Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 627

Issue # 627                                     Week ending Saturday 6th November 2021
Do Not Be Sentimental Like Tom Hanks. Chuck Away Your Old Manual Typewriter by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Remember manual typewriters? What a complete faff these clanky old word looms were. You needed a well-oiled one and they cost a small fortune to service, as well as yards of ribbon to make their mark. These spools with black and red ink-soaked fabric that had to be thumped by the keybars, or the paper strikers, onto the platen, the rubber roll. The idea was to somehow leave what looked more or less like asdf on the left and jkl: on the right. Other keys were available.

You also needed error correction, known in some offices as Dulux fag papers and typewriter cream. Popular brands of error fixers were Tippex, Liquid Paper and Snopake. If you don’t remember these, you must have been asleep in the 70s and 80s. These were to simply blot out your mistakes. Beside each desk was a large wastepaper basket. This was for crumpled typing paper which had been flung there just after the shrieks of “Oh no. Not again”. Entire rain forests were in my bin. It was a jungle down there.

So I’m not with American acting legend Tom Hanks who collects old typewriters. He wants us all to keep our ancient office pianos in case they may come back into fashion. Mate, grow up. I know you played a kid who wanted to grow up in the movie Big. You put a coin in an old fairground machine and woke up the next day as an adult - with a 12-year-old’s mind. Listen, the return of clicky typewriters instead of self-correcting connected computers ain’t gonna happen, big man.

Even if you can type a letter to your Auntie in a power cut to say thank you for the Christmas socks and write to the Queen to congratulate her for driving at the age of 95, they won’t get your good wishes for a few days. Too long, dude. Nor you can use a clanky old Olivetti or Smith-Corona to go on Facebook - or should I say Feta. No, wait. That’s a cheese. I’m sure the Facebook company’s new name starts with M. Meat? Mate? I haven’t met a single person who likes the new name. That’s it, Meta.

The last portable typewriter I used had a sticking key. Taking it back to the London shop where I had only paid a deposit, the shopowner couldn’t see the problem. I typed something to show him. It read: “A k y is sticking on this typ writ r.” Nothing wrong, he fumed. “You lie, mister. You lie like a flatfish.” I just wanted my deposit back but the shopowner wanted the rest of the balance there and then.

I was not having that. I handed back the Smith-Corona and left with the owner threatening to send debt collectors after me. That was in 1985 and I was about to move back to Stornoway. One day, because of many years of accruing interest, his heavy mob may turn up to seize all my worldly possessions. Oh heck. I’d better keep the door bolted.

Meanwhile, the door was virtually bolted on people who could not get near their own homes because of some conference in Glasgow. The climate crisis is being discussed by the 26th Conference of Parties (yep, that’s what COP26 stands for) but no one is actually listening. With sleep Joe Biden apparently having a wee norrag now and again, the star of the show is not Boris despite his attempts at being statesmanlike. Yon wee Greta Thunberg again. Singing a very rude ditty which sounded like Ye Can Shove Your Climate Crisis Aff A Bus the other night in Govan.

Kids younger than Greta come out on Halloween and sing songs. Not last week though. Who turned up at the door on Friday but these two big hefty lads. They came straight out with it and demanded: “Hey you, mister. We want money.” They were scary as they seemed older than usual. Still after lockdown, everyone wants to have a bit of fun. Their costumes were really realistic. They were dressed in black uniforms with badges which said Sheriff Officer.

These two guys insisted on staying put until they got something worth a bit of money. I now wonder if these two actually wanted the to recover the balance for that dud portable typewriter, plus 36 years of interest? I didn’t wait to find out. I gave them a lolly each and told them to get lost.

Nicola Sturgeon Sings Praises of UN Climate Chief for 'Stark Reality' Warning
Nicola Sturgeon has praised UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa for setting out the “stark reality” of climate change for world leaders as the Cop26 global climate conference began.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary told the formal opening of the UN climate summit in Glasgow on Sunday: “We stand at a pivotal point in history.  “We either choose to achieve rapid and large-scale reductions of emissions to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C – or we accept that humanity faces a bleak future on this planet.”   Scotland’s First Minister tweeted her remarks, saying she “couldn’t agree more”.   She said Ms Espinosa was “setting out the stark reality for world leaders gathering in Glasgow for #Cop26 – act now with the urgency and ambition required to limit global warming to 1.5C, or accept a bleak future for life on our planet”.    The international climate change conference began formally on Sunday, with around 120 heads of state expected to attend the two-day summit of world leaders starting on Monday.  The First Minister met Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera and his foreign minister Eisenhower Mkaka at her formal residence Bute House in Edinburgh on Sunday.  She said it was a “pleasure” to meet them, posting on Twitter they discussed “our friendship and shared priorities ahead of Cop26”.   Ms Sturgeon said Malawi has one of the closest and longest-standing bilateral relationships with Scotland.   Earlier, she met Vietnamese prime minister Pham Minh Chinh at Bute House to discuss the Cop26 programme, wind power and hydrogen.   Commenting as world leaders arrived in Glasgow, the First Minister said: “Scotland is welcoming the world to what may be the most important international conference of this century.   Once world leaders are all in the same room, they must seize the moment and agree the necessary steps to prevent catastrophic temperature rises – and when they leave Glasgow, they must return home carrying a message of hope for humanity’s future.   Scotland may not be at the top table of these negotiations, but I and the Scottish Government will be doing absolutely everything we can to help make this conference a success.”

Glaswegians Greet CO26 with Pessimism and Hope
After months of anticipation, the crucial COP26 climate conference in Glasgow has finally begun.  Delegates from around the world have arrived at the Scottish Exhibition Campus - now official UN territory known as the "blue zone" - to join negotiations intended to avoid a climate catastrophe.   While the speeches began inside the main arena, BBC Scotland spoke to people on the streets outside about how the summit was affecting them.   COP26 delegates have been greeted with an authentic Glasgow welcome   on day one of the summit - the rain is pouring down.  Traffic in the city centre is made up mainly of the city's fleet of electric buses brought in to service the conference and police vans from every corner of the UK.  Police are everywhere - on foot, in cars, vans and motorcycles.  I spot several vans from Lancashire and Merseyside police, their coloured livery standing out against the usual white of the Police Scotland cars we are used to.    Early climate campaigners make their way along the river towards the day's demonstration at Glasgow Green with damp flags and the city's COP26 volunteers try to remain cheery in their sodden bobble hats.  Blue-lanyarded delegates are being dropped off at the squinty bridge to walk over the river to the conference venue.   I bump into visitors from Gabon in central Africa.   They arrived in the city less than 24 hours ago but are ready to make their case passionately.   Ben Shakespeare Ferguson runs The Steamie café in Finnieston, one of the areas closest to the COP26 venue.   He was concerned on Saturday when the café was empty and thinks people stayed away thinking the main road was closed.  Sunday has been "chaos" so far.  We've had a lot of diplomats shouting on phones and people coming in asking for 'a table of nine' when the maximum we can do is four," he said. "But everyone has been nice so far.  It's the last chance to sort climate change and we are at a tipping point so we can put up with a bit of inconvenience."  The eyes of the world may be on this Scottish city, but not everyone here is happy to be hosting the summit.   St Vincent Crescent is one of the closest residential streets to the Scottish Events Campus but residents David Watt and Carey Leitch don't care who is jetting in - they feel under siege by the heavy police presence.    They find it disconcerting that there are so many police officers around.   "I know why they are doing it, but I don't want to live in a place that needs all those police," said Carey.   David added: "I understand the council wants to put Glasgow further on the map, but at the same time there are so many other events that haven't happened. At the moment, it's like living in a police state."  And why isn't it online? said Carey. "I hope it isn't a super-spreading event."   David agreed: "We've just recorded the highest Covid numbers in Britain since the start of the pandemic and now we are inviting people from all over the world. And it will put a strain on our NHS. There are thousands of people here and certainly some of those will need medical treatment at some point."    Further into the city centre, Glasgow's cabbies are hoping for a boost from the city's host status.   Asif Yousaf has been asked by his firm Glasgow Taxis to work extra hours during the summit.   "We have a contract for all the hotels," he tells the BBC. "They keep calling us to go back and forward to the SEC and The Hydro.   We have been asked to work more hours because a lot of drivers have left since the Covid pandemic. I will probably be working nine or 10 hours a day the whole way through.   This is a very good thing for us, it will boost the economy and I want to make the most of it."   Across the road at the entrance to Central station, two women are talking to people and handing out literature. One is dressed in a cow-print onesie and the other is in a pink pig hat.   Catalayna and Priya say they will be spreading their message throughout the city, as well as holding a press conference in the blue zone at the conference on 4 November with British actor and animal activist Peter Egan.   Catalayna says she wants to highlight the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture. "Everybody can be vegan," she said.   "It's a global conference so all the countries are represented here and it is easy to spend the message to the whole world. Priya has enjoyed a warm welcome: "I love Glasgow. I find the people so friendly."   

Wester Ross Illegal Fishing Allegation Probed
Marine Scotland is investigating allegations of illegal fishing activity in a restricted area off the Wester Ross coast.  It has been claimed a trawler was operating near the Isle of Longa last week in a protected herring spawning ground.   Scottish government directorate Marine Scotland has sent a ship and an aircraft to the area to investigate.  A spokeswoman said the case was still active.   She said: "The Scottish government's Marine Scotland directorate received reports of a possible incursion into a restricted area near Gairloch.   Both marine and aerial surveillance assets were tasked to the area to investigate and we are not able to comment further as this is an active investigation."

COP26: Royals Join World Leaders At Dinner Reception
Members of the Royal Family have joined world leaders for a dinner reception at Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.    A pre-recorded video message from the Queen, who was unable to attend the UN climate summit, was shown.   Prince Charles and Camilla, formally known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland, were joined by Prince William and Catherine.   A major security operation was in force as a protest took place nearby.    Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hosted the event, arrived from the nearby summit venue with other guests on an electric bus after a day of opening speeches.  Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was also among those attending the Kelvingrove event.   About 25,000 delegates are attending the two-week summit, and thousands of activists have also travelled to Scotland's biggest city for fringe events and protests.    The Kelvingrove museum, a grand Victorian red sandstone building, usually operates as a free-to-enter council-owned attraction but has been closed since last Wednesday as preparations were made for the reception.    Security fencing and bollards were in place and large numbers of police officers were deployed.   Climate activists, including members of Extinction Rebellion, lined Argyle Street to make their voices heard as the VIPs were driven past, en-route to the reception.   Activist Anna, a nurse practitioner from Peterborough, was supporting her son Ollie, 27, who has been a member of the group since 2019.   She said he was inspired to join after reading an Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change report in 2018.   Anna added that she supports the action on medical grounds.   She said: "Our code of conduct says we should stand up and protest because it's our professional duty."   Ollie added: "So far, protests in Glasgow have been quite chilled compared to demonstrations in London."    BBC Scotland's Alasdair Keane said protesters gathered with a samba band in the neighbouring streets and at Kelvingrove Park in an attempt to make themselves heard by the leaders gathered behind the security cordons.   "So many of the activists that we are speaking to today and in the past few weeks leading up to this are speaking about COP26 being exclusionary," he said.    "That is the constant message at all of these protests. They've got banners here saying 'we are watching you'.   They really don't feel that the people inside aren't listening to them."   One group from Pembrokeshire in South Wales served supper, including vegan haggis on paper plates with wooden cutlery, at a so-called "Beggar's Banquet".    The Queen, who had been scheduled to attend the summit but was advised to rest following medical checks, recorded a video message which was played to the visiting dignitaries.   In it she urged them to "rise above the politics of the moment" and achieve "true statesmanship".   The 95-year-old monarch also said she took great pride in her late husband Prince Philip and other members of the Royal Family for encouraging action on climate change.   Earlier in the day Prince William and Catherine visited the 105th Glasgow Scouts at Alexandra Sports Hub to celebrate the Scouts Promise To The Planet campaign.

UK Could Take Legal Action Against France Over Fishing Row, Says Liz Truss
The UK is prepared to take legal action against France over the ongoing row about post-Brexit fishing rights, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned.   Last month, the UK and Jersey denied permits to dozens of French boats to operate in their waters.   In retaliation, France threatened to block British boats from some of its ports and cut electricity to Jersey.  Ms Truss told the BBC that France was acting "unfairly" in setting a deadline for issuing more fishing permits.   France says that, unless this happens by Tuesday, it will prevent British fishing boats from disembarking at its ports, and step up border checks on UK goods.   Officials in Paris have also threatened to tighten security checks on British boats, and increase checks on trucks going to and from the UK.   Representatives from the European Commission, France, the UK and the Channel Islands are holding talks via video link on Monday afternoon.   A commission spokesperson said they hoped the meeting would bring a "swift solution on the outstanding issues".   France has accused the UK of making a "political choice" by rejecting "more than 40%" of French boats' applications to fish in UK and Channel Island waters.   But the UK's Brexit minister Lord Frost has said the UK had been "very generous" in granting 98% of applications from EU vessels.   Ms Truss told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that fishing licences had been awarded to French boats "entirely in accordance" with the post-Brexit deal between the EU and UK.   She warned that unless France withdrew its threats, the UK was prepared to "use the dispute resolution mechanism in the trade deal we signed with the EU to take action against the French".   "We're simply not going to roll over in the face of these threats," she added.   For Labour, shadow business secretary Ed Miliband told Sky News he "didn't like the way the French had behaved" and urged both sides to "lower the temperature" of the debate.   Emmanuel Macron is under massive pressure from the nationalist right in France in the lead-up to next year's presidential election.   He has a lot to gain from the metaphorical waving of the French flag.   On Sunday, Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron met for 30 minutes during the G20 summit but failed to resolved the problem.    The UK Westminster government said it was "up to France" to draw back from its threats, while Mr Macron insisted the ball was "in Britain's court".   UK-French tensions were further inflamed on Friday, when a letter emerged from French Prime Minister Jean Castex to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen suggesting the fishing dispute was an opportunity to show that EU countries risked more damage from leaving the bloc than staying in.   Mr Johnson said he was "puzzled to read a letter from the French prime minister explicitly asking for Britain to be punished for leaving the EU".  Although fishing is a small part of both the British and French economies, it has been a highly sensitive political issue throughout Brexit.   The latest row began after a British trawler was seized by France and another fined during checks off Le Havre on Thursday.
Comment RMH
Will we see any other countries being the subject of France’s “huff and puff”?? Recently it was Australia over the submarine debacle (nobody seems to point out that the submarine contract was way over budget and way behind in work and offsets) and now it’s the UK’s turn. Oh Sacrè Bleu!!!

UK's 'Longest-lasting' Snow Patch Melts Away
What is historically the UK's longest lasting patch of snow has disappeared for "only the eighth time in 300 years".    Dubbed the Sphinx, the patch on remote Braeriach in the Cairngorms has melted away more frequently in the last 18 years.   Snow patch expert Iain Cameron said climate change was a likely factor.  According to records, the Sphinx previously melted fully in 1933, 1959, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2017 and 2018.  Before 1933, it is thought to have last melted completely in the 1700s.  The Sphinx had shrunk to the size of an A4 piece of paper in recent weeks before finally disappearing in mild weather.   Stirling-based Mr Cameron has been studying snow patches in Scotland for 25 years and is author of the book The Vanishing Ice, which he describes as a "lament" to snow and ice that lingers high in Scotland's hills.   He worked alongside the late Dr Adam Watson, a biologist dubbed Mr Cairngorms because of his many years studying the mountains.   Some of Dr Watson's research on the Sphinx drew on information handed down by generations of people who worked and visited the Cairngorms, which suggests the patch may have only melted a few times in the last 300 years.   From the 1840s the Scottish Mountaineering Club began noting the fortunes of the patch, and more recently scientists and ecologists have gathered information.   Mr Cameron told BBC Scotland that historically the Sphinx was the UK's "most durable" snow patch.   But he said: "That is being challenged because it is disappearing more often."    Mr Cameron said warmer weather due to climate change "seemed to be the logical" explanation for the increased rate of melting.   He added that the conditions were affecting snowy areas high on other Scottish mountains including in the Ben Nevis range in Lochaber.   Aonach Beag, near Ben Nevis, also has a patch of snow that has often survived from one winter to another.    But Mr Cameron said: "What we are seeing from research are smaller and fewer patches of snow.   "Less snow is falling now in winter than in the 1980s and even the 1990s."   Separately from Mr Cameron's research, a report commissioned by Cairngorms National Park Authority and published last year said declining snow cover, and fewer days when it snowed had been observed on Cairngorm mountain since the winter of 1983-84.   Researchers also noted a trend for increasingly warmer weather since the 1960s, and suggested that by the 2080s there would be some years with very little or no snow at all on Cairngorm.  Lauren McCallum, of international climate change campaign group Protect Our Winters, said the Cairngorms - and wider world - needed to be protected from further rises in temperature.  She said: "We have to maintain a healthy temperature for our ecosystems and communities to survive."   The Sphinx lies in Garbh Choire Mor, a hollow known as a corrie formed by ice or a glacier during the last ice age, on 1,296m (4,252ft) Braeriach - Britain's third highest mountain.   Garbh Choire Mor is described as Scotland's snowiest corrie because of the amount of snow it can hold even through summer months.   The Sphinx is the name of a climbing route near the snow patch.

Thurso Re-dedication Ceremony Marks 200 Years of Masonic Lodge
Freemasons in Thurso have held a ceremony of re-dedication to mark the 200th anniversary of their lodge.    It was on February 7, 1820, that St Peter's Operative Lodge No 284 Thurso was granted its charter, and a civic reception was held in Thurso Library on the corresponding date in 2020.   The intention was to have a day of celebrations in the town in June that year, featuring a re-dedication dinner dance, but it had to be cancelled owing to the pandemic.   Members of St Peter's Operative Lodge gathered recently for the delayed re-dedication event. The proceedings were conducted by a delegation from the Grand Lodge of Scotland led by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Ramsay McGhee, a retired senior police officer.   There will now be regular meetings of the lodge for the first time in 19 months.   St Peter's Operative Lodge over the years went by various numbers, but 284 has been used since 1826. Though the lodge was formed in December 1818, with the principal founder Alexander Carnaby, it did not have its first meeting under the Grand Lodge until February 15, 1820.   There have been 84 Right Worshipful Masters, a position held since 2018 by William Durrand.

Thousands of Young People to Join Climate Strike
Thousands of young people are expected to take part in a climate protest in Glasgow in response to COP26.   Pupils taking part will strike from school and march from Kelvingrove Park to the city centre on Friday.   The event is organised by Fridays for Future Scotland, a group founded by young people inspired by the activism of Greta Thunberg.   The Swedish teenager confirmed she would attend the march and has urged striking council workers to join her.   A strike by GMB members in the city's cleansing department began on Monday after the union accused the council of failing to give workers enough "time and space" to consider a national pay offer.   The Climate Strike march is due to begin at 11:00 with crowds expected at George Square for 13:00 where a number of speeches have then been planned until 15:30.   Ms Thunberg is expected to speak along with Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate and other youth activists from around the world, as well as local trade unionists. Anna Brown, an activist with Fridays for Future in Glasgow, said the event would demonstrate a need to move climate discussions away from "enclosed" spaces.    She told the BBC: "The message is that the system of COPs - we've had 26 now - that system isn't working. So we need to uproot that system. The message is you need to listen to the people in the streets, the young people, the workers.  We need to move it from being in an enclosed space where people can't get involved to the streets, where people can see what's happening and have a say.   I think part of it is designed so people don't understand what it's about - if people don't understand what's being said in negotiations, they can't criticise what's happening and the decisions that are being made."  

Covid-19 in Scotland: Why Are Confirmed Cases Flatlining?
For the last month, Covid infection levels in Scotland have been doing something unusual.    Since the beginning of October cases haven't going up or down significantly, but have just hovered around 2,500 a day. It's the first time this has happened, so what's going on?   Throughout Scotland's pandemic, the number of daily Covid cases has mainly been in motion, whether that's been going up or coming down.   But over the last month, infection levels have barely moved, according to Public Health Scotland (PHS) data.   The number of cases per day has been stable for a month. Covid cases confirmed by PCR. Showing cases by date of test.   Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, says there's a basic pattern of ebb and flow which infectious diseases tend to follow.  "In an epidemic disease, the disease appears, it spreads rapidly but at some point fairly soon it starts running out of people to infect and therefore it peaks and starts disappearing," he explains.    "Ultimately it may actually go away - although in today's world that's not so common."   Prof Hunter, an infectious disease expert, says it's likely Covid-19 will become endemic in Scotland - the point where a disease maintains a constant baseline level within a community.   "Endemic infections are infections that are with us forever, although that doesn't mean to say you don't get peaks and troughs," he says.   Another way of looking at how Covid-19 is ebbing and flowing in Scotland is by tracking the change in the seven-day average of daily cases.   If cases are moving sharply up or down then the average may be increasing or decreasing by 10-15% each day.    Smaller changes mean stability, especially when the figure is flipping between positive and negative.   Epidemics are generally characterised by peaks and troughs. Percentage change in rolling average. Covid-19 cases in Scotland confirmed by PCR test.  Prof Hunter says the recent period of flatness in Scotland, especially at a reasonably high level of cases, has not been seen much in the UK and could be a sign of things to come.   "It is a bit unusual and maybe it's an indication we're getting to the equilibrium point in Scotland," he says.   "I say maybe - in five years' time we can look back and say we were at the equilibrium or not. You can't really say it while it's happening."   An "equilibrium" would be the level of infection we could commonly expect as Covid becomes endemic in Scotland.  There's a lot of complex maths behind how infectious diseases evolve from epidemic to endemic over time.   Scientists need to take into account of changing levels of immunity, the length of time people are infectious and a disease's ability to spread.   On top of that, populations are in constant motion. Every time someone dies from an infection or a baby is born, the equation changes.   "When a disease shifts from being epidemic to endemic you get these oscillations. The other thing is that these waves dampen with each oscillation so it's less intense as it approaches the endemic equilibrium," Prof Hunter says.  "But you rarely see that as clearly in the real world because in the real world you've got the seasonality - that continues to cause oscillations forever."   Prof Hunter believes Covid-19 will settle in to a pattern of seasonality like the flu, with peaks in winter and troughs in summer.  This is because the chance of being infected over the winter is higher as people spend more time indoors. Once you've recovered from an infection you'll be immune for a while, but that immunity is beginning to wane as winter approaches again.   "Immunity comes and goes and transmission potential comes and goes - and the two reinforce each other," says Prof Hunter.  Perhaps the last month is a signal Covid is approaching an equilibrium, but the professor also thinks there is another avenue worth exploring.  There's a chance cases aren't flat at all - infections might actually be rising, but going undetected or unreported.   Using the Office of National Statistic (ONS) Covid infection survey, which tests a random selection of people, it's possible to get another view of case levels in Scotland.    The ONS infection survey shows cases rising. . .This does indeed show a different picture.   The ONS estimate is currently higher than confirmed cases - as it always is - but it also shows a distinctive curve upwards at the start of October, rather than the flat line of confirmed cases.  Prof Hunter says this could indicate a rising number of asymptomatic cases going undetected, but he also notes that the latest ONS figures only go up to 12 October and the most recent data in this survey is always subject to revision.   Are we endemic yet?   In short, probably not.  While we may have seen a glimpse of what endemic looks like given current social measures and levels of immunity - both from vaccination and infection - there's a way to go yet.  Epidemics tend to be modelled in years and decades rather than months.   Prof Hunter warns this winter is likely to be difficult with cases rising and more pressure on the NHS, but he does believes the "disease burden" will lessen over time.  "Although the virus is here to stay forever, the disease isn't," he says.   "You're going to get it every few years forever probably, but the severity of the subsequent infections are always less than the earlier ones, on average."  

Hundreds of Aberdeen Artefacts and Artworks Listed 'Missing'
Council officers have been asked to investigate after it was revealed that hundred of artefacts and artworks are classed as "missing" in Aberdeen.   They include items kept in storage for the renovation of Aberdeen Art Gallery.   A £34.6m four-year redevelopment saw it re-open in 2019.   It has been confirmed about 1,500 items have a "missing" status. The council has started the "significant task" of matching records to actual items held.    SNP group leader Alex Nicoll told BBC Scotland he had asked council officers to report on what had happened and "what lessons can be learned".    In answer to a freedom of information request, Aberdeen City Council said the electronic record held by the local authority was created using historic paper records rather than actual items held.   This means it not only lists everything it has but also everything that it once had as well.   The council is optimistic that many of these "missing items" are likely to be somewhere in its premises and their precise locations will eventually be recorded.   "Although 1,500 items have a 'missing' status, we have assigned around 3,100 items with temporary numbers; many of which have become disassociated from their accession number, (for example) the label with the number has become separated from the object," a spokesperson said.  "There is currently work ongoing to match the electronic records to actual items held.   This is a significant task considering the number of items held and recorded."   The council said a number of items were recorded as missing and requiring further investigation during the decant of the art gallery in 2015.   "As we were moving thousands of items between buildings we suspected an admin error occurred in the recording of blocks. We are now relocating stores and expect to investigate and identify current locations during this process."    Mr Nicoll said Aberdeen City Council was responsible for an "enormous" collection.    "The city is well-known as having an absolutely outstanding collection of medieval silver for example and I think we've got to look closely and say have we accounted for all these items safely", he said.   "Some of the items are worth substantial sums of money and I do think there may be high-value items included in this list.  These are items that belong to the citizens of Aberdeen and I think we have responsibilities."  He added: "I think what we've got to do now is go back to officers and seek a report as to what has happened and what lessons can be learned. I have written to officers asking for that to happen."   Designed by architect Alexander Marshall McKenzie, the art gallery in the city's Schoolhill first opened in 1885.  When it re-opened in 2019, VisitScotland described it as a "showstopper" that would underpin Aberdeen's "cultural renaissance".  The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland named it among 14 buildings as their 2021 award winners.

Scotland's 'Space Shuttle' Runway Revamped
A section of one of Europe's longest runways is undergoing a £4m upgrade.    Machrihanish's 3,049m (10,003ft) long runway was built in the 1960s on a former wartime air base and was used by the RAF and Nato air forces until 1997.  During Nasa's space shuttle era, the airstrip - three miles (5km) from Campbeltown - was certified as an emergency landing site for the spacecraft. The shuttle programme ran from 1981 to 2011.  In recent years, there have been proposals to create a spaceport at the airport for space tourism and satellite launches.   A section of the runway used by Campbeltown Airport is being upgraded.  The airport and runway forms part of 1,000 acres (405ha) of land that is in community ownership.   Machrihanish Airbase Community Company bought the former air base from the Ministry of Defence in 2012.   Scottish government-owned Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial) operates the civilian airport.   The runway surface had been deteriorating and is being refurbished.    Work started on 4 October and has involved the removal of 10,000 tonnes of asphalt. The new surface is expected to be completed later this month.   Hial said the project was progressing well, though bad weather had hampered some of the work.

New Images Show Aberdeen £150m Regeneration Plans
New images of a planned £150m regeneration of Aberdeen city centre and the beach have been released.    The revitalisation of the beach area features plans for a pier and a state-of-the-art sports area that could include a new stadium for Aberdeen FC.    The pedestrianisation of Union Street and the creation of a new city market are also on the cards.   Members of the council's city growth and resources committee will discuss the plans on 12 November.   It comes after the UK Westminster government announced in the Autumn Budget that plans to rejuvenate Aberdeen city centre would get £20m.   Councillor Ryan Houghton, convenor of the committee, said: "These plans are a hugely ambitious statement of intent for Aberdeen.   "They will not only act to heal the city from the economic damage inflicted by Covid-19, but will also see us improve the health of our citizens by creating an open, accessible beachfront.   The proposals will breathe new life into our city centre, boost job creation and promote a wealth of opportunities to allow businesses and traders to thrive."   A planning application to create the major new Aberdeen Market was submitted last month.  The local authority earlier took over the site of Aberdeen Market and the former BHS store.  The former BHS building has been vacant for about seven years. Behind it is the 1970s indoor market.

Scottish Borders Council Admits Liability After Teacher Attacked Pupils
A council has admitted liability after a teacher was convicted of attacks on vulnerable children with learning difficulties, BBC Scotland has learned.   Linda McCall, who was employed by Scottish Borders Council (SBC), was found guilty in July of assaulting five pupils.   The youngsters are autistic, non-verbal and were aged between five and seven years old at the time.  The law prevents the publication of any information which may identify them.    The BBC has been told SBC has now admitted liability for the actions of McCall in a civil case launched by the parents of the children who suffered.   The legal case was raised against the local authority as the employer of the teacher.  Five parents told BBC Scotland of the "life-changing trauma" inflicted on their families.  One mother said her son had tried to harm himself while another father said he lived with guilt which had driven him to the point of depression.   Another parent told how McCall pulled her son along the floor violently.  "My son was crying uncontrollably," they said. "He was very scared to go to school and was hiding his uniform."  Commenting on the confirmation that SBC admitted liability, the lawyer acting for the families said this marked the end of a "long and tortuous road to justice".   Marina Urie, from Thompsons Solicitors, told the BBC: "The families are massively relieved Scottish Borders Council has done the decent thing and finally admitted liability.   It means a huge amount."  She said they felt vindicated after a long process stemming back many years.   "They were met with a brick wall by the council who assured them nothing had happened and this admission now five years down the line is a huge moment for them," she said.  The allegations against McCall first emerged in 2017.

Annan Bridges Lost After Downpours A 'Significant Blow'
The Scottish government has vowed to work with the community in Annan to replace two bridges washed away after recent heavy rain.  Deputy First Minister John Swinney visited the Dumfries town to see the problem for himself.   The Diamond Jubilee Bridge and the Cuthbertson Memorial Bridge collapsed in record high water levels last week.  Mr Swinney said the "devastation" caused around the River Annan had been a "significant blow" and he said the Scottish government would be in talks with the working group to look at the best solution.  He said it was important to allow people in the area to decide what action to take before looking at finance and timescales.  Stuart Thompson, who is part of a working group set up in the wake of the collapse of the bridges, said it was a "tremendous boost" to see the issue was being taken "very, very seriously".

The SAHC still needs a Newsletter Editor.  Do you have a love of storytelling or know of someone that does?  If so, we need a newsletter editor.  Please contact me to discuss this very important role for keeping the Scottish Diaspora informed through my email address  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   I wish you all the very best and to remain safe and well in this troublesome times.
Malcolm Buchanan, President

Coisir  Ghaidhlig Astrailianach (Australian Gaelic Singers) will be back rehearsing on a face to face basis at Macquarie Presbyterian Church in Eastwood as soon as this*** Covid restrictions allow.   They are looking for interested folk to join them.  If you’d like to join - the choir is open to all, whatever your background.  The only pre- requisites are willingness to learn and lots of enthusiasm! A knowledge of Gaelic and/or music is not essential. If interested please contact the Music Director on (02) 9638-2625 or email him on: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it