Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 465

Issue # 465                                           Week ending Saturday 18th August 2018

When You Cannot Get A Song Out of Your Head and You Need the Loo
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

They are popularly called earworms. These are the songs that you hear once and then for ages afterwards, you are humming them to yourself. Again and again. Eventually, it gets to the stage that they are really annoying you. You can’t stop thinking about those lyrics because they fit the music so well and your brain is being short-circuited and it can process very little other information. I blame Kyle Minogue. She sang: “Boy, your lovin' is all I think about.” Then it went: “La-la-la. La-la-la-la-la. La-la-la.” Remember? What was that one called? Oh yeah. I Can’t Get You Outta My Head.

These songs are fine in the car. It helps pass the time to have Highway To Hell on full blast when you are crossing a bleak wasteland. Not that the Garynahine moor stretch to Lochganvich is much of a pathway to purgatory but if I can visualise myself in a sleek sporty set of wheels with a roaring V8 engine instead of an ex-Royal Mail Vauxhall Combi van, then sometimes AC/DC can help. Nothing to see for miles unless you reach the tree plantation and a deer jumps across the road and wallops your bodywork. Bish-bosh, Bambi.

Not that I wish that on anyone. So I have to be careful that I don’t become too adept at this prediction lark. It happens a bit too often that I make a comment on something that could happen - and it does. Last week I was having a bit of a moan in this column about our poor ferry service and our £42 million CalMac ferry MV Loch Seaforth just not being big enough. Within hours of this newspaper crossing the Minch last Wednesday, the ferry broke down and drifted perilously in Loch Broom. We have a word for that sort of thing on Lewis. Buisneachd.

It’s witchcraft, second sight, spookiness. Some of us have it - and most of you, er, don’t. It’s that feeling that suggests something is going to happen. Just an inkling but it is also just strong enough to mention it to someone else. When I’m driving I also get it. The road is clear ahead and behind but I get an uncomfortable feeling. Mrs X asks why I am so twitchy. Something is going to happen - mark my words, I say. Then nnnyyyaaarrrr. At this time of year, motorbikes are a menace and every second biker seems to behave as if they had a liking for hospital food.  Every time I get overtaken by a large motorbike, I can Harley keep my shoogly wee van on the road. I needed the toilet after just such an incident on the Lochs Road last week.

I know, you didn’t really need to know that. The serious point is that there are fewer and fewer public loos to go to when you have been scared witless by a biker - or just because, well, just because ... Aberdeen is really bad. I read in the P&J there were 33 local council-operated toilets in the granite city back in 2000. How many do you think there are today? Just nine. The worst area for taking the proverbial is North Lanarkshire. Only one of the 20 toilets it had 10 years ago is still open. Other places are badly served as well - if you can wring the right information out of councils who think it is okay to do that to people.

A few years ago I remember a story where public loos were bring routinely boarded up by a council which had eight toilets on every floor of its own skyscraper HQ. Appalling. They had to be shamed to reverse the policy. Who do these dinosaurs think they are? I could not fathom it out because the same council was increasing its own hospitality budget. That really is municipal thinking of the prehistoric variety. Mind you, you cannot hear any sound from the bathroom when a pterodactyl goes to the toilet. It always has a silent p.

This scandal has had me thinking of a song that gravel-voiced Country and Western megastar Johnny Cash sang for the inmates of Folsom Prison. It went down well. It is called: “I Have Been Flushed From The Bathroom of your Heart.” Not one of his best known, you will find it on Youtube still. Be careful because it is a bit of an earworm. It is almost as much of an earworm as that one by Tight Fit. At any given time, my urge to sing The Lion Sleeps Tonight is just a whim away, a whim away, a whim away ...

Rare Scotch Whisky Market 'Soars'

The market for rare bottled Scotch soared at UK auctions in the first six months of the year, according to whisky brokerage firm RW101.  RW101 said the value of rare Scotch whisky reached £16.3m - up year-on-year by 46%.  The number of bottles of single malt sold at auction increased by more than 27%, to almost 50,000. The average price per bottle rose to a record £328, up by 14.8% on the same period last year.  RW101 has forecast that the market will exceed 100,000 bottles for the full year, at a value of more than £36m.  The Macallan continued to be the secondary market brand leader, increasing its share of the total amount spent on rare whisky to 34.4% - more than the next nine brands combined (31.2%). RW101 co-founder Andy Simpson said: "Scotch whisky as an asset has continued to perform extremely well within a volatile global economy."

Unemployment in Scotland Drops As EU Workers Leave UK
The number of Scots out of work has fallen and the jobless total across the UK reached a 40-year low, official figures today show.  The jobless total fell by 3,000 to 118,000 among Scots aged over 16, while the number of people in work north of the border is also on the rise.  There were 2.64 million Scots with a job between April and June, a rise of 12,000 over the previous period. The biggest rise in employment was among women with a hike of 8,000, almost double the amount of new jobs among men.  Across the UK, unemployment fell by 65,000 in the latest quarter to 1.36 million, the lowest figure since 1976, giving a jobless rate of 4%. This is below the Scottish unemployment rate of 4.2%.  But there has been a record fall in the number of EU nationals working in the UK, new figures show.  There were 2.28 million EU nationals working in this country in the quarter to June, 86,000 fewer than a year earlier, the largest annual decrease since records began in 1997.  Senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes said: "The number of people in work has continued to edge ahead, though the employment rate was unchanged on the quarter.  The growth in employment is still being driven by UK nationals, with a noticeable drop over the past year in the number of workers from the so-called A8 eastern European countries in particular."

Alba No More. Skye No More. Loch Lomond No More. Runrig Say Farewell by Peter Ross
On a hot afternoon towards the end of June, the Cuillin ridge zigzagging above Skye like God’s own ECG, Donnie Munro stops outside his childhood home: a roughcast semi on Kitson Crescent, Portree, and points to what had been his bedroom window. “I always said,” he says, “that this must be the best view from any council house in Britain.” Picture him in the summer of 1973, aged nineteen, on the other side of the glass. Looking out, he would have seen Ben Tianavaig and, beyond, Raasay. What he could not have seen, nor imagined, was a future in which Runrig, the band for which he had just started to sing, would become the biggest in Scotland and have a lasting impact on Scottish culture. But the ingredients of that success were all around. Malcolm Jones – later the guitarist, but then still at school – lived down the street. The brothers Rory and Calum Macdonald, Runrig’s songwriting partnership, were on Fraser Crescent, around the corner; so close that on summer nights, windows open to the island air, they could hear the fledgling rock star singing into the bathroom mirror, giving Elvis laldy. “There was a dance every night in different villages around the island,” Munro recalls. “We were playing five, six nights a week.” Never on a Sunday, of course; the peace of the Sabbath was observed, a policy Runrig have maintained throughout a 45-year career which, soon now, will come to an end. If Donnie Munro is in nostalgic mood, it is to a purpose. Having left Runrig in 1997 (to be replaced by the Canadian singer Bruce Guthro) he will be reunited with the band at the Last Dance, two farewell concerts in Stirling in August, in front of 45,000 fans. “Runrig is a hard thing to let go,” Calum Macdonald had told me when we met at his home in the Highlands. “It has been our life’s work, so there’s an emotional attachment. It was a difficult decision, but deep within us we know it is the right one. Let’s have a clean end and be positive about it. Bring the ship home to a safe harbour.” Their catalogue is sophisticated, complex, engaged with people, place, identity, faith. Little wonder their frustration at being pigeonholed as kitschy professional Scots. “Our records still get put in the racks with the Scottish dance bands and pipe bands rather than between Run-DMC and the Rolling Stones where they should be,” Calum sighed. “The national thing, it overwhelms you.”  Here is a band whose contribution to Scottish culture has been immense, even historic. Their true place is among a lineage that stretches through Robert Burns, Billy Connolly and the historian John Prebble; their internationally popular stories of Scotland and Scottishness have, arguably, had a shaping influence on the way we see ourselves and are seen by the world. In particular, as the first band to fuse the Gaelic language with rock, they remade an ancient tradition for a new age. “They changed the face of music with their compositions in Gaelic,” says Julie Fowlis. “Theirs was an entirely new voice. It was brave and bold and from the heart. They took the language with them and kept it with them on their journey. We owe them a lot.” The Uist novelist Angus Peter Campbell has described the impact on the Hebrides of Runrig’s success: “By becoming international stars they have made the local universal and continue to give dignity to a scorned people and a scorned culture.”  Is that how Calum saw it? That when they were on stage, or in the studio, they were representing not only themselves, but their folk? “Yes, absolutely. We were very aware of carrying that with us, and proud to do it.”  Rory Macdonald is 69, his brother’s senior by almost five years. Calum is Runrig’s chief lyricist, Rory, who plays bass, is the driving musical force. We spoke at his home on the Dornoch Firth before taking a turn on the sand. He seemed in good humour, even when asked about Loch Lomond. The band’s best known song, it has likely contributed a great deal to the perception of Runrig as couthy and sentimental. But no, he said, there were no regrets about covering it. Talk turned to his late father. Donald John Macdonald had served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during the Second World War, later joining the police, before becoming a social worker. One of Runrig’s most beautiful songs, An Ubhal as Àirde, is about him. It became the first Gaelic song to make it into the UK top 20.  Runrig’s pretty melodies sometimes come spiked with venom. The Everlasting Gun is one hell of an angry song. Perhaps because of the language barrier, it is little understood how important an emotion anger is in the band’s work. They are seen by many as soft-focus, shortbread-tin; all kilt, no dirk. Listen, though, to Tir An Airm (a protest song against military bases) or Dance Called America (a rage against the Highland Clearances) or especially Fichead Bliadhna, which expresses Calum Macdonald’s frustration that he and his generation were taught nothing at school of the Clearances and other traumas of Gaeldom.  Although they have a politics, the band has, generally, avoided making statements of support for any one party. Internally, though, there has been discussion. “For most rock bands, it was sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll at the back of the tour bus, but Runrig were too busy debating Scotland’s constitutional question,” said Pete Wishart, the band’s keyboard player from 1986 and 2001.  He is now the SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire.  His political journey, he feels, is typical of Runrig’s influence on Scotland: a hugely popular band which seemed to foreground and explore Scottish identity, they were part of a wave of cultural nationalism which, quite without intent, seeded the ground for political nationalism.  “I always felt that Runrig were the soundtrack to the emerging of the Scottish Parliament,” Wishart told me. “Our song Alba is essentially about that. It was no longer unfashionable to raise issues to do with the Gaelic culture or language. Scotland was learning to love and appreciate a sense of itself as confident and assertive. All the other political changes could never have happened without a feeling that what we have in Scotland is important and worth celebrating.”  Munro’s decision to leave the band hit Rory hard. “I was devastated. It was almost like the break-up of a love affair, and for quite a while after that there was a frostiness. That’s human nature. But we’re grand now.”  A long audition process was required to find a replacement: Bruce Guthro, a singer-songwriter from Nova Scotia. “The moment we heard him singing it felt right,” Calum explained. “But he also came with a story.” Emigration to Canada – that sense of exile and homesick yearning – had long been a Runrig theme. “So it was like we were taking something back from the diaspora. That was exciting.”  It has become an accepted narrative that Munro left the band for politics, standing in the 1997 general election for the seat of Ross, Skye and Inverness West, and losing to Charles Kennedy. When we meet, he explains that it wasn’t quite that simple. He also missed his wife and children while on tour, and wondered how much more, creatively, he had to offer. “But I think, though I ceased to perform with Runrig, in my head I never really really left the band.”  Munro is director of development, fundraising and the arts at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on Skye; it was established in 1973, the same year as Runrig, and Munro sees his work as an extension of what the band was doing – expressing ideas, being part of the regeneration of culture and community. At the farewell concerts, he will perform a couple of songs with the band, but will also open the show with a set which will include Runrig material.  The music of Calum and Rory Macdonald, which so often touches on ideas of homesickness and homecoming, emerges from their childhood experience of separation. “A significant moment in our lives was when we left Uist and flitted to Skye,” Rory recalled. He was 12 years old that summer, his brother seven. Their father had a new job on the much larger island. “My dad hired a small cargo boat from Scalpay. At about seven o’ clock that evening, we were all set to leave, and most of the village came down to see us off. As the boat was pulling away, all these people were on the pier waving to us. That experience is ingrained in Calum and I, and it has triggered a lot of songs.”  Rory seemed moved by the recollection. When you close your eyes, I asked, can you see it? “I can see it and feel it. It was visceral, hugely emotional. It gets you in the gut.” For people who don’t come from that island culture, this strength of feeling might be difficult to understand. After all, it’s not as if the family was leaving for a new life in America; yet the Minch can be an Atlantic of the mind. “You were leaving a community that had enveloped you,” Rory explained. “One where you knew everybody. You were aware of the love that was being imparted by these people coming down to the pier. All your friends. It was just overwhelming.” Would it be reasonable to suggest that the Macdonald brothers’ later empathy for those forced from their homes during the Clearances, and their ability to articulate that pain in song, goes back to this early experience of being uprooted? “Yes, we could identify with all that. It was a very intense experience.”  The sea, the psalms, and socialism; hard rock and soft island skies – all of these are part of Runrig, and Runrig is, forevermore, part of Scotland’s story. Only the Stirling concerts remain. On that final night, as they play each song, they will know it is for the last time. Alba no more. Skye no more. Loch Lomond no more. “It’s going to be hard,” Rory said. “I do just occasionally think, ‘Are we doing the right thing?’ But no, I’m at peace with it. I hope the concerts will be celebratory. Maybe, at the end, a few tears will be shed …”

Ancient Past of Island Castle to Be Revealed
The ancient past of Dunyvaig Castle on Islay is to be revealed with archaeologists due to descend on the former naval fortress of the Lords of the Isles this weekend.  The ruin, in the south of the island near Port Ellen, was a coastal headquarters for the chiefs of Clan MacDonald who ruled the Hebrides and parts of the mainland from the 13th to 15th Century.While the remains of Dunyvaig today mostly date from the 16th Century, it is believed that the foundations are far older with the castle possibly built on a prehistoric dun or fort.  It is hoped that the research will reveal rich details of the site’s long history with plans to turn Dunyvaig into a vibrant visitor attraction for the island.  Ground will be broken at the castle, which sits on the southern coast of Islay.  The dig will be led by Professor Steve Mithen, Trustee of Islay Heritage, following an award from drinks giant Diageo, who donated a significant sum to the project as part the 200th anniversary of the Lagavulin distillery.  Dunyvaig was forfeited to the crown in 1493 but decades of wrangling over its ownership followed between the MacDonalds and their rivals.  The Campbell’s of Cawdor eventually took up residence in 1647 but it was demolished 30 years later by its final occupant, Sir Hugh Campbell, when he moved into Islay House.  Islay Heritage has been planning the excavation at Dunyvaig for a year with a large number of community events surrounding the dig, which is expected to last for a fortnight.  It is hoped to improve public access to the site and better illuminate its long history for visitors.

New Spaceport Could Launch Around 2,000 Small Satellites
The UK’s first spaceport could launch around 2,000 satellites by 2030 as part of efforts to bring in £3.8 billion through the industry, according to new figures.  Business Secretary Greg Clark made the announcement during his first visit to the proposed site in the Highlands yesterday.  Plans for the Sutherland spaceport were unveiled last month.  A new report released by the UK Space Agency suggests there is a “significant gap” in commercial small satellite launch provision, with demand for the sector estimated to be worth up to £3.8 billion to the economy over the next decade.  Mr Clark said: “From our market leadership in small satellite construction to our world-leading universities, Scotland and the UK come from a position of strength in the global space sector which will be turbo-boosted by the first new spaceport and our industrial strategy. “However, I want to make sure that this giant leap for the UK will also deliver on the ground, that’s why I’m here today to discuss benefits in local jobs, uplifting tourism and businesses, helping to bring prosperity to all.”  The spaceport will be developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which has approved investment of up to £9.8 million in the £17.2 million facility.  Last month it was announced the UK Space Agency would provide £31.5 million of funding for the project.  If approved, it could see a vertical launch site built for a new generation of small rockets to launch micro communication and earth-observation satellites.  Melness Crofting Estate near Tongue is the proposed location. Scotland has been described as the best place in the UK to reach in-demand satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets.  It is estimated the spaceport could create 400 jobs in the area. Employment would come from activities at the spaceport, inward investment, and supply chains.  Roy Kirk, of HIE, said: “Establishing the UK’s first spaceport in Sutherland is a fantastic opportunity for the Highlands and Islands, and for Scotland.  The international space sector is set to grow very significantly in the coming years. Crucially, we believe it will also stimulate further related investment and business activity more widely across the Highlands and Islands and other parts of Scotland.” The 2,000 satellites are forecast to launch between 2021 and 2030.

City Hotels Hit Back At Tour Boss's Criticism
Branding of Highland hotels as substandard and unwelcoming has been rejected by tourism leaders.  The response follows comments by Edinburgh-based tour operator James Aitken, of Cashel Travel, who warned poor standards and surly staff were damaging the industry, particularly in the Highlands.  Writing in the Scottish Tourism Alliance newsletter, he said: "The hotels we visited went from poor to terrible the further north we travelled from Edinburgh."  Also hitting out at hoteliers who overinflate their room prices in periods of high demand he said: "There are wonderful hotels in the Highlands, of course there are. But it’s the level below that. It’s tough selling Scotland. We don’t have the same issues in England or Ireland, and it’s not just me saying that. I hear a lot of similar complaints in the industry." Craig Ewan, operations director of Inverness’s Kingsmills Hotel, said he was disappointed by Mr Aitken’s stance.  "Careless articles such as this will most certainly create a negative view and turn visitors away from Scotland," he said. "Such a shame when there are hardworking people, doing amazing work and creating wonderful memories for our guests.  We get positive feedback from around 99 per cent of our guests who are enthusiastic in their praise of the hotel and service. Of course from time to time we miss the mark, but if we do we go all out to recover that experience for our guests. We are committed to creating the very best experience.  However comments such as the ones in this article tars us all with the same brush – it’s unprofessional and highly damaging to Scottish tourism." Inverness Hotel Association chairman Emmanuel Moine, manager of the city’s Glen Mhor Hotel, said: "Hoteliers turn down hundreds of groups in the summer. While hotels in Inverness had a 70 per cent occupancy in 2010, they all had 90 per cent occupancy last year.  At the Glen Mhor Hotel we haven’t had a single complaint in regards to groups, even from Cashel Travel."

Bouncers to Get Terrorism Training
Frontline security staff in Inverness are being enlisted in the UK-wide fight against terrorism. Door supervisors and security guards are being invited to attend an awareness-raising event in the city next week, in a joint venture by Police Scotland and the Security Industry Authority (SIA),  It is also supported by the UK’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office and National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters.  It is the second such event in Scotland – a pilot session took place in Glasgow and further ones are to be held in forthcoming weeks in Dundee, East Kilbride and Edinburgh.  Called "You Can Act", it will include an hour-long presentation on the current threat, terrorist methods and counter terrorism best practice and will be followed by an interactive exercise involving a simulated terrorist attack.  It will be held at a city hotel on Tuesday and is aimed at private security representatives, particularly frontline staff who are often the first people on the scene in the aftermath of an attack. Detective Chief Inspector Dave Ferry of Police Scotland’s organised crime and counter terrorism unit said it aimed to give Inverness security staff the knowledge and confidence to act in the interests of public safety.  "While there is no indication of a specific threat of terrorism to Scotland at this time that does not mean that we should be complacent," he said. "Our long-standing advice to the public remains to be vigilant and aware."  He said the event will highlight the key role security staff can and do play in preventing attacks. This is not only relevant to terrorism – security personnel have an important role in preventing crime in general and these events allow us to share knowledge and best practice," he said.  "Our advice to security staff and the wider public is to be alert and to report concerns to police."  There are more than 300,000 frontline security staff holding SIA licences in the UK, of which 27,000 are in Scotland

‘Shambolic Brexit’ Poses Threat to NHS in Scotland
The UK Westminster Government’s “shambolic Brexit” poses a threat to the future of the NHS in Scotland, the SNP has said.  MP Dr Philippa Whitford said a “power grab” over public procurement could lead to more privatisation in the NHS.  The SNP’s Westminster health spokesperson claimed that Holyrood would lose control over how key public services are delivered under such a system.  In May, the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee warned that the autonomy of the Scottish health service must be protected after Brexit.  Dr Whitford said: “The news we’ve seen this week of £2 billion worth of NHS England contracts being handed over to a single private firm sets a dangerous precedent and last month’s report by MPs which described the outsourcing of primary care services in England to Capita as a ‘complete mess and a shambles’ shows exactly what the Tories would do to our NHS in Scotland given half a chance with the procurement powers they have grabbed from Scotland. This is why the Westminster power grab over procurement after Brexit is so worrying - with the Tories in charge of procurement laws and policy, the Scottish Parliament and its voters would lose control over how our key public services are delivered with the future real threat of being opened up to profiteering firms from across the Atlantic. Theresa May has already failed to rule this out on multiple occasions - and as the Tories get ever more desperate to secure a trade deal with Donald Trump at any cost, we can be sure that our NHS will be in their sights. The Tories are making a mess of the health service south of the border - opening it up to private companies in shambolic fashion, leaving ordinary people needing proper and effective care to pay the price. We cannot allow this to happen in Scotland - but with the Tories intent on their power grab and a disastrous Brexit, the threat is major and real.”

Book Bought for £2 in Fife Found to Be Historic

A historic Robert Burns book bought for £2 at a charity sale has been donated to a Fife library's Burns collection.  Cassie Kennedy realised The National Burns by Reverend George Gilfillan was unusual when she picked it up at a Samaritans book sale in Kirkcaldy.  It was first published in 1893, near the anniversary of the first centenary of the poet's death in 1796. Ms Kennedy gave it to the Murison Burns Collection at Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries.  Ms Kennedy, an author, said: "I'm delighted The National Burns has found its way home. I was immediately drawn to the book and knew I had to buy it.  I can't believe a £2 charity book has found its way into the Murison Burns collection - it's a story I'd write myself."  The book, described as "including the Airs of all the Songs and an original life of Burns" has not been valued but is said to be in good condition.  The major part of the Murison Burns Collection consists of around 1,500 books which Murison, born in 1852, gathered during the course of his life.  They range from the "modestly produced first edition of Burns poems, published in Kilmarnock in 1786, to the lavish editions issued in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries" according to the Fife Council website.

Robert the Bruce Epic to Open Prestigious Toronto International Film Festival

A Major new movie about Robert the Bruce, directed by David Mackenzie, is to be the opening film of the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival.  Outlaw King, which is backed by Netflix and stars Chris Pine, will be premiered at the annual festival in Canada on September 6.  Creative Scotland, which gave £1m to the film, said it is the biggest feature film to be made in Scotland to date.  A description of the film, produced by Gillian Berrie, supplied to the press says it tells the "untold, true story of Robert the Bruce who transforms from defeated nobleman to outlaw hero during the oppressive occupation of medieval Scotland by Edward I of England."  It adds: "Despite grave consequences, Robert seizes the Scottish crown and rallies an impassioned group of men to fight back against the mighty army of the tyrannical King and his volatile son, the Prince of Wales."  The film will launch on Netflix on 9 November this year.  Three other films with links to Scotland will also play in Toronto: Tell It To the Bees, Wild Rose and Freedom Fields.  Robbie Allen, the senior Screen Executive at Creative Scotland: “We are enormously excited and proud to see the epic Outlaw King receive its premiere at one of the world most important film festivals. It’s an incredible achievement for David, Gillian and all involved. To then be followed by the World Premieres of yet more exciting films from Scotland is a testament to the current strength of our filmmaking nation."

Concern Over Increasing Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Thurso
A Highland councillor has voiced concerns at what residents say is a rise in drug and alcohol abuse and anti-social behaviour in the High Ormlie and Springpark areas of Thurso.  Alarmed residents have told of drug-dealing and drug use in the area over the past few weeks. They say they are frequently bothered by people under the influence of drugs or alcohol into the early hours of the morning.  Councillor Karl Rosie said that over the past few weeks he had been contacted by a large number of residents.  “The message from them has been clear – ‘enough is enough’,” he said. “I have therefore already met with residents in High Ormlie to discuss these issues which are blighting their community.  People are voicing real concern about personal safety as well as the impact on the many young children growing up locally. This is simply unacceptable.”  One man who did not wish to be named lives near the Springpark area and has already discussed the “very serious and worsening” issue with Mr Rosie.  “There are a number of very suspicious characters lurking about who are new to the area,” the man said. He went on to say that one house was recently burgled and that residents in Oldfield Court, mainly elderly and disabled people, have been advised by the council to “keep their doors locked at all times”.  Another man in Springpark – who also wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal – said there had been a marked increase in anti-social behaviour and he felt unsafe living in the area now. “There was a party going on all night till about 7.30am recently. It’s getting really bad in the last while,” he said yesterday.  An unnamed Thurso resident recently posted a photograph of a used needle that he discovered in one of the town’s toilets and suspects was discarded by a drug addict. “It’s a total disgrace,” he said. “Imagine a kid pricked themselves with that.” Mr Rosie said that a further community meeting is being arranged with Police Scotland, Highland Council’s housing department and NHS officials, with the aim of offering advice and reassurance and to help address the issues raised. “While the immediate priority is to tackle the drug-related anti-social behaviour, residents also recognised the value of appropriate treatment and recovery programmes in supporting people afflicted by what are recognised as highly addictive drugs and help them return to living a normal life,” he said.

The Tsunami That Battered Scotland 8,000 Years Ago
A wave that reached up to 25 metres in height battered the Shetland isles and the east coast of Scotland around 8,000 years ago.  Experts believe that the giant wave may have been travelling a speed of around 80mph as it struck land.  Known as the Storegga Slide, the tsunami may have been triggered by a serious earthquake that caused part of the coastal shelf off Norway to collapse. An overload of sediment on the sea bed may also have been at play. The Storegga Slide, which happened around 6,200BC, is still considered to be the largest mass movement event of its kind in the last 50,000 years.  It is this sediment that has been key to understanding the terrifying arrival of the sea over Scotland.  In 2000, Dr Sue Dawson of Dundee University found wild cherry stones in tsunami deposits, which indicated the tsunami happened sometime in autumn. Fish bones and green moss have also been recovered from the sands.  The Montrose Basin, a tidal basin in Angus, was among places hit by the wave with water said to have reached around 20 miles inland.  Tsunami deposits have also been found at Barnyards near Beauly in the Highlands, Waterside near Newburgh in Aberdeenshire and Easter Offerance in Stirlingshire.  The Shetland Islands suffered two smaller tsunamis one around 5000BC and one around 1500BC.  Archaeologists have recently questioned whether mass burial sites on Orkney and Shetland were created for victims of tsunamis.  Earlier this month, Prof James Goff, from the University of New South Wales, suggested that tests should be carried out on human remains found in the burial chambers to determine whether they had died from drowning.

Scottish Defence League Thug Caught with Bomb Making Kit and Nazi Items Jailed for 12 Years
A right wing extremist who was caught with a bomb making kit was jailed for 12 years today for terrorism and explosives offences.  Peter Morgan was found to have collected explosive powder, fuses, screws and steel tacks along with a glass bottle studded with lead shot and nail gun rounds.  A judge told Morgan at the High Court in Edinburgh : "You have been convicted of two charges under the Terrorism Act and one charge under the Explosives Substances Act 1883."  Lord Boyd of Duncansby said: "These charges threaten the safety of the public, our values as a democracy and strike at the dignity and respect which all members of our community are entitled to expect whatever their race or religion.  You assert your right to freedom of speech. However abhorrent some may find your view, you are entitled to hold them. What you are not entitled to do is to act on these views for the purpose of committing or preparing an act of terrorism," said the judge.  He added: "Of most concern is that you not only possessed the ingredients for the making of an improvised explosive device but you had begun to assemble it."  The judge said it was clear that the jury at Morgan's earlier trial had rejected his claim during his evidence that he only planned to blow up a frozen turkey and film it for YouTube .  Lord Boyd pointed out that while Morgan had told a social worker who prepared a background report on him that he would never collect such material again but he did not disavow his political views.  The judge ordered that Morgan should be kept under supervision for a further three years when he can be returned to prison if he breaches licence conditions.  An Army bomb disposal expert called to Morgan's flat in Edinburgh said a "quite effective, viable" improvised explosive device (IED) could be made from the items discovered.  Sergeant Liam Davies told the court: "I believe that this is a bomb in construction or waiting to be constructed."  Police also discovered that Morgan (35) had downloaded an international application form to become "a loyal white knight of the Ku Klux Klan". He also sent a message stating: "I just hate the f---ing Muslims. Don't want any more of those f---ers up here."  

World Pipe Band Championships Get Under Way in Glasgow
The World Pipe Band Championships are set to get under way with 214 bands from 13 countries taking part.  About 8,000 pipers and drummers will compete on Friday and Saturday at Glasgow Green.  More than a quarter of the total entries are from overseas, with up to 40% under the age of 25.  Glasgow first hosted the World Pipe Band Championships in 1948 and has been the host city for the event every year since 1986.  Nations represented include New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, France, Canada, Oman, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, the Republic of Ireland, USA, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  This year the chieftain of the championships is Glasgow's Swedish-born lord provost, Eva Bolander, who first visited the city as a piper in a band.  She said: "Glasgow and the World Pipe Band Championships are inextricably linked and we love welcoming pipers and drummers from all over the world to compete.  I know what it's like to put months of work into rehearsing as part of a band to head into the arena to be judged on one single performance. The musical ability on display at Glasgow Green this weekend, coupled with the friendly rivalry, brings an atmosphere and experience that simply can't be matched."  The championships are organised on behalf of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association by the City of Glasgow.  The current world champions are Inveraray and District Pipe Band.

Dalwhinnie School and Schoolhouse Go on the Market
One of the smallest schools in Scotland has gone on the market for £175,000 - six years after it closed because it only had three pupils.  Bidders can buy a bit of local history as Dalwhinnie Primary School in the Scottish Highlands - which opened in the village in 1878 - is open for offers.  The sale comprises the former school and schoolhouse, made of traditional stone construction under a pitched slate roof.  The site extends to one acre and offers the buyer the chance to redevelop the existing building and possibly part of the grounds for other uses.  The school was mothballed at the end of the 2011/12 session, with pupils now attending Newtonmore or Gergask Primary Schools.  The roll had dropped to just three pupils in its final year - who had just finished P2, P3 and nursery.  Dalwhinnie is located within the Cairngorm National Park and is situated just off the A9 carriageway, approximately one hour’s drive north of Perth and south of Inverness. The area attracts large numbers of outdoor enthusiasts for walking and mountaineering.  But Dalwhinnie is best known for its multi-award-winning Whisky Distillery which is an extremely popular
tourist attraction throughout the year.