Strategic re-draft of the week In the short interval between the announcement of her departure for the jungle, and her unauthorised taking of leave, there was a significant change of wording on Kezia Dugdale's official website (notes our ever-vigilant political sleuth, Kitty Brewster). Last weekend her home page was headed 'An open and accessible MSP' followed by the assurance: 'I believe it is important to offer constituents the opportunity to speak to their elected representatives as much as possible.' By mid-week, Ms Dugdale was no longer 'an open and accessible MSP' – the heading had gone – and the commitment had been altered to read: 'I want to be accessible and open to my constituents as possible.' In the hurry to pack, it seems the former star of Harris Academy had surrendered, not only her political marbles, but her grasp of basic grammar.
Kezia and the tabloids Surprise surprise, those shameless old sluggers, the Sun and the Daily Record, have differing views of Ms Dugdale's misadventure. The Sun has been struggling for a killer pun all week. BUGDALE didn't quite cut it, so then it tried GOLD DUGGER: no more than 6 out of 10 for either, and a long way short of such
classics as GOTCHA (for the sinking of that rather larger target, the Belgrano). The Record, meanwhile, continued to insist that 'Kez' was motivated by a desire to save the planet, be nice to furry creatures, promote Labour values, etc. Our media correspondent, Mary Culter, assures us that these conflicting interpretations of Ms Dugdale's sudden conversion to junk telly are unconnected to the fact that she is a weekly columnist on the Daily Record.
What next for wur Kez? Mary Culter, who exhibits a disturbing interest in the going at Kempton Park, has opened a book on the chances of the ex-leader's conversion to the SNP (no doubt on the familiar grounds that 'I didn't leave the party, the party left me'). As soon as she returns from the jungle, 50-1; by the end of next year, 5-1; never, 10-1.
Still more important than life or death The Scottish edition of the Times splashed across the top of its front page the sensational news that Ms Dugdale's successor as Scottish Labour leader, an Englishman, supports the England football team: a revelation that will 'test even the most loyal party voter' – according, that is, to the atavistic patriots who put together the Scottish edition of the Times.
Truant of the year Bunking off the Holyrood Reformatory for three weeks guarantees that 'Kez' won't be winning the Donald Dewar memorial award for services to the school. But she is a model of perfect attendance compared with another rising star of Scottish politics, Mhairi Black. Her caricature, 'Wee Mhairi,' made three appearances recently on the Tracey Ullman show, but the real thing is spotted in public all too rarely. The member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South finds herself anchored at the bottom of the UK parliamentary league table for her contributions to debates (only 10 in the last year), her questions to ministers for written answers (a derisory 4 in the same period), and her voting record (46%). By comparison, her party colleague and near-neighbour in the alphabet, Hannah Bardell (Livingston), has spoken in 83 debates, put 41 questions, and participated in 84% of the votes – about par for the Westminster course. Ms Black's record of replying to mail received via a website for constituency queries isn't a lot better: she responds to only 27% and ignores the rest. How does 'Wee Mhairi' get away with it? Perhaps she would care to explain the secret of her heroic status next time she fulminates in the SNP's propaganda sheet, the National, about the Tories' disgraceful indifference to the needs of Scottish voters. Alternatively, she could make way for someone who really wants to represent the people of Paisley in the UK parliament, and find more congenial employment for herself. She is still young enough to join the Scottish Youth Parliament – assuming it hasn't collapsed in scandal first.
Fib of the week Mike Naylor became the 'World’s Biggest Liar' for the fifth time at the annual contest in the Bridge Inn, Cumbria, after claiming to be the love child of Beatrix Potter, who was born in 1886. Our legal and constitutional specialist, Sheriff Muir, found it extraordinary that one of the Brexiteers in the cabinet had not won the title. Sheriff Muir would have given it to Boris Johnson, a person capable of convincing himself that he really was the love child of Beatrix Potter, but only if there was some political mileage in the idea.
Traffic jam of the week The editorial conference was delighted to hear that the German motorist who forgot where he parked his car has finally been reunited with it after 20 years, in the same place that he left it, but we were disappointed to learn from our reporter on the spot, Kirk Oswald, that the vehicle is no longer roadworthy. Young
Kirk is now back in Scotland, where his own car continues to rust inoffensively on the approaches to the Queen Nicola Crossing.
Reluctant Scot of the week Jacqui Lambie, who was forced to resign from the Australian parliament because of a constitutional ban on dual nationals. Her father was born in Scotland, granting her automatic British citizenship by descent. A tearful Ms Lambie said she felt no love for bagpipes. 'Who does?' demanded Kitty Brewster in her usual challenging fashion.
Editorial priority of the week The 11th most important story in the world one morning this week, according to the BBC's website, was the startling intelligence that an ITV programme had been off air because of a technical hitch 'for more than 12 minutes.' Does that mean 13?
Non-event of the week (lifetime achievement award) The Budget.
Big freeze of the week Months of blizzards; decades of austerity; an indefinite future of pointless speculation.
Headline of the week 'Hip Hip Harare' (Metro). Even quite witty.
NHS target of the week The splash headline in Monday's P&J, 'Lifelong nurse told to wait for cancer surgery,' implied the existence of some fast track for lifelong nurses, while the rest of us are expected to take our turn.
Qualified exit of the week 'Pop idol David Cassidy has died, say his family.' Sheriff Muir, reflecting upon this slight ambiguity, wondered if the pulse of the deceased should be checked one last time, just to make sure.
Euphemism of the week A head teacher in Leicestershire has abolished school reports because they are full of 'politician-like phrases.' He gave as an example 'very lively and enthusiastic,' which actually means 'behaves appallingly.' It was not always so, as Mary Culter discovered from her award-winning researches into school reports of yore. 'He has no ambition. He is a constant trouble to everybody. He cannot be trusted to behave' (the verdict on Winston Churchill); 'She writes indifferently and knows nothing of grammar' (Charlotte Bronte); 'He will never amount to anything' (Albert Einstein); 'Certainly on the road to failure – hopeless – rather a clown' (John Lennon).
Planet of the week The media reported excitedly that the newly discovered Ross128b is 'just 11 light years away' and with its mild climate may be 'the closest known comfortable abode for possible life.' True to form, however, they failed to add that 'just 11 light years' translates into 64,669 trillion miles and that the fastest available spaceship would take 43,000 years to get there. It was agreed at the editorial conference that such a prospect was almost inconceivable – if anything, said Kitty Brewster, it sounded even worse than the journey from Glasgow Central to Waverley via Shotts.
Spoilsports of the week There was overwhelming relief at the editorial conference that the ruling party's tedious plan to deprive the drinking classes of their last remaining pleasure by imposing a minimum price on alcoholic beverages would not affect anyone around the lunch table, which habitually groans under the weight of Sainsbury's Prosecco. Sheriff Muir, a little heady after only his third glass of the day, remarked jovially that when he misread a headline in the press as 'Sturgeon ready to transplant head on living person,' he imagined it was simply a misguided attempt to revive the political career of a former children's minister.
Boozers of the week The people of Georgia more than 8,000 years ago, whose consumption of wine 'permeated every aspect of life,' according to archaeologists. They only got away with it because Shona Robison wasn't health minister at the time.
A sad footnote Kitty Brewster, apparently apropos of nothing, reported that a Museum of Broken Relationships had been established somewhere in eastern Europe. Among the initial exhibits are a stub for a cinema ticket, a shell from a beach that the disunited pair once strolled happily together, and a jar containing the remnants of a wedding dress. In the bathetic last moments of the editorial conference, Sheriff Muir was moved to ask if Ms Brewster herself proposed to submit an item for the Museum of Broken Relationships. Clearly she had been anticipating such a question, for she then produced from her backpack two relics of the long-ago Scottish independence referendum: one a sticker saying Yes, the other a sticker saying No. This was clearly so weighted in personal significance that further comment seemed inappropriate.
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? Alison Campbell, winner of the competition a couple of weeks ago, writes to thank us for her copy of 'The Broken Journey.' In passing she informs us that on Monday she received an email from an official of the public appointments section of the 'People Directorate' of the Scottish Government – we're nearly there – alerting her to quango posts (the italics are ours): 'We have a few new vacancies that have went live on our website over the weekend. If you would like to unsubscribe please respond to this email.'
The answer to last week's photo competition was Cellardyke, Anstruther. We received correct answers from Alister Armstrong ('a once important fishing port: the former name for Anstruther was Skinfast Haven'), George Burt, Paul Filipek, Jim Hunter, Ian Hutchison, Robert Livingston ('I lived in Anstruther Wester for 14 years and still miss the views of the Forth, and the Isle of May with its curious habit of appearing to move closer or further away depending on light or weather conditions'), John Lloyd ('a Proustian moment, since that's my birthplace and youth'), Alastair McIntyre, Graham MacKinnon, Dermot McQuarrie (whose word of the week for Sheriff Muir is 'outwith'), Bryony Malvenan, Ian Petrie ('I think I recognise the washing'), Gordon Ritchie ('we stayed in the caravan park recently and enjoyed the Fife coastal walk'), John Simpson ('but I'm struggling to identity whose washing it is'), Sandra Sinclair, Ian Thomson and Steve Wood.
First out of the hat this week: Bryony Malvenan. A copy of Kenneth Roy's 'The Broken Journey' will soon be on its way to our winner.