Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 449

Issue # 449                                             Week ending Saturday 28th April 2018

We Could Be Waiting for Yon New Prince to Behave Until the Cows Come Home by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal
How that poor woman suffered. She was a martyr to morning sickness and by all accounts throughout her pregnancy she just had to have tangy food from pizzas with spicy sausage toppings to Chicken Madras curries. Still, the Duchess of Cambridge will be relieved that all these wild cravings are behind her now. In our case, Mrs X just had to have Crunchies and Chicken Chow Mein and all sorts of things starting with C. But the most common uncontrollable longing that women have during that special time is for men to be the ones who get pregnant. Fact.

No sooner had we heard that Kate was in hospital to have the babby than we heard she’d been safely delivered of the fifth in line. A few hours later she was on the hospital steps and whisking His Royal Highness Prince Blankety Blank of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland off for a liquid lunch somewhere quiet. Thrice the worry, his dad was heard to say. Frankly, I think he has underestimated things.

That’s because Prince Blank’s star sign is Taurus, the bull. Having lived with a young Taurean for more than two decades, let me tell you now - he is going to be trouble. Oh, you may have thought Uncle Harry was a handful but he was just a Virgo, like myself. A sensible type who likes a wee snifter sometimes, like myself. Wait until this brat gets going. Astrologers say a bull sign kid is cuddly and loving. Yeah, but not all the time. They are also said to be extremely strong-willed and stoic. The words you are looking for are stubborn and headstrong.

Described as tough little characters, they say there’s something mature about Taurean children. They mean bossy, too big for their boots and they talk back. The new kid on the block will be “polite and respectful in adult company”. Yeah, but when the Queen and Prince Philip have left, he will go back to chewing the curtains. Taureans should never be pushed, they say. That’s also true. Expect belligerence if he is teased, pressurised or forced to do something he is not comfortable with. I know.

Much has been made of the fact that Monday was also Shakespeare Day - the anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. He would have been about 454 years old. He actually died on April 23 but there are doubts about the year he was born but it was probably on April 23 as well. Maybe there is a lesson there for the newborn. As Malvolio said in Twelfth Night: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Achieve, wee man.

All kinds of talented bull people were born on April 23. As well as William Shakespeare - well, maybe - there was also Shirley Temple, Roy Orbison and the landscape painter J M W Turner. The new arrival will probably be an artist too. I will temporarily call him Artist. When the singer Prince fell out with his record company, he began to refer to himself as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. When this wee baby is finally named, I will have to call him The Prince Formerly Known As Artist.

There are many of these special days now named to commemorate things or raise awareness. Monday was Shakespeare Day and today is Golf Day. Today is also Hug A Plumber day. We have a dripping tap in the kitchen but I won’t mention the name of the day to Mrs X. On Tuesday last week it was National Bat  Appreciation Day. I thought it best not to mention that to her either. She doesn’t appreciate cricket equipment, old or otherwise.

When you hear about one baby being born, you always hear of others. A couple up the road here have just had their first baby - a girl. Aw, they are so happy. I took himself for a pint at the weekend to celebrate and he had so many questions. Well, it is 21 years ago today that our own bundle of joy popped out and began breaching the peace. So I am very knowledgeable about all matters concerning child-rearing. Obviously. As he downed his fourth, he said the birth had taken a lot out of his missus. I had heard, mate. She was shattered and was still feeling aches and pains, he said. She just wasn’t herself yet. Then he asked: “When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?” What could I say? I had to tell him the facts. I said: “From my experience, that will be round about the time your daughter goes to college.”

Government Department’s Response to Brexit Criticism Beggars Belief by Ian McConnell
IF it were said that someone or something appeared to be “operating in a parallel universe where urgency is an abstract concept”, how many people could through this description alone divine the big political issue to which it pertained?  For anyone who hasn’t got it yet, it’s all about Brexit again. The criticism about urgency being an abstract concept was directed this week at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in relation to its Brexit preparations by Meg Hillier, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).  Labour MP Ms Hillier was speaking as the committee published its report on the department’s progress, or probably far more appropriately lack thereof, in relation to its Brexit work. The findings of the report were certainly eye-catching, although not surprising.  The committee declared: “Given the scale of the Brexit task facing the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and its significant domestic policy agenda, we are alarmed that the department has made virtually no attempt to re-order its priorities.”  It is difficult to avoid this summation by the committee conjuring up an image of Nero and Rome, although this might be far too European a comparison for the Brexiters.  Ms Hillier noted that the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy was responsible for around one-fifth of the “work streams” the Government must complete as the UK leaves the EU. And she declared: “The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy appears to be operating in a parallel universe where urgency is an abstract concept with no bearing on the Brexit process.” She added: “The department told us it had not re-prioritised its overall programme of work, had not begun procurement for around a dozen essential digital systems and could not provide vital information about its workforce.” And that, believe it or not, was not the end of the scathing criticism.  Setting out the scale of the committee’s worries, Ms Hillier declared: “We have grave concerns about this apparent complacency, compounded by the lack of transparency on the department’s progress with what in some cases will be critical projects. Sensitivities around negotiations with the EU must not be used as an excuse to keep taxpayers and Parliament in the dark. We urge the Government to provide us with a swift update on the issues raised in our report.”  It seems that the excuse of sensitivities around negotiations is a very familiar one indeed from this UK Westminster Government and its ministers, when anyone has asked to look at how its work on Brexit is going.  Remember the rigmarole required earlier this year to get the Government to publish a Brexit analysis it had commissioned? This analysis, entitled “EU Exit Analysis – Cross Whitehall Briefing”, laid out the likely huge cost of Brexit.  The PAC said: “As we reported in February 2018, the paucity of information in the public domain about what departments are doing to prepare for Brexit is undermining scrutiny of progress and we expect our committee, Parliament and the public to be kept meaningfully informed on what progress is being made, and at what cost. The Department is a case in point.”  The committee’s conclusions in this week’s report chime with the unshakeable impression that the UK Westminster Government is watching the minute and hour hands move, as the clock ticks fast towards EU exit, without any greater idea of what to do. Deluded Brexiters meanwhile continue to celebrate their (pyrrhic) “victory”.  There is plenty of bullish talk from the likes of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.  However, the firm impression remains that this is no more than blether. The main “achievement” on the EU exit negotiations so far, if it can be described as such given we are talking here about limiting the damage caused by the Conservatives’ decision to hold a Brexit vote in the first place, is securing a transition deal. It is interesting that the volume dial for the arch- Brexiters’ comments about there being no need for such a deal has been turned right down. As reality has dawned perhaps? It has been another generally demoralising week on the Brexit front.  A survey from the Confederation of British Industry highlighted the fact that, amid all the economic and political uncertainty, Scottish manufacturers’ investment intentions remain weak. Thankfully, from a Scottish perspective at least, there has been one chink of light on the Brexit front this week.  A survey published on Monday shows 64% of Scots believe the UK would be better off economically inside the EU single market. The corresponding proportion across the UK is just 52%. What practical difference, if any, this will make remains to be seen but at least the survey provides reassurance that a significant majority of Scots are outward-looking. The survey findings were also reassuring from the viewpoint of society, given the degree to which xenophobia appeared to influence the UK’s Brexit vote. However, the response from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to the PAC report was entirely lamentable.  It said it had, since the report was written, been given another £185 million of funding to help deliver a “successful Brexit” by employing an increased number of staff on its “Europe work”. This is yet another fine illustration of the degree to which Brexit is a total waste of time and money, as well as an utter shambles.

Third Osprey Egg Creates Conservation Joy in Dunkeld
After a slow start this season, an osprey which returned to Perthshire to breed has laid a third egg at Loch of the Lowes. Female osprey LF15 has laid a third egg overnight (Thursday, April 19), at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve in Perthshire, giving her a full clutch of three eggs. In just under ten days the scene at the Dunkeld SWT visitor centre has gone from worry at no eggs to pride at having a full house. This is the fourth breeding season in the same treetop nest for this magnificent wild bird, last night’s 9.30pm deposit being the 12th egg LF15 has laid at the reserve since 2015. Rachael Hunter, Perthshire ranger, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “There is a very small chance of a fourth egg but that would be really unusual. We’re now looking forward to May, when we’d expect to see the first chick hatch out in the second half of the month.”

Cumbernauld Jobs Secured Thanks to £10m Deal

A Cumbernauld company’s latest multi-million pound deal is set to provide job security for its 250-strong workforce.  CMS Window Systems has won a contract of more than £10 million for the Atlantic Square development in Glasgow, creating a record order book worth £65 million over the next three years.  David Ritchie, the firm’s chief operating officer, said: “Winning this contract provides vital job security for our 250 employees who work in both manufacturing and on-site installation roles and it creates a strong platform for us to invest in the future of the business. Recent economic surveys have painted a relatively negative picture for Scotland’s manufacturing and construction sectors, so it is fantastic to be bucking the trend with a healthy outlook.”  CMS Window Systems’ latest financial results will be published soon and are expected to reveal a record year for a company that has earned a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.  Work will begin next year on the £100 million Atlantic Square project, which will be built by BAM Construction. CMS will design, manufacture and install a range of aluminium windows, doors and façade elements for the development, which will provide high-quality office space on York Street for more than 2,700 staff. Mr Ritchie said: “The scale of the window, door, curtain walling and façade brief represents our largest ever single contract, but it is exactly the kind of project that our business is equipped to handle, given the design expertise, product range and manufacturing and installation capabilities that our business has today.”

Donald Trump Warned of Mass Protests for Scotland Summer Visit

Donald Trump has been warned he faces mass protest if he comes to Scotland this summer, following reports that the US President could visit Balmoral in the coming months. A visit by the controversial American leader has been on the cards since his election, with the UK Government quickly extending an invitation for a state visit.  However, fears over the reception Mr Trump would receive have see the plans put off indefinitely, and a visit in February to inaugurate a new US Embassy building in London were also cancelled.  Reports now suggest a visit by Mr Trump is “pencilled in” for July, including a possible meeting with the Queen at Balmoral.  Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said his party would help coordinate protests and called on the UK Government not to roll out the red carpet for Mr Trump.

Couples Serve Up Tea Trails
It is a county that is known for the quality of its golf courses, but Sutherland looks set to become associated with quite another caddy-related product – premium tea.  Three enterprising young crofting couples are in the throes of establishing tea gardens on their land and plans are on the table for them to link together to eventually form a “tea trail” for visitors.  Chris and Lucy Williams of Tulloch Tea (Ardgay) are joining forces to form Sutherland Tea Gardens with Linda Ross-Wemyss and Peter Wemyss of Maikle Tea (by Invershin) and James and Fiona McGillivray of Dornoch Tea.  The three couples, who are in the vanguard of a growing country-wide industry, held an informal pow-wow at the weekend to discuss the way ahead. Mrs Williams said they were all very excited at the prospect of a Sutherland tea trail and envisaged holding tours, tea tastings and workshops or seminars. All three couples hope to produce premier single-estate tea  – that is unblended tea from only one tea estate. Tea is unique to the plantation it is grown on, with the taste determined by the environment in which it is grown. No two teas are the same.  The Williams’ were the trailblazers, setting up Sutherland’s first tea garden – and the northernmost in mainland Scotland – last October when they planted 1500 three-year-old Camellia Sinensis tea plants, bred and hardened to withstand the vagaries of the Scottish climate. Around 15 per cent of the bushes, which are susceptible to frost, were lost during the winter, but the Williams’s have re-planted.

Handover of Brora Old Schoolhouse and £1m Investment
The Old Schoolhouse in Brora is set to be given a new lease of life, thanks to a £1 million investment from energy giant SSE.  While developing Gordonbush wind farm, SSE purchased the Old Schoolhouse and its grounds to allow large components to be delivered safely off the A9 to the 35-turbine wind farm, eight miles away.  And yesterday, SSE honoured their commitment to give the site to Clyne Heritage Society, along with the investment of £1 million to help the society restore the building.  The money will be used by the heritage society to transform the Old Schoolhouse into a heritage museum, complete with coffee shop, offering a place for locals and tourists alike to find out more about the history of the area.  Rod Crawford, SSE’s project manager,who handed over the keys to the heritage society, said: “The Old Schoolhouse played an important role in our development of Gordonbush wind farm as it enabled our vehicles to turn from the A9 onto a small side road and now we are thrilled to be able to play an incredibly important role in the restoration of the site and create a lasting legacy for the area.”  Dr Nick Lindsay, chairman of Clyne Heritage Society, said: “We are 20 years old this month – what a brilliant birthday present! With this £1 million, the society is in an extremely strong position to be able to go to funders, for any shortfall, once we have fully costed the renovation and fitting-out project. With our track record of increasing footfall and heritage awareness at the Brora Heritage Centre for the past two years, we now have a really good understanding of how to deliver a first-class heritage service, from what will be a purpose-designed facility, excellently situated on the A9.”

Family of Bombing Victim Eilidh Macleod Raise Money for Memorial
The family of a Scottish schoolgirl killed in the Manchester Arena bombing are planning to erect a memorial in her memory.  Eilidh MacLeod, from Barra, was one of 22 people killed in the terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in May last year.  Members of her family are raising money to build the memorial on the Outer Hebrides island by taking part in the Great Manchester Run over 10km.  The family has already raised £4,000 for the memorial on Barra.  MacLeod was just 14 when she was killed.  Her friend, Laura MacIntyre, 15, was also injured in the terrorist attack. MacLeod’s family have been training for the run in Cheshire, where many of them live.  Her great-uncle Donald Manford told STV: “It’s an enormous privilege to see a community come together to show solidarity, showcasing everything they have.  There couldn’t be a greater tribute.”

Historic Slains Castle Given Listed Status
An historic Buchan castle has gained listed status for its historical interest and architecture. The foreboding cliff-top located Slains Castle, which is thought to have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, has been awarded listed status by Historic Environment Scotland.  The listing recognises the special architectural and historic interest of ‘New’ Slains Castle, from its origins in the 16th century to its significant remodelling in the 19th century. Its spectacular cliff top setting and fascinating historical connections, also contributed to the decision to list. Head of designations at HSE Elizabeth McCrone said: “This impressive ruin has four centuries of history to tell us about and it is remarkable, not only for its architecture, but also for its literary associations.  Dr Samuel Johnson and his biographer James Boswell visited New Slains Castle in 1773 and both were moved to write about it in their subsequent famous journals about their tour of Scotland.”  In the 19th century the author Bram Stoker stayed in the area and the castle is said to have helped to inspire his most famous novel, Dracula. Today, the castle continues to dominate the landscape and command views over the North Sea – making it a unique landmark in the area - and it is hoped the listing will help ensure that interest is recognised for future generations.  The castle was constructed in the 16th century by Francis Hay to replace Old Slains Castle to the south which was destroyed in reprisal for Hay’s participation in a rebellion against James VI.

New Gaelic Dictionary Wins £2.5m Investment From Public Purse

Work on a landmark Gaelic dictionary which aims to safeguard the future of the language has secured investment of £2.5 million from the public purse.  The Scottish Government-backed project is documenting the language and its history by tracing the development of every Gaelic word from its earliest written form to the present day. Once complete, the Faclair na Gàidhlig dictionary will give Gaelic its equivalent of the multi-volume resources already available for Scots and English.  Although other dictionaries have been produced since, students and speakers of Scots Gaelic still rely heavily on Edward Dwelly’s Illustrated Gaelic English Dictionary, published between 1901 and 1911. The project comes at a time when study of the language is on the increase with growing demand from parents for Gaelic education in urban areas such as Glasgow. However, expansion plans are under threat because of a lack of qualified teachers.  The production of the new dictionary has been made possible through a pioneering collaboration between the universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture.  The project has also been backed by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the national public body with responsibility for Gaelic.  Boyd Robertson, Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Convenor of Faclair na Gàidhlig’s Steering Committee, said: “This is an immensely significant national enterprise which has attracted considerable international interest and involvement.  Based on first-hand evidence from an impressively large digital corpus, it will provide users with an authoritative, definitive and informative dictionary that will facilitate an in-depth understanding of the material and written heritage of the language.” Preparatory work for the new dictionary has been extensive and includes assembling a database of 30 million Gaelic words from written sources and drawing on audio records held in other national collections. Liz Smith, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservative Party, welcomed the dictionary development, but called for a wider shake-up of the way Gaelic schooling is funded.”

We've Been Badly Let Down, Says Former Chaplain Over Closure-hit Achvarasdal Care Home

The closure of the Achvarasdal care home will be “a blow to the residents, their families and staff”, former chaplain the Rev Heather Stewart has said.  She was speaking after it was confirmed the home is to close in the next few months, although no date has been given. The decision made by CrossReach, which runs the home near Reay on behalf of the Church of Scotland, was described as “difficult”.  The home has 10 residents and around 30 full-time and part-time staff.  Mrs Stewart said: “Speaking personally, I feel the people of Caithness have been badly let down by CrossReach historically and feel the care in the community model – promoted by the government and NHS Highland – is flawed.”

Scotland Stands Alone As Theresa May Puts Final Offer on Brexit on the Table

Theresa May will give no further ground to Nicola Sturgeon on her flagship Brexit bill as the Scottish Government now stands alone in opposition to it following a breakthrough deal with Cardiff.. Whitehall’s view is that while the door to talks is still open, the Prime Minister’s final offer is on the table and to give more concessions to Edinburgh now would jeopardise the agreement with the Labour-run Welsh Government. “That’s it,” declared one senior UK Westminster Government source.  This means if the First Minister declines to backtrack on her opposition to the EU Withdrawal Bill, a cross-border constitutional clash will take place because Mrs May and her colleagues are adamant the “vital” piece of legislation to produce legal certainty after Brexit will be pushed through with or without the consent of MSPs. While the Welsh Government will repeal its own Continuity Bill, the Scottish Government now faces a legal tussle with Whitehall over its own version before the judges of the UK Supreme Court, probably in June.  The UK Westminster Government insists it has “moved significantly” since the talks began several months ago, but it now believes its argument against a “power-grab” has been strengthened by the agreement of Cardiff, which in a statement accepted significant changes to the Withdrawal Bill “that protect devolution have been secured”.  The divide and rule has been a handy political tool down the ages, so it’s hardly surprising the UK Westminster Government is eagerly applying it to the saga over Brexit and devolved powers. For more than a year, Cardiff and Edinburgh have been united in resisting the EU Withdrawal Bill as a “power-grab” that undermines devolution.  The Welsh Government has now accepted a compromise and that unity is over.  However, Nicola Sturgeon says there remain basic problems with new changes to the bill, mainly that the UK Westminster Government will have the last word over repatriated devolved powers after Brexit as it creates UK-wide frameworks. Whitehall’s amendments to the legislation will be published ahead of what promises to be a fiery session of Scottish Questions in the Commons chamber. Conservative ministers also feel the agreement of the Welsh Government has greatly strengthened their hand in getting the bill through the House of Lords, where the SNP has no representation. But the First Minister tweeted: “The bottom line on #EU Withdrawal Bill at this stage is this, the Scottish Parliament powers on vital matters could be restricted for up to seven years without our consent. The Scottish Government will not recommend consent to that – but we have put forward solutions that would form the basis of a deal.”  In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Sturgeon insisted clause 11 of the bill, which deals with the transfer of devolved powers after Brexit, showed an “imbalance and lack of trust”.  Her colleague, Michael Russell, in a statement to MSPs, maintained the Scottish Government’s argument that the UK legislation was a “crude power-grab”.  Mr Russell suggested two possible ways forward: l Removing clause 11 from the bill so both governments could then agree, on equal terms, not to bring forward legislation in devolved policy areas while negotiations on common frameworks were taking place and, 2 Reverting to the present system, that Holyrood should give its consent to Westminster legislating in devolved areas. “These are practical, workable solutions to this issue that will ensure the necessary preparations for Brexit can be taken across the UK whilst protecting devolution,” he declared.  Mr Russell’s two options are not acceptable to the UK Westminster Government.   However, Nicola Sturgeon says there remain basic problems with new changes to the bill, mainly that the UK Westminster Government will have the last word over repatriated devolved powers after Brexit as it creates UK-wide frameworks.  Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said that “London has changed its position so that all powers and policy areas rest in Cardiff, unless specified to be temporarily held by the UK Government”.But Liz Saville Roberts, leader of the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru party in the Commons, said: “For the first time since the birth of devolution the Westminster Government has succeeded in clawing back powers which should be held by our national assembly.”  She added: “This will have major consequences for the UK’s constitution, and this is all thanks to the Labour Party in Wales.”

Organists' Refusal to Play At Same Sex Weddings Protected

Organists will be able to opt out of playing at same sex weddings in the Church of Scotland, according to a new report.  The document to go before the General Assembly in May also says church officers need not play any part in same sex marriage ceremonies if they do not wish to do so.  There were fears organists and others connected with a parish or Kirk Session who do not want any participation could fall foul of equality laws, but Church legal opinion backs their right to refuse to be involved.  The legal guidance to the Kirk's Legal Questions Committee said protections in law allow people connected to the Kirk to refuse to take part in same sex weddings.  The report states: “If a minister or deacon is authorised and the church is permitted to be used, but a prospective participant does not wish to be involved, there may have to be specific arrangements made for the couple to be assisted to find a substitute - if, for example, the organist does not wish to play at the ceremony - or for designated individuals to be willing to step in - if, say, the church officer does not wish to be involved."  Laura Dunlop, QC, who holds the office of Procurator to the General Assembly, the annual gathering of church figures in Edinburgh, states in the Opinion that key features of equality law provisions include: "A celebrant - minister or deacon - does not contravene the Equality Act only by refusing to solemnise a marriage on the basis that it is a same sex marriage, and a person who would normally participate in a wedding service, such as an organist, does not contravene the Act by refusing to take part because the wedding is a same sex one. These protections are not subject to a test of compliance with doctrine or with religious convictions, but are absolute."

Schoolgirl Cook Wins Support of Jamie Oliver
A Lochardil schoolgirl has received the backing of top chef Jamie Oliver for a children’s cook book project which has so far raised £1600 for charity.  Sadie Traill (11) decided to put her longstanding love of cooking to good use by producing a recipe book as part of her P7 personal project work.  The 20-page book, made up of recipes and featuring photos of her efforts, was designed with the help of her dad David. She also sought out sponsorship to cover the printing costs from Grahams of Inverness – her parents’ outdoor shooting and fishing shop – and secured backing from Summer Isles Seafoods, Cafe 1 restaurant in Inverness and Glenrossal Estate, who all feature in the publication.  The plucky youngster sought encouragement from TV chef Jamie Oliver and emailed his team to ask for some cook book advice.  But Mr Traill said the man himself got back to congratulate her on her hard work and to encourage her to "keep cooking."  Sadie decided to sell the finished product to friends and family in aid of children’s welfare charity Children 1st and it was launched in time for a ladies’ lunch held at the Drumossie Hotel.  It was also sold at an event at Cafe 1, Castle Street, Inverness tied in with the Cheltenham Races.

Cancer Beater Takes on Etape for Charity
A cancer patient who underwent gruelling chemotherapy treatment just months ago is taking on a mammoth biking challenge in a bid to conquer the disease a second time. Lorraine McCall signed up to Etape Loch Ness after realising the event would take place following her final chemotherapy session for breast cancer.  She wanted to have something to focus on to help her get back on her feet – and even though she has limited cycling experience, Ms McCall decided that training for the 66-mile event around the shores of the loch this Sunday would be just the tonic.  The 52-year-old will also be using the event to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support – the official charity partner of Etape Loch Ness – as a way of saying thank you for its help during her treatment and recovery not once, but twice.

Extra Tickets on Sale for Runrig's Friday Night Farewell Concert
A limited number of additional tickets are to be released for Runrig’s farewell concert: The Last Dance in Stirling’s City Park. The announcement follows an agreement between the show’s promoter, LCC Live, Stirling Council and its Safety Advisory Group to increase capacity for the Friday night (17th August) of The Last Dance, Runrig’s penultimate concert. Tickets for the Saturday night show sold out in record time, with the band announcing shortly afterwards that it would put on an additional concert on Friday 17th August; these tickets also sold out.  Calum Macdonald of Runrig said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve had from our fans for our final live shows. Aware that there is still high demand for tickets, we have been working hard with the concert promoter, LCC Live, to increase capacity generally and to confirm the stage and production details, which in turn have generated some extra tickets.  The Last Dance is certainly going to be an emotional experience for us all: an event like non-other in our 45-year history. We look forward to sharing the experience with our incredible fans and special guests for two great evenings of live music.”  Joining Runrig on stage for The Last Dance is multi-award-winning Gaelic folk singer Julie Fowlis and some other very special guests. With a career spanning over ten years and five studio albums, Julie reached global success on the soundtrack of Hollywood blockbuster Brave.

Scottish History Lovers Wanted for Perfect Summer Job
If history is your thing, one of Scotland’s most fascinating prehistoric settlements could have the perfect job on offer this summer. Jarlshof on Shetland is looking for recruits to take visitors through more than 4,000 years of human occupation at the dramatic coastal site. The settlement spans many periods with late Neolithic houses, a Bronze Age village, an Iron Age broch and wheelhouse, a large Norse house, a medieval farm, and a 16th century laird’s house all found at Jarlshof over time.  Now it could become your manor for the summer with a part-time steward needed to uncover fascinating stories from Jarlshof, which was first occupied around 2700BC. Historic Environment to Scotland said it was a “tourism job unlike any other” with the right candidate to enhance the public’s understanding of the site. Managing school groups and selling souvenirs will also be part of the day-to-day duties.

Lost Settlements of Glencoe Studied for First Time
Archaeologists are in Glencoe surveying the settlements inhabited during the 1692 massacre for the first time.  National Trust for Scotland (NTS) is keen to place the human story of the glen back into one of Scotland’s most visited landscapes. The team has been working at the former settlement of Achtriachtan, which was inhabited in the 17th Century but later disappeared from maps.  Archaeologists for NTS have also found areas likely used for cultivation with a number of artefacts recovered following the first excavation of its kind in the area.  Pieces of brown glazed pottery - possibly from a cup - have been found along with glass and a quern stone, which was used for milling.  A copper alloy coin, metalwork and tiny glass beads have also been recovered from an enclosure, which may have been used as a yard next to one of the turf and stone buildings. Derek Alexander, head of archaeological services at National Trust for Scotland, said he was “delighted” with progress so far. “The main reason for doing this work is to see what the potential for doing bigger excavations. It is already showing up some good stuff. I’m delighted where we have got to in this short period. It is good to get a nice mix of items that look like they are dateable.” Glencoe was the scene of one of Scotland’s most infamous murders of the clan era when the state backed the killing of the MacDonalds of Glencoe after their chief tried but failed to meet a deadline to pledge allegiance to King William II.  Achtriachtan is one six settlements in Glencoe that appear on Roy’s 18th century military maps but which disappear from documents by the 19th Century given the townships were cleared for sheep. Archaeological work will also be carried out by NTS at Achnacon and Inverrigan. It was at Achnacon that Seargeant Robert Barber gathered his men in the early morning of 13 February 1692, some time before 5am, and ordered the kill.  At least 38 MacDonalds of Glencoe were murdered by troops led by Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, who along with his troops had enjoyed 12 nights of Highland hospitality in the homes of their MacDonald hosts.  Many more Highlanders are believed to have died after fleeing their townships, with some leaving their homes in advance after being tipped off about the planned execution by disenchanted soldiers. Mr Alexander believes that the human story of the glen is often overlooked.

Nurse with Cancer Hits Out At Health 'Postcode Lottery'
A woman with incurable cancer is facing an impossible decision – either return home to the Highlands or stay in London and prolong her life.  Dunise MacIver (34) has joined a campaign pushing for an end to a "postcode lottery" when it comes healthcare, which sees people in different parts of the country able to access different levels of treatment. In her case, a drug she currently takes for breast cancer is not available in Inverness. So if she returns to her home city to fight the illness with the support of her family, she will have to give up the medication which is enabling her to live longer. Miss MacIver grew up in Kinmylies and went to Charleston Academy before working as a nurse, first at Raigmore Hospital and now in London. She moved south of the border in 2012 and in 2015, was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer which had also spread to her lungs. Since then all she has wanted to do is return to the Highlands to be close to her two sisters but pertuzumab, one of the two drugs she is currently taking, is not available on the NHS in Scotland."I went from a carefree 32-year-old with my life ahead of me to a 32-year-old with aggressive stage four breast cancer," she said. I am really young and I don’t know how long I will be well for. I would love to get a house in Inverness and be near my family. Where you grow up is where your heart is and now I’m ready to go home." During chemotherapy Miss MacIver had to commute between London and Inverness to be looked after as she recuperated from the taxing treatment. Now no longer receiving chemotherapy, she has been able to lead a near to normal life and continue nursing, receiving doses of both pertuzumab and a second drug, herceptin, every three weeks. Since discovering that pertuzumab is not available for free in Scotland she has joined with Just Treatment which fights for more equitable treatment across the board.  Pertuzumab is made by Swiss company Roche and would cost Miss MacIver £43,908 a year if she had to pay for it herself.  In combination with herceptin and chemotherapy, doctors believe it can prolong patients’ lives by 16 months but Miss MacIver said: "I am living proof that the 16 months extra that this drug can give people is the tip of the iceberg. I am now more than three years post-diagnosis. I am living a normal life and this is not something money can buy."  Just Treatment is calling for the Scottish Government to force Roche to lower the price and make it affordable for provision on the NHS in Scotland. It says in England the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence secured a deal to receive the drug at a lower price so it could be supplied by the NHS there.