P&J Column for 19.3.15

Don’t say Ed Milliband isn’t man enough to lead the country. His wife will give you a right telling off!

Struan Metcalfe, Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire North and Surrounding Nether Regions – An Apology

By Jove, the political air is getting a bit heated isn’t it? From calls for the head of Grant Shapps (Old ‘two jobs’ as he’s known. No idea why.) to the fuss surrounding who’s going to debate who; the noise in the run up to the General Election has become as shrill as Bjork on helium.

All is fair in love and campaigning, but I do worry when the wife of a party leader has to wade in to say “stop bullying my poor husband, he’s a really nice bloke, honestly, so pack it in you plonkers”. Ed Milliband’s significant other put her head above the political parapet to blast the Conservatives for personal attacks on the leader of the opposition. Well, needless to say, Central Office weren’t best pleased with my Tweet on this subject, and, once again I am required to apologise sincerely for the following:

“So Red Ed’s wife wants us to stop the insults? Doesn’t she know, a woman’s place is in one of her two kitchens?”

I’m sorry. Not only did my tweet, I accept, have the faint whiff of everyday sexism, but I do acknowledge that Ms Thornton is, of course, an influential, successful woman in her own right. It am not one of those old fashioned types who see a politician’s spouse as little more than decoration. That’s what my researchers are for!

That said, I would be affronted if my better half had to spring to my defence. Although that’s not tremendously likely. I asked her last night, ‘Darling, if you were watching ‘Newsnight’ and all the the other politicians were being beastly to me, would you do anything?’ ‘Of course’, she replied. ‘I would immediately switch over to ‘Billion Dollar Chicken Shop’.

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

As a scientist, I’m always being asked questions such as ‘Will smart watches take off?’ ‘Will biometrics ever replace passwords and PIN codes?’ and ‘The usual short back and sides, sir?’ But recently, people have been asking me all about Total Eclipses.   “Well”, I advise, “Every now and then I get a little bit terrified, and then I see the look in your eyes.” And then we laugh; awkwardly, as most people under 30 have no idea who Bonnie Tyler is.

They’re talking about the major celestial event that will grace our skies this week. A solar eclipse will see the North East plunged into near darkness at 9.38am on Friday morning. Exactly as it was during the entire month of January. This natural phenomenon is very complicated, but I will attempt to explain it in layman’s terms.

An eclipse happens when the moon gets between the sun and the earth, and casts its colossal umbra over the planet. ‘Umbra’ is a fancy science word for ‘shadow’ – we scientists do love fancy words for things. Total eclipses are rare, but there would be one perfect syzygy (‘alignment’ – told you!) every anomalistic cycle (‘month’) were it not for the fact that the moon’s orbit is slightly elliptical (‘wonky’).

View From The Midden – Rural affairs with MTV (Meikle Wartle Television) presenter, Jock Alexander

Weel it’s been an automotive wik in the village. I wiz affa interested in the news o’ thon big stramash regarding the BBC’s top motoring correspondent. As someone fa can tell one end o’ a Massie Ferguson fae the ither, I am the host o’ the popular Meikle Wartle Television Motoring show, ‘Low Gear’. At’s the een far we pit the action intae traction engines wi ‘Pimp My Tractor’, and hae celebrities test drive a’ the latest agricultural machinery. Last wikend we hid Joyce Falconer in a John Deere 8330. Michty, fit a tailback on the A96 that caused.

So, if the BBC is short o’ a presenter, I’d happily chuck my toorie in the ring. I am sending my CV doon tae New Broadcasting Hoose, and I can assure the Beeb that unlike Clarkson, I am a calm and easy-going screen persona, nae given tae fall-oots, name-callings or ither Natalie Imbruglias. Despite rumours tae the contrary, I did not cause “a stooshie” efter a lang days filming at Logie Durno, fan I discovered that the pies on Feel Moira’s catering stall werenae het. True, they were like wee blocks of pastry covered ice, but I wisnae complaining. Quite frankly, the closer tae frozen they are, the less chunce there is of salmonella lowpin aboot.  Cheerio!