Saturday, 22 November 2014


Fantasy Bob found himself recently in the Scottish Portrait Gallery.

Scottish Portrait Gallery - Entrance Hall
Found himself......a peculiar phrase, implying some kind of out of body experience; as if part of FB had been mislaid and had been happily reunited with the rest.

Those among the handful of his worldwide readers who have been unfortunate enough to view FB's efforts on the cricket field will find nothing surprising there, for they will have concluded that parts of him have been mislaid for a long time.  Others may take the view that those parts were never there to start with.    But FB digresses.........

What, his handful of readers must be thinking, could have taken FB into such a high temple of Scotland's culture?

The fine red sandstone building is one of the finest examples of Victorian Gothic architecture to be found in Scotland.  Could it be the building itself that FB wishes to examine?  No.  Observers will see him pass through the highly decorated hallway without a look upwards,at the spectacular depiction of scenes of Scotland's turbulent history.

Museum exhibit - the Dundee match
was recreated by enthusiasts earlier this year -
FB not selected
Could it be the beguiling display in an upper gallery of material associated with the development of sport in Scotland?

For cricket has a display case all to itself with some highly engaging Victoriana, including a flyer for the celebrated Clowns Cricket match which took place in Dundee in 1879 and drew a rowdy crowd of 30,000.  So rowdy were the 30,000 that only one hour's play was possible.

Would FB pause before this item and ponder its relevance? Clown cricket matches were a regular feature of Victorian life (when without wall to wall T20 people had to make their own entertainment). There are unkind observers of FB's antics at Grange Loan who have suggested that his clownish attempts to play leg spin bowling have perpetuated this honorable tradition.  Was FB therefore seeking inspiration?

No, he passes by this case without so much as a glance.

Ian Botham by John Bellany
Perhaps he is on a search for a portrait of a significant cricketer whose rich contribution to Scotland's life is properly marked.  But the Gallery is deficient in that area.  Is it FB's objective to address this failing?

He will be aware that the sister Portrait Gallery in London contains a number of paintings of cricket greats - as well as a number of photographs.  Most notably there is a controversial 1985 portrait of Ian Botham by Scottish artist John Bellany.

The painting has that remarkable painterly quality - it bears no resemblance at all to the sitter.   In this it resembles FB's own attempts at portraiture. Perhaps, therefore, FB is contemplating offering his own representations of Carlton's greats to the Gallery to fill the obvious gap in their collection?

No, he pays scant attention to the places his work could grace the walls.

Instead his readership will follow FB to the Gallery's very pleasant cafe and finally understand the great service he is undertaking.  For FB is nothing if not diligent in seeking out empire biscuits of distinction.  And those in the Portrait Gallery are of Test Match Quality.  Carefully shaped and eschewing the jelly tot or glace cherry, they are topped with dried raspberry. Sublime.  FB brings the biscuit to his lips and everything is transcended..........

So, it was an out of body experience after all.

A portrait of perfection.


  1. Having played in a few Clown Cricket matches in my time, I would happily support FB if he should wish to re-establish this fine tradition. I await his call (empire biscuits will be made available).

  2. FB will advise the selection committee of your availability.