TITTER ye not. It’s the first rule taught to the world’s diplomats and political leaders, after “don’t stuff your face with peanuts or ask if, instead of the wine, you could have a pint of special with a wee goldie to go with it”.

The “no tittering” rule was broken spectacularly this week when some of the most powerful people in yonder world came together for a good gossip that, unbeknownst to them (obviously), was picked up by a “hot” television mic.

The game, thereafter, was up. If I might purloin a line from Roger McGough, they came, they saw, they concurred: Donald was a pillock. They were the Prime Minister of England, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Prime Minister of Yon Netherlands, and the President of France, and they came across like a bunch of stairheid wifies from days gone by.

Trudeau: “So ah saize hiz patter was mingin’ and he saize no’ az mingin’ as yourz an ah went izzat right, aye?”

Macron: “Za sin, so it iz.”

Rutte: “Geez ye a right riddie, so he duz.”

Johnson (adjusts headscarf): “Oh, indubitably. Odi profanum vulgus et arceo, don’t you know?”

What they actually said was far less sophisticated, and the setting was Buckingham Palace, where protocol demands you don’t slag anyone off, ken?

The first bit of riveting dialogue comes from Johnson (Boris of that ilk, representing England), who asks Macron (Emmanuel, France): “Is that why you were late?” Trudeau (Justin, Canada) butts in, saying: “He was late because he was taking a 40-minute press conference off the top.” Rutte (Mark, Netherlands) comments ironically: “Fake news media.”

Famously touchy-feelie Macron puts his hand on Rutte’s arm and together they titter. Macron then tells another anecdote, which is drowned out by the hubbub, but we hear a clearly amused Trudeau responding: “Oh yeah, yeah, he announced …[inaudible]. You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”

Let us, as all the best politicians never say, be clear: they were talking about the First Minister of America, Donald Trump. And the jaws allegedly dropping referred to one of the Trumpling’s peculiar pronouncements at a long press conference earlier.

This was shocking. You expect our leading statesmen to wear the mask, at least till they get home and can wire in to the Buckfast while telling their spouse salacious stories from the day. You certainly don’t do this in the presence of Her Majesty, a Queen.

It’s hard to imagine Sir Harold Macmillan or Sir Anthony Eden behaving like this. And they had moustaches. Worse was to come when super-slimy uber-liberal Trudeau tried sucking up to the Donald afterwards.

Big D was having none of it, and showed a fine grasp of basic arithmetical skills when he calculated that the Canadian leader had two faces. And no one could blame Trump when, shortly afterwards, he said: “Ah’ve had enough o’ this pish. Ah’m gawn hame.”

What are we to make all of this? How does it advance our understanding of the world? Well, firstly, it must come as a shock to decent ratepayers to find that our leaders talk about others behind their backs like this. It’s not a good idea in life at any level, never mind the toppermost. If a gossip ye be, be ye gossiped aboot tae.

I just made that up (readers gasp) but what I’m arguably not making up is the fact that, clearly, other world leaders do not respect the sensitive and artistic Trump. Not only that but they’re losing their fear of him.

I know: they didn’t say it to his face. But they’ve clearly broken the usual diplomatic silences and concluded together that Donald is a clown. I know: we all ken this. But you don’t say it.

Donald’s a loose cannon. And now he’s gone home in a strop, wounded and ridiculed. It’s worrying. Boris was in on the joke, and also tried to avoid having his photie took with the president. Talk about a fair-weather friend. And that’s where the danger lies. You might think it bad having Donald Trump as our friend. He’ll be a lot worse as our enemy.


HANDS up who doesn’t love Jeremy Corbyn? Oh, I see. Well, like a diehard Liberal Democrat, I’m just going to ignore the result of that vote.

Poor Jeremy came undone in another television interview, this time on ITV’s Kill All The Politicians Now show, after being asked if he watched the Queen’s Christmas Lecture.

The Labour leader said he’d sometimes put it on in the morning when – gotcha! – his interviewer revealed that it always went out in the afternoon, shortly before folk started carving the sprouts.

Clearly, he didn’t watch it at all, and probably should have said as much instead of pretending, because the mid-market press went crazy, reporting a “furious backlash” (from their journalists) against Jeremy.

One editorial praised “Her Majesty’s thoughtful and calm reflections”, comparing these to Corbyn’s “steaming Christmas pudding of lies”. Steaming? Lies? Pudding? What could it all mean?

It may be an annual tradition but the Queen’s Christmas Sermon is hardly compulsory viewing. As CEO of England, she generally talks airily about her annus and, apart from one “horribilis” year, proclaims that everything’s been quite good, all things considered.

No swearing, no controversy, no nudity. Who wants to watch that on Christmas Day? Not Jeremy.


MILLENNIALS have been in the news again, this time for their manners or lack thereof. I don’t think it’s about this controversial demographic – folk born between 1981 and 1996 – being rude.

My experience of them, generally when they’re bringing me food or I’m lecturing them about morality, is that they’re pleasant and well-mannered.

It’s just that, according to a survey for Privilege Insurance, what constitutes good and bad manners is changing. Some of what’s no longer in: ladies first; putting your hand over your mooth when yawning; and giving up a seat for the elderly, pregnant or similarly diseased.

I’m not sure I agree with rejecting any of these, particularly the last. As for ladies first at doors, that now results in embarrassing incidents when the woman refuses to go first and you end up with a Mexican stand-off until she pushes you through with surprising strength.

The new outs for millennials include: playing music too loudly; talking too loudly; looking at phones during conversation; and talking politics too much.

I agree whole-heartedly with all of these, though I’d thought millennials were the worst offenders for them, so hats off to them. Perhaps, after all, manners are in rude good health.


FOLLOWING last week’s uncontroversial column on “slow audio”, we’re pleased to announce the following possible development: “slow shopping”.

The idea comes from a conference of the International Longevity Centre, and is mainly aimed at allowing the elderly to dawdle aboot, taking their time at the checkout, and having a blether with the till jockeys.

But it could be good for all of us. You may have found yourself holding up the queue when your card is declined or you’re trying to haggle the price down and, if so, will have noticed how tetchy the people behind become.

Everyone’s in a hurry now and nobody knows why. It’s like when a driver overtakes you a short distance from your mutual destination so that, after they’ve overtaken, you end up just behind them the rest of the way. What was the point? It must have saved at most two seconds on their journey.

As for the elderly, we should do everything possible to make things more comfortable for them. All of us will at some time have pushed an old person over when they’re in the way or dawdling, and developments such as slow shopping will make such understandable actions less necessary.

Boris Johnson takes a “selfie” with leading political interviewers Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, who questioned the Prime Minister about working-class people and UFOs. The interview was set up as a bit of fun and, accordingly, has been widely condemned.