I BLAME the Canadians. There was a bunch of them in the VIP section at FMQs and Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh had clearly fallen under their maple-sweet spell.

“I invite members to join me in welcoming to the gallery the Hon Ted Arnott, who is the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario,” he crooned, eager to show off.

The two most delightful words in the political lexicon, after all, are ‘reciprocal visit’.

But, alas, Mr Macintosh was so keen to act tough he ended up threatening MSPs with castration. Of which more later.

Before the PO lost the plot, Jackson Carlaw lost his mojo. His usual capering cadences reduced to a stodgy croak, as if in sympathy with Theresa May, he took a lame pop at Brexit Secretary Mike Russell for calling Tory MPs traitors in the most arcane way imaginable on Twitter - by likening them to the 13th century Scots nobles on the Ragman’s Rolls.

“As ever, he thought he was being clever,” said the acting Tory leader, who seldom thinks less of himself. “He hid the accusation behind a hashtag, but that is the charge that he made. Surely the First Minister will disassociate herself from that inflammatory smear?”

Nicola Sturgeon said she was “genuinely struggling to believe Jackson Carlaw has come here to talk about a Twitter hashtag” when the Tory government was in meltdown over Brexit. Seems a fair point.

“I am asking the FM to enhance the dignity of her office,” sniffed Mr Carlaw. “She has chosen not to do so.”

Labour’s Richard Leonard accused Mrs May of “a lie”.

Mr Macintosh considered that thoroughly unCanadian. “Be careful of your language, Mr Leonard,” he corrected him with a wink at the gallery.

Then Willie Rennie accused Ms Sturgeon of “smugness”.

Again, the PO blushed on behalf of anyone from north of the 49th Parallel. “I urge all colleagues to try to be more respectful and not to be personal in their questions,” he fussed.

“I think that that ship has sailed with Willie Rennie, Presiding Officer, but keep trying,” replied the FM, being personal to both men at once.

At the end, the PO made his big play to the visitors with a pompous lecture on process.

“The questions and answers were too long this afternoon.

“We need to revisit that, please, otherwise I will have to cut off members -”

At which schoolboy smut, the press gallery naturally burst into hysterics.

“A rather unfortunate pun, I think,” floundered the PO. “It’s typical of the press to pick up on that.” As the Ontarians left, Mr Macintosh’s trip to Niagara Falls surely left with them.