we’re a puddin’ race

Last week, a rogue batch of pork scratchings put more than 50 people in hospital with salmonella and the poor souls faced a week of diarrhoea, vomiting and fever.

But I still think they got off lightly.

I mean, have you TRIED pork scratchings?

I think it’s impossible to eat one without losing a tooth or dislocating your jaw.

Like bacon-flavoured bullets, what part of the pig are they actually made from – the trotters?

Talking of strange foodstuffs, I’m sure Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has eaten some weird and wonderful stuff on his travels in Greece, Australia and Japan.

But, according to reports, the big man was still having none of it in the club canteen last week when offered a taste of black pudding!

“It looks alright,” he said, “but it’s not for me.”

A very diplomatic response – unlike my wee girl’s reaction.

Sophie was nine when she first tried black pudding.

“This is yummy,” she said, “and it’s nice and spicy.”

Then I told her what it was made from….

She spat it out and didn’t talk to me for a week.

Meanwhile, a couple of scientists were in the news recently claiming that, with an eye on the eco-system and saving the planet, they were going to stop Glasgow eating meat.

Aye right, good luck with that.

To be honest, though, it CAN be done.

Earlier this week, I stopped at a service station in Bishopbriggs and had a Ginsters sausage roll…

PS. Here’s something to ponder. Skinny fries. How come, despite eating several portions a week, I’m STILL a fat b******?

Serving up one-liners

Best wishes to my old pal Nick Nairn and all his staff after that terrible blaze at his restaurant in Bridge Of Allan last week.

I’ve always liked Nick and I’ll never forget his wonderful line, what, 20 years ago when I reviewed his Glasgow eaterie for this very newspaper.

“Who needs a Michelin star,” he said, “when you’ve been reviewed by the Michelin Man?”

Good luck, Nick.

Tam Cowan: Gay Gordons at school still gives me a Vietnam style flashback
Scottish chef Nick Nairn at his restaurant “Nicks” at Lake of Monteith in the Trossachs

Scotland the Grave

Eco-friendly Brits can now be buried in coffins made from mushrooms. They’re known as “shroom tombs” and cost £1300.

How would you like to go?

That’s what we asked the Off The Ball listeners a few years ago and one chap said he wanted to be lowered into his grave by the Scotland squad.

As he brilliantly put it: “It’ll be the last time they ever let me down…”

I’m Gunner be Arsenal’s saviour now

Scientists have found the world’s northernmost island.

Located off the coast of Greenland, it measures just 100ft x 200ft and is mostly mud and gravel.

The only other thing the experts know about it? Well, it will almost certainly be in England’s group for the next World Cup qualifiers.

Staying with football, it was good to see that Vale of Leven tracked down Rory, the pet pooch who blocked a shot in their game against Ferguslie Star and is now their official mascot.

A word of warning, though, boys. This story made the news right across the UK.

So don’t be surprised if Rory is offered a lucrative deal to play in goals for Arsenal.



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