THERE are many drawbacks to being a journalist. There’s the chronic unpopularity, the scorn, the mistrust, and all the associated illnesses such as literary halitosis and syphilis of the opinion.

But, in practical terms, as regards the rest of one’s life in the so-called real world, a very major drawback is that, after a while, one cannot get anything done unless it comes with a deadline.

Told to have something done in three weeks’ time, you start working on it in two weeks and six-and-a-half days’ time. This can lead to problems in the domain of domestic bliss.

“Hey you, what’s-your-name, get those dishes done.”

“Yes, dear, I will start on them instantly.”

Three days pass. “Hey, I’ve just noticed that you still haven’t done those dishes. Well, if you don’t have them done by 3 o’clock, I am calling the cooncil.”

And so, even while considering the cooncil threat to be of no consequence, you start on the dishes at 2:45 and they are done by 2:59.

It’s just the way it is. Now, I will be quite candid with you here and confess that I have not hitherto been over-exercised by the threat of climate change. It seems such a long way off. But now that the world has been set a deadline even I have started to take a bit of notice.

Rab McNeil: The Holyrood hack-pack took nothing on trust from politicians

Yup, we’ve got until 2050. That’s the deadline set by Australian think-tank Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration. That’s when civilisation will go under and our species, to swipe an expression from PG Wodehouse, will hand in its dinner-pail.

I should say that in describing 2050 as a deadline I am, unusually for a journalist, playing hard and fast with the truth. It’s actually a prediction for when we will perish if we don’t start getting our act together now.

No use leaving it to me. I wouldn’t start getting off my butt and picking up bits of plastic, or whatever it is we have to do, until December, 2049. No, it’s up to the rest of you, unaffected by the debilitating effects of journalism, to get weaving. “We must act collectively,” the researchers say. So you’d better get on with it.

At the time of going to press, I’m not clear what it is you’re supposed to do individually: recycle more, use less plastic, eat less meat, exchange the car for a bike. I’m afraid the last lets me out. I’d rather die and take the rest of you with me than do that.

But, no, I guess it’s up to governments to do the heavy lifting, and our main influential role will be in voting for the right one, while avoiding the loopy Greens like the forthcoming plague. Tricky.

Apart from which, the civilised world is going to have to get together and boot China up the butt. After you, Claude.

Rab McNeil: Why silence is golden in the snooze chamber that is the House of Lords

Not everyone is convinced by the Australian prognosis, right enough, and it’s tempting to believe there’s a psychological element by which exponents of disaster suffer from undue pessimism or an apocalyptic tendency in general. Why can’t they be more like President Trump? Give me a sec while I just read these last two sentences back. I’ve a nagging sense that they contain a fundamental flaw but, nope, I’m not seeing it.

In the meantime, droughts, floods, wildfires, mass migration, civil war, the spread of ultra-dry deserts, blootered ice sheets, coral reefs and rainforests are all predicted. Hmm. That sounds pretty serious and … Good heavens. Sorry to interrupt but I’ve just noticed the time. And not a dish done.


LIKE most decent ratepayers, I haven’t paid much attention to the Tory leadership contest, leaving that to people interested in current affairs and suchlike rot.

However, I was intrigued by the rise of Rory Stewart from nobody to contender or at least man on the telly a lot. He has a right Scottish name and hails from a big hoose near Crieff and, though technically he appears to be of Scots descent, any Scottishness seems like that of Tony Blair’s or Michael Gove’s, i.e. a stain on the character.

My researchers furnished me with the intelligence that, as well as the Eton and Oxbridge background required for high office in England, Rory’s been an Afghan traveller, suspected secret services agent, and private tutor to Princes Harry and William. Big deal.

But it was a claim he made in 2010, shortly after election to his Cumbrian constituency, that particularly piqued my interest. “Some areas round here are pretty primitive,” quoth he, “people holding up their trousers with bits of twine and that sort of thing.”

Twine? Trousers? What can it all mean? Supporters of leadership rival Boris Johnson said this shows it’s not just their man who talks daft. Fair point. It’s a gaffe-a-minute with that lot.


BE upstanding for the Queen of Scotland, Kim Kardashian. Genealogical sleuthing by researcher Craig Williams suggests that leading, er, personality Kim can trace her family lineage through Rab Roy MacGregor to Kenneth MacAlpin, the first King of Scots. Aye, him.

I have to confess that, deplorably, I don’t know the first thing about the Kardashians and haven’t even seen their sitcom, Keeping Up Appearances, if that is the name.

My researchers say they walk about in the nude a lot but that, paradoxically, they also spend much time going to the shops for claes. Certainly, I suspect that, given some disconcerting pictures I’ve just been shown, a makeover is required if Kim is to become Queen of Scotia when we become an independent monarchy.

To that degree, she could do no worse than take lessons from Elizabeth, Queen of Britain, about how to deport herself and dress properly. Elizabeth could direct her to John Lewis, or wherever she gets her duds, as well as teaching Kim how to wave and declare things open.

Beyond that, I look forward to this sonsie lassie ascending the throne at Edinburgh Castle – as long as she remembers to wear her pants.