Leaves on the line, badger on the points, the wrong kind of snow and, now, balloons blocking the way (no reference intended to Humza and his chums). Apparently there have been more than 600 delays to trains in the last year caused by helium balloons getting tangled up in wires and assorted rail works, the last one costing more than £5,000 to fix.

Can’t they just issue rail staff with air rifles? Not only would it be cheaper, but it would keep rowdy passengers in check.

But just when you think it can’t get any more ridiculous, up pops ScotRail to help you out with a masterly use of doublespeak from the 1984 Orwellian canon.

An aggrieved passenger called Russell Boyce took to Twitter to ask ScotRail: “Why do you charge more to be on a service that’s resources are stretched? Peak prices to stand crammed on a train? Makes no sense.”

To which came the masterly response from ScotRail: “Hi Russell, we don’t charge extra to travel at peak times, we do offer a discount to travel at quieter times, though.”

Das poop

The Diary is celebrating April. And why not, no-one else is? I give you the cautionary tale of the only naval vessel to be sunk by its own toilet. It was the Second World War German submarine U-1206 which set sail from Nazi-occupied Norway at the beginning of the month in 1945. It was looking for victims off Peterhead, less than a month before the end of the war, under the captain, Karl-Adolf Schlitt, his first command. Coincidentally, or fatefully, Schlitt was actually born in April 1918 and was 47 at the time. It was not to be a happy birthday.

The boat came with a new-fangled toilet. In most subs sailors’ doings fed into a tank which emptied when the sub surfaced, but this one had a high-pressure system to fire the stuff directly into the sea (David Attenborough would have been horrified). The problem was the captain hadn’t read the manual properly and when he went for a ... er ... Schlitt, rather than ejecting, the valve let in seawater, which flooded the batteries and gave off noxious chlorine gas, and the captain was forced to surface. Whereupon it was set upon by the RAF and Schlitt decided to scuttle, so what was a brand-new boat went, you might say, straight down the toilet. Captain and crew were taken prisoner.

Stone mad

It appears that Stonehenge was built by the descendants of people who travelled to Wiltshire from Turkey, or Anatolia as it then was. Apparently, this is proven by collected DNA, which I think stands for Do Not Ask. Isn’t that just typical. Bloody immigrants coming over here 5,000 years ago and building our ancient monuments.

All the Kingsmen

It’s the most recorded pop song in history, with at least 1,600 cover versions. Louie Louie came out 62 years ago this month, originally as a B side, written and performed, with his band the Pharaohs, by black rhythm and blues singer Richard Berry who, in the manner of these things, was ripped off by the white establishment

Six years later in 1963, again in April, a five-piece white group from Portland, Oregon, The Kingsmen, recorded it in a one-take session costing $50. The members split the cost. It became a massive, worldwide hit, and the last US number one before the Beatles took over.

The Kingsmen’s version juiced up Berry’s original and slurred the words which has been in Jamaican patois. The slurring, it was rumoured, was to cover up profanity and the tale of a sailor’s graphic sex with his woman. An investigation by J Edgar Hoover’s FBI followed, lasting almost three years, concluding that the words “were unintelligible at any speed”. Drummer Lynn Easton later admitted that as he fumbled a drum break at 0:54 on the record he shouted “f***”.

The Kingsmen, too, were ripped off and it wasn’t until 1998, 35 years after it was issued, and at the end of a five-year, $1.3 million lawsuit that they won rights to the song.

Berry, the creator, seems to have been pretty sanguine about others cashing in. He had sold the copyright for $750 in 1959 to pay for his wedding.

He said later: “Everybody sold their songs in those days. I never was bitter with the record companies. They provided a vehicle for five young black dudes to make a record.”

But by the mid-80s, Berry was on welfare and living in his mother’s house in South Central LA when a drinks company came calling. They needed him to sign off on the song to use in a commercial. A lawyer advised him that he had legal rights to it and should pursue them. The publishers settled out of court and Berry had belatedly become a millionaire.

This month there are Louie Louie Days in several US states and, naturally, there is a Louie Louie Advocacy and Music Appreciation Society, among whose many ambitions is to set a world record by having more than 1,000 guitarists play the song simultaneously. Oh no, me gotta go!

RIP wee yin

My old chum the cartoonist Malky McCormick died last week. The cause of death was, apparently, dementia, but – and I mean this in the best possible way – it was complete and utterly joyful lunacy which fuelled the wee man and his work throughout his career.

No-one better captured the heart and soul of central Scotland with a brush and a pen than he did. No-one was more generous in giving his talent to good causes, to helping aspiring artists, and to come up for people he liked than he did.

The family have had their share of tragedy. Malky’s wife Ann died a couple of years ago. And, in April 2003, his son Sean was left brain-damaged after an unprovoked attack in the early hours outside a club in Kilmarnock.

Sister Jane, a long-distance, open-water swimmer, raised money for him by a sponsored swim. She swam the Channel for Headway, the charity for survivors of brain injury, and then once more in a relay team for the British Heart Foundation which set a record for the crossing, less than four years after she was diagnosed with a heart condition and told she should never swim again competitively.

Malky’s funeral will be at the Park Hotel in Kilmarnock (he was a devoted Killie fan) at 2pm on May 1, and from there to Holmsford Crematorium for 3.30pm where, not doubt, it will be elbow room and rib-tickling.