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Issue 25 - Sorry, no cigar

Whisky Magazine Issue 25
August 2002

 

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Sorry, no cigar

Michael Jackson faces the legacy of Beano and Dandy

The cigar appeared to be travelling under its own power as it entered the bar. It was a cigare volant as long as a freight train. I remembered waiting half an hour at a crossing in Billings, Montana, before the rear locomotive came into view. The power behind the cigar seemed to take even longer in appearing, as though it were in a different time-zone. I was consumed with curiosity. Such big issues occupy my musing mind. How was the cigar kept in a state of levitation? A mobile crane with a cantilever system? A human version, designed by Gerald Scarfe? Except that whisky is Steadman's territory. He has sprayed on every lamppost from Kirkwall to Bladnoch.

I find it hard to dismiss the notion that men with huge cigars come from Dundee. I mean from the drawing boards (surely not computer screens) of Beano and Dandy. Those two comics have for decades recycled their magnificently crude stereotypes of cigar-smoking, top-hatted arrogance, invariably ensconced at Hotel Splendide, and with recourse to bottles boldly labelled WHISKY and CHAMPAGNE.

These images may be created in a city that is provincial within Scotland, but they have a universality that has connected with generations of English children who wouldn't know Dundee from Doncaster. Scots soccer fans still laugh about an English newscaster who tried too hard to pronounce Tannadice. “Tanna-dee-chay”, he said, almost in Czech. As you are no doubt aware, we are speaking of Dundee United's stadium.

I rarely mused abo...

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