SCOTLAND always did need a national Auntie. Someone to wipe the country's nose and tell it off when it ate too much shortbread. And when it came to stern looks, cut knees and the occasional double entendre, Annabel Goldie always woman stepped up to the plate.
IT WAS, of course, the worst kept secret in journalism.
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WOMEN ARE awful. No really, we are. We bang on about sisterhood and equality and looking out for each other in a crisis, but put us in an office with a woman who's younger, prettier and has longer legs than us and we'll lash out faster than a spitting cobra.
I LIKE KATE Middleton. She's sweet and smiley in a terribly English sort of a way, and anyone willing to marry a man who's resemblance to the Wreck of Hesperus grows on a daily basis must have a heart of gold.
IF YOU watched last week's STV leaders' debate between the heads of the four main Scottish political parties - and if you did, you have my sympathies - then you can't have failed to notice the star of the show.
BACK IN the second week of February, when Hosni Mubarak had just fallen in Egypt and other north African countries were beginning to show signs of protest, a rumour swept the social networking site Twitter that the internet had been shut down in Algeria.
I DON'T know about you, but I wouldn't recognise Moira Salmond if she stood up in my soup. Not that she's likely to, of course. The shy and retiring wife of Alex and de facto first lady of Scotland is unlikely to stand anywhere in public without being shielded from prying eyes by a phalanx of SNP minders, and, goodness knows, you wouldn't want them in your soup.
THERE are many things I wanted when I was eight years old. A proper stable for my collection of My Little Ponies. A pair of patent white Startrite buckle shoes from Clarks.
LAST Wednesday night, I went to the ballet. It was a wonderful evening, one of the best nights out I've had in a while. Yet all the way through the performance, fidgeting in my seat in Glasgow's Theatre Royal, I couldn't settle. There was a niggling thought in the back of my mind that I just couldn't get rid of. How, I kept thinking, am I going to get home?
AS PORTRAITS of the Madonna and Child go, it's hardly Michelangelo. The Madonna, her face taut and stretched, pouts into the camera, one fish-netted leg protruding from the thigh-slashed piece of lace that is ineffectively masquerading as a dress.
MY FAVOURITE Wendy Alexander story concerns an incident that occurred a few years ago. The then minister for enterprise, transport, lifelong learning and ludicrously long job titles was having coffee with a colleague.
I WENT OUT for dinner the other night. As I did my make-up in the mirror, affixed my earrings in place and straightened my dress, I pouted dolefully at my reflection. There was something missing; a finishing touch. If only, I mused, I had a Gaga egg.
EVERY GIRL grows up dreaming of her wedding day. Or so we're told, at any rate. Personally, I grew up dreaming of the day Noel Edmonds would disappear from our television screens, but you can't have everything in life.
GAIL Sheridan's wardrobe has long been a source of mystery to me, as I'm sure it is for much of a fretting nation. Say what you like about her taste in men, but the woman knows how to wear a pair of sunglasses.
THE FOOTAGE is short and shocking. On a cold London night, a 1977 Rolls Royce Phantom VI creeps up Regent Street, the Prince of Wales's standard clearly visible on the roof.
FUNNY age, 33. It's a bingo number of a birthday, one of those years where, if someone asks you "is it a big one?", there's a dreadful moment where you look at them and they look at you, and no one knows whether a compliment or an insult has been delivered.
S IX MONTHS ago I had my tonsils removed. I can't say I recommend the experience, unless unbelievable, gut-wrenching agony of the sort that makes waterboarding sound like a spa treatment is your sort of thing, in which case can I recommend the number of a good therapist?
Does Shirley Manson really need plastic surgery? Singer's online admission reveals much about the pressure many women feel
AT HOME in the creative, low-key district of Los Angeles where she has lived for the past four years, Shirley Manson was quietly celebrating her 44th birthday last week.
SENIOR inspector Billy Linton climbs into his sleek black van and checks his BlackBerry for the first job of the day. Parked outside the Scottish SPCA Glasgow Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre on a sunny Friday morning, the sound of barking dogs is unmistakable.
THE skipper of the Blue Thunder, a chartered fishing boat moored at Swansea Bay, was hoping for a quiet afternoon last Saturday. Mark Thomas was taking a group of young men out for an afternoon's fishing on the grounds off the Welsh coast, where they were hoping to catch a few mackerel, bass and gurnard. But when Thomas briefly popped below deck to check on his paperwork, he couldn't believe his eyes when he returned: every one of his passengers had stripped naked.