IS Tranent the centre of the universe?

I ask because of late it has attracted its fair share of celebs, including Sir Ian McKellen, aka Gandalf, and Alistair "Badger" Darling. I am also told, though I find it hard to believe, that Elvis was recently spotted purchasing a kebab in the main drag.

Sir Ian's visit was about putting a stop to bullying, which is a jolly good idea. When anyone tried to bully me, I used to grab them by their fingers, which I pressed back until they dropped off. The Badger was in Tranent to promote the Union, of which he is keen for us to remain part.

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Like many of his ilk he is worried that, come independence, Scotia will be bereft of influence, which rather assumes we have some noo.

But whit aboot Europe? Is it not possible that a year and a bit hence the Little Englanders in the Dodo Party will be on the verge of engineering Britannia's exit?

Meanwhile, Alexei Salmonella may have persuaded the EU to grant Scotia life membership with a promise of cheap hooch and haggis. Who, then, will be able to play the influence card, the Yeahs or the Nays?

READERS whose memories are not entirely shot may recall that not so long ago I was slated by the Beeb to become the new David Attenborough, with a groundbreaking 12-part series on pigeons.

Mr Attenborough, however, refuses to hand back his microphone and is currently fronting a programme about Africa, a continent I know intimately, having once spent a fortnight trying not to become a crocodile's supper in the Masai Mara.

In this programme, Mr Attenborough has trained a lizard to leap on to a snoozing lion and catch flies. Lions, Mr Attenborough needlessly reminded viewers, are renowned for their short temper, somewhat like Shir Alex Ferguson, and do not take kindly to other creatures using them as a dining table.

The lizard did as it was apparently told and jumped up and down like a contestant on Strictly Come Prancing. And it did catch a fly or two, for which one hopes it was handsomely rewarded.

But what happened to it thereafter? Where, for example, does its career go from here? Answers to such questions came there none. My naturalist's instinct tells me the lion was doped.

ENGLISH Heritage says that henceforth it will not be putting up any more blue plaques, which mark where famous folk used to live.

As ever, budget cuts are blamed, though the plaques themselves cost tuppence. In future, anyone who wants to put up a plaque will have to pay for it themselves or find a wealthy sponsor, such as a dentist.

In Scotia, we do not have enough plaques and those we do have are often nicked or vandalised. Take the Old Sheriff Court in Glasgow's Merchant City, which at one time or another most inhabitants of the Dear Green Place visited, either as the accused or a member of the jury.

In August 1848, Chopin played a concert there, which occasion used to be commemorated with a plaque on the wall near what is the entrance of Citation restaurant. Alas, it is no more.

If anyone knows of its whereabouts, could they please speak up now or forever hold their peace?

MY dear, revered chum Andy Marr has had a stroke from which one hopes he will make a swift and full recovery. He is, of course, a Hootsmon Old Boy, dating back to the days when it was regarded as a prep school for Ye Olde Fleete Streete.

His first scoop concerned a Skye businessman, who told Mr Marr that he had discovered a technique for pressing waste paper into a substance that could in turn be used to build yacht hulls.

The rookie reporter swallowed the tale whole and it duly found its way on to the front page of the business section. But what the businessman had neglected to tell the reporter was that he'd been up on a fraud charge in Portree.

Which is why, Mr Marr recalled, a wiser and more wizened hack greeted him in the pub on the day of his triumph by softly whistling The Skye Boat Song.

MUCH mickey has been taken out of my dear amigo Mickey Russell, Eddification Meenister, because he has become the first EmSPee to launch his own app, whatever that is. Among other unmissable things Mr R's app contains are local news, weather and travel updates, and uncompromising photographs of Mr R.

This is not something on which one feels competent to comment. It is enough to know that it is happening. Quite enough.

IT would appear that we are suffering from a nationwide plague of moles – not, I stress, of the type who give away our secrets but those which, when deid, make very comfy shirts and trousers. Horticulturists insist that something must be done – their lawns, they wail, look as if they have been blitzkrieged. When I suggest they should fight fire with fire, literally, they tend to back off. They would no more bomb moles than club seals.

By spooky coincidence, I have been delving again into the oeuvre of my old and sadly departed chum, Eric Newby, a constant traveller. He too had a mole problem and tried everything to be rid of them, including putting bottles down over the entrances to their holes, in the hope that the low moaning noise made by the wind would drive them to distraction and thus to seek pastures new. It had zilch effect.

The most ridiculous thing Mr Newby did, mole-wise, was to attach a length of rubber pipe to the exhaust of his car, then put the other end down a mole hole. But the pipe was a poor fit and Mr Newby had to hold it on to the exhaust. It was only when he began to sink into a dwam that he realised that it was not the moles he was sending to eternal sleep but himself. Don't say you haven't been warned!