“IT is disappointing,” said Jeremy Corbyn, turning down his invitation to dine with President Donald Trump, “that the Prime Minister has again opted to kowtow to this US administration.”

‘Kowtow’ is one of the few Chinese words in wide usage in English – ketchup and typhoon are others. Its first syllable means knock and the second syllable means head – for 2,000 or more years, Chinese people have been bowing down and touching their heads on the floor in front of their superiors.

An emperor at his coronation got a “grand kowtow” from his new subjects: three kneelings and nine kowtowings.

The word entered English around 1800 when we tried to open up China to trade. In 1793, our envoy, Lord Cartney refused to kowtow to the Chinese emperor but went down on one knee before him, as he would a British ruler. From then, kowtow had negative connotations, whereas really it is about showing due respect or deference.

If Mr Trump accepts his invitation to Teesside, will it be kowtowing to him to offer him a parmo?

I WOKE up yesterday morning unable to walk. It feels like a recurrence of gout in my ankle.

Ironically, yesterday morning I was supposed to be walking the Norman Cornish trail around Spennymoor with a member of the artist’s family; this weekend, I’m supposed to be going on a Northumberland walking break, and on May 18, I’m supposed to be leading a guided walk for Darlington Arts Festival around historic arty hotspots (more in tomorrow’s Memories).

In the past, I’ve been accused of using some pretty lame methods to promote my events, but adding an element of jeopardy is a new low - it’ll be worth turning up at 4.30pm at the Green Tree in Skinnergate just to see the degree of my mobility.

Strangely, gout is one of the most popular topics I’ve touched upon in this column. It has certainly touched a raw nerve with fellow sufferers – no one else can understand the agony of a gout-riddled big toe under a gossamer-light bedsheet. The toe feels as if it has been squashed by a fat rhinoceros then

inflated with an industrial air pump until the skin is stretched as tight as a drum upon which the heartbeat is striking rhythmically with a hammer.

My first bout of gout was caused by an autumnal apple glut at the bottom of the garden. The windfalls fell at once; I juiced them all up and binge-drunk the fresh, health-giving, unadulterated juice, which immediately formed into uric crystals and settled inside my toe joint.

What has triggered this bout? My wife reckons it is my increased chocolate consumption over Easter in which I have tried to prevent the children becoming obese by tenderly removing temptation from their paths.

I reckon it is my wife’s homemade mushroom soup – on Darlington market on Monday she was offered a bargain four punnets of sell-by fungi for 50p. She bought £1’s worth and put them in the fridge beside the two trays of enormous field mushrooms that had been on offer the day before in the supermarket.

When I complained that there were so many mushrooms in the fridge that there wasn’t much room for anything else, she blattered them into the thickest, dirtiest, greyest soup that she’s been force-feeding me ever since.

I now have to recover in time to walk my own walk.