Horn of a dilemma

WATCHING Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson march side-by-side into Parliament this week – one grim, one grinning – was a stark reminder that the lottery of life is all about winners and losers. The Diary often focuses on those two factions as well, as becomes apparent as we look back at some classic tales. Such as the put-upon proprietor of an Italian café in Perth who owned a wind-up gramophone which became a target for mischief by the local bad lads. The poor café owner had to repeatedly reprimand the young rogues with the words: “Hey, boays. No flickin’ the peas doon the hoarna the gramophone. You’ll choke Harry Lauder.”

Sensitivity training

SOME jobs entail being a loser in love. Unsociable working hours mean precious opportunities to spend time with a partner rarely arise. Though there are winners in such situations. We were once told of a group of Faslane submariners who were discussing the stress of leaving their families for long periods of time. One of the older, more experienced chaps told the rest of the lads: “You must be sensitive to your wives’ emotional needs.” After a pause he added: “Never, ever, whistle while you pack.”

Inresen storie

SALESMEN are either winners or losers, with nothing in between. We recall the story of a newly hired travelling salesman who wrote his first sales report to the office. Its sheer illiteracy stunned the top brass: “I have seen this lot what hasnt never bot nuthin fromm us, an I sole them a buncha goods for a thousand quid. I am now goin to Manncester.” Before he could be given the sack, or at least sent on a course to learn English, there came this letter from Manchester. “I cum hear an sole them haff a millyun.” The next morning the two letters were tacked to the staff bulletin board with this memo from the managing director: “We bin spendin two much time trying to spel instead of sel. You should all get out an do wot he dun.”

Weighty matters

WE’RE mostly discussing the depressing aspects of being a loser, today. Though there are the more positive types of loser, such as those who attempt to offload a bad habit. A few years ago nicotine patches were all the rage. So much so that the Diary received reports of a chap going round with a teabag taped to his arm who said he was trying to give up tea. Not to mention the man with a pie strapped on his arm to see if he could lose weight.

What’s in a name

A MORE recent tale of failure, which appears in this year’s Herald Diary book, A Quacking Good Read by Ken Smith. (Only a few days to go until Christmas, so last chance to buy it as a Crimbo prezzy for your hubby/wife/son/daughter/pet dog/cat/gerbil.) In the book, Ken relates the story of a spelling error that made a loser of a poor chap called Angus. An email was sent round a global organisation on behalf of this bloke, who happened to be a department head. Unfortunately spellcheck on the email didn’t recognise his good Scottish name and omitted the ‘g’. It didn’t help matters that the Angus in question had a permanently rather puckered-up expression.

Bad loser

WE end with a comment from a reader who said he was such a loser, if there was ever a competition for losers, he’d come… second.