Alarming information

IN the early 20th century there was a pulp magazine called Weird Tales that specialised in yarns with fantastical scenarios. The Diary has always viewed itself as a modern-day equivalent of that very mag, bringing you the best of the bizarre. As the world grows increasingly strange, it becomes more difficult for us to stand out from the crowd of crackpots and cranks scattered throughout the rest of your newspaper. This week, for instance, it was discovered that Gwyneth Paltrow was selling a certain candle with a most distinctive and, ahem, personal scent. How do we compete with that level of eccentricity? We can but try. Today’s collection of classic tales provides a reminder of the Diary at its bonkers best. For instance, a reader once asked why do alarms go off rather than on?

Beggars belief

THERE was once a Glasgow beggar who’s dedication to business overcame his common sense. He was taken into police custody on another matter, and as he was put through the admission process at Barlinnie, the officers noted a particularly obnoxious aroma emanating from the plaster cast on his leg. Questioned, the chap revealed that the stookie had been on for nearly a year and should have been removed some 10 months previously. Why didn’t he go back to the hospital? “It was a great help for the begging,” he admitted. Was he not concerned about the hygiene aspect? “Well, I did give it two coats of emulsion when it got dirty,” he said.

Fat chance

NOT content publishing real-life weird tales, the Diary has on occasion stumbled into the realms of fiction. Some years back we asked readers to concoct stories about a fictional Glasgow tram car conductress called Bridie McPherson. One reader "reported" that Bridie was once taken to task for wearing an excess of make-up. The actual words, from a troublesome female passenger were: “You’ve enough clairt oan yir face to make pancakes.” To which Bridie replied: “Aye, missus. An’ you’ve enough fat oan yir erse tae fry them in.”

Ginger nutty

THOSE who gravitate towards a career in the law are often eccentric of nature. None more so than the legendary Sheriff JIrvine Smith, a humorous figure for many a year in the bailiwicks of Glasgow and Greenock. A witness being examined in front of Irvine Smith was asked by the defence: “What is your occupation?”

“Humphin’ ginger at Springwells,” he replied. “What?” said the sheriff. The lawyer explained: “My client is endeavouring to inform the court that he is employed in a menial capacity by a well-known firm situated on the outskirts of Blantyre, which is engaged in the manufacture of aerated waters.”

“Well,” said Sheriff Irvine Smith. “Why couldn’t the fellow have said that in the first place?”

Burnbank bruisers

THE late great world boxing champion Walter McGowan had an upbringing straight out of Weird Tales. Explaining how he came to be a hungry fighter, he described being raised in Burnbank, a garden suburb of Hamilton: “It was the jungle in Burnbank,” he said. “You had to sleep with your socks on if you wanted them in the morning. Pitbull terriers ran about in pairs up there.”

Faulty philosophy

WE end with a wacky joke from reader Ken Brown. Professor: “I’m afraid I’m going to have to fail you in your ethics exam.”

Student (sliding £50 across the desk): “Are you sure about that?”

Read more: Foiled by a drinker who nipped away