I AM confident about the future. You laugh. I know: Putin, other people generally. They muck up everything.

But, all other things being mental, let me explain myself. My hope lies in the children and the way they’re being brought up by their parents nowadays.

I see or overhear them at the leisure centre changing rooms. They’re going to the swimming pool, me to the gym in my continuing bid to have biceps as big as Madonna’s.

The parents are really encouraging to their kids, helpful, answering questions, giving guidance. They treat them almost like friends. Clearly, they have bonded. True, I’ve seen some treating their children like psychiatry patients, solicitously asking things like: “Are you feeling anxious again?” “Do you think you have clinical depression?” “Are you full of existential doubt before we go for a swim? Oh, and remember your three pairs of water wings.”

But the general trend is wonderful. Most kids will grow up well-adjusted, confident, perhaps even kind.

With my generation, in life generally, it was a case of sink or swim. Neither of my parents expressed the slightest interest in what we’d been up to after we’d been bunged oot the hoose first thing in the morning and let in again last thing at night.

You say: “That made you right independent, though. You were tough. You had to work things oot for yourself, ken?” Naw, I dinnae ken. It meant we spent much time running away in terror from bullies, nutters, dodgy adults.

We had to negotiate traffic, though – at least, that was back in the days before psychotic cyclists started endangering pedestrians.

As for swimming, we just made our way to that on our tod, walking for miles through scary areas inhabited by wild savages rumoured to practise cannibalism. Well, Leith anyway.

If I’d asked my dad to take me to the pool for swimming lessons, he’d have pushed my face into a puddle and said: “Swim your way out of that, ya balloon!”

He didn’t even come to my primary school cup final. “Fitba’. Loadae nonsense. Grown men chasin’ a wee ba’.” Aye, right. Look at how people like us grew up: anxious, depressed, full of existential doubt, journalists.

No, I’m confident the new generations will be sorted, and that this will benefit the whole of society, including me in my demented dotage. Picture me sticking my face in a puddle and shouting: “Look at me – swimming!”

Excuse me

SINCE I’m on a roll with positivity for a change – “More of these hallucinogenic substances, doctor. They seem to be working. Oh, you’re not a doctor” – here’s another encouraging development: JOMO.

You say: “The what now? Speak plainly, Roberto.” All right, breaking with a lifetime’s practice, I will. JOMO: joy of missing out. It is, as you might imagine, the opposite of FOMO: fear of missing out.

The latter was a thang before Covid. Folk wanted to be involved, part of what was going on. Now, inspired by the sublime anti-social interlude of Covid, they’re using fake excuses to get out of seeing people, because that always leads to trouble, marriage etc.

Outlandish excuses include suffering from dandruff, looking after plants, having a pregnant cat (no actual moggie necessary), and car headlights not working.

Excellent stuff, though I favour brutal honestly myself: “Naw, I’m no coming. I micturate on your party invitation.”

Who wants to be part of what’s going on? If I see anything going on I get out of Dodge. Never get involved in anything, readers. Look at me. I’ve been on strike against the world for years now. And still it hasn’t noticed.

Strictly speaking

I’VE never seen a minute of Strictly. The BBC television show about dancing is, in my view, immoral. It lowers the tone of broadcasting.

The BBC’s founding purpose was not to “inform, educate, entertain and show folk gyrating aboot”. Yet the programme is never out of the papers. Friends decline my social invitations, saying they’re staying in to watch Strictly. Talk about JOMO! Missing out on my company: it’s outrageous.

This week, Scottish television personality Kaye Adams admitted she’d stepped “out of my comfort zone” by appearing on the show, in which participants are judged on their suggestive circumrotations.

Unsurprisingly, Ms Adams injured her groin during this debauchery, but said the greatest hurt had been to her brain. She meant in terms of co-ordinating the body but, if she’d engaged the loaf before participating in such unseemly hoofing, she’d have said: “I’d rather stay in and watch the original Star Trek right through again.”

I confess that I have danced, when younger and so inebriated that reason had fled. Next day, as I told the court, I felt great shame and resolved never to let myself go so irresponsibly again.

Over the years, my resolve has only grown stricter, so to say, though the other night, listening to AC/DC after a few drams, my foot began tapping incautiously. A stern voice in my head warned of the slippery slope to perdition. And I can only praise the Lord that, shortly afterwards, I conked out.

Blazing idiot’s call to arms

Eco-nuts have a new tactic. Setting their arms on fire. That’s what one did at a tennis match in London to draw attention to … himself. All part of a niche campaign against private jets. Imagine an alien conversation. “What are the Earthlings doing to save their planet?” “They’re setting their arms on fire.” “Excellent.”

Bunch of tubes

At least Tesco is doing something constructive to save the planet: ending the use of needless toothpaste boxes. About time. I feel strongly that companies are not coerced enough into ditching ridiculously unnecessary packaging. And to show you how strongly I feel, I will set fire to my own head.

Bad day blues

Equine rapper Megan Thee Stallion has started a mental health advice website called Bad Bitches Have Bad Days Too. I cannot verify the sagacity of that claim. While unfamiliar with Stallion’s music, I am well acquainted with her buttocks. They feature so often in the tabloids that I could pick them out in a police line-up.

Yummy mummy

My researchers tell me M&Ms are a type of sweet and that many people worry ceaselessly about what the initials stand for. Well, now the secret is out: Mars and Murrie, as in Forrest and Bruce of that ilk, inventors of the rare chocolate delicacy. And you thought it was “mmm” as in yummy, didn’t you?

Cloak watchers

Tech firm Vollebak has allegedly taken the first step toward an invisibility cloak: not for spacecraft as in Star Trek but for soldiers creeping up on folk. The combat coat’s panels filter out infrared radiation from body heat. Experts say it’s just a “chameleon jacket” and that an invisibility cloak remains impossible. We’ll see about that.

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