Linwood has been named as Scotland’s most dismal town in the annual Carbuncle awards.
The Renfrewshire town has become the latest recipient of the “Plook on a Plinth”, awarded by Urban Realm magazine.
Oddly, when we turn to the actual article in Urban Realm, there is no immediate mention of “plook”. It’s only when we see the “trophy”, we recognise the implication (as above, right).
Linwood’s problems are that it is yet another town that has outlived its usefulness. It grew after 1961 when Rootes established the factory that churned out the Hillman Imp. The town was a natural: it had a main railway line to distribute its product; and the Pressed Steel Company next door to produce the body panels. When Rootes went down, to be absorbed into Peugeot Talbot, the Ryton plant got the nod, and Linwood got the chop. When Linwood closed in 1981, some 18,000 were condemned to unemployment.
Quick switch to Malcolm’s pre-teenie American grand-daughter, who — for some reason — has taken to an Elton John song and brightens her New Jersey days by singing along:
Quite. As with Linwood, so Barnsley, Grimsby, Wigan, West Belfast and Derry and many other places — all conveniently distant and out-of-sight of Chelsea and the Cotswolds.
It’s “progress”, y’know: get used to it. The “price worth paying“. As of yesterday’s unemployment figures, another 128,000 were paying it in the last quarter — 2,640,000 of us. Just like those good old Tory times of Thatcher.
But … “plook”?
A worm-hole of Malcolm’s memory opens and he recalls, from those Irish classes at the High School, Dublin, the word pluc ( = “a bulge, knob, lump”). Oddly, most of the Irish he does recall is offensive, insulting or — as here — somewhat on the cheesy side.
When the Scots got hold of it, through the Gaelic, it acquired this secondary meaning of “a pimple”.
A while back, in a fit of spleen, Malcolm decided Boris Johnson was a suppurating pustule. An understandable sentiment, if a trifle extreme. Perhaps the term he was reaching for is before us right now. It is, after all, an expression in the literary tradition, employed so effectively by Irvine Welsh in Trainspotting:
Billy, ma contempt for you jist grew over the years. It displaced the fear, jist sortay squeezed it oot, like pus fae a pluke.