Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 543

Issue # 543                                              Week ending Saturday 14th March 2020

Could Yon Lewis Capaldi Possibly Be Named After Our Own Little Island? by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

The virus is a worry to us all and will probably get much worse before it gets better. Not only is it a huge risk to people in the vulnerable categories but all of the rest of us can potentially become unwitting carriers and cause them to be infected. The important thing is to be sensible. The advice is to stand one metre away from anyone if you are not sure where they have been.

Wait, I have a really long list of people like that. Just do not shake hands, do not hug and do not kiss anyone who does not live with you. If you like them, give them a room for the night and you will be still be within the rules.

Seriously, we should all be doing our bit to fight this menace. It turns out Brits don’t know how to wash their hands. Eighty per cent of us forget to scrub the backs of our hands and don’t scrub the thumbs and nails. Are we all idiots? Perhaps.

What else am I doing? Well, this week I sacrificed a goat. When I was young my idol was a superhero but aspiring to be Batman was not easy. Galloping round Bernera in a cloak and mask with my underpants outside my trousers caused a lot of comment. So I moved onto being like Noddy Holder of Slade but teetering around on those platforms shoes caused me a mischief I have still not fully recovered from.

Nowadays, my idols are distinguished screen idols like George Clooney and Brad Pitt, veteran singers like Kenny Rogers or Tom Jones and memorable orators like Reverend Kenny I Macleod of Stornoway Free Church. For surely no man looks more distinguished than when he sports on his wee chinny-chinny chin-chin a sculpted goatee. Every second Scottish gentleman of taste and breeding is sporting a beard but only a goatee has panache.

Except Lewis Capaldi. Being too young to grow anything further south than that mop that adorns his sickeningly-talented head, the Lothian hitmaker accepts Brit awards while clutching a bottle of Buckfast. He can get away with anything. He may look like Boris Johnson’s less-cultured wee twin but his talent as a writer and performer is immense. Each ballad that is scribbled by his chubby wee fingers is a heart-rending gem.

I have still not worked out whether there is any proper connection between that young Capaldi’s first name and the fact that we have had, until fairly recently, Capaldis as successful cafe proprietors here on Lewis. Is that a coincidence or is he related to the family that ran Capaldi’s, and later the Town House, in downtown Stornoway? Someone will know, I’m sure.

Those four heartthrobs I have mentioned are all wearers of this particular bare-cheek style or to give it its proper name - a Van Dyke. A goatee is actually only on the chin. When a moustache is also allowed to sprout, that becomes a Vandyke.

Nothing to do with Dick Van Dyke, the stylish growth is named after the 17th century court painter Anthony van Dyck, who was around from 1599 to 1641. Although he was Flemish and born in Holland, Charles I loved his paintings of the aristocracy and biblical subjects and promptly knighted him.

Arise, Sir Ant van Dyck. Ant and Dec, stay where you are.

Sir Anthony van Dyck then became Sir Anthony Vandyke, known for his goatee and his paintings of men in frilly Vandyke collars which looked like the doylys my granny put her vases of plastic flowers on.

My point is that over a mere fortnight I managed to cultivate a doughty goatee. Mrs X smiled coyly and seemed to approve of the ticklishness. It had enough grey hairs in it for people not to confuse me with Brad Pitt but yon Clooney fellow must have fretted. Then - boom. I read NHS chiefs were considering getting paramedics to get rid of facial hair. Oh heck. My chin could go viral. The goat had to go. It was down the plughole within minutes.

When Mrs X saw smooth me, her mouth fell open. It is pretty much always open but she did seem strangely pleased. It turns out she had hated the goatee. She had absolutely despised it and never wants to see fungus like that on a gob in this house ever again. If she ever sees bristles on me, she will take the bristles of the floor brush to me and push me out the door with them. OK, enough. I get it. You should have said.

Maybe this should be a gentle warning to George, Brad and the Rev Kenny I. Just because a lady does not complain about your beard does not mean she actually likes it. The downside to this is that I can never use that line I was planning to use in a few months’ time.

When people would ask me if my beard made me hot in the summer, I would tell them it made me hot all year long.

Firms' Output Stalls Despite Manufacturing Pick-up

Scotland's private sector economy "approached stagnation" in February despite renewed growth in manufacturing, according to a survey.  The latest Royal Bank of Scotland purchasing managers index (PMI) found an expansion in production was offset by a mild decline in services activity.  Firms also reported the first drop in workforce numbers since October, although the fall was mild overall.  Panellists attributed that to leavers not being replaced, and weaker demand.  The bank's business activity index, which measures manufacturing and service sector output, posted 50.1 in February, down from 52.0 in January. Any figure above 50 suggests expansion.  Overall new business increased for the second month running, although the uptick eased to only a fractional pace.  Some panellists reported that weak foreign demand and uncertainty had weighed on growth.  Moreover, of the 11 monitored UK areas to report an increase in new business in February, Scotland recorded the joint-softest rise with the north east of England.  Meanwhile, firms expressed greater confidence that activity would rise over the coming 12 months.  Panellists linked their optimism to expectations of stronger demand conditions, positive growth forecasts and subsiding political uncertainty.  The level of positive sentiment was the highest since June 2018. However, it remained the second lowest across the 12 monitored UK areas, with only Northern Ireland reporting a softer outlook.

The Monks Who Bought Their Own Scottish Island

Twenty years ago, an order of Catholic monks bought a small Orkney island where they could practice the Latin Mass. They are continuing a religious tradition which gave Papa Stronsay its name.  Brother Nicodemus Mary loves to pray in private in the ruins of St Nicholas' Chapel. It dates back to the 11th Century, but this Orkney island's religious links run even deeper.  It is thought that monks worshipped on the island back in the time of St Columba, in the 6th Century. Vikings settled there in the 8th Century and named it Papa Stronsay - which means Priests' Island of Stronsay.  The original monastery was abandoned in the 16th Century - but for the last 20 years the island has once again been home to monks who celebrate Holy Mass in the language which would have been used by priests many centuries ago.  The order - the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, also known as the Transalpine Redemptorists - was founded in the late 1980s to maintain the practice of celebrating the liturgy in Latin.  At the time the Roman Catholic Church was modernising its services, and encouraging priests to use local languages - so insisting on the old ways was seen as an act of rebellion.  But the monks are now back in full communion with the Diocese of Aberdeen and the worldwide church.  They bought Papa Stronsay after the order's founder, Father Michael Mary, and some of the priests and brothers visited Orkney on holiday.  Father Michael - whose grandmother had lived in Orkney - said they had originally wanted to find a small house they could use for retreats and study leave.  But a Kirkwall estate agent also gave them the details of the island, which was being sold by local farmer Charles Smith. "On the back of the particulars of Papa Stronsay, it had some of the history of the island. So we thought: 'Could we buy it'?  "We came out here on Valentine's Day and as soon as we stepped on the island, we thought: 'We've got to come here'," Father Michael told BBC Radio Orkney.  But there was one stumbling block - the order didn't have any money.  Mr Smith agreed to reduce the asking price from £250,000 to £200,000. "That was fantastic. He was very very kind, but we still didn't have any money," said Father Michael.  The community, which was then based on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, embarked on nine days of prayer and fundraising - which left them about £30,000 short of the total they needed.  But then the phone rang and someone offered to donate the rest of the money. "So by the end of the ninth day, we had all the money to buy Papa Stronsay," recalled Father Michael.  There are currently about a dozen members of the order living on the island. It has a similar number at its other base in New Zealand.  For the monks, a typical day starts at 05:00 with an hour of individual meditation in their cells, followed by two hours of prayer in the chapel.  After breakfast, the morning is spent in study and work before a bell rings at midday to remind the community to quietly recite the Angelus to themselves as an act of private devotion.  That's followed by another service and then lunch, during which the brothers listen to improving readings and sacred texts.  The remainder of the day includes prayers, work and possibly some relaxation, before supper, more prayers and then the "great silence". The lights and generator are switched off at 21:30.   Brother Nicodemus says it is very special to think that they pray the same prayers, in the same language, in the same places as priests did centuries ago.  "We share a brotherhood with them in a very tangible way", he says.  "It's an entire life, an entire sacrifice, an entire mindset, an entire faith. It's everything. The centuries don't really separate us at all."  Father Magdala Maria, the rector of the community in Papa Stronsay, said it was "a privilege" to visit sites used by their predecessors.  "It continues that procession, that chain, of people who've been here, and prayed here," he said.  "The monks who lived here in the 7th and 8th centuries? We wouldn't be able to speak to them. But we'd be able to pray with them."

Six RAF Jets Intercept Russian Aircraft Heading for Scottish Coast
Six RAF fighter jets were scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft as they approached British airspace, the Ministry of Defence has said.  The Russian bombers were tracked heading towards the north-west coast of Scotland on Saturday.  It prompted the air force to deploy three pairs of Typhoons from its Quick Reaction Alert programme.  Two pairs left from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, while the third flew from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.  Flying in formation, two pairs approached the aircraft before withdrawing, while the third pair forced them to change course.  The Russian aircraft were later identified as Tupolev Tu Bears, which are used both as strategic bombers and long-range maritime patrol planes.  The total number of Russian aircraft involved in the incident has not been revealed.  "This was a routine response to Russian aircraft approaching UK air space and was coordinated with several other Nato allies," and RAF spokesman said.  RAF Lossiemouth tweeted: "At no point did these aircraft enter UK sovereign airspace.  The Russian aircraft were shadowed by our Typhoons, along with (Quick Reaction Alert) aircraft from our NATO partners in Norway and France."  It added: "We are ready to respond to any unidentified aircraft and potential airborne threats, 24/7/365."  Last month, RAF jets were scrambled from Lossiemouth after reports of unidentified aircraft flying towards UK airspace.  The aircraft, thought to have been Russian bombers, were spotted off Shetland.  The bombers were not intercepted as they remained outside of the area considered UK airspace.

Shinty: Game That's A Way of Life for An Argyll Family
The new men's shinty season begins this weekend and for one historic club the sport is a family affair going back several generations.  They've always taken their shinty seriously on the shores of Loch Fyne.  As far back as 1793 the provost of Inveraray was said to have captained a local side. No big deal. Except the provost was 100 years old at the time. His team won too.  A century later amidst great growth in shinty and the establishment of formal rules, a story goes that a man was asked to identify the best team in the game. The matter could be resolved very simply, he claimed, with a contest between Inveraray and Glasgow Inveraray.  Bias? Maybe. But perhaps he wasn't too far wrong with the Celtic Monthly noting in 1897 "there is no team in Britain can defeat Inveraray".  Yet, ultimately, Inveraray had to wait until 1925 to get their hands on the much coveted Camanachd Cup, or "The Scottish" if you play shinty. They won it again in 1926 and 1930.  The MacPherson family have been central to every Inveraray assault on the Camanachd Cup since.  MacPhersons were at the club in the late 1940s and early 50s when Inveraray, struggling like so many rural districts from the devastation of two world wars, merged briefly with rivals Furnace under the banner of Lochfyne-side. They reached two Camanachd finals, but fell just short.  The MacPhersons were to the fore the 60s with 'Aray back as club in its own right. Donald MacPherson had moved from the park to the touchline as manager. His son Ernie was among the MacPhersons in the team. Two more finals, and two more defeats.  The 1970s brought new challenges. With the economy at a low ebb and youngsters leaving the area, Inveraray were forced into abeyance.  It was a cruel blow for the town but the community wouldn't let their club die. Work began immediately to develop a new generation of talent.  In the meantime and in search of a game, two of the MacPhersons, Ernie and Davy, crossed Loch Fyne to turn out for rivals Strachur. Ernie famously played with his Inveraray shirt on under his Strachur jersey.  Inveraray shirt or not, nobody questioned the commitment of the MacPhersons. They were part of a fantastic Strachur side which shocked the shinty world by reaching the final of the first open Camanachd Cup in 1983, turning over the mighty Newtonmore on the way. They nearly repeated the trick in the final with only two late goals winning the cup for Kyles Athletic.  Back over in Inveraray, the MacPhersons and other club stalwarts were performing alchemy with a new generation of players.  Davy's son David - or Macca as he is better known in shinty - was among them.  "There wasn't really a choice. It was just 'here's a shinty stick and away you go'. The majority of the boys were shinty daft," recalls Macca. Inveraray went on to win senior trophies in the 1990s.  In 2002 the club returned to the Camanachd Cup Final for the first time since 1967. They put in a performance to match the occasion too, only undone by shinty legend Ronald Ross at the peak of his considerable powers. The cup went back to Kingussie once more.  'Aray were back in the final in 2004 against Fort William. This time a Euan McMurdo goal was enough to win the cup for Inveraray, ending a 74-year wait. Davy MacPherson was managing on the sideline. Graham MacPherson keeping a clean sheet between the posts. Macca in the centre line and Garry making the forward line tick. And plenty of others behind the scenes.  Macca recalls: "2004 - that's the reason you play shinty, days like that.  For yourself, for the team, for your family and for the town. It just brought everybody together.  Inveraray had waited a long time to see the Camanachd Cup and the arrival of the trophy made for a special spectacle.  I remember being on my big cousin's shoulders going up the main street. The place was lined with folk: pipers, people hanging out their windows. It took us a wee while to dry out after that one."  While paying tribute to the incredible spirit of Kyles Athletic, Macca admits he still hasn't been able to watch that second half back. Sport can be cruel, but Macca had already come through a far greater battle.  "I was at training one night and I went to stop the ball and it just caught me right in the sore bits. A couple of days later there was a dull ache. I thought it was to do with the shinty but it was cancer," he says.  "I don't know if I would have gone to the hospital if I didn't get a hit to the testicles with the shinty ball. I would have just left it. Typical guy thing - it will be fine, it'll go away.  But because it was shinty I thought I better get it checked out and luckily I did because the longer you leave it, the worse it gets. Luckily for me I went early, although not as early as I should have done."  Macca has used his experience to try and help others.

Community Wind Farm Backs ‘Airidhean’ Local History Project

A project is underway to capture the history of the sheilings in one area of Lewis before they pass out of living memory.  The main part of the project, backed by community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust, will involve interviews with people who remember going to the sheilings (the ‘airidhean’) belonging to families from the Point and Sandwick area, and collecting old photographs.  The researched material will form the basis of an exhibition by Comann Eachdraidh an Rubha and also be turned into a booklet or book, depending on how much material is gathered.  The project also aims to create a site map of all the sheilings that existed on Point and Sandwick’s summer grazings on the ‘Stornoway General’, off the Pentland and Beinn a Bhuna roads, and identify their ownership.  Writer and translator Andrew Dunn, from Point, will be carrying out the research and producing the written material, which will be fully bilingual.  He explained: “It’s about the community ties to the sheilings – the airidhean – specifically the ones that were used by the community in Point and Sandwick. Hopefully it will eventually take the shape of an exhibition at the Comunn Eachdraidh and also a report or booklet which would be online as well, maybe even going towards a short book.  The idea is that it involves a lot of research. Initially it will be looking at written material but also doing interviews with people who have first-hand experience, so time is a factor.”  Andrew is hoping to speak to as many people as possible with memories of the sheilings. “This could be at any sort of stage. I’m interested in older people who would have had the experience of travelling out to the summer grazings as part of the actual routine of life but also people who went there just for holidays because I know people who did that. Any experience at all.”  Andrew will be taking an audio recording of the memories and collecting photographs at the same time. Copies will be made of all photos so that originals can be returned.  He added: “If people have knowledge of whose sheiling was whose, we’re interested in hearing that as well, because part of the project will be doing a map of the sheilings and showing which sheiling corresponded to which croft or family.”  Andrew said it was important to hear these accounts first-hand. “It is a very important part of the community history and it’s a way of life that disappeared but people still remember it and it’s a way of life that was common, not just in the Islands and Highlands as well, but throughout Europe at one point. But it lasted longer in the Highlands and Islands than it did elsewhere.  “I think it’s really interesting to learn about it and it’s important to understand how people used to live and how it’s informed how we live nowadays.”  The project is estimated to take the best part of this year.  Donald John MacSween, general manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, said the project was “about recording the memories of people who were involved in the last traces of transhumance in the area up until the early 80s”. He explained that Point and Sandwick Trust was backing this project “because our turbines are slap bang in the middle of the summer grazings.”  Garrabost native Calum Graham is among those with fond memories of the airidh. His first summer at the shelling was in 1947 at the age of five – and he is “very happy” the memories of shelling life are going to be preserved.  He said of the project: “I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s a very important and rich part of our history and culture and I think in Lewis it persisted long after it ceased elsewhere.”  He recalled that although the practice of going out to the sheiling – “muigh air an airidh” – was prevalent throughout Lewis, the Point and Sandwick district had the greatest need to do it because these villages had their common grazings miles away on the Stornoway General, whereas other villages tended to have their common grazings immediately behind or inland from the villages. “Although the practice of going to the airidh was prevalent throughout Lewis, there was a greater reason for it in Point because your sheep were 15 miles away.”  Calum recalled great excitement on the day of going to the airidh. “All the livestock was taken out to the sheiling. Hens would be transported in lobster creels but the sheep and cattle were walked there. That was probably the most exciting day of the year for a young person.  You’re up at 5am and then people would come throughout the village with their sheep. When you passed each house, other sheep would join in. There were hundreds and hundreds of sheep. Dogs barking, men barking…”  Catriona Dunn, secretary of Comann Eachdraidh an Rubha, said now was the “right time” to collect memories, “while there are still a reasonable amount of folk”, such as Calum, who remember it.  She added that, while the community already has some valuable records on sheiling life going back to the 1930s, there was still a lot more out there, not yet recorded.  “For the Historical Society, this is a key element of what life was like in a previous generation, that we need to capture. We need to capture these people’s memories while we still have them. There are still quite a lot of people around, some of them not all that old, who remember going to the sheiling.”

Why Are Scots Troops Training Kenyan Soldiers?
Scottish troops are in demand in east Africa to help train soldiers in their fight against the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.  The Scots are supporting the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) who have been fighting inside neighbouring Somalia for almost a decade.  It is not a conventional war. The Kenyans are taking on al-Shabab, a terrorist group banned by both the US and the UK, which uses guerrilla tactics to inflict maximum damage on its enemies.  Its methods are similar to those used by insurgent groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan. So the Kenyan forces have asked the British army for training in how to deal with threats such as IED (improvised explosive devices) and terrorist tactics.  Over the past couple of years, troops from the Scots Guards have regularly visited Kenya to deliver two-week training courses.  Sgt Paul Monkhouse, from Greenock, has almost 15 years in the army, joining when he was 18.  He said: "It's all about international relations. We give the KDF our skills and our experiences as an army so they can see to that threat for themselves and we don't need to send our troops over there to deal with it."  It is an intensive, condensed training course that concentrates on the skills and drills needed to fight against a faceless enemy. Sgt Kenny Wallace, from Kirkcaldy in Fife, has delivered similar training around the world as part of the British Peace Support Team.  Part of the training is called "protected mobility" and centres on the best uses for armoured vehicles such as the Mastiffs used by the British in Afghanistan.  They also "train the trainer", allowing the Kenyans to deliver the courses themselves to their own troops.  Sgt Wallace calls it "soft influence".  "It is showing to the wider world that we are here and we can help," he says.  Over the two-week course he says he has seen an improvement in the Kenyans' confidence.  "They've picked up on a lot of the drills and skills and our teaching methods," he says.  "We've learned a bit from each other. The guys themselves have come on leaps and bounds."  The Kenya Defence Forces entered southern Somalia in October 2011.  The official reason was that Kenya's national security was threatened by al-Shabab operations in Somalia.  The man in charge of the training courses, Lt Colonel Jonathan Hipkins, says Somalia is a "failed state" and its problems have a tendency to bleed across the border into Kenya.  In January, three Americans were killed when al-Shabab attacked a military base in Kenya.  Other incidents include a massive attack on a Kenyan military base in Somalia's el-Ade town in January 2016, killing many soldiers. Al-Shabab has also staged several attacks in Kenya, including the 2015 massacre at Kenya's Garissa University, near the border with Somalia.  A total of 148 people died when gunmen stormed the university at dawn and targeted Christian students.  Lt Colonel Hipkins said the Kenya forces were in Somalia to provide space and time for the Somali national security force to develop and take over internal security of their own borders.  Lt Colonel Hipkins said there were still "significant challenges" before they could safely withdraw.  Nonetheless, for the foreseeable future, Scottish troops will continue to be among those training the Kenyan forces in the skills they need.

New 850-pupil School for Inverness Given Go-ahead
Councillors have granted full planning permission for a new school in Inverness. Highland Council has proposed that the primary at Ness Castle in the south of the city has capacity for more than 850 children.  It plans to build the school, one of the largest in the Highlands, in two phases.  The first stage will have 12 classrooms for 333 primary pupils and three playrooms for 128 nursery children.  The second phase will involve an additional 12 classrooms for 326 pupils and two more playrooms for 64 nursery children.  Also planned are a sports pitch, kitchen and dining facilities and nurture rooms.  The school's catchment would include new housing developments in the Ness-side and Ness Castle areas of Inverness.

Dame Katherine Grainger to Become Glasgow University Chancellor
Five-time Olympic medallist Dame Katherine Grainger will become the University of Glasgow's next chancellor.  The rower is the first woman to hold the post and was the sole nominee.  The chancellor is the titular head of the university and grants degrees to those presented to them by the senate.  Dame Katherine will succeed Sir Kenneth Calman, who has held the post since 2006.  Born in Glasgow, she gained a Master of Philosophy degree at the university, as well as a law degree from Edinburgh and a PhD from King's College in London.  She gained her PhD the same year as she won gold at the London Olympics. Dame Katherine said: "I feel a wonderful mixture of excitement, joy, anticipation and enthusiasm at the prospect of becoming chancellor of Glasgow university.  More than those feelings, however, I feel immensely honoured and privileged to have been given the opportunity to fill such a role.  Glasgow is where I was born and went to school. It will always hold a very special place in my heart."   In total Dame Katherine has won one gold and four silver medals for rowing at five successive Olympic Games, making her the UK's most decorated female Olympian.  In her rowing career, she also won eight medals at the World Championships, including six golds.  Dame Katherine is currently Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, a post she will relinquish when she takes up her new position at Glasgow.  University of Glasgow principal, Prof Sir Anton Muscatelli said: "I am delighted to welcome Dame Katherine as the next chancellor of this university and know she will bring to the post a strong social conscience, dedication to our cherished principles of inclusivity and real enthusiasm for our vision for the future.  I should like to express my gratitude to Sir Kenneth for the wonderful support he has given to this university over the past 14 years. His contribution has been truly outstanding and I doubt if we could have achieved as much as we have without his wise counsel and support. We shall miss him greatly."

Coronavirus: Why Schools Are Not Closing and Why the UK Westminster and Scottish Governments Differ on Large Gatherings
It was a day when the true scale of the coronavirus crisis was laid bare.  A Prime Minister warning that “more loved ones will be lost before their time” confirmed that we are witnessing extraordinary circumstances that will require concerted and measured efforts to prevent them becoming a catastrophe.  In updates north and south of the border, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sought to ensure the public have the advice they need to help limit pressures on health services in what both made clear remains just the very early part of what will be a long-term public health emergency. But while the message from both was broadly similar, there was one main area of divergence — and it was one which led the Prime Minister to make what was perceived by some to be a barbed comment on the “resilience” of public services in Scotland.  On this issue, the UK Westminster and Scottish governments are closely aligned. The summary from both was that closing schools can do more harm than good — children mixing out of school but with no supervision of hand hygiene; key workers having to stay off work to look after youngsters or grandparents being asked to help with childcare when transmission from children to more elderly members of society remains a concern.  Ireland’s decision to close its schools and childcare facilities, despite having far fewer cases, appeared to add pressure on the UK to act. However, while stressing that all of these decisions are subject to constant review, London and Edinburgh maintained a consistent line. What Ms Sturgeon said “It is not the advice right now that schools should close or that colleges or universities require to close. That is not what we are advising at this stage. Although that is an issue that will be kept under regular review.  Closing schools has a very direct effect on the ability to keep key workers at work. There is also a view that closing schools will lead to children gathering in more informal settings, which will actually make more a risk of contracting the infection. Unlike in schools where hand hygiene protocols can be followed.  If it gets to the stage where the advice is to close schools, this will not be for a week or two weeks. This would be something that was advised to last throughout the peak of this infection and that is potentially until the summer period.  So this would be something that was not brief and therefore it underlines the importance of having a position. If this position becomes necessary to advise we don’t do that earlier than science is advising to do.”  What Mr Johnson said  “We are not, repeat not, closing schools now.  “The scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good at this time but of course we are keeping this under review and this again may change as the disease spreads.”  Why different advice on large gatherings?  When it comes to controls on large gatherings, Scotland and the UK have taken different approaches at this stage.  Ms Sturgeon said that effectively banning gatherings of 500 people or more from Monday is in part to try to limit infections, but it is also to reduce the need for key public service workers (police, ambulance crews etc) to be present at these events when they could be more usefully employed in other roles.  But that reference to public services also led to perhaps the clearest sign of tensions between the two governments over who should share advice with the public, and when. Ms Sturgeon said “I’m articulating a Scottish Government position, not a UK-wide position. Other administrations will set out their own positions.  We will from the start of next week advise the cancellation of mass gatherings of over 500 people that have the potential to have an impact on frontline emergency services.  This is not a move because it will have a significant impact on the spread of the virus. On the contrary, the science tells us it will not have a significant impact (but that) does not necessarily equate to no impact at all. Consistency of public messaging at a time like this if advising people to stay at home advising people to change behaviour it is inconsistent to have a business-as-usual message around large gatherings.  Certain events have an impact on policing and frontline ambulance and accident and emergency services and at a time when pressure on those services is going to be considerable. Our public services like all areas of economy will have higher absences. It is incumbent on government to remove unnecessary burdens.”  Mr Johnson said  “It is very important that we’re guided by the science. There is very little epidemiological or medical reason at the moment to ban such events, as I think Nicola Sturgeon has also made clear. But in Scotland they do have particular issues with the resilience of their public services and we’ll be wanting to keep that issue under review here across the UK as well.  Let’s be clear: that may become a factor for all of us and we may also be wishing to go forward with stopping those kinds of events as well.  So we’re not saying no to that sort of measure — we’re keeping it up our sleeve. But it’s very important in order to maximise the benefits of our interventions that we get the timing right.”