Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 634

Issue # 634                                                 Week ending Friday 24th December 2021
How Joan Collins Looks So Young and How to Make An Easy Christmas Dinner by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Living frugally, as I do because the editor has not quite got round to awarding me the pay rise from last Christmas that he has been meaning to all year, I am looking for ways to celebrate the birth of that wee baby long, long ago on a low budget. When I say celebrate, I mean party but just with ourselves. If anyone else wants to join us in the back garden, please do. If anyone asks, we will just call it a business meeting. That works, apparently.

It might only work in London though. By all means come round. Bring a bottle, preferably Châteauneuf-du-Pape or something like that, but you might not get in. Remember to fix the evidence. Just leave it on the step with a note saying it is for “the business meeting”. In return, I will let you have a recipe for a quick and easy Christmas dinner. How’s that? Keep reading.

I had a sip of a very fine wine at the weekend as Joan Collins was on The Graham Norton Show. People over 50 like to watch her in case she has started to look her age. Nope. It’s ridiculous. She said in some other interview that she has had no “work” done and that her complexion is down to good make-up filling in the cracks.

She is something like 88 years young and been in almost everything since she began as an 18-year-old extra in Lady Godiva Rides Again in 1951. From Star Trek to Hawaii Five-O, from The Stud to Dynasty and to the highlight of her career - having a Cinzano poured over her in a plane. That was not a film but a TV commercial with Leonard Rossiter. It showed her fun side and revitalised her career.

My fun side is being nice to scammers. The ones “from HMRC” are so helpful. They must have a cool diversity policy. All of the ones calling here over the last while have sounded as if they are from the Indian sub-continent. When I ask them, they tell me they are British and have been taxing people for years from their “special” office beside Buckingham Palace. Last week’s guy, Kevin, said he had been doing it for 21 years.

Twenty one years, eh? That’s funny because Kevin sounded as if he was 21 himself. I’d have discussed taxation policy with the fellow for longer. Sadly, however, as Kevin was telling me he could save me money for Christmas by letting me pay my next estimated tax bill if I went to Tesco now and bought a bunch of iTunes vouchers and gave him the serial numbers, we got cut off. Mrs X had terminated the call by pulling the plug out of the wall.

If there is one thing she dislikes, it is time-wasting scam merchants. I pretend to go along with them making out I’ve given them access to my PC when I am merely microwaving a macaroni pie. When I say that I think my computer is going to catch fire as I watch the illuminated pie doing hot rotations, they hear whirring noises. Then Mrs X barges in, grabs the phone off me, taking half my ear with it, and roars at them to get a life or karma will bite them somewhere tender. I do like it when she shouts at someone other than me.

I also love it when I have a simple recipe to make Christmas dinner. This is easy and has just two ingredients - a turkey and a bottle of whisky. To prove it, I have already started preparing and I am going to cook our Christmas dinner right now as I am writing this. First, buy the turkey and a bottle of fine uisge beatha. Done that.

Now pour yourself a glass of whisky and put the turkey in the oven. Done. Take another two glasses of whisky, and set the degree at 375 ovens. Din. Have three more whiskies of drink and turn the oven on. Dinnae. Take four whisks of drinky and turk the bastey. Danny boo-ooy.

Stick a turkey in the thermometer and glass yourself a pour of whisky. Bake the whisky for four hours, take the oven out of the turkey, and floor the turkey up off the pick.  Pour yourself another glass of turkey. Done perfectamundo. On Saturday, all that will to be done and remain is tet the sable, and turk the carvey. Mary Chrismess.

Hogmanay Events Cancelled As Covid Rules Tightened
Edinburgh's Hogmanay events have been cancelled and football matches will be effectively spectator-free as part of tough new Covid rules in Scotland.   All outdoor events will be limited to just 500 people to help slow the spread of Omicron.   Indoor events such as concerts will be limited to 200 people if they are seated, or 100 for standing.   The new restrictions come into force on Boxing Day.   They will be in place for three weeks - although there will be no limit to how many people can meet up at Christmas.   The Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers on 2 January and the Edinburgh derby between Hearts and Hibs the following day are among the football fixtures that will be affected by the new rules.  The government fears that last Sunday's League Cup Final in front of a capacity crowd at Hampden may have been a "super spreader" event, with Deputy First Minister John Swinney saying he regrets not making the decision to play matches without spectators sooner.  Celtic have asked for the Scottish Premiership's three-week winter break - which is due to start after the Edinburgh derby on 3 January - to be brought forward to "maximise the prospect of all supporters being able to attend matches and support the game they love."   All of the major Hogmanay events in Edinburgh - including the street party, the torchlit precession and the midnight firework display - have now been cancelled, as have many other events in towns and cities across the country.  Physical distancing of 1m will now need to be in place for all events that do go ahead under the restrictions.   Pubs and other hospitality venues selling alcohol will need to reintroduce table service from 27 December.   And indoor hospitality and leisure venues will be required to ensure there is a 1m distance between groups of people who are attending together - which could force nightclubs to close.   First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "This will of course make sports matches, including football, effectively spectator-free over this three week period.   "And it will also mean that large-scale Hogmanay celebrations - including that planned here in our capital city - will not proceed".  Wales had already announced plans for sporting events to be held without crowds from Boxing Day, and London has cancelled its New Year's Eve event in Trafalgar Square.   Many concerts, theatre productions and other events had already been cancelled voluntarily in Scotland.  Omicron is now thought to account for 62.9% of all Covid cases in Scotland, with the first minister saying there was "still no compelling evidence that Omicron is intrinsically milder than previous strains".   Ms Sturgeon said the much higher transmissibility of the new variant meant that large gatherings "have the potential to become very rapid super-spreader events, putting large numbers at risk of getting infected very quickly".   She added: "Limiting these events helps reduce the risk of widespread transmission. It also cuts down the transmission risks associated with travel to and from such events  And these large events put an additional burden on emergency services, especially the police and ambulance services.  At a time when these services are already under severe pressure and also dealing with high staff absences, limiting large scale events will help them focus on delivering essential services to the public."   Ms Sturgeon stressed that the priority for the government was to ensure that schools re-open as normal after the Christmas holidays.   And she again urged people to cut their contacts with people in other households as much as possible ahead of Christmas, and to stay at home as much as possible.   The Federation of Small Business said the new measures would make trading "drastically more difficult for huge numbers of small businesses in Scotland".   Its policy chair, Andrew McRae, said: "The social distancing restrictions will mean shops and hospitality firms can serve fewer customers.   And the changes to events, such as sports matches and Hogmanay celebrations, will have a knock-on impact on local economies."   The Scottish Licensed Traders Association said the restrictions would be a "knockout blow" to many businesses that were already struggling because of the pandemic.   The Scottish government will now double the £100m it had already pledged to businesses hit by new Omicron restrictions.   And Ms Sturgeon said recent announcements by the UK Treasury "give us additional spending power now of £175m" - bringing the total to £375m, all of which will be allocated to business support.  Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he understood the "frustration and anger" that many people would have over the new restrictions, but urged people to come forward for vaccination as the "best way out of this".  He also called for household contacts of Covid cases to be allowed to end their self-isolation if they test negative, saying the current rules were well-intentioned but could "grind our transport network, our economy and public services to a halt".   ScotRail cancelled more than 100 trains on Monday, largely because of crew members being affected by Covid.   Ms Sturgeon said the government was "actively considering" changing household isolation rules once the booster campaign is complete, but said it would be "counter-productive" to do so while case numbers are rising.

Scottish Ministers 'Decide Against' Prestwick Airport Sale
The Scottish government has decided not to sell Prestwick Airport after rejecting a second bid to take it back into the private sector.  The government bought the airport for £1 in 2013 when it was threatened with closure due to heavy losses.   A preferred bidder was picked in February, but minsters have now decided against selling "at this time".   Opposition parties said the government must demonstrate it has a plan for the airport and the public money invested.   Finance Secretary Kate Forbes told MSPs that Prestwick was "carving a niche" as a specialist airport, noting that it was "heavily involved" in the COP26 conference in November.   She said the business "continues in a positive direction" and had turned a profit in 2020-21.  The Scottish government brought the airport into public ownership in 2013 to protect jobs after its last owner - New Zealand firm Infratil - failed to find a buyer amid mounting losses.   A bid to take the airport back into the private sector was lined up in 2019, but fell through the following year after the company involved pulled out.  Another preferred bidder was announced in February 2021 after the government put the airport back on the market, but this deal also appears to have now collapsed.   In a written answer at Holyrood, Ms Forbes said the airport had "provided a professional and flexible service" during the COP26 summit, and was providing "essential services for the importation of cargo, including supplies for the NHS".    She said: "Scottish ministers still intend for Prestwick airport to return to the private sector at the appropriate time and opportunity. Having carefully considered bids received under a recent sales process, I can advise that ministers have decided not to proceed with a sale at this time."   Scottish Labour said "serious questions" needed to be asked about the government's handling of the sale.   Transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: "Prestwick workers have been stuck in limbo for years waiting for this deal to materialise, only to get knocked back to square one and they deserve answers.  "The SNP must show they have a plan to for the future of this vital strategic asset, and the tens of millions of taxpayer pounds invested in it."   And Scottish Conservative MSP Graham Simpson added that "the only thing flying out of Prestwick is taxpayers' money".  He said: "Despite the small operating profit in the last year the government need to get Prestwick airport on the market, and off the books."

The Afghans Building A New Life in the Hebrides
A family that fled the violence in Afghanistan after the Taliban returned to power is building a new life in the Outer Hebrides.   A cold trip to Valtos beach in the west of Lewis could not be further away from Frishta Matin's terrifying journey from Kabul.   But Frishta says the rainy weather and the remote beach were a distraction for her family when they arrived in the Western Isles in late October.   Frishta, her husband Murtaza and their baby son Kia along with her sister Farzana and brother Zaker are Hazara.    It is an ethnic community at risk of persecution by the Taliban, who swiftly returned to power in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of a US-led military coalition in August.  When they arrived in the UK, the family were first given accommodation in Valtos, a small crofting township on Lewis, before being given a home by the local authority in Stornoway, the island's largest town.   Frishta says coming from where they lived in a crowded city in Afghanistan to a small community in Lewis took some adjusting.   She said: "In Valtos the only person we saw was the postman."  But the move offered new experiences to take their thoughts away from reliving their escape from Afghanistan.  Frishta says: "There were new things to distract you, to take your mind from what happened back in Afghanistan. There was the bad weather - the windy weather and the rain.   We would go to beach and then the rain would come and we would run back home."   Frishta says there were times her family feared they would die trying to leave Afghanistan.   The family was bussed to Kabul Airport the day after 13 American troops and at least 169 civilians had been killed in a suicide bombing on 26 August.   There were fears of further attacks and as the bus got closer to the airport there was the near constant sound of gunfire.   Frishta would cover her baby's ears to protect him from the deafening sound of gunfire.   The family narrowly missed the last coalition flight from Kabul and were forced to find an alternative route out.   After days hiding from Taliban soldiers just north of Kabul they were eventually able to get on a flight to Qatar organised by US charity the Uplift Afghanistan Fund.   Members of the Taliban came inside the plane to check passengers' documents.   It was only when the plane finally took off did the family dare to think it was their moment of escape.  From Qatar they flew to the UK and arrived into Edinburgh on 15 October. Following routine quarantine in line with Covid regulations, they went to Lewis.   Farzana says the family are now settling into life in the town of Stornoway.   She says: "It is very beautiful. I love walking around the (Lews) castle grounds. It is a calm and peaceful environment.   Also, the people are very kind and very supportive. Because I am new in town I get lost, but I can ask someone and they very kindly try to get me to the way that I want."   A family of Syrian refugees already living in Stornoway have also been helping them to adjust to their new life.   Farzana says: "They have been through the same thing. They have told us: 'Don't worry, don't be distressed.'"   The sisters worked for the Scottish charity, the Linda Norgrove Foundation, in Afghanistan. The charity contacted the UK Westminster government about getting the family to safety.  Linda Norgrove was an aid worker from the Western Isles involved in projects helping women and girls in Afghanistan.   She was kidnapped by the Taliban in September 2010 and died during an attempt to rescue her.   Her parents, John and Lorna, set up the charity in her name.   The sisters continue to volunteer for the charity, but along with Murtaza and Zaker hope to be able to find work or resume their studies.

First Chairman of Police Authority Vic Emery Killed in Crash
Vic Emery died in the single-vehicle crash in southern Scotland at the weekend  Tributes have been paid to the first chairman of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) who was killed in a crash at the weekend.   Vic Emery, 77, from Newcastle upon Tyne, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on the A74(M) near Ecclefechan at about 14:20 on Saturday.  Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said he had played a "significant role" in shaping policing in Scotland.   First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she held Mr Emery in "very high regard".   He was also current chairman of Zero Waste Scotland and the Civil Nuclear Police Authority (CNPA).   A family statement described him as a "cherished husband, devoted father and grandfather and respected businessman".   It added they were "utterly devastated" and their "hearts shattered".   Mr Livingstone said: "I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Vic Emery. My thoughts & those of everyone at Police Scotland are with his family and friends at this tragic time.   He was highly respected for his public service where he played a significant role in shaping policing in Scotland as we know it today, both as chairman of the Scottish Police Services Authority and as first chair of the Scottish Police Authority."   The SPA said it was "deeply saddened" to hear of the death of its first chairman.  It said he had made a "significant and lasting contribution" to the early years of police reform in Scotland.  "Our thoughts are very much with his family and friends at this time," it added.   First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Twitter that she was "shocked and very sad" at his death.   "I first got to know Vic when he ran Govan shipyard and since then our paths have crossed regularly through his public sector roles," she said.  "I held him in very high regard and liked him a lot. My deepest condolences go to his loved ones."   Gill Imery from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICS) said: "Everyone at HMICS past and present also very sad to hear this news. Vic Emery's contribution to policing in Scotland will not be forgotten. Deepest sympathies to all of his loved ones."  Zero Waste Scotland added: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our Chairman, Vic Emery OBE.   A great colleague and friend to Zero Waste Scotland, our thoughts are with his family at this sad time."   Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) Chief Constable Simon Chesterman said he was "deeply shocked and saddened" by the news.   "Vic was passionate about the CNC and our officers and staff; he has been an extremely supportive and knowledgeable chairman who has made a real difference to the CNC and the authority," he said.   "He brought a wealth of experience and energy to the role and will be much missed not just by the CNC and CNPA but by me personally."   In the private sector, Mr Emery was group managing director of BAE Systems warship building and sustainment business for more than 10 years.   He was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to warship building.   The road was closed for 10 hours following the crash.  Police Scotland said its inquiries were ongoing and anyone with information should come forward.

Big Burns Supper Festival in Dumfries Postponed Due to Covid
The Big Burns Supper festival in Dumfries has been postponed due to the spread of the Omicron Covid variant.  Organisers said they had taken the "difficult decision" to put off the event - due to start on 14 January.   A free Burns Night show will be broadcast on its Facebook and YouTube channels on 25 January instead.   It is hoped a new summer edition of the festival can run from 10 to 26 June at the Loreburn Hall in the town instead of the Spiegeltent venue.   Comedians Russell Kane, Nish Kumar and Rosie Jones were among the headline acts announced for the 2022 festival.   It had been hoped it would be "as close to normal as possible" after being held as a virtual event in January this year.  However, the spread of Omicron has prompted the decision to postpone the latest edition.   Organisers said the majority of shows would be rescheduled and customers would be offered - where possible - the chance to exchange their tickets or seek a refund.  "We will be writing to customers to let them know how their show is being rescheduled as soon as possible," a statement said.   "We take the responsibility of public health and safety seriously, and despite the obvious benefits the festival brings to our well-being, it would be impossible for us to deliver an event as large as Big Burns Supper without compromising the quality of the festival.  We are hugely grateful to our partners who have been incredibly supportive of this decision, but equally our artists and suppliers who have been working with our team to reschedule our entire festival."   It said they would be writing to customers in the new year to let them know if their show would be part of the summer event.  The statement added they would try to process any refunds requested as quickly as possible.  Last week Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald and Del Amitri were among the big names who postponed shows in the run up to Christmas amid concerns about the new variant.Over the weekend a number of panto and theatre shows were cancelled due to suspected Covid cases.

Omicron Symptoms: is A Runny Nose A Cold Or Covid?
The new Omicron variant of coronavirus is spreading rapidly in the UK. So what are the symptoms people should act on?  The NHS says people should still look out for classic Covid symptoms:  a new, continuous cough:  a fever/high temperature: loss of or change to smell or taste.    But researchers say for some people, having Covid can feel "more like a bad cold" with symptoms such as a headache, sore throat and a runny nose.  The Zoe Covid study app asks hundreds of thousands of people to log their symptoms and the investigators have been looking at ones linked to both the dominant Delta variant and the new highly spreadable variant Omicron.  So far, the top five symptoms are:  runny nose:  headache:   fatigue (either mild or severe):   sneezing:   sore throat.   If you think you may have Covid, it is important to get tested. Even people who don't feel very ill can put others at risk.  Does a fever mean I have coronavirus?   A high temperature is 37.8C or above. A fever like this can happen when the body is fighting off any infection - not just coronavirus.  It is best to use a thermometer. But if you don't have one, check if you, or the person you are worried about, feels hot to the touch on the chest or back.   A high temperature is unlikely with a cold.  If you have a fever, arrange a coronavirus test What about a cough?   If you have a cold or flu you may well have a cough, along with other symptoms.   Flu usually comes on suddenly and sufferers will often experience muscle aches, chills, headaches, tiredness, a sore throat and a runny or stuffed nose, along with the cough. It feels worse than a heavy cold.  Colds tend to develop more gradually and are less severe, although they do still make you feel unwell. Along with a cough, there may be sneezing and a sore throat and runny nose. Fever, chills, muscle aches and headaches are rare.   A coronavirus cough means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing fits or "episodes" in 24 hours.  If you usually have a cough because of a long-standing medical condition like COPD, it may be worse than usual.  You should get tested for coronavirus if you develop a new, continuous cough.  What do loss or change to smell or taste mean?  These are key symptoms of coronavirus and mean you should get a test.   It could still be that you have a simple cold. But you need to check, even if you don't feel unwell, to avoid the risk of spreading the virus.   Coronavirus smell loss 'different from cold or flu' :  Coronavirus loss of taste: Meat tastes like petrol.   Does sneezing mean I've got coronavirus?    Sneezing is not a classic symptom of coronavirus, and unless you also have a fever, cough or loss of smell and taste, you do not need a test.    Sneeze droplets can spread infections though, so catch them in a tissue, put it in the bin and then wash your hands.  To help stop the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses:  Wash your hands regularly:  Use a face covering when social distancing is not possible:  Try to keep your distance from those not in your household.   How about a runny or blocked nose or a headache?   Current advice says a runny nose or a headache is not a reason to get tested for Covid.  But research suggests some people who test positive for Covid do have these symptoms.  What if I am very unwell?   People with coronavirus have a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Some will have none at all, but can still be infectious.   Symptoms may appear up to two weeks after exposure to coronavirus, but usually around day five.    Feeling breathless can be a sign of a more serious coronavirus infection.   If you are having trouble breathing, contact your doctor online or over the phone, or the Public Health online coronavirus service.

Multi-Million Pound Falkirk Growth Deal Signed
A deal that will provide a major economic boost to the Falkirk area has been sealed.   The UK Westminster and Scottish governments and Falkirk Council have signed an agreement allowing 11 projects to proceed as part of Falkirk Growth Deal.  It is expected to result in up to 2,000 jobs and £1bn worth of future investment in the area.    Projects will include a sustainable transport hub and a "regionally significant" arts centre.    The agreement will also help Grangemouth's petrochemical complex, which currently produces 10% of Scotland's carbon emissions, transition to net zero.  Under the deal, the 11 projects will be able to use a total of £80m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, £45m from Falkirk Council and £5.8m from Scottish Canals to create an investment zone for Falkirk and Grangemouth.
The funding includes:  £10m for a carbon dioxide utilisation centre that will capture CO2:    £4m for an innovation skills transition centre:   £21m for a sustainable transport hub and a "green corridor' that will connect local communities:   £4m for Scotland's Canal Centre that will bring a derelict site into use:   £3m for Scotland's National Outdoor Art Park.   The Scottish government is matching the UK Treasury's £40m investment as well as adding £10m for local green projects.  The deal was signed by Scotland's Economy Secretary Kate Forbes, UK Westminster government minister Iain Stewart and Falkirk Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn.    Mr Stewart said the "landmark signing" would deliver transformative investment in Falkirk and the surrounding areas.  He said: "The deal will create and protect jobs in the area through innovative projects such as supporting Grangemouth petrochemical complex's transition away from fossil fuels with the creation of a centre of excellence in carbon capture as we move towards net zero."  Ms Forbes said the Scottish government's investments would "enable inclusive and sustainable economic growth for the area, creating a fairer and greener economy".   She added: "The deal will help regenerate town centres, create new cultural attractions, transform local transport, reskill the workforce and help decarbonise industry."    City region deals are designed to encourage economic growth and create jobs.   They have seen the UK Westminster and Scottish governments collaborate with local councils on infrastructure schemes such as new rail links.  Glasgow signed Scotland's first city deal in 2014.

Scottish University Scientist Chosen to Pilot Mars Rover
A scientist from a university in Scotland has been chosen to join the team piloting the European Space Agency’s Mars rover when it launches in 2022.  Dr Christian Schroeder, of the University of Stirling, is one of five “guest investigators” from Europe, Russia and Canada, who will lead the European-Russian ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover’s mission on the Red planet in September next year.   The Rosalind Franklin is set to land at the Oxia Planum point on Mars in June 2023 where it will spend a minimum of 211 “sols” (Martian days), equivalent to 230 Earth days, searching for organic carbon molecules that could indicate whether or not there was ever life on Mars.  The rover is the first to carry a drill long enough to explore molecules up to two metres below the surface, where they would be protected from the harsh radiation on the planet’s surface.  The European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover Rosalin Franklin is Europe’s first planetary rover that will search for signs of past or present life on Mars.  It carries a total of nine scientific instruments to locate the best sites for drilling and analysing samples found.   Once the rover has landed, Dr Schroeder will be based at the Rover Operation Control Centre in Turin, Italy, where the team will guide the device over the surface of Mars.   “This mission has been in the making for a long time and it will be great to see it finally take off, and significant to be in a leading role when that happens,” he said.   Dr Schroeder was part of the team operating Nasa’s twin Mars exploration rovers, Sprit and Opportunity, from 2003 to 2019.   The mission found a previous presence of liquid water on the Martian surface – the most important prerequisite for life.   “Over the last two decades we have learned that there was plenty of liquid water on Mars more than 3.5 billion years ago – at that time, Earth and Mars were very similar and life was already well established on Earth,” Dr Schroeder said.

Donation Supports Scottish Charity Air Ambulance
The Scottish Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) has received a £1000 donation towards its life-saving service.   Barratt Developments, which includes both Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes, wanted to give something back to the charity for its work that supports thousands of lives across country.  The donation from the Barratt and David Wilson Homes team will go towards the cost of flying helicopters responding to emergencies, which costs on average between £2000 and £3000 per flight.   The Scottish Charity Air Ambulance crew has flown more than 100 missions responding to a range of time-critical emergencies since the launch of its new hanger in 2020.  It uses two helicopters and two rapid response vehicles that provide transport for patients and lifesaving pre-hospital care.   The SCAA headquarters is based in Scone near Perth and it has a hanger in Aberdeen.   The team of volunteers can be found doing an array of skilled tasks such as pre-flight checks, gathering equipment, controlling helicopters and taking care of patients.  As Scotland’s only charity air ambulance and being 100 per cent reliant on public donations, any contributions that it receives mean a great deal of importance to the charity.   Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the original donation date was postponed until recently when Barratt and David Wilson staff were fortunate enough to see the charity crew in action during their visit.   David Palmer, managing director of Barratt and David Wilson Homes North Scotland, said: “The SCAA carry out outstanding lifesaving work and it was remarkable to witness this in person during our visit when they were in the process of transporting a patient to Glasgow.  It is fantastic to be able to support the charity and we hope our donation will help it to continue to provide crucial and necessary care and support to thousands of people across the country.”  

Scottish Government Wins Appeal on Creel Fishing Ruling
The Scottish government has won an appeal against a ruling requiring it to reconsider the way fisheries should be managed in the seas off Skye.   The Scottish Creel Fishermen's Federation (SCFF) wants a pilot project to be run which would see no trawling and dredging in some inshore areas.   The SCFF went to the Court of Session after the Scottish government turned down the proposal.   The government appealed against the judicial review the SCFF had won.   In the appeal, lawyers for Scottish ministers addressed Lord Carloway, Lord Turnbull and Lord Pentland.  They told the Inner House judges that another judge, Lady Poole, had misinterpreted the law and Marine Scotland, a directorate of the Scottish government, had acted correctly in how it dealt with the proposal.   In a written judgement issued by the court late on Thursday, the court upheld the submissions made to it by the Scottish ministers and overturned Lady Poole's decision.   In January, the Court of Session ruled that the creel fishermen's proposal was turned down by ministers solely because of the strength of opposition.    Lady Poole said the SCFF's proposal - to separate mobile and static fishing in Skye's Inner Sound as part of a trial - had not been fairly considered before being rejected.   Mobile fishing, through trawling and dredging, can often come into conflict with static methods.   Creel fishermen - who lay their pots on the seabed before returning days later to empty them - say thousands of pounds worth of gear can be lost when a fishing boat drags its nets through an area.   The proposal was to designate some areas of the Inner Sound to static fishing while others could be used by the mobile fleet.   A consultation, launched in 2017, invited fisheries management proposals for the seas around Scotland which would be judged against five criteria, including national and international obligations and the impact on quotas.   But Lady Poole ruled that the SCFF proposal for the Inner Sound was not judged on these criteria but simply on the strength of opposition.   Lawyers for the SCFF told Lady Poole that Scottish government directorate Marine Scotland acted unreasonably when it rejected its plan.  The organisation claimed objections from trawler operators had outweighed "published criteria for assessing pilot proposals set out in the government's own guidance".   SCFF lawyers claimed the Scottish government's guidance stated that local community groups could put forward a pilot proposal which could be approved.  They said approval could be granted if such schemes provided firm proof that management of fishing stocks could be maintained and improved.

Fake Vodka Seized in Greenock Illegal Distillery Raid
More than 400 litres (88 gallons) of suspected fake vodka has been seized in a raid at an illegal distillery in Inverclyde.  HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) also found multiple pallets of empty 70cl bottles and two stills at the unit in an industrial estate in Greenock.  Several containers holding about 12,000 litres (2,640 gallons) of suspected industrial spirit were also uncovered.  Police Scotland assisted in the raid on Friday. Investigations are continuing.   HMRC assistant director of fraud investigation, Joe Hendry, said: "Drinking counterfeit alcohol can be a huge risk to health and even cause death.  Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clamp down on the illicit alcohol market that costs the UK around £1bn per year.   This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders."

My Fright Night in ‘Haunted Bothy' At Luibeilt Lodge
On a Christmas climbing trip in 1973 two young climbers experienced a frightening series of events in a remote mountain bothy.   Phil MacNeill was 18 and a member of Glasgow's Langside Climbing Club when he and his friend Jimmy Dunn set out from the city for the Lochaber hills.   They took the train to Balloch and then hitched a lift north to Kinlochleven, near Fort William, from where they set out on foot about 10 miles (16km) to Luibeilt Lodge.  A former deer stalking lodge, now in ruins, the building had been adapted for use as a bothy - an overnight shelter for hillwalkers and climbers tackling the area's mountains, which include Britain's tallest - Ben Nevis.   The men, whose story has been recounted by Phil for BBC Radio 4's Uncanny show, were told there were people living off-grid at Luibeilt, but it remained open and welcoming to visitors.   Phil and Jimmy hoped to use it as a base for their climbing trip.  When they arrived the door was locked. Looking through windows the men could see dishes in the sink but no-one inside.   The pair headed off to do some climbing in the snow and ice before returning at about 21:00.   "It was pitch dark," says Phil. "We shone our torches through the windows and nothing seemed to have changed."   The men were able to get inside through an unsecured window.    "It was much colder inside than outside," said Phil. "It felt odd. It became obvious the place had been vacated very rapidly."    There was a table set for Christmas dinner, with crackers still to be pulled open.   Exploring the property, the men noted each room was furnished and appeared to have been occupied, except one - a bedroom directly above the living room.   The small bedroom had a dismantled metal bed frame lying against a wall and a window with the curtains open. On the window sill there was a large stone.   The climbers went down to the living room and crawled into their sleeping bags for the night.    Phil says: "It was extremely cold, and the silence was palpable. It enveloped you.   "Almost the minute we blew out our candle there were noises upstairs."   First they heard footsteps, then noises of the bed being put together followed by what sounded like the rock from the window sill being rolled across the floor.  Phil next recalls being awoken at 04:00 when the living room "erupted" with the sounds of objects - including the men's ice axes - being thrown "all over the place" in the darkness.   "I am absolutely petrified," says Phil.   The room fell silent again. Phil lit a candle but it was sent "flying across the room".   Next, the sound of footsteps again, but this time stomping down a spiral staircase from the upstairs to the closed living room door.   Grabbing his ice axe, Phil went to the door and threw it open but he says no-one was there.    It was then the climbers decided to make their escape out of an opened window.   Shining their head torches to the upstairs bedroom window, Phil says they saw the curtains were now closed. The men fled for Kinlochleven.   Phil, who has sought out other people's experiences of the bothy, believes no-one could have been hiding in the lodge or arrived after they did.    "We would have seen their footprints in the snow," he says.  Uncanny's host, Danny Robins, says the case is one of the most terrifying of the series.   Psychologist Dr Ciaran O'Keeffe and writer and Edinburgh-based paranormal psychologist Evelyn Hollow, regular contributors to the show, offer different explanations for what happened.   Ms Hollow says Scotland is "saturated" in the paranormal and is "one of the most haunted countries in the world".   She suggests the source of the goings was a poltergeist - a potentially violent ghost that can move objects.  But Dr O'Keeffe suggests if it was not other people in the house then the men may have been feeling the effects of tiredness and the extreme cold.  He says this can influence levels of consciousness, alertness and judgement and may have led to mundane sounds being misinterpreted as something sinister.   He says there have been other examples of "haunted" bothies.   Dr O'Keeffe says: "At Ben Alder cottage there was similar phenomena reported. In that case it was found it was a stag using its antlers and banging on the side of the wall."  The Uncanny Christmas special is available on BBC Sounds now and will broadcast on Radio 4 at 23:30 on Christmas Day.

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) is now back rehearsing on a face to face basis at Macquarie Presbyterian Church in Eastwood.  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, lots of enthusiasm! And are DOUBLE Vaccinated.  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

Tickets for Brigadoon 2 APRIL 2022 WILL GO ON SALE FROM
9am DECEMBER 10th


Alaistair Saunders, Vice President/Publicity Officer
Bundanoon Highland Gathering Inc.
PO Box 74, Bundanoon, NSW 2578, Australia  Ph: 61 2 4883 7471