Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 359

Issue # 359                                                       Week ending 30th   July 2016

Confusion Caused by Mary Berry in Aisles of Lewis by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Having run out of pasta for the dinner, I jumped in the car and went stooring off to the supermarket. Rushing past old Mrs Ferguson at the door of the supermarket, I shouted: “I can’t stop, Mrs F. Hope you’re well” denying her the chance to tell me again about the side-effects of that medicine given to her by a doctor who she maintains is much too young to diagnose women’s problems.

I gallop over to the last known resting place of the linguine and tagliatelle and there it is - gone. In past times, that was the pasta shelf and I passed it by. No pasta. Not passive about pasta, I paused. Nowhere in the panorama of bottles, cans and jars was there a single tube of penne. Other shocked shoppers stopped and gawped too. A ditsy blonde blone from Branahuie said: “It’s awful. I’ve just tweeted: “No spaghetti. My life is over. Sad face. Hashtag - needcarbs”.”

Supermarkets shift stuff from time to time to give promising management talent something to do at slack times. That way they will get to use their emerging customer service skills dealing with fuming customers wanting to know where they’ve hidden the Madras curry sauce jars and the toilet tissue. Meanwhile, us unsuspecting customers are all left bewildered and hacked off.

The bad news is that it’s going to get worse. Yep, I have just been reading that the competition between the big superstores is stepping up a gear and the new strategy is to move stuff around even more than before to try and find out what works - to make it easier for the customer. Er, really?

They say it is because if, for instance, you are shopping to make spag bol tonight, you go to the pasta and also in your line of vision will be mince, canned tomatoes, parmesan and peppercorns. It is claimed to make it a better shopping experience for you and that customers will be in and out in no time. Nonsense. Balderdash even. Everyone knows that it is all about selling us more and more.

Because of this new line-of-sight product placement strategy, we will end up buying herbs and basil leaves and celery and stock cubes and oregano and cherry tomatoes and other stuff we had no intention of putting in our bol when we went in. And I almost forgot the red wine and the streaky bacon and the carrots and the garlic. And that expensive olive oil with the extra virgins.

The document I have seen says that they will also gear up to serve a new type of customer - the Bake-Offs. These are fans of that TV baking competition so if old-timer confectioner Mary Berry and her sidekick Paul Hollywood pontificate about some Exquisite Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Topping then orders go out for carrots and Italian soft cheese to be rushed to stores and laid out ready for the saliva glands to make passing them by impossible.

“Would you like a 5p plastic bag for that, sir?” Oh no, a ghraidh. It’s only a few things for tonight’s bolognese. Just get me 20 trolleys and phone Hebrides Haulage for a lorry to meet me at the door.

The point of all this is to explain to old Mrs Ferguson why I could not stop and yarn to her about her medicines, her medical procedures, her worries about all these young doctors here on the Isle of Lewis and, of course, her new smartphone. Now in her late-70s, she is mastering the joy of texts, updates from Facebook and the odd phone call.

She has struggled with the textual abbreviations that people use - like the Branahuie bimbo’s OMG and LOL. Mrs F would never use these phrases anyway. They are just a hindrance. So what has she done? She has invented her own. I got a text from her on Saturday saying "Lost by whisky". Then another: “Duh. I in tesco. FWIW.”  I rang to ask her about that last one. It is Forgot Where I Was. Of course it is.

As I thought about it afterwards, I giggled and I texted Mrs F to say LMAO. I got back LMDO. What? That is her pensioner textspeak for Laughing My Dentures Out. I was in kinks. Then her next text worried me. It just said WTF. She doesn’t normally use crude language so I phoned her immediately to find out what was wrong. Mrs F insisted she was fine. I said: “But you texted me WTF.”

She replied: “Oh that. That is because I am still laughing at forgetting where I was and I wet the floor.”

Brexit 'Must Not Trade Away UK Fishing Rights'
Scottish fishermen have warned that they must not be regarded as "expendable" again as Brexit negotiators seek to maintain the UK's trade and economic ties with Europe.  The Scottish Fishermen's Federation said Brexit presents "a unique opportunity for the UK to re-establish itself as major fishing nation".  Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, described EU membership as "a bad mistake" which brought "serious disadvantage for our fishing industry and coastal communities".  He recalled how Scottish fishermen were "regarded as expendable" in negotiations to enter the European Community in the early 1970s, according to UK Government files unsealed decades later.  Mr Armstrong said fishermen were "seriously damaged in the cause of EU entry" and "must not be damaged again in the cause of EU exit".  Prime Minister Theresa May has stressed that the UK may be leaving the EU but it is "not leaving Europe" and said she is keen to maintain trade and economic links. But European Council president Donald Tusk has warned there will be "no single market a la carte" and Britain would have to accept the four pillars of free movement of people, labour, capital and goods if it wants access.  Holyrood's European and External Affairs Committee is holding emergency sessions during parliament recess to discuss the implications to Scotland of Brexit.  In a submission ahead of his appearance on Thursday, Mr Armstrong said: "The Scottish fishing sector is delighted and full of hope that Brexit will restore to the UK the normal rights and responsibilities for fishing enjoyed by all coastal states in their own sea space.  A glance at the history will illustrate why this is the right thing to do.  It is no small thing and will rectify an initial bad mistake that evolved into a situation of serious disadvantage for our fishing industry and coastal communities.  Regarding the history, the UK along with Ireland and Denmark joined in 1973 what was then the European Economic Community, taking the membership count from six to nine. In the give-and-take negotiation over joining conditions, access to fishing was made collective with UK fishing famously noted by the government of the day as 'expendable'."  He said Brexit means "that normal rights and responsibilities for fishing will be restored, unless they are traded away again". An SFF action plan states: "We accept that outcomes will depend on international negotiation and regional cooperation, and the changes we seek are based on partnership rather than isolation.  That said, we believe that the UK fishing industry has a strong negotiating hand and can secure significant improvements in fishing opportunities and the management of our fisheries.  Clearly, the continuing implementation of the reformed CFP will add a level of complexity to an already convoluted and politically charged exit process.  Taken together, these factors could encourage the UK to agree a 'conciliatory' exit settlement on fisheries, with the aim of securing concessions elsewhere.  This form of double jeopardy would be unacceptable.  Having been seriously damaged in the cause of EU entry, the fishing industry must not be damaged again in the cause of EU exit"

Airline Suspends Pilots Charged with Being Drunk on Flight At Glasgow Airport
Two Canadian pilots held in custody after being charged with being drunk as they prepared to fly a passenger jet from Scotland to Toronto have been suspended by their airline. Jean-Francois Perreault, 39, and Imran Zafar Syed, 37, were arrested before they were due to take off on the Air Transat flight from Glasgow Airport on Monday afternoon.  They were remanded in custody after a private appearance at Paisley Sheriff Court on Tuesday, where they were charged with being under the influence of alcohol and threatening and abusive behaviour.  Air Transat said it is carrying out its own internal investigation and has suspended the pilots.  A statement said: "The issue of the July 18 arrest of two Air Transat pilots in Glasgow is a complex one and because the matter is the subject of judicial proceedings in Scotland the airline will not comment at this point. Both pilots, who are personally facing charges, have received an administrative suspension for the duration of the carrier's internal investigation."  The delayed Airbus flight to Toronto set almost 24 hours late, with about 250 passengers having spent Monday night at nearby hotels.  Air Transat president Jean-Francois Lemay also confirmed passengers will be compensated "pursuant to the applicable European regulations".  That means passengers are entitled to just over £500 under EU rules because of the distance of the flight and length of the delay.  Mr Lemay said: "Canadian and European rules and regulations that we are subject to regarding alcohol consumption are very strict. Our own internal rules are even more stringent and we do not tolerate any failure to comply.  We have always taken, and we will continue to take, all necessary measures to ensure those rules are followed to the letter and we are counting on the flawless co-operation of all our personnel in that respect."

Government Consent for Highland Wind Farm Lawful, Judges Rule

The Scottish Government's decision to grant consent for a 67-turbine wind farm was lawful, judges have ruled.  Scottish ministers and SSE have won an appeal against an earlier ruling that the approval of Stronelairg wind farm in the Highlands was "defective".  The John Muir Trust opposed the granting of consent in June 2014 for SSE's development, located south-east of Fort Augustus in the Great Glen.  The conservation charity launched a legal challenge on the basis it would have an unacceptable impact on wild land.  The charity's petition for judicial review was successful in overturning consent in December last year, but that judgment was appealed by the Scottish Government and SSE during a hearing before three judges at the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh in May. In the latest decision, Lord Carloway concluded the granting of consent for Stronelairg was lawful. Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: " This project will create jobs and generate important economic benefits for the Highlands and Islands economy. The wind farm is designed to produce electricity equivalent to the needs of more than 100,000 homes - a vital boost at a time where Scotland, the UK and Europe all need to ensure a secure energy supply for the future. It will also produce a further boost to Scotland's work in leading international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Sets Out Her Five Brexit Demands for Scotland That May Determine Possibility of Second Independence Referendum
Nicola Sturgeon set out five key Brexit tests that could determine whether Scotland faces a second independence referendum within the next two years.  The First Minister will use a major speech in Edinburgh to list the "Scottish interests" she believes must be preserved as the UK withdraws from the Brussels bloc.  They include the need to ensure "Scotland's voice is heard and our wishes respected" - a reference to the referendum on June 23 when a majority of Scots voted to remain part of the EU.  With the UK Westminster Government having already having poured cold water on the idea of a Brexit deal that would allow Scotland to remain in the EU, Ms Sturgeon's words will be seen as bringing a re-run of the 2014 vote a step closer.  The First Minister has previously said "remain means remains" and insists independence must be an option for preserving Scotland's relationship with the EU. She believes a second referendum is "highly likely" following Brexit, provided support for independence remains high.  Her key tests will be set out in a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank.  It comes after Russell Gunson, the head of IPPR Scotland, said Unionists should take the lead in finding options to maintain the Scotland's relationship with the EU, as a solution could require reform of the whole of the UK.  In other developments yesterday, oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood urged Ms Sturgeon not to call a second independence referendum and Alan Cumming, the actor and Yes campaigner, caused an outcry when he blamed Brexit on "stupid English people".  In her speech - titled Scotland's future in the EU - Ms Sturgeon will reflect on the campaign and the reasons behind the result.  She will also discuss the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, in which the Scottish Government had been promised a role.  The First Minister is expected to say: "I am determined that we find or create the options that best preserve the five key interests that depend on our relationship with the EU.  Our democratic interests - the need to make sure Scotland’s voice is heard and our wishes respected.  Our economic interests - safeguarding free movement of labour, access to a single market of 500 million people and the funding that our farmers and universities depend on.  Our interests in social protection - ensuring the continued protection of workers’ and wider human rights.  Our interest in solidarity - the ability of independent nations to come together for the common good of all our citizens, to tackle crime and terrorism and deal with global challenges like climate change. And our interest in having influence - making sure that we don't just have to abide by the rules of the single market but also have a say in shaping them."  Ms Sturgeon will promise to "explore every avenue and every option" for meeting the five tests.

Scotland's 'First Great Law Book' Returns to University After Absence of Almost 500 Years
A rare legal manuscript, described as 'Scotland's first great law book' and once owned by the poet Alexander Hume, has been acquired by the country's oldest university.  The 450 year old manuscript, written entirely in Lowland Scots, has returned to St Andrews University after more than four centuries where it will be used for teaching and research.  Known as the ‘Marchmont Manuscript' contains Regiam Majestatem, a collection of Scottish statutes and legal texts.  St Andrews already holds a copy of the manuscript in Latin and Scots, with the new addition allowing scholars to compare the two editions.  Professor John Hudson, a legal history expert at the university’s School of History, said: “Regiam Majestatem is Scotland’s first great law book. "Its significance is both legal and ideological. To add a vernacular manuscript of the work to the Latin one which the University already owns is therefore a very pleasing achievement for Scotland’s oldest university."  Dating from 1548, it was gifted to Hume by his maternal uncle, Alexander Hume of Manderston, in 1582.  Signed and dated by Robert Ewyn on 18 October 1548, the collection bears the heraldic bookplate of Patrick Hume, first Earl of Marchmont and Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, 1702.  The poet and manuscript’s original owner, Alexander Hume, was a student at St Andrews and attended St Mary’s College, graduating with a Batchelor of Arts in 1574.  Book history specialist Dr Margaret Connolly, of the university’s School of English, said: “This sixteenth-century manuscript is about to enter a new phase of its working life.  When it enters the library’s special collections it will be carefully looked after, but it will also once again be read by students under close supervision because we will use this manuscript in the teaching of early modern handwriting to postgraduate students in the Schools of English and History.  The acquisition of a second copy of Regiam Majestatem in the Marchmont Manuscript now provides interesting opportunities for comparisons on many levels, both between the two physical manuscripts in terms of their script, format and layout, and also between their textual contents, since every handwritten copy of a text is unique.”  The purchase, made at Bonhams in Edinburgh, was made possible through funding from the Friends of the National Libraries and two private donations.

Golden Eagles: Experts Hope to Save Birds From Extinction in the South of Scotland
Experts are hoping to save the Golden Eagle from extinction in the south of Scotland after receiving a £1 million boost to breeding projects.  The iconic species is associated with the Highlands and Islands, but two to four pairs are through to be clinging on in the south of the country. However they have limited nesting success.  Just across the border it was reported in the spring that England’s only resident golden eagle was likely to have died after failing to appear.  The bird, which had been a resident at Riggindale near Haweswater, Cumbria, since 2001, had not seen by RSPB staff since last November, and would normally have been spotted months ago, building a nest and displaying to attract a mate.  North of the border the lottery-backed scheme aims to increase numbers up to 16 pairs in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, with the potential to release eagle chicks into the wild in the years ahead.  CCTV ‘eagle cams’ will give the public an opportunity to keep an eagle eye on the chicks as they grow.  The South of Scotland Golden Eagle project has been awarded a ‘first round pass’ of £1,150,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) including a development grant of £50,900.  Work is planned to examine how food supplies could be improved and nest sites made secure. The project will identify additional habitat management measures that may be needed, and if necessary, consider prospects for bringing eaglets into the area for release to reinforce the existing population. Lucy Casot, Head of HLF in Scotland, said: “HLF is delighted to give its initial support to a project which will help the return of this marvellous bird of prey to the skies of the south of Scotland.  The HLF also awarded a grant: £4,461,800 the Seven Lochs Partnership to help create Scotland’s largest urban nature park spanning the Glasgow City and North Lanarkshire boundary. The Coighach & Assynt Living Landscapes Partnership gets £2.9m to restore parts of the landscape, including regenerating and reconnecting the remaining native woodland, in that area of north west Scotland.  The River Forth Fisheries Trust has been awarded a grant of £1,658,700 encourage local residents to take stewardship of the Almond and Avon rivers, improving the natural heritage for both the wildlife and community use.

Fishing Boat That Sank in North Sea Was Just Seven-foot From Major Gas Pipeline
A fishing boat sank within 7ft of a major gas pipeline off Shetland after its crew failed to hear a flood alarm, despite it going off for up to an hour. The Lerwick-registered creel boat Majestic foundered nearly six miles off Yell on January 21 this year after a flood in its engine room.  British Petroleum (BP) was forced to lay sandbags on the sea floor to prevent the wreck from toppling onto their pipeline, which supplies gas to rigs in the Magnus Field in the North Sea, off the Point of Fethaland.  The crew of the 52ft potter – two brothers from Shetland – escaped into a life-raft shortly after discovering the flood and were later picked up by another fishing boat in the area.  The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has now published its findings into the incident.  They found that the sinking was probably caused by a failure within a seawater system inside the engine room.  The engine room alarms were not heard for up to an hour because both of the crew were working on the deck of the Majestic processing a catch of brown crab.  The wheelhouse was left unattended while this was happening and at about 10am the 34-year-old skipper returned and discovered the bilge alarms sounding.  His brother and crewman, 35, checked the engine room, where he discovered water halfway up the side of the engine casing.  They immediately went to the wheelhouse roof and launched the life-raft and broadcast an a mayday distress call. Just 20 minutes after the flooding was discovered the coastguard helicopter Rescue 900 arrived in the area, as did fishing vessel Fairway II which took the Majestic’s crew on board.  Over the next four-and-a-half hours the craft drifted toward the Orka Voe gas pipeline to the north. It was deemed too dangerous to put anybody on board the Majestic to establish a tow and at about 2.40pm the ship rolled onto its side.  It sank about three minutes later into about 330ft of water.  The MAIB report states: “A 500m (1640ft) exclusion zone was established over the site of the Majestic’s wreck and BP deployed a guard vessel to the area.  “A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) survey identified that Majestic had settled on the seabed 2m (6ft 5in) from the gas pipeline; the vessel was heeling towards the pipeline. As a precaution the ROV was used to place large sandbags between Majestic and the pipline to prevent the wreck from toppling.”  The specialist investigators from the MAIB have issued a number of recommendations to the crew of the Majestic, including assessing the dangers of leaving the wheelhouse unattended.  They determined from the length of time it took for the Majestic to sink that water ingress was “significantly higher” than usual and “almost certainly caused by a material failure of pipework or a seal on one of the engine room’s seawater systems connected to seawater inlets or discharge overboard valves”.  They said that safety alarms should be heard throughout the vessel if it sounds, though they added that it is important to have a person in the wheelhouse to keep watch.  The MAIB also found that it was “of concern” that the crew did not wear life jackets, either when working on deck or when abandoning their ship.  In the report, the investigators said that the MAIB first recommended the compulsory use of life jackets in 2000 but the “culture of the fishing industry has been slow change”.

£4.5m Funding Awarded to Nature Park Project
A plan to create Scotland’s largest heritage and nature park is to benefit from £4.5 million of lottery funding.  The Seven Lochs Wetland Park project aims to bring together 16 square kilometres (9.9 sq miles) of lochs, park, nature reserves and woodlands between Glasgow and Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire.  Glasgow City and North Lanarkshire councils, Forest Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Conservation Volunteers Scotland have joined forces for the scheme.  The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) award would meet more than half the cost of the project, which comes in at £6.8 million in total.  Officials hope to set out how the area’s heritage buildings, wildlife habitat and archaeology will be improved, protected and brought together if the project goes ahead.  They also hope the park will become a “major new hub” for heritage conservation, learning and engagement. Councillor Maureen Burke, chair of the Seven Lochs Partnership, said: “This is a unique project and a considerable amount of effort has been put in by partners and local communities.  It offers people a fantastic opportunity to engage with important natural heritage first-hand and increase their understanding of why particular local habitats are internationally important, and how these need to be protected.”  Improved visitor facilities are planned to create gateways to the park at Hogganfield Loch, Provan Hall, Drumpellier Country Park and Glenboig Life Centre as well as the restoration of Provan Hall, one of Glasgow’s oldest buildings.  The project also plans to develop walking and cycling routes linking the gateway sites and improvements to paths, signage, interpretation and management across the whole park.

Mock Cop Slows Down Traffic
“Scaring” speeding motorists to slow down when driving into Wick, a mock cop is proving its worth.  Jane Sutherland (39) never thought her scarecrow dressed up as a police officer holding a hairdryer looking out to Thurso Road would become an effective road safety tool. She entered it into a competition held as part of the town’s gala week and stationed it on the fence of the front garden of the house of her parents, former policeman Ian and Marcia Miller.  Ever since, drivers heading into Wick have been reportedly slamming on the brakes to comply with the 30mph zone after thinking the scarecrow is a real officer deploying a radar gun.  The scarecrow was scheduled to be taken down at the end of this week but Mrs Sutherland, who runs The Flower Shop in Thurso and Wick, and her parents are considering keeping it up on a permanent basis.  Mrs Sutherland said she and her mother have had a lot of reaction to the scarecrow from Facebook and from customers in the hairdressers.  She said: “It was only meant to be up for the competition, but if it is doing such a good job, we might keep it up long term.”  Wick-based area inspector Nick Clasper said: “I was surprised to hear about the presence of the scarecrow on Thurso Road, Wick, but welcome its contribution to tackling road safety issues in Caithness.”

One in Three Scots ‘Favour Brexit Deal Wait Before Independence Poll Decision’
Almost a third of voters want to wait until the UK’s deal with the European Union (EU) is clear before deciding whether to hold another independence referendum, according to a new poll.  The YouGov survey for the pro-union Scotland in Union campaign group found 32% of Scots think the country should wait for the Brexit deal before a repeat of the 2014 ballot while 25% do not want another vote on independence until at least 2030.  A further 17% said Scotland should never have another referendum while 16% want a vote as soon as possible, 9% said they did not know and the remainder said they did not agree with any of those views. The UK Government’s plan for leaving Europe is not yet clear, although Brexit Secretary David Davis has suggested it could begin formal negotiations early next year.  Ms Sturgeon has said she would consider calling a second referendum if the UK’s position emerges as unacceptable to Scotland’s interests.  Alastair Cameron, of Scotland in Union, said: “We know the EU referendum result has left many Scots disappointed and some people are calling for the debate on Scottish independence to be re-opened.  This poll shows that Scotland does not want to rush into another referendum and one in three Scots want to see what Brexit means before deciding on our future.  We believe people deserve to know what this new landscape will mean for trade, for currency and for our borders.  Importantly, before dragging Scotland into another referendum, we need to hear from those proposing Scottish independence how we would deal with Scotland’s £15 billion deficit.”  The poll of 1,006 people – carried out between July 20 and 25 – also found that 46% of people think another independence referendum would have a negative impact on the economy while only 22% think it would be positive.  Asked to rank their top priorities for the Scottish Government, the NHS, the economy and working with the UK Government on an EU deal came top ahead of getting a separate EU deal for Scotland and holding another referendum on Scottish independence.  Mr Cameron added: “These new figures show that the people of Scotland believe premature talk of a second referendum is bad for business and they want politicians in Holyrood to be focusing on the NHS and the economy.” Labour MSP James Kelly said: “Scottish Labour stands with the majority of Scots who want to see Scotland part of the EU and the UK and continue to explore all options.  However, it is clear that the NHS and the economy are the top concerns for the Scottish people. The SNP should bring forward infrastructure investment and use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop the cuts to local services.”  SNP MSP James Dornan said: “This poll shows that, among those who expressed a view, a majority of people are open to the possibility of another referendum in the context of the Brexit decision. In light of the overwhelming Remain vote in Scotland, it is absolutely right that we explore all options to protect Scotland’s place in and relationship with the EU – and avoid the damaging economic consequences that are already becoming evident since June 23.”

Roger Daltrey Hails Impact of Teenage Cancer Trust At New Unit Opening
Royalty, a rock legend and a popular comedian put a smile on the faces of young children as they opened a state-of-the-art cancer unit in Glasgow.  The Who frontman and long-time charity patron Roger Daltrey joined Kevin Bridges and Sarah, Duchess of York, at the new Teenage Cancer Trust unit designed to look after 13 to 16-year-olds in the Royal Hospital for Children.  They met staff as they toured the unit, unveiled a plaque and posed for dozens of selfies with young people and their parents in the ward.  A group of young cancer patients helped to design the £400,000 unit, which has eight bedrooms and a large social area where young people can play computer games, listen to music or watch films and TV.  Daltrey got involved with the trust 26 years ago and sets up an annual concert at the Albert Hall to raise funds for it.  He said: "I remember my teenage years so well, they're imprinted in my head. "I call them my 'Tommy years' when I was deaf, dumb and blind, and I think that really does sum up the teenage years in a lot of ways - they're completely different to children and adults, and I kind of identified with that loneliness of those years.  When I was told about the hospital situation for teenagers with cancer a couple of decades ago, where they were basically either isolated with children or put in with geriatrics, I decided to get involved with this charity.  This is the 30th hospital ward in the country and I see every time what a difference it makes."  It is the fourth Teenage Cancer Trust unit in Scotland, designed to be like a "home from home rather than a hospital ward" where young people can receive specialist cancer care and meet others going through similar experiences.  About 200 young people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Scotland and the charity said it needs to raise £2,400 a day to maintain its services across the country.  Bridges has hosted the Teenage Cancer Trust concert arranged by Daltrey and said his involvement with the charity was "pretty humbling".  "At first I find these things difficult because obviously you're nervous about what the kids are going through and you don't want to be coming in cracking jokes and making light of it, but I think I realised that they still want a bit of that because they're still young people," the comedian said.  "If I can take their mind off it in any way and it cheers them up, then it's great and also pretty humbling."  Among those to meet the patrons was 18-year-old Connor McDowall from Glasgow.  He was 12 when he was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia but two years after being given the all-clear he was re-diagnosed and is currently receiving treatment on the unit.  He said: "I've made so many friends here and had some wonderful fun experiences both on and off the unit.  The emotional support has made a big difference to me, whether it is just sitting chatting or playing on the Xbox, it's been a great distraction at a difficult time for me."

Scotland Could Become 'Safe Harbour' with Single Market Access, MSPs Told
Scotland could provide a "safe harbour" for financial institutions if it becomes the only part of the UK to retain access to the single market post-Brexit, MSPs have been told.  The sector has expressed concerns about the impact of leaving the European Union (EU) on financial firms' access to the single market, which allows them to do business across the continent from their UK bases.  Maintaining passporting - the process which allows institutions to use their UK financial licences to trade in the EU - has been a key issue for the industry, Holyrood's European and External Relations Committee heard.  Hugh Chater, director of banking at Virgin Money, told MSPs: "Where I think there may be an opportunity - and this is obviously a political area, so I tread with care - there is clearly within Scotland, and Edinburgh in particular ... a thriving financial services sector that employs close to 100,000 people.  Depending on where Scotland's relationship with the EU lands, there may well be an opportunity to offer that as a kind of relocation safe harbour for some institutions that are worried about the removal of passporting from maybe the rest of the UK."  Committee convener Joan McAlpine asked: "So, what you're saying is that if Scotland was able to maintain its access to the single market, then that would give us an advantage?"  "I do think that is a very credible view," Mr Chater said.  The committee - taking the highly-unusual step of meeting during Holyrood's summer recess - heard from a range of industry representatives on the impact of Brexit.  The UK Government is yet to set out its plan on how and when the country will exit the EU, and what its future relationship with the bloc will be.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to explore options to protect Scotland's place in Europe, including the prospect of a second independence referendum.  She said key interests that must be protected include free movement of labour, access to the single market and a say in its rules.  Industry leaders pointed out the need to address the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote and the lack of clarity on the UK's negotiating position. Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport chief executive, described the uncertainty as "a huge barrier" while James Withers, Scotland Food and Drink chief executive, said he could see no end to it in the near future.  Mr Withers told the committee that 30% of the sector's workforce is from eastern Europe, stating there was " an urgent need to get reassurance that those workers who are currently in Scotland in the food-and-drinks sector and other industries will have their rights maintained".  Others highlighted the potential opportunities presented by Brexit.  Bertie Armstrong, Scottish Fishermen's Federation chief executive, said it offered a "gigantic prize" for coastal communities.  "There is a systemic change on Brexit which is the restoration of our exclusive economic zone with regard to fisheries, it is half the northern continental shelf," he said. "It is a really, really big patch of prime maritime real estate and our challenge is in ... to enact that and not trade it away again."

MoD: Rona Box Will Reopen Next Year
The Ministry of Defence have sought to allay concerns that an area of sea off Raasay will remain closed to fishing for the foreseeable future.  Local observers had feared that the “Rona box” – a stretch of water separate to the submarine testing range between Raasay and the mainland – would not be opened to fishermen for several years. As part of its expansion plans for the main range, the MoD had promised to re-open the box, following the closure of its facility on Rona.  This week, a spokeswoman for the MoD said: “Plans to enhance the Raasay Ranges will see withdrawal from the permanently manned range control facilities on Rona.  The work currently carried out there will be transferred to the British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre on the Applecross Peninsula and Kyle of Lochalsh.  “Since the new byelaws covering the Raasay Ranges were established on 29th June, the installation of new range infrastructure has been underway, which will enable the closure of the Rona site from 2017. Fishing restrictions currently in place around the island will then be lifted. In the meantime, fishermen should continue to avoid fishing in the exclusion zone as has previously been the case.”