Class act

YOU won’t often find the words ‘Scottish comedy legend’ strung together in the same sentence. Though they were invariably used when talking about Johnny Beattie, who has sadly died. The Scottish comedy legend (see, we told you it was impossible to avoid) was a variety act in the truest sense of the word, starring as a stand-up on stage, and also performing in TV sketch shows, sitcoms and soap opera. Everything he did was imbued with a sense of the absurdity of Scottish life. In that spirit, we now bring you some classic Diary tales of the quirky kind, such as the reader who got in touch to ask: why do people only go to a health centre when they’re ill?

Payment on demand

A STORY about a beggar who didn’t consider the long game. A reader was visiting a cinema when a chap offered to look after his car. A fee was agreed. As our reader was entering the flicks, the beggar approached again and asked if he could have his fee upfront: “As I’ll be going home in a few minutes.”

Having a l-aff

A WHILE back the Diary had oodles of fun creating a fictional tram conductress called Bridie McPherson. With the help of our imaginative correspondents, we gave her many adventures. One reader swore blind that he was there on the occasion when Bridie attempted to eject a drunk from the platform of her tram. “Get aff,” she said. “Aff. O. F. F. Aff.”

Grim reaping

WE are often reminded that good news isn’t always good news for everyone. Years ago the Co-operative News carried a story headed: ‘Funeral Directors Celebrate’ which revealed that one of their divisions was “reporting strength in depth in the funerals’ department”.

Upper-crust confusion

LORD James Douglas-Hamilton, a Scottish Office roads minister famous for the common touch, allegedly once said, as he was being driven along an Edinburgh street in the back of a Scottish Office limo: “Tell me. What exactly is a bus lane?”

Love and Hate(ley)

MARK Hateley became a true Ibrox legend, though his career didn’t begin auspiciously. He was subject to booing and jeering from Rangers fans who were angry that he had taken Ally McCoist’s place. There was a swift change of heart, however, which perhaps had something to do with him scoring lots of goals. The jeers were then replaced with the refrain: “Have we told you, Hateley, that we love you…”

Weighty remark

LIKE Johnny Beattie, Chic Murray was a classic Scottish comic. We recall Chic speaking of a trip to Helensburgh in the days when every chemist’s shop had a penny-in-the-slot weighing machine in the doorway. “It’s a wonderfully exciting place, is Helensburgh,” said Chic. “Full of entertainment. I weighed myself twice.”

Flushed with anger

WE were once told that a ScotRail inspector, who had been asked to check the conditions in the gentleman’s restroom, reported: “Thae toilets ur a pure disgrace. It’s like a sh**hoose in there.”