Musings from the Merse
Monday, May 31, 2004
One New Australian

Godot is a Ms. Inducements apparently eagerly accepted and the little girl arrived at 2 pm or so Canberra time.( 5am Hutton) This was after an unexpected final burst of acceleration. Yes I know you are eager for details but none to hand as gen so far based on one delirious phone call from the senior son in law. Those not anxious to learn the nitty gritty might well be advised to skip the next blog or two.
May have to call this baby Godot. He/she is in no hurry to be a New Australian despite all the attempts of the Eldest Daughter to start the process by endlessly walking up and down the Birth Centre's staircase in a crab like fashion. So the little object is being given a kick start (not quite literally-but an inducement) to encourage an entry into this cruel world. Huttonian and the Wife have sole charge of the Grandson=31/2 years of extreme energy and unshakeable opinions. Everything from going to the loo to tidying up toys is the subject of protracted and often acrimonious negotiations. All those years of international diplomacy not exactly wasted but mostly irrelevant in this case. So we wait...
Sunday, May 30, 2004
Sorry about this. Oz technology is not cutting edge and the Broadband is mediocre when compared to the Old Country. Attemps to put up rare images of very pregnant eldest daughter accordingly frustrated. Now too late as ED at the Canbera Birth centre in anticipation of an imminent Happy Event-the reason why Huttonian and the wife are in these foreign parts at this time. So ignore the last two cryptic blogs.
Saturday, May 29, 2004
Apparently the image is somehow concealed. Try again later
Expecting a happy event in Oz. Something is now happening but not very fast. Even babies in Oz are laid back
OZ BLOG Continued

The impotence of Mr Fish is reflected by the continued good weather. Clear cold nights and mild sunny days. And the cold is dry and not so damp and penetrating as the dreichness of the Merse. Canberra is a small city centre the rest is suburbs. In the ACT you find ommunities called 'Bruce' (but sadly no Sheila nor Kylie) Others include 'Flynn' , 'O Connor' ,'Fraser' (where we are)These are named after (apparently) famous Aussies- Sir Malcolm Fraser was a Prime Minister but I don't know about Bruce.It is unlikely to be the guy with the spider fixation.

Australians tend to make fun of Canberra. It is, they say, boring. Certainly the suburbs are very similar and following a recognisable pattern: shopping malls, petrol stations, leafy streets and are all so alike it is quite difficult to be sure where exactly you are. Fraser is a bit Hutton like in that it seems empty most of the time. It is hard to know where the people are even at week etheywhere thay are as invisible as during working hours. And like the Borders the people you do see are friendly, eye contact and exchange greetings. No shuffling past with down cast eyes avoiding all human contact. Aussies glory in being laid back. 'No worries' is the catchword and apparently the philosophy-so it is surprising to read in the 'Australian' that there are more shrinks per capita in Oz than in any other developed country. Also more obesity than in most other parts of the globe, including the UK-and this includes Safeways in Berwick. Fat children apparently-again surprising in a sports mad nation. So perhaps too many people are working too hard at being laid back and the strine is telling
Friday, May 28, 2004

The deed is done-the senior son in law, the oldest daughter and the grandson were formally ozzified this morning. Actually the ceremony was apparently understated and
and not too gruelling. No evoking of Aussie saints such as Don Bradman, Kylie Minogue, JollyBagman or Shane Warne. No revocation of the British culture-no snide remarks about whingeing Poms. Just a simple Citizen Pledge and a handshake from the parliamentary Speaker and the presentation of a certificate of citizenship.
Disapointingly there were no free Fosters nor Castlemaine XXXX. Not even a cuppa. All ended with the inductees singing ‘Advance Australia Fair’. Waltzing
Matilda reserved for more formal occasions.

One of the New Australians was a Scottish bricklayer (don’t know from where)another, an Iranian electrical engineer. Both will presumably need crash
courses in Cricket and the more obscure ‘Australian Rules’; a crude version of a cross between Soccer and Rugby. Only two things worth remembering about Oz Cricket.
Don Bradman’s batting average was 99.8 and the highest test match Score ever was 903 for 7 . Against Australia. Made by England. And only one thing about Australian Rugby. They failed to win the last World Cup which is held by? England.That’s all you need to know to have an intelligent (and enjoyable)conversation with an Australian(born here)
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
OZ Blog

Mr Fish's arm is long but not apparently able to reach Fraser, Australian Capital Territory{ACT)It is a fantastic Autumn day. Crisp, clean with a mist over the distant hills. Actually ACT needs Mr Fish and his damp weather. Like all Australian cities (and much of the farm land) global warming/climate change has brought drought conditions and there is an increasingly severe water shortage. Aussies say 'No Worries, Mate' about most things but not about lack of rain and the other horseman : bush fires. Canberra which is most of the ACT was badly damaged by fire two summers ago and the eldest daughter was poised for evacuation from Fraser before the wind changed direction.

ACT of course you will remember from Blog1 of sacred memory is the model for the project being worked on by the Hutton Think Tank for a BCT(British Capital Territory) around Berwick-upon-Tweed. Australian consultants were involved and may be called again to rescue the project. Not only did Ht2 lose its leaked document but the master file itself. The old clockwork powered Main Frame is defunct and the hard disc found to have been wiped by some malovent bug-perhaps the Fish Virus which has done so much damage to the Met Office's statistics wiping the entire data base of inaccurate forecasts. Thus pretty well everything.

So off now to explore the suburb which is Canberra. And to prepare ourselves for the Great Swearing In Ceremony or Ossification which the Senior Daughter and Senior Son in Law have to undergo tomorrow. Say after me ' ****** the Poms' or words to that effect. More anon. If we are spared
Here we are directly underneath Hutton. In the land of OZ. Dazed and disoriented by 24 hours in a plane-no three planes-all early. So unlike GNER. It is Autumn. We were in Spring two days ago. And since then at 37,000 feet with an outside temp of -67C and a tail wind of 120 miles an hour. Very alarming that little map but more interesting than any of the 9 films on offer. Sniffer dog at Melbourne homed in on the Wife's bag-had we forgotten to dump the fruit we had brought with us? Bringing food into, tight little, right little OZ, is almost a capital offence but no the last apple had been eaten two hours before-the sniffer dog was left with the afterburn and we escaped even a reprimand from the handler. Spellcheck substituted
'snuffer' for 'sniffer' A nice thought for an investigative canine killer. But this little creature was dachshund size and we all had to put our luggage on the ground to allow it to get its nose over. When it sniffed its prey (food of any kind) it wags its tail and sits by the offending article.

Now a lot of lost sleep to catch up on. And then Huttonian will tell you all about OZ.And how it compares with the Merse. If he is spared
Monday, May 24, 2004
So it is farewell to the Merse for a month or so. Oz is fine but the journey is not. Even by the time we reach the Big Smoke we will have to face a 23 hour flight to Melbourne and dash to get the final leg into Canberra. So leaving Hutton today, Monday, at 2.15 pm we hope to get to Canberra by 7.15 am on Wednesday. Not even Bus 32 from Golden Square to Hutton (via Paxton House)ever takes so long. And the plane will be more crowded I suspect. An hour stroll around Singapore Airport at good ness knows what time the only relief-other reliefs can be frustrated by the 350 other passengers queuing for the inadequate number of loos-all getting increasingly noisesome as the flight proceeds. Some diversion is provided by the 4 or 5 movies shown in steady succession and by the moving map which claims to show where we are in the sky, where we are going and when we might (if we are spared) get there. I am not sure that I want to know our height, the outside temperature (-75 C or so) and that we are flying over Iraq or Afghanistan. I avoid a window seat anyhow as there is not much to see of Kabul from 35,000 feet, at night, during a power cut. The nearer the aisle the less legs to scramble over in your mad dash to join the loo queue.

Ah well it will all be worth it eventually and we only can hope that the senior daughter holds on to her baby until we get there. And the grandparental duties can well and truly begin.

Hope to be in touch in a couple of days-3 more likely as Jet Lag does its thing.
Sunday, May 23, 2004
The Berwickshire Community Website is now up and running. To view it go to www.soscottish.com/bccf Hutton and Paxton has its own corner-click on Communities and scroll down. Not very exciting yet but some nice pictures of both villages. Huttonian will access this from the other side of the world to see what is going on around the Merse and hopefully some one can make it their business to keep the H and P section up dated. Community Council minutes are all very well but there must be a number of local events which should get an airing there.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Booking the Blog

The most famous Blog of all-the Baghdad Blogger having been featured in a book is now to be made into a film. A number of local bloggees have enquired if Huttonian has similar plans for Musings from The Merse. A film is a bit premature but a slim volume of extracts, nicely illustrated is a thought. Local artists aplenty as a visit to the Paxton Painters Exhibition at Paxton House will demonstrate. (Incidentally hurry if you have not seen it-closes early in June) Perhaps one of these talented people could be persuaded to do a few appropriate drawings for a book. One would need to be careful about what extracts to use so as to avoid any further umbrage but I am sure a tasteful and non controversial collection could be put together from the voluminous material around. Some one (or some two) have gone to enormous trouble to print off a number of copies of the entire original blog. In consequence the website is enjoying a number of 'hits' from a growing audience of new viewers and the consequential publicity would be most helpful if a book is ever to be written. Huttonian could of course use photographs but one or two of the earlier ones caused some (unintentional)irritation so it would not be right to reopen old wounds.

Suggestions for what to use (and what to omit) to the usual address:
Friday, May 21, 2004

In case you thought Huttonian was joking here is the actual AOL news report:

MI 5 secretly discussed plans to train flocks of homing pigeons to attack enemy targets with tiny but deadly biological weapons, it was disclosed today.
The bizarre scheme for feathered suicide bombers to deliver weapons of mass destruction is revealed in the latest tranche of MI5 files to be released to the National Archives at Kew.
It was the brainchild of RAF pigeon enthusiast, Wing Commander WDL Rayner, who believed that his “revolutionary'' theories could change the way future wars were fought.
An ad hoc sub-committee was set up by the Joint Intelligence Committee the UK's senior intelligence body was even set up to look at the prospects for “pigeon warfare''.
Rayner even had the tentative backing of Sir Stewart Menzies the wartime Chief of MI6 for his ideas. He was also supported by Mike Mad Cap O'Flaherty one time head of MI7 (Merse Intelligence 7)
However he was defeated by MI5, the internal Security Service, which branded Rayner a menace and ensured that he never had the chance to put his proposals into practice.

A report by the War Office intelligence section, MI14, warned: “It is clear that pigeon research will not stand still; if we do not experiment, other powers will''.
Among MI14's proposals was a plan to train pigeons fitted with explosive charges to fly into enemy searchlights.
Each bird would carry a two ounce explosive capsule, with a “bacteriological warfare agent''.
“A thousand pigeons each with a two ounce explosive capsule, landed at intervals on a specific target might be a seriously inconvenient surprise,'' he wrote in a paper drawn up for the committee.
Rayner did not specify which bacteriological agent he had in mind, although British scientists had already been experimenting with anthrax during the war.
The pioneer in this type of activity was in fact MI 7 from their secret HQ somewhere in the Whiteadder Valley but technical reasons led to their experiments with Super Homers being discontinued much to the ire of Sir Winston Churchill


If Australians ask why do you live in the Scottish Borders I'll point to this spring picture.Nowhere in Oz can match this rural beauty. They will then start talking about Scottish Rugby! To concede any point gracefully is not generally an Aussie charecteristic.
MI 5 files have been opened to reveal an old secret: the planned use of Homing Pigeons as weapons of mass destruction. Thousands were to be armed with small bombs, perhaps carrying bacterial agents, and were trained to attack enemy positions and return home. For some reason the project did not get off the ground,as it were.

This is old hat in the Merse. Papers recently released by Fishwick Special Branch reveal a previous top secret project code named 'Reiver Revenge X' dreamed up by a shadowy organisation, long since disbanded, Merse Intelligence 7 (MI7)Under the control of a legendary operative Mike 'Mad Cap' O'Flaherty. The details are not known but the project was abandoned for purely practical reasons as the pigeons who were Super Homers declined to find their target and homed in on their Headquarters instead. Fortunately the bomblets were practice ones and no harm was done.

O'Flaherty was punished by being posted to Spittal and is the only known Intelligence Agent to be awarded a posthumous MBE whilst still alive. This was thought to be some kind of ponderous joke by the then PM Churchill. O'Flaherty was said to be quite pleased as he felt that an MBE might destroy his street cred with the IRA General Command (He was on secondment to MI7 for the duration of the war)
Thursday, May 20, 2004

Stop Press. Fishwick Special Branch have reported on the military/RAF joint exercise last night involving a number of Hercules (C130) Transport Planes and fighter escort. Apparently reports had been received of long bearded men in the Whiteadder valley below Hutton. A para drop was planned but cancelled after it was revealed that they were stragglers from a long drawn out and belated Christmas party

No we are not there yet. More lights than Hutton and even more than the Paxton Village Green. But Sydney Harbour Bridge would look odd over the Whiteadder.
Now girding loins for a trip to as far off foreign parts as it is possible to be. If you drilled a vertical hole in the Hutton Stone quarry you would probably eventually exit just outside the senior son in law's house in suburban Canberra. That's where we hope to be by mid next week. The Merse will seem a long way and it will be a case of home thoughts with an OZ angle. Not completely out of touch as Australian phone cards allow over 3 hours chat to the UK for $A 10 which could be a lot of useful gossip to digest and if not too indiscreet, record for posterity.Any suggested themes to old_greywolf2000@yahoo.co.uk. Comparisons of Scottish and Australian rugby perhaps? Not too much to say about that I fear.

The trip is awful. Even in enhanced cattle class 23 hours is a lot of flying losing 9 hours en route. Dinner Monday in Heathrow,Breakfast Wednesday in Melbourne and luggage,Thursday in Bali. Actually we have had a lot of luck with baggage so far and don't need to dread the customs as we have no Christmas Cake to declare this time. We talked it through twice before but the Aussies have a thing about imported food. A Hutton baked cake was apparently ok.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Escape! GNER up to usual tricks-wrong type of points on track but we made it only 15 minutes late. Amazed the wickedness of a sweet Welsh mother and daughter who plonked themselves down in front of me just after leaving Kings Cross. The seats were reserved-one from Peterborough the other from York. Without a blush they removed the seat reservation slips and concealed them about their persons. After a brief discussion in welsh they appeared to be asleep at both Peterboroogh and York. At Peterborough what seemed to be the rightful owner of the seat looking at the sleeping red headed beauties decided not to challenge them and passed on up a very crowded carriage in search of another seat. He spent most of the journey in the corridor jump seat. At York no one appeared so the charade was wasted. I suppose I should have protested but my courage failed me-the older lady looked too much like Ann Robinson to risk a tongue lashing and I had enough problems dodging their firmly out struck legs to provoke a genuine assault. Welsh junior was a big person built like a front row forward and her tattoos hinted at a lifetime of gratuitous violence. Best leave ill alone.

I doubt if similar problems would ever arise on the Hutton/Paxton/Berwick bus. (The twain Taffies were heading for Glascow. Hopefully they will meet their match there.)
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Down in the really big smoke.It is stinking hot! The Tube is stinking hot. People's anti deodorant is positively pro; Big Issue vendors especially aggressive. Tourists under your feet and in your face. Pavements packed. No one smiling. Eyes unmet; greetings unuttered. It will be good to be back in Hutton.Even if Mr Fish is\back from his hols and the weather breaks. Tomorrow. If I am spared.
Monday, May 17, 2004

Where Mr Prescott and Mr Brown may well have met secretly in preparing for the Loch Fyne Summit (SBTB Bureau for Covert exchanges-official use only)
If Mr Brown and Mr Prescott really wanted to keep a 'summit' secret they would have been well advised not to have met in a car park at a well known tourist attraction such as Loch Fyne. Loch Fyne and other touristic trysting places in that part of Scotland are well marketed by the local Tourist Board. In complete contrast to the Borders which can be at times a totally tourist free zone. 'Borders: Scotlands favourite short break destination' is hardly a ringing endorsement for what can be seen and done in these parts. 'Short Break?' they say. Can't be much going on and so they hurry through to the Edinburghs, the Highlands, the Loch Fynes and those other places put firmly on the map by keen eyed, sporran jingling kilted PR spin doctors.

Mr B and Mr P and indeed a whole bevy of political conspirators could meet in any number of car parks (or laybys more likely) and remain totally unobserved by the northern bound tourists and political journalists heading south. And a more adventurous tourist board could turn this to their advantage as advertising the Borders as England's favourite spot the plotter destination. Red squirrels in Paxton House and pinkish politicos in the bushes of the Whiteadder. Or with Rowan Atkinson's endorsement along the banks of the Blackadder.
Sunday, May 16, 2004
Apropos of the previous blog. Sparrows have apparently more or less abandoned London and seemingly have followed Huttonian north.


The sparrows, twittering, agreed
that things must change.
Nature was not fair to them and theirs.
Why should the thrushes get
the fattest worms? And the pigeons eat
much more than them? Such undeserving
slobs. Over bred and over bearing. Unworthy
of the perch of privilege set above
the honest hard working sparrows’ branch.

They chewed it over for a year or two.
Then organised themselves. Chatter 88
was formed. Petitions painstakingly scratched,
all the sparrows of the world assiduously lobbied.
A campaign of civil disobedience and aerial disruption:
thrushes crapped upon before they gobbled the early worm.
Pigeons dive-bombed as they digested post-prandially.
Blackbirds mobbed as they strutted their stuff
on suburban lawns.

“Chatter 88 is great” chanted the sparrows,
more or less in unison, exhilarated by their defiance
of the cruel and unchanging nature of things.
Unchanging was right. Nothing did. And when
a couple of marauding hawks ate the President
and the Honorary Secretary, the movement folded.
Much to the relief of the majority of sparrows
who had been nervous of so much political activity
and who could return spontaneously to what they did best
(and more frequently) than any one else. Which is why,
despite the hawks there are so many sparrows.

(No sparrows were actually injured in the making of this poem)

Cocky and the woodpile

Mr Fish must be on holiday somewhere as the weather is so glorious. It is strange how he does not appear on our screens except when the conditions are foul or are forecast as filthy. He seems to have no stomach for his fair weather friends.

But good news for our birds. The wife spends much of her energy (and some of my money) on a bird friendly patio. Especially erected woodpile, lots of food dangling from it, daily changed water. Admittedly so many birds is a pleasing sight and the RSPB medal for services to brown jobs is expected daily. As well as the brown jobs, we have more exotic song birds, a giant woodpecker, strutting pigeons who spend more time protecting their territory than eating, visiting house martins and the occasional marauding Sparrow Hawk who is particularily partial to gold finches. But the most absurdly exotic are Cocky and Ollie the pair of Pheasant who are around most of the day stuffing themselves. Cocky has ben around a couple of years but we have now been honoured with the arrival of his bride who I am sure has a few chicks hatching in the jungle of our flower beds.

Pheasants are not in short supply in the Hutton region. Below us on the Whiteadder about 10,000 chicks are being hatched and reared in preparation for their Waterloo across the river-targets for the invited guns of well heeled businessmen from southern parts. C and O however may well be spared unless they take to visiting their cousins on the river.
No other likely predator around here-too big even for killer moggie to take on and too smart, one hopes, for the visiting turd laying dogs from across the wall.
Saturday, May 15, 2004
A Glimpse of Blue Sky?

Huttonian's attention has been drawn to the front page of this weeks Southern Reporter-an article headed 'Three Primaries axed in first round of cuts'. Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker is mentioned as hinting that proposals to close Hutton, Eccles/Leitholm and Roberton (near Hawick) could be amended 'as a result of the vehemence of community protests' Funny that the Berwickshire, much closer to the action' did not pick up this reference. Strange also that there is no mention of Burnmouth whose action group put up a very strong performance at the formal 'consultation' meeting last Tuesday. One Councillor was allegedly moist eyed as the children spoke up for their school. Whether these were tears of genuine emotion or the sort favoured by a crocodile remains to be seen.
Tennis in the Sticks? The wife and I fondly thought that the Borders would be stuffed with tennis clubs crying out for new members.
We were told however on arrival in Hutton that tennis was mostly played on private courts and that the nearest club was in Berwick or Duns. So we resigned ourselves to the possibility of the very odd game at the only club we belonged to; rather inconveniently sited in Harris, in the Outer Hebrides. (that's a long story involving fishing nets, infrequent buses and the non-appearance of Cliff Richards) However we learned by chance that there was a public court-in fact two-across the Whiteadder in Foulden. A mere three miles away. On enquiring with the custodian about membership and booking-we asked if we could reserve a court by phone-we were told that there was not a congestion problem. The courts had last been played on in May. This was August! As for membership £8 a year would cover it and if we both joined the membership would be doubled at a stroke. In nearly 7 years we have only once seen another game in action; apparently during Wimbledon few small boys play as long as Tim Henman is still in the singles; after that indifference sets in and we have unchallenged access. Once again.

Its not a great surface; the aforementioned Henman would find it hard to cope with the uneven bounce and the small pebbles. But at £8 (now £10) a year who can grumble? There is even a small clubhouse and the key to the court is picked up from the custodians house just down the road. So no need to trek off to Harris or even Duns. Any enquiries or challenges(suitable only for very moderate players) to Huttonian at old_greywolf2000@yahoo.co.uk
Friday, May 14, 2004
Its nearly that time of the year again that the Coldstreamers go out to Flodden Field to commemmorate the battle of 1513. And it is the dead of both sides amd not just the 'Flowers of the Forest' that are mourned. For my English bloggees I print below Jane Elliots moving words to that haunting refrain which is one of the great laments-and could serve as a Borders National Anthem. A good Scots/English dictionary might be needed to get the full meaning but the gist is clear. It is of course a very nationalistic poem and at risk of being branded as 'anti-Scottish' I take mild exception to the lines 'The English, for ance, by guile wan the day'!
It was probably the Welsh Archers which 'wan the day'.Rather than guile. Plus a bit of a Scottish Own Goal. An entirely unnecessary battle say most historians. James IV led an invasion of England not out of any wish to pick a fight with the serial womaniser Henry VIII but to fulfil an obligation to the French who were engaged in hostilities, as usual, with their English neighbours. In this case the small print of the Ould Alliance would prove to be a disaster for Scotland.

The Flowers of the Forest:a lament for Flodden
by Jane Elliot*

I’ve heard them lilting at our ewe-milking,Lasses a’ lilting before dawn o’ day; But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning,The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away.
At bughts, in the morning, nae blythe lads are scorning,Lasses are lonely and dowie and wae;Nae daffing, nae gabbing, but sighing and sabbing,Ilk ane lifts her leglin and hies her away.
In hairst, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering, Bandsters are lyart, and runkled, and gray:At fair or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching–The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away
Dool and wae for the order, sent our lads to the Border!The English, for ance, by guile wan the day;The Flowers of the Forest, that fought aye the foremost,The prime of our land, lie cauld in the clay
We’ll hear nae mair lilting at our ewe-milking;Women and bairns are heartless and wae;Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning–The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away.
* Poet Jane Elliot (1727-1805) was the daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, in Teviotdale in Roxburghshire.

Thursday, May 13, 2004
The long arm of the Sheriff of Duns reaches to Hutton. Today's 'Berwickshire' carries a report from Duns Sheriff Court
about 285 Yellow Pages Directories being dumped by the delivery man in 'a field at Hutton'. This apparently was on farmland near Hutton Castle and it seems as the delivery agent got fed up with his search for recipients and got rid of his load. He then compounded this lapse by claiming that he had delivered the directories as instructed. Result £350 fine for polluting the environment and £200 for 'defrauding' the distribution company.

And come to think of it our Yellow Pages have not turned up.
Wee (free) Ads

Sad news. Dave the Paper is hanging up his hat. Page 2 of today's Berwickshire gives the details. Huttonian amongst many others owes him a debt of gratitude for his efficient service in all weathers-like the Royal Mail the papers always got through. He hopes someone can take on the round. Anyone interested should call 01289 386351. Thankyou Dave

Rabbit at large. A black bunny answering (yes it does seem to know its name) to Twitch has tunnelled out of its home in Hutton and is at large. Sightings please to old_greywolf2000@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

An idea for the Whiteadder National Park. Perhaps not as these cats are not as harmless as they look

Lower Zambezi Wildlife. Blocked off the bar.Thats dangerous for you.
Hutton School Revisited
The 'formal consultation' period is almost at an end and I detect a feeling of resignation to the inevitable amongst those many people who would like to keep the school
open. There are grounds for pessimism.I fear that to the High Heidians(?SPL) in Newton St Boswells small rural schools are untidy, expensive and a long way from their vision of 'the new school of the century'.Small is not beautiful. It is an irritant. Never mind the quality of the education feel its expense. Local feelings will be canvassed as they must but to what effect? Minds I suspect have been made up months ago and will not be moved by argument, however trenchant. But we should nevertheless perservere in Making maximum use of what ammunition we have,.

It will be the politicians that will decide the outcome in the end. Closing schools and thus infuriating parents (eg voters) is a hot political potato. But by definition rural voters are thin on the ground-(200 or so Hutton and Paxton combined)and it is colder potatoes in the villages than in urban areas such as Duns or Eyemouth. So it is our councillors and the powers that be in Edinburgh that will need to be convinced of our case. It is late in the day but I wonder if it is not too late for the campaigners to employ professional PR help to present their case. Especially if the vote in August goes against us. I pass this suggestion on for what it is worth (old_greywolf(at:@)yahoo.co.uk for any comment) A good PR person with the right contacts would be worth the money we would need to raise to employ her/him.Do you agree oh bloggees?

In the meanwhile bombard St Boswells, our councillors,MSPs and MPs (I'd be inclined to leave Lord Biscuit out of it-the House of Lords will not have any say in this) In other words 'Write on'

PS Spellchecker suggests replacing 'Duns' with 'Dung' Unfair and ignorant.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
A great treat to GNER to Ould Reekie if even to spend wriggling moments in the dentist's chair. Although he is quite painless-its all in the anticipation. Way back to the station I passed Jenners just as an ambulance pulled up to take away an elderly man carried out of the store strapped to a stretcher. His arms were pinioned although he did not appear to be potentially violent. Perhaps it was an unsuccessful case of retail therapy. I doubt if we will ever know.

Princes Street is now an obstacle course filled with ladies with clip boards asking you for an opinion or to fill in a questionnaire angled at parting you from money. I take pains to avoid these perils-probably unnecessarily as I have yet to be stopped-obviously not in the right socio-economic category. Yet in London I get stopped every few yards by tourists asking for directions or (usually by Japanese visitors) to take a group photograph with a camera so complicated that it requires a Ph.D in advanced technology to complete the simplest operation.And a pantomime of mutual linguistic incomprehension to absorb the necessary instructions.

Thank goodness for the peace of Hutton.

Monday, May 10, 2004
Hutton School Apparently the two meetings with the Director of Education duly took place last week. Judging from reports he can be in no doubt of the strength of feeling of the local community in support of keeping our school. We are now called upon to once more put our views in writing to him and to other people who might be able to help such as MSPs and MPs. One offer which apparently was not raised was the idea that if the school was to be closed it might be given to the Hall Committee as a possible site for an alternative village hall. This may be a bit of a trap(to weaken local opposition) if not a complete red herring. The school without the improvements which were scheduled to be done is hardly a suitable venue for a community centre. Nor is the ownership clear and it may not be in the gift of the Education Department-nor is it tactically wise to contemplate the school closing. First things first (A) Keep the school going and (b) reinstate the investment originally agreed upon to have the school working at the potential recommended by HMI.

Huttonian urges a writing campaign once again deploying the arguments aired at the previous meetings. I suggest picking up the positive about Hutton rather than rubbishing Chirnside as the alternative venue. Hutton has a good record. Closing it may have marginal financial benefits but not enough to justify such a drastic and final step damaging the integrity of a village community. I know of two sets of parents thinking of moving away from here if the school is to close. Nor is it sensible to contemplate Hutton being classified as a one teacher school with a roll of 19 or less. As is the apparent wish of the Borders Education department It has been down to about 7 (over 15 years ago) and since then up to nearly forty. Such fluctuations are normal in a small country area and two or three new families could make a significant diference to the school roll if it remains open. Hutton works. With the expansion as proposed and then withdrawn it would work even better. HMI has said so.

Speed is of the essence. Comments need to be in by the end of next week. So out with the quill and let Mr Glenn Rodger know what most of us think.
oops. Bigfoot address not functioning. Mr Fish may have got there first. So any comment to old_greywolf2000(AT :@-see previous explanation)yahoo.co.uk.
Oh Dear. Huttonian hears that his blog has been given wide circulation within Hutton during his absence in Foreign Parts and some umbrage has been taken in certain quarters. Huttonian can only repeat that it is very much regretted (and not the intention of what was originally a very restricted Web Log) to give offence to any one (Usama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein always excepted) and apologises to any one concerned. It is a pity that certain umbragees have made it their business to draw the blog to the attention of potential umbragees in the expectation that the umbrage will be increased. But it is also pleasing to be able to report that a number of villagers have apparently enjoyed what is intended to be a light hearted and even zany (and mostly fictitious)slant on the Merse.

However if anyone wishes to register a complaint(or even, please, say something nice) please feel free to do so via old.grey.wolf (AT=@)bigfoot.com I am not including the @ in the address so ast avoid spammers hoovering it up but you will know what I mean
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Great to be back in the Merse after two weeks in very foreign parts. Exciting journey from Ould reekie airport as the wife who was driving attracted the attention of East Lothian Police. Apparently she had failed to dip her lights when driving through Greenlaw 'ancient Capital of Berwickshire' and had dazzled the two coppers who pursued us in their Panda Mac stopping us outside the town. The wife had seen nothing at all in Greenlaw, never mind a police car-the place was totally deserted at 10pm. When we explained that we had returned from very foreign parts they were all charm and forgiveness. I was asked if I lived locally so I said 'Hutton'. This was apparently very ok and we parted with mutual assurances of good will.

On opening the cricket page of the Grudian I was sorry to see that Yasir Arafat's first appearance for the Scottish Saltires was not a howling success. Out for a duck and no wickets. Stronger methods learned on the dusty pitches of Palestine may be necessary.
Happenings in A small Scottish Community


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