There’s a tale Vlad the invader tells about himself. At the time, he was a young lad living with his family in one of the communal flats commonplace in the Moscow of these days.

The young Putin had chased a rat into the stairwell leaving the latter with no obvious exit. And he says that nothing is more dangerous than a cornered rat. Perhaps because that particular rodent is quite capable of irrational violence when his future is suddenly at stake.

It's a useful metaphor for the Russian leader himself, having bestrode the stage for an unpredecented 20 years, a reign prolonged by moving the democratic goalposts whilst suppressing dissent and throwing serious rivals in the pokey.

Few people remain persuaded of the party line that he mounted a “special military operation” to save Ukraine from the Nazis, least of all the burgeoning army of bereaved parents whose children returned from the front in boxes.

Nevertheless, this political rat is now cornered. By hubris, by erstwhile military allies questioning his capabilities, and by the dawning realisation that taking on most of the rest of the world is not really the smartest route to international acceptance.

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And, unlike the furry rodent in the stairwell, he has a stash of nuclear weapons he keeps threatening to deploy each time he suffers a battlefield reverse.

You might argue that nobody would be foolish enough to embark on a nuclear conflict when you and yours would almost certainly wind up casualties. But that would be to apply logical thought to a man whose primary motivation seems to be political survival rather than any other variety.

In short, he might well consider going down in what he’d characterise as a blaze of glory rather than ceding power to a usurper. After all, you can cease wondering about your earthly legacy if you’re six feet under. Trouble is, most of the rest of us would be too.

The thug who tried to take him on a few days back may have been bought off or vanquished or both. With a little luck, some more credible and creditable dissidents will finish the job before he finishes us all off.

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This week I should have been at our local village hall as part of an alleged consultation by CMAL into the future of our local ferry and whether their plans would render our iconic pier as vulnerable to decay as the Helensburgh variety.

Surprise, surprise it was postponed. This is a local consultation which has been promised endlessly and which always gets thrust on the back burner.

Of course, our wee ferry isn’t the lifeline variety about which Scottish islanders are up in arms. Not least the denizens of Uist whose seaborne link to mainland supplies was yanked to service another island.

A new report from Holyrood’s transport committee has urged the parliament to stop playing pass the parcel with the blame for the failure to maintain a functioning ferry fleet, much of which is in its maritime dotage.

It noted too that having eight cabinet secretaries for transport in a decade is hardly a recipe for continuity of strategic thinking. However I remain to be convinced by their argument that Transport Scotland should create Ferries Scotland to remedy this.

I’m not sure how we fix this serial shambles which dates back many administrations. However I’m pretty certain that setting up yet another

quango is not the best answer. We tried that with CMAL who now own the ferries plied by CalMac and the harbours used by them.

Like so many public bodies they tend to be peopled by folk who fail to talk about their plans with the end users, in whose interests they were allegedly set up.

We need more locals plumbed into decision making and fewer social engineers with laptops where their common sense ought to be located.

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These were giddy times. The days when we thought Scotland always qualified for the big tournaments.

For Euro 96 when Scotland were undone by a Gascoigne goal which, inexplicably, Gordon Brown flagged up as his favourite one. (The Tartan Army were not amused!)

Then the 1998 World Cup in France. Craig Brown, who died this week, was the boss man for both these squads, and a man for whom nobody had a bad word to say. He knew how to gee up players, and he knew how much it all meant to the travelling support, since he was also a fan.

The memories of that World Cup remain vivid. Trying to record a live radio show in the back of a pub filled with kilties who could be persuaded, after a beer or three, that they knew how to sing.

Then there was the opening game against the might of Brazil where, in traditional Scottish fashion, the South Americans’ winner came via a ball which stotted off our goalie into the chest of a Scottish defender and bounced into the back of the net.

Then, after the Norway game, standing on a platform watching a kilted warrior solemnly take off his viking helmet, popping it in his bag from which he drew out a fez, since Morocco was the next encounter. These guys are special, as indeed was Mr Brown as nobody called him.

He will be missed in Germany. If we get there.