Don’t panic, but remember to hang on to your wellingtons

PANIC is gripping everyone. The economy is in shreds; our parliament is being infiltrated by Russian spies, and there are leaks everywhere, particularly in Bernera and Uig.
Scottish Water, or Wicked Leaks, as the company is now known on the west side of Lewis, has just turned off supplies between Garynahine and Carloway. Just because it can. At least that was what the jungle drums were beating out around Tolsta Chaolais yesterday.

You can’t blame people for being just a tad sceptical about what they are told. So often, people find out that they may have been ever-so-slightly misled. Whether it is weapons of mass destruction, the tartan tax or the real reasons behind certain licensing board decisions, there is a perception that some people could have been more, er, straightforward.

We shouldn’t panic. It doesn’t help. It’s not good for us. Books on what to do when you feel panic-stricken are selling well, but there is loads of advice out there without having to fork out.

Now there’s panic buying. Shops are selling out of wellington boots and spuds all over the country, despite the forecast that the next few days will be better.

Not sure about the wellies, but the spuds flying off the shelves has nothing to do with the freeze. It’s because of that American guy who ate nothing but 20 tatties a day for two months, to show how good they are for us. Chris Voigt boiled them, marinated them, mashed them and sautéed them. His wife made him potato ice cream, although he says it wasn’t a success. Really? Why was that, then?

Voigt, by happy coincidence the boss of the Washington State Potato Commission, claims he lost a stone and a half, his cholesterol has dropped and he has never felt better – which is why I am now trying it myself.

Here’s a tip if you want to try: Potatoes are a bit bland after you’ve had six, but don’t panic. I’ve found a way round that. The remaining 14 are easier to get down if you add a wee dod of curry sauce, cheese sauce or just fry them with a teensy-weensy haddock, or perhaps a wee breast of chicken.

I’m a nutritionist and I don’t know it.

Mind you, I fear there are many things I don’t know. It must be unsettling for anyone to discover that there is a great deal about the person they live with that they didn’t have a clue about. That would make anyone panic. Tell me about it.

Mrs X skipped into the house the other evening with a rosy glow on her cheeks. Had she been frolicking in the snow?

Nah, she insisted. She had only been in town for a few things and she bumped into someone called Gordon Macrae. The encounter seemed to cheer her up no end.

My radar picked up something. She had gone out all grumpy, shouting that if I left any more dirty cups lying around she was going to smash them all and leave the broken handles in my underpants. She was in a right howler.

Then she was back full of the joys and saying how nice it was to bump into this Macrae fellow.

Hmm. So what was she talking to this Macrae guy about? Who is he? Did they go for a coffee? Who else was there?

I’m not paranoid or anything, you understand, just utterly suspicious of every male this side of the Minch and riven with mind-shattering jealousy. Apart from that, I’m completely well-balanced.

Sensing my wariness, she immediately switched to the defensive. What was the point of telling me anything? I would take it the wrong way. What I failed to understand was that the two of them had history together and . . .

I had heard enough. You had what together? Since when? How come you’re telling me this now? Where is he now?

First thing in the morning, I decided, I was storming up to Stornoway primary, where he works, to sort out this Lochie interloper once and for all.

Right, Mr so-called Macrae, I will say to him. Forget that nonsense about how many trips will it take two men with wheelbarrows to move a ton of sand if they take a hundredweight each time. Here’s one for you: how many times will I clobber you over the head with a frozen black pudding before you agree to keep away from my wife?

She wasn’t happy.

“You will not. If only you listened to me sometimes. I was just going to say that Gordon and I had more than just history together,” herself declared. Bold as brass.

That’s it. Time to panic. A sordid, stomach-churning confession was obviously coming. We were heading for the divorce court to decide who was getting what.

Right, I figured, I’m keeping the Vauxhall Vectra, the painting of the beach at Tobson and maybe our daughter – if she would just grow up and get a job to support her old man. And I am keeping the wellies. I am sure I bought them, but they appear to have become unisex and everyone in this house wears them. I’m bagging them. The way this country is going, they will be worth thousands soon.

I am prepared to be considerate. My soon-to-be ex, Mrs X, can hold on to her Charley Pride LPs. Very fair of me, considering she hurled a jibe in my direction, one night after having a second dry sherry, insinuating that Pride was the only man in the known universe she would ever leave me for. Huh.

“If you had let me finish,” I heard my exasperated missus interject, “I would have told you that Gordon and I had not just history together, but geography and maths, too. We were in the same class. That’s all.”

Eew, I felt that high.

Had history together? Of course. Why on earth did I panic?

I’m still hiding the wellies, though.

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