Brazen hypocrisy of the week The Guardian continues to occupy that rarefied space, the moral high ground, over the so-called Paradise Papers. 'All over the world jaws have dropped in astonishment,' states the paper's latest magisterial editorial. It has even published a 'Who's Who in tax avoidance,' naming and shaming the many guilty parties. But there is a notable name missing from the list: the Guardian itself. In 2008, its publisher, the Guardian Media Group (GMG) acquired EMAP's chain of trade magazines and, in order to facilitate the purchase, incorporated a new company in the Cayman Islands. When two of the paper's journalists tried to obtain information about this financially advantageous use of a tax haven, they found that 'the information publicly available remains limited.' The scheme is believed to save saved the Guardian £600,000 in stamp duty. By 2013, GMG had dropped the EMAP label and renamed its subsidiary Top Right. That year, Top Right made a tidy pre-tax profit of £186m, but somehow paid corporation tax of only £200,000. These relatively little-known facts add weight to the Guardian's attack on the 'rapacious capitalism' which causes so many jaws to drop all over the world.
A guide to modern manners A survey has revealed that the average Brit conducts nine acts of kindness a month. Sounded beyond reproach – until Mary Culter, our expert in political correctness, took a closer look at some of these highly questionable 'acts' and discovered that the average Brit is fortunate to be still walking the streets.
Smiling at someone: Ms Culter advises that this is permissible only when the object of your attention is well over the age of consent, if not certifiably gaga.
Hugging someone: Absolute no-go territory along with such associated activities as 'almost deniable' touching of the female knee.
Giving up your seat on the bus: A form of benevolent sexism. Best avoided for fear of causing offence.
Offering a compliment: At best, inappropriate. At worst, risks the loss of your ministerial job, the sympathy of Nicola Sturgeon, a course of professional help and suspension from your party.
Giving an unexpected gift: Misconduct in public office. Three years.
Crisis management Why is a crisis always 'deepening’ before it entirely disappears from the public prints 24 hours later?
A week in the life of the Daily Express
Monday: Killer storm on the way. You are all going to die.
Tuesday: Cure for everything on the way. You are all going to live forever, assuming you haven't already perished in the killer storm.
Wednesday: Join the Express’s crusade: end this foreign aid insanity. Let them all die. They're only foreigners after all.
Thursday: Care home costs soar. You're better off dead.
Friday: TV blood clot warning. Watch too much rubbish telly and you're all going to die. Pity the same doesn't apply to rubbish newspapers.
Saturday: Dastardly new plot to derail Brexit. Plus, in your runaway Express: Two MONTHS of blizzards on the way.
Colleague of the week In their desperation to secure the release of plucky Laura Plummer, who arrived in Egypt with 290 tramadol tablets in her suitcase, her supporters in the British media have said surprisingly little about the drug itself. It is an addictive opioid, not as strong as heroin but often with the same side effects. Of the 581 drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2012, tramadol was a contributory factor in 48. In 2014, the Home Office reclassified it as a controlled substance, still available on prescription for the relief of extreme pain, but not as liberally dished out as before. Plummer claims she didn't know that the drug is illegal in Egypt, that she hoped it would ease the sore back of her married boyfriend, and that a 'colleague' had given it to her. Odd that the 'colleague' has apparently escaped the notice of the police back in Hull, while the
wretched Plummer continues to languish in a primitive cell with 25 other untried women. The unlikely drug trafficker, whose only addiction is to a TV soap opera, faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted and may be unaware of the exciting news from Emmerdale that Rebecca White has gone into labour.
Arts news (1) Among the Scottish exhibits chosen for the new V&A museum of design in Dundee are a 500-year-old prayer book, a Jacobite garter, a Highland pistol, a pair of wellies (why?), and 'groundbreaking' designs of the Forth Bridge. Kirk Oswald, who was
recently freed from a groundbreaking traffic jam on the approaches to the Queen Nicola Crossing, understands that there is, as yet, no prospect that the groundbreaking museum will include a copy of the last copy of the Sunday Post (the one that strangled the last minister of the Church of Scotland). No doubt it can be added later.
Arts news (2) Kirk Oswald entertained the editorial conference with the story of his weekend visit to the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. He discovered that the exhibition space was closed and that the gents' lavatory had been deemed 'out of order.' Young Kirk, an innocent in such matters, wondered about the point of a gallery so bereft of facilities. Mary Culter explained that he should regard the unsettling experience as an exhibition in itself – an opportunity to 'imagine' what he had missed, in this way challenging the visitor's conventional expectations of an art gallery.
OBE of the week Sunday Post columnist Granny Murray, whose grandiose leisure and housing development in honour of her tennis-playing sons will destroy the greenbelt between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, picked up her gong at Buck House. 'Presumably not for services to conservation,' growled Sheriff Muir at the editorial conference. 'Nor for services to journalism,' muttered Mary Culter by way of riposte.
Coffee of the week Mushroom latte, a new favourite of the metropolitan Guardian-reading classes. 'Tastes absolutely foul,' confirmed our resident barista Kitty Brewster, after one of her forays to deepest Islington.
Coffey of the week Ms Brewster, thinking she might have a word with the nationalist MSP Willie Coffey following the complaint of 'inappropriate' behaviour levelled at him by the Sunday Past, turned up at his constituency office in Kilmarnock, only to find that it was closed for 'staff retraining' and that Coffey, who denies any wrongdoing, had cancelled his surgery. Ms Brewster repaired to the nearby Goldberry Arms, where she reflected on the many frustrations of the investigative journalist.
Gropes and lunges While Harvey Winestain CBE and Kevin Spacey are airbrushed from history, the much-feted Roman Polanski continues to enjoy a charmed existence well into old age. Swiss prosecutors dropped the latest investigation into his alleged rape of an under-age girl after discovering that the country's statute of limitations did not
allow them to proceed. The statute in question is a familiar euphemism for 'it was too long ago to be worth all the bother.' Meanwhile, the BBC hurriedly dropped its Christmas three-parter, a Christie adaptation, as soon as the leading actor was accused of rape, which he vehemently denies – another example of the new judicial rule that an
accused is guilty until proved innocent.
Mantra of the week The woman was on holiday, she was on holiday, Gove’s an idiot, Johnson’s a pillock, there’s no doubt about it, the woman was on holiday. Chorus: she was on holiday, she was on holiday, Gove’s an idiot, Johnson’s a pillock, the woman was on holiday.
Other news The head of the Kenyan Film Classification Board denied that male lions in the country's main zoo have learned how to perform gay sex from watching films. A frail pensioner who recently lost his job as a goodwill ambassador suffered further humiliation when his own military moved against him. A parking lot in St Ives was sold for a figure not unadjacent to £40,000. Sheriff Muir said you could buy a wee hoose in Muirkirk for less. Parliament was promised a free vote on the Brexit deal as long as it didn’t change anything. The newspapers claimed that the Queen's slight macular dysfunction at the Cenotaph was a 'Royal tear for heroes.' Sheriff Muir wondered how they knew. A former first minister of Scotland saw nothing wrong in hosting a weekly television programme for a country which is undermining western democracy through cyber espionage. Two members of the Holyrood parliament, whose standards of personal conduct are regularly compared favourably to those of Westminster, were suspended by their parties. Johnson described Trump as 'one of the huge great global brands.' Kim sentenced Trump to death.
Word of the week A linguistics specialist at Lancaster University claims that 'gradable' words – those that can be used to reduce the power of a saying or add emphasis to it – are dying out. He gave as examples 'quite', 'rather' and 'fairly'. This provoked a long
discussion at the editorial conference. Sheriff Muir said he would be especially sad to lose 'somewhat', which he was fond of dropping into his many scholarly articles on public affairs. 'Somewhat....,' he sighed. 'It sums up just about everything.'
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? The correct answer to last week's photo competition was Fittie – or to be more specific the sea wall at Aberdeen on the other side of which lies the delightful former fishing village of that name. We received a record number of correct answers (31) from: Raymond Anderson ('may I congratulate SR on casting its eyes beyond the central belt; I detect the influence of Mary Culter'), Alister Armstrong, Ian Arnott, Richard Aspden, Colin Baird, John W Cairns, Neil Curtis (head of museums at Aberdeen University, so he started at something of an advantage), Jack Davidson, Stewart Dickson (who enclosed a picture of a splendid lino cut by Brian Angus depicting the scene on the other side of the wall), John Foote, Rev Alasdair Gordon, Professor Marjory Harper, Douglas Harrison, Paul Hutcheson, John Inglis ('on a clear day, without howling wind and battering waves, standing by the sea there is an absolute pleasure'), Martin Keane, Prudence King, Malcolm Lamont, Joan MacKenzie, Bryony Malvenan, Robert Mellish, Neilian Murray, Martin Nichol, Ian Ralston, Hugh Salvesen, Ella Smith, David Spaven, Alan Templeton ('my Glasgow aunties always preferred that end of the beach'), Alan Thomson, Alan Watt ('Footdee, if you live in Cults'), Bill Whiteford.
First out of the hat this week: Malcolm Lamont. A copy of Kenneth Roy's 'The Broken Journey' will soon be on its way to Mr Lamont.
We really must try to mount a stronger challenge to the impressive geographical knowledge of SR readers, so this week's photo may not be so easily identifiable: