P&J Column 17.12.15


Tim Peake goes around the world in 90 minutes. Michael Palin must be kicking himself.

Hector Schlenk, Senior Research Fellow of the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As  a scientist, people are forever asking me questions; questions like “Are generic drugs really as effective as their branded equivalents?”  “Does the Paris climate deal stand a chance of slowing global warming?” and “It’s 5p for a bag, is that OK?”  To which the answer are, respectively; “Generally, yes”, “I really hope so, or were all going to have to evolve gills” and “Er, well, given that the purchase I have just made is a 50 Shades of Grey starter kit for Mrs. Schlenk’s Christmas, you can more or less name your price.”

Recently, however, people have been mainly asking me about astronaut Tim Peake, who this week became Britain’s first official astronaut when he blasted off from Kazakhstan with his Russian crewmates.  They will be cooped up together aboard the International Space Station for a mission which is scheduled to last half a year.  (To get some sort of idea of what this might feel like, go to Peterhead, wait for the crew of a Russian factory ship to come ashore, follow them into a lift and then stop it between two floors. For six months.)  As it happens, I know Tim.  We were contemporaries at Portsmouth University.  Somehow, despite the fact I was better than him at maths, physics and trivial pursuit, he is the one who has ended up with this wonderful, unique and prestigious career.  Still, I’m not bitter.  I’m not the one who’s going to miss the Dr Who Christmas Special.

Tanya Souter, Lifestyle correspondent

This wik, the papers was full of the news that a recent survey hid showed that alcohol is a major factor in ambulance call-outs.  In other news, The Pope gings tae Mass on a Sunday, bears prefer to dae their business in the vicinity of a few trees and Alex Salmond enjoys the occasional pie.  My pal Big Sonya asked me the ither day, ‘do you think that Scotland has a problem wi’ alcohol?’  Or at least I think that’s fit she said, she wiz slurring her words and she was busy boakin’ in a wheelie bin, so I could hardly mak her oot, LOL!  But even if it’s nae exactly a surprise, it is still terrible to see that booze is involved in 50% of ambulance call-outs – or 100% fan it’s Mad Friday!  Mind you, fit can you expect fan you’re teeterin’ roond toon in your platforms efter 6 lunchtime Smirnoff Ices?  It’s dangerous; it’s irresponsible; and, efter I’m back fae my summer hol’days, the thought o’ it is the only that keeps me goin’ fae one working week to the next.

Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit who puts the boot in

There was a helluva lot of balls pulled out of a helluva lot of bags in the beautiful game this week.  First we had the draw for Euro 2016, and then they done the one for the Champions League.  I do love my football, but old Kenny has to admit that when I was watching them draws I did feel a touch of the brown-eyed monster.  Melody says to me, she says “You mean green-eyed monster, Kenny!” but I checked in the mirror and they is definitely brown.

The reason I was so jealous was because, incredulously, no Scottish team is not involved in none of them.

Watching England, Northern Ireland and Wales come out of them pots was like watching all your mates get a dance at the disco while you watches from the side-lines like the proverbial cauliflower. Mind you, for the first time in a major tournament England and Wales are going to have to dance with each other . If my experience of school discos is anything to go by, that means one of them is going to go home happy and the other will end up feeling disappointed with an ingrained toenail.

And the Champions league is also Scot free as well! Some of the TV punnets is saying that Scottish football is so frantic now that it will be ages before we see any Scottish interest in the Blatter stages of a tournament.  They says that the Dons’ game on Saturday against Hearts was a good example.  There was broken noses, late tackles, elbows flying and crazy handballs.  I don’t mind telling you, old Kenny was knackered when the full time whistle went.  It was the best game I seen all season!