A COMMON feature in newspapers at this time of year is the charity auction – readers' chance to bid for such glittering prizes as a champagne lunch, a trolley-dash round Fortnum & Mason, or a visit to a top West End show in the company of the theatre critic.
The Herald has come decidedly late to the party but on the grounds that it is better late than never, we can offer lucky readers the following lots.
LOT 1. A day in Edinburgh in the company of our transport correspondent to inspect the work done on the tram network and, afterwards, the chance to discuss with him, over a pint and a bag of salt and vinegar crisps in the Malt Shovel in Cockburn Street, what a remarkable waste of money it has been, and the civic embarrassment the capital has suffered as a consequence.
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LOT 2. Our football correspondent will take you by taxi to Glasgow's Southside where you will have the chance to stand outside Ibrox and shake your head in dismay while remarking how hard it is to believe that a club of Rangers' exalted standing should find itself in Division 3. Plus: two tickets for the game at Elgin (travel not included).
LOT 3. A day trip to Holyrood with our political correspondent to see our MSPs in action and to discuss, over a civilised glass of wine on the premises, the exact chance Scotland has of going it alone in 2014.
LOT 4. Our fashion editor will take you round Primark and kit you out in the winter fashions of your choice.
LOT 5. Sandwich lunch with the news editor in the Sauchiehall Street branch of Starbucks. It will necessarily be rushed as he still has his Christmas shopping to do.
LOT 6. A day at the paper. Your chance to see how The Herald is put together. Sit in on the morning conference at which the following day's news agenda is assembled. Marvel at the preternatural hush of the newsroom. Experience the heady thrill of breaking news. Get your hands on the page proofs before the paper goes to press. Wonder what happened to the stories that were mentioned at the morning conference.
LOT 7. One for book enthusiasts: your chance to rummage round the excessively untidy desk of this writer and claim any books that take your fancy. NB Gloves and tongs will be supplied.