THE fall-out from last week’s story lasted right through to the weekend. The Glasgow Times duly printed those snaps of me having a few herbals with the swampies down at the Clyde walkway. The headings aren’t pretty. “Dope26” said the Daily Record, feeling rather pleased with itself. “Is this what you meant by going organic, Nicola?” said the smarty-pants Daily Mail. “The Grass is Always Greener at COP26 for senior Government adviser,” says The Herald (which is actually rather decent).

It was sweet of Ross in the FM’s Office to switch the news agenda for me, though and ensure that the arc of the story was stopped in its tracks.

“I’ve been nursing those snaps of Sir Alasdair at Tory Central Office for a little while,” he tells me. “Hopefully, it’ll take the heat off you.”

The pictures show Sir Alasdair and other unidentified personnel dressed only in their Masonic Aprons playing what looks like strip poker in a coke-fuelled partner-swapping frenzy. Euphemia, the wife of Sir Cameron Ross-Cameron, the Tory party donor and PPE manufacturer is cavorting about clad only in an ill-fitting Heart of Midlothian away top. It all looks absolutely glorious.


I’D doing prep for tomorrow’s press conference which will determine my future in the Scottish Government. On account of me being embedded here as a Boris Johnson spy it could also have a bearing on the entire future of the UK.

Nicola calls to re-assure me that if I can come up with a plausible explanation for my early morning encounter with the Bob Hope then I’ll be fine.

“Whenever someone’s in trouble like this I always invite the cabinet round for cocktails. We all then give our opinion on style and technical merit in the manner of Strictly and then give the verdict. Good Luck Rupert! I’ll be cheering you on.”


THE Scottish political and news hacks file into a meeting-room in the Crown Plaza Hotel, my pied-a-terre for the fortnight of COP26. Am I to be buried here too?

My God; but they’re a badly-dressed lot. There’s Hutcheon of the Record scruffy in Matalan which he always tries to pass off as Armani. And what’s McKenna doing here in his ridiculous-looking pinstripe coat? He usually tries to remain aloof from these sort of firing squads. And oh look … there’s Mandy at Holyrood magazine. She winks at me sweetly, but I know if I don’t pull this one off, she’ll broil me slowly in acid in next week’s column. She’s even wearing her special Crespo & Cavani scarf. At last month’s garden party she told me she always wears it for public executions.

I decide to go for broke with my opening statement which I hope will cool their jets.

“This has been a very stressful period for me, but I’d like to place it on the record that I’m opposed to all forms of drug-taking and consider it to be one of the greatest curses of modern Britain. I can swear irrefutably that I have never knowingly ingested any banned substances. Last week’s unfortunate incident on the banks of the River Clyde occurred owing to my other great commitment: reducing our carbon footprint.

“I’d been attempting to stop smoking and have some receipts from Boots the Chemist for nicotine patches to prove this. Sadly, in a vulnerable early morning moment I accepted what I’d been assured was a harmless herbal cigarette from a well-meaning stranger who said it had been produced by indigenous, artisan tobacco farmers on the steppes of Machu Picchu who’d brought it with them for COP26. I genuinely thought I was supporting sustainable agriculture methods in a developing nation as an alternative to the despoliation of the Amazon.

“These cigarettes, after all, have been sustaining the indigenous farmers of Latin America from the time of the Incas. I apologise unreservedly for my naïve and foolish behaviour.”

There is a pause when time seemed to stand still. And then … they all got to their feet and gave me a round of applause.

“That’s the best one yet,” says Tom Gordon at The Herald, his top three shirt buttons trying and failing, as usual, to find their intended holes.

Moments later it’s Nicola on the phone. “You were magnificent,” she says. “And you’ve become a symbol of hope for the carbon neutral generation. You are the poster boy for COP26. And I’m adding Sustainable Agriculture to your advisory portfolio. Bravo, young man!”


I TAKE a call from an unknown number. “This is the Peruvian Embassy in London. We’d like you to give our annual Cubillas Lecture in Lima next year on strengthening cultural ties between Scotland and Peru. We promise not to mention 1978.” I laugh nervously. What on earth does he mean?