Earlier this week, I was invited to an event at a hotel in Ayrshire owned by the president of the United States. I can’t think why. It is true that, years ago, before Trump arrived on the scene, I would go to Turnberry occasionally for lunch or dinner; maybe I inadvertently signed up to receive email promotions. Still, it was something of a surprise to receive an invitation to 'Lunch with the Girls' on Friday 17 March.
For £75, including return transport from Glasgow or Ayr, I was promised an 'exceptional lunch' followed by an 'entertaining and lively panel discussion with our three celebrity guests'. Oh, 'plus some musical entertainment'. All in all, the president of the United States, or his representative on earth, had lined up an 'unmissable afternoon' of miscellaneous treats.
I was intrigued. Who were the 'well-known female faces' who would be taking part in the entertaining and lively panel discussion? There was indeed cause to wonder.
The proprietor had, after all, been caught on tape uttering the boast: 'When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything...grab them by the pussy. You can do anything'. The same proprietor had called one prominent woman in America 'a big, fat pig' and another 'a dog'. He had greeted a radio presenter: 'By the way, your daughter? Can I say this? A piece of ass'. After buying the Miss USA title, he had promised to 'get the bathing suits to be smaller'. All this – and, as they say, much more.
In all the circumstances, it seemed fairly remarkable that Trump’s hotel had managed to persuade as many as three well-known female faces to grace 'Lunch with the Girls'; and so I keyed their names into the usual search engine.
Thankfully, Gina McKie is not the excellent actress of nearly that name. She is described in the bumph as 'the bubbly Gina McKie from Radio Clyde'. Her Wikipedia entry informs us that she is a former student of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (which has subsequently gone up in the world as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, no less) and that she possesses 'advanced counselling skills in psychology'. At a slightly later stage in the presidency, these are skills that may prove necessary – if the proprietor of Turnberry Hotel has not already blown us all to smithereens.
Then we have the once ubiquitous Carol Smillie, who announced last year that she was giving up the telly because all she was being offered were 'scrapings'. She now runs her own brand of women’s underwear, which she markets as 'talking pants'. Finally, there is Jane McCarry, an actress and teacher, who is hailed by the president’s hotel as 'everyone’s favourite nosy neighbour, Isa Drennan' in a BBC TV programme, 'Still Game', of which I cannot speak too highly, never having watched it.
The prospect of McKie, Smillie and McCarry taking part in their entertaining and lively post-lunch discussion was too fascinating to resist. How, for example, would they deal with irreverent questions about the proprietor? Unable to restrain my curiosity on this and related matters, I decided to accept the management’s invitation and book a ticket for 'Lunch with the Girls', prevailing upon my colleague Islay McLeod to make certain preliminary inquiries.
She came back with disappointing news: men are barred. Either the email was sent in error or the president of the United States thinks the editor of the Scottish Review, who was given the name Kenneth, is a woman, perhaps even a big fat pig and a dog. Anyway, whoever I am, I am not welcome. Shame, really.
I then experienced what passes for an editorial idea: to commission a female journalist to go undercover at 'Lunch with the Girls' and subvert the occasion by lobbing inconvenient questions at the distinguished panel, interrupting the flow of girly chat about talking pants with some tough stuff about Trump and women. Our two reporters, Ms McLeod and Ms Sharp, could have tossed a coin for this exciting assignment.
Only the usual twinge of conscience held me back. Nothing to do with
journalistic ethics, you understand; blow them. No, no: just the realisation that I couldn’t, wouldn’t, stuff 75 quid into either of Trump’s greasy pockets. It occurs to me, however, that our friends in the mainstream press, who tend to steal everything we do anyway, will have no such qualms. In that case, it only remains for me to supply the number of the ticket hotline: 01655 334 088.