Some Scottish News & Views #89

Issue # 89                                                                         Week ending 28th May 2011
I’m deeply indebted to Iain MacIver for supplying another of his quirky tongue- in -cheek articles.   After “pinching” his material for so long I thought I had better talk to him about getting permission to use his material.  He was very gracious in his response, and since last week his named articles are with his permission.  Iain is a freelance broadcaster, writer and publicist, and lives with his family on Lewis.  He is a columnist with the north of Scotland daily, the Press and Journal. A number of you have told me that you enjoy his material and miss it, if for some reason I haven’t been able to include it in the past.  Now just enjoy - Robin

If There is Anybody Out There, I’m Stuck Here in the Cupboard by Iain MacIver
It was a fantastic idea of my wife’s to get me into this cupboard underneath the stairs to wait for the end of the world by earthquakes and bolts from on high.  The carnage must have happened already while I was having a wee kip. Now I can’t open the cupboard door so I suspect the house has been reduced to rubble and there are big ollacks piled up in what was our hall. Still, I’m alive.  Maybe they weren’t so lucky down South Harris way where all the houses are built on sand. And Benbecula. And Eriskay.

Thankfully, I have my laptop here to keep in touch with anyone who is still out there. Amazingly, the email still works but I had better not look at any webpages to save the battery. Scenes of devastation around Sandwick Road would just upset me terribly.  With no way of knowing what it's like out there, I shall carry on as normal in the hope that at least the Press and Journal building is still standing. All that granite over there in the North East probably means it will be the last to crumble under thunderbolts and tremors that shoot off the Richter scale.

I hadn’t thought much about it until Mrs X announced she wasn’t going to do any shopping. No point in getting bananas and beans if the world is coming to an end. Good thinking, honey. Let’s save our cash for a rainy day.   The thing is that my missus is mischievous. No, not just in that good way. She went in town and ordered as many luxury items as she could on the never-never. It was amazing how many shopkeepers here in Stornoway didn’t actually believe the world was going to end. They gave her whatever she wanted on the slate. Ach, it’s their own fault for being so trusting .  Washing machines, toasters, TVs, hi-fis, peat cutting machines, you name it. All week we’ve been stacking them up in the living room.

Look, here are some of the bills. She ordered a car, sorry, six cars. And, gosh; a holiday for two in the Seychelles. Well, that was a waste of time. Even if hellfire hasn’t quite reached the Indian Ocean yet, I can’t even get out of this cupboard.  It’s not looking good for me getting an all-over tan anytime soon.

There’s a bill here from a company I don’t recognise. It supplies male escorts. Wonder what that’s all about. Ah, she must have bought one of these old post vans. Can’t beat a reliable Ford when the whole world is falling apart, eh?  She’s so wise, my wife, but that silly company can’t even spell the word mail.

When we heard the dreadful news about the upcoming End of Days, Mrs X wasn’t bothered. Nerves of steel, that one. Her way of dealing with it was to announce that I should run along and get supplies because we were going to have a fantastic party.  What should I get? Oh, just get the usual party stuff and anything else I thought we would need, she advised.  So there I was staggering back from Tesco with a couple of bottles of the strong stuff, half a dozen cans and a big bag of Wotsits. Then I realised there was something else I should have got.

Surprisingly, herself was less than impressed when I got back. She wondered why I’d got that huge needle from the Fishermen’s Co-op.  So I told her it was for the rupture party and how I was so grateful she was going to have a go at fixing my hernia.  She was fizzing. It was supposed to be a rapture party, apparently. Well, I’d never been to one of them before. That’s when she suggested I get into this cupboard with one of the bottles. That’s her all over; always thinking of others.

I had too many swigs. I must have been flakers when the big shakes shook Stornoway.
There was so much on my to-do list before all this Armageddon stuff. I had asked Barack Obama to come up here to Lewis during his trip to the UK. A few years ago, our Harris-based genealogist Chris Lawson discovered the president had connections with the west side of the island. Now Chris has discovered he is a cousin by marriage of Donald Trump. And he is from Tong, of course.   Well, I mean the president could forget looking for cousins in the potato patches of Ireland. He is not O’Bama and his roots aren’t there. They’re right here among the turnips in Tong.   Wonder if Barack is one of the Bullers. Or maybe he is related to to the Loudies? Put a pair of glasses and a Rangers top on him, and I think you would be hard pressed to tell him and Brian Loudy apart.

Because of that wonderful fundamentalist Harold Camping and the way he literally and correctly interpreted the Bible in the good old Free Church (Continuing) way, we will never know.  

Where is Mrs X? She is so brave, you know. Rather than get into the cupboard wth me, she volunteered to venture out into that awful, dark wilderness formerly known as Bayhead and assess the damage after the first wave of thunderbolts and earthquakes. I was so touched by her selflessness.  Promising to return when she had something to report, she told me to just sit tight in here until then. That was before Britain’s Got Talent on Saturday night and she’s not back yet. I hope she’s alright.

If I am the only survivor of this disaster, I had better tidy up this cupboard. Oh look, here are more of the bills for stuff my beloved has ordered in the last few days.  There’s one here for a lock from Kenny Deadly’s DIY shop. A lock? It says it’s ideal for securing any cupboard.  Hmm, wonder what she got that for?  Courtesy Press & Journal

Kirk Lifts Ban on Appointing Gay Ministers
The Church of Scotland on Monday took the momentous decision to end a two-year ban on congregations appointing gay ministers.  The Kirk’s leadership agreed to allow gay ministers who were ordained before May 2009 – when a temporary ban was imposed after the appointment of the Reverend Scott Rennie in Aberdeen – to put themselves forward to take over congregations if they chose to do so.  However, a decision on whether to allow gay men and women to be ordained in the future will be delayed for two years until the report of a theological commission is received.  Kirk leaders said they believed gay ministers already ordained would not push for open recognition while the new theological commission is undertaken.

Traditionalists were defeated by 351 votes to 294 votes after a six-hour debate at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh on the issue of the induction and ordination of those in same-sex relationships.  A two-year consultation by the Church found that tens of thousands of members would quit if the ordination of gay men and women was allowed.  It is understood there had already been talks between some Highland Kirk members and the more traditionalist Free Church of Scotland.

The General Assembly voted to maintain a ban on members speaking publicly on the issue until 2013, but is understood the evangelical wing will maintain a schismatic stance.  Today (Tuesday) traditionalists will sign a “document of dissent” maintaining their position. “It was a surprise … but it is a fight for another day now,” one said.

Professor Bill Naphy, a theologist based at Aberdeen University, said: “The result is actually rather bizarre. This seems to suggest that an individual church can call a gay or lesbian minister as long as the person has been ordained for two years and is ‘openly’ gay. What about those who are closeted? If they are elected and subsequently come out would their post be in question?   It is also not clear to me what would happen to a minister already in a post who now comes out. It seems that the Kirk has, explicitly but with ‘restrictions’, accepted that a gay/lesbian person can indeed have a vocation and serve a congregation in the Kirk. That being the case, why the restrictions?”

Traditionalists said the move to allow gay ministers who were in same-sex relationships before 2009 to come out would be an unacceptable “amnesty” and “potentially multiply homosexual inductions the length and breadth of the country“.

High Winds Bring Death and Destruction

Winds of up to 150mph swept across parts of Scotland on Monday, leaving one man dead, thousands of homes without power and bringing road, rail and ferry networks to a halt as the country was hit by an unseasonal blast of severe weather.  Felled power lines and trees blocked train tracks and major roads. Ferry operator Calmac cancelled more than half of its services in the islands, while others experienced serious delays.

Edinburgh Zoo and the city's Royal Botanic Garden - as well as a large number of National Trust properties - were on a long list of places and buildings forced to close due to the high winds, while commuters found their routes home blocked as the Forth and Tay road bridges closed to all traffic.  A man in Balloch, West Dunbartonshire died after a tree fell on his car yesterday afternoon. Firefighters spent several hours trying to free the 36-year-old, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.  At the height of the storm around 50,000 properties across the country were left without power. Northern areas of Scotland were the worst hit, with 30,000 homes suffering power cuts due to falling trees and debris hitting power lines. Many properties in Inverness were without electricity for several hours.  And in the southern and central regions, a further 20,000 properties were without power at the peak of the winds.

On Monday night, there was further chaos after trains were cancelled and the main bus station in Edinburgh was closed. Waverley Station was also shut after debris fell on to the tracks, while the M9 was closed for a number of hours.   The highest wind speed was recorded in the Cairngorms, but gales were reported in built-up areas in the Central Belt. Gusts reached 84mph on Edinburgh's Blackford Hill and 69mph in Bishopton, Renfrewshire.   The airline industry faced a double blow of flight cancellations due to storms in addition to disruption caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.   By yesterday evening, Scotland's major railway stations were crammed with commuters facing lengthy delays.  Drivers, cyclists and even pedestrians living in Fife were told they would not be allowed to cross the Forth Road Bridge and would have to travel via the Kincardine Bridge - where traffic jams came to a near standstill as thousands of motorists seeking alternative routes across the Forth were diverted.  It was expected that the Forth Road Bridge was likely to remain closed until midnight last night.  In Glasgow, queues formed out of the door at the Buchanan Street bus station as commuters tried to find a way home.   Many major roads across Scotland were closed at various times.

Five Rescued As Trawler Sinks Off Shetland

Five fishermen were rescued after a whitefish trawler started taking in water and sank.
Shetland Coastguard was alerted at 2:30pm yesterday and sent a search and rescue helicopter to fly pumps to the scene, north of Muckle Flugga, Shetland.  A second vessel, the Buckie- registered Onward, went alongside the stricken Beryl, but the intake of water was already too severe. Four crew were taken on board the Onward. When the copter arrived, the vessel was heavily listing. The skipper abandoned ship and was picked up by the crew of the Onward.

Glasgow Chosen to Host Gymnastics Event

Glasgow has been chosen to host a world championship gymnastics event.
More than 500 gymnasts from 80 countries will visit the city to participate in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in 2015.  Glasgow was selected ahead of bids from Paris and Orlando, bringing the event to Scotland for the first time.   The tournament will be held in the new 12,500-seat Scottish National Arena currently under construction at the SECC.  The £120 million arena opens in 2013 and will play host to the gymnastics and netball finals during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.  The decision by the Federation of International Gymnastics follows a joint bid between British Gymnastics, Glasgow City Council, EventScotland and UK Sport.

Trust Looks At New Ways to Halt Canna Exodus

The National Trust for Scotland is investigating changes to its housing policy on Canna, which has led to some families deciding to leave the island.  Since the start of this year, four people have gone, a family of six is to depart in August and a couple also plan to quit.  Geoff Soe-Paing, who will leave with wife Eilidh and their four children, after five years on Canna, said the inability of inhabitants to buy or build property is hampering the island's long-term prospects.  But the NTS, which owns the island, has begun a feasibility study looking at all aspects of tenure - ownership, leasing and shared-equity schemes - which may help overcome the issue.  Alexander Bennett, the trust's countryside and islands group manager, north, said it offers leases of 15-20 years on properties. It does not offer houses for sale for fear they end up as holiday homes.  Mr Soe-Paing said the NTS took up custodianship of Canna 30 years ago and he would have expected issues such as tenure to have been addressed by now.

Boy Charged with Attempted Murder
A 14-year-old boy has appeared in court charged with attempted murder, it has emerged.  The teenager, from Dumfries, appeared in private on Monday at the town's sheriff court.  The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared on petition accused of attempted murder.  He also faced a second charge under the 1995 Criminal Law (Consolidation)(Scotland) Act.  The teenager made no plea or declaration at the hearing, the Crown Office confirmed.  He was committed for further examination and released on bail.   No further details of the case were immediately available

Spectacular New Images Woven Into the Rich Tapestry of Scottish History

Four "stunningly beautiful" tapestries, which have taken a team of experts more than a decade to weave by hand, have been placed on the walls of Stirling Castle's Royal Palace as part of its £12 million refurbishment.  The artworks, which depict the hunting and capture of a unicorn, are the first of a series of seven being created for the Queen's Inner Hall, one of six apartments within the castle's palace block which are being returned to how experts believe they may have looked in the 1540s.

The hanging has been hailed as "a key moment" in the castle's £2m weaving project.  Visitors will be able to see the tapestries in their new home during a weekend of special celebrations on 4 and 5 June to mark the reopening of the palace.  The event, called Stirling Castle Presents - A Palace Fit For A Queen, will also feature 60 costumed performers, including a young Mary Queen of Scots, who lived in the palace as a child along with her mother, Mary of Guise.  At that time the Scottish royal family had around 100 tapestries to hang on the walls of their favourite residences, of which Stirling's palace was the newest.

Peter Buchanan, Stirling Castle project manager, said: "The tapestries are stunningly beautiful and will be one of the great attractions of the palace.  It has taken years to weave them and to finally see them in their new home, the royal apartment for which they have been specially made, is a great experience."  The tapestries are new interpretations of The Hunt of the Unicorn series, which date from the 16th century and are in the Cloisters Museum at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Scottish royal collection also included a series depicting "the historie of the unicorne".

The tapestries are being woven by West Dean Tapestry Studio in a specially created studio at the castle and at the West Dean studio in West Sussex. Louise Martin, senior weaver at Stirling Castle, which attracts more than 370,000 visitors a year, said: "This is a very special moment. We started the first tapestry in 2001, so this is the climax of a decade of weaving.What is so wonderful is that visitors will be able to step back in time and see what a Scottish royal palace was like in its heyday, when the tapestries, furnishings, furniture and decorations were colourful and new."

The remarkable weaving project has already attracted tens of thousands of tourists to the castle.  The four completed tapestries include The Start of the Hunt, The Unicorn is Found, The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle, and The Unicorn in Captivity.  A fifth tapestry is nearing completion and will be cut from the loom in Stirling this summer before joining the others in the palace.  The last is due to be finished in 2013.Stirling's original unicorn tapestries are believed to have been bought by King James V and appear in every Scottish royal inventory from 1539 to 1578.

Stirling historian Craig Mair said tapestries were an integral part of medieval and renaissance interior decoration in the chambers, state-rooms and great hall of the Stuart monarchs.  He said: "Tapestries provided decoration and a lavish display of wealth as well as keeping out the cold and damp.  They also contained many vibrant colours and gold threads which would shimmer in the candlelight, to give at least an illusion of much-needed warmth in the cold stone rooms.  The other advantage was that they could also be rolled up and transported in the royal baggage train, fitting in with the semi-nomadic lifestyle of the court."

Festivals Drum Up £261m for Scots Economy
Edinburgh's festivals are worth £261 million to the Scottish economy, creating thousands of jobs and generating spending of more than £40m on accommodation alone, according to a new report.  Assembled at a cost of about £70,000 from 50 different surveys questioning 15,000 people, the report examined every aspect of 12 festivals, ranging from how long visitors stayed and what they spent to the impact on the imagination and "life skills" of children.

The report, commissioned by the Festivals Forum with backing from Edinburgh city council, Creative Scotland, and other agencies, was hailed by festival bosses and culture chiefs as vital ammunition in calls for public funding and private sponsorship.  Sir Andrew Cubie, of the Festivals Forum, said: "The results are astounding. The festivals are treasured locally and celebrated locally. Collectively, they bring enormous economic benefit to the city and the country, but the founding principle was not to fill planes and hotels, but to provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit."   The Edinburgh Festivals Impact Study, running to more than 100 pages, promised a "360 degree" approach to assessing the festivals. It suggested their economic value had risen by as much as 50 per cent since the last major survey in 2004, but also cited 89 per cent of Edinburgh residents saying it had increased their pride in the city, while 77 per cent of visitors said they had discovered "new talent".  The report, by BOP Consulting, also underlined environmental challenges. Audience travel to festival events creates 1.34kg of carbon dioxide per ticket sold, it said, while festival offices alone generated nearly 1,000 tonnes of landfill waste.

The figures confirm that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, emerging in the late 1940s as a rebel offshoot of the main Edinburgh International Festival, is the juggernaut driving the festival bandwagon. Its paying audiences have grown hugely, while the numbers attending several other festivals have stayed flat, or even fallen.  Overall, Edinburgh's 12 festivals contribute more to the Scottish economy than the £191m from golf tourism, but there are vast differences between them. The Edinburgh International Film Festival was said to have just 5,525 attendees, or unique visitors, in 2010, with 44,456 "attendances".   For the Fringe, those numbers were 293,797 and 2,742,913, including 900,000 at free events on the Royal Mile. Of more than four million "attendances" across the festivals, an estimated 14 per cent were children.   The report was billed as the single largest analysis of Edinburgh's festivals ever undertaken. The array of figures and calculations underline the difficulty of trying to pin down the cultural or economic worth of an arts event. Virtually the only figure that did not appear was the number of five-star reviews.

Electric Car Racks Up the Miles and JoGLE First
THE first-ever drive from John O’Groats to Land’s End in an electric car came to a successful end on Sunday (May 22).  The historic drive by the Tesla Roadster, the first ever attempted by an electric car using publicly accessible charging points, was undertaken by Kevin Sharpe, founder of the charity Zero Carbon World, and electric car enthusiast David Peilow.  Both men have been instrumental in building nationwide charging networks. Kevin Sharpe’s charity, Zero Carbon World, has been building a network of freely accessible charging points across the UK that can be used by all electric car owners. David Peilow is the man behind the Tesla UK-wide HPC charging network.  The trip was conceived to show that it is possible to make long journeys with an electric car.  The drive began on Saturday morning at John O’Groats, after the team had spent Friday night at Ackergill Tower, just outside Wick, where they used the castle’s charging point – the farthest north in the UK.   The pair completed the journey in 36 hours.

No Plans for Another Wick HarbourFest

Wick’s HarbourFest will not return this year but it was never supposed to, according to one of the organisers.  HarbourFest co-ordinator David Richard-Jones said there never had been plans to hold the event every two years, despite rumours to the contrary.  He said previous events in 2007 and 2009 were "one-off" occasions and the maritime celebration was never intended to become a regular feature on the social calendar.  However, he would not rule out a return of the event should a suitable occasion present itself.

Mr Richard-Jones explained both previous events held at Wick harbour had been staged because there had been a special event or anniversary to base the day around.  "The very first one in 2007 was generated due to the visit of the Moray Firth Flotilla as part of the Highland 2007 [year of culture] celebrations," he said.  "They were going to start the flotilla in Caithness at Wick and end up at Portsoy's traditional boat festival and they asked if the harbour authority would organise an event to host the flotilla and that's how we came to have the first event.   Wick HarbourFest committee members went on to organise the second celebration in 2009 because it was the 50th anniversary of the last crowning of the herring queen and it would tie in with the Scottish Government's Homecoming campaign.  The committee organised the HarbourFest Homecoming because it was also the year of Homecoming and the idea was that it would attract a lot of Caithnessian expats from all over the world back to the county, which it did," he said.

New Gaelic Scheme for Teachers
Twelve teachers from across Scotland are taking part in a unique pilot training programme to assist with the increased demand for Gaelic-speaking primary and secondary school teachers. In a new partnership between Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Glasgow University, the teachers have spent a concentrated four days being taught various aspects of language development in the classroom. Demand for the programme has been overwhelming and preparations are already underway for it to be repeated.  The participants have some Gaelic language skills but are currently teaching through the medium of English. However, this course is the first step in preparing them to acquire the necessary skills and confidence to teach through the medium of Gaelic.

The four day programme has familiarised the participants with the support structures available in Gaelic education, as well as enhanced and extended their confidence to communicate in a classroom situation. Morna MacLeod, Teacher Recruitment Officer at Bòrd na Gàidhlig said: “The week has been a tremendous success. Local Authorities identified teachers with some Gaelic language, who are interested in teaching through the medium of Gaelic. The teachers who attended the course now have the opportunity to progress to the STREAP course where they can extend their Gaelic language even further. It’s a step forward for teachers to have the confidence to use some Gaelic in their current situations and raise the profile of Gaelic in their own schools and subject areas.”

Duke and Duchess of Rothesay to Visit Harris
The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay will visit Harris next Thursday (June 2).  The Royal couple will meet members of the local community at the Leac a’Li Community Centre and also visit the Isle of Harris Knitwear Company.  They will also visit a Harris Tweed weaver. The Duchess will visit the Tarbert Fire Station and meet local emergency service volunteers and present certificates to pupils who have completed a fire training course.

Counterfeit Bank Notes in Circulation
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Trading Standards Officers have issued a warning after a number of counterfeit notes have been found circulating in the Western Isles.  A spokesperson said: “Although some counterfeit notes are easy to spot we would certainly advise businesses and shops to ensure that they check notes. This is good practice at any time and is made easier when using an ultra-violet checking device that will detect the ultra-violet security markings built into genuine notes as well as credit and debit cards.”

Salmond Lays Down Law on Court Role

The First Minister of Scotland has criticised the role of the Supreme Court in London following its ruling on the Nat Fraser case.  Alex Salmond said the court - the highest in the UK - should have no role in Scottish criminal law.  He said its increasing involvement in "second guessing" Scotland's highest court of appeal is "totally unsatisfactory".

The Supreme Court ruled that Fraser's conviction for the murder of his estranged wife was unsafe, raising the prospect of a retrial. Fraser, 52, of Elgin, Moray, was given a life sentence in 2003 after a jury found him guilty of killing his wife Arlene in April 1998.  After Wednesday's ruling, Mr Salmond said: "I have no comment on the specifics of the case, which is live. But what needs to be addressed is the underlying issue - the principle that Scotland has, for hundreds of years, been a distinct criminal jurisdiction, and the High Court of Justiciary should be the final arbiter of criminal cases in Scotland, as was always the case. Before devolution, the House of Lords had no jurisdiction whatever in matters of Scots criminal law. The increasing involvement of the UK Supreme Court in second guessing Scotland's highest criminal court of appeal is totally unsatisfactory, and creates additional delay and complexity which cannot serve the interests of justice. As we said in our evidence to the Scotland Bill committee, the Scottish Government believe that the UK Supreme Court should have no role in matters of Scots criminal law, whether by way of devolution issues or appeal."

Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has previously criticised the Supreme Court for "undermining" the authority of the High Court in Scotland. He spoke out in February after the controversial ruling, known as the Cadder judgment, on the rights of suspects to legal representation.  The ruling on October 26 last year - which overturned a decision by seven senior Scottish judges - found that allowing suspects to be held and questioned for six hours without access to a lawyer breached the European Convention on Human Rights.  Former Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini earlier said the development may lead to a "complete loss of identity for Scots law".

To Russia with Love ... Burns Songs by Satellite
Pupils from two Glasgow primaries have hooked up via satellite with youngsters in Russia for a double celebration.  They performed in a concert to mark the 25th anniversary of the city twinning with Rostov on Don and to mark the works of Robert Burns.  Youngsters from Blackfriars Primary worked with a school in the Russian city to create a book based on the poem Tam O’ Shanter. Several hundred copies of the book have now been printed.  Students from St Timothy’s Primary teamed up with their Russian counterparts to learn about Robert Burns’ famous song Auld Lang Syne. St Timothy’s pupils wrote new lyrics and called the song ‘From Scotland to Russia.’ Both works featured in the concert.

Lib Dem Peer Withdraws Windfarm Firm's Plans

Lord Stephen, Scotland's former Liberal Democrat deputy first minister, has withdrawn controversial plans for the company he helped found to build a windfarm close to the boundary of the Cairngorms National Park.  Renewable Energy Ventures Ltd (REV), the company which Lord Stephen had established with former Bodyshop director, Michael Ross, from Edinburgh, had lodged plans with Aberdeenshire Council for a three turbine development, each 328ft high, on the slopes of Pressendye near Cushnie, Alford. But it was revealed yesterday that the planning application has now been withdrawn. Lord Stephen said: "I can confirm that the application for the windfarm has been withdrawn.  Unfortunately, I am unable to say more than that for the moment."

Patients Get Help with Fatigue
Health bosses in the Western Isles have launched a fatigue management programme for patients.
Its aim is to enable people to explore the reasons for their fatigue and to give them tools and techniques to help them manage the problem better.

Nursing Home Closes Following the Death of Resident
An Edinburgh private nursing home was forced to close down yesterday after the death of one its residents.  A police investigation is underway into the death of a 59-year-old woman who died after being taken to the city's Royal Infirmary.  She survived for just two days after removed from the Elsie Inglis Nursing Home, which is owned by Peacock Medicare.  On Friday, the owners volunteered to de-register the business after being unable to meet a deadline of last night to improve standards at the home in Abbeyhill.  Since the woman's death, care inspectors have insisted on "urgent and immediate improvements" to its standards of care or it would face closure. Edinburgh City Council said this week that residents had been moved to other nursing homes.

Girl Fined for Fighting Back At Masked Man
A terrified teenage girl has been fined £500 for knocking unconscious a masked stranger who stalked her home from a nightclub in what lawyers have called an "exceptional" case.   Claire Burleigh, 19, was pounced on by Sean Docherty, 43, as she was about to open the door of her Bathgate home, Livingston Sheriff Court heard yesterday.   Docherty had earlier been thrown out of the nightclub following a drunken argument.  Burleigh, who was with her boyfriend Christopher Twaddle, 21, ripped off Docherty's black, paramilitary-style balaclava and defended herself.  However, she went too far by continuing to kick her attacker on the head even after he was knocked unconscious.  Burleigh appeared for sentence on a serious assault charge yesterday. She earlier admitted kicking Sean Docherty to his severe injury on August 21 last year.

The court heard from her defence lawyer, Alan Jackson, that she was confronted with a "nightmare scenario for a young girl going home".  Although Docherty, who had downed at least nine pints of beer, was the initial aggressor, his client had ended up being charged, Mr Jackson said.  After Docherty was thrown out of the Bathgate nightclub he returned at 2am to wait for Burleigh to leave, then followed her and her boyfriend home.

Prosecutor Sarah O'Gallagher said Docherty admitted being the initial aggressor. But she added: "Neighbours saw the accused being extremely violent and kicking the complainer as he lay on the ground.  Witnesses spoke about the complainer lying motionless and appearing unconscious."  Police later found Docherty in a nearby street with severe facial injuries and called an ambulance to take him to hospital. They also recovered a balaclava from the scene of the assault.

Mr Jackson said that his client had been frightened by the incident and was crying as she defended herself.  He told the court: "It might be suggested that this was a nightmare scenario for a young girl going home. He made no comment and there was no confrontation - it was a physical attack on her. She turned round and found that there was a man wearing a black balaclava attacking her.  She was terrified. She lost control and her anger and fear took over."

Sheriff Donald Muirhead told Burleigh she was entitled to hit Docherty to protect herself. But he added: "You lost control. You kept on kicking him when there was no longer any need. In all the circumstances, it seems to me that I can deal with the matter by way of a financial penalty."

No charges were brought against Docherty.  (Oh boy! - this is justice? - Robin)

New Techniques Reveal the Faces of Medieval Skeletons
They lay undisturbed for seven centuries after the Wars of Independence but now people will be able to come face to face with some of Scotland’s medieval residents.  Experts in Dundee and Bradford have used new techniques to create 3D models of the faces of two people whose skeletons were discovered at Stirling Castle as cutting-edge technology helped them piece together their final moments and grisly deaths.

Analysis of their bones reveals that several died extremely violent deaths, and their unusual resting place – under the royal chapel, rather than outside the castle in a kirkyard – suggest they were killed during times of siege.  Radiocarbon dating placed the times of death at various points between the 13th and 15th centuries, covering a period of intense hostility between warring factions.  Stirling Castle changed hands several times as Scots fought the English and their Scottish allies.

Two of five skeletons, which were discovered in 1997, featured in the BBC History Cold Case series last year, when it was suggested they might belong to Sir John de Stricheley, a knight who died in 1341, and a noblewoman, whose skull had been pierced by a weapon.  A 2D image has previously been created of the man, but now Dundee University has employed digital scanning and replication techniques to create a 3D model. The final version was painted by a medical artist.  The models of the man and woman will go on display as part of a new exhibition of the castle’s history from June 4.

Homes Evacuated After Flooding
Residents have been evacuated from their homes following flooding from a burst water main in Edinburgh.  Scottish Water is currently trying to get the problem, in Allan Park Road, under control.  A spokesman for the utility company said: "Early this morning (Saturday 28th) reports were received of flooding in Allan Park Road and Scottish Water operatives attended the scene.  "A large diameter water main had burst."  Police said there is significant local flooding which may cause disruption to water supplies, other utilities, road and rail links across the west side of the city. Nursing homes and hospitals in the area are being contacted and arrangements are being made for the delivery of bottled water.