I TAKE a call from my old Westminster boss, Sajid David. Having been brought in from the cold by Boris, he’s thoroughly enjoying the limelight of being back in the first division of politics as the new UK Health Secretary. It also means he gets to show off that curious gun-slinger cowboy stance he adopted. Our advisers at Channon & Worthington’s, the brand specialists, had come up with this bow-legged posture as a means of conveying can-do belligerence, but when Javid tried to do it he looked more Doc Doolittle than Doc Holliday.

“Rupert, old chap; how the devil are you? Are they treating you well in Jockoland? Have you tasted their haggis yet? Frightful concoction. I wore a kilt once for The Spectator’s summer fancy-dress bash. The bloody garment was last seen on Boris Johnson who thought it made a rather fetching poncho.”

Perhaps it’s my imagination but I’m beginning to feel very chippy and Scottish. And, not for the first time since I travelled north to begin my espionage internship, I begin to think I might be going native.

The purpose of Javid’s call soon becomes ridiculously clear: he wants to explore a radical new concept to improve working-class health outcomes: prescribing cigarettes on the NHS.

“It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds,” he says, “so, just hear me out. Basically, we’d roll this out as a pilot scheme for all non-smoking men over the age of 55 who have encountered stress-related heart problems. Let’s face it: if you start smoking at 55 it’s probably too late for you to die of smoking-related diseases. By then your goose has probably been cooked by lager and fish suppers.

“However, our government scientists have found that taking up smoking in late middle age can actually reduce stress and lead to a more chilled life experience. Thus, there would be fewer absences and more relaxed and care-free attitudes to work and leisure.

“Obviously, we’d advise smoking in moderation and to avoid lighting up when in an intoxicated state at home beside flammable materials. It’s all part of my drive to think the unthinkable and imagine the unimaginable.”

“So, why are you calling me,” I enquire.

“Well, because everyone knows the jocks are going down like skittles with bad hearts. Do you think Nicola Sturgeon would willing for Scotland to be a test case for the wheeze (if you’ll excuse the pun, what)? And also, with COP26 coming up tobacco plants are obviously a natural source of, well … tobacco and all bio-diverse and sustainable.”


THE Scottish Greens are facing a bit of a backlash over claims that they’ve sold their souls for a mess of potage, as it were. Basically, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater seem to have reneged on all their manifesto commitments to make Scotland a greener, carbon-neutral country. It’s all to do with wider policy frameworks, according to Lorna. But what does “wider policy framework” actually mean.

And so, as senior adviser in the department of sustainability and sustainable outcomes I’m asked to convene a Zoom meeting to help the Greens address these negative perceptions. There are two items on the agenda: to produce a wider policy framework into which the wider policy framework will fit. And to come up with three initiatives the Greens can adopt as their own without upsetting the SNP’s wider policy framework.


I’M hosting the Zoom meeting which includes several key advisors, B------ D----- from Charlotte Street Partners; Professor Hugh Pennington (who always gets invited to these things) and Poulsen and Edstrom, the great Scandinavian anti-whaling campaigners. Sadly, Harvie and Slater had to cry off as they were attending a drinks party thrown by BP to discuss the future of North Sea oil.

Yet, even if I do say so myself, our Zoom call went rather well. Here’s what we agreed:

To provide all visiting COP26 delegates with a carbon-neutral goodie bag made entirely of wood shavings from the Great Caledonian Forest. This would contain all manner of renewable, aromatic soap-bars made of capercaillie droppings; frozen seaweed burgers and the new book by social media influencer Heather Setterington-Clunie: Skunked! How To Grow Your Own Ethical Cannabis.

I congratulate myself on a job well done.


WE have a problem! Unknown to us, Ms Setterington-Clunie had been detained on Tuesday night on the Mexican-US border attempting to smuggle in a lorry-load of dodgy-looking, plant-based comestibles which turned out to be a shipment of Class A flora from Bogota.

I try to recall the press advisory I’d sent out the previous day. Alas, too late.


THE Sun’s splash is a shocker: “DOPES: Fury as Greens Back Vile Party Drug Celeb!”