The diary

By George, that'll teach them

IT SEEMS George "Lord" Foulkes puts his foot in his mouth more often than most of us have a cup of tea at the moment. Despite his onerous responsibilities in both the Scottish Parliament (as a Labour MSP on the Lothians list) and the House of Lords at Westminster, Lord George still seems to spend most of his time battering the Nats (as well as Vladimov Romanir) – not always to great effect.

Alba is deeply indebted to Scotsman reader John Jappy (great name, John) for bringing to our attention this exchange between the noble lord and Colin MacKay, in a recent interview on BBC Radio Scotland's programme Scotland at Ten.

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Lord Foulkes was in full flow, as ever, berating the evils of having a country run by two people whose names sound like fish. "The SNP are on a dangerous tack at the moment," he said. "What they are doing is trying to build up a situation in Scotland where the services are manifestly better than south of the Border in a number of areas."

A clearly bemused MacKay responded with the obvious question: "Is this such a bad thing?"

"No," replied George Lord, "but they are doing it deliberately."

Whatever does the SNP government think it's doing? Wantonly putting forward policies that might improve the lives of Scotland's people? It will never catch on – not according to George Foulkes anyway.

Ill wind strikes blow for justice

A SELF-CONFESSED "old fart" asked by his social club to go outside to break wind is in hospital – after he was blown over by a gale. Beer-swilling Maurice Fox made headlines when his club in Paignton, Devon, asked him to "go outside when required" due to "continual breaking of wind in the club". Mr Fox, 77, was on his way to another social club when a gust knocked him over, causing a broken rib, bruised hip and grazes. Recovering in hospital, he said: "The real wind got the better of me."

Salmond's up for the cup

IT HAS taken only five days for Alex Salmond to get his hands on the Calcutta Cup. He has managed to get Mike Blair and Frank Hadden to go along to the parliament today, allowing him to pose with the trophy.

The First Minister was remarkably reticent after the losses to France, Wales and Ireland, but it took him only a few minutes to get his first statement out after the England game – and then just the five days to get the Calcutta Cup along to Holyrood.

Taxing times for family fortune

TWO sisters in Osaka, Japan, have been arrested for allegedly hiding 5.8 billion yen (27.8 million) in a garage to evade inheritance taxes. Investigators found 50 cardboard boxes of cash in the garage of Hatsue Shimizu, 64, and more money in the home of her sister, Yoshiko Ishii, 55. Their father, a property businessman, died in 2004, leaving 36 million.