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Next time, let the River Esk rise as high as it likes so we can wash annoying music fans out of the way

YET again the royal, ancient and honest burgh of Musselburgh is at the epicentre of world news.

Accompanying the Home Secretary on her afternoon hike, I spied on the last bridge over the River Esk before it becomes the Firth of Forth a group of men - some wearing fetching fluorescent jackets, others bearing cameras and notepads - studying the chocolate torrent.

According to Sepa - what a pertinent name for an organisation concerned with flooding! - the Esk was in danger of breaking its banks and rendering nearby houses horrible.

In all the centuries I have lived here this has happened, but rarely and with little effect. Now, however, we were informed that ferocious winds from the south had so agitated the Forth that, combined with a high tide and a heavy rainfall, there was risk to life, limb and garden gnomes. It was all very worrying.

Half past four was reckoned to be the critical moment. As it approached, the river rose and dribbled gently, creepily, over its banks. The photographers snapped furiously - but when do they do otherwise? Swans bobbed on the black water, afloat where normally they would have to waddle.

And then nothing happened. No-one's house was flooded and no-one's feet got wet. Within an hour or so the Esk was back to its benign normal. Phew!

MUCH ado has been made of Posh Dave's bald patch. His barber, to whom he gave an OBE, or possibly a CBE - who cares! - probably in lieu of a tip, says he doesn't have one.

My gut feeling is that he's being economical with the you-know-what. As anyone who has studied the Pee-Em's pate of late knows, his hair is clearly thinning. That's a fact. Whether that constitutes a bald patch, I cannot say. What I can say is that, sooner rather than later, Posh Dave will not be as hirsute as he was when he first arrived on the scene.

Back then, I had the pleasure of interviewing him and, as soon as I saw his barnet, which was as luxuriant as Melvyn B's, I knew he was destined for Number 10.

The question now is: can he run the country with less or no hair? To which my answer would be a resounding: no, nicht, neigh, non. Sure, there was a time when bald men could have aspired to the highest office in the land but those days are past and in the past they must remain.

FOLLOWING my global scoop, in which I disclosed in our wee sister paper, The Herald, that the former Irish president, Mary McAleese, is keen to see Cardinal Keith O'Brien return from exile and explain himself, not least to gay dudes, I have been in demand by our friends over the water, who appear to believe I am an authority on such matters.

One fellow, employed by the broadcaster RTE, asked if I was this throbbing organ's church reporter.

Modest as ever, I said that wouldn't be strictly accurate. But now I come to think of it, who better than me to animadvert on ecclesiastical matters?

I also took part in a chat show with a priest who had some pretty damning things to say about the church's hierarchy in Ireland.

Basically, it seems, they're not fit to pour a pint of stout, let alone advise on sexual mores. Best of all, however, was Tipp FM, one of the top local radio stations in Ireland.

The host of its morning show is Seamus Martin, an erudite chap with a sly wit. The station is based in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, and I've been asked to drop in any time I'm passing, which, of course, I would very much like to do. But it's a long, long way …

FRENCH president, Francois Hollande is having an (alleged) fling with a femme nearly 20 years his junior which, say some, calls into question his judgment. Not, one suspects, because of the age of the femme but because he's been travelling to their rendezvous on a motorbike. Tres dangereux, n'est-ce pas! I, meanwhile, am more intrigued to learn that Monsieur Hollande was identified by his shoes, of which, apparently, he only has one pair. Vraiment?

ACCORDING to Time magazine, the must-eat vegetable of the year is kohlrabi, which is a cousin of broccoli and cauliflower. Hereabouts, of course, its brother - possibly its twin brother - is the much-maligned neep, which is consumed more by sheep than us.

Why Time thinks it is suddenly cool I have no idea. It could just be that it's just noticed its existence. It really needs to get out more.

MY dear and revered amigo Neil Young, a troubadour, was miffed when fans at the Carnegie Hall in New York clapped along to one of his songs. "You paid real good money to get in here," he said, sarcastically, "so you should be able to listen to each other."

Some pop-pickers have suggested, ignorantly, that having paid "real good money" fans are entitled to do what they like on such occasions and that Mr Young is in danger of becoming a class A grouch to rival Van the Man.

Such tosh deserves to be squashed to a pulp. One of the reasons I no longer want to see the greats in the flesh is their audiences, some members of which behave like members of a cult while others cavort like buffoons. Meanwhile, those of us who prefer to remain rigidly in our seats cannot see anything other than the fat backs of fans and are left with the impression that the backing band is a choir of caterwauling morons. One solution might be to tape up fans' mouths and cuff their hands. You may think this extreme. Fair enough.

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