Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 503

Issue # 503                                                  Week ending Saturday 11th May 2019

Someone I Know Should Be Writing Crime Dramas But She Drives Me Round the Bend
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Many people online offer to help you with dieting tips. However, a survey has found nearly 90 per cent of self-appointed diet bloggers on social media give out wrong advice. In other words, they have no idea what they’re talking about. That woman who keeps saying that people over 40 will lose weight if they go on a baby food diet for a month is talking a lot of rusks. We are supposed to replace breakfast and lunch with 14 jars of baby food. No, I didn’t try it but the fact that she claims to use it and is not what you call slender is a fail. Anyway, I’d worry about the nappies.

Not that the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton will have any concerns for their new wee son’s diapers, as Americans call them. I am talking about Prince Harry and Meghan. Though it hasn’t been reported yet, I bet they were dancing in the streets of Dumbarton when the news came this week that Baby Boy Dumbarton had been born. Why? Unless another title is created for him by Her Maj, the wee fellow is destined to be the next Earl of Dumbarton, or as most people on the west coast pronounce it, Dumparton.

If they didn’t have the hired helps, the Dumpartons would just have to work out what to do. Unlike Mrs X. There are so many things she just cannot work out. She just cannot work out how to do University Challenge, rare steaks or parallel parking. I didn’t realise how bad a driver she was until we were in Inverness a while back. There she was driving through the Longman Estate, wildly dodging perfectly parked cars and bouncing the van, and me, off the kerbs. I am sure I heard the satnav say: “In 300 feet, turn left, stop and let me out.”

Also annoying is what she can do absolutely right. Mrs X has an uncanny ability to work out what is about to happen in a TV show. She’ll say: “Ooh, don’t like the look of him. He did it.” She’s usually bang on. You’ve no idea how annoying that is when you’re trying to watch and you don’t want to know. During the last episode of Line of Duty at the weekend, Mrs X worked out the twist. When lawyer Gill Biggeloe said something, Mrs X said: “Why is she looking like that?” What are you on about? She’s just an actress. She’s playing a legal adviser to the anti-corruption team.

My missus went on and on about the woman in the corner during Hastings’s grillings: “Who asked her to be there?” Sure enough, it turned out Martin Compston, the lad from Greenock and his Detective Inspector, had figured out just in time that Biggeloe was a crook. Biggeloe even had fake cops to stand at the door to bust her out if she was sussed. Lawyers are always meant to be such upright citizens. How on earth did Mrs X know that legal eagle was dodgy? She just knows these things. Maybe it’s a Plasterfield woman thing. In real life too, she just knows.

But does anybody know why the Secretary of State for Defence got his jotters? Booted out probably because someone heard Gavin Williamson after that National Security Council meeting trying to pronounce the Chinese mobile company, Huawei. Hoo-aye? Hawaii? He probably just said to someone in the pub: “Hoi, why? Why is it my round again?” and they dobbed him in. So he’s out and he’s slightly upset about it all. A former Tory chief whip, Williamson claimed to have his own carrot and stick method to keep MPs in line. “I do not much like the stick. But it is amazing what can be achieved with a sharpened carrot.” What on earth are you talking about, man? Huawei you go and boil your head.

His party also lost more than 1,300 councillors in the local elections down south. Heck, that is a disaster. Even Iain Duncan Smith, a Tory leader himself for five minutes, says Theresa May is now just a caretaker and no longer a PM. Ouch. He should know. He was the first Conservative leader since Neville Chamberlain not to lead them into an election. He was roundly humiliated in a confidence vote and finally quit, never to be heard from again. Ha, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Talking of food options, a Stornoway supermarket does a very good Meal Deal offer. You buy a snack, like a sandwich or a salad bowl, and you get a can of juice for about half price. The other day a girl from Harris was in and decided to have a sandwich - one half of the Meal Deal offer. The helpful lad on the checkout pointed out a potential savings. “We have a Meal Deal offer on these. Would you like to have a drink?” She smartly curtly: “No. I have a boyfriend. He’s from Tarbert, you know. He is very strong and we will probably be engaged very soon.”

Scotland Has More GPs Than Rest of the UK, Study Finds

Scotland has the highest number of GPs per head of population in the UK, research commissioned by the BBC has revealed.  Analysis by the Nuffield Trust think tank shows there are 76 GPs per 100,000 people, compared to a national UK average of 60.  But Scotland's doctors have warned major challenges still exist with recruitment and retention. Latest figures also show a 8% drop in the number of GP surgeries since 2008.  The pressures on GPs across the UK are being examined by the BBC as part of a special day of coverage, including a Panorama investigation.  Unlike south of the border, Scottish GP numbers have stayed relatively static in recent years and the Scottish government has pledged to recruit a further 800 over the next decade to fill gaps.  However, this comes against a backdrop of increased patient numbers, many elderly with complex medical needs, and a fall in the number of GP practices.  Doctors are being offered incentives such as "golden hello" payments or relocation costs as part of a plan to recruit 800 GPs in a decade.  The move is part of the new GP contract agreed in 2018 but unions say there are still significant gaps in GP numbers.  Dr Alasdair Forbes, of the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland, warned that the country faces a shortfall of 856 family doctors by 2021.  He said: "Our members have told us that the current shortage of GPs is taking a toll on their wellbeing and reduces the likelihood that they will remain in general practice for the long-term.  A commitment to increase the number of whole time equivalent GPs must be in tandem with the growth of the wider primary care team workforce such as nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists.  General practice is at the frontline of the NHS, carrying out the vast majority of patient contacts and holding clinical risk as gatekeepers to the other parts of the health service.  "By investing in general practice, the NHS will be enabled to be at its best where it is needed most, tackling many of the root causes of health inequalities and reducing the pressure on secondary care services."  Olive Watson, 93, has lived in the village of Stoneyburn all her life and can't remember a time when it didn't have a GP practice.  But that changed last year when the doctors who ran the West Lothian village's health centre handed the keys back to NHS Lothian.  The health board was unable to find a replacement, despite an extensive recruitment drive.  For Olive, who is registered blind, and the rest of the village this means the closest practice is three miles away in Fauldhouse.  "It is murder," Olive told BBC Scotland.  "It is just not convenient in anyway, when you get off the bus it is a hill and a bit of a walk to get there," said the pensioner, who now mostly relies on taxis to get to her new Gps.   "I would like to see a doctor, even part time, put in the village here, that would be handy for me and other people like me who are elderly but also young families.  I met a lady with two kids who spent £12 going up and down to the doctor with one of them who was ill. You feel sorry for people like that, it is a lot of money in bus fares."  Olive, who also has asthma, said the village's surgery closing down had sometimes put her off going to see a GP. She added: "If I am really very ill I phone for the paramedics and they are very good."  Figures from NHS Scotland show the number of GP practices in Scotland has fallen from 1,025 in 2008 to 944 last year.  Over the same period the number of registered patients has increased by 5% to 5.7m.  The Nuffield Trust analysis looked at the number of GPs working in the NHS per 100,000 people across the UK.  It shows that during the late 1960s the numbers were falling, before four decades of almost continuous growth.  A peak of 66.5 was reached in 2009, before the increases tailed off.  There has now been four consecutive years of falls with the biggest drops being seen in England.  A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "We have a record number of GPs working in Scotland, and are committed to increasing numbers by at least 800 in the next 10 years. We are committed to investing £250m more in direct support of general practice by the end of this parliamentary period. The new GP contract agreed with the BMA and GPs, ensures GPs are able to spend more time with patients and less on bureaucracy, making a career in general practice even more attractive to younger doctors."

Diageo Submits Plans to Revive Port Ellen Distillery

Whisky production could be revived at an iconic distillery on Islay for the first time in more than 35 years, under plans put forward by Diageo.  The drinks giant has submitted a planning application to overhaul the Port Ellen Distillery, which closed in 1983.  The proposals include restoring the distillery's original kiln building and traditional sea-front warehouses. There are also plans for a new stillhouse.  The move is part of a £35m investment programme by Diageo to reopen Port Ellen Distillery and Brora Distillery in Sutherland, both of which closed in 1983.  The buildings at Port Ellen Distillery have undergone many changes since it first opened in 1824.  In the 1930s the distillery was closed and largely demolished, before being rebuilt in the 1960s.  Following its most recent closure in 1983, only a handful of the original buildings remained.  Georgie Crawford, master distiller leading the Port Ellen project, said: "This is another hugely significant milestone on our journey to bring Port Ellen Distillery back to life.  This is no ordinary distillery project - we are bringing a true whisky legend back to life and we believe our plans do justice to the iconic status of Port Ellen and will capture the imagination of whisky fans from all over the world."  Last month, Diageo submitted plans to overhaul visitor facilities at two distilleries in the north of Scotland. It said planning applications had been filed for Cardhu in Speyside and Clynelish in Sutherland, after public consultation.

Mull Minister Dies on Hill Walking Trip Near Ullapool

A Church of Scotland minister has died while on a hillwalking trip in the Highlands.  The Rev Johnny Paton, 60, failed to return from a walk on An Teallach, a mountain near Ullapool, on Monday.  Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team and an HM Coastguard helicopter carried out searches and his body was found at about 08:45 on Tuesday.  Mr Paton led congregations on the Isle of Mull, including Kilninian and Kilmore.  Stewart Shaw, clerk to the Presbytery of Argyll, said: "We are shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden loss of a distinguished minister and kindly friend, Rev Johnny Paton, minister on the Isle of Mull. We extend our sympathies and condolences to his wife, Cathy and his family.  We hold them and his congregations in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic time."  Mr Shaw said the minister was an experienced hillwalker.  Mr Paton studied alongside the Right Rev Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly, at New College in Edinburgh.  She said: "I have fond memories of Johnny from our days at New College.  "A man always quick to smile. So kind, compassionate and quietly diligent and faithful."

Delay to Construction of New Prison for Highlands and Moray

A project to build a new prison for the north of Scotland has been delayed until 2023 at the earliest.  HMP Highland has been proposed as a replacement for Inverness Prison, which was opened in 1902.  Planning permission for the new facility on a site near Inverness Retail Park was granted in 2017.  The Scottish government said it was committed to the project but other priorities had to be met first.  A spokesman said development of a suitable design of HMP Highland was progressing.  He said: "The Scottish government and Scottish Prison Service are committed to modernising and improving our prison estate.  The current priorities are development of the new female estate, a replacement for HMP Barlinnie and then HMP Highland."  A new prison to serve the Highlands and Islands and Moray has been a long-held aspiration of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).  Inverness Prison, also known as Porterfield, is not only one of the oldest jails in Scotland but also one of the smallest.  SPS had considered building HMP Highland on farmland next to Inverness' large suburb of Milton of Leys, but there was strong local opposition to this plan.  In 2016, the prison service revealed that it was looking at an alternative site and in February 2017 it set out its plans to develop the site near Inverness Retail Park.  The new site is also close to the Inverness Campus, the location of Inverness College UHI and Highlands and Islands Enterprise offices.

Salsa Band Set to Delight Dancers in Cromarty with Anniversary Milestone
A band which made its debut on the Black Isle and went on to delight crowds at Belladrum with its epic performances is returning to Cromarty this weekend for a special gig.  Salsa band Orquesta Latina Del Norte (OLDN) will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a show at The Stables on Saturday night.  The band had its first gig in Cromarty in May 2009 and felt that was a fitting place to celebrate its milestone. OLDN was formed the year before that by Campbell McCracken and the late musician, Brian Dodds.  Campbell's wife Jermaine Allison-McCracken taught salsa classes in Inverness and wanted live music to dance to. "Back then, Latin bands rarely performed in the Highlands," said band leader and alto sax player, Campbell. "Maybe once every two or three years if you were lucky. So Jermaine suggested I form my own band."  Campbell and Brian spent six months recruiting suitable players and sourcing sheet music until everything was in place before starting rehearsals.The band was set up as a community band so that anyone who wanted could join - there were no auditions and no minimum ability levels.  "Fortunately all the musicians had enough skill and experience that it wasn't a musical train crash," laughed Campbell.  "I think playing with OLDN has inspired a lot of the band members. We've had around 50 players through our doors in the past 10 years, as people come and go from the Inverness area, and I think they've all enjoyed the band and the music. One member moved south a few years ago and started his own band when he got there."  Their first gig back in 2009, was recorded by the BBC and excerpts were broadcast on the BBC Alba news programme. "That was a great thrill," Campbell reminisced.  Since then, the self-proclaimed "Best Salsa Band In The Highlands" has risen in stature and is a firm favourite at the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival.  "We've performed at Belladrum every year since 2011 and have probably played more than any other band," said Campbell. "Normally a band plays for only an hour or so. We play for two hours on each of the Friday and Saturday nights each year. I can't think of any band that's performed for even half that time."  He continued: "We play in the dance tent at Belladrum, after the dance teachers have finished. Each year we get people coming up to us afterwards saying they've never enjoyed themselves so much."  The anniversary concert, in The Stables in Cromarty on May 11, is one the band is looking forward to."We're planning a real party atmosphere with lots of dancing," said Campbell. "In addition to the Latin music we started off with, the band has added a second string to its musical bow in the past year, playing lots of Rock, Soul and R&B - now there's something for everyone."  He said: "As my wife says, dance when you get the chance!"

Royal Baby’s Title Linked to Ancient Scottish Kingdom and Legend of Merlin

The likely title of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s baby son links the royal newborn to an ancient Scottish kingdom and the legend of Merlin.  As the son of a duke, the baby is entitled to be known as the Earl of Dumbarton, one of the subsidiary titles given to Harry on the morning of his wedding by his grandmother the Queen.  Harry, in consultation with the Queen, might however decide that his son will not use the title – in which case he could simply be Lord (first name) Mountbatten-Windsor.  With Harry and Meghan forging their own path within the royal family, they might even decide not to use any title, with the baby being Master (first name) Mountbatten-Windsor.   But any decision would have to be made with the Queen’s agreement.  The Queen could still step in and issue a Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm and make the baby boy a prince.  Founded in the fifth century, the town of Dumbarton, on the River Clyde, west of Glasgow in Scotland, was once the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde.  Dumbarton Castle sits on the dramatic twin peaks of the 240ft high Dumbarton Rock – a volcanic plug which in-filled the crater of a volcano which was active 350 million years ago.  It guards the point where the River Leven joins the River Clyde.  According to Historic Environment Scotland: “Dumbarton Rock was a mighty stronghold in the Dark Ages.  “Waters swirl around the base of the volcanic rock, which rises almost vertical into the sky.  From its twin peaks – White Tower Crag and the Beak – you can see for many miles.”  The fort, was according to legend, visited by King Arthur’s wizard Merlin in the 6th century. Legend has it that #Merlin visited King Riderch of Strathclyde at 'Alt Clut' – the old name for Dumbarton Rock.  Known as Alt Clut – Rock of the Clyde, it was later called by the Gaelic name Dun Breatann – Fortress of the Britons –  from where the name Dumbarton is derived.  Vikings – led by Ivar the Boneless and Olaf the White – later beseiged the fortress, eventually pillaging and destroying it.  The medieval castle was built by King of Scots Alexander II in 1220.  It was a cornerstone of medieval royal power and later served as a military base and prison.  An important royal refuge, it was the hiding place for the young Mary Queen of Scots, before she fled to France at the age of five.  In the 1800s, shipbuilding was the major industry in the town of Dumbarton, and it went on to become known for its glassmaking and whisky production.  Harry became the third person to hold the title the Earl of Dumbarton, and now his son is expected to be the fourth.  Before the Queen gave Harry the title, it had not been used in more than 260 years. The earldom has strong military connections.  The first to be given it was George Douglas, a younger son of the first Marquess of Douglas, who was created Earl of Dumbarton in 1675. A Scottish nobleman and soldier, George received the title from Charles II in recognition of his military service. When James VII of Scots (James II of England) came to the throne in 1685, the earl was made military commander in Scotland, and it is thought that when the King was deposed, George accompanied him to his court in exile in France.  On George’s death at St German-en-Laye in France, the title passed to his son, also called George, who became the second Earl of Dumbarton.  The title became extinct when the second earl died in 1749, until it was handed to Harry.  On marriage, Meghan became the Countess of Dumbarton.  Dumbarton was a Royal Burgh between 1222 and 1975.

Aberdeen’s IFB Becomes Part Owned by Staff

Aberdeen tech outfit IFB has sealed a partial management buyout from its founder chairman John Michie, resulting in a restructuring of share ownership.  The move sees an investment in the business from chief executive Graeme Gordon and non-executive director Jane Stewart, as well as the creation of an employee share ownership scheme.  The firm has specialised in connectivity, security and data management systems for more than two decades. Its customer base is anchored in the oil and gas sector.  Michie said: “Employee share ownership has always been part of my long-term vision for IFB and I believe now is the right time for the company, its leadership team and employees to move forward as owners, given IFB’s strong market position and ambitious plans for growth.”  Gordon added: “We believe the new ownership structure creates a fantastic opportunity as one team to accelerate our strategic plans.”

Scotland's Bottle Return Scheme Deposit to Be Set At 20p

The Scottish government has outlined its plans for a deposit return scheme for some plastic drinking containers, cans and glass.  Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham told MSPs at Holyrood that a "return to retail" model would be adopted.  She added that following an extensive consultation the deposit would be set at 20p.  The move is part of the government's climate action plan.  The minister said all retail outlets, regardless of size, would need to comply with the scheme.  She explained that there had been a lot of discussion about whether to include glass in the plans.  Ms Cunningham said it had been concluded that glass should be affected, despite some criticism from the glass industry.  However, she added that HDPE-made plastic bottles, which are typically used to carry milk, would not be included.  Containers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) - which typically carry fizzy drinks and water - will be subject to the deposit return.  Effectively, 20p - the deposit - will be added to the price of a single-use drinks container bought from a shop.  The consumer will get their deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can to the retailer.  The scheme will operate throughout Scotland, including rural areas.  All types of drinks and all containers above 50ml and up to three litres in size are included.  Businesses selling drinks which are opened and consumed on site - such as pubs and restaurants - will not have to charge the deposit to the public.  There will be two ways you can return your empty container - over the counter, or by using a reverse vending machine (RVM).  An RVM is a machine that scans containers when they are returned and then refunds your deposit.  The government says there will be a range of ways you can get your 20p back, for example cash at a till, a token or discount voucher or digitally. The returned containers are stored in the machine and are then collected for recycling. As well as retailers and hospitality businesses, schools and other community hubs will be able to act as return locations.  The government says an independent, privately-run, not-for-profit company will be in charge.  It adds that the system will be paid for through three sources of funding - unredeemed deposits, revenue from the sale of materials and a producer fee.  The Scottish government said it was planning to introduce legislation later in the year. Once the Scottish Parliament has passed the necessary regulations, there will be an implementation period of at least 12 months before the scheme is up and running.  Scotland will likely be the first nation in the UK to introduce a bottle deposit return scheme. That is possible because recycling is a devolved issue.  Currently, a consultation is taking place in England with a deposit of about 15p being mooted. Wales has been involved with the research being done for England. However, the Welsh government said it was already the third best place in the world for recycling, so it questioned whether a bottle deposit scheme would improve on that.  In Northern Ireland, a deposit return scheme is also under consideration.

Bronze Age Burial Uncovered At Orkney Sub Station Site

Archaeologists have discovered a Bronze age burial pit while excavating the site of a proposed new sub electricity sub station in Orkney. The stone lined box capped with a large flat stone was unearthed at Finstown, ahead of construction work by SSEN Transmission. The pit - known as a cist - appears to be empty, though it would once have contained bones or cremated remains.  It's thought the burial dates back around 3,500 years.  The team from ORCA Archaeology based at Orkney College are exploring and recording the features and history of the site on behalf of the power firm.  Senior project manager Pete Higgins told BBC Radio Orkney the dig followed earlier exploratory work in the area. "SSE commissioned us to do some work to find out what was on the site they wanted to use," he said.  "So we've done a test base survey, we've done geo-physical surveys, and we've walked over the site and seen what's there.  So actually turning up archaeology wasn't a surprise." But, he says, what they've discovered is a "major find".  He said they have planned a very slow and careful investigation of the cist, because there may be remains of bones in there. "But that's not the only puzzle we've got," he added.  "We've also got a stone surface, made of very rough cobbles.  "We're still trying to work out quite what its relationship is to the cist, and quite what it would have been used for."  SSEN Transmission wants to build the sub station - midway between Stromness and Kirkwall - as part of its investment to enable renewables projects in Orkney to link up with the main UK wide grid.  Environmental project manager Simon Hall said the company was "delighted" ORCA Archaeology had found "such an exciting feature, that otherwise may never have been found. We look forward to continuing to work closely with ORCA as the excavation progresses."

The Battle to Save Scotland's Forests From Disease
John Dougan said the work of generations of foresters has been lost "When I first saw the impact this disease was having, it really almost reduced me to tears."  The words of Scottish Forestry's John Dougan as he describes the battle to defeat the deadly tree disease Phytophthora Ramorum.  It has spread throughout Scotland in recent years, leaving thousands of dead and damaged trees in its wake.  If the ongoing fight is lost, it is feared it could be catastrophic for the forestry industry and also hit tourism.  As the busy summer holidays period approaches, members of the public are being urged to take some simple precautions which could help, such as cleaning their boots before leaving.  Phytophthora Ramorum was first found larch trees in the region in 2010.  At Ae Forest near Dumfries, its impact on the landscape is clear to see.  Slowing the progression of the disease can only be achieved by cutting trees down.  At Ae, any vulnerable species found within 250m of an infected tree will be felled.  The change is significant - both in terms of the look of the forest and the increased activity.  Mr Dougan, Scottish Forestry's head of operational development, told BBC Scotland's Landward: "It's a fungal-based disease, microscopic spores that get caught up in water droplets and vapour, and they get blown around in the atmosphere, they land on the tree and then they start to attack the tissue of the tree, and then they also reproduce themselves and the cycle continues on from there.  It's really larch that is the engine that drives the disease progression."  He said of the felling approach: "What we're trying to do by clear-felling is removing infected trees, and reducing the risk of them then allowing the disease to reproduce itself and move onto other sites.  The wood will go into conventional timber usage that it would have done anyway  It does need to be handled in a specific way because obviously it potentially has infected material associated with it." In this particular case at Ae, trees are being felled more than 20 years before they would have normally come down.  Mr Dougan explained: "From a personal point of view - I mean I'm from this part of the world - when I first saw the impact this disease was having, it really almost reduced me to tears.  Not for the loss of the timber - that's something we can accept - but it's the loss of the work of really generations of foresters to make these areas attractive places to come and visit and enjoy."  Of the message to the public, he said: "Keep coming, because we want people to keep coming and to enjoy the forest.  When you do come, when you leave think about not moving stuff from this forest to another forest or another part of the countryside.  So if you've got mud on your equipment, your boots, your bikes, your dogs, these sorts of things, before you go somewhere else just make sure you wash that off so you're not moving the disease on to another location on another visit."

32-year-old Remanded After Being Caught with Drugs

A 32-year-old man will be sentenced later this month on four complaints.  Scott Morrison of Kingsland Square, Peebles, pleaded guilty at Selkirk Sheriff Court to possession of a class C drug Etizolam and stealing a bottle of whisky from Aldi in Galashiels on April 25.  He had previously admitted assaulting his partner in May last year and also struggling violently with police officers at Kingsland Square and also Hawick Police Station on May 7. Morrison will be sentenced at Jedburgh Sheriff Court on May 27 and was remanded in custody until that date.

Coldstream’s Link to Burns
Coldstream Burns Club’s annual Tweed Bridge Ceremony on Sunday commemorated Robert Burns’ visit on May 7, 1787, when he crossed over the bridge and stood on English soil for the first time.  The ceremony was attended by 50 members and guests including Benny Higgins from Crailing, Jedburgh, principal guest for the day, and Coldstreamer Jono Wallis with his right and left hand men Chris Lyons and Stefan Home.  The members and guests led by pipers Rob Bell and Keith Guthrie set off in procession from the RBLS Coldstream Club to the bridge where they gathered around the plaque placed on the west parapet by the club in 1926.  David Douglas, club chairman, reminded everyone of the story of Burns’ visit to Coldstream and then, as Burns had done 232 years ago, he dropped on one knee before reciting the last stanza from Burns’ famous poem ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night’. Wreaths were then attached to the parapet alongside the plaque by John Elliot, Coldstream secretary and Bill Graham president of the Howff Club of Dumfries.  The company returned to the town to continue the formalities in Henderson Park. Guests from Eyemouth, Whiteaddder, Hawick, Duns, Kelso, Tranent, Dumfries and Falkirk Burns Clubs as well as Coldstream members, heard chairman David Douglas introduce Benny Higgins, who currently heads up the new Scottish Investment Bank on behalf of the Scottish Government and is also executive chairman of Buccleuch Estates.  Pipers Duncan Bell and Keith Guthrie played the lament while the club standard was lowered. Brian Goldie Senior Vice President of the Robert Burns World Federation then stepped forward to propose the toast to Coldstream Burns Club.  Brian Goldie, senior vice-president of the Robert Burns World Federation then proposed the toast to Coldstream Burns Club. As a member of the Falkirk Club this was Brian’s fourth visit to the ceremony and he praised the club for organising the impressive event and also took time to pay tribute to the late Gerald Tait, long-time treasurer and dedicated committee member who, sadly, passed away earlier in the year.

This is the Only Way Theresa May Can Deliver Brexit

Prime Minister Theresa May has become the biggest obstacle to the UK leaving the EU, writes Paris Gourtsoyannis.  If the least eagerly -awaited political memoir is the one being written by David -Cameron – who, in a worrying development, was this week reported to be “fizzing with ideas” – then next on the list is the book by Theresa May.  Given that the Conservative Party is struggling to fill its European election leaflets, let alone a full manifesto, it’s an open question whether the -infamously tight-lipped and -repetitive Prime Minister can -produce 500 -pages on her political legacy. But they do say robots will soon be writing news articles.  Yet, if we do get to read the Maybot story, it will be fascinating to hear what her thoughts have been as she clings on in defiance of precedent and political physics. Even as the electoral disasters pile up, her fiercest opponents (they’re all in her own party) have given up trying to predict when she’ll go.  Some around her believe that because Brexit day has been delayed until October, and her promise to Tory backbenchers was only to go when a withdrawal agreement is passed, she has the right to stay on for another four months.  The prime requirement for politics is confidence and May clearly has hidden reserves buried within her. She may be the last person in Downing Street to think this, but she truly believes she is the best, and perhaps the only person, to deliver Brexit. But she is wrong. May cannot deliver Brexit. In her doggedness, she has in fact become the biggest impediment. The only way to wade out of the swamp that has swallowed up British politics is if she sacrifices herself.  May’s government is doing nothing, and that nothing isn’t limited to Brexit. This week the main Commons business was the second reading of the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill. On a global scale, banning performing animals is a worthy cause. But it ought to have been done years ago – the legislation began its life as a private members’ bill in 2011, and has been filibustered by the Conservative government for close to a decade. To begin with, it only affected 19 animals in the UK; it’s taken so long to legislate that one has sadly died. Now, at a time of political crisis, it’s the best thing ministers can find to do. Meanwhile, the House of Lords debated the Kew Gardens (Leases) (No. 3) Bill. The only thing to say is that it’s the third most pressing piece of legislation about Kew Gardens.  It’s been two years since the government last set out its programme in a Queen’s Speech, because it doubled the length of the parliamentary session to deal with Brexit. Now a new Queen’s Speech has been delayed, because May can’t put forward a legislative programme, and the government would likely lose a vote on it anyway. Forget about burning injustices – the government can’t even banish minor inconveniences, with plans to scrap 1p and 2p coins being abandoned less a year after they were announced.  On Brexit, talks with Labour are going nowhere. There ought to be far more anger at Downing Street’s upbeat readouts from negotiations that neither side has any appetite to conclude. Labour isn’t going to do a deal with a Prime Minister who could be gone next month. If the person who follows her is Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, an agreement becomes even less likely. It will be difficult for May to accept that she has failed to secure her government’s only real objective: Brexit. But if she wants it to be delivered at all, her only option is to go.

Scottish Highland Games Organisers Agree to Allow Women to Compete
Scotland’s Highland Games organisers have caved into demands to promote gender equality by allowing female athletes to compete.  The Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA), representing over 60 Games across the country, said yesterday that “opportunities for female athletes will multiply this year.”  It is understood the decision has been heavily influenced by the need to obtain funding from bodies such as Event Scotland, which requires evidence of diversity.  Previously The Scotsman highlighted SHGA objections to increasing female participation such as insufficient time to hold events for women, or that tourists, particularly from the US, wanted to see “traditional” Games.  The decision to ‘democratise the Games’ was taken on Sunday at the SHGA half-yearly meeting in Braemar following a discussion with Event Scotland which can provide up to 25 per cent of funding.  SHGA has now asked its members to run athletic events on either a handicap basis or to have separate events for men and women.  It is also creating a number of new leagues for women, so that at the end of the season athletes competing regularly will get rewarded with cash prizes and trophies, the same as men.  Launching the new policy, Ian Grieve, SHGA secretary, said: “Talking to people and looking at what was in the press, we found that there wasn’t a good awareness of what Highland games can offer female athletes, and there was more we can do to help that situation. We get lots of male and only some female competitors, but would like to see a lot more.”  Mr Grieve said his organisation had contacted over 100 athletic clubs across Scotland to make athletes aware of the changes, as well as printing and distributing 10,000 calendars of events and have listed details on their website.  Mr Grieve added: “The aim of all this is to raise the number of female athletes at the Highland games, if they come along they will be made very welcome.” Rhoda Grant, Scottish Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, who campaigned for changes to make the Games more diverse and inclusive, said: “I am very pleased to hear this news from the SHGA.  Obviously it is disappointing that it took this long for them to get to this point, but the SHGA have now seen sense to join the rest of us in the 21st century and allow women to compete on a level playing field at Highland Games events.  With growing levels of inactivity and obesity in the country, any chance to encourage participation in sports should be promoted, as well as the huge boost Highland Games give to the economy of many of our remote and rural areas. To exclude women would be just another hurdle that women in sport have to face. The Highland Games are something that draws in many tourists from around the world and I am glad that this year we will have a positive message about women in sport.”