Fiona Duff: Feel the benefit of trashy shows

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Even if you haven’t watched Benefits Street, you must have heard about this Channel 4 programme. For all the outrage, consideration and concern, there is, in the end, really only one reason we love a series such as this – it makes us feel good.

Do you ever worry about those couple of glasses of wine of an evening? Well, cop a load of Fungi who is on the lager before lunchtime. Distressed about your housekeeping? Just peek inside virtually any one of the houses along this street and you’ll start to think you have OCD. And do you ever think that it’s about time to get fitted for a new bra? Then check out the décolletage of White Dee – heck, that sagging outline even inspired a Twitter campaign for folk to club together and buy her some underpinnings.

There are also some people who are genuinely inspiring who live along James Turner Street (as the thoroughfare is actually called). Not all are out of work, out of hope and on the dole. There is one white-haired lady who has lived there for longer than many of the others and has tasked herself the impossible job of trying to keep the street clean and tidy. Without people like her there would probably be rats running around amongst the litter lying on the road. But I do worry a bit for her sanity as well – I mean, is it really a good idea for a street which has more empty beer cans on its window sills than pots filled with begonias to enter Britain in Bloom?

My husband isn’t a fan of these sort of shows, but he caught the programme for the first time on Monday. I’ve been nagging him for a while about the leaves lying around in our garden. Suddenly he saw the state of the patch behind the house of IT worker Ewan. “Look”, he said, “you should just be pleased that our garden isn’t home to a couple of clapped-out washing machines.” And indeed I am.

Watching Benefits Street has made me feel so much better about myself that I might even crack open a can of extra strong lager and shout at my neighbours.

Great fun, just not the rugby

The hospitality industry in Edinburgh seems to be booming. Every week I hear of another bar or restaurant opening, which is much better news than when they all seemed to be closing.

I’m not the most adventurous about trying out these new venues, although I keep meaning to go to Mark Greenaway’s new bistro in Stockbridge as I am a fan of his restaurant on Queen Street.

However, when it comes to a rugby weekend there really is only one place to be, and that’s at one of the oldest wine bars in town – Whighams.

I didn’t go to Murrayfield on Saturday but instead met some friends to watch in the warmth, with wine and free canapés. There was quite an atmosphere but about half an hour after the match was over, the place was busier than Piccadilly Circus.

Apparently there were quite a few people I know who were there, including my brother, but we never got the chance to meet. It’s great fun for a night, but thank goodness the Calcutta Cup is only here every second year.

Purr goodness’ sake, which is which?

Our cat, Rita the Mouse Eater, has just had some kittens. She seemed to have been pregnant forever – to the point that I actually thought she might have swallowed a small football.

Some friends had asked me what the dad looked like. Oddly enough, Rita didn’t get around to formally introducing me to the kittyfather.

To be honest, I’m not sure she got around to introducing herself, and on this basis there’s a strong chance that the dirty deed took place in Rose Street. Still, whoever he is I reckon he was rather lovely – three black, two silvery grey and all with white socks and a couple with white bibs.

I’ve had requests for both girls and boys but it isn’t always easy to sex a kitten. Rita herself was known as Floyd for a few weeks until we realised a certain appendage was missing and the events of the past few days have proved our second opinion correct.

However, the main problem in trying to ascertain which are male and which are female is that they are currently all living under my wardrobe, hiding away from the world. My dear Rita, I know that feeling.

Geography’s all a bit Greek for gorgeous George

Don’t you just love gorgeous George Clooney. Obviously looking at him is enough to give most women a fluttering around the heart.

In publicising his new film, The Monuments Men, he did a bit of research into the Elgin Marbles and decreed that in his opinion they should be returned to the Pantheon. Of course, he should have said Parthenon, which is actually in Athens.

Quite what the Greeks think of the idea of their ancient relics being sent to Rome has still to be announced.