SIR Tom Hunter has dropped in for his weekly chat with the First Minister. He pops his head in to see me too. He’s a decent soul, Sir Tom and the FM charitably lets him think he’s her silent partner in government. He tells me he wants to establish a leadership centre on Mars “if I can get Jeff and Sir Richard to help me out with a wee rocket”.

He wants to offer global leaders the chance to be trained in the Hunter Foundation blueprint for green success. “Perhaps even God, who lives in the vicinity, could pop in for a chat too without compromising his legendary invisibility,” he suggests.

“It will be good to exchange ideas with the creator of humankind in a way that will be mutually beneficial to us both. Maybe I could get Pope Francis to sort it out while he’s here for the COP26.”

I tell him the Pope has pulled out and suggest Jim Wallace, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. “I think they talk to God too,” I tell him, “but without the candles and incense.”


RODERICK Dhu, my keen-as-mustard colleague at the department of finance, solicits my view on what he considers to be a jolly good idea. “Why don’t we ask all local authorities to consider renting out their municipal buildings for the COP26,” he asks.

“Some people have been charging more than £100k for use of their homes. If Glasgow, North and South Lanarkshire, the Dunbartonshires and the Ayrshires all got their acts together they could rake in millions and ease pressure on their services.”

I gently remind him that politicians are not in the business of landlordism, except when they are renting out their second homes in the Highlands on the never-never.


LORNA Slater, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, is upset that no-one in Scotland seems to know who she is. She pops into my office and pours out her heart. She weeps as she tells me of spending an entire afternoon at Princes Square in Glasgow without anyone stopping to ask for a selfie.

I propose that we set up a sustainability village on George Square for the entirety of the COP26 with hundreds of bivouacs. Each night Lorna could become the forest queen welcoming her sprites to the festivities while dressed as Kukunochi, the ancient Japanese tree spirit. And then they could dance until dawn in a massive torchlit ceilidh.

That would certainly get her talked about and she departs lighter of foot and joyous of heart. I fear for her; I really do.


AS Special Adviser in the Department of Sustainability I’m now tasked with sorting through a pile of weird and wonderful demands and “riders” from the 25,000 delegates attending the COP26 from all over the world. Top of the pile is a long letter from Buckingham Palace. The Queen has opted to stay in Edinburgh for the COP26 and is seeking assurances that her entry through Glasgow is organised to her liking.

“Her Majesty requests that the many thousands of her Glaswegian subjects who will be expected to line the streets refrain from waving Union Jack flags as she doesn’t want this to be all about her. She asks that they simply bow their heads respectfully. Please provide a short list of designated stops where HM can carry out some meet-and-greets. Please also provide proof that those chosen to meet her have valid vaccine certificates.”

This is a nightmare. I now have to write to the Palace informing them that, as they rightly point out, this is not all about her Gracious Majesty; there will be no meet-and-greets and Glasgow’s streets will be devoid of people seeking to cheer her on her way. I also tell her that travelling along the M8 in her state horse-drawn carriage would not be a good look and that the Scottish people would wish her to spare the horses.


WE have a problem: The Herald has got hold of a leaked memo from the government’s business advisory group suggesting ways of “exploiting” the goodwill of COP26 delegations.

“Scotland has many wild and beautiful pieces of real estate that are sitting about doing nothing. Let’s compile a fancy video displaying them all and telling some of the cash-rich dictator types that they might wish to invest in our hills and glens. This would be a good way of attracting investment in a sustainable way and show the world that Scotland, quite literally, is open for business after the Covid.

“We’ve secured the bespoke services of Senderos & Vega, the Zurich-based clearing bank to deal with the more edgy transactions. Thus, warlords still working within ‘a wider democratic framework’ don’t need to worry about identification.”