Poor wee souls of the week
(1) Professor Peter Mathieson, the new principal of Edinburgh University, will be paid £342,000 a year – only £85,000 more than his predecessor. As a spokesperson for the institution pointed out: 'By proportion of turnover, his salary is the lowest of any
university in Scotland.' The editorial committee, moved by this disclosure, agreed to send Professor Mathieson a note commending his self-sacrifice.
(2) Media correspondent Mary Culter reported that a number of disadvantaged BBC women are earning about the same as, or in some cases even less than, the impoverished principal of a mere university. She cited Fiona Bruce, on a paltry c400k for overseeing a load of old junk; Sue Barker, whose c350k is inadequate recompence for having to mix with the speaking clocks known as tennis professionals; and oor ain Laura Kuenssberg, who needs a personal bodyguard to protect her from the many deranged socialists in our midst and yet whose reward is a derisory c250k. 'Where's the justice in any of this?', enquired Ms Culter. Where, indeed?
(1) As the Finsbury Park murderer settles into his 43-year minimum stretch, a sentence that will take him comfortably into his 90s, he has the consolation of knowing that, according to the judge, he was 'radicalised’. Our political correspondent Kitty Brewster said that radicals used to be people who read the New Statesman, went on marches
for good causes, and campaigned for a better world. She wondered why homicidal maniacs had been allowed to appropriate the word and why judges meekly went along with it.
(2) Exciting news from the makers of Monopoly: there is to be a new cheater's version of the game. Players will be able to avoid paying rent, sneakily move pieces around the board, and steal from the bank. Actions will, however, have consequences. Those found guilty will go straight to jail. Except in Scotland, where responsibility tends to be
Pull-out-and-keep holiday supplement Do you dream of going somewhere a bit different this year? We asked Kirk Oswald to investigate offbeat holiday destinations that could make you the envy of all your friends on Facebook. He’s produced a short list of three:
(1) Indonesia. From beautiful beaches to historic temples, it’s sure to leave you spellbound if not banged up. The supposedly secular Muslim state is contemplating long prison sentences for anyone caught having sex outside marriage. 'If you're going on honeymoon,' advises Kirk, 'remember to pack the necessary certificate.’
(2) Cambodia. Once off-limits to all but the most intrepid, Cambodia now welcomes tourists with open arms – all the way to the disgusting jail where they throw anyone who dares to insult the king. Saying nasty things about Norodom – for it is he – has become a serious offence, so best bite your lip if you’re ever tempted to question Norrie’s omnipotence.
(3) China. A luxury holiday for all ages. Visit the Forbidden City. Get up close to those giant pandas. And, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, ask your tour guide for a facility trip to the 'female morality school’ where students are dragged out of bed at 4.30am to scrub floors, before a day of improving lessons about the right of husbands to beat their young wives.
'Isn’t abroad wonderful?’ mused Sheriff Muir. 'All things considered, I shall be making my usual arrangements for a week in North Berwick.'
Word of the week Kitty Brewster informed a shocked editorial conference that the Oxford English Dictionary had been wrong to make 'youthquake' its word of the year in 2017. Youthquake, which refers to 'the increased awareness of young people's capacity to influence, and even drive, political change,' was inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent popularity with younger voters, helping to boost Labour’s performance at the general election. Yet it now emerges from the British Election Study that turnout among young voters last June was broadly similar to 2015 and might even have fallen: in other words, there was no youthquake. Ms Brewster thought it should be renamed ‘wordquake’ – meaning 'the increased tendency of PR-savvy lexicographers to invent silly terms as a pathetic gesture to popular culture.’
Party of the week The launch of Britain’s new pro-EU political party, Renew, was hailed around the table for making absolutely no impact whatsoever. There was a general feeling at the editorial conference that its incurably dull name might be part of the problem. This had the team searching for more inspiring, voter-friendly models across Europe.
Kitty Brewster claimed that the Polish Beer Lovers Party had enjoyed electoral success until, inevitably, it split into two rival factions, Big Beer and Little Beer. It may also have been hampered by its neglect of apostrophes. Ms Brewster further nominated the Union of the Conscientiously Work Shy, a Danish party which promises better weather, tail winds on all bike paths, and more bread for the ducks in public parks.
Mary Culter acknowledged her fancy for the Anarchist Pogo Party of Germany. Its goals include the abolition of the retirement pension in favour of a new pension for young people and the 'total restupidification’ of the country.
Kirk Oswald, whose thinning pate is a source of concern in one so young, liked the sound of the Polish Party of the Bald, which aims to combat growing discrimination against bald people. The party refuses to endorse candidates with hair on the grounds that people with no hair are brainier.
Sheriff Muir, a noted centrist, lamented the loss of Austria's Party for Moderate Progress Within The Bounds of the Law. He added that it was one of the few parties in political history with its own hymn.
Finally, Tilly Drone advanced the merits of the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party, which campaigns for two sunsets a day and the flooding of the main roads of Budapest with beer as a solution to the capital’s traffic problem.
The meeting expressed its disappointment that, with so many creative precedents to draw on, the founders of the new pro-EU party had settled on the snooze-inducing Renew.
Technophobe enquiry of the week Why, every time a visitor is fool enough to visit a newspaper website, it wants the user's machine to crash.
Horrific idea of the week Jacob Rees Mogg in power. Even as chair of the local parish council, he would be alarming.
The Daily Express's 'Killer freeze' of the week The one the rest of us are enjoying for its crisp days and clear skies.
Affectionate news of the week It was noted that St Valentine’s Day had metamorphosed into Valentine's Week. Mary Culter prophesied that soon we would have the Valentine’s Festival, stretching from New Year to Easter, promoted by VisitScotland, sponsored by Creative Scotland, and incorporating its own book festival dedicated to erotic literature. 'That’s such a good idea!’, enthused Tilly Drone, the office’s very own snowflake.
(1) Sheriff Muir remarked of Scotland’s mauling by Wales in the opening match of the Six Nations rugby, 'It must have been bad. They're not even accentuating the positives.'
(2) Sheriff Muir further noted the continuing vacancy in Scottish football for a national coach and revealed that he proposed to ask his old friend Craig Brown to put in a word for him. He said he rather fancied being the 'Scotland Manager,' a title that conferred a certain prestige on its holder. 'But you know nothing about football,' said Mary Culter. 'Exactly,' replied Sheriff Muir. 'That's what makes me the ideal candidate.'
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 (Barbados correspondent).