John Gibson: The cardinal still chirpy with the gout

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Never a wild card, the Cardinal. Never down in the dumps either. Keith O’Brien, relying on a stick because of the gout which got him in bad time for Christmas, was typically chirpy addressing guests at his New Year reception at Saint Bennet’s.

Faces in the crowd circling the buffet included Alistair Darling, Norman Irons (for once minus his kilt, but wife Anne loves him in or out of it), Margo Macdonald, Eric Milligan, Tom and Anne Farmer, Helen McQuade and John Swinney,

Another hectic year ahead but His Eminence can handle the hustle, with his 75th birthday ahead, a relevant appointment with the Pope and, already chiselled in his diary, a St Patrick’s Day breakfast in Edinburgh. He was born on St Pat’s Day, as it happens.

Stray notes . .

Not so broody. The blue tit population will be drastically reduced this year. And that’s official. Is anybody interested? Does anybody care? Maybe Michelle Mone has the answer.

I agree wholeheartedly with the think tank that claims billions of pounds from Britain’s foreign aid budget should be donated to the Armed Forces. In appreciation. some foreign recipients kick us in the goolies. Think tanks a million.

Scientist, who talk twaddle generally, are saying that biscuits and ice cream can make you hungrier and so are linked to obesity. It’s the fructose, they claim.

Reader Kenny Darling reminds me that you know when a man opens a car door for a woman it means only two things. It’s either a new car or a new wife. Mr Darling’s a sweetheart.