THE excellent Jolly Ristorante in Edinburgh’s Elm Row is a popular hang-out for the SNP intelligentsia. Alex Salmond, no less, is a regular there, where he is often called upon to pose for selfies – a “chore” that he takes on with some relish.
Last week, however, SNP regulars were upstaged by a real-life pop star – the independence-supporting Charlie Reid of the Proclaimers, who was dining with the former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill of the SNP and the Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick.
It should come as no surprise that, on this occasion, Charlie came out top in the selfie stakes.
Knowledge can be an unpopular thing
ONE suspects the SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson fancies himself as a bit of a polymath. His parliamentary pronouncements are nothing if not wide-ranging. He has not been shy of discussing his teenage acne, his voracious reading habits as a youth and his overall expertise in a variety of obscure subjects.
His cerebral pretensions, however, are not always appreciated by his rivals.
Last week Stevenson was chuntering on in impenetrable fashion about some research into education done by Dr Jim Scott of Edinburgh University. His remarks received a testy response from that firebrand of the left Neil Findlay.
“It is abundantly clear that neither Dr Scott nor anyone in the chamber is on the same intellectual wavelength as Mr Stevenson, but that comes as no surprise to any of us,” Findlay said. “Perhaps, in his wisdom, he could tell us what the problems are in Scottish education. We will all sit here rapt at his intelligence.”
The tone of Findlay’s remarks suggest he regards Stevenson as more of a know-it-all than a polymath.
Murphy has good use for his spare time
IT HAS been a very trying few weeks for the departing Scottish Labour leader and well-known football obsessive Jim Murphy after meltdown at the polls and the loss of his East Renfrewshire seat.
Despite the disappointment of announcing his resignation as leader, Murphy (right) has managed to maintain some vestiges of a sense of humour.
Last week he was seen on his way to a meeting of Labour MSPs clutching a copy of the hardback book he published last year: The Ten Football Matches That Changed the World… and the One that Didn’t.
Accosted by a journalist, he was asked if it would be out in paperback. He replied that an updated edition might not be too far off as he had “more time off now”.
MSP reveals how to be ale and hearty
ALEX Johnstone, that hefty farmer turned Conservative MSP from the North-east, has taken great delight in telling Holyrood how he made the amazing discovery that “beer is good for you”.
Speaking in a debate about the fate of public houses, Johnstone recalled that in the week of his 18th birthday he was introduced to the rigours of senior rugby when he turned up at an Aberdeen Wanderers training session.
The 1st XV captain looked at him and said: “Aye, you’re a big lad, but you’ll hae to put on weight or you’ll get hurt.”
Then followed two hours of scrummaging practice and fitness work.
“Then we retired to the pub, where the real training started,” recalled Johnstone.
“I must say that I have been working on that training ever since,” the beefy-framed Johnstone added.
His former rugby club captain must be delighted that all the training has paid off so handsomely.