DEAR oh dear!

I refer, alas, to the Hootsmon, which every day offers a new, trumped-up reason to vote Naw in September's referendum. According to reports it has published, come independence, mortgages, rates, utility bills and the price of a pint of pina colada will go through the roof. Meanwhile, wages, pensions and the value of pigeon lofts will drop like coins into a bottomless well.

In short, Scotia will be an economic heidcase. Verily, we're a' doomed. The latest bunkum concerns a Laybore eMPee who says he fears for his and his family's safety from rabid Yes voters. Needless to say, said eMPee is not named.

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It is perhaps worth reminding readers of this throbbing organ that the Hootsmon was not always insanely opposed to self-determination. Even in the days when my old chum Andra Neil was at the helm it recommended its readers to vote Yes for a Scottish parliament with tax-varying powers.

SO faretheeweel Peaches Geldof. One is saddened by her untimely death and concerned for her family, who have had more than enough tragedy to cope with. Her mother, Paula Yates, was the brightest of bright sparks. I encountered her just once when, with Chris Evans, she presented The Big Breakfast on Channel 4.

At the time, I was shadowing my dear friend Jackie Collins, author extraordinaire, who had agreed to be interviewed by Ms Yates. We arrived at the studio in south London as the sun was coming up.

Ms Yates was in bed, from where she conducted all her interviews. Ms Collins immediately threw off her outer garments and jumped in beside her while the crew and I looked on.

Ms Yates caught sight of me in my fabled Harris tweed jacket, grey flannels and earthy brogues. "Who on earth is that?" she asked. Ms Collins enlightened her, whereupon I was asked to join them in bed, a moment that has since become embalmed in TV history though, I am delighted to report, is not yet to be found on YouTube. Thereafter Channel 4 never looked back.

GHASTLY Maria Miller has gone, as everyone but Posh Dave knew she was bound to, after making the briefest of apologies for yet another expenses scandal. If we ever hear from her again I will be surprised. Since her departure sundry pundits have remarked what a terrible culture secretary she was. I don't doubt it.

She may even have been the worst ever though the competition is pretty stiff. The problem is, people are given that job who are about as cultured as a bwanker. But, hey, here comes the new Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, who is - guess what! - a bwanker.

Since learning of his appointment researchers have combed high and low looking for any interest Mr Javid has shown in culture but have come up with nowt. His website has a photo of him judging an annual sausage competition in his constituency, which is about as cultural as he gets. There are rumours that he is a fan of Star Trek but that may be hearsay. However, he does bear an uncanny resemblance to Mr Spock.

LIKE Charlie Brooks, squeeze of Rebekah Brooks, ex-editress of the Noos of the Scroos, I am a fan of Fairy Liquid. In particular, I find it useful for removing stains and cleaning pots. Indeed, almost anything soaked in it overnight will prove easier to scour the next morning. Having said which, I have never, like Mr Brooks, tried drinking the stuff.

At his trial for attempting to pervert the course of justice, a witness with whom he used to share a flat recalled: "I once found him frothing at the mouth looking close to death one morning only to discover that he had not been bitten by a rabid dog, but had drunk a pint of Fairy Liquid to try and rid himself of the excesses of the night before."

What the witness did not reveal was whether it proved efficacious. My best guess is that it was unlikely. Mr Brooks may have reasoned that if Fairy Liquid can clean utensils it can do likewise for a human person's insides. That was unwise. Don't they stock Irn-Bru in Chipping Norton?

MUCH ado has been made of the decision to blow up the Red Road flats during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games for the amusement of the masses. Subsequently, a petition has been signed by 15,000 folk who think this is a crass idea and should be abandoned. I agree. It is one thing to explode eyesores, quite another to make a spectacle of it to the rest of the universe. Defending the decision, the organising committee says it will send a message that Glasgow is serious about regeneration. Where isn't? And why tell everyone it needs to be regenerated? Having said all of which, there is scope for more detonations. Half of Princes Street, for example, could be blown up at the closing ceremony of this year's Edinburgh International Festival.

I note, too, that Network Rail has plans to redevelop Glasgow's Queen Street station. Why not blow it up on New Year's Eve? Thereafter an eyesore could be obliterated annually which, if nothing else, would be a far more reasonable expenditure of public dosh than sending fireworks into the gloom.

'Their taxes would be heavier, their property less secure, their lives less safe, their general position more debased, and their chances of national success more remote than ever." Sounds familiar?

Chuntering from Lord Wodge Robertson, perhaps? In fact, it is from The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope, John Major's favourite scribe, first published in 1876, and refers to Home Rule for Ireland.