NOSEY as ever, you'll be eager to know where I went on my hols. With the whole world at my feet, I opted for a sojourn in God's backyard, aka Yorkshire, not least because of the Home Secretary's recent infatuation with Test Match Special and, in particular, Geoffrey Boycott, aka the Greatest Living Yorkshireman.
The town nearest to where we were staying was Malton, which lies in the middle of horse country. Thus its main drag doesn't have parking bays but posts to which you can hitch Trigger.
I jest! Having said which, it is as easy to buy saddles and bridles in Malton as it is pork pies and onion chutney. In one shop I attempted to buy a bunnet but there was none that would fit my big head, thanks, explained the proprietor, to uncommon demand. Elsewhere such business would be greeted with whoops and squeals but in Yorkshire, where they pride themselves on having whatever you want immediately to hand, it is a source of deep regret.
We did, however, buy a duffle bag, the better to appear as demobbed squaddies, which hitherto was a look I never thought I would adopt.
WE did the sights, of course. One day we went to York and to its railway museum, where there are more trains than in Trainspotting and where we took tea with an elderly couple from Plymouth. They were on a bus trip and had a lot of time to kill. We bumped into them again near the Minster. "Three hours to go," said the lovely lady, who couldn't have looked more knackered if she was doing a triathlon.
Another day we visited Nunnington Hall, a National Trust pile, whose owners had Jacobite leanings. Nearby flows the River Rye in which, so we were told, bathe otters. If they do, I didn't see any.
Best of all, however, was Yates, the cavernous hardware store in Malton, where you can still buy nails singly and where the sweet smell of paraffin perfumes the air. Such emporia should be treasured and moves made now - perhaps by the National Trust - to ensure that they are protected for posterity.
Malton and its environs, meanwhile, were pulsating, as reflected on a billboard advertising the top story in the Malton and Pickering Herald: "Pickering Ready for Quilt Exhibition."
NEEDLESS to say that even when ostensibly en vacances, I have been tirelessly championing the cause of the Anent Preservation Society.
It is several months since the Kirk decided that anent, that harmless but useful word, was past its spell-by date, prompting an outpouring of grief, anger and bewilderment not seen in the pews since Liberace was asked to preach at St Giles.
Where, my many fellow anenters want to know, will it all end? You may recall that when the terrible news first broke I revealed that one of the first folk to call for the demise of anent was my dear chum, Harry Reid, who I otherwise believe may generally be described as sane. I would like now to call upon Mr Reid and his many followers to recant and re-embrace anent as it deserves, ideally beneath the statue of John Knox at next year's General Assembly.
How, I would like to know, can anyone justly call himself a nationalist, when he would rather employ foreign imports, such as re, apropos and pace, instead of our indigenous anent?
CURIOUS to hear what Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Slur, sounds like, I googled Desert Island Discs on which he once appeared - only to be told that the website was experiencing "abnormal traffic" and that I should try later.
I don't think I'll bother. I imagine the craven Mr Dacre is the sort of numpty who is a Barry Manilow fan. Then again he might like to hum along to Wagner's Ring Cycle, as all employees of his rag surely do.
But what unwittingly he has done by blackening the character of Ed Miliband's papa is to raise sympathy for the Labour leader, which may yet see him fill Posh Dave's sweaty brogues in Number 10. Wouldn't that be fittingly ironic?
Meanwhile, the hunt is on to find something nasty to say about Mr D's own papa, Pedro, who died in 2003, having been a showbiz hack on the Daily Express where he was tyrannised by John Junor, known to one and all as the Sage of Auchtermuchty, and who was infamous for groping and propositioning the wives of his employees.
What a sheltered life we in this throbbing organ lead!
ANENT - yes! - the aforementioned Mr Dacre, I am struck by his resemblance to my dear amigo, Silvio Berlusconi. I don't suppose anyone has ever seen them together in the same room?
LAST weekend I found myself in Wigtown, and I don't mean philosophically. The occasion was its annual book festival, which is increasingly attended by folk from as far afield as Moffat and Biggar.
The bill included Joanna Lumley, last seen in Melrose, where men of a certain age trembled in their plus fours and tipped their deerstalkers as she tiptoed past them o'er the cowpats. My sole sighting of her was of her back as she made her way up the stairs to the green room in a bookshop in the town's throbbing centre. Personally, I am not much moved by celebrities, most of whom I have trouble recognising with their clothes on. Other folk, however, see one and turn to jelly, which is very messy.
My task was to interview Mark Lawson, radio presenter and novelist, who had ambitiously decided to travel back and forth to Wigtown from Milton Keynes by public transport on the same day. Our gig was due to start at noon and Mr Lawson arrived with minutes to spare, breathing heavily and perspiring somewhat, as if he had jogged the last leg from Newton Stewart. He explained that he had been picked up by the festival's volunteer driver in Dumfries who, en route and with the minutes fast ticking by, stopped to acquire cat litter. And why not!
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