You won’t be taken seriously in the west of Scotland crime business if you don’t have a moniker because a chib mark on the physog just doesn’t cut it sufficiently.

So there’s Blinky, and Winky, Piggy and Wingie – he has only one arm, obviously! – then there’s the Iceman, Basil and Birdman and, gone to the great Ponderosa in the sky, are The Licensee, The Godfather, and Kevin “Gerbil” Carroll among others.

Carroll headed the “alien abduction” squad, so called because the opponents they seized and tortured couldn’t remember a thing about it when they were interviewed by police afterwards, so thankful were they of their continuing life that they had no wish to further threaten its longevity. “Gerbil” died in a gangland execution in an Asda car park in Robroyston, Glasgow in 2010.

A particularly favourite nickname of mine was attached to Iain Stewart, aka “Biscuit” because he was given to smothering victims with Walkers shortbread, although as far as I know there was no sponsorship involved and he may also have used other brands.

Glasgow and gangs have been entwined since at least the 1920s, with the Protestant Billy Boys (named after the man on the white horse, but also led by a Billy, Fullerton) and Catholic rivals like the Norman Conks and the San Toy. It was a full-time job for Fullerton, leading the gang. As he explained in 1932: “I had to make plans for fights, look after the funds, and attend to a hundred and one other matters connected to the gang and its members.”

Today the crime business in Glasgow is still prospering despite the shootings, stabbings and jailings, with the two main families, the Daniels and the Lyons, still at odds. Mostly it festers under the surface until some incident – the trashing of a shop, desecration of a grave or the stealing of a consignment of drugs - kicks it off again. “Gerbil”, a Daniels lieutenant, was just one of the victims killed by Lyons assassins.

Steven “Bonzo” Daniel escaped with his life, but was severely mutilated by a Lyons crew after a high-speed chase through Glasgow four years ago this month. Last week, the Daily Record told how he tried to move from his fortified mansion in Bishopbriggs to another under construction in which he wanted bulletproof windows and a safe room, which seems a perfectly reasonable request. The headline was a classic, utterly brilliant: “There goes the neighbourhood”.

Poor show by rich nations

I HAD my second vaccine the other day. The success of the rollout has undoubtedly made a positive injection into the polls for the Tories too. But while we’re congratulating ourselves the news has been shocking from India, with the health service breaking down as graphic footage of crowded hospitals and burning bodies.

But we’re not hearing anything about the state of the poorest countries in the world. India, portrayed as the epicentre of the catastrophe, has vaccinated almost 10 per cent of the population. Not enough, of course. Contrast that with Congo where just 0.1% have had the shot.

The same in Niger, a country of over 23 million where just 1,366 people have been vaccinated. Or South Sudan, where 947 people out of 11.06 million have been vaccinated. And you can bet it’s the better-off in the poorest countries in the world who have been privileged.

The rich countries have once more failed the poorest. The World Health Organisation has failed. The UN has failed. So too the EU and the UK. Not only have we failed abysmally, we’re going to compound it by cutting the already tawdry aid budgets.

Where is the news footage and the coverage and analysis about the devastation in Africa? It has passed me by. Where is the massive diversion of vaccines, money and healthcare provision? These countries can’t afford to pay Pfizer or AstraZeneca. The trickle of vaccines reaching them are from China and Russia. Where is the outrage? That’s the country we are. We just don’t care.

Party fears grew

MY son came round after voting on Thursday, just as I was about to go to the polling station. I said I had heard that in the voting booths there weren’t any pencils on a string and you had to take your own crossing implement. He handed me the half-size, sharpened one he had been given earlier.

So off I went with it in my pocket to create a bit of merriment for the on-duty tellers. I gave my name and address to the woman behind the glass screen, who then pointed to a box of those small pencils on the counter and invited me to take one. I popped my boy’s one out and said: “It’s ok. I got this one when I voted earlier.”

Obviously I confessed to the wind-up before the police arrived. Her assistant handed me the two forms, the lilac and the peach one, and said “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help” as I sauntered to cast my decisive votes. “You could start with my dishes,” I replied, which may have been a tad sexist but it did raise a laugh behind the glass.

I’ve never seen so many party names on the list ballot, some of which I’d never even heard of – the peach paper was almost trailing to the floor. The Vanguard Party? The Freedom Alliance? There’s a certain irony in standing to become a Holyrood MSP if you’re from the Abolish the Scottish Parliament Party.

I did my duty, marked my choices with one of the two pencils, and went back home to the dishes.

Taxing decision

IT’S a bit rich of the non-taxpaying islanders of Jersey to summon British gunboats to defend them from pesky French fishermen – or fishers, as The Guardian calls – when they have not given one slim penny piece towards the navy, even for their fuel to get there. That the French unwisely chose election day gave the Government a publicity coup, trumpeted by its cheerleaders in the national press.

Size does matter

IT’S the end of the world for humans. By the end of this century the apes will have taken over without firing a shot. According to US epidemiologist Shanna Swann, by 2045 men will have a zero sperm count but also their defunct penises will have shrunk to smaller than pinkie nail size. It’s all in her new book Countdown and she blames it on environmental pollutants used in the manufacture of everyday products and plastics.

According to Swann’s research, men’s sperm counts dropped by 59.3 per cent between 1973 and 2011 so it’s just a matter of time before it’s zero. I don’t know how she did this research and I really don’t want to. To be fair, other studies have shown similar drops.

But can this be entirely down to chemicals? What about diet, disease or obesity, highly-processed foods? It’s certainly another powerful argument for banning plastics and pollutants.

Her research on penis size doesn’t really stand up (oops!). She sampled, er, 883 men in the Veneto region of Northern Italy where there are zones with varied levels of industrial pollution.

In the group of 212 in the most polluted area, penis size was 10% lower than those in an area without exposure to pollutants.

The findings do seem open to challenge. Size may matter but it’s determined before birth anyway and through the environment mothers experienced, not where the men live now. Many may have moved into the area to find work too, surely, and the study doesn’t study the conditions in which the measurements were taken, like temperature or posture.

I’m off to find a tape measure.