The link between Old Boney and Auld Reekie

Share this article

POIROT, Maigret, even Taggart would be proud of the Diary's investigation into the Scottish link to the manuscript, found in a Borders cottage last week, confirming Napoleon died from cancer, not poisoning.

The last officer to be given charge of the "caged eagle of St Helena" was Captain William Crockat, who was sent home to announce the news of Boney's death in 1821. Crockat, as a Lieutenant General, retired to Edinburgh's 52 Inverleith Row in 1830, where he lived until he died in 1874.

Our military historian Neil "Gurkha" Griffiths assures us: "It is inconceivable that Crockat would have sailed home without the autopsy report and death certificate, and copies which he would have kept, like all soldiers do, as a souvenir." Incidentally, it was Napoleon's death that gave rise to the famous George IV story. When told that: "Sire, your worst enemy in the world is dead," he exclaimed: "Is she, by Gad."

It was then explained that the news did not refer to George's wife, Queen Caroline, but the Emperor Napoleon. Easy mistake to make.

Meanwhile the Napoleon of the arts received a visit at Skateraw, the exhibition of Ricky Demarco's archive, from Iain Johnstone, author of Viking Place Names of East Lothian (Tarmagan). Iain had already revealed in the Diary the Old Norse meaning of Skateraw as "sh**hole". Now he was to tell Ricky in person the origins of the Road to Meikle Seggie, the metaphorical journey that has been Demarco's life's work.

"In Old Norse it meant 'Great Messenger'. His search for it has been under his nose all his life. He is Meikle Seggie."

Iain also gave him an copy of Holy Cross school magazine from 1949, which contains a startling statistic from a cricket match with Daniel Stewart's College at Arboretum.

A certain R Demarco took seven wickets for seven runs. Surely something for the archive.

With a little help from her friends

OUR man John B Henderson has been sleepless in Seattle as he has been kept up going through the mail he has been getting from Hillary Clinton.

He has received the fourth letter in a month not only asking for dosh, but also his views on, what Tony Benn would call "the ishoos".

As Hillary is currently senator for New York, Sloop John B reckons it can only mean one thing.

"Obviously she is after the top job in 2008, but the problem has been how do you get the American electorate used to the idea of a woman president? Get your friends in El Lay to help out seems to be the answer."

ABC's new TV drama Commander in Chief stars Geena Davis as Mackenzie Allen, a vice-president elevated unexpectedly to the top job, and it has got top ratings for the second week running. The writer for the series also happens to be none other than Stephen Cohen, who - for those that don't know - used to work as an aide to both Hillary and Bill Clinton.

You go, girl, as they say in El Lay.

Ruling classes reward SSP's Red Fox

IT HAS been little over six months since Colin Fox has taken over the reins from Tommy Sheridan at the Scottish Socialist Party but comrades should beware he is not being corrupted by the establishment.

Last week the Red Fox was a guest at the University of St Andrews along with Labour Lord Sewel and Michael Hirst, former chairman of the Tories in Scotland, to debate the proposition: "This House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government". With St Andrews being the only university in Scotland to have more students from England than from Scotland, the Scottish section of the British ruling class took the opportunity to reward Colin not once but twice over for services rendered. On the official programme, Colin was down as not just "Sir Colin Fox MSP but as "The Rt Hon Sir Colin Fox MSP". The Red Fox looks forward to other illustrious rewards from the British state in due course.

Safe, clean to take a Forrest Gump

OVER-EAGER staff in the commercial marketing department at Scottish Water were bubbling over with excitement about the recent visit by Tom Hanks, right, to Rosslyn Chapel to film The Da Vinci Code, as their staff were on location, providing essential services.

Perhaps they could stage a stunning publicity coup with a genuine Hollywood star who could maybe be coerced into quaffing a glass of pure, clear, chilled Scottish water.

Alas, it was not to be. Staff on site were too busy emptying the septic tanks.

No-one is sure if Hanks even used the facilities, though it must have been reassuring for him to hear from our man at Scottish Water on site that they were "a safe, clean place to take a Forrest Gump".

Then it was back to work emptying what are now known at Scottish water as the "Tom Hanks".

Meantime Scottish Water can pride itself on a couple of new additions to the lexicon of rhyming slang.

Piper's comb no match for a sgian dhu

A POSTSCRIPT to the Edinburgh polis's 200th anniversary shindig at the Signet Library and what particularly amused the Princess Royal. We had noted that the chef was piped in with the haggis only to arrive at the top table without a knife, perhaps taking too literally Lothian and Borders' knife curfew. However Eric Milligan, the police board convener, thinking on his feet, said in an aside: "Piper, piper, give me your dirk". The piper bent down but what he produced from his sock was a comb. He too was without his sgian dhu, which are also prohibited these days. And yes, ma'am, it is to keep his sporran nice and fluffy.