John Gibson: Let’s hear it for a grand old Dinger

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I’m standing stiffly to attention out of respect for a fellow ex-airman. Man in a million. Jackie “Dinger” Bell celebrated his 99th birthday last weekend.

He was one of Edinburgh’s 603 Squadron’s ground crew and the Squadron held a birthday party for him at their Learmonth Terrace headquarters.

Group Captain Bob Kemp, President of the Squadron Association, presented Dinger with a model Wellington bomber. Dinger was an airframe fitter, working on Wellingtons for much of the war then, at Grangemouth, specialised in Spitfires flown by Polish pilots.

Dinger, born in 1912 in the Canongate opposite the kirk, had his praises well and truly sung by Lord James Douglas Hamilton, 603’s honorary Air Commodore. I’d have had a march-past for the old boy

Now we Ken

Fantastically fertile, Ken Livingstone reportedly is a newt lover. That’s as may be but talking of newt’s liver, as we weren’t, Ken, it might be said in jest, is an offal lover.

Five children from two marriages, a long-term relationship and donated his sperm to two female friends. Nothing if not complicated.

Alas, the one grand title I’ve aspired to – Barren John Gibson. Reminding me that eminent columnist AA Gill (rumoured we shared the same vocabulary coach in our youth) has never forgotten that in one of his restaurant reviews, no thanks to a copytaker, “minute sliver” appeared as “my newt’s liver”.

Nobody carried the can among the Evening News copy-taking girls when, memorably, Ayrton Senna tumbled off the page as Ayr toon centre. Hilarious days that won’t come back.

Afterwords . .

. . . Just when you thought Lulu was way out on her own for my “Right Wee Scunner” accolade, up comes a serious rival. Nicola Sturgeon gets the nomination. It has to be that beguiling smile. Cheeky. And she’s running Scotland when Alex’s off duty. Frightening.