Barking mad

THE spy novelist John le Carre, who died earlier this week, was an ethical sort of chap. His novels, which included Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, were highly moral fables about the Cold War.

The author’s commitment to fairness and justice also helped a certain Scottish movie icon bag a plum role. When the film was being made of le Carre’s The Russia House, the plan was to have Jeremy Irons in the lead.

An epic battle in a London park put paid to that.

“Irons’s vicious dogs attacked my smaller dogs,” fumed le Carre. “He never stopped to apologise.”

The movie role instead went to Sean Connery.

Sometimes it pays not to have a dog in the fight.

Taking the biscuit

THE daughter of Fiona Black from Stirling was in a cafe with a friend who had a toddler in tow. When the coffee arrived a small biscuit had been placed beside it. The toddler reached for the yummy treat, but to his surprise, his mother gently took it from him and said: "Sometimes, just sometimes, the biscuit is for mummy."

Our reader later told this story to all her friends, who often find themselves exhausted and exasperated.

Now the gang’s mantra of female empowerment and emancipation is: "Remember the biscuit."

The name game

GOLFER Jack Nicklaus graced many a Scottish fairway in his time. Now his oldest granddaughter Christie Nicklaus has married a chap with a fittingly graceful name. Her fellow is called Todger Strunk.

(Yet again the Diary regrets the passing of golf commentator Peter Alliss. For surely the great man would have conjured up something suitably profound to say about the suave young groom.)

Not quite hooked

FISHY philosophising from reader Adam Fern, who says: “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. But teach a man to fish and he will spend a fortune on gear he’ll only use twice a year.”

Chair of divinity

ONCE more the Diary improves the English language by devising relevant words for the dictionary. Reader David Walker suggests: Divangelism (Noun): A belief in the gospel as the seat of religious authority.

Invisible man

ANOTHER memorable description of the thinner sort of chap is supplied by Russell Smith from Largs, who says: “I had a friend who was so thin that when he went for an x-ray they just held him up to the window.”

Tanking it

A SARTORIAL query from reader Derek Mitchell, who asks: “Shouldn’t tank tops offer more protection?”