Sweet words

AS the Burns Suppers wind down, Ian Lyell tells us: "At the Mauchline Burns Club, events organiser Malcolm Noble, before the meal, asked the company very solicitously if all those who were diabetic could raise their hand. Several did. Malcolm’s response, 'Well you won’t need the tablet on your plate. Pass it to somebody else'."

Taxing time

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TODAY'S the deadline for putting in your tax return if you are self-employed – no need to thank me for the reminder. As radio producer Ed Morrish, who left the BBC to work as a freelance put it: "I have just paid tax by myself for the first time. If you need me, therefore, I'll be in the Question Time audience, shouting about bringing back hanging."

Stout reply

SCHOOL tales, continued. Says Moira Campbell: "When I was teaching French I asked a higher class to write about New Year resolutions for themselves and their family using the verb 'devoir' – ought to or must. One lad wrote that his mum 'must stop drinking my dad's Guinness when he is out on a Saturday night and then denying it'. And I thought she was a lovely woman."

And Drew Fleming recalls his time giving careers advice and the girl in Ayrshire who told him: "I want tae dae the same as my sister – she’s a psychopathic nurse.”

Holding a torch

THE Viking fire festival, Up Helly Aa, which marks the start of lighter nights, took place on Shetland last night. We always liked the official programme which stated one year: "Please note the streets get very crowded, and all the nursery children are brought to watch, so please do not step on them."

And local MP Alistair Carmichael, when Scottish secretary, once spoke at an education conference in Glasgow where he was harangued after his speech by a delegate who accused him of a "disappointing 25 minutes of negativity". A weary Alistair admitted afterwards: "I knew it was a mistake to agree to be here the morning after Up Helly Aa."

Icing on the cake

OLD insults that should be preserved, continued. The bakery chain is no longer with us, and I'm not even sure the baked goods are still made, but many readers fondly recall the vivid description of someone no' that bonny – he's got a face like a City Bakeries Hallowe'en Cake."

And Caroline Leith tells us: "A friend living in the West Indies was impressed by the parting shot of the victor in a loud argument between two doughty local women in the village market. She drew herself up to her full impressive height and commanded, 'Haul in your mouth and let me pass'."

Sounds fishy

EATING out, and Derek Miller in Torrance passes on: "I was recently taken for a civilised lunch in posh Cookham, Buckinghamshire. The pleasant young waitress handed us the menus and said, without a hint of irony, that 'the only thing we've run out of is the sustainable fish pie'."

What's in a name

A WEST-END reader tells us he was having a drink at the weekend when he noticed the chap further up the bar was engaging a young woman in conversation who had gone up to the bar to fetch some drinks. As she moved away he called after her: "I don’t believe I caught your name." Her insouciant reply was: "I don’t believe I threw it."

Bit of a stretch

TODAY'S piece of daftness comes from Stu who says: "I received an email from the Fund To Save Endangered 80s Clothing. I've decided to do my bit and, for a fiver a month, I've adopted a leotard."