JAKEY Rowling, author extraordinaire, has a new book out.
It's called The Casual Vacancy and is for adults. We know this because it has a surfeit of swearing and sex, examples of which I shall spare sheltered readers of this throbbing organ.
Reviewers, such as myself, were obliged to sign an embargo, which meant we could not disclose the contents of said book before its release date. If we did, the penalties were severe. One might, for example, have to surrender one's first born or forfeit one's entire collection of Moody Blues albums, neither of which, of course, one was desperately keen to do.
Unlike some reviewers, however, I was allowed to read The Casual Vacancy in the comfort of my own chateau. Unfortunate others were taken to a secret location where they were locked in a room without even a bottle of Buckfast to keep them company and told they would not be released until they'd got to page 503. Is this any way to treat anyone with a clean driving licence?
AS an internationally renowned expert on climate change I have been inundated with requests from the world's meeja to chunter about wind and rain. Al-Jazeera, Sky, the Beeb, Fox, Tranent FM – you name it, I've been on it.
Faced with a deepening sense of panic, I opted for understatement, describing as 'biblical" what was happening. My advice was to batten down the hatches and let the storm blow itself out.
To this end I took to bed at eight, half an hour earlier than usual. A violent northeast wind shook Casa Diary to its foundations. The Forth gurgled like an over-heated stew. Rain hammered against the windows like a crazy drummer. Under the ledge, water could be heard gurgling, an unpleasant sound, similar to that made by a bloke who's just had his throat cut. In the wee small hours I got up and glimpsed a boat out at sea.
Someone, I sensed, was worse off than me, which is how we teuchters put things into perspective. In the hall, however, the fire alarm began to bleep, like a sheep stranded on a cliff ledge. Or should that be bleat? Who cares! It was bloody irritating whatever it sounded like. On and on and on it went: bleep, bleat, bleep. Sleep, clearly, was not an option. So I rose and wrote an opera, as we renaissance geniuses do.
IT is two hundred years since Grimm's Fairy Tales first appeared in print. What a merry day that was! I vividly recall coming down to breakfast to find a copy of the Folio edition placed beside a plate of quails' eggs and kedgeree.
Instantly, I picked it up and began to read and haven't put it down since. Metaphorically! By astonishing coincidence Philip Pullman has taken 50 of the Grimm's finest tales and retold them for the age of the iPlook, including my favourite tale, The Mouse, The Bird And The Sausage, which tells of how these three shared a house in which the bird provided fuel, the mouse carried water and the sausage did the cooking.
There is a moral in there somewhere and perhaps also a solution to our present housing crisis. At the end of his tale, Mr Pullman notes that the sausage was probably "Bratwurst" in the original German, the Germans having at least 1500 types of sausage. The very thought of that makes me want to move there pronto. Or whatever's the equivalent in Deutsch. Be all of that as it may, Mr Pullman also says that "sausage" is the funniest word in the language. Not to me it ain't, mate!
I'M pickin' up good vibrations. The Beach Boys, or what's left of them, which is not much, have reformed. Not all pundits have been complimentary of their efforts. Indeed, one disrespectful yoof referred to them as "Brian Wilson and the Geriatrics".
Whaur's yer Oscar Wilde noo! The latest news, alas, is that the recently reformed band has deformed, much to the surprise of the aforementioned Mr Wilson who said "Huh?", or words to that effect, when he was told he was surplus to requirements. Is this any way to treat the man who wrote God Only Knows and Sloop John B? Reform, perform, deform – I may have the germ of a hit song.
ANENT – aw naw! – Johann Lamentable, leader of the Laybore Pairty, whit's she playing at? The wee bauchle (Is there any other kind? – Ed.) says that it's time to face reality. To which one immediately replies: why? La Lamentable further insists that we must stop taking "freebies" and start paying for stuff which we're currently coughing up nowt for. Such as? Tuition fees, prescriptions, pensioners' bus travel, fresh air.
This radical proposal, Ms Bauchle appears to believe, will propel Laybore back to power on a tidal wave of commonsense. I fear she may be living in cloud-cuckoo-land, or that parallel universe known as Holymoses. While she may regard such things as "freebies", others, quite rightly in my humble opinion, see them as entitlements, for which they have paid for with their sweat and blood for yonks and which, as their hair recedes and teeth drop out, they have come to expect by right. And La Lamentable calls herself a socialist!
HELEN Lees, a research filly at Stirling Yooni, has written a book, in which she makes a cri de coeur for silence in schools. As a trainee teacher, Ms Lees was keen to find a noiseless place where she could get her head together and eventually happened upon a room in which a Muslim student was praying.
Now she wants schools to build sanctuaries which, like quiet compartments on trains, can be enjoyed by those who can't stand the racket our fellow human monsters make.
This, surely, is a campaign that deserves the support of all right-thinking tubes. Back in my day, of course, weans were seen and not heard. Any wean that spoke out of turn either had his tongue removed or his mouth taped up. Or both. Liberals say that this only happens in barbaric societies where shops don't open on Sundays. Fair enough. But what I say is that it never did me any harm.
It's been a bit wet and windy of late, well, wetter and windier than usual
Johann Lamont can keep her mitts off my freebies, thanks very much
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