Before his election, it was said of Donald Trump that he should be taken 'seriously but not literally'. It now appears that he should be taken seriously and literally. Yesterday he did what many predicted that, once in office, he would not – signed an executive order for an 'impassable physical barrier' along 2,000 miles of the border between America and Mexico. (Though Congress will have to approve the cost.) Trump said that Mexico would 'absolutely 100%' pay for the wall. The president of Mexico said that his country didn't believe in walls and wouldn’t pay. 'Absolutely' was Trump’s word du jour. He spoke well of waterboarding – a form of torture known euphemistically as 'enhanced interrogation' in which water is poured over the face to simulate drowning. 'Do I feel it works?', he asked rhetorically during a television interview. 'Absolutely I feel it works'. Earlier in the day he made it clear that he would introduce ‘extreme vetting’ of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a move that one of his advisers denied was anti-Muslim.

Theresa May set off for her weekend meeting with Trump vowing to achieve a ‘special deal’ and, according to the press, 'shrugging off' concerns about the new president. Before she left she promised a white paper on Brexit, claiming to have recognised an 'appetite' for such a document. The Daily Mail did not repeat its allegation that the judges of the supreme court were 'enemies of the people' but instead concentrated its reptilian bile on Gina Miller, the lead claimant in the successful legal campaign to allow parliament a vote on leaving the EU. A man was detained on suspicion of sending 'racially aggravated malicious communications' to Mrs Miller. In the House of Commons, Jeremy Corbyn offered his condolences to the family of a police officer who 'lost his life' in a recent Belfast shooting, contrary to well-founded reports that the officer was alive and in a stable condition. Mr Corbyn was then accused by the press of having committed a 'gaffe', a word rarely used except by the media. Parliamentary committees urged the government to enforce the law banning sexist dress rules, including such practices as asking female employees to wear short skirts and unbuttoned blouses. According to 'a survey', nearly 1 in 10 British women find sex painful.

The latest trade figures showed that Scotland’s exports to the rest of the United Kingdom exceed £50bn a year, four times more than its exports to the other countries of the EU. A fact already known, that the health of children in Scotland is among the worst in Europe, was confirmed in a report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. On what now seems to be known as Burns Day, Police Scotland attempted a slightly laboured joke, issuing an 'unsubstantiated report of a public disorder incident in the vicinity of the Alloway Auld Kirk' involving a Mr Thomas O'Shanter. The
literary critic Stuart Kelly suggested that, instead of a day in honour of the 'boor-bard', Scotland should have commemorated the work of the poet Veronica Forrest-Thomson, whose third collection, 'On the Periphery', was published posthumously after her death in a traffic accident in 1975 at the age of 27. A small earthquake was detected in the Argyll villages of Tayvallich, Lochgilphead, Colintraive and Kilmory – or it might have been someone putting out a wheely bin.

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