Losing sonsie face

FURTHER proof that it's tough being a Tory in Scotland: MSP David McLetchie was giving the Immortal Memory at the famous Bridgeton Burns Club supper in Glasgow at the weekend when he was introduced by club president Alan MacLennan as ''the leader of the Scottish Conservatives - a bit like being a road sweeper in Venice''. And we commend Safeway for, we hope, entering into the spirit of Burns Night. Reader Iain Sinclair of Glasgow notices that The Haggis Company's products being sold at the supermarket carry the apposite message: ''Please check product is served piping hot.''

No little creatures

GLASGOW vegetarian bar-bistro Mono held an alternative Burns event, staging Byrne's Night in honour of David Byrne, Dumbarton-born leader of Talking Heads. Proceedings began with vegetarian sausages being ceremonially piped in to a Talking Heads tune played by Donald Lindsay on a set of Hungarian pipes. The instrument, Donald said, was originally fashioned from goatskin, but mindful of offending vegetarian sensibilities, he emphasised that the pipes had been ravaged by a virulent skin-disease, necessitating a rebuild in man-made fibre.

Public send up

LABOUR loyalist George Foulkes is having a bit of fun at Westminster before he retires as an Ayrshire MP at the next election. Trying to win over waverers on the student top-up fees vote, he approached rebel Dianne Abbott and asked: ''Dianne! Do you want to sign my amendment?'' When she asked what it was, George replied with a straight face that it was to get parents who send their children to private schools to pay double instead. As Dianne looked at George in complete horror - she has, of course, trampled over her socialist roots by putting her son's name down for a private school - George told her: ''Only teasing!'' before going on his merry way.

Given the Elba

THE death of the former lord provost of Glasgow, Peter McCann, reminds us that Peter had a great interest in historical leaders. When in office he had a portrait of Napoleon on his desk, and in his final day as LP he sat at his desk sipping a glass of Napoleon brandy and declared: ''It is to Elba I go, not St Helena. I shall return.'' Indeed he did - not as lord provost but in championing numerous causes that he felt needed wider publicity. Peter also revelled in his international contacts. With his tongue just a little in cheek, he declared when removed as chairman of the Scottish-Arab Friendship Association, which he had been instrumental in setting up: ''My defeat didn't give me any sadness, but it will disappoint the Prince of Mecca.''

l Norman Wilson tells us of some friends who play at the Pitz five-a-side pitches in Glasgow who, despite their advancing years and waist sizes, have won the Sunday night league. Ready to defend their title, the lads wished to acknowledge the star presence of two Turkish asylum-seekers in their pool of players by renaming themselves Gallusfatterguys.

Sock it to 'em

WE mentioned footage of bustling Celtic striker John Hartson kicking former West Ham team-mate Eyal Berkovic in the face during a training session being part of the introductory footage on an American TV series of sporting mishaps. Reader David McMillan inevitably tells us: ''I think you'll find that Martin O'Neill has analysed the footage frame-by-frame and has shown that the alleged 'victim' was in fact trying to damage Hartson's foot by dint of biting through his boot to get at his toes. The big fella wasn't kicking him in the face, he was gently shaking him free of his footwear.''

Missed connection

AT A formal dinner in an Edinburgh hotel last week, a chap was explaining to fellow table guests that he had recently returned from a trip to Perth, Australia, and added: ''It takes a whole day to get there.'' The mature lady a few seats down from him, who perhaps had not heard the entire conversation, gamely chipped in: ''I know. Perth's never been the same since they introduced the one-way system.''

l Daft shop names continued. June Duncan of Cumbernauld, now living in Kent, tries to convince us that Cumbernauld once boasted a barber's shop with the title Aff Yer Heid.

Stupor Bowl

OUR tales of macaroon bar-sellers at the football reminded Bob Taylor of a visit to see the Miami Dolphins playing American football in Florida where stewards go around the crowd selling plastic glasses of beer to folk in their seats. Says Bob: ''The Dolphins were on the end of a hammering that night, and the steward tried to drum up beer sales by shouting, 'See the game through a whole new perspective'.''

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