A MOST inventive and interactive chap is Mr Andrew Freemantle, chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service National Health Service Trust (as it appears we must now call this organisation).

Readers may recall our item about his plan for awarding bronze, silver, gold, and platinum prizes to staff who come up with suggestions to improve services and cut costs, but not necessarily in that order. A quality ideas co-ordinator was appointed to oversee the scheme.

Mr Freemantle's latest wheeze has been to invite ambulance service staff to submit a short essay in a competition with two star prizes of places on a fact-finding trip later this month to Australia and New Zealand. The two uniformed staff will accompany Mr Freemantle and ambulance service chairman Alan Devereux on the sojourn down under.

Messrs Freemantle and Devereux qualified for the trip in an ex-officio capacity without having to pen an essay. In an outburst of generosity, the Scottish Ambulance Service NHS Trust has rewarded all their staff who took the time and trouble to write an essay with cheques for #50 or #100 ``depending on the length of their submissions''.

Obviously, since length is the only consideration, the quality ideas co-ordinator was not involved in this one.

Second best

IT'S a funny old world, your higher education. We have a copy of a memo from the principal of James Watt College in Greenock which states: ``The Depute Head position will be kept under review over the next year. It is intended that this post will be phased out by November 1996. Extensive discussions will take place over the next year in order to identify suitable alternative posts for the staff involved.''

Bad news it would appear for all the college's depute heads. But life goes on, it would appear. The latest edition of the college's newsletter Watt's New reports that the college organised a depute heads training course last month at the Buchanan Arms Hotel, Drymen, at which six of this apparently threatened species were in attendance.

Scottish questions

WE could cover acres of space telling you just how wonderful is a book called A Burmese Legacy by Sue Arnold, a columnist on the the Observer. It is her tale of being descended from two Burmese grandmothers and two British grandfathers, having a bit of a sun tan, but wanting desperately to be accepted as English.

Ms Arnold's engaging anecdotal style makes the book Mitfordesque. We hear of exotic relatives such as Miss Tender and Miss Gentle, not to mention Aye-Aye Moh.

But enough of these compliments. We are here to take issue with her description of her roots as ``Anglo-Burmese''.

Grandfather McHarg came from the Scottish borders. Grandfather Lloyd was Welsh. Where's the Anglo in that? we asked Ms Arnold. ``Don't be so tiresome,'' she replied. ``What alternative would you suggest?''

Well she could be Scotto-Burmese on one side and Boyo-Burmese on the other. There must be some way of all the British people not suffering from the label Anglo.

Twinkle toes

THERE seems to be no end to the gullibility of the youth of today when it comes to forking out vast sums of money for designer footwear. A company called Timberland is offering a product which they describe as a cross between comfy slippers and a pair of tough boots.

The boots protect feet from damp and cold down to minus 20 degrees Centigrade ``yet are stylish enough for the coolest resort''. Timberland developed the technology for the boots by shoeing the husky drivers in various dog-sled races. The footwear is also suitable for wearing while ice-fishing.

The reason why we are telling you all this is that they cost #140 and go by the name of the Timberland Galoot Boot.

q A galoot, as we are sure you know, is a ``clumsy or inept fellow; an inexperienced soldier or marine''. Or perhaps some youngster who pays #140 for a pair of boots.

Poozie puzzle

DIARY readers, ever interested in the use of language and that, have been on about the word Poozie. We mentioned the all-women folk band The Poozies but couldn't work out what the word meant, apart from its connection with Poozie Nancy of Rabbie Burns fame.

Sandra Campbell of Glasgow tells us that in her day (unspecified) poozie was spelt pousie and was used as an insult, to suggest that someone was lousy and suffered from an infestation of head lice.

William B McCarroll of Kilmarnock begs to differ and says that poozie was just a Hielan' way of saying boozie, or having had drink taken.

Hard to swallow

THE Diary tackles the big issues. Stewart Campbell of Helensburgh writes to ask why a can of Irn-Bru costs 42p in the John Menzies retail establishment at Glasgow Airport, 50p in their shop in Queen Street Station, and 55p in Waverley Station. Is there an Edinburgh tax on Irn-Bru? Is there an opening for an entrepreneur to set up a black market in the East for our other national drink?

Band of hope

THE Radio Times included a reference the other week to a TV appearance by the band of the ``Argyll and Southern Highlanders''.

Surely even those people in London know the regiment is called the Argyll and Sufferin' Highlanders.