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Could Alex Salmond reach No.1 with a fine duet? Pigs might fly - or at least read Animal Farm - first

MICHTY me!

Or, as they say en France, ooh la la! War has broken out between the Sassenachs and the Gauls with the one hurling insults at the other, as weans do in the playground. Au fond, one suspects, is the present discomfort of François Hollande, in whom the Dodos seem to see more of Karl than Groucho Marx. As the entire civilised world now knows, Monsieur Hollande has allegedly been dallying with an actress, unbeknownst to his partner, Valerie Trierweiler, France's de facto first lady.

Indeed, one of the president's own ministers has described him as "a retarded adolescent". Mon dieu! Having recently spent a few days in Paris I am uniquely placed to offer a contemporary assessment of the mores of the middle-aged French male.

As I flaneured around Saint-Germain and other swanky arrondissements, I could not help but notice the preponderance of men of a certain age squiring women, some of whom were not much above the age of consent. It is possible, of course, that these couples were in some ways related but I hae ma doubts.

Mercifully few, thankfully, are the grandfathers who murmur sweet nothings in their granddaughters' ears before plying them with a stiff cognac. Now, ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy has stuck in his oar, suggesting that Monsieur Hollande is a tube. He should know.

RESEARCHERS at Scotland's Rural College have been given £580,000 to see if they can make pigs happier. Was money ever better spent? The theory is if pigs are happier, we will end up with bacon rolls that sing and dance. And who among us would not applaud that!

According to senior researcher Simon Turner, pigs do not like constantly being moved from one residence to another because when they come into contact with pigs with whom they are unacquainted, it inevitably leads to the porcine equivalent of fisticuffs.

Which, needless to say, in turn produces rolls you wouldn't feed to a pig. Says Mr Turner: "We need to help pigs realise when it would be sensible not to engage in aggression because their opponent is likely to beat them." If, say, as well as being able to fly pigs could read, then they could be prescribed Orwell's Animal Farm, which, whatever its literary merits, is by some distance the best novel ever written on pig husbandry.

WHAT joy it was to wake to the dulcet tones of Alexei Salmonella singing Rowan Tree. At first I thought that the radio must have been retuned to Radio 2, but my old pal Jim Naughtie soon disabused me.

As everyone ought to know by now, Mr Salmonella was a boy soprano. He had hopes to develop into a "soaring tenor" but when his voice broke he was left with a "faltering baritone". Be that as it may, one can think of few politicians who would dare put their voice under such public scrutiny. On Rowan Tree, the First Meenister was accompanied by Anne Lorne Gillies. It is one among many songs he has sung as part of a duet. Indeed, he once appeared on stage with Sandi Thom, who introduced him as Sir. They sang Caledonia, almost in harmony.

On another occasion he joined the song's writer, Dougie MacLean. Clearly, Mr Salmonella enjoys such appearances, leading me to wonder whether an album of duets, similar to those made by the likes of Tony Bennett, would give the Yes campaign the surge in the polls it needs.

TO Sarti's in Glasgow, unofficial office of my dear amigo Cardinal Kevin McKenna, arguably the finest columnist ever to grace the pages of the Scottish Catholic Observer.

KK is one of a threatened species, namely a smoker. As such he insists on sitting in Sarti's courtyard area, which is situated below Bath Street and is largely exposed to the elements.

To save precious time, KK orders lattes by the couple, all the while puffing away like the Flying Scotsman. Nor is he alone. Joining him are a number of other threatened fellows, none of whom appear to be aware of their imminent doom.

Meanwhile, the temperature is near freezing and rain is falling in dollops into their beverages. One is immediately filled with charity for this embattled minority, but what can one do for them other than keep on ordering more lattes?

TO always sunny California, where Nadya Suleman has pleaded not guilty to welfare fraud. Who she? You may well ask. In 2009, Ms Suleman had eight children after IVF treatment, following which she was known as "octomom". Previously, she had six other children. She is accused of having done various jobs, a few of which were allegedly in the "adult entertainment industry", ie, porn movies. She was also previously in demand as an endorser of "dogs' birth control". Try as I might I can't quite get my head round that one.

MY sole resolution for 2014, communicated only to those and such as those, was that I do not intend ever again to attend a Burns Supper. I say this more in sorrow than in sense. I have been to many such suppers and always enjoyed myself. I like haggis, neeps and tatties, preferably on the same plate. (I once had them with mince. It was what you might call iconoclastic.)

I also like Burns, but I'm beginning to think I've heard too much about him. Would he vote for independence? Depends. On what? How should I know? His times were not ours. You could read his work and interpret it every which way. Once, I delivered an Immortal Memory proving he was a Unionist; on another occasion I found evidence to support my theory that were he alive at this hour he'd be spin-doctoring for Alexei Salmonella. He's like the Bible. In some ways. Meanwhile, my resolve's failed. Another Burns Supper beckons. O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie me tae say naw!

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