Tam Cowan: While my Cattarh Gently Seeps was one of Fab Four's big nicotine hits

Forget June 24, 1314, when we defeated the English at Bannockburn and I can’t even consider November 24, 1942, when the funniest man to walk this planet – Billy Connolly – was born.

Nah, I reckon the greatest ever day in Scotland’s history was March 26, 2006, when we introduced the public smoking ban.

In fact, when the law was introduced, I almost celebrated the news by lighting up a big, fat cigar.

And I HATE smoking.

I grew up in a house where my mum smoked like a lum. Included in the personal bits ’n’ bobs we placed in her coffin at the funeral last December was a 20-pack of Lambert & Butler.

Sure, I did get a lump in my throat at the wake when my wee lassie said: “I hope heaven’s got a smoking section for Granny Isa…” But I STILL hate smoking.

My legendary Kirkcaldy correspondent Wee Jimmy has puffed away for 60 years and refuses to give any health warnings the time of day.

“Listen,” he once told me, “I’ve smoked since I was 12 and there’s nothin’ wrang wi’ ma lung…”

It was also the wee man who insisted it’s dead easy to give up the fags. “I’ve done it hunners of times…”

Anyway, ladies and gents, the only reason I mention this subject is that I was tickled pink by the rather “woke” warning at the start of the brilliant three-part Beatles documentary Get Back on the Disney Plus channel.

Viewers are advised the programmes contain explicit language, mature themes and… SMOKING!

A wee bit OTT, surely, considering John, Paul, George and Ringo were all self-confessed drug users?

Wonder how many lifelong fans of The Fab Four would have been shocked and offended to tune in and see one of the boys having a fly drag on an Embassy Regal?

Of course, a few of The Beatles’ greatest hits were all about smoking.

Who can forget Twist and Snout, Get Baccy and While My Catarrh Gently Seeps?

And if you think this is just an excuse to bombard readers with other smoking-related songs, well, you’re dead right.

Recorded by George Benson & Hedges, The Bay City Roll-Ups, Puff Daddy, Ciggy Pop, Sonny & Cheroot and Patsy Kensitas, take a deep breath and inhale this little lot…

The First Silk Cut Is The Deepest, That’s Why I’m Wheezy, Wheezy Like Sunday Morning, I Can’t Get No Full-Strength Capstan, I’m Getting Scented Menthol Over You, I Left My Lungs In San Francisco, How Much Is That Dog-End In The Window, I Heard It Through The Woodbine, Take My Breath Away, In The Year 20 Fags 20 Fags, Smells Like Nicotine Spirit, The Blue Ridge Mountains Of Golden Virginia, The Marlboro Lights Of Aberdeen, His Latest Phlegm and – not forgetting – Rick Ashtray with Never Gonna Give You Up.

Och, stop groaning at the back. It’s nearly Christmas.

Sanjeev Kholi arrives for the Pride of Scotland awards at Hopetoun House in South Queensferry

There’s nothing wrong with a good pun (although they’re even better, of course, if they’re rotten) and my old pal Sanjeev Kohli – aka Navid from Still Game – is a fine exponent of the art.

On Twitter this week, he treated us to three crackers.

-I wouldn’t say I was angry about my Peruvian ancestry. Incandescent is the word I’d use.

-Need your motor to disappear? Simply sprinkle it with caraway seeds.

-At my nativity play, none of the kids were allowed to be animals. We all had to be trees or hills. Apparently, children were meant to be scene and not herd…

OK, you’re allowed to groan at that one.

Tell you who else enjoys a good/bad pun – my colleagues at our sister paper the Sunday Mail.

I mean, what about last week’s front page splash – the Elvis impersonator who took a £5000 Covid grant, despite having a full-time job as a police officer.

Own up, guys, that story was just an excuse to stink the place out with appropriate puns about The King!

The headline was Cop In A Trap.

The sub-heading was A Little Less Compensation.

But my favourite was in the editorial – the guilty party was urged to “return the cheque to sender”…


Getting a Brazilian

Happy birthday to my big pal – and PLZ Soccer colleague – Alan Rough.

The legendary Scotland goalkeeper was 70 last Thursday and his wife Maggie organised a surprise party at Oran Mor in Glasgow that was bursting with top football celebrities.

But if you think that was pretty special, I’m reliably informed November 25 was actually declared a national holiday in Peru, Iran and Brazil.

Isn’t that lovely?

Roasted or toasted?

Say “cheese”

Memo to anyone seeking a quiet life: do NOT put a pic like this one on your Instagram page and

ask your followers what it’s called. I nearly sparked WW3 yesterday.

Don’t know why, to be honest. It’s not even up for debate.

It’s ROASTED cheese, innit?

This polar bear was minted..

It’s been revealed that nearly half of pet owners leave the central heating on for their animals.

That’ll probably explain why I was reported to the RSPCA.

I’m really gonna miss Peter the polar bear…

Tell you who REALLY got in trouble recently – the Suffolk man who, according to reports, had sex with 400 tractors!

But I understand he was only thrown in jail after admitting a similar offence with a combine harvester.

He’s due to be bailed tomorrow…

PS. When he switched to combine harvesters, did that make him an ex-tractor fan???

PPS. My pal Ian the plumber says his dentist was doing half-price teeth-cleaning last weekend.

A special deal for Plaque Friday.

PPPS. At the Braehead shopping centre in Glasgow last Friday, my mate saw a woman crying her eyes out. The poor soul had lost all the money she’d saved up for Christmas presents, so he gave her £20.

“Wouldn’t normally do something like that,” he said, “but I’d just found 500 quid in the car-park.”

What’s in a name?

Amanda Holden is in the swim

Fifty next February – and looking fabulous – Amanda Holden says she’s called Mandy Button by her pals as, just like film character Benjamin Button, she appears to be ageing in reverse.

That’s pretty decent, but it doesn’t beat my two all-time favourite nicknames.

What about the Glasgow drug dealer known as Sellagram Tam?

And the wee school caretaker from Coatbridge – all 4’5” of him-who the kids called Janny de Vito?

Say what you want about Storm Arwen, but it DID keep I’m A Celeb off the telly for three nights.

Tell you what else I couldn’t bring myself to watch this week – on satellite channel That’s TV Xmas (presumably as the name suggests, packed with programmes full of festive cheer) Monday night’s “highlights” included a documentary called – wait for it – Whitney Houston: Autopsy.

Oh Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All The Way…

PS. Any chance CBeebies could show something called Santa Claus: Autopsy – and save us all a bloody fortune?

Good luck Adam

Good luck to 20-year-old Adam Black from Dunblane at the World Rubik’s Cube Championships later this month.

Believe it or not, he can solve the famous puzzle in less than FIVE SECONDS!

Me? Well, speaking as someone with chronic colour blindness, I’d be even slower than Abu Hamza.

My Fave photos of the week

VAR is introduced in the Sunday amateur leagues.

Belly close

Delicately spiced crumbly gingerbread… soft, leather-black, fondant icing…. this isn’t just Christmas food, this is S&M Christmas food.

M&S or S&M?

Rare picture of a TV remote control from the 70s/80s.

An old TV remote

Hands up if you think Boris Johnson could tell the difference between these two wines?

Hands up which one you like more

When you can’t let the cat go out in case

Feline creepy

Text jokes of the week

– Can’t believe people are getting upset by a Norwegian TV advert featuring a gay Santa. That’s Claustrophobic.

– You know it’s suddenly gone cold when you trip over a dog turd instead of stepping in it.

– As one door closes, another one opens. As one door closes, another one opens. As one door closes, another one opens. As one door closes, another door opens. Yep, that was me on day one of the chocolate advent calendar.

– I accidentally dropped a handful of Viagra tablets on there floor after taking one. For the next half-hour, I was crawling about on all fives trying to find them.

– Walking past the YMCA yesterday, I saw a teenage boy stroking a duck. I said: “Young man, there’s no need to feel down…”

– Took my car to the garage last week as it was making a horrible noise. The mechanic had a look and advised me to remove the Justin Bieber CD.

– Do you think Hank Marvin gets sick of being offered a sandwich every time he introduces himself?

– Just heard there’s a nudists’ convention happening at the weekend. I might go if I’ve got nothing on.

– Music is like sweeties – best enjoyed when you throw away the rappers.

– My boss arrived at work yesterday in a brand new Lamborghini. “Wow!” I said. “What an amazing car!” And he replied: “Listen, if you work really hard, put all the hours in and strive for excellence, I’ll get another one next year…”

Something old

Discovered in a Polish cave, a 41,000-year-old pendant made from mammoth bone is believed to be the earliest example of jewellery.

Pah! What about Joan Collins’ first wedding ring?

Thought for the Week: Isn’t it really sad that dragons can never blow out their birthday candles?

And finally

Apologies to the “offended” reader who got in touch on the back of last week’s column in which I suggested the Queen’s Christmas speech this year will probably be presented by Alex Scott.

Sorry, I got it wrong.

Now that I’ve had time to reflect on it, I think it’ll actually be Bradley Walsh.


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