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Tom Shields on … more unreliable information

Welcome to another edition of Any Old Questions with background and analysis of news stories of the day or maybe last week.

* Labour MSP Frank McAveety made inappropriate comments about a woman in the public benches at a Holyrood committee meeting. Should he resign? ~ W Aitken, Kelvinside.

Mr McAveety is guilty of unparliamentary behaviour being caught saying what he was thinking.

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He said: “There’s a very attractive girl in the second row, dark … and dusky. We’ll maybe put a wee word out for her.” An inquiry must be held to establish what he meant by “put a wee word out”.

Mr McAveety went on: “She’s very attractive looking, nice, very nice, very slim,” before adding: “The heat’s getting to me.” The same inquiry should investigate the air-conditioning in the parliament building.

The MSP added: “She looks kinda …

she’s got that Filipino look. You know … the kind you’d see in a Gauguin painting.” This is shocking.

McAveety should know it’s Filipina for females. As a former minister for culture, he should also be aware Gauguin lived in French Polynesia, not the Philippines.

Most importantly, McAveety should know how to switch off a microphone.

* Is there any good news on global warming?

~ D Attenborough, Bristol.

Yes. Sperm whales are doing their bit. Researchers have calculated – don’t ask me how – that each whale defecates 50 tonnes of iron in a year.

Sounds painful, but it comes out in liquid form.

Too much information, I know. The iron stimulates growth of marine plants which absorb carbon dioxide.

So, don’t stop travelling by airplane. Stop killing whales. Next from Ryanair, a save-the-whale surcharge.

* I read that a chef was allegedly assaulted by being held upside down with his head dunked in a vat of lukewarm broccoli and Stilton soup? How can we be sure food in restaurants is safe? ~ H Fearnley-Worrall-Hairybiker, Dorset.

If the soup is heated to at least 60 degrees there shouldn’t be a problem. But sift through the bowl for any bits that don’t look like broccoli or Stilton.

You can ask: “Waiter, has there been a chef in my soup?” To be absolutely certain, it’s best to stay home and open a tin of Heinz cream of tomato.

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