I have never been Big Eck’s biggest fan.
Or to qualify that, and to put aside our First Minister’s political message, I have never been the biggest fan of some of his physical foibles.
That dismissive mid-sentence ur-hurr laugh he does when he, uh-hurr, thinks he’s being cleverer than whichever mere mortal has been dispatched to interview him is intensely irritating.
And that overtly antagonistic staccato head jab thing he does when. He. Is. In. Full. Feral. Attack. Mode. In. The. Chamber…well, that just makes him look thuggish.
But when I saw this today I felt a twang of sympathy for him.
This cartoon appeared in a story in today’s Scotsman written by an old pal, Brian Ferguson (who, it has to be said, is himself clearly no stranger to the pudding trolley).
The gist of the yarn was that a seven-year-old lad from Prestonpans called Jack Henderson has been raising cash for charity from his doodles. He doodled our very own First Minister on the day after his landslide election victory.
The SNP heard about it, Jack was invited to Bute House to give his doodle and, so the story goes, Big Eck got a wee jolt to see how um, well-padded Jack had drawn him.
But, like the sport he is, so the story has it, the doodle now has pride of place on our First Minister’s bookshelf.
So far, so good. Our FM might be a fatty but he’s not above a laugh and can take it all in good humour. Fair enough.
But the story got me to thinking about Big Eck, self-image, and all that malarky.
In the way of the world I once received an e-mail that was not meant for me, but was about me from a disgruntled colleague, angry with an instruction I’d given her.
In the e-mail she meant to send to her mate, but sent to me, she described me as Billy Bunter.
I was immensely hurt, probably because it was bang on the money.
She was mortified.
But I couldn’t be angry with her for long, after all I had this photo on my own fridge.
And in the words of Burns
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!
Like Big Eck, you learn to roll with it, to laugh at it, after a while.
The cartoon of our FM works because, not to put too fine a point on it, he is fat.
His size is, for better or worse, the defining first impression I have when I see him, and that cannae be good for a politician.
For me, I am conscious of how I look at the moment and I don’t like it. I don’t like the flapping shirt tail, nor the jowly neck.
I’m not sure if any of his own physical shortcomings concern Big Eck one iota as he gears up for his independence referendum battle in 2014.
Maybe big Eck couldn’t give a rat’s arse about the jibes from the less gracious cartoonists and commentators, but I suspect his advisors would probably prefer him to shed a (good) few pounds, if even just to emphasise the whole Braveheart-ready-for-the-fray shtick.
Maybe the Two Fat Laddies should invite him to a gym session round our way?