Strange tale of three beards

...or how James Bond brought the SNP and Tories together

A TOUCH of glamour visited the first day back of the Scottish Parliament's education, culture and sport committee. And it wasn't Mike Russell's scraggy beard.

The SNP's shadow minister has returned from his summer hols sporting the old familiar "five o'clock shadow", and a bit more, causing havoc among picture editors on newspaper desks.

At least they can rerun his old snarling snaps.

Brian Monteith, Tory spokesman, is not best pleased. The fellow beardie and Lenin look-alike is being forced to reconsider his facial growth since no divide between himself and Mr Russell could set them whispering on the Mound. At one point, Mr Russell could be heard mouthing the completely unprecedented: "Unusually, I agree with Brian Monteith."

The chamber shuddered in disbelief, causing stenographers, or however they record cherished words these days, to recoil in shock.

The reason for this new SNP-Tory concord is none other than the man with an occasional whiskery chin and schussing slur, Shir Shean Connery, who made a cameo appearance on paper, but not in person. And that's the point.

Shir Shean, SNP funder, is co-signatory on a petition "to facilitate the setting up of a film industry in Shcotland", as he might, or might not, have shaid. A mere coincidence: one of his recent movies is the appropriately named The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

That's the culture bit of the committee, Jimmy.

Mr Monteith has starred with a few morning rolls in his time and wanted to invite the great Edinburgh milkman to the committee to raise the profile of the committee, sorry, campaign. The other bearded wonder concurred.

Jackie Baillie, Labour's Dr No, thought otherwise. An Oscar-winning performance in the run-up to next year's elections would merely turn into political posturing, she insisted. Anyway, there was no time.

Karen Gillon, Labour's committee convener, agreed, unsurprisingly. Ms Gillon has starred in her own epic, From Lanark with Love, and has a haughty disdain for SNP-Tory plots. "I would rather take evidence from actors living and working in Scotland, rather than Los Angeles," she retorted.

But deploying a Never Say Never Again tactic, she promised to reconsider once more serious matters were out of the way. An unlikely prospect but it saved the day for The Man Who Would Be King.

Mr Russell, who fancies that role, was satisfied.

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