Musings from the Merse
When the Berwickshire letter c
olumns are not being flooded by correspondence from the Acting Regent of the Kingdom of Scotland or about returning Berwick to Berwickshire there are one or two gems. There is a plan to move the Berwickshire High School buildings to the field opposite the present school-more room is needed as Duns expands. Planners often get things wrong and they may have done so again as the unnamed writer explainsSIR, I find it extremely worrying that Scottish Borders Council are considering building a new school in Duns on a piece of land that locals know as The Bluidy Burn.Even if they dont know the past history of the plot it is obvious from the vegetation that it is wet, boggy and undrainable.The land is all part of the water course going through the park to Bridgend. We all know how difficult the park is to drain. It has been tackled for years and still each winter there are parts of it under water.I would ask the Council to rethink their plans. If two schools have to be built (one in Eyemouth and one in Duns) maybe they could amalgamate and have one school half way between the two. This too would be cheaper for Council Tax payers. If in the end they go ahead I suggest they build it with a moat round and issue all staff and pupils with wellies.The Berwickshire High School has always had a high standard of education; it would be a pity to reduce it literally to a bog standard comprehensive.NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED
A bloggee has suggested
that it should be made known that Farmer C has had his application approved for 4 new houses to add to the two already approved but never constructed. This decision taken by 4 votes to 2 on the Berwickshire Area Committee was against the strong advice of planning officials who felt that building on this scale on which is basically a greenfield site was against building in the countryside policy. There are some iis to be crossed and ts dotted with regard to the conditions attached to the approval but to all intents and purposes the deed is done. Under the delegated powers of the BAC the planners cannot appeal to a higher committee as certainly would have happened in days gone by. The same committee also approved some 16 or so dwellings on a farm near the village of Whitsome -some new but the majority conversions from farm outbuildings or Steadings as they say in this neck of the fields. Now with 160 new houses approved in Whitsome-our nearest big village, with this lot just mentioned the Laird may well fell encouraged that his big field could be the next to get the go ahead as part of a build over Berwickshire policy. Much depends on the final final final version of the local plan due out some time and waited with some anticipation in certain quarters. My feeling, and indeed my hope is that the Laird will get the thumbs down and we can all breath easier for a bit.First bloke on the bench said"I am waiting for the local plan.Why are you here?Are you expecting someoneor something?"The other replied:"Not really.I am expected already.I am Godot
(Attrib Sam Bucket Floreat Paxton 1932)
Suffering from Burns.
The story ‘Eyemouth Couple attend Hawaiian Burns Supper’ in the Berwickshire brought it all back. My journeys in Foreign Parts in the Diplomatic required me to attend the functions put by the various Tribal Societies which are such a feature of expat life, especially in Anglophone countries-Irish Societies-St Patrick’s Night, St David’s with the Welsh, St George’s Day or Trafalgar night with the English and of course St Andrews Day and Burns Suppers with the Scots. All could be enjoyable but as a non-Scot Burns Suppers were the hardest going. Indeed some Scots also found them heavy going as compared with the uncomplicated pleasures of St Andrews Caledonian Balls. The Eyemouth couple seemed also to have some reservations about the Burns do in Hawaii. The locally assembled Haggis was ‘mostly German Sausage’ and ‘most washed the taste away with a nip of Glen Drummond’ Apparently genuine traditional ingredients for the Haggis are forbidden to be imported into the US.( Sudan B?) And the toast to the Haggis was a shaky effort as local chieftain had a problem in remembering all the verses. And at the end only one Piper was left standing-so some people had a good time.
We have had our share of bizarre Scottish events. Too many ‘Immortal Memories’ were rendered by too many professional Burns night supperers-imported from Scotland for the occasion and who were likely to be doing five addresses on 5 successive evenings and by the time they got to Dubai or wherever they were bored with their own rhetoric (not to mention 4 cumulative hangovers) and it showed.
In Dar es Salaam the Caledonians were banned by the local authorities. No one knew why. There were rumours that some Tanzanians believed the stabbing of a poor defenceless Haggis with a dirk was a simulation of a human sacrifice. I managed to persuade the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow the Society to hold a St Andrews Night and said that I was certain there would be no problems. No strange ritual involved.. Unfortunately I had not taken into account the Caledonian Airways Piper. This airline, now defunct, to further its Gaelic credentials had a tame peripatetic Piper on its payroll and he was always prepared to perform at Scottish functions-by this time 1978-he seemed easily available for the Dar es Salaam event although this was only jacked up in early November. That should have been an indication of his reputation.
The Piper did his thing in the early stages and piped away consuming vast quantities of Whisky to keep his whistle whetted –as he put it. Then he disappeared. Not many people noticed and I suspect few cared as his playing was getting increasingly erratic and even non Scots noticed the increasingly inharmonious noises issuing from the general direction of his pipes.
Next morning I was summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain why the Piper had been found unconscious and naked draped around the war memorial-just outside the hotel which had hosted the function. I suspect he had gone out to get some fresh air, collapsed and had his regalia nicked. Only the Pipes remained and were fortunately draped over his person concealing his remaining credentials. That was the last Scottish Caledonian event in my time in Dar-and I am not sure that I minded too much.
Those interested in such things should log on to the Coldstream Burns Society's website-the full flavour of the last event is there for all to savour. http://www.coldstream-scotland.co.uk/burnsnight.htm
There is no column on the Duns Sheriff’s Court in the Berwickshire this week. Perhaps he was on half term with the school children
or the usual court reports were crowded out by a full page ad from Mr Howard about Council Tax or by the proceedings of the Greenlaw and Hume Community Council. The usual rule of thumb seems to be the smaller (in terms of population) that a Community Council covers the greater amount of column inches the report takes up. Hutton and Paxton certainly has a magnificent columnal spread every month or so. But that little council has more members of the public at meetings than any other CC in Berwickshire. Anyhow crime reports do appear if tucked away in odd places. One on page 27 headed ‘Eyemouth Man punched wife’ is about an incident a 2am one morning when the defendant returned home after a drink or two in Duns and ‘appeared agitated’ This agitation led to him ‘punching his wife on her arm’ Sentence deferred but Sheriff Kevin commented “ It’s a matter of some shame to hit a woman” -and a matter of some public concern, it might be thought that an Eyemouth man returned all the way from Duns after drinking in an agitated state? Was he driving? It could be asked.
First look at the new revamped Morrisons
; actually quite restrained and they have merely replaced the red Safeways roof sign with the sickly yellow Morrisons logo. Staff have also been told to move their vehicles from the area where Huttonian usually parks (Has some one high up been reading the rant?) But the slots nearest to the main entrance are now crammed. And astonshing number of employees seem to have small childen in tow the 'mother and child' places were mostly full-engines cold (yes I tested) and not a single child amongt the customers that I could see. I wonder where the creche is? Also they seem to have a number of disabled staff as well.
Inside there is some improvement with tasteful blue signs clearly indicating the products-cheap, cheerful and undesirable. And yes, they have been reading the blog-the nine items or less counters have gone and repaced with 'baskets-cash only' Hurrah. My anxious counting days are over. And what a challenge for the caravanners come the season. How many bottles of gin, packets of ciggies and cases of beer will they be able to cram into baskets-Morrisons should offer a prize. And cash only wont bother them too much. Many caravanners are not into the plastic society and will not be until some enterprising supplier puts thumb prints rather than signatures on the back of the card. Chip and pin no good either as it means remembering 4 numbers-just not on most Sunday mornings after the excesses of the night before. Some of the more enterprising may however have their PIN numbers tattooed on together with the other decorative items which cover most of the skin space of many of the mobile brigade-they may however be security minded so if you see a large tattooed gent peering down his trousers at the check out you will know what he is up to. I am not sure how the ladies will cope.
Recognition for the Blog
-rated number three in the World the 'Urban, rural and regional' category by the Whoz on Top Website: Click on the following hot link and all will be revealedhttp://whozontop.com/whozon/ListCategory.asp?newoldCatID=1907
This is presumably belated appreciation for the work of the Hutton Think Tank and its imaginative plan for the the British Capital Area based on Berwick uponTweed. As previously reported on the rant the last copy of the plan is missing as are all the previous leaks due mainly to the carelessness of a tea boy on the Berwickshire News
to whom all three leaks were entrusted.
We must now strive for first place.A bronze medal may be good enough for Scottish Olympians but not for the mighty men of Merse.
I have to report that a bloggee has just commented
: . I was recently reading your blog, and I thought...blimey have they the electric in Hutton now!
It seems that news of developments in this area take a long time to penetrate to far reaches of the Merse-the comment comes from a Coldstreamer. The Hutton Think Tank will now have to come up with recommendations on how to rectify our obvious image problem.
The snow which looked fairly
fearsome this morning is now on the retreat and so far disruption has been minimal-the milkman got through at 4AM as usual in his electric cart. He seems to get everywhere without difficulty and we have never known in 71/2 years for him to be off sick never mind miss a scheduled delivery. The Postie arrived in time as well and our kind neighbour,Wednesday being his day to get the Grudian, made the journey to and from B-o-T ok. On the other hand a meeting in Duns that the wife was meant to attend was cancelled and Chirnside School was threatening to send children home if the snow got worse which it hasn't-in Hutton at any rate. The thaw is anyhow on-and attempts to toboggan a complete frost, or rather lack of it. But The Met map is still an ugly shade of Red all down the East Coast with huge flakes centred over Hutton and with this thaw followed by a hard frost tonight and more dsnow could yet cause problems. Anyhow stores are in, the emergency lanterns being recharged, ditto the mobile phone. The usual problem is the 'interruption' in electricity supply as Scottish Power delicately puts it. Four years ago the the 'interruption' lasted eight days and the Old Manse, with its gravity feed Raeburn became the bath house and soup kitchen for the whole village. Happy days-especially for us as we were in Norn Ireland! 45 people in the old manse plus us and a tiny
grandchild, and no power (needed for the Central Heating) -4C outside would not have been much fun. It was also nice to receive a fat cheque-£200 or so from Scottish Power for the inconvenience we had not personally suffered.
But with possibly nasty weather around one can really worry about rural isolation-roads dicey, no shop for 6 miles, bus not running, no power and denied access to the www -thats hardship for you. Fingers crossed, now that Mr Fish has gone, it won't happen
So it came at last. The birds are not deterred but grateful for their support system in the middle of a blizzardhuttonian
Thankyou Helen Young. We may get some sledging to day but will be going nowhere by carhuttonian
Now that the good Burghers of Edinburgh
have rejected the congestion charge proposal to avoid having visitors to Auld Reekie parking outside their homes to avoid the city centre the equally selfless members of the Hutton Think Tank have apparently shelved a similar, albeit more modest, proposal for Hutton. Alarm was caused by as many as 8 cars arriving simultaneously at School Rush hour, congesting the main drag, alarming pedestrians and contributing to Green house gases. The proposal (yet to be leaked in any detail) was thought to centre on a park and ride area on the Paxton Village Green-unused for much of the day, and taking the bus into Hutton. (Drivers taking their car into Hutton city centre- the area within the speed limit posts are to be charged £1-50)The bus company is said not to be cooperating as a shuttle service between Paxton and Hutton is not thought to be viable even if only two shuttles are involved at the start and at the end of the school day. There is also the question of possible congestion in the evening when there is an event at the Hutton Village Hall. The present bus service has an early bath at about 4 pm so it is back to the drawing board on this aspect. The HT2 spokesman refused to be drawn when he was reached by loud hailer earlier to day 'The matter merits further study' was his only intelligible comment.
Despite the BBC's vivid red weather map
of last night promising total disruption north of the Watford Gap-a retro Fish effort if ever there was one- Hutton has woken up to its usual bright sunshine and nary a flake of snow. BBC back tracking fast has contented itself with a weather warning promising icy roads and claims that to day is a gap in the weather-one might expect the Accusing Finger of God protuding through this gap in the direction of Broadcasting House threatening the met. people with all kinds of retribution if they keep on getting His Weather wrong. We live in hope.
So as long as we have not got the wrong sort of weather warning on track it is off to Ould Reekie to hold the students spell bound with oratory and penetrating analysis. Or at least keep them awake for 50 minutes, a more realisable ambition. My route will avoid the dog bound mendicant and the lone Piper who keeps the kilts twirling between Festivals. I can't get any answer out of the Uni this morning so perhaps Edinburgh is cut off by monstrous drifts or people have been so terrified by Helen Young, the Fish neophyte , that they are sheltering at home. I will report further, if I am spared.
At last the snow-coming wetly from the East and not lying yet. The Birds don't like it and are off to shelter. Rosie the cat does not like it either and anyhow prefers stale cheese by the fire to fresh bird glace.huttonian
And to think we cut the lawn in the global warmed back garden a few days ago. This shower lasted an exciting ten minutes. Not yet Scott of the Antartic stuff.huttonian
Huttonian was barred from Safeways over the weekend as the sartorial conversion to Morrisons took place smart red gone, puke yellow in. Similar things are happening in Norn Iron-see contribution below from the Belfast Bloggee.Safeways/Morrisons.........soon Asda?
Oh dear..........I was well over the nine items or less yesterday and a terribly nice, mature granny check-out person beckoned me over to her machine. I mouthed words to the effect 'I'm over the nine'. But she wouldn't hear tell of it. Oddly, the buy one get one free brigade of diet Pepsi crack heads remained in situ in a seriously long queue.
I left Safeways and turned left instead of right.
We hear that Safeways/Morrisons in Norn Iron is about to be bought by Asda. Now that is good news. I can happily boycott the store because of the parent company's (Walmart) maltreatment of females and ethnic minorities.
Every silver lining has it's cloud!
Asda is apparently in a tussle with Tescos over building a super store here-in Tweedmouth but that will be another story.
Incidentally snow at last but only the one shower-useless for sledging but ideal for falling over and breaking a couple of hips.
am endebted to the Mourne Observer Website (Co Down, Norn Iron) for the following sad little story from the 'Man about Town' column. It was headed 'The Other side of the story'AN anonymous correspondent takes the paper (and the column) to task over the coverage devoted to the recent nasty incident in which a Newcastle woman’s pet cat was mauled to death.Although the original report on the tragic demise of Ginger the cat (26 January) referred only to the episode having involved two dogs and that it took place close to the cat owner’s Ardkeel Park home, the correspondent, going into considerable detail, offers a stout defence for two neighbourhood pedigree dogs, saying they were well supervised and there was no proof they were responsible for the cat’s death.Be that as it may, I return to the point that no information, including breed, colour or size of dog, was given in the sensitively written story that would have pointed the finger of suspicion
in any particular direction.It should also be pointed out that, on the day of publication of our original story, an approach was made to the Mourne Observer with a view to putting forward “the other side of the story.”It was arranged and confirmed with the caller that the same reporter and photographer, who had been responsible for the original story and pictures, would be available that Friday (28 January) for a follow-up story.However, there was no contact that day and nothing further was heard about the matter until the anonymous letter arrived last Thursday (10 February)."
I can't see it would have been much of a follow up story, even with photographs, about pedigree dogs who were allegedly not responsible for the crime in question. SCOOP: Interview with owner of dogs. Ginger killing Denied
. Many exclusive photos
! Now had the dogs been prepared to confess in their own words, showing no perceivable contrition, and were nationalist animals having put to death a nationalist cat -and, to raise the level of interest, they had done so because they believed that the cat in question was about to pull the plug on the IRA over theNorthern Bank £25m robbery. Then that would have been a story.
The Hutton Effect rules
ok. Not a sign of snow (a little hail), bright sun, wind but not up to Fish standards. The Prodding of Physios have stood up to it well-didn't actually complain about the warmth but no whingeing about the cold. Mind you they have all worked in outlandish foreign parts so after Afghanistan under the Taliban ( and winters in Kabul) Hutton under the H&P Community Council ( and a respectable 1.5C) is not really a challenge. No further forward over collective nouns for the professions allied to Medicine-in the current jargon-but it was suggested for a 'Quack' of Doctors read 'A Nuisance of quacks'
We have a house full of people
this weekend inluding three from the effete South. I wonder if they know what they are in for given the severe weather warning of cold, gale and blizzards in this region. One can't always count on the Hutton Effect when bad weather is around, even in the post-Fish era. However with issue of fleeces all round, every radiator in the house turned on and up, fan heaters in every room, electric blankets at setting 3 and the fire in the sitting room blazing all day they may survive and will have a lot of adventures to relate to their smart southern friends on their return. They are all physios so should have some basic fitness to keep them going. I don't know what is the collective noun for Physios-Doctors are of course a Quack, Nurses a Caring, Hangmen a Strangulation-perhaps a Prodding of Physiotherapists. Not so appropriate now days with Physios doing more by machine and less by hand.
But looking out of the window it is a glorious sunny day-a bit parky admittedly and I won't mow the grass. But I will dust off the toboggans, just in case.
By the way anyone feeling nostalgic about the graet days of Mr Michael Fish should go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/bbcweather/forecasters/michael_fish_retirement.shtml
It may be horrific in parts but is a rattling good yarn. I had never realised that the collected forecasts of Mr Fish had very nearly been shortlisted for the Booker as a great work of fiction.
A bloggee has asked where exactly is Hutton. Huttonian is not allowed for obvious security reasons to be too precise but here is a view of the Cheviots with Hutton Village on the right. This is a good clue.huttonian
From the same undisclosed location the Old Manse complex has been photographed/ Taken against a strongly lit background to obscure sensitive detail (at request of Neighbourhood Watch)huttonian
had a better week but sadly, once again, a Portuguese worker got into trouble for causing a disturbance in sleepy Duns shouting and swearing outside his girlfriend's house. Fined £150. More interestingly was the case of a Greenlaw man who 'snapped' and hit a rival in love over the head with a rolled up newspaper (?The Berwickshire) and then 'prodded him several times with a stick while berating him about his relationship' (with the assailants ex-partner) He was collecting his child from the school at the time and the row obliged other parents to 'throw a cordon' around the school to protect children from this ugly scene. Sheriff Kevin was particularily disturbed by behaviour in front of children in 'such an outrageous way' In this case sentence was deferred for six months for good behaviour (either past or expected?)
How lucky we are in Hutton and Paxton to avoid all this although we have had break ins from time to time-never life threatening and usually villians looking for agricultural machinery or other tools. It is said that these are 'gangs from Newcastle' but on what authority I know not.
Its not always that
the Community Council is conducted in an atmosphere of good humour when controversial subjects are aired but last night was an example of this phenomenon. The meeting actually nearly did not take place as the Paxton member who had the key of the village hall had clean forgotten about the event (children out on half term did not help) but she was found and the hall opened in the nick of time-brass monkeyish as it had not been preheated but serviceable. But the high point was the last intervention by a local farmers wife who reported that she had twice recently had callers at the farmhouse (passers by apparently) who had knocked on the door to ask if she knew that she had a dead horse in her field! It was ' not dead but sleeping' It is not usual to have a horse totally motionless on the ground but in this case it was (The farmers wife said her horse was 'incorrigbly lazy')and I suspect the callers (two lots ) needed some convincing. And if they were Monty Python fans they would need reassurance that the breed was not 'Norwegian Blue' Watch out for the Dead Horse Sketch at the Hutton and Paxton Pantomime. 'Iwish to register a complaint-this horse is a dead' 'No its not. Its incorrigbly lazy'
I wonder if sexism is raising its ugly head at the malting Centre in B-u-T. I took the relis from the Highlands in to Berwick to do the usual things- see Museum (closed Wednesdays and Thursdays) the Walls-freezing as was the edge of the sea after -6C last night. The market-impossible to get at with the water mains being 'done'. We took refuge in the Maltings. After some good coffee the Brother in law excused himself and returned fairly furious as he had to trek up and down stairs with a key for the Loo, obtainable from reception if you are a bona fide user of the Maltings and not some hobo off the street with an irritated bladder. Fair enough to keep out the chancers but the Female Loo was unlocked-no key needed. Now that is down right discrimination. Why are female tramps and/or bagladies coming in off the street made welcome and the men turned away? We should be told and I suggest that all right thinking bloggees bombard the management with letters of protest. Preferably written on toilet paper to rub in, er, the point.
Moreover and forefend, the gents is a serious facility-5 stand up pissoirs
and two seated craperies. So it is quite possible
for the finished pee-er in possession of the key to lock any new arrivals , with their unfinished business, in the loo on his way out, returning the key to reception. The walls are thick, the door ditto and screams of frustration likely to be unheard until the next P seeker descends with the key in search of relief, standing or sitting. Perhaps we protestors should, acquire the key and routinely hover around the door to imprison other users so as to get a campaign of resistance under way and much publicity for our cause.
You can see why Lowry loved Spittall and its beach. Here it is with a big surf running Bondi like. No surfers out-perhaps too rough for them?huttonian
In Mr Fish's day that Rainbow would have been a trap-come and get soaked but in the post Fish era it means what it says-no more rain, and there wasn't.huttonian
Even more spectacular than Spittall and its surf is St Abbs Head-the highest cliffs on the East coast and a haven for sea bird life. Another impressive Borders attraction but apparently not worthy of a lingering stay whilst the Borders remains Scotland's favourite 'Short Break Destination'huttonian
If I had a choice of living in St Abbs-seen here-or Spittall it would be a hard one to call. St Abbs has its amazing location and its picturesque harbour; but Spittall is in England.huttonian
Small family gathering
-well hardly a gathering. Just the brother in law and the wife's sister all the way from the Highlands. Bad timing in a way as we are 'enjoying' neo- Fish weather of the worst kind, cold, miserable and breezy (up to 64MPH yesterday) The Old Manse is not at its best in these conditions-North winds penetrate through the gaps in the large amounts of glass at the rear of the house making even the kitchen chilly and the rest of the building frigid until the fire in the sitting room gets going fan heater assisted for a couple of hours until it is warm enough to sit down. The brother in law particularily feels the cold despite living in the frozen north and I have suggested that it is two fleece weather here-more if he goes outside.
Rosie the cat is currently sitting on the kitchen windowsill and refusing offers to enter the house. That will give you some idea.......
Lines written after hearing that England had lost to France by one point:*THE HUTTON SOLUTION
Dogs who offend will be shot’
and in smaller letters:
‘Owners of offending dogs.
You have been warned!’
‘That should do the trick’
said the large man
with a baseball hat’.
putting another shell
into his shotgun.
stepping carefully over
the spent cartridges
There were some dead dogs
‘I sometimes think
that the chairman
of the Community Council
takes his duties too seriously’
the lady with the pooper scooter
and the bullet proof
* The connection with rugby escapes me. Blog-ed
At the risk of (again) being accused of anti Scottish tendencies
I draw bloggees attention to an article in the Observer
a talk to be given, in Edinburgh, by Stuart Cosgrove (a Scot despite his Irish name) in Edinburgh. In this he is going to condemn the Scots' 'love and indulgence of the culture of poverty' which he claims is deeply embedded in the nation's collective psyche. And I do agree with his comment that 'The Scots are very tough on success' (anticipating, no doubt the drubbing at the hands of the Irish Rugby XV yesterday) 'They prefer failure-whether that's the failure of the national footbll team, the failure of industries, the failure of the parliament. They almost obsess over it. They also love the culture of poverty' Too many Scots writers portray a povery stricked Scotland: ' There is hardly one film made in Scotland that is not cast in some dreary, awful, urban deprived social landscape. I think this is a failure of the imagination'
Many people will,I fear agree with this self analysis but the people of the Merse won't mind too much. They are Borderers first and Scots a long way second. Until at least Scotland beats someone at something.
Hutton Hall or Castle. An early Home stronghold and famous in the 20th Century for its connections with Sir William Burrell. He extensively fiddled around with it and after his death many of the interiors were uprooted and taken to Glascow to help house the Burrell Collection. The present owners have saved the house from deriliction (if not demolition). Not open to the public. Make a good location for 'Escape from Colditz 2'huttonian
A more distant view. In the sun it looks warm and welcoming but from the Whiteadder side, grim and forbidding whatever the weather.huttonian
See what I meanhuttonian
There is a group of local painters who meet once a week in Paxton 'under instruction'from an established artist. Every year they put on a an exhibition at Paxton House as 'The Paxton Painters' Huttonian has had a preview of work in progress by a talented young Hutton artist.huttonian
One of her earlier works. You can almost taste those pears.huttonian
One of my favourites-it hangs in the Old Manse and was featured at the first Paxton Painters exhibition. By the same talented young woman. I was lucky to get it ahead of the rush Every British expat should have a picture of Marmite-the most missed object apparently and the most difficult to find overseas. Often features on Desert Island discs. And I speak from personal experience This years exhibition is open for a month from 8 June. A must.huttonian
Sheriff Kevin of Duns continues not to excite with his cases varying from the humdrum to the dreary-man found in possession of knife which he had forgotten was in his trouser pocket(he got a month because of his record) 'Driver carried cosh'-another man who had overlooked the presence of an offensive weapon in his van (fined £200 and six penalty points for no insurance) and a more startling case of a 'ton up' driver doing a 113 MPH on a road which has speed cameras every three miles or so. He was in a hurry to get back to his disabled wife and asked not to be disqualified as he needed to drive her around. The Sheriff of Duns was not too impressed but he got off with two months ban and £450. Next to the court report there is in article about rising crime in the Borders and this is becoming an election issue with the Tory candidate stirring the pot. Borderers want to see more policemen on the beat apparently. I don't think I have ever seen one in Eastern Berwickshire and indeed patrol cars are rare enough-something to raise with our police representative at the next Community Council meeting. Trouble is police cars going through Hutton would double the traffic volume on that day and we can't have that.
Spellchecker suggests Dung for Duns. That would be a good name for a rural town. Although this time ofyear Mudd would be more appropriate.
Hutton Haiku # 65a
Its Pissing down
Cats and Dogs
Reach for the Pooper Scooter
The wee plastic bag (Attrib R.Mossom, Floreat 1987)
SMALL PRICE TO PAY TO OUTLAW SMOKING
bawls the Berwickshire
on its front page. The small price is the £200,000 which it will cost to ban smoking in all public places in the Borders-pay for extra staff and training apparently. Our local pub the Cross has beaten the gun and Mine Hostess is shown on the front page talking to happy customers in her smoke free pub, The Cross, in Paxton. Apparently both she and Mine Host seemed to be the only regular smokers when they bought the Cross 18 months ago and have getting some stick from customers decided to give it up themselves and ban the weed at the same time; wef 1 Feb. Well done them. It will increase its popularity I am sure. They have really turned it round from the rather dead and dreary place it used to be and the food is quite brilliant. Anyone wanting a really good meal in their dining room wil not be disapointed and it is now essential to book for the week end. Getting rid of the (few) smokers can only be a good thing. Hopefuly by the end of next year all pubs in Scotland will have followed suit following the example set by the Irish.
It is such a glorious morning that a bloggee has asked for a a sickly sweet sentimental spring scene-known amongst professional snappers as the 5 S's. So here it is courtesy of another bloggee who was active photographically last Easter. And it is a Merse lamb.
Dedicated to Rosie the Cat: A Final warning
What are You Thinking Cat?
What are you thinking cat?
Eyes unblinking cat,
staring me down
Under you fur,
beyond that purr,
what are you thinking?
Is it love I see,
deep in your eyes?
Or is it contempt?
A calculated attempt
Is that what you are thinking?
I wish I knew what you are thinking.
I have this moment of doubt,
whether to put you out
away from the fire
into the rain,
fur soaking again.
“No he wouldn’t do that! “
I am sure, my fine cat,
that’s what you’re thinking
So I will look into your eyes,
eyes deep and unblinking.
If there is no trace of doubt,I’ll just throw you out.
To show who is master, who is cat,
To demonstrate that
you can never be sure
what I am thinking
Atrributed to Robert Mossom of the Hutton School
Rural Isolation? Rubbish
Indeed. Rural Eastern Berwickshire is Third World in dealing with environmental issues. Take rubbish; as they do on Wednesdays. Not a wheelie bin in sight -black, blue or otherwise. If you are an Old Mansian you struggle down muddy pock marked Kirk Lane with your cardboard boxes and your black bag filled with the weeks ashes , plastic bags and dead food. We spend a lot of time in enlightened Berwick recycling paper, plastic, glass and cans-a 17 mile round trip -2 litres of petrol. I fear that many villagers do not and everything goes into black bags, or left by the kerbside including sizeable bits of furniture and the obliging refuse collectors (called Environmental Hygenists in politically correct hotspots like Islington and Brent ) take it all way to the appropriate land fill site. Yet 7 miles away in B upon T Blue and black bins abound-a lovely sight as you drive into town on Tuesdays. It is in this respect that Dr Johnson's off quoted comment comes into its own:
Sir. Norway too has noble wild prospects and Lapland is remarkable for prodigious
noble wild prospects. But Sir, let me tell you, the noblest prospect
which a Scotchman (sic) ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England.
Don't try this at home
I always thought the Australians were the sports fanatics but this Welshman has them beat. 'That man really had balls' said a shocked commentator who wishess to remain anonymous. If this becomes commonplace in Wales it will be bad news for future generations. But I suspect it will be some time, perhaps a genaeration, before Wales does it again.
LONDON (Reuters) - A Welsh rugby fan cut off his own testicles to celebrate Wales beating England at rugby, the Daily Mirror has reported.
Geoff Huish, 26, was so convinced England would win Saturday's match he told fellow drinkers at a social club, "If Wales win I'll cut my balls off", the paper said on Tuesday.
Friends at the club in Caerphilly, south Wales, thought he was joking.
But after the game Huish went home, severed his testicles with a knife, and walked 200 metres back to the bar with the testicles to show the shocked drinkers what he had done.
Huish was taken to hospital where he remained in a seriously ill condition, the paper said. Police told the paper he had a history of mental problems.
Wales's 11-9 victory over England at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was their first home win over England in 12 years.
"There is no more impressive sight" said Sir James Barrie "than a Scotsman on the make:" Yes there is-a Scot with a sense of grievance
. Recently there have been a lot of them angry about a linesman's decision in Paris on Saturday which may have robbed Scotland of a historic victory over France at rugby. The medja have been on and on about it-no doubt the Irish linesman has had a number of death threats and the theme 'we was robbed' as been the constant leit motif
since the final whistle. Compare this with the dignified treatment of England's defeat at the hands of the leek eaters in Cardiff. Quiet, humble acceptance and congratulations to the Celts for playing so well.
The English Scottish match should be interesting. Its bad enough to lose to France, the other party to the Ould Alliance-but to lose to the real ould enemy is something else. If Scotland is 'robbed' on that occasion, just imagine the runctions.
Mind you , they ought to be used to it by now.
PS My spellchecker suggests 'loneliness' for 'linesman' Apt in this case.
February. Hutton Hill. Most winters this is a dead and desolate place but post Fish the grass has kept growing all winter. Exit Fish, enter global warming
Down the road is the Whiteadder gorge. Most winters a freezing permafrosted wilderness from December until March. But this year a luxuriant pasture giving succour to some of Farmer Cwn's sheep.
And looking the other way. But this bank of the Whiteadder gets no sun from November until March-something that Mr R may regret if he persists with his plans to build a house next to the mill-just out of sight on the leftt even Global Warming is going to shift the path of the sun.
Someone commented this morning
on the fantastic, spring like, weather we have been enjoying in this part of the Merse. She had not put it down to the retirement of Mr Fish-said that this had not occurred to her. But it is noticeable how much meteorogically we have prospered in Hutton at least sine Mr F went off into the sunset with his MBE and his climate linked pension. I say Hutton because the Fish seemed to have it in for us. But now it is noticeable that the ‘Hutton Factor’ of markedly more benign weather than our neighbours has sharply increased in its effect. Twice recently I have passed through a sodden Paxton with evidence of a recent down pour to Hutton where the road is much less dripping a hundred yards away from the village becoming bone dry as one reaches the refuge of the Old Manse. In the great wind of a few weeks ago 98mph recorded in Paxton-a mere 84 mph here. Time and time again leaving a rain soaked Berwick one can see a break in the clouds to the West-yes always over Hutton. It is almost like the Three Wise Men-but they went East following a star. Much better go West, following the rays and end up in sun drenched Hutton. Hutton rather than Bethlehem. For a number of reasons.
Despite Scotland's brave almost match winning performance against France and England's defeat at the hand of Wales the Street of Hutton was not thronged with saltire waving fans. Had there been the sentiment would have been much more of a celebration of an English defeat than jubiliation at a near (very rare) Scottish success. That was Rugby. England losing twice to South Africa at cricket rounded off a very bad weekend.
If only Elena McArthur can claim to be English will make it all right. But the name is not promising.
Two rural things reduce incomers from urban areas to various degrees of apolexy: Country odours-eg Slurry and muddy roads. This week end it is the state of the roads which I am sure is raising blood pressures in certain quarters and will no doubt feature in the Community Council next time round. Farmers are responsible for keeping roads free of mud around the entrances to their fields. With recent rain and such activities as winter ploughing or spraying the fields are wet and tractors leave great swathes of rich mud all over the road and this gets spread around a bit by more rain-11mm last night. And the farmers seem not to have done much about it in many cases.The car washes in Berwick do a roaring trade and the more frugal villagers many of whom a real country folk, not urban incomers, will spend hours washing their cars outside their houses thus adding to the local mud supply. Trouble is if you take your car to Berwick it is just as dirty by the time you get back and any journey over a mile or two out of Hutton will have the same effect. Soon you start breaking the law as your rear registration number becomes illegible. A Flanders and Swann Hippopotamus would love the Merse at present. If you get the literary illusion.
A bloggee has suggested that if Farmer C does not get planning permission for his 4 new dwellings at Fishwick he could do no worse than import a caravan or two. If they were self contained for toilet purposes they mighn't need planning permission. Now there is a thought. Other examples at http://www.drbukk.com/gmhom/park.html
The lady in the top picture on that site (web and caravan) could help with repopulating Hutton School. Given time.
The same company which makes those striking mobile homes also could produce this splendid edifice-as bloggee has suggested that Hutton Hill would make a splendid site. It might even make do as a village hall?
The rant has mentioned the vexed question of low flying aircraft on previous occasions. They can be quite frightening roaring up on you without warning and giving you one heck of a fright even if you are already doing something noisy like mowing the lawn-as I was yesterday-global warming has ensured that cutting continues all winter, as does low flying Tornados and F16s. The Community Council has complained from time to time but has always met a load of guff about Defence of the Realm, National Interest and helpful advice about taking the number of the fighter when it is under 300 feet (try doing this at home); actually under the new regulations under 200 feet is ok in certain circumstances like during a major exercise. The Borders being an 'underpopulated area' is liable to be inflicted by these nuisances as in the case of the Highlands, and othef really deserted parts of the UK. Perhaps if the Laird can fill his field in Paxton with lots of shiny new houses we will no longer be underpopulated and the RAF will have to play elsewhere.
Anyhow I was driven to so much distraction yesterday that I decided to present the RAF with photographic evidence of very low flying fighters-perhaps if blown up enough the registration number might be visible, and the offending pilot suitably disciplined. This proved difficult with my digital state of the art camera. Aircraft kept themselves concealed until I had switched off the camera (to conserve batteries) and then came suddenly from unexpected directions not giving me a chance to 'point and shoot' At last I got one in my sights with the result you can see below.
Where has it gone? Perhaps it is one of them new fangled stealth fighters invisible to radar and digital cameras. Oh well back to the drawing-filming-board
This is Lovers Loaning -an ancient road which was left abandoned when others were adopted and tarmaced as public roads
But for the last few years the road has been closed as the old bridge is in a dangerous state and would cpst £100,000 plus to repair.
After considerable prompting by our excellent Community Council the Borders' Council built this excellent bypass with a new foot bridge below the old.
£100,000 would be very acceptable. Apparently the designer had something of an international reputation and this was his first work.
The Berwickshire is not its usual diverting self this week. All of Sheriff Kevin's efforts seem to have been concentrated on one case involving an Edinburgh University student-in court for the 7th time in twelve months. He has now been told (somewhat belatedly it might be thought) that he will go to prison if he offends again. Sheriff K is anxious that this young man fulfils his promise of 'a bright future ahead of him' and blamed the demon drink for his difficulties to date. Huttonian notes that the student is not one of 'his' studying (when not in court) computing and electronics. Anyhow this case took up all the columns allocated to the weekly court report and either there was no more crime or it was not interesting enough to be squeezed into an issue over concerned with reporting Burns Suppers. The 'suffering from burns' season is thankfully over.
No mention of the Regent of the Kingdom of Scotland but there is a tedious, ill-written epistle about how Berwick really belongs to Scotland under the banner headline SCOTS HAVE BEEN DENIED WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY THEIRS.
The usual distorted historical tirade going back to Edward the First-Scot Nats tend to do this rather like the old Irish tendency to blame all their woes on Cromwell.
And worst of all no minutes of the Hutton and Paxton Community Council minutes-that monthly delight. Apparently they were e-mailed twice to the Berwickshire but (as with HT2) their electronics were on the blink and the minutes never go there. Next week hopefully
Like this. Hopefully we can still repair the old bridge as rideres can't manage the bypass and its steps. So we have no public bridal path in the CC area.huttonian
Twice again to Ould Reekie
this week-0nce for a seminar and once for the quack. Tuesday's visit was slightly odd because of a photographic assault by a bunch of Ruskies. I was quietly and thoughtfully descending the Fleshmarket steps wrestling with one of life's great questions: whether to go back to Berwick by GNER or Virgin when I was suddenly dazzled by about 9 cameras flashing from the bottom of the steps. This nuisance emanated from a group of men, some half clad in USAF uniforms pointing their digitals up the passageway and snapping away. Apart from me the steps were deserted, covered in litter and a less photogenic scene you won't find in Edinburgh at the best of times. 5pm and deepening gloom is not in that category. As I forced my way through the scrum there were a number of, I suspect, disobliging comments in Russian (I am something of an expert on disobliging remarks inRussian having sat next to a number of Soviet delegates at the UN for three years in the early 70s) What were they doing? Then it came to me-apparently Ian Rankin's latest thriller 'Fleshmarket Close' has just been translated into Russian and this was the Nvody Nsorski Reading group on location. Why the USAF uniform jackets? I suspect just bought in that little shop just off South Bridge Street which specialises in militaria including a 16th century Lowlander broad sword, yours for a mere £1100
Anyhow I am glad that I escaped my usual fate of being stopped by Japanese visitors and asked to photograph them with a highly complicated cameras which they can almost explain in Japanese. I usually bow courteously, press all the buttons on display, bow again, hand the apparatus back and skedaddle. I have had no complaints.
A kind bloggee has inquired if the following passage from the old blog was before or after the document in question
The Hutton Think Tank (HT2) are now charged with siting the new capital of the United Kingdom. I am sure that these wise personages will come up with the goods. But whether that nice Mr Blair will have the statesmanship and the vision to follow HT2's road map remains to be seen. When you have a white Scot whose only serious challenger for the leadership of the ruling party is another Scot, albeit more genuinely a native son the future is not something to viewed with overwhelming confidence. Not that Huttonian is anti Scot-indeed some of his best friends............ But when you look at the Scottish Rugby team and when you consider the state of Scottish cricket you have to worry. There are surely more important things than Cricket and Rugby I hear you cry?Are there? Get Real! Please
This was, I think, before a summary of the document in question but HT2 can't help as the organisation has also mislaid its archive list.
Will Huttonian's comments of a year about about Scottish Rugby still ring true after this weekend when the 6 Nations Tournament start?
Hoping for the best.
PS just got this but styill not what HT2 is looking for.
An occasional reader has suggested that the Hutton Think Tank should consider advocating the establishment of a UK Capital Area away from London and ideally centred on the formerly autonomous area of Berwick upon Tweed. This is worth considering and Huttonian will blog about it when he has had the considered views of HT2 as it is known in academic circles. Certainly this will be welcomed by the independently minded Burghers of B-u-T who will remember the unique status the town enjoyed for many years. There is an old ditty which I have fortunately mostly forgotten (it is very long) which ended : ' the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland indeed. Its Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Berwick on Tweed' No facile claim this. B-u-T used to be an additional treaty signatory on Britain's international treaties including formal declarations of war. Some cognoscenti (clever Italian scholars?) claim that Berwick is still at war with Russia having not been included in the peace treaty following the Crimean War but was a signatory to the formal war declaration. This may not be legally sound but Russian visitors to the area area advised to be very very careful. And not to wear those funny fur hats or long Cossack boots or any thing else which might attract hostile attention from war like natives
Keep them coming
A plea to old bloggees
. The Hutton Think Tank needs your help. You may remember that the HTT produced an imaginative and controversial (One equals the other in media speak) plan for a British Capital Authority or Area based on Berwick-upon-Tweed. Attempts to stir up a public debate vai media leaks failed as the tea boy/cub reporter on the Berwickshire lost two successive leaks and the HTT was loath to have another go with their last copy of the plan document.
Alas. The HTT duty officer when confronted by a demand from a passing tramp, on New Years Day for a copy quoting the newly adopted Freedom of Information act panicked out of fear of defying an act of parliament and handed over the document (the photocopier was, as always, on the blink) in the interests of open government and saving his pension. Sadly the Tramp was caught short on the Lovers Loaning bridle and foot path and in the absence of appropriate amenities performed in situ and made use of the only paper to hand-apparently all of it according to his statement to Fishwick Special Branch.
So the only remaining description of the plan is in the old blog which was taken down last spring-and Huttonian has no copy of that entry -so if any kind bloggee has one could he please e-mail it as an attachment to the comment address :firstname.lastname@example.org