SOMETHING a friend said this week lodged in my brain like a peanut in a tooth: to wit, that in any society or community around 20-25 per cent of the inhabitants will be anti-social undesirables.

That sounds a lot and, at first, I thought it confirmed on reading about a shock poll that found 74 per cent of Scots hoped for a kinder society once the coronavirus had been obliterated with bleach.

You say: “Where’s the shock in that, big nose? If you’re saying Scots aren’t kind then you should be battered in the face.”

Whoa! Let me put this another way, by inviting you to do as I always do and look at the poll the opposite way from the headline: 26 per cent of Scots don’t hope for a kinder society when this damned war is over.

I’m guessing, or hoping, that I’m misreading this. The position of the 26 per cent isn’t clear. You must presume they’re just not hopeful about a kinder society. And, granted, some too will be the usual suspects who say “Don’t know” when asked for their name.

But what if they, or a fraction of them, really didn’t hope for a kinder society? Maybe it has implications of socialism and they’ll have to pay higher taxes? I don’t know. I’m just guessing. But, if my friend’s calculation of 20-25 per cent of any community being bad or inconsiderate is correct, then maybe that’s them right there: hoping for the worst.

Let’s say it is. (And before rural supremacists start their usual bragging, this figure applies equally to town and country.) At the time of going to press, my remedy – a prison in every neighbourhood or clachan – is not popular, largely on grounds of cost to the public purse, but it is in reality the only way.

Liberals indulge and encourage criminals or the merely unpleasant but the only practical way is to discourage them with retribution. However, I digress, and I accept that we must deal with society as it is and not as it would be in my merry utopia.

The study mentioned above, incidentally, was carried out for Mental Health Foundation Scotland, whose directer Lee Knifton said kindness had clear benefits for psychological morale and that its social importance should be taken seriously.

The coronavirus has indeed highlighted the many kind people out there, even if further research would doubtless still reflect the 75-25 per cent split between decent citizens and undesirables, such as joggers and cyclists.

Mr Knifton called for new policies to be subject to a test: “Are they kind?” I like this idea – up to a point.

And, yes, I hear you hollering at your magazine or screen: “Well, it doesn’t sound very kind to put people in prison just because they’re playing a loud radio or haven’t cut their grass.” Tough. Sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind.

So, if a policy is aimed at decent people, you must ask: “Is it kind?” And if it’s aimed at bad people, you must ask: “Is it cruel?” In both cases, the answer should be yes.

As you see, kindness is a complex subject that has exercised some of the greatest minds on this newspaper. It’s good that Scots – a harsh people not untouched by compassion (it’s said they’ll punch you in the face then offer to take you to hospital) – are by a majority in favour of kindness.

But, in today’s progressive society, we must always put minorities first. So let us sally forth bearing the sword of justice to oppress the unkind and anti-social so that we can at least get the figure down to a respectable 10-15 per cent.

Rab McNeil: common decency, carnal knowledge and clarty history. Nice!

Damn straight

I’M no slouch when it comes to bad posture. It’s terrible. I hunch against the world in the hope that it’ll leave me alone.

No amount of yoga, pilates or bleach-drinking will cure this fault. I’ve always done it. I remember being scolded at primary school for looking down all the time. When told to look up during one PE exercise, I took the instruction literally and raised my eyes to the ceiling, whereupon I was booted up the bahookie (Leith schools were tough) for insolence.

My mother would say: “Hey you, big nose, stop hunching yourself up all the time.”

And I would say: “Shut up, you.”

And she would say: “Don’t speak to your mother like that.”

And I’d say: “You’re not my mother. You’re one of the Lizard People.”

And she’d say: “No, I’m not. That’s your dad.”

In a disappointing new study, researchers at Martin Luther University in yonder Germany found that sitting up straight, in a dominant pose, brings success and increased self-esteem.

Dominant. Success. Self-esteem. Aye, that sounds like me, right enough. Once, I took an online questionnaire about self-esteem and, 20 minutes later, my door was battered down by The Samaritans.

The only good news in the study was that the effects of sitting or standing up straight could be short-lived, so we have to hope that life follows its usual course and batters these dominant posers into submission.

Then we’ll all be on an even playing field. Except Jacob Rees-Moog. He'll always be able to slouch his way out of trouble.

Crying foul

HANDS up who watched the German football? Hmm, maybe a quarter of you.

It was right odd on account of the lack of crowds shouting advice to the players (“Try to kick the ball towards the goal!”) and referee (“Please pleasure yourself in a brutal manner!”).

However, that didn’t mean there wasn’t any shouting, being the guttural, echoing cries of coaches and others on the sidelines. It brought back unhappy memories for me.

I didn’t get the chance often to play football in front of onlookers but, when I did, used to loathe these people uttering callous advice from the touchline.

A sensitive soul, I’d turn round and remonstrate: “Will you be quiet? I’m trying to concentrate here!”

I thought it was just Scots – a fierce, vitriolic, visceral people – who went in for this sort of thing. So it was disappointing to hear Germans at it too.

I hate to say it, and it’s possible I imagined it, but I’m sure I heard someone shouting, “Achtung!” Had it been at me then I’m afraid that, Billy Liar-style, in my imagination I’d have flown my Spitfire at him, all guns blazing.

A fitting end

THE fault possibly lies with me (readers’ chorus: “Most likely!”), but I could never be one of these people who orders online several of the same item of clothing to test them for size.

Something about it doesn’t sit right with me. Perhaps it’s because the practice is clearly satanic. Granted, there’s a logic to it, but it seems wasteful, and it costs the seller time and effort. There’s also the risk of soiling the items, even if only farting in them.

Maybe it’s different with women’s clothes. Men’s sizes tend to be consistent. I can’t remember anything in my usual sizes not fitting.

Are people still ordering multiple fittings online during the lockdown? Department stores say that, on reopening, either they won’t have fitting rooms, or they’ll disinfect them after every user, or quarantine items rejected by shoppers fussy about things fitting properly.

You’ll remember I told you about the woman, during the lockdown, feeling vegetables before putting them back, and the other one who, pre-virus, felt various bakery rolls for consistency then used tongs to put her selection in the bag.

Said it before: you Earthlings are weird.

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