You never know, one day we might win

Then it was off to <em>Newsnight</em> and normality, though just like <em>The IT Crowd </em>we, too,

To Murrayfield for Scotland v Ireland, with my 16-year-old daughter Caitlin, who is a veteran of Scotland football matches - but had never experienced a rugby international. At lunch, David Soul and Keith Wood, former Scottish and Irish captains, entertained guests with a pre-match build-up, but at least Wood wrapped his pessimism about our chances in his soft Irish way. Soul was merely brutal. Perhaps the chat was being piped to the dressing-room because, as ever when our backs are to the wall, we do our damnedest to rise to the occasion. OK, after a bruising encounter, we lost, but only by one point! It was worth being in that crowd just to listen to the Irish humour all around.

Anyway, there's always Scotland v France. We'll win that one.

Caitlin and I returned to Glasgow. It was due to be just the two of us at home that night, but I had been suckered into making myself scarce so some of her friends could come to play snooker and roam the house. I went to bed early to watch the DVD of Reichenbach Falls, James Mavor's entertaining thriller set in Edinburgh. It was inspired by an idea by Ian Rankin about Arthur Conan Doyle's failed attempt to kill off Sherlock Holmes, and was suffused with Ian's taste in rock music. Later, when I ventured downstairs to pour a small Arran malt, I encountered my daughter in the kitchen. "What are you doing out of your room?" she asked, coolly. Too far Caitlin, too far.

True candour

On Newsnight the glorious Betty Boothroyd came on live to give us a piece of her very sharp mind over the bourach (Scots for mess) that is Lords reform. Looking fabulous in a red dress with nails to match, she berated Tony Blair for his espousal of the 50/50 option between elected and appointed. Fully into her stride, she went on to describe him as a lame duck who, rather than indulging in a long and uncertain goodbye, should have followed her example and announced his departure one month and been history by the next. A woman who made history herself as first female Speaker, Boothroyd is an inspiration. Age has only increased her candour - if that is possible.

Tartan rugs

My son James and I fired up the A9 the next night to Pitlochry to see Black Watch, as it begins its UK tour. The audience set off on an illuminated path up through the woods. We eventually reached a shed, surrounded by tall pines, once part of a hydroelectric plant. We sat on raked seating, the cold night air seeping into the shed, tartan rugs across our knees as if we were at a strange version of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Gregory Burke's raw, funny and moving play follows a company of jocks in the Black Watch, whose second tour in Iraq is devastating, not just because they lose three soldiers in a suicide attack. Their deployment also coincides with the amalgamation of the Scottish regiments. John Tiffany's production, with its explosions, haunting music, and wonderful choreography, conveys the horror and fear felt by these young men in dealing with an enemy for whom death is only the beginning. The production declined an invitation to perform at London's National Theatre, preferring to seek out a different kind of space - just as Bill Bryden did when he staged first The Ship, and then The Big Picnic - at the disused Harland & Wolff yard at Govan on the Clyde.

Newsnight normality

I think Graham Linehan should be sainted for Father Ted, so when he asked me to play a cameo in the new series of The IT Crowd, it was a no-brainer. He's written a scene in which I interview Moss about Iraq under the misapprehension that he is a spokesman for the MoD. The production had built a makeshift studio in a new office complex in Chiswick. Around us, office life was in full swing - including a board meeting in an adjacent room, a man lecturing with a flip chart down the corridor, and a tense confrontation through the next window. Then it was off to Newsnight and normality, though just like The IT Crowd we, too, have our fair share of wackos. No names.

Another time

Scotland lost to France. How did that happen? There's always Scotland v Georgia next week at Hampden. We'll win that one.

This article first appeared in the 26 March 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Scotland: Time to break free?