Fat cops of the week Public health minister Aileen Campbell proposes to tackle Scotland's 'obesity crisis' by imposing 'portion limits' on pub and restaurant meals and takeaways. Quite how this draconian project will be policed has not been divulged – though it seems likely to involve a new army of gastronomic gauleiters. Our legal and
constitutional specialist, Sheriff Muir, himself a celebrated gourmand, was moved to suggest that the well-known saying, 'The Leith Police Dismisseth Us,' will inevitably be superseded by 'The Obese Police Dismisseth Us.' Regrettably it will also be necessary to adapt the names of well-known restaurants ('eateries' as the low press insists on calling them). 'Two Fat Ladies' will henceforth be known as 'Two Ladies on Diet Plans,' 'The Buttery' will become 'The Low Fat Spread,' and 'The Ubiquitous Chip' will be rebranded as 'The Occasional Baked Potato.' Political correspondent Kitty Brewster predicted that it will be necessary to appoint a Named Person for every diner.
The Campbells are coming Aileen Campbell intends to be just as vigilant about the eating habits of young children in their own homes. Under the Named Person scheme, health visitors will keep a close eye on the culinary welfare of the pre-school generation. Those deemed to be at risk will be 'offered referrals' to such educational opportunities as 'weight intervention' and 'healthy living' classes. Sheriff Muir, who harbours libertarian tendencies unwelcome in the new Scotland, wanted to know what would happen to parents who spurned Ms Campbell's generous offer, while Kitty Brewster speculated that the SNP was in danger of losing what she tactlessly described as 'the plump vote.'
Political non-mystery of the week Audit Scotland estimated that Scotland's anti-austerity government had cut spending on the NHS so drastically that health boards are facing a black hole of £445m. Yet the minister responsible for this appalling state of affairs, Shona Robison, remains secure in her cabinet post. Why? Kitty Brewster's theory had a certain pithy flourish: 'She and Nicola are buddies.'
The Blue Planet (Monday 30 October 2017) 'Commons sex pests turmoil' (Mail); 'Minister faces inquiry after admitting sending secretary to buy sex toys' (i); 'No 10 sleaze briefings' (Metro); 'Roasting your pumpkin' (Star).
Knee of the week (1) In the strange case of Michael Fallon it looked as if a potential case of historical knee abuse had been avoided by the insouciance of the knee's owner, who declared amusingly that she and her knee had survived the ordeal unscathed. But it soon became clear that the story had legs. Among other things.
Kneejerk reaction of the week Fallon had to go. The chief whip with the tarantula in his office, Gavin Williamson, seems to have engineered the defence secretary's departure in order to secure the post for himself. Kirk Oswald, our sexual indiscretions, weather events and fishing news correspondent, understands that Whitehall regards the tarantula as a useful addition to Britain's independent nuclear deterrent.
Andrea Loathsome's intervention of the week Scarcely worth wasting words on.
The question of Fallon's knighthood When the BBC's political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, did the post-resignation interview, she addressed him not as 'Sir Michael' but as plain 'Mr Fallon.' It's possible that Ms Kuenssberg had been tipped off by the honours scrutiny committee – the same over-stretched body that is looking carefully at the CBE of Harvey Winestain.
Knee of the week (2) This one went out on a limb. A Tory activist – 'Kate Maltby, 31' – alleged that Theresa May's deputy, Damian Green, 'put a fleeting hand against it, so brief it was almost deniable.' An angry Maltby then ignored Green for a year. At the time of going to press, he clings to what is called power.
Pun of the week 'Fallon his sword' (Sun, Daily Express).
Phrase of the week 'Almost deniable.'
Euphemism of the week The Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards ceremony had the misfortune to coincide with the breaking news of Fallon's departure. Editor Fraser Nelson noted that 'the awards were presented by Michael Gove, who stepped in for the prime minister at the last minute as she dealt with an issue within her cabinet.' Our own Kitty Brewster, who observed the ludicrous proceedings with her usual wry detachment, suggested to the Speccy's Scottish mafia that there should be a new cross-border award: the Alan Clark Memorial Quaich for Parliamentary Lech of the Year.
Attempts at humour of the week A spokesperson for George Bush snr, responding to an actress's claim that the ex-president 'touched her from behind,' while he was seated in his wheelchair at the age of 89, explained that it had been 'an attempt at humour.' Michael Gove, who likened being interviewed by the terminally over-rated John Humphrys, aged 74, to entering a bedroom with Harvey Winestain, explained that
it had been 'a clumsy attempt at humour.'
Moral high ground of the week The safe space habitually occupied by Scotland’s first minister, who had nothing better to do at 10.17 last Saturday morning than register her disapproval of Michael Gove's clumsy attempt at humour. 'Women being abused and raped is not a laughing matter,' she tweeted. Sheriff Muir was unimpressed: 'Accusing someone of rape on hearsay alone, before the person concerned has been arrested, far less charged, far less tried, far less convicted, is what one has come to expect of the lynch mob on social media, but it is not conduct becoming of a first minister,' he grunted (as only he can grunt). The editorial conference fell silent at this magisterial rebuke.
Swift descent from moral high ground of the week Within days, the censorious first minister was dealing with complaints of sexual misconduct much closer to home – against two of her MSPs.
Further attempts at humour this year None anticipated.
Further touching of knees this year None anticipated.
More old geezers of the week (1) The cat burglar in Tokyo who carried out more than 200 raids, has finally been caught. A masked figure in black, he was known to run along high walls between buildings in pursuit of the loot, yet eluded the authorities for two years. 'I did not want to work and theft is quicker,' explained the spry 74-year-old. (2) Mick Jagger, also 74, has had a brief relationship with a film producer only 52 years his junior; (3) Robert Mugabe, fired as goodwill ambassador of the World Health Organisation after 48 hours, said he didn't want the job anyway. At the age of 93, he may qualify for a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest person ever to have been fired after 48 hours; (4) Prue Leith, 77, became doughnut of the week for leaking the winner of a baking competition, a crime apparently almost as heinous as Michael Gove’s clumsy attempt at humour.
Why are the media so obsessed with sex and cakes? We asked our media, arts and gender issues correspondent, Mary Culter, for her unique take on this important question. She replied that sex and cakes would be seen in retrospect as a distraction from the unparalleled tedium, and calamitous consequences, of Brexit.
Anything new on that front? The Bank of England warned the financial sector to prepare for Britain crashing out without a deal. This disturbing news was scarcely noticed, except in the soothingly pink pages of the Financial Times.
The Midgie's Letter of the Week A distinguished Scottish writer who goes by the alias Betty Hill writes: 'Your political correspondent Kitty Brewster reports on a news story concerning child care, which reminds me that this week, on the BBC News, I heard what was new to me but might be old hat to you: a reference to "the child care industry." I suppose this is an improvement on the child exploitation industry which preceded it.'
Carry on Catalonia Carles Puigdemont presided over an illegal referendum, unconvincingly declared independence on the back of it, and then failed to appear at his victory rally. The reason for the no-show? Having hoodwinked his supporters into believing that he would lead the resistance to direct rule, he was already plotting safe passage to Belgium – leaving most of his cabinet to face 20 years behind bars.
Home and Away Last week we reported that asylum seekers in Australia must seek the permission of the minister for hamsters, Peter Dutton, if they want to own a pet. The charming Aussies have now decided to close a detention centre which houses many of these dispossessed people, leaving them without water or electricity. Meanwhile, toff of the year Jacob Rees Mogg is supporting the Daily Express's repellent 'crusade' to cancel all foreign aid from Britain and give the cash to the last of the sacred cows, the NHS.
Vernacular of the week The news that Prince Harry's personable girlfriend, Meghan Markle, hitherto suspected of being Canadian, actually comes from Yorkshire, had the newspapers reaching for their phrase books. 'Eyup' emerged as the favourite for headline purposes. We commissioned Mary Culter to find out more. She discovered that there is nothing distinctively Yorkshire about 'eyup'. Collins Dictionary gives as its source the county of Derbyshire, where it is used as a greeting, often in conjunction with 'me duck,' as in 'Eyup me duck,' while the Urban Dictionary claims that it is employed by 'cute old pensioners' – people like Mick Jagger, Robert Mugabe and the cat burglar of Toyko – and is typically followed by the word 'chook', as in 'eyup, chook.' Mary Culter made the further interesting discovery that Eyup is actually a district in the city of Istanbul. She ventured that 'Eyup chook' or 'Eyup me duck,' employed as a greeting in Eyup, would have the cute old pensioners banged up in some moderately unpleasant local prison begging for the arrival of the British Embassy.
News from Banffshire Our Banffshire correspondent, Maggie Knockater, brings us the heartening intelligence that the Banff and Macduff Christmas Lights Association has announced plans for the Christmas Lights Switch-On, which will take place in the car park at 7pm on Thursday 7 December. Santa and 'a lucky chosen individual' will flick the switch. ('How can they both do it?', interjects Islay McLeod in her customary awkward fashion.) All welcome.
Yawns of the week
'Why do they have to put the clocks back?'
'Have you noticed how early dark it's got?'
'Have you noticed it's a lot lighter in the mornings?'
'God, I’m still tired. Do you think it’s the clocks?'
Double Take is edited by The Midgie with the assistance of staff writers Kitty Brewster (politics), Sheriff Muir (legal and constitutional affairs), Mary Culter (arts, media and gender issues), Kirk Oswald (sexual indiscretions, weather events and fishing news) and Maggie Knockater (Banffshire correspondent).
Where was it? Islay McLeod’s photograph of a railway station in last week's competition proved too easy. It was Boat of Garten, point of departure for the steam train to Aviemore. There were six correct answers. We put the names – Alister Armstrong, Alison Campbell, David Goodall (who lives a hundred yards from the station platform), John Mackay, Lachie Macquarie and Fraser Macnaughton – into the hat and out came Fraser Macnaughton (minister of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall). A copy of Kenneth Roy’s ‘The Broken Journey’ will soon be winging its way to Orkney. Let's hope this week's competition poses a tougher challenge.