Brevity is best

DISTINGUISHED historian and prolific scribbler Niall Ferguson gives short shrift to lengthy treatises. The former Glasgow Academy pupil now plies his trade in the States, where he is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and regularly advises prominent American politicians. He has also found time to complete nine major works of history.

But is composing weighty tomes worth all the bother? Perhaps not.

Niall admits he writes books that are “far too long for anyone to read cover to cover”.

He adds: “A book is now essentially a decoration in an office or in a home.”

So how should a historian communicate his ideas to the great unwashed? “Ultimately you get to the point where you can express your most sophisticated ideas in a tweet,” says Niall.

“Once we’ve done the unintelligible, we produce the tweet.”

Do the locomotion

STROLLING in Muirend, reader Caroline Crowden spotted a young mother pushing a baby in a pram. The baby, clearly some sort of unruly troublemaker, casually tossed its blanket from the carriage.

In a cut-glass English accent the mother tried to reason with her child.

“Never discard what you care for, darling,” she primly scolded, “and you know you cherish your blanky.”

The baby heeded these wise words not at all, and repeated the rebellious action.

Leaving the Diary to conclude that the world isn’t going to hell in a handcart. It’s a pram that will provide the locomotion.

Frozen out

THE Diary is delighted that megastar Leonardo DiCaprio has graced COP26 with his presence, though the Glasgow shindig was already a glam affair, with Boris and Nicola providing the sort of Hollywood pizzaz that hasn’t been witnessed since the third ‘Look Who’s Talking’ movie.

But is Leonardo really the best person to promote the COP agenda?

After all, he’s most famous for appearing in a film about a boat that could easily have reached its destination, if only global warming had got its act together faster, and melted a few more pesky icebergs.

Ennui exorcised

CURIOUS reader Henry Thompson wonders what his parents did to forestall boredom before the internet was invented.

“I asked my six brothers and three sisters,” says Henry. “They didn’t have a clue, either.”

Pooh-pooh the shampoo

VISITING his local supermarket, Gary Forbes spotted Batman shampoo. Our disappointed correspondent says: “No idea why they don’t also sell conditioner Gordon.”

Horsing around

PROFOUND thought of the day comes from reader Martin Fenn, who says: “A truly wise chap never plays leapfrog with a unicorn.”

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