Do panic!

YOU may have missed it last week (too busy clearing snow, perhaps, or trying out that Donald Trump mental agility test on the cat) but there's been a stushie brewing over how to mark the day arch-Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom refers to as “our independence day” – and everyone else calls The Moment We Leave The EU In Tears Because The Tories Have Wrecked Our Kids' Futures. The date in question is March 29, 2019. It's a Friday. And for the record, we check out at 11am. I'll be in the pub drowning my sorrows in something red and French.

Leadsom, you see, is the latest Conservative MP to back an ongoing tabloid campaign to have the Royal Mail issue a set of commemorative stamps to mark our exit from the EU. Well they've done it for Pink Floyd, David Bowie and the Mr Men, so why not a set for Brexit? Or so goes the argument.

Hard to know where to begin with this one. Happily the Royal Mail has already pointed out that it's meant to be politically neutral and rubbing Remain voters' noses in it with a Brexit stamp kind of falls on the wrong side of that commitment. Besides, making anyone apply their tongue to the back side of Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage or Jacob Rees-Mogg seems like a cruel and unusual punishment regardless of how they voted in the EU referendum.

Let's suppose it does happen, though. What could the stamps portray if it not that rogue's gallery of Brexit-supporting goofballs? Maybe the Daily Mail's “Historic Edition” front page with the headline, Take a bow Britain (“It was the day the quiet people of Britain rose up against an out-of-touch political class and a contemptuous Brussels elite” gushed the paper)? A picture of the now infamous Brexit bus with its now infamous slogan: “We send the EU £350 million a week. Let's fund our NHS instead”? Or how about last week's wonderful picture of Remainer Ken Clarke speaking during the Parliamentary debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill with Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne apparently sparked out on the green benches behind him?

Or maybe we can mark Brexit in a more subtle way using this year's stamps. This week, for instance, sees the release of a special Game Of Thrones series – Winter Is Coming! You Know Nothing, David Davis! – and in June there's a set of stamps dedicated to much-loved 1970s sitcom Dad's Army. One stamp features a bug-eyed Lance Corporal Jones and bears the words: “Don't Panic! Don't Panic!” Kind of sums up the whole sorry shambles, doesn't it?

You've gotta be Jolene

I'D like to say I've always suspected British grime star Stormzy of being a secret Dolly Parton fan but it would be as big a falsehood as that £350-million-a-week-to-the-NHS whopper. Still, a fan he is, as he revealed recently in a series of tweets. “Dolly Parton was spitting some real real pain on Jolene,” he began before adding that “Jolene sounds like she’s the baddest b to ever walk this planet”.

And then: “Kinda sad actually, wish Dolly had more self-love and confidence or the strength to just leave.” And then: “But then again Jolene knows exactly what she’s doing the lil jezzy.” And so on.

Next week, the love-in continues as Stormzy gives the new Minister for Loneliness a few pointers by analysing Kenny Rogers's Lucille, and Parton repays the compliment by offering a critique of Stormzy's “flow” and a metalevel reading of the “diss tracks” on his Gang Signs & Prayers album.

Or maybe not.

Cauldron confusion

IS JK Rowling the new Mary Queen of Scots? I don't mean to infer that she's going to fall foul of an English queen – perish the thought – but just as there's hardly a late medieval building anywhere in Scotland that Mary doesn't seem to have Airbnb'd in at some point, so is there an entire heritage industry building up around where the Harry Potter author may or may not have parked herself as she cooked up her best-selling books.

Edinburgh cafe The Elephant House makes a claim, though my own recollection is that Rowling wrote in Nicholson's, an upstairs cafe a few hundred metres away, from where she will have had a good view of the old (green) Eastern Scottish and (maroon) Lothian Region Transport buses which (my theory, anyway) informed her choice of house colours for Slytherin and Gryffindor. You'll also find the Balmoral Hotel mentioned as having been a writing venue and screeds of claim and counter-claim about it and other places on various Potter-related message-boards.

But now the trend is spreading – to Exeter, where a pub that Rowling is supposed to have frequented as a student and which is popularly believed to have inspired wizard's pub The Leaky Cauldron has been snapped up by a London property firm for around £3 million. The trouble is, it didn't, and Rowling has taken to Twitter to say so. “If you want real fantasy, go to an estate agent,” she wrote. “Never visited this pub in my life”. “WHAT. NO. Exeter Uni does their Harry Potter Socials there and it's all a lie,” one distraught millennial tweeted in reply, complete with crying emoji.

Tintin bonanza

INSPIRED, perhaps, by the news that French president Emmanuel Macron is giving us an old bit of carpet as a present to cheer us up after we leave the EU – though technically the Bayeux Tapestry is only going to be on loan to the UK – Buckingham Palace has published a list of the gifts given to the Royal family over the last year.

Sadly the PR boost provided by the arrival of Meghan Markle doesn't feature. Instead it's things like a pair of glitter balls for the family Christmas tree (given by German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier), scaled-down versions of The Kelpies, a replica cavalry sabre for Prince William (a toy sword basically), some weighty toilet reading for any royal with a series case of constipation – take your pick from The History Of The Royal Institution Of Chartered Surveyors and The Centennial History Of The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association – plus a set of Tintin figurines. These were given by the Belgians to Prince George, though I'm sure Uncle Harry and Grandpa Phil have been having fun with them too.

Best of all, though, was the gift presented to the Duke of York. I can never remember which one he is, but I do know he's now the proud owner of a prosthetic hand. Whether left or right the Palace hasn't specified, though I don't suppose it matters much.