Absurd word

STUART Murdoch, singer with Glasgow band Belle and Sebastian, is a talented wordsmith, as the lyrics to his many memorable songs testify – though he admits there are some words that make him uncomfortable.

“Isn’t it funny,” says Stuart, “that ‘sanction’ can mean consent yet deterrent; prohibition yet permission?”

Rather grumpily, he adds: “That word needs to have a talk with itself.”


WE mentioned that mystery writer Liam McIlvanney is struggling with a mystery of his own. He’s been wondering when Scottish footy fans stopped talking about a "shy" and began using the regrettably more prosaic terminology of a "throw-in".

Eric Begbie from Stirling has an answer. “I seem to recollect that it was the same year that ‘poaching’ became ‘offside’ and a ‘goalie’ transmogrified into a ‘keeper’,” he says.

Facing the future

THE easing of face mask requirements arrived in Scotland this week, which will come as a relief to Nicola Sturgeon, as it will no longer be possible for sneaky snappers to take photos of our glorious leader when she’s out and about, breaking her own rules.

Though the end of masking poses a problem for others, including reader Darren Barrie, who says: “I still have five boxes of disposable face masks in the garage which I’m wondering what to do with.”

Darren adds: “My 10 year-old daughter has the best suggestion. She wants to use them as teeny-tiny hammocks, so her pet gerbils can have a relaxing summer, chilling out in the garden.”

Carry on shopping

ON social media a Falkirk fellow recalls a colleague in Edinburgh who was once asked by an American tourist where he could buy stamps.

"There's a post office in the St James Centre," explained the local chap.

"What?” replied the stunned tourist. “You named a shopping centre after Sid James?"

There’s the rub

TO Edinburgh’s Festival Square, where Van Gogh Alive – The Experience is drawing appreciative crowds. Though we wonder if Van Gogh, himself, would be amused by the exhibition, for we are reliably informed that EARasers are being sold in the gift shop.

Van Gogh only had the Van ear, of course, after he lopped the other Van off. Luckily he didn’t have to wear specs while he was painting his masterpieces…

Downwardly mobile

THOUGHT for the day from reader Elaine Roberts, who says: “Phones are getting smarter and thinner. The opposite is true of their owners.”

Boozy bibliophiles

“I’VE recently joined a book club for hardened drinkers,” says reader Grant Hamilton. “We’re starting off with Tequila Mockingbird.”

Read more: Putting the boss out to grass