Ribald Rabbie

POETRY buffs have always accepted that some of Robert Burns famous compositions are saucier than a family-sized bottle of Heinz ketchup. Though some of the Bard’s lesser-known writings are even bawdier, and would be better suited to the top shelf of a newsagents rather than the verse section of the local Waterstones. Inside the Mind of Robert Burns, broadcast on BBC Scotland tonight, celebrates those roguish rhymes and promises to be a controversial study of the nation’s favourite wordsmith. Reader John Greene is curious to know if any other celebrated Scottish literary figures have equally scandalous scribblings salted away. “Perhaps there’s a first draft of Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie where the protagonist is a dominatrix rather than a dominie,” he says.

If so, it would certainly give new meaning to a punishment exercise…

Piping faux pas

FUMBLED phrases continued. Gordon Casely tells us that back in 1974 the late and much missed public relations officer for Glasgow City Council, Harry Dutch, was explaining during a meeting in the City Chambers that a forthcoming event of great splendour would conclude with an appearance by the Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band. Harry, who could be excitable on occasion, concluded triumphantly: “And the finale will be headed by… Shites & Dockhead Pipe Band.”

Sayonara cereal

BROWSING in his local supermarket, an East Dunbartonshire reader overheard a woman, holding aloft a packet of Cheerios, say to her companion: "Do you think these are a good buy?”

Angry steps

THE Diary has been attempting to devise marketable movie concepts with Scottish themes, in the hope they’ll be adapted for the big screen. David McClemont from Inverness suggests Stair Wars, a blockbuster epic where argy-bargy flat dwellers debate who should wash the close stairs. “An equally viable title for the flick would be Close Encounters,” adds David.

Off the ball

TV historian Neil Oliver has admitted he’d like to consign the game of football to the chronicles of the past, along with the Battle of Bannockburn and the runrig system of agriculture. He hated being forced to play the sport at school and scoffs at the aggrandising title it bestows on itself as ‘the beautiful game’. Even though he’s a highly learned fellow, Neil take pride in his footballing ignorance. In the 1990s he was working as the deputy news editor of a weekly newspaper when a tearful journalist informed him Cooper was dead. A bamboozled Oliver could only reply: “But Tommy Cooper died years ago.” The young reporter was less than impressed. “Not Tommy Cooper,” he snorted. “Super Cooper. Davie Cooper.”

Read more: Govan graving docks, 1997 and 2019