MY dear friend, Iain Martin, erstwhile editor of the Hootsmon, has written a book.
It's called Making It Happen and is about Freddie Goodwin, the Paisley buddy who brought us to within a couple of hours of economic collapse.
I have yet to read all of Mr Martin's tome but what I have seen of it - in the Funday Times - has left me panting for more. I can hardly wait to savour it word by word, syllabub by syllabub.
What is particularly noteworthy is the number of sources Mr Martin has found who were prepared to talk about Mr Freddie. Notable too, however, is the paucity of names attached to these "sources", which include "an RBS manager", "someone", "one of his closest collaborators", "a friend", "one of his former executives", "a woman who observed his senior executives closely", and yet "another colleague".
Like Mr Martin, I am "a sceptical journalist" and, being such, I wonder who all of these anonymous people are and why they did not want to be identified. Assuming, of course, that they exist.
ACCORDING to Mr Martin, Mr Freddie was a "control freak". Apparently his freakishness manifested itself in a desire to keep the bank's branches shipshape.
Freakishly, he disliked litter and could not abide clutter. To this end he insisted on storage cabinets with rounded tops so that staff could not leave files on top of them. If only those who succeeded him were so fussy! He also had a "particular hatred" of any "public" use of Sellotape.
"If he spotted a Sellotaped notice in a branch, a sharp rebuke followed." Mr Martin says that when he was Hootsmon editor he met Mr Freddie a couple of times and actually shook his hand.
He also attended a lunch at which he listened "as awestruck people whispered horror stories" about their boss's behaviour. What Mr Martin does not say, however, is whether any of these stories made it into the Hootsmon. If they did, I must have missed them.
I have been in Yorkshire playing games. I was staying at Swinton Park, a pile near a town called Masham which is pronounced Maz-am, I know not why. The occasion was the annual recording of Radio 4's Round Britain Quiz, which is the mental equivalent of the mediaeval rack.
Myself and my dear amigo Michael Alexander, Beowulf scholar and Middle English speaker, comprised the Scottish team, to which the adjective "underperforming" has routinely been applied this past decade. Needless to say I cannot possibly divulge how we performed on this occasion.
What I can tell you is that Mr Alexander was woken in the wee sma' hours by what sounded like masonry falling. Intrepidly, he decided to investigate, donning his dressing gown and inspecting the corridor where nothing untoward was to be seen. All, however, was revealed in the morning. In the bathroom the glass shower door had come off its hinges and crashed into the mercifully empty bath. Such was the prosaic thing that went thump in the night.
DO we really need another Hercule Poirot mystery? It seems so. Sophie Hannah, a crime writer, has been engaged to do the necessary, not, insists my old pal Matthew Pritchard, Agatha Christie's grandson, to make money, but to encourage people to read.
How very altruistic! Meanwhile, another dear chum, William Boyd, has written a new James Bond novel. He is the seventh author to have been engaged to keep the Bond flame alive since his creator, Ian Fleming, was liquidated.
None, however, compares with Harold Robbins, author of The Carpetbaggers among other sleazy masterpieces, who may have died in 1997 but who has written 12 fat novels since, some by the splendidly named Junius Podrug.
ANENT - the fight goes on! - unattributed sources, a new book about JD Salinger has surfaced in the United States of Amnesia.
Its most startling revelation is that Mr Salinger, author of The Catcher In The Rye, was bereft of a testicle. David Shields and Shane Salerno say that it was because Mr Salinger was so embarrassed by this lack that he hotfooted it from Manhattan to the boondocks where he knew he could keep his testicles to himself.
Or so he thought. Not surprisingly, this story has dominated the news in the US, eclipsing even Syria. Mr Shields and Mr Salerno cite as the source of their allegation two unnamed women, both of whom "independently confirmed" that there was one testicle where by rights there ought to have been a pair. Indeed, one of the women is quoted as saying Salinger was "incredibly embarrassed and frustrated. [At the time] I knew nothing about men's bodies, but it was a big deal to him. It wasn't an injury. It was an undescended testicle".
I thought about Googling "undescended testicle" but who knows what can of worms that might open?
THE 500th anniversary of Flodden falls tomorrow when there is a service at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh to which only those and such as those are invited.
Incomprehensibly I am not one of them. It has been organised by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs which, in my haste, I misread as "Chefs".
In its own humble estimation the SCSC is "the definitive and authoritative body for information on the Scottish clan system".
Flodden, of course, is synonymous with "disaster", the architect of which was James IV.
No less a person than the Home Secretary, author of the blood-spattered bestseller, After Flodden, says it was his only mistake, albeit a humungous one.
Thousands of Us were killed in a few gory hours.
But what no-one has yet been been able to explain is why James decided to change his army's position at the last minute or, indeed, why he wanted to fight at all.
Maybe he was just bored.
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