Number's up

IT was National Numeracy Day yesterday and Tory Government Minister of State for Skills Anne Milton tweeted: "Its national numberacy day so test how good you are at numbers. It’s never too late to improve your skills." We were so taken with her inability to type "numeracy" that we almost missed her absent apostrophe. Never underestimate the skills of politicians.


FOLK have been saying how good the documentary about the late darts champion Jocky Wilson was on BBC Scotland this week. We remember fellow champ Bobby George saying he had to share a room with Jocky while playing in Las Vegas. Waking, Bobby realised he was out of toothpaste, and asked a sleeping and extremely hungover Jocky if he could borrow his. Jocky stumbled out of bed and started rummaging through his suitcase, but suddenly stopped and shouted: "Why am I looking for toothpaste for you? I haven't got any f****** teeth!"

Using the heid

OUR quest to find Scotland's oldest pub brings a claim from Edinburgh where the Sheep Heid Inn says it can trace its origins to 1360. The fanciful story about its unusual name comes from the folk of Duddingston village being renowned for cooking sheep's heads which were otherwise discarded. More plausibly, King James VI gifted the owners an ornate ram's head snuff box. Any other claims?

Bank on it

OUR mention of the passing of Sir David McNee, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, reminds a retired banker of once meeting Sir David who told him that when he left school he joined the Clydesdale Bank as an errand boy, earning 15 shillings a week. He was then called up, and never returned to the Clydesdale until he became a director on his retirement from the Met. Says our reader: "Sir David said it must have been one of the biggest promotion leaps in the history of the bank."

Salad days

PROBABLY not a sentence we get sent very often, but our stories about food disasters provokes Stephen O'Neill to tell us: "This reminds me of Gore Vidal." Tell us more, Stephen. "He was dining in a well-known Italian restaurant with a bunch of heavy drinking US luminaries and famous journalists. A spat broke out and one of the guests threw a bowl of salad at William Murray, a writer for New Yorker. The salad landed perfectly on writer Donald Stewart's lap – another writer for New Yorker and Playboy – and Stewart shouts across the restaurant, 'Waiter, there's a salad in my fly!'"

Meal of it

SO we wondered about the many versions told of Chic Murray asking if there was a buffet car on the Glasgow Subway. We get the definitive answer from writer Stuart Hepburn who tells us: "While researching for my play Chic Murray – A Funny Place For A Window, at least five separate 'respectable' sources informed me that it was they who were personally told the train buffet gag by Chic. The most common tag line being, 'I’ll be starving by the time I get to Cessnock'." The good news is that fans can see Dave Anderson reprise his memorable role as the big man when the play is staged at the Edinburgh Fringe this year.

A hold up

TALKING of the Subway, a reader is reminded of the tale told in a book on urban legends about a London homeowner replacing a 6ft-long fluorescent strip-light in his kitchen, and being told that the dustmen wouldn't take away the dud tube, so he decided to take it to work with him to dispose of in his company's large bins. On the underground, he held the light up above his head when it got busy, but two other passengers thought it was a handrail and held on at either end. At his stop, the chap simply got off, leaving them holding it.

Read more: 1969: Mind the gap – and excuse the noise and the dust ...