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Celebrate St Andrew’s Day with London’s top ten Scotsmen

Posted at 11:15 am, November 30, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment
Top 10 Scotsmen

1. Andy Murray

Saturday is St Andrew’s Day, the feast of Scotland’s patron saint, so let’s start an Andrew Murray campaign. Why stop at a knighthood for the all-conquering racqueteer – canonise him! After all, he’s singlehandedly changed the perception of jocks in London from shiftless drunks to superhuman sport machines. That dour demeanour probably wouldn’t change much on receiving a sainthood, though – we can’t all be Lorraine Kelly.

2. Tony Blair

To hear him, you’d think our ex-PM is about as Scottish as the current one, but Tony Blair was actually born in Edinburgh. (Which might explain why he sent British troops into war with the bloodthirsty gusto of William Wallace on a Buckfast binge.) The spinning and grinning nabob of New Labour was one of many premiers from north of the border including Bannerman, Balfour and the 3rd Earl of Bute; Gordon Brown’s reign of error, however, means it will surely be a while before shortbread is served again at a Number 10 reception.

3. Frank McAvennie

A West Ham hero as much for his charisma as his footballing ability, striker Macca was a true club man – ‘Usually Stringfellows,’ as he put it. With his dazzling white teeth and dazzling blond mullet, he was a regular on the ’80s London party scene, but a love for champagne, coke and Page 3 birds took its toll – his tabloid ‘spiral of depression’ hit its nadir when he ended up skint in a Gateshead bedsit in the ’90s. Lifelong Hammer Russell Brand admitted to being awestruck when they met, and Ray Winstone wrote the foreword for his brilliantly titled autobiography ‘Scoring: an Expert’s Guide’. Murray has a way to go.

4. Rod Stewart

‘It’s always been my spiritual home,’ the Highgate-born, LA- dwelling Rod the Mod said of Caledonia. And thanks to a faither from Leith, he’s one of the country’s loudest cheerleaders. Rod recorded the samba-style ‘Ole Ola’ with the Scotland 1978 World Cup squad, listing some of the talents in the team (Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness) before smashing in this lyrical own goal: ‘With this lethal combination/ It’s a fair estimation/That the World Cup will be ours the end of June.’

5. James Boswell

Quite literally the Boswell to Samuel Johnson’s Johnson, the 9th Laird of Auchinleck is chiefly remembered for his biography of a legendary Londoner. The 1791 ‘Life of Samuel Johnson’ is one of the most masterful and insightful accounts ever written about another man, but nevertheless the book’s subject maintained an unshakably low opinion of Boswell’s nation: ‘The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees,’ he said, ‘is the high road that leads him to England!’

6. Gordon Ramsay

After a trial with Rangers Football Club in the 1980s, a fresh-faced Gordon Ramsay (if he was ever fresh-faced) headed for London to kick off a career in the kitchen. Turning his back on the deep-fried and oversalted minced innards of his homeland, he set about perfecting the foams, flambés and flourishes of haute cuisine, winning his first Michelin star in 1994. Nineteen wholly successful and controversy-free years have followed.

7. Malcolm Tucker

Stalking the corridors of Whitehall like Macbeth with a hangover, Peter Capaldi’s media adviser in ‘The Thick of It’ was everything a Scottish political puppetmaster should be – ruthlessly ambitious, coldly unsentimental and equipped with a repertoire of profanities that would make a Fraserburgh fishwife splutter into her gutted haddock.

8. John Logie Baird

The inventor from Helensburgh moved to Soho in 1924 and began intense work on his life’s obsession – the wireless transmission of moving pictures. It was in Selfridges in 1925 that the first public demonstration of his prototype television took place: without him we’d have no ‘Take the High Road’, no ‘River City’ and no ‘Krankies’. Cheers, John.

9. Ivor Cutler

The Glaswegian poet, painter and all-round entertainer moved to London after World War II and became a much-loved but always outsider presence on stage, page, radio and record until his death in 2006. From spectacularly disorganised lodgings in Gospel Oak, he ventured forth to deliver his surreal yet profound mini works of art: ‘It is up to you whether you read this… My advice is just to ignore it.’

10. King James VI and I

Like many of his fellow countrymen before and since, James VI of Scotland made the long trip south to London in search of riches and a better life. Unlike most of his fellow countrymen, however, he found them. Big Jimmy ascended the throne at Westminster Abbey in 1603 to become ruler of the new Union; in November 1605 he survived the attempt by roguish papist Guy Fawkes to gunpowder him and his parliament into oblivion. And, once again setting a precedent for future generations of Scots, he was seen off at the age of 58 by poor health and a fondness for a bevvy.

Get steaming for St Andrew: pick your pub at timeout.com/bars

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