New Year celebrations of the week
Sometime last autumn: When Jools Holland and his mates gathered at a studio in Maidstone to pretend that they were celebrating the arrival of 2018
11.59 and 51 seconds: When BBC Alba, broadcasting live from Sleat village hall on Skye, celebrated the arrival of 2018
12 midnight: When the rest of the country celebrated the arrival of 2018
12 January: When our legal correspondent, Sheriff Muir, an adherent of the old new year, will celebrate the arrival of 2018.
Arrival of the week The boy born to Harry Ferguson and Amy Coull in Dr Gray’s Hospital, Elgin, 10 seconds after midnight on 1 January 2018 – unless they were watching BBC Alba, in which case the baby arrived in the final second of 2017.
Departure of the week That of the repellent Toby Young, who once tweeted his admiration for the cleavage of the then MP for Airdrie and Shotts, a person not to be confused with Alex Neil, who represents the same constituency in the Scottish parliament and who, so far as our political correspondent Kitty Brewster could discern from her extensive researches, has never been the subject of an admiring tweet by Toby Young.
Railway companies of the week Now known to Sky TV as 'train providers.’
12-month season ticket of the week (demanded by our 'train providers') Elgin to Inverness, £2,904. No wonder Elgin's Howie Firth seldom leaves the hoose.
Idiots of the week The exhibitionists known as 'loony dookers,' who took to the waters of the Forth on New Year's Day. Our correspondent Kirk Oswald admitted to having been one of them, explaining by way of feeble justification that it made a change from his sedentary life on the tailback to the Queen Nicola Crossing.
Storm of the week 'Eleanor' – the 'life-threatening' one that we all survived somehow. A single gust of 100mph was recorded on top of Great Dun Fell (the second highest mountain in the Pennines). This was translated by the hysterical British media into '100mph winds' tearing across the entire country and leaving the usual 'trail of devastation.'
Media obessions of the week Dieting; holidays; keeping off the booze in January; the NHS crisis; the weather.
Media obsessions of the same week last year Dieting; holidays; keeping off the booze in January; the NHS crisis; the weather.
Theft of the week Minimum pricing came early to Copenhagen, where a desperate boozer nicked a bottle of vodka worth £960,000. 'Is the tonic extra?', enquired the thrifty Kitty Brewster.
Testosterone problem of the week The boast of the leader of the free world that he has a bigger button than Kim's.
Petition of the week By the residents of Bell End who object to living in one of the rudest streets in England and want its name changed. At the time of going to press, it had gathered 12 signatures, while a rival petition to keep the name had attracted thousands of supporters. It's war in Bell End. Thankfully, in tranquil Leicestershire, all is quiet in Butthole Lane.
Term of endearment of the week 'Honey': a train provider's form of greeting to a customer. When the customer complained, she was asked on the train provider's Twitter account if she would prefer 'pet' or 'love' in future. Unreserved apologies all round. Sheriff Muir recalled the many gratifying occasions on public transport and in convenience stores when perfect strangers had addressed him as 'darling’ or, perhaps more ironically, 'young man.'
Mystery of the week Our arts and media correspondent, Mary Culter, wondered why strangers are always perfect.
Another fine mess of the week (Laurel and Hardy memorial award) Theresa May’s reshuffle.
Kitten of the week Maioro, who darted across several lanes of moving traffic in Auckland and forced police to close the road after motorists complained that she was 'trying to cause accidents.'
Anything else this week? Not a lot.
There follows a minute of the monthly meeting of the editorial committee, which considered the various recommendations for the observance of January's special days. In the chair: The Midgie (editor-in-chief).
National Take the Stairs Day
Mary Culter reported that this important day is traditionally marked on the second Wednesday of January, adding that it is often regarded as an antidote to the annual Festival of Sleep Day.
'When is the Festival of Sleep Day?' asked Sheriff Muir with his customary weary demeanour. 'I may be in favour of that one.'
'You've missed it,' Ms Culter replied jubilantly. 'It was commemorated on the third day of the year.'
'Pity,' sighed Sheriff Muir. 'I must have slept through it.'
Our arts and media specialist, impressing upon the gathering the many benefits of National Take the Stairs Day, asserted that a 160-pound person who climbs the stairs for only three minutes expends 30 calories.
'What if you have a heart attack at the top?', asked Sheriff Muir, reasonably enough.
'That’s a separate issue,' Ms Culter replied with an air of impatience, in what felt like the first testy exchange of the year.
Kirk Oswald (sexual misdemeanours, fishing news and traffic jams) wondered if there was anything else he could celebrate on the 10th of January to avoid the necessity of climbing the stairs for three minutes.
'The only alternative option,' said Ms Culter, 'is the annual Peculiar People Day, which is observed on the same date. It is held in honour of unusual, strange, odd, or downright dodgy people.'
'That's wonderfully inclusive,' said Sheriff Muir. 'It covers just about everybody I know.'
Kitty Brewster nominated Nothing Day because it is a day for doing nothing. 'As its name suggests,' helpfully added Maggie Knockater (Banffshire correspondent) before the Skype to Macduff went down.
'Tell us about it,' exhorted Sheriff Muir.
'To say anything about Nothing Day,' responded Ms Brewster, 'would be
contrary to its founding principles. The day is a complete non-event. That is its point. But if you insist, I am at liberty to inform you that it was founded in 1973 by an American journalist name of Harold Pullman Coffin. He was so furious about National Take the Stairs Day that he created a day in which the only requirement was to do nothing.'
'I like the sound of Mr Coffin,' Sheriff Muir replied thoughtfully.
Measure Your Feet Day
Kirk Oswald's choice caused a certain bafflement in the room. 'What's the point of measuring your feet?', enquired Mary Culter. 'I've been wondering that myself,' admitted young Kirk. 'But I see no harm in it.'
'So how would you go about it?', persisted Ms Culter.
'I reckon I'll start by measuring their length, and then move on to their width,' he explained. 'Once I've done that, I could measure other people's feet.'
A respectful silence greeted this interesting idea.
Sheriff Muir said he had surprised himself by recommending Compliment Day – an annual opportunity to say something nice to people one encounters. He acknowledged that he was not in the habit of saying anything nice to people he encountered – this confession came as no surprise to his colleagues around the table – but he had been intrigued by the nature of the challenge: to issue a compliment of some sort to five different people during Compliment Day, even if one had to resort to the usual grumps on the No 4 bus.
'In the current atmosphere,' mused Kirk Oswald, 'would you consider complimenting a member of the opposite sex?'
'Not if they were attired in black,' confirmed Sheriff Muir. 'But it might still be permissible to compliment a fellow traveller on, say, her choice of book.'
'That sounds to me like the behaviour of a peculiar person,' said Kitty Brewster. 'These days, you get arrested for less.'
Tilly Drone (our recently appointed editorial assistant and general dogsbody) claimed excitedly that this was a day for doing everything back to front: a day for starting a Samuel Beckett play on the last page, walking backwards into a lamp-post before a four-day wait in A&E, or beginning dinner with the dessert and progressing steadily back to the soup.
'Why Samuel Beckett?', asked Mary Culter, fixing the new girl with one of her trademark steely gazes.
'Because with Samuel Beckett,' said the new girl, 'you'll never be able to tell the difference.'
This witty rejoinder clearly irritated the questioner, but as we had somehow reached the end of January and run out of special days, the editor-in-chief declared the meeting closed before an outbreak of hostilities.
Double Take is edited by The Midgie with the assistance of staff writers Kitty Brewster (politics), Sheriff Muir (legal and constitutional affairs), Mary Culter (arts, media and gender issues), Kirk Oswald (sexual indiscretions, weather events and fishing news), Tilly Drone (editorial assistant and general dogsbody), Maggie Knockater (Banffshire correspondent), and Bob Smith (artist-in-residence). Double Take will now appear in the Wednesday edition of a magazine called the Scottish Review.