"Aye, and remember the look on that First Minister's face when it was announced that 84% had voted to abolish the Parliament," Bob said. "She was in a state of total shock."

"Serves them right, the bunch of windbags," piped up Donald. "The only thing they were good at was fiddling their expense accounts."

Just then Madge, their favourite waitress, arrived to clear away the cups. "Well, and how are the three ancient mariners today? Been sorting out the world's problems as usual?"

They enjoyed the banter with her and Bob, with his tongue firmly in his cheek, replied "No, actually we were debating about which one of us you would ask to be Captain of the motor yacht you bought from your bingo winnings last week."

"Motor yacht!" came the incredulous reply. "You must be joking. My man's already spent half of that Ј1,000 in the bookies. If I'm lucky I might have enough left to buy a wee rubber duck for my son to play with in the bath."

After this lighthearted interlude, Donald returned to more serious matters. "Here, what's going on with that Forth Road Bridge? Been closed since last year and no sign of anything happening yet."

It had indeed been closed after one of the worst disasters to hit Scotland for a long time. On a cold February night about 11pm, one of the suspension cables on the bridge broke, causing the carriageway to lurch and twist, plunging cars and lorries into the icy waters below.

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