I’VE been embedded as a Special Adviser at the heart of the Scottish Government on a top-secret assignment. My mission: to provide intelligence on the independence movement and to report to my handler, the mysterious master-spy “H” who serves as a minister in Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet.


I’VE received a very sharp and painful lesson about the present nature of Scottish politics. On my way into work I encounter a troupe of lady thespians on their way to a Fringe show. I’m feeling jaunty and greet them in jocund fashion: “Hope the show goes well, ladies and, er, break a leg and all that.” I give them a big thumbs-up. But, by jove, this seems to upset them. One of their number, an admittedly large lady with a false beard (which I later realise – to my chagrin – is a real one) is not best pleased at all, at all.

“How dare you mis-gender me,” she yells and invades my personal space very belligerently. “Geoff! Geoff! Geoff!” she yells at me. I’m rather taken aback and try to placate her by being charming. “I do beg your pardon, I had no idea. My name is Rupert; how very nice to meet you, Geoff.”

Still somewhat alarmed, I relate my troubling encounter to Paula at Health. “Oh, do keep up, Rupert. They weren’t actors at all, but transgender protesters on their way to a counter-demonstration at Holyrood over the proposed gender reforms. And are you sure it was ‘Geoff’ they were shouting, and not ‘Terf’”?


I HAVE a free morning and so repair to Boniek’s, the new Polish Deli at the foot of Leith Walk. I’m determined to get to grips with the gender debate and my mind wanders back to a another time and place in London when, slightly sparkled after one of The Spectator’s summer bacchanals, I’m swept off my feet by a beautiful woman who I encounter at Luis Figo’s nightclub in Soho. To my delight she proceeded to slip her tongue rather deliciously into my mouth. A very friendly gal, all round, I thought.

Turned out her name was Lola and, well … I’m not the world’s most masculine man, but I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man. And so, apparently, was Lola!

Yet the poor lass had been struggling with her gender for many years before making the big change. “Well, I jolly well hope it all works out for you, lovely Lola. Perhaps we could do this again.” And that’s the last I saw of her.

As I wander up past St Mary’s Cathedral I drop in and light a candle for the Lolas of the world. And may the Lord Jesus make his face to shine upon them all.


AS usual, I check the classified section of The Scotsman, and there buried among the small ads for used farming implements and maths tutors is my summons to meet “H” tomorrow evening at the New Street car park.


“H” IS already there when I arrive, stepping out from behind a pillar; his face still hidden by its shadow.

“We need to act fast, Rupert. Boris is beginning to lose the plot down south. There’s a story about to emerge that he’s been swapping late night billet-doux with one Olga Arshavin, one of Putin’s former lovers. Olga is now Number Three in the Federal Security Service and the PM has only gone and shared with her top secret plans for our new Vindictive Class of nuclear subs.

“Holy Mother of God,” I exclaim. “How on earth do these Navy chaps come by the names for our submarines?”

“I think you’re missing the point, Rupert. This is the biggest breach of national security since Margaret Thatcher’s bespoke underwear supplier was caught sewing tiny transmitters into the lining of her foundation garments on behalf of the Kremlin. We managed to cover that one up, but we won’t be so lucky this time around.”

“So, what do you need me to do?”


FOLLOWING last week’s revelation about Nicola Sturgeon’s invite to Minister Belanov from the Russian Government to be her guest at COP26 I decide to have some fun and spin another fiction.

I hastily compose an email to the Scottish editor of Her Majesty’s Daily Mail along the M8 in Glasgow, a fine chap and fellow Spurs supporter who once led me astray in a louche speakeasy called Blue Dog the last time I was in Glasgow.

Dear A---,

“I’m sending you a chain of emails. They appear to be from the First Minister’s private office to the Russian Consul in Edinburgh which suggest something more than a desire to share best practice in sustainable agricultural techniques, if you catch my drift.

“Do with it what you will. Keep buggering on.”