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Jack Vettriano says he is moving back to Scotland so book him for next year's Burns Supper forthwith!

YOU are no doubt gagging to know how my last Burns Supper went.

In a word, swimmingly. It was held at the Hollies, a drop-in centre for wrinklies, in Musselburgh, one of the few towns which keeps its association with the Bard quiet, possibly because there is none.

There were songs and speeches and recitations, including one of Tam o'Shanter delivered by my old friend Roger Knox, erstwhile deputy provost of East Lothian.

Mr Knox, one imagines, recites the tale of drunken Tam in his sleep. As ever, the audience had to exercise their imaginations, not least when Mr Knox produced a broom which, it soon became clear when he stuck it between his legs, was meant to represent Tam's grey mare, Meg. Titter ye not!

Another highlight of the evening was the raffle where the premium prizes included After Eights, unwanted talcum powder and tickets for the local races. Thrice my numbers were called. In my joyful delirium I failed to spot that one of the prizes was dinner with the aforementioned Mr Knox which, he later informed me, he would have grabbed himself had it not been snaffled before one of his numbers was called.

The winner, however, had second thoughts and later swapped it for a garden gnome.

ANENT - the fight goes on! - my chunterings in last week's diary regarding the Wallyford dump. Unsurprisingly, it has leapfrogged Edinburgh Castle as the country's top tourist destination and there are plans afoot to capitalise on this.

Priorities are a café and a shop. The former will only offer produce which is long past its sell-by date and would normally be thrown on the compost heap. The latter, apart from selling designer bin bags and customised marigolds will, of course, be majoring on what one reader, based in Nova Scotia, tells me his granddaughter calls "stuffies", ie stuffed toys, though there will also be space for rusting bike parts, redundant white goods and the gamut of tat.

The same reader recalls an unforgettable visit to Broxburn dump, by all accounts one of Scotia's champion tips. There, the workers had seated the stuffies on garden chairs around an old table, in the centre of which was a sign saying: "Silence please, council meeting in progress."

The governor of the Bank of England, a Canadian, says there will be some "ceding of national sovereignty" if, come independence, we want to keep the pound.

I dare say he is right, though we managed to keep the pound - as in ounces and pounds - and still retain our sovereignty after metrication.

As someone who prefers to weigh his money rather than count it, I'd rather have imperial measures than the alternative, whatever that is. But it's never easy to change from one currency to another. I recall when Italy stopped using the lira and embraced the euro, which I pronounced "you-ro" until a long-time resident in Chiantishire, doubtless aggrieved at ceding national sovereignty, corrected me.

"You must say 'oo-ro'," she said, "as in 'ouch'."

THOUGHT for the day, from a minister in Somerset, who told the BBC Today programme that the floods affecting the county and which have cut off villages such as Muchelney are "a once in a lifetime event which have now happened twice".

MY old amigo, Jack Vettriano, dauber of "erotically charged" scenes, says he is tired of London and is returning forthwith to Auld Reekie, where dames of a certain age are already queuing up to show him their knickers and suspenders.

Mr Vettriano says that Knightsbridge, the sink estate in which he has recently been living, is now awash with Arabs and Russians, which is why he is scunnered with it. Not, he swiftly adds, that he's a racist. How can he be! As every right-thinking person knows, it is perfectly acceptable not to like Arabs and Russians, basically because they've got too much dosh and insist on spending it.

Not that Mr Vettriano is short of a bawbee or two himself. Not so long ago I attended an auction where he had put many unwanted household items up for sale.

For example, there was a Bakelite telephone that had appeared in his fabled painting The Arrangement, which was going for between £40 and £60, even though it didn't work and you could buy a new one for less. The most expensive of the 27 lots on offer was a pair of brown leather armchairs, each with "arched back over loose cushion seat, sabre arms and splayed legs" which, it would not be unreasonable to assume, once were sat upon by Mr Vettriano.

Also highly prized was "a late Victorian sofa", as "immortalised" in the painting Original Sin, in which a wifie in a black dress is pictured about to bite into what could be a Granny Smith's apple. Where, I often wonder, is that apple now?

SOON it will be a crime to smoke in cars in which there are weans. Needless to say, this has outraged smokers who continually bang on about their rights even as they clog the byways with their foul dowts.

My father used to smoke in our car, a Ford Anglia. Whenever any of us protested, he would stop it and order us to get out. He would then open the boot and tell us to climb in, whereupon he'd slam it shut and zoom off.

None of us - I have four brothers and three sisters - thought anything of it. Back in those golden days weans were sometimes seen and rarely heard. The idea that we had rights would have been laughable. We were lucky - and often told so - to have shoes on our feet and fish fingers on our plates. Empires were built on less.

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