'This is Glasgow. We'll just set aboot ye' -'.. the phenomenon of 'Smeatomania'

jauntie
By jauntie

To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site, go to
http://www.guardian.co.uk

'This is Glasgow. We'll just set aboot ye'
John Smeaton, the airport baggage handler who grappled with a terrorist suspect, has become an instant icon thanks to the website dedicated to his deeds.

Lawrence Donegan on the phenomenon of 'Smeatomania'
Thursday July 05 2007
The Guardian

When asked if he had a message for the bombers, John Smeaton, the baggage handler who helped thwart Saturday's 4x4 attack on Glasgow airport, said, "This is Glasgow. We'll just set aboot ye."

The city of Glasgow's marketing department, which has spent 20 years trying to obliterate Glasgow's "No Mean City" reputation, might have winced at the sentiment. But the rest of the world was enchanted, and Scotland - and the internet - had found a new hero.

Smeaton confronted one of the men from the 4x4, who was fighting with a police officer. "I got a kick in," he said. "Other passengers were getting kicks in.
The flames were going in two directions ... You know when you're younger, you put a can of Lynx [aftershave] on the fire, and it's like a flame thrower." And: "Me and other folk were just trying to get the boot in and some other guy
banjoed him". (To banjo is Scottish slang for to hit someone as hard as you can.)

Another day, another paean to the man: yesterday's contribution came from Michael Kerr, whose own efforts at tackling one of the would-be terrorists were rewarded with a couple of smashed teeth, a broken leg and a supporting role in a worldwide phenomenon henceforth known as Smeatomania. "I flew at the guy a few times but he wouldn't go down. Then he punched me so hard he knocked my teeth out and sent my flying so hard I broke my leg," Kerr said with a commendable lack of machismo. "I landed next to the burning Jeep and thought it was going to explode. That was when John Smeaton dragged me to safety. He's a hero."

With crews working hard yesterday to restore the fire-damaged terminal, it seems the moment might have passed for building a plinth and commissioning a statue of Smeaton. Nevertheless, some form of official recognition is surely on its way. Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, says so, and so does the Scottish Sun, which yesterday launched an in-your-face campaign to "Give John a Gong".

(Rumours that the airport is to be renamed Smeaton International Airport appeared to be unfounded at time of going to press.)

Still, our hero has plenty of other things to occupy his mind while awaiting the call from the Palace, not least the demands that come with being the latest in a long line of everyman heroes delivered by Scotland to a grateful world, from William Wallace to Sean Connery.

In Australia, his remarks were broadcast accompanied by subtitles - the sort of accolade usually reserved for the likes of Gregory's Girl and Trainspotting. And on Fox News in the US, Smeaton has received the fawning treatment normally
reserved for Dick Cheney.

It is a similar story in cyberspace, where a large corner of the internet is now devoted to the great man. One website gives visitors the chance to put a pint for Smeaton behind the bar of the Glasgow airport Holiday Inn. So far, 1,035
fans have taken up the offer.

Elsewhere, the Photoshop enthusiasts have been hard at work. There is Smeato as Superman; Smeato as a Jedi knight; Smeato as Bruce Willis in Die Hard; Smeato as the man who made Osama bin Laden say, "You told me John Smeaton was off on Saturdays!" Another shows Smeaton midair performing a flying kick with the words, "This is Glesga mate."

Just one thing, though. The great man is not actually from Glasgow. He is from Erskine, a nice little suburb about 10 miles north of the city. Still, at this stage of the game, who in their right mind would want to argue with John Smeaton?

Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited

Log in or register to post comments

More from Qatar Living

Qatar's first Eid festival to take place this Eid ul Fitr

Qatar's first Eid festival to take place this Eid ul Fitr

Qatar Tourism announces the first ever Eid Festival to take place from 3-5 May
An evening at Souq Waqif

An evening at Souq Waqif

The most traditional spot in Qatar is none other than Souq Waqif. Let's explore a series of things you can do there!
Restaurants in Qatar to Visit For Eid 2022

Restaurants in Qatar to Visit For Eid 2022

Finding a suitable restaurant during Eid can be challenging, that's why these few picks will not let you down, and provide you the right space (and right food) for your Eid gatherings
Where to get traditional outfits for Eid 2022

Where to get traditional outfits for Eid 2022

Whether it is traditional jalabiyas and abayas for women or the thobe and ghutra for men, there are many shops that cater to this requirement. Here’s where you can shop for traditional Indian and Arab clothing for Eid 2022 in Qatar.
List of Salons for Eid 2022

List of Salons for Eid 2022

Get yourself pampered by enjoying the services of the best salons in Doha
Favorite Henna Artists for Eid 2022

Favorite Henna Artists for Eid 2022

It's that time of year, when the anticipation for Eid Al Fitr is building up along with Henna appointments from all across the region.
9 activities to plan your Eid 2022 vacation in Qatar

9 activities to plan your Eid 2022 vacation in Qatar

This Eid 2022 vacation, explore a variety of outdoor and indoor activities that you can do with your friends and family in Qatar.
5 beaches in Qatar to visit on Eid 2022

5 beaches in Qatar to visit on Eid 2022

We’ve compiled a list of five beaches you can visit for Eid 2022 and enjoy a pleasant afternoon or evening on the Eid weekend.