PASS the sickbag – no, better make that a bin liner!

This is the tale of two multi-billionaires, their respective superyachts, a clandestine meeting, and their overwhelming and quite staggering hypocrisy.

On the day last week that Elon Musk’s fortune rose $36 billion when Hertz ordered 100,000 of his Tesla electric cars, two of his rivals for the title of richest person on the planet were putting their heads together ahead of the COP26 Glasgow conference which opens today.

Bill Gates, with his entourage, had used private jets and a helicopter to reach the $200 million luxury yacht Lana in the Mediterranean.

Ownership of the boat isn’t exactly clear as it’s registered in the ultra-secretive Cayman Islands. But if you want to rent it and its 12 staterooms then putter about the Med powered by its Rolls-Royce engines and a 300,000-litre fuel tank, prices start at $1.8m a week.

While Gates and his chums were helicoptering to sites of antiquity in Turkey, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was installing himself and his party on his even larger Flying Fox, which cost $400m to build a couple of years back. It can sleep 25 guests and rents out for $4m a week plus.

Again, the boat is registered in the Caymans but it’s believed it may be owned by the Russian oligarch Dmitry Vladimirovich Kamenshchik. Its tanks hold 682,500 litres of diesel. That would set you back more than £1 million at the pumps.

I don’t know how much CO2 and other toxins these two yachts put out but it’s probably as much as a small town.

On Tuesday last week, I can reveal, Bezos hopped over from the Flying Fox to the Lana to hang out with Gates. I don’t know what they discussed but it’s a sure bet they talked about climate change and the Glasgow conference, which they are due to attend.

Both have pledged their support on climate change.

Gates has written a book, rather presumptuously titled How To Avoid A Climate Disaster, while Bezos is giving $1bn a year over a decade to companies working on it. He said about it: “We can all protect Earth’s future by taking bold action now.”

Starting by shutting up, not polluting the Med and the world with your ugly ships, and firing rockets to the edge of space for 10 minutes, while those of us on Earth seem to be about to cross the final frontier. That would be bold, if unlikely, action.

Toilet talk

A CRIMINAL lawyer friend of mine was at Glasgow Sheriff Court during the week with a lengthy caseload. In a break between defending clients he went to a men’s toilet. As he was washing his hands he saw, reflected in the mirror, a bulky brown paper bag hanging on a hook on the wall behind. Rather than call the bomb squad he decided to investigate.

When he opened the bag he was amazed to find that it was stuffed with a supply of sanitary towels. Some mistake, surely? They must have been meant for next door. He checked with another male toilet. The same.

So, are men suddenly having periods? Is it some Dadaist comment on the effeminacy of male lawyers? It can’t be for women whose own lavvy is full, surely?

No, it seems that it’s the latest episode in governmental wokery – gender-neutral toilets – so that women who have self-declared as men but are still genitally intact can be supplied if they are caught out.

Waste not want not

SCOTTISH Water has an online campaign to reduce water wastage. Turning off the tap when washing and shaving can save five litres a minute and over 3,700 litres a year per person, apparently. And you should wash the car from a bucket with a sponge and not a hosepipe because you’d be wasting enough to fill five bathtubs.

Hmm. Scottish Water loses 463 million litres a day through leaking pipes. I don’t know how many bathtubs that is but it’s around 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools. A day. As Matthew 7:5 put it: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Word to the wise

MY old granny used to describe the torrents of water in a downpour from an electric storm as a thunderplump. We had several of those during the week, as if to underline the seriousness of climate change for the arriving delegates. Bridges and cars have been washed away, roads turned into canals and all COP attendees are being issued with water wings.

I thought the word was one she had made up – she was a bit eccentric – and I had never heard it since, until it cropped up on Twitter on Friday amid discussion on the flooding. The next Scottish word should be drookit – what you get in a thunderplump.

Biden his time

JOE Biden, in Rome on Friday, meets the Pope and as they shake hands he says: “You’re the famous African-American baseball player in America.” Fortunately, Pope Francis doesn’t understand English. Later on in the conversation, now with a translator, Biden adds: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? You’re 65. I’m 60.”

He should be in a care home rather than the Oval Office.

Courting controversy

IN more lawyerly news, they’re boycotting the courts as duty solicitors throughout COP26. These are the lawyers who would deal with what is expected to be the flood of arrests and custody cases involving demonstrators. Rather than take double the money for the defending, they are demanding that the general legal aid rates are increased instead.

The action is supported by the Scottish Solicitors Bar Association as well as the more local ones in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen – and probably even the scaffies who are also striking.

Except one firm isn’t and will be cashing in on the conference carnage. That’s Beltrami, started by the late and legendary Joe Beltrami. There’s a word generally used about strike-breakers like these. It rhymes with crabs.