AS I feared, self-service checkouts are turning us into a nation not of shopkeepers but of shoplifters.
One saw this coming as one stood in Tesco watching while normally law-abiding citizens were transformed into evil serial – and, on occasion, cereal – thieves as they grappled with scanning items necessary for keeping body and soul together.
Fruit and veg, apparently, offer the greatest temptation because they don't have barcodes – horticulturalists take note! You've got to tell the machine how many of each you're buying. According to one rag, a common trick is to select the cheapest vegetable, typically wee onions, when putting through a more expensive item, such as truffles. There will be a lot of that down our way where shaving truffle on to bangers and mash is all the rage.
And the self-service checkout is spreading, most notably to public libraries where there are now machines when once there were happy, stamp-wielding damsels in peach-coloured cardies and Hush Puppies. Such is the inexorable march of progress.
TO Holyrude, where I am bidden to opine on the subject of power and influence. Frankly, and in all modesty, I can think of no better person for the job. The merest mention in this hallowed space can, one gathers, either make or break a person.
Some readers, seeing their names published in cold, cruel print, have been known to choke on their kippers of a morning. Others, though, beg embarrassingly for a mention, so desperate are they to inform the Great Unwashed of their existence.
I am often asked of my dealings with politicians. I rarely give a coherent reply. What I am willing to say, however, is that even when asked to scratch their backs I have never asked for mine to be scratched in return. What's all that about?
But it would be too modest of me to say I have never influenced the course of an election. What I say goes, even in the likes of Nicaragua, North Korea and Norfolk where these words are read in public spaces, some of which are empty.
What I invariably advise is: where possible, find a fence and sit on it. That way you will avoid disappointment. It works for me.
WHERE, one merrily wonders, will it all end? I am not talking about humankind's tenancy of Planet Earth but the Leveson Inquiry, which goes on and on like Coronation Street.
It is good to see Loopy Rupe back in the dock and looking much more alert than he was during his previous appearance when he was compared, not entirely favourably, to Tony Soprano's evil Uncle Junior, who feigned dementia in order to evade justice.
My dear friend Thomas à Sheridan says watching Mr Loopy reminds him of the businessman Ernest Saunders, who was convicted of fraud and sentenced to four years but was released after 10 months when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Mr Saunders, notes Mr Sheridan, created medical history when he staged what was the first – and so far the last – recovery from this horrible ailment.
MEIN Kampf is due to be published again in Germany for the first time since the Second World War. Unsurprisingly, this has caused a few raised eyebrows, notably among those who believe Hitler's words will leap off the page and convert readers to goose-stepping. Allow me to reassure them. I have a copy of Mein Kampf, which means My Struggle which, so the joke went, was what Martin Amis ought to title his autobiography. I even tried reading it once but didn't get very far. Mad Adolf should have stuck to painting (and decorating).
It has been called the worst book ever and it may well be though there is no lack of contenders for that title. Readers of this throbbing organ may recall that my old chum, Rab McNeill, said I should call my biography of Alexei Salmonella Mein Banff, which I would have had I written it.
DEAR oh dear. AA Gill, of whom the least said the better, has pained Mary Beard, the classical scholar who is usually to be seen on telly wandering around Pompeii, where she may have a holiday home, poking her finger at the sexy frescoes.
Mr Gill says Ms Beard should be kept off the box because she is not good-looking enough – or at all. This is the same Mr Gill who famously made disparaging remarks about another TV presenter, Clare Balding, usually seen towering over jockeys. Ms Beard interprets this as an assault on intelligent women when it's really just Mr Gill's idea of humour.
Ms Beard also says that the ancient Romans, with whom she is on first-name terms, never got even by "trading insults or reducing themselves to the unsophisticated level of their opponents". Indeed they did not. Usually they crept out from behind an arras and stuck a dagger or 10 in the back of any TV critic who'd irked them. Mr Gill has been warned.
APROPOS the Leveson Inquiry and phone hacking, I have been reading Dial M For Murdoch by Tom Watson EmPee and Martin Hickman, a hack but not a hacker. Even though it was out of date the instant it was published it's nevertheless an admirable piece of work, shedding light on countless dingy corners of public life on this septic isle. One such is the BBC.
Among the individuals of whom Mr Watson and Mr Hickman are critical are Nick Robinson, the four-eyed political editor, and Robert Peston, the business bloke, who learned to speak by reading Proust. The former, who used to work for Sky, is ticked off for "seldom" covering the scandal until he had no option, while the latter is accused of putting out relatively minor stories which diverted attention from rather major ones.
Meanwhile, I note that the BBC is to "send" 765 staff to the Olympics this summer, ensuring there will be no escape from the shebang. I also note that the BBC has no fewer than 47 executives earning more than the Prime Minister's salary of £192,250. Now you know where your licence fee's going.
Wine, you say? I could have sworn it was a bottle of milk -
ACCORDING to Donald Chump terminally-ill Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was "seen running in the park last week". By whom?
Mary Beard, a victim of AA Gill's poor attempt at humour?
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.