IN the opinion of Lonely Planet, publisher of guidebooks, Edinburgh is "the most gothic city outside Transylvania", hence the publication's nomination of Scotia as one of the best places to visit next year.
So now not only do we have the Commonwealth Games, the ruddy Ryder Cup, the referendum and the Bannockburn anniversary to look forward to, we can also anticipate an influx of bloodsuckers and Christopher Lee clones.
Meanwhile, I may pay a visit to Transylvania to see what all the fuss is about.
I imagine it may not be very different from Fort William, but with shops selling false fangs and blood-staunching equipment rather than haggis-flavoured Pot Noodles and polyester kilts.
Another thing we have going for us, apparently, is the "world-class" country roads. I kid you not. On what planet are these lonely tubes living?
ONLY the fear of death is worse than speaking in public, the Great Unwashed whimper. Apparently, 6.41 out of 10 folk say they'd rather die, while 5.63 insist the thought of giving an Immortal Memory or a Toast To The Tumshies is enough to turn them into jelly beans.
Something has seriously gone awry in our sense of priorities. Interestingly, more people say they are scared of speaking in public than they are of being buried alive or chewed by rats or plagued by cold callers.
I would like to meet these people and ask what substance they are on.
Other fears that figured in the stupid survey included Pinocchio (that one will need to be explained to me), fat fingers and small boats, though "none was deemed particularly terrifying by respondents".
If nothing else, this "research" explains how easy money is made by shrinks.
ANOTHER day, another pointless list. The latest is of Scottish novels, of which the hoi polloi have been asked to choose their favourite from 50 published in the last half-century.
Designed for no other reason than to get up folks' noses, it has already incensed devotees of Dorothy Dunnett, this being the level to which such debate in Scotia has plummeted. My dear amigo, Sir Magnus Links-Sausage, is likewise irked on behalf of his papa, Eric Links-Sausage, whose novel The Dark Of Summer has been overlooked. One shares his chagrin, especially when the Gemina Whodunit and Jimmy Cannywrite are conspicuous by their presence. The list has been compiled by my dear chum, Stuart Kelly - pictured, above, on his way to some doubtless clandestine meeting. He was hired by the Scottish Book Trust, which has 30-plus staff on its payroll. Need one say more?
NEWS flush! I refer to the EU which, after a three-year-long study costing a pitiful €90,000, has decided to standardise loo flushing across the zone.
Henceforth, a full euroflush will require five litres of water, with three litres for a half-flush and one litre for a euro-urinal. As yet Nigella Farrago has not commented on this latest threat from Europe to the British way of waste disposal. I do hope he doesn't tarry.
Brits, it seems, flush more than any of the other member states. Why this is so, no-one seems to know.
The too obvious explanation is that we go more often to the loo, perhaps because we have more - so to speak - to get rid of.
Apparently, the Finns are the least loo-centric folk in Europe. Again no-one knows why.
That is all I can muster on this matter.
LIKE the yeti, sightings of Irn Broon, erstwhile PeeEm, have of late been rare. He is an infrequent visitor to the mother of parliaments and during the crisis at Grangemouth was nowhere to seen, despite the fact that his constituency is but a few miles away as the crow flies.
He is, of course, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, which gives him freedom to roam hither and thither.
Recently he turned up in Qatar where he attended an education "summit". Isn't it interesting how such summits happen in the more congenial parts of the planet?
Mr Broon, who earns £65,000 a year to represent the silly burgers of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, now says he is "an ex-politician" and prefers to spend his time giving speeches, for which he earns a packet and which he donates to charity.
Which, needless to say, one applauds. But if he doesn't want to be an EmPee why doesn't he stand down and let someone else who does take his place?
I bear good and bad news from the frontline in the campaign to preserve "anent" for a nation of ignorami. First, being Scottish, the bad news.
I hear tell of a splinter group - the Anent Liberation Army - which is promising to wreak havoc if the Kirk does not mend its ways and reinstate "anent" to its rightful place at the General Assembly.
Asked what form this "havoc" might take, a spokesman for the ALA, who wore a hoodie and answered only to "Jock", refused "to go into specifics".
Pressed, he said that there was every chance that members of his organisation would vandalise any book containing alternative words to anent. "More than that I cannot say," he said, before evaporating down a close in the Royal Mile.
Now the good news. You may have noticed that Lou Reed, formerly of the Velvet Underground, is now himself underground. Tributes to him were many, including one in the New Yorker magazine, from which it gives me great pleasure to quote: "In the 1971 anthology No-One Waved Good-bye: A Casualty Report On Rock And Roll (edited by Robert Somma), Reed wrote, anent his job: "It simply requires a very secure ego to allow yourself to be loved for what you do rather than who you are, and an even larger one to realise you are what you do." How übercool is that!
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