RETIRED politicians are often on the lookout for new and rewarding roles away from the white heat of parliamentary debate. Dennis Canavan believed he had discovered the very thing when he turned up as Santa at the Christmas Fair in St. Mary's Primary School, Bannockburn. He soon realised the Father Christmas gig isn’t so different from being a politician. In both fields you must brace yourself for awkward questions. Dennis explains: "I thought my disguise was working well until one cheeky chappy declared: ‘You're no Santa. You're Mr. Ivatt!’ I tried telling him he was twice mistaken, but inwardly I felt quite chuffed. Mr. Ivatt is the school janitor, who does such a splendid job he’s even more popular than Santa."

Airing on TV

THE Diary’s been attempting to figure out how to persuade Boris Johnson to be interviewed by Andrew Neil. Reader Ken Johnson (not a relative of the PM, we’re guessing) believes we shouldn’t even try. "The BBC could follow the lead of TV show, Have I Got News For You, where Roy Hattersley didn’t turn up and was replaced by a tub of lard," says Ken. "As Boris is a bag of hot air, if he didn't turn up, Andrew Neil could interview a balloon lying on a chair. Same effect as if Boris were really there."

Doggy diatribe

A RECENT missive in The Herald letters page about dogs recognising words reminds Mary Duncan of her son's fiercely intelligent four-legged friend. This dog would always race upstairs if anyone in the room coughed. Eventually it would even do so when somebody merely said the word 'cough'. A joiner working in the house once became irritated by the dog getting in his way and snapped: "Oh, xxxx off, Pixie." He was very impressed when the dog did so. We’re not so sure Pixie was equally impressed by the profanity-spouting joiner. Some humans just can’t be house trained…

Boxing (not) clever

ANTHONY Joshua beat Andy Ruiz Jnr at the weekend to reclaim his heavyweight boxing titles. Ruiz Jnr arrived in the ring looking more than a little overweight. Reader Martin Deeley says: "After the fight Joshua thanked God for his win. But he should have thanked KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s, too. I’m guessing they had a hand in making Ruiz the ‘larger than life’ fighter he is."

Handy mistake

COMEDIAN Christopher MacArthur-Boyd was making noodles when he accidentally spilled the sauce on his hand. "Now my hand smells delicious," he says, adding ruefully. "My instinct is to eat my hand, but I know that is wrong."

A lot of Hassel

WE are informed by reader Roderick Archibald Young that David Hasselhoff is mulling over shortening his name to David Hoff. Roderick tells us this is because the Baywatch actor believes his surname is a tad long, and, frankly, he can’t be bothered with the hassle.