Imperial decline

THE Roman Empire’s collapse is said to have begun when its territory was flooded by barbarians from the north.

It seems that a group of slightly less barbarous northerners are responsible for the disintegration of another over-mighty empire. At least according to novelist Neil Cocker, who says: “In 1995 I played in a Scottish teachers versus students game in rural Lithuania. They used Soviet tank camouflage netting for nets. We led 4-0 at half-time, then the hangovers kicked in, and we drew 4-4 and lost on penalties.

“It was the end of the decadent West.”

Queue quipster

WITH public transport severely curtailed, the Diary is enjoying dreamy recollections of those faraway days when not only could you hop on a train with little hindrance, you could also overhear some cheeky chit-chat.

Russell Smith from Largs recalls this delightful exchange, which took place in the Glasgow subway ticket queue…

“Maryhill, single.”

Next in line: “Pat Murphy, married.”

Mind your language

CONVIVIAL Diary correspondent David Donaldson recently got chatting to a retired civil engineer who had spent years with his family in the Libyan city of Benghazi. One of his sons attended the local American school where he had to read a chapter from an American novel for homework.

The lad soon stumbled upon unfamiliar words, and had to ask his dad what "sidewalk" and "garbage" meant.

These were easily explained. Then came the question: "Dad, what's a f***it?"

Dad floundered for an answer, so asked to see the sentence.

It read: "She walked into the kitchen and turned on the faucet."

Doors of perception

METAPHYSICAL musings from reader Ted Smith, who says: “When it's closed it's a door, but leave it open and it's a jar.”

Metallic manoeuvres

HAVING discovered that robots with Glasgow accents have been invented to be enjoyed in the boudoir, the Diary is now devising phrases that the amorous automatons can use.

Abigail Quinn saucily suggests: “Let’s gerrit oan, China. Time tae put a spanner in ma works…”

Marital misstep

WORKING as an English tutor for mature students in Los Angeles, reader Susan Davies came across a local newspaper story that she used as a teaching aid to explain the importance of comma placement.

A line in the article read: "A documentary has been made about country crooner Merle Haggard. Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall."

Ditzy death sentence

THE inventor of Chinese whispers has died, says reader Gloria Lynch, who adds: “May he test tinned peas.”

Read more: A family affair with Kate Bush