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The retiring Pope gallops off with the headlines but procreating slugs are coming up on the inside

THESE are worrying times for carnivores, who have been told to "eat local" by those and such as those, which some naive souls have taken to mean Greggs.

Meenister for Mince Rounds, Richard Lockheid, says there's nothing to worry about because we in Scotia do not have the "complex web of supply chains" they've got elsewhere.

What this has got to do with packets of frozen gee-gee beats me. Meanwhile, Michael Matheson, Meenister for Gippy Tummies, says he's in talks with organisations charged with feeding vulnerable folks and has told these "key stakeholders" – ahem! – to keep calm and carry on.

HAUD the front page! An 85-year-old resident of Rome has announced he is going to retire. For reasons that mystify me, this has caused a tsunami of comment, the gist of which is: why?

The man, one Joseph Ratzinger, aka the Pope, says eneuch is eneuch and that he wants to spend more time mulling. I approve and trust that others of a great age will do the same. Queen Tupperware for instance. She should go because she's boring, which is not something you can say about her horse-whisperer of a son.

Indeed, if she doesn't get a move on he will be so old when he takes over that he'll have to retire immediately.

Needless to say, given the number of times I've been in Rome, I have been asked to throw my tuppenceworth into the mix. How, I am asked, did Herr Ratzinger look the last time I saw him?

In short, not bad, if indeed it was him waving from a window. As ever, the Vatican is aswirl with rumours. It has even been suggested that the Mafia may be involved.

This, says my Carfin Grotto correspondent, would account for the reports suggesting that the Pope took his decision when he woke and found to his horror a Findus lasagne on his pillow.

WHO will be the next Pope? In some ill-informed quarters the clamour is for a liberal who will not only say "yeah" to the use of condoms but will also allow loyal Catholics to eat fish throughout the week and not just on Fridays.

I fear this is wishful thinking. Your average cardinal is no more liberal than Posh Dave, so forget any ideas of women priests or married priests or priests scoffing fish suppers on Saturdays.

There is much talk of a black Pope. Fine. I hear good things about Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana, but he blotted his breviary when he showed a video at a bishops' conference which suggested that Islam would take over swathes of Europe because Muslims are breeding faster than Catholics. His source, alas, was YouTube and later shown to be dodgy.

There is also mention of a Canadian cardinal who has hopes of seeing white smoke. On the plus side, Cardinal Ouellett is, at 68, young. Or youngish.

On the minus, he's Canadian and therefore too nice for his own good. Paddy Power, a bookie, is offering odds of 4-1 on Cardinal Turkson and 6-1 on Cardinal Arinze, who is 80. PP's inspiring slogan is YES WE VAT-I-CAN!

WHAT a difference a day makes! Yesterday the world and his dog was agog at the story about Papa Razzi. Today the story barely rates a mention, having been supplanted by earth-shattering revelations about sea slugs.

Apparently, male sea slugs have a you-know-what which they use to procreate with consenting female sea slugs. Thereafter, however, the you-know-what breaks off which, in normal circumstances, would be the stuff of tragedy and emergency surgery. But within 24 hours another you-know-what grows and the male sea slug is good to go once more. Needless to say this has caused much tittering in the shires, where the very mention of you-know-whats is guaranteed to produce fits of the giggles.

The Beeb cannot get enough of this nonsense. A female TV presenter has just been asked by a male radio presenter for her thoughts on this mind-blowing discovery. "Is the one that regrows the same size as the one that breaks off?" she coyly asks.

ANOTHER church has broken away from the Kirk. Gilcomston South's congregation is scunnered at the thought of gay ministers getting hitched and has abandoned its premises in Aberdeen's Union Street. For the next wee while it will meet at the Copthorne Hotel which, says one dude on TripAdvisor, was the only place in town that could give him a room in December for a week. By and large, however, he appears to have been happy with the facilities, though he did have one cavil: "The underground car park is tiny and unbelievably tight to manoeuvre in." Perhaps he should consider buying a smaller car.

Gilcomston's Rev Jolly is Dominic Smart, many of whose sermons are available online. I tried one called "What do we want another tree for?" It's for answers to questions such as this that the hordes will be clogging up the Copthorne's car park.

IT'S official: work experience is slave labour. Though obviously not as real slaves know it. I refer to the case brought by geology graduate Cait Reilly, 24, who complained that her human rights had been breached when she was told she would lose her Jobseeker's Allowance if she refused to work (or slave) in Poundland for nowt. At Poundland, about which one will not hear a bad word, Ms Reilly stacked shelves and swept floors, which, try as one might, appears to have little to do with geology.

The Appeal Court ruling reduced Iain Duncan Bald-Heid to a foaming eejit who said that "he" had no intention of paying compensation to anyone who didn't want to work for nothing. He found support from that bastion of civil rights and fair-mindedness the Daily Wail, whose employees, one presumes, have agreed to work for sod-all for the rest of the year. Ms Reilly is now working part-time at Morrisons where – I am unreliably informed – her duties include looking after tectonic plates and suchlike crockery.

Sea slugs have been hot news following recent revelations

Iain Duncan Smith said no unpaid worker would be compensated

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