Liquid assets

THE level of debt racked up by Scotland's students has more than doubled over the past decade, notes reader Martin Christopher. Audit Scotland’s most recent analysis reveals that borrowing from the Student Awards Agency during 2018-19 rose to more than £530 million. Martin doesn’t tell us if his sympathies lie with the strapped-for-cash scholars. Instead he chooses to ponder an entirely unrelated topic: “When Audit Scotland do their next analysis of the brewery trade,” he says, “I wonder if their figures will reveal that last year’s profits rose by £530 million...”

China syndrome

HISTORIAN Niall Ferguson is a proud Glaswegian, which might explain his relish for galloping into battle to cross swords with other esteemed pontificators of the smarty-pants variety. However, his latest adversary might prove to be the great man’s undoing:

Niall has dared question the pronouncements of the world’s mightiest green warrior. Commenting on which countries are most responsible for world pollution, Niall wonders: “When is Greta Thunberg going to acknowledge explicitly that by far the biggest culprit is China?”

Greta may be small in stature, but she’s got more fizz than a dropped bottle of Irn Bru. Meaning Niall most probably has a new foe to get feisty with.

And if Greta doesn’t fancy a grapple match, our local boy will have to leap into the intellectual ring with the entire nation of China. Still, there’s only 1.428 billion of them. Nae problemo for a scrap-happy chappie frae Glesga.

Rude awakening

WORKING as a teacher, Paul Cortopassi from Bonnybridge once picked up a copy of A Choice of Burns's Poems and Songs by Sydney Goodsir Smith, which had been discarded by the school library without ever being signed-out by a pupil. “Had they known it contained a section From the Merry Muse of Caledonia I suspect it may well have become a much-thumbed copy,” says Paul. “Especially the last ten pages, which include an 'adult' version of John Anderson, My Jo amongst others.”

Showing commendable literary taste when it comes to saucy scribblings, our man adds: “I still have the book!”

Dead entertaining

THE Diary loves a good book with a pun for a title. We even love terrible books, as long as they have a pun for a title. Which is why we can’t wait for the publication, later this year, of Glasgow-based writer Peter Ross’s A Tomb With A View. Peter travelled across Europe uncovering stories about graveyards. Which sounds like a giggle… if you’re a gothic-loving ghoul. Kidding aside, the book promises to be an entertaining and informative read. One for Dracula’s bookshelf, at any rate.

Choppy chap

PHILOSOPHICAL question of the day. Grant Murray asks if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does that mean his illegal logging company is a success?”

Read more: The Phoney War, as recalled by Bob Crampsey