WHAT a difference a day makes!
I refer to Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who one minute insisted he would "contest" the allegations made against him, and the next confessed to having behaved abominably. Now we are told he has left the country and is doubtless in a Bolivian nunnery being looked after by sisters of mercy.
What has been instructive about this whole affair is the degree to which card-carrying Catholics were prepared to believe in the Cardinal's innocence while throwing pans of boiling sewage on anyone who dare suggest otherwise.
One eminent Catholic scholar to whom I spoke held to the weary "let he is without sin" line as if his life depended on it. Others spoke darkly of conspiracies. All the while, of course, he and his advisers knew exactly of what he was accused and what the Vatican thought of it. What the Scottish church banked on was the blind faith of many of its members. In that at least it was not misguided.
EMBOLDENED by a TV programme which promises we will never again have to pay the asking price for goods, I agree to accompany my dear friend, Leonardo Foreman, to John Lewis where he intends to replace a dead computer with a swanky new Apple gizmo. Mr Leonardo says his old computer has "blown up", which I interpret metaphorically.
What I surmise has happened is that when he pressed the ON button there was no response. This is not surprising because the computer is six years old, which puts it in the vintage class. John Lewis himself being unavailable, we are served by a gum-chewing dude in a T-shirt. The laptop Mr Leonardo has his eye on costs £1200, which is a lot of dosh if you don't have it, and which I choose to interpret as a starting offer.
Never unwilling to haggle, I offer the gum-chewer £750 if he'll agree to thrown in a free T-shirt. For one moment I think we may have a deal but then it is made brutally clear that we are not in some Middle Eastern bazaar but in John Lewis. Nor, it seems, is there any chance of a free T-shirt. Is it any wonder the nation's high streets are going to pot?
SO I'm on the No 26 bus, which is to the east of Scotia what the Deadwood stage was to ye olde wilde west. I do this – as I do countless other things – so you won't have to.
It is the rush hour, which means it would be quicker to walk. At Jock's Lodge, prime location for ambush, hordes pile on as if they were evacuees in a war zone, which, in effect, they are. I am joined by a young man who occupies more of the planet than he ought. I stare out the window at which other hordes are clamouring. It is not an ideal way to start the working day. I read the paper, which keeps me engaged until London Road, occasionally enjoying the sight of plastic bags attached to leafless trees.
I sense, however, that the young man next to me is doing something unspecified, possibly involving adjustments to his attire. Unable any longer to suppress curiosity, I steal a sideways glance and, for a horrible moment, believe he has unzipped and has exposed his you-know-what. However, I am most pleased to reveal that on further investigation he is not a commuting pervert but about to consume a banana. Phew!
I am indebted to Edward Payson Evans (1831-1917) who, in Animal Trials (Hesperus Press, £9.99), makes mention of Bartholomew Chassenee, a French jurist, who "made his reputation at the bar as counsel for some rats". Call me ignorant, but I until read said book I had no idea that our forebears often prosecuted animals. For example, in 1266 in a town near Paris, a pig was convicted of eating a child and publicly burned. Pigs and rats, however, were not the only animals to be tried. In 1314, in a place called Moisy, a bull attacked and killed a man. Subsequently, the bull was captured and imprisoned, tried, convicted and hanged. Occasionally, animals were put on the rack in order to extort a confession. Mr Evans does not say whether any did. But now and then an animal appealed its conviction and got an acquittal. I am not making any of this up.
FARETHEWEEL Bruce Reynolds. Wizened readers of this throbbing organ may recall that Mr Reynolds was one of the Great Train Robbers. Few folk dedicated their lives to crime as he did. He was an old-fashioned villain. He was also an ardent reader of Tatler magazine, scouring its pages for country houses to rob. Wandsworth Prison was his university. By and large, his obituarists gave him a kindly send-off. Few, however, mentioned that his son, Nick, is a member of Alabama 3, a rock combo, which provided the theme music to The Sopranos. Do with this info what you will.
Tony Bliar has compared the SNPee to Ukip. Tony Bliar! Could the Yes campaigners have better news?
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