Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 640

Issue # 640                                           Week ending Saturday 5th February 2022
Who Said That Waiting Time Isn’t Wasting Time? Just Get on with it by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

It’s the waiting patiently that gets me. There has been so much to wait patiently for recently. Why can’t things happen more quickly and get them over with. Firstly, there was the wait for the much-forecasted Storm Malik and that had no sooner shaken this house and ripped the side off the shed round the corner than we were told to wait a bit for Storm Corrie roaring in behind it.

There are many reasons why I wait impatiently. So often after you have waited as directed, the outcome has been very disappointing. One example that comes to mind for me was during a very cold winter when I was very young, someone gave me a pair of ice skates. How earnestly I prayed for the mercury to drop. One very icy and snowy morning, my father and I were given a lift in my uncle’s van to the post office in Breaclete, the neighbouring village to our domain in Tobson. My skates were in the back, just in case.

As the Austin A35 slowly chugged through the white stuff and past the church, what a sight lay before us. The whole of Loch Geal was frozen over. I pleaded with the old man to let me out to go ice-skating. I shall always remember his words. “Nah, Iain Beag. You’ll catch a cold. You’ll have to wait until the weather gets warmer.” What? After picking up the postal orders for dad’s football pools entry, the postage stamps and the stamps for the TV licence, uncle Donald’s van crawled back past the loch with my face pressed against the back window, howling.

Now what else have I been waiting for? Can’t think. What? Sue? Who is suing who? Oh, that Sue. At the weekend, another journo suggested I ask the Metropolitan Police on what legal basis they were asking Sue Gray to leave out details of their enquiries. A retired Supreme Court judge called Lord Sumption had declared on Newsnight there was no legal reason. Why me? Ok, why not me? My readers deserve to know too. Ach, the Met probably won’t even bother to reply to the teuchter in Nowheresville.

Heck, they did. Smartly sidestepping the question about the legal basis, they explained that asking Sue Gray to downplay the stuff the Met were probing was only about protecting the “integrity (or not prejudicing, hindering, etc.) the police investigation. This is not about prejudicing criminal proceedings.” Hmm. they may have meant “about not prejudicing”, but that’s only my opinion.

When I shot back at them about when had they ever done anything similar before, they claimed you’d rarely see a public body looking to publish a report into alleged offences during a police investigation. Really? About a matter that threatens mere fixed penalties? Pull the other one. I didn’t actually ask them to pull anything because they then said it would be only until they wrapped up their enquiries, adding “which we intend to do promptly”.

Then Sue Gray’s mini-update came out on Monday and the PM faced PMQs PDQ. OMG. Who else stayed glued to the telly watching Boris being ambushed not by cake but by rivals and colleagues? Even Mrs X was glued to it when she wasn’t attending to my needs. She too likes to wait - on me, hand and foot. Well, I like to dream. Still waiting for the requested pails of popcorn, quarts of coffee and Scotch Eggs.

I wonder how many eggs Jacob Rees-Mogg has left? The olde worlde posh gent has claimed he has politics and politicians sussed. He explained: “I've never put all my eggs in one basket, and I've always been cautious.” How’s that going, JRM? haven’t you put your political career - let’s call it all your eggs  - in Boris’s basket?

Finally, I must say hello to Alex who has also been waiting patiently. Until recently, he was a keen piper. Alex then had an audition to try and get into his local pipe band. He had been waiting to hear if he had got in. A letter arrived. Sorry, it said, but no. Aw, poor Alex. Gutted, he tells me that on Monday last week he put a Bagpipes For Sale sign in the window of his house which faces the street in a certain Highland town.

On Tuesday, his next door neighbour, who’s a bit of a prankster, didn’t wait. He put up a sign in his window. It said: “Thank God for that.”

‘It’s Upset A Lot of People’: Outrage After Tidy-up of Scottish Sacred Well
At the end of a steep woodland trail, surrounded by sturdy beech and ash trees, a freshwater spring bubbles into a basic stone well, rippling in the low winter sunlight.  On nearby branches and around the mouth of the well colourful cloth rags – or cloots – have been hung by visitors, as an offering to a water spirit or local saint and an entreaty to be healed.  The clootie well near Munlochy, a village on the Black Isle peninsula across the Beauly Firth from Inverness, is a place of traditional pilgrimage and modern curiosity. It is also now a cause of community consternation, after a well-meaning stranger cleared away many of the offerings.   It has been a tradition for centuries to take a cloot – Scots for a rag or a piece of cloth – and tie it to a tree after soaking it in a ‘healing well’.   “I’m sure the person who cleared up thought they were doing something good,” says Claire Mackay, a herbalist who lives on the Black Isle, “but the fact they took it upon themselves, weren’t a local and did it without the permission of Forestry and Land Scotland [which manages the site] has upset a lot of people.”   Some neighbours have fulminated on the community Facebook page – even suggesting the individual may henceforth be cursed for “desecrating” the sacred site – while others acknowledge the site was already in need of attention before the offerings were swiped last weekend.   The well had gathered an accumulation of eccentric offerings during lockdown, including bras, pants and a hi-vis jacket. The damage wrought by Storm Arwen in late November also blew down many of the cloot-covered branches.   Verity Walker, a local author and heritage consultant, can remember the “clootie trees” being trimmed or cleared when she passed the well as a child. It is an ancient tradition that now coexists alongside modern faiths, she says. “When my daughter injured her foot, I hung a sock – it has to be biodegradable and related to the part of the body that you want to recover.”   Mackay is optimistic that the initial outrage can be channelled into a more organised approach to maintaining the site. “The clean-up should have been a community decision,” she says. “But now we can treat it as a clean slate and hope it has planted that seed about the need for people to leave more natural things.”  Paul Hibberd, a regional visitor services manager for Forestry and Land Scotland, points out that there is already signage asking people to leave “only small, biodegradable offerings” at the well. Local rangers visit regularly to tidy and “remove the most inappropriate items”, he adds, but staff are aware this is a site that “people feel a very strong connection with”.  The build-up of debris “also highlights how much plastic is in modern clothes”, Hibberd adds. “That’s part of the problem with items not breaking down.” Clootie wells, which are also found in Cornwall and Ireland, date far back into pre-Christian times and the practice of leaving votives and offerings for spirits in wells and springs. The healing well at Munlochy has been linked to Saint Boniface, who worked as a missionary in Scotland around AD620, and is probably an example of early Christianity absorbing more ancient Celtic traditions.   Pilgrims performed a ceremony that involved circling the well three times before splashing some of its water on the ground and saying a prayer. They would then tie a piece of cloth that had been in contact with the ill person to a nearby tree and, as the rag rotted away, so that person would be healed.   There are plans for a community group to care for the area on a regular basis, with more than a hundred local people already expressing an interest. Mackay has plans for storytelling at the well and input from local historians, as well as outreach into schools to explain to children how to leave votives and cloots without harming the environment.  “It’s a symbolic act,” says Walker, “an act of meditation and connection, an act of faith even if you’re not sure what you have faith in, and that’s only to be encouraged.”

MRI Scanner in Aberdeen Speaks in Doric Dialect to Comfort Patients
Patients having MRI scans in Aberdeen can now hear the instructions in the north east Scotland dialect of Doric.   The University of Aberdeen's MRI scanner has undergone a £1.2m upgrade, including new software which offers multiple language options.   It is hoped hearing instructions in a familiar language will help patients feel more relaxed in what is a potentially stressful situation.   Experts think it could also help those with dementia.
Examples of new Doric instructions include:
"The neist scan'll tak five minties": The next scan will take five minutes.
"Hud yer breath": Hold your breath.  "In a'tween the neist puckle o' scans the table will       move aboot": In between the next few scans the table will move about.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.  University of Aberdeen researchers were at the forefront of originally developing the ground-breaking technology more than 40 years ago that would go on to save lives across the world.   The new upgrade, in the biomedical imaging centre in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, is aimed at clearer imaging, more accurate diagnosis and a 30% faster operating speed, as well as the language expansion.   French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Mandarin are among other options.   Dr Gordon Waiter, a senior lecturer and brain imaging expert at the University of Aberdeen, hopes the language options might make some patients feel more comfortable in what could be a daunting situation.  "One of the upgrades that came with our new scanner is a set of languages, and there are a list of 17 international languages", he explained. "We chose to upload Doric as a set of instructions on our scanner.   It can be quite a scary environment. Hearing the instructions in your local dialect - the same language you use to speak to your neighbours or your friends on the street - makes it much less of a clinical setting. It makes it much more relaxing.  That's what we hoped it would do, and the feedback that we're getting from the patients certainly seems to bear that out."  He added: "As someone from the north east myself, I am proud of our distinct dialect of Scots and it's great that advances in technology allow us to offer this degree of flexibility, whether it is for people who speak Doric, or indeed any of the other 17 languages available."   MRI superintendent Michael Hendry said some patients "get a real good surprise, they don't quite believe you when you tell them it'll speak to them in the Doric".  He added: "But it always cheers them up and puts a smile on their face."    Dr Thomas McKean has explored the impact of dementia on language.  "As dementia takes hold, they begin to lose that second language and go more and more into their native tongue, which is often Doric", Dr McKean said.  "And so if that language is spoken by the carers, a number of people I interviewed have experienced that enables a much deeper connection and a more immediate connection."   The phrases were recorded by Simon Gall, public engagement officer with the university's Elphinstone Institute.  He said: "My grandmother, a Doric speaker who has dementia, struggles now with communication in English, but when carers and medical professionals use Scots, she is much more responsive.  It's great that Dr Waiter decided to make use of the facility to allow us to record instructions in Doric and if my voice can put even one person at ease, I am delighted."

The Crime Gangs Cashing in by Burying Illegal Waste
Organised crime gangs are illegally burying thousands of tonnes of waste across Scotland, a BBC investigation has found.   Some of the rubbish is being brought up from the north of England by the gangs, and is believed to include hazardous clinical waste from hospitals.  Current affairs series Disclosure has been told that threats and intimidation are being used against landowners who refuse to allow waste to be buried on their land.   One claimed to have been threatened that their animals would be killed if they did not agree to let waste be buried on their land, while many others spoken to by the BBC were too scared to go on the record.   An insider from a criminal network told Disclosure that dumping waste had become as profitable as the drug trade.  Sepa, Scotland's environmental regulator, says its resources are being stretched by the gangs' activities.  Kath McDowall, one of the senior investigators looking into the organised groups, said: "When people typically think of waste crime they think of small-scale fly-tipping and they don't quite realise it's happening on this scale."  She said the Scottish Environment Protection Agency was up against gangs who had been involved in running drugs and weapons for decades.  Ms McDowall said they had "taken lessons they've learned from doing other types of criminality and are now applying it to waste".  However, she said the resources that Sepa had to deal with the problem were "pretty finite."  The legitimate disposal of rubbish is an expensive business because of the cost of complying with tight regulations and landfill taxes.  Drew Murdoch is managing director of J&M Murdoch and Son, a family-run waste business which has been operating legitimately for 50 years.  "There is now more of a criminal element in the waste industry than there has ever been before," he said.  "And that is largely due to the amount of money they can make out of illegally dealing with waste."  His company might make £50,000 from a £1m contract due to the costs of landfill taxes, insurance and disposing of materials correctly.  "An illegitimate firm or criminal enterprise could quote half of that and pocket pretty much most of the money," he said.  Mr Murdoch said there was a risk that some smaller legal businesses could fold or turn to criminality to compete.  An insider from one criminal network involved in burying waste told Disclosure that waste was "the new drugs".  "It's an easy way to make money. It's completely hidden in plain sight - and the money from these waste gangs goes straight back into their organised criminal activities.  It finances their drugs operations, their movement of weapons, people, whatever."   The insider claimed that one criminal gang from the north of England had multiple sites across Scotland which received waste driven up from England in lorries.  At one of these sites, the landowner would be paid £350 per lorry, containing a mixture of domestic and hazardous clinical waste. The site receives five lorries a day, five days a week, adding up to more than £8,000 a week for the landowner alone.   The insider said they knew that at least one of these sites had been operational for years.  One gang targeted two farms in south Wales where they buried tonnes of household rubbish as well as hazardous clinical waste from hospitals. Natural Resources Wales, the environmental regulator, discovered the waste included syringes, used dressings, and blood vials.  The same tactic is being used in Scotland, leading to one criminal network being actively investigated by Sepa.  Another method is to fill old lorry trailers with waste and abandon them in laybys and quiet streets around the country.  In the last 15 months, 12 trailers have been found across central Scotland - all of them filled with household and construction waste.   Elsewhere, a derelict farm near Port Glasgow, in Inverclyde, has been filled with an estimated 10,000 tyres.  Richard Sinnott, an atmospheric scientist at Sepa, told the BBC it was an "increasing trend", and that he could not overstate how damaging it was to Scotland's environment.  Sepa is currently investigating 234 cases of waste crime. Of those, 31 are of the highest concern due to links with serious and organised crime or the potential for severe environmental damage.   The authority estimates that 15% of organised crime groups in Scotland now have interests in environmental businesses. These range from skip hire companies to waste hauliers and construction and demolition firms.   The Environmental Services Association last year estimated that criminality in the trade was costing the UK taxpayer more than £1bn a year.  Roadside stops have been held at Gretna as part of efforts to tackle waste being illegally brought across the border and dumped in Scotland.  The initiative is being spearheaded by Sepa.  It said waste crime was estimated to cost the UK economy about £600m a year.  

Residents Near Glasgow Trinity Tower Fear Evacuation Could Last Months
People living near a landmark tower in Glasgow fear they could be out of their homes for months, after being evacuated at the weekend over safety fears.  On Saturday, an exclusion zone was set up around the Trinity building in the Park Circus area of the west end.  Glasgow City Council warned the tower's "structural deterioration" had worsened in high winds during Storm Malik.   Residents in the area say they have yet to be told how long it will be until the tower is made safe.  On Monday, the council said there was not yet a timescale for when residents would be able to return home.  It has not been determined how much work needs to be carried out on the tower.   Contractors who had begun repair work on the tower earlier this month contacted the council after high winds on 29 January worsened the condition of the building.  It was decided that the area had to be evacuated for the safety of the public.  Residents who needed emergency accommodation were put up in hotels.  The council said 26 properties were within the cordon.  Over the weekend, 98 residents attended a rest centre at Kelvin Hall.   But one local resident told BBC Scotland he believed that between 60 and 100 households were still out of their homes.  Keith McIvor, a DJ whose home is within the area that has been evacuated, is staying with a friend - but said this was only a short-term solution.  He said that in the longer term, he would have to either rely on the council to find him another place to stay or he would have to rent somewhere himself.   But he added that renting was not an affordable option as his insurers had told him this would not be covered by his policy - because the building he lives in has not been damaged.  "It's a bit of a nightmare," he said.  His DJ studio is inside his home, so his business will be affected by the evacuation too.  He was allowed back in to his home to collect a few belongings and was able to briefly gain access again on Sunday, before high winds made the situation more dangerous.  Mr McIvor said the communications with residents was "terrible to begin with".   He said residents were not given a promised update on Monday.  "Nobody can tell me anything," he said. "I don't know what's happening."

Neilston Band Balado Release Their Debut Single the Buffalo
A Neilston band hope to be a smash hit with music lovers after releasing their debut single.  Indie rock outfit Balado have big ambitions, including being able to perform at Glasgow’s iconic Barrowland venue.   Their debut song – The Buffalo – was inspired by the tough working conditions endured by those employed in the city’s shipyards.  And lead singer Jamie Finnigan, whose ‘day job’ is at a shipyard in Govan, was able to lean on personal experience.  The 32-year-old shipbuilder told the Barrhead News: “The song is about working the nightshift in the yards, in an area known as ‘the killing fields.’ It was inspired by the important role the gaffer plays there.”  Balado was formed around five months ago and also features the talents of lead guitarist Mark Devlin, 35, guitarist Peter Houston, 32, and 24-year-old drummer Geran Cusick.  Mark is a full-time musician, while Peter works as an electrician and Geran is a chef.  The band have already played a sell-out gig at The 13th Note, in Glasgow, with more concerts in the pipeline.  Jamie said: “The crowd were rowdy as anything, which is exactly what we were aiming for.”  The Buffalo is proving to be a hit after being played in the United States on Amazing Radio and receiving a shout-out from renowned Scottish DJ Jim Gellatly on his Twitter page and radio show.  Jamie said the reception has been “unreal” and also revealed how music has helped the band get through tough times while Covid has been an issue.  “The hard work we’ve put in is paying off,” he added. “The band has definitely got us through the pandemic. It has shown us how appreciative we all should be for live music.  We have a taste in music that is close to people’s hearts. We are bringing back some old school rock and roll.”  The Buffalo is available to download on all major music platforms.

‘I’m Worried About Mum’ – Nairn Academy Pupil Designs Women’s Aid Domestic Abuse Leaflet
A Nairn schoolgirl has created a powerful new domestic abuse brochure for Inverness Women’s Aid.  Skye Carroll came up with the winning design, which will now go out to secondary schools across Inverness, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey.   Skye was 15 when she took on the project as part of her Higher in graphic communications. Inverness Women’s Aid worked with the Higher class and talked to the pupils about the impact of domestic abuse.  The charity tasked pupils with creating a new brochure to raise awareness and highlight the support it can offer. They asked students to consider the worries and types of language young people might express in this situation.   Skye came up with the heart-wrenching slogan “I’m worried about Mum,” which Inverness Women’s Aid say resonates strongly with youngsters.  Nairn Academy tutor Liza Anderson says it was the pupils themselves who voted for Skye’s design, which shows how relatable they found it.  One young client of Inveness Women’s Aid described the worries she has for her Mum. “I hate it, I don’t want everything to be hush, hush secrets anymore. I just want a father that can be there for me at all times and love me as who I am. Not one that likes to hurt and bring my mother down every single day. I feel so alone and tired. I wish this was a made-up story that I was telling you, but it’s my life.”  Skye says that winning the project not only increased her understanding of domestic abuse, but also boosted her confidence. The project inspired her to study graphic design at Napier University in Edinburgh. She looks set to have a bright future ahead, with local printers Lucid Raccoon saying they thought the leaflet was designed by a professional agency.  Inverness Women’s Aid will begin distributing the leaflet to secondary schools in the area from 1 February. Manager Elaine Fetherston says the project is a fantastic example of collaboration with local schools.   “Having young people closely involved in the development process means this leaflet will really speak to the children and young people using it,” says Elaine. “Many children and young people in our area experience the impact of domestic abuse so it is vital that they have guidance and information about their rights and have a voice.”

Oil Rig Workers Felt North Sea Earthquake
Oil rig workers have reported feeling an earthquake that was recorded about 150 miles (241km) east of Aberdeen.   British Geological Survey (BGS) said the 3.6 magnitude quake happened at about 14:30, and was the third to be recorded in the area since 2019.   BGS said it was felt by workers in the Elgin-Franklin oil field.  The United Kingdom Continental Shelf, waters surrounding the UK and including the North Sea, is rated as a "low to moderate seismic region".   A 6.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded in the Dogger Bank area of the North Sea in 1931.  In Scotland, earthquakes are rare and when they do happen they usually pass unnoticed.

Dumfries Farm is 'Most Authentic' Site Linked to Robert Burns
A Dumfries farm where Robert Burns lived is one of the "most authentic" sites linked to his lifetime, researchers believe.   A new study of Ellisland Farm revealed he was responsible for building more of the property than previously known.   Architectural historian, Dr William Napier, said: "If Burns walked through the gate today he would recognise the farm he established."   Burns wrote some of his most famous works at Ellisland from 1788 to 1791.  The detailed heritage survey of the site, announced last year, revealed it requires repair work costing about £500,000.   Dr Napier, a building surveyor based in Peebles, said the research delivered a number of surprises about the poet's life there.  "During that period of research we understand much more of the farm's development - that he was responsible for building more of the buildings than previously thought," he said.   "After he left, the farm obviously was developed and new buildings were added, but essentially we can be confident that if Burns walked through the gate today he would recognise the farm that he established.  We think now we can be confident that Ellisland Farm is probably the most authentic site associated with Burns' lifetime and I think that that makes it a really important place."  It was previously thought that Burns was only responsible for the farmhouse. The research suggest both the barn and the byre and stable were also his work.   Dr Napier said it was a "hidden gem" but one in need of considerable work.   "Although it needs a lot of repairs it could have been an awful lot worse," he said. "This farm has avoided the large agricultural buildings and knocking down of older farmsteads.   "We are very fortunate that although there are a lot of repairs required the farm is in good heart. In terms of authenticity this is unparalleled and Burns would recognise it if he was able to come back today."   Among those trying to stop people just "driving past" the property is digital assistant Ellis Corrigan who is helping to promote the farm using her artwork and building online awareness.  "It is a landscape that inspired Burns so being able to use that to inspire my own artwork is a bit of a privilege really," she said.   She said it was an ideal spot to recite one of his most famous works written there.   "They say Tam O'Shanter is a walking poem so you walk to the beat along this river and that's the rhythm that you say Tam O'Shanter to," she said.  "It is a stunning landscape and well worth coming to see. You walk along and, if you say it to yourself, it is like Burns is walking alongside you saying the poem with you."   Bertie Austin's family has farmed at Ellisland for more than four decades. He said it would have been a tough place for the poet to eke out a living.   "I think it would be the surroundings that he chose - I don't think he chose it for the ground," he said.  "It is quite a challenging place to farm, it is quite hard.  It is hungry soil - meaning it's quite light soil - it needs a lot of feeding. I think probably he would find it very hard when he was here."  However, the poet - who was born in Alloway in Ayrshire and died in nearby Dumfries - still made his mark during his time at Ellisland.  "Prior to Burns getting here it was part of an estate and I don't really know who was in the place," said Mr Austin.  "He brought Ayrshire dairy cattle here and that was quite a new thing.  "I think visitors like to see it still working as a farm.  It is good that it hasn't really changed so much that it is unrecognisable from when he was here."  It is now up to Ellisland's business development manager Joan McAlpine to deal with the findings from the survey.  "It is good because it tells us lots of fascinating stuff about the fact that Burns built many more of the buildings than we previously believed," she said.   "But it also identified £500,000 worth of repairs and that's the challenge I have as the business manager here to find the funds to do that.   It is a hugely exciting challenge, it is such a special place."  There are long-term plans to develop the site as a "centre of creative learning" but, in the meantime, she hopes people will visit when it opens again in April or make a donation.  Ms McAlpine said that the farm, as the "home of Auld Lang Syne", retained a strong link to Burns to this day which made it worth preserving.  "People do say that they feel his presence here in a way that you don't in other places," she said.

RAF Lossiemouth Jets Scrambled to Russian Aircraft
RAF jets were scrambled to intercept four Russian military aircraft to the north of Scotland.  Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray and a Voyager fuel tanker from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire were involved in the mission.  The RAF said the Russian aircraft did not enter UK airspace.  Incidents like this - known as quick reaction alerts - are not uncommon and involve RAF crews shadowing Russian military aircraft near UK airspace.   They have occurred since the Cold War era.  Thursday's incident comes amid mounting tensions in eastern Europe.  The US and its allies has accused Russia of planning to invade Ukraine, something Russia has repeatedly denied.  Two Russian Tu-95 Bear H, which are long-range bombers, and two maritime patrol Tu-142 Bear F aircraft were tracked by the RAF near the "UK's area of interest".  An RAF spokesman said: "Quick reaction alert Typhoon fighters based at RAF Lossiemouth supported by a Voyager from RAF Brize Norton were scrambled today against unidentified aircraft approaching the UK area of interest.   "Subsequently we intercepted and escorted four Russian Bear aircraft."  The RAF has previously said it responds to Russian military aircraft entering the UK Flight Information Region, the UK's controlled zone of international airspace, because they can pose a hazard to other air users.   It said the Russian planes often did not talk to air traffic control or "squawk" - broadcasting a code ensuring they are visible to other air users and air traffic controllers on the ground.  Recent incident included RAF Lossiemouth Typhoons intercepting two Russian Tu-142 Bear-F aircraft over the North Sea in March last year.  Tu-142 aircraft are used for reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare.   RAF Lossiemouth on Scotland's north east coast is a base for dedicated quick reaction alert pilots.   The air station is also the home to the RAF's new fleet of Poseidon submarine-hunter aircraft.

Calls to Allow People to Return to Edinburgh's Radical Road
Edinburgh's Radical Road is one of Scotland's most historic paths. It is where the founding father of geology arrived at his theory of how and when the world was formed, then got its name in the aftermath of the Radical War of 1820.   However, the route has been closed for the last three years due to safety concerns. Now there are calls for access to be restored to parts of the site.   The Radical Road runs along Salisbury Crags at Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano which is one of Edinburgh's best-known landmarks.   Near the south end of the path is Hutton's Section, the spot where geologist James Hutton found proof in the late 18th Century for his theory that the world's landscape had evolved over time.  The layers of rock at Salisbury Crags supported his belief that igneous rocks are formed from magma.  His work is responsible for one of the fundamental principles of geology, and discovered that the Earth was significantly older than had previously been believed.   The path got its name from the unemployed west of Scotland weavers who were set to work paving a track round Salisbury Crags - a plan suggested by author Sir Walter Scott in the aftermath of the Radical War of 1820.   Also known as the Scottish Insurrection, this uprising was the result of social unrest among workers who were fed up with what they perceived to be unjust working and living conditions.  Eric Melvin, local historian and author, told BBC Scotland there were clashes after a national strike began in Glasgow in April 1820.   "People were killed and, inevitably, the army won," he said.  "Three weavers who had led the radicals, John Baird, Andrew Hardie, and James Wilson, were executed for the part they played in the events. Nineteen others were transported to Botany Bay."  After King George IV visited Edinburgh in 1822, Sir Walter Scott suggested that unemployed weavers could be used to build a footpath around Salisbury Crags.   Mr Melvin explained: "Some of the Edinburgh unemployed were set to work clearing Bruntsfield Links and creating the paths round Calton Hill, but what to do for the west-coast weavers who said they had no work?  "The answer was proposed by Sir Walter. Get them away from Glasgow and find them a job in Edinburgh.  There was a narrow path skirting Salisbury Crags which was in dangerous disrepair. This could be widened and improved to make a pleasant walk towards Arthurs Seat.  The weavers were brought to Edinburgh and set to work, an event remembered ever after in a local playground chant: 'Round and round the Radical Road, the radical rascal ran…"  However, the route has been closed for more than three years after 50 tonnes of rock fell from cliffs onto the path.  Geologist Angus Miller, who takes tours of the area, told BBC Scotland that fencing had been erected tantalisingly close to the "extremely important" site of Hutton's Section.  "The fence could easily be moved 50 metres further along to make Hutton's Section accessible," he said.  He said this was because the cliffs were lower in that section, which was set back from the path because of stone quarrying in the past.  "I understand the path has to be closed but there are different risks at different parts of the path," he added.   "It is very frustrating not being able to show such an important site to the hundreds of geologists and tourists who come from around the world to see it."   Nick Kempe, an access campaigner and author of Parkswatchscotland, said Hutton's Section played "a crucially important role in the history of the earth sciences and attracts geologists from all over the world".  He said it also passed beneath a number of quarries that operated from the 16th Century.   "The stone was used all over Edinburgh and was exported for a time to pave the streets of London," he said.  "Public concern about the impact of the quarrying and a number of legal cases eventually resulted in it being banned by Act of Parliament in 1831, a very early example of a successful environmental campaign.   All of this means the Radical Road is one of the most historic paths in Scotland in what is an outstanding setting."   He said it was "entirely fitting" that the road was managed by Historic and Environment Scotland, but asked: "Why is a world class tourism attraction still closed?"   Historic Environment Scotland said it was examining information from specialists before deciding whether the path could be reopened.   In the meantime, it said barriers were in place to ensure that the public could not access "areas of significant risk".  "Some degradation of the rock face is a natural process and to be expected but climate conditions are changing and accelerating the rate of impact," it added.  "De-scaling is part of our management approach along with other forms of physical intervention. Our primary concern is the health and safety of park users, and as the environmental factors have changed our response also needs to (change)."

Rishi Sunak: Energy Bill Help 'Worth £290m to Scotland'
Scotland will benefit from an additional £290m of funding to help ease the burden of rising energy bills, the Chancellor has said.  The money is the result of Barnett consequentials from a council tax cut announced by Rishi Sunak in England.  It will be on top of a £200 reduction on energy bills for customers in England, Scotland and Wales in October.  Nicola Sturgeon said "every penny" of the £290m would go towards helping ease the cost of living crisis.  Scotland's finance secretary, Kate Forbes, later tweeted that the additional £120m allocated to councils last week in order to avoid council tax rises would be paid for by the additional money.  She said the Scottish government had been told in advance of the Chancellor's announcement that there would be additional money from Barnett, adding: "I'll have more info in due course but as the first minister said we'll ensure that we use consequential funding to mitigate the cost of living in Scotland."  The chancellor announced the measures to help households after regulator Ofgem raised the energy price cap.  Typical household energy bills will soar by £693 per year from April, or £708 for those on prepayment meters.  The Bank of England has also increased interest rates from 0.25% to 0.5%, which will make borrowing money more expensive for people, but is designed to keep a lid on rising prices.   Mr Sunak responded with a £150 rebate on council tax bands A to D in England, and a reduction of £200 on energy bills which will be repaid at £40 a year over five years from April 2023.  The Chancellor said: "The price cap has meant that the impact of soaring gas prices has so far fallen predominantly on energy companies.  So much so that some suppliers who couldn't afford to meet those extra costs have gone out of business as a result.  It is not sustainable to keep holding the price of energy artificially low. For me to stand here and pretend we don't have to adjust to paying higher prices would be wrong and dishonest.  But what we can do is take the sting out of a significant price shock for millions of families by making sure that the increase in prices is smaller initially and spread over a longer period."  Asked about the announcements at First Minister's Questions, Ms Sturgeon said: "The chancellor announced what sounded like welcome steps to mitigate that but steps that did not go far enough."  But she said it was too early to say where money would be spent, given it was less than an hour after the announcement had been made.  Ms Sturgeon said she was "not opposed" to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar's calls for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, adding: "We believe that those who have the broadest shoulders should pay the most.  That certainly includes oil and gas companies who are seeing rising profits but during the pandemic other companies fall into that category as well.  We have seen Amazon profits rise and also supermarkets, so we need to make sure we have a fair approach. The Scottish government doesn't have the power to do any of this - it would be a decision for the UK Westminster government."


Contrary to a widely held common belief that the popular Scotland Down Under radio program was dead and no longer would be heard on the air waves. The truth of the matter is that Scotland Down Under will be back on the air waves from a different radio station and a different time slot very soon.  Keep your eyes and ears open and we’ll be bringing you this important news as soon as it comes to hand.

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