A pipeful of poop and a wee swallie from a puddle

Amou Haji had avoided showering over fears of “getting sick”
Amou Haji had avoided showering over fears of “getting sick”

THIS changes everything. In the leisure centre’s harshly lit changing room, I looked in the mirror and thought: ‘Why do I bother?’

The thought continued haunting me later as I washed down a huge steak pie and oven chips, several meringues with cream, and a packet of dry roasted peanuts, with a small vat of gin. Where was it all going wrong?

Now I know. A man in Iran has died aged 94, after remaining unwashed for 67 years, eating only roadkill, drinking from puddles, and smoking pipes filled with animal manure. There’s a self-help bestseller in this.

Doctors pronounced Amou Haji in good health shortly before his death. Surprisingly, Amou never married but lived alone in a hole in the ground until locals built him a cinder block shock, in which he lived for many years.

I nearly said “lived happily”, but I’ve no idea of his state of mind. Being unmarried must have helped, but he had no telly or internet. How did he keep himself amused?

I spend much time sitting on a rock staring out to sea, so perhaps he did something similar in the desert or whatever. But that’s where the similarities end. He never suffered the stress of reorganising his sock drawer. Nor did he have to take an interest in the soul-sapping business of politics, which is just as well since Iran is traditionally ruled by right nutters.

I’m a martyr to indigestion and about 32 other irritating conditions. I shower most days, go to the gym and the sauna twice a week. And I’m a mess.

Amou never washed, and his coupon was caked with dirt. He was healthy, long-lived and perhaps even contented, a condition I’ve never known.

This changes everything. How do you cook roadkill? Do you grill it? Does it come with instructions? Where’s the bin? I’m going to shove a dozen bottles of scented shower gel into it. What’s manure? Is that like poop? I’ve got an old pipe somewhere. Perhaps I could start with Dark Shag and work my way up from there.

Journo and gent
I WAS saddened to read about the death of Fordyce Maxwell, a true gentleman of journalism. I remember how shy I was, being introduced to this Big Name on my first day at The Scotsman. But he couldn’t have been nicer or more humble. I became his stand-in on the Diary when he went on his hols. It was like being plucked from the five-a-side pitches at Portobello to stand in for Pep at Man City. Luckily, his readers were a merry and supportive bunch. But their relief at the Master’s return was tangible. If there’s a paper in Heaven – The Endless Times – they’ll surely have signed him up for a column on excellent terms: “All the ambrosia you can eat and a return to the top divisions for your beloved Berwick Rangers.” RIP, old buddy.

Jammies dodger
JUST because Britland is in decline does not mean you should let your personal standards slip.

You know me as an authority on trousers, but I’m also a renowned expert on pants. You’d expect me to comment, therefore, on reports that the lieges are buying long johns to keep cosy in the hoose while the heating is turned down.

Follow me closely here then. I have long johns. Two pairs. Primarily, they’re for wearing outdoors in winter. Occasionally, I’ll wear them in bed if I don’t feel an electric blanket and three hot water bottles is enough.

But to wear in the living room while watching television? Even with trousers? I am undecided.

Recently, I’ve been reading about how you should exhibit poise and decency in your house when there’s no one else around: dressing properly; not farting, swearing or talking to yourself. It’s a big ask, but I might try giving it a go.

Where do long johns fit into this? I cannot think of them as decent attire. It’s difficult to picture Cary Grant, doyen of poise, wearing long johns, even in bed.

Indeed, inspired by the frequent example of Cary in his films, I decided that, rather than slobbing into bed in my pants, I should acquire decent nightwear: pyjamas!

I already have, but never wear, a basic Markies pair in case I have to go to hospital or prison. But I wanted something swisher. On Amazon, I found satin ones for 20-odd quid but, soon, was eyeing up silk ones for £140.

Though inebriated, thankfully I did not press the “buy it now ya pished eejit” button, but heeded a tiny voice of sanity: “You’re getting out of your league, big nose. You need to sleep on this.”

So, I just went to bed in my pants as per. It was a bad start to my new quest for private poise and decency, and I cursed myself loudly for it before drifting off into a dream about Cary Grant in a pair of long johns, down the chippie ordering a smoked sausage supper. “Anything else, Mr Grant?” “Aye, gies wan o’ yir pickled eggs,” he says suavely, before his bottom blows a huge raspberry.

All right, it’s goodbye hello
Hello, I don’t know why you say hello or if you’re still saying it at all. A survey suggests saying hello is considered old hat by the lieges. Instead, “Hey” and “All right?” are preferred greetings. “What’s up?” is the chosen salutation of many folk on YouTube, and I always think: ‘Nothing’s up. What’s wrong with you?’

Jumping jalopies
Good news for your correspondent, should push come to shove when it comes to finding moolah to beat the financial crisis: the average asking price for 10-year-old cars has jumped by £2,000 to £6,176 since 2019. I’ve probably spent that much having mine repaired in recent years. Think before you buy, folks.

Brassica monkeys
What’s up? Here’s some surprising news: kids hate Brussels sprouts more than any other food. Kids? What about adults? Brussels sprouts are Satan’s testicles. Indeed, all the brassicas are evil: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower. How are they even legal? Kids don’t like avocado either. You know what? The kids are all right.

Street Food
Locals in Bristol are upset at plans to call a new street Navy Cut Road after the ciggies of that ilk. But why should our streets be named after local worthies? Why not fags? Imagine living at 10 Number Six Street. Or food: Dorito Avenue, Steak Bake Crescent, Lager Terrace. Names that mean something to us.

Diet to die for
Evidence from ancient people in England shows they were cannibals. The remains, from a cave in Somerset, are 10,000 years old. It’s thought the culinary outrage had some ritualistic significance and that drinking cups were made out of human skulls. Cannibalism was made illegal in England in 1992, though it remains prevalent in many rural areas.

Read more by Robert McNeil:

The fish supper isn't just something for tea – it's a Scottish cultural phenomenon

Markies, John Lewis and the decline and fall of civilisation