The best of Bob Servant
Ahead of new his BBC TV series, we look back on The List Agony Uncle's finest moments
Bob Servant, window cleaning kingpin and beneficiary of Dundee's Cheeseburger Wars, has been The List's Agony Uncle for around two years. As he heads off to be the subject of his own BBC4 TV series, he delivers his Christmas message, and shares some of his purest pearls of wisdom
Bob's Christmas Speech
Ladies and Gentlemen of Scotland,
I am writing both to say hello and, tragically, to say goodbye. Over the last few years I have improved the miserable lives of so many of you through my much-admired Ask Bob column. Alas, all good things come to an end (just look at Larry Hagman, or Comet) and I’m afraid that with my telly career about to go off like Hiroshima, Ask Bob is over.
With the arrival of my TV show in the New Year I will finally give this country an aging, eccentric television personality that they can be proud of, and I’m sure no-one will be prouder than you lot. It’s going to be like Beatlemania. Men will want to be me, skirt will want to see me. The Broughty Ferry punters will sink their teeth into me like jackels and that’s not even a metaphor.
All that remains is to wish you a terrific Christmas. It’s always lively here in Broughty Ferry. Last year Frank read in a magazine at the dentists how normal folk go on Christmas nights and photocopy their bottoms. We didn't have a photocopier so we just sketched each other instead and, inevitably, it ended with an argument. Like I told Frank at the time, the whole point of a caricature is that you emphasise someone's weaker points and if they suffer from insecurity then they shouldn't put themselves forward in the first place.
So have a wonderful Christmas and do old Bob one last favour. On Christmas morning, turn over and wake up your partner by leaning into their faces and whispering, with a wee smile, ‘Bob says hello.’ And those of you who fly solo, go round to your neighbours, slip in through a window, quietly approach them in bed and do the same. Because they deserve it. And so do you.
Merry Christmas my friends and, for the last time, I am
Our Top 10 Ask Bobs
In these times of crisis, it’s hard not to look for divine inspiration, have you ever cast your eyes heavenwards?
Richard 'Butch' Thomson, Dundee
It would be hypocritical of me to say I don’t have anything to do with religion, because I always celebrate Hallowe'en and April Fool’s Day, but I do find it hard to take the whole thing seriously. Mary claiming to Joseph that Jesus was an ‘immaculate conception’ is just laughable and must have got the guy pelters from his pals. Yes, I know Joseph infamously went on to have an affair with Mother Theresa but that happened after. The guy was hurting.
EDINBURGH VS GLASGOW
Where do you stand on the Edinburgh/ Glasgow divide? Should we all live in one big melting pot (Cumbernauld) or would that lead to rivers of salt and sauce?
Wee G, Finnieston
Asking me to choose between Glasgow and Edinburgh is like asking me to choose between Hitler and Mussolini (and I’d choose Mussolini who, for me, was really just ‘Diet Hitler’). I think you Glasgow and Edinburgh mobs are as bad as each other with your spiky hair, your top-end Ford Sierras and your 'manana, manana' attitudes. Get a real job.
All the very best,
Hallowe'en approaches and the kids want all sorts of outfits and pricey gifts. In my day it was dooking for apples and maybe a toffee apple if we were lucky. When did it all become so commercial?
It became commercial in 1973 when Stewpot's Bar in Dundee announced there would be a £5 prize in their Hallowe'en Apple Dooking contest. Things got totally out of hand. My neighbour Frank borrowed a diving costumer from his cousin who works offshore, spent a week practising in his bath and ended up getting 'the bends'. It was one of the worst cases of 'the bends' ever seen in Dundee, and by far the worst that was picked up inside a house. On Hallowe'en, Slim Smith went down on the bucket like the plane in Dam Busters and took about ten apples at once. To be fair, it was an impressive sight. His mouth opened like the loading end of a roll on-roll off ferry.
Summer holidays coming up, are you and Frank heading to warmer climes? Fife, perhaps?
Richard Thomson, Dundee
Frank and I are eyeing up a long weekend at his sister’s timeshare in Pitlochry but I’m in two minds because Frank’s a nightmare on holiday. He spends most of his time moaning about how the milk tastes different and that the locals look like they’d 'perv' on his wife if he was married and she was there with him. We’ll probably just go for the day.
These bankers are an awful bunch are they not?
They’re arrogant, pure and simple. Probably the worst of the lot is a guy who works in the Abbey National in Monifieth. He does that thing where you put your hands behind your back and rock on your heels during a conversation like you’re the fucking King of the World or something. Last week I watched him lean back in his seat, tilt his head and empty an entire packet of Skittles into his mouth. I just shook my head in disbelief, walked out, got the bus home, made my dinner (mince and potatoes, side portion of chips) and watched Murder She Wrote with a wry smile on my face.
I recently saw Celtic captain Scott Brown struggle for five minutes to insert a petrol nozzle into his car. It didn’t look like a new car and he’s surely used a petrol nozzle before. Can you help me get to the bottom of the whole mess?
Owen Bell, Glasgow
I’m just glad you didn’t approach him. Captains are, by their very nature, loners and as a result can be difficult to engage. I remember seeing Dundee United’s league-winning captain Paul Hegarty in the tinned fish aisle at Safeways in 1985. 'Afternoon skipper, buying some kippers?' I quipped. It wasn’t the best joke I’ve ever made (it wasn’t even the best I’ve made in the tinned fish aisle) but the look he gave me Kevin, I felt like my balls had turned into ice cubes.
I enjoy your contributions, but why are we limited to seeing only a cartoon representation of your good self? Why so coy Bob? Would it be possible to see a photo, even if it's just between us two?
Steve D, Leith
Let me make something very clear indeed. I protect my identity because for nearly 30 years I have been plagued by a woman from Lochee who believes that I have stolen her walk. The idea that I would steal a walk from anyone is absurd. The idea that I would steal it from a woman from Lochee is the stuff of nightmares. It's a no to the photo Steve. And anyway, what do you think this is? Jim'll Fix It? Get a real job.
A lawyer here. After your various legal wrangles over the Cheeseburger Wars, etc, I was wondering if you had any views on our much derided profession?
Lawyers are decent folks, trying to get by like the rest of us. And if that involves stealing a man's three kids and forcing them to call another man Dad and then the first Dad sees his children at a carnival in Dundee's Caird Park in 1987 and the kids ask the new Dad things like, 'Why is that man crying?' and 'Is that man not too old for the swings?' - well, that's just all in a day's work, isn't it JT?
Few problems with the wife. She claims that 'at her age' she is barely capable of taking on any physical task whatsoever. But get this Bob, she's 58 and I'm 61. What's that all about? Could you help me find a way out of this?
I take no pleasure in telling you this but your wife is pure evil. Not only should you leave her immediately but you should also think about notifying the police because she is committing an array of offences against you on a daily basis. She is behaving, Harry, like Adolf Hitler and you have inadvertently become her Eva Braun. Get out of the bunker, Harry.
My Dad says you’re not real, are you real?
Paul Instrell (5), Livingston
Go up to your Dad, kick him the balls and ask him if that was 'real'. Your dad Paul, and I do not say this lightly, is a complete prick.
All the very best,
Bob Servant Independent is on BBC4 in early 2013.