Musings from the Merse
Monday, October 31, 2005
Traditionally we associate Newcastle, Norn Iron with dry Merse like weather but without the Haar and the Dreich. Huttonian always used to brag that he brought good weather with him. But in the post-Fish MBE era the magic is not working. Never before in living memory can Huttonian have had such a long period-three whole days-without setting foot on the Royal County Down Golf Course (PBUI) Foot could have been set but would probably have sunk from sight and gale force winds: Golf Farce 8 in the jargon would have made, even one hole, unendurable. I could drone on for hours about when I was a boy…playing 54 holes in one day…horizontal winds-lashing rain. Ships foundering in the bay. Lighthouse blown over; steaming corpses unburied in bunkers. No umbrella..not losing a ball..but somehow in later life one plays for enjoyment. It is better at this stage to avoid Purgatory before Paradise

So it will be a Hutton type day. Lazy, Relaxed, watching the sea out of one window, the cascading water in Bath Lane* (well named) out of another and the rain in stereo through both and a third eye scanning the leaden skies for a hint of a break. The nice Mr Deakin promised us a dry day today so I am not optimistic.

May start on the Christmas cards.

* You can't do either in Hutton. Blog-ed

See what I mean

Better in than out and the sea is coming over the wall. And the BBC website is showing fluffy white clouds and a coyly peeping sun!
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Stripping for Peace

Huttonian does not usually rely on the Observer for rantly inspiration but he could not resist the article at the bottom of today’s front page: Non-Sectarian strippers decommission their old kit. It appears that a Norn Iron Stripper/kissogram etc agency with the very appropriate name of Angels has done away with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) uniform as their working gear. Instead the Lasses and Lads of the agency will sally forth in the ‘boiler suit uniform’ of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’ (PSNI). This is claimed to be sexier than the old RUC bottle green serge (the strippers are likely to ‘go down a treat’ said an Angel spokes person) and is an important contribution to the stalled Peace Process. Now the strippers will appeal to a much wider section of the community and will at the same time have a more realistic chance of fooling the intended victim, in the early stages of the sting at any rate. PSNI are yet to comment but according to a member of the Fishwick Special Branch who has a cousin working with the Norn Iron Rozzers the authorities are suggesting a new offence of ‘impersonating a naked police officer.’ Kill Joys.
And another thing if you really want to turn your japee on you can order a kisso or stripper gram in the uniform of a paramilitary complete with baseball bat and balaclava. This could however run contrary to current legislation in that the ‘paramilitary’ could be charged with carrying an offensive weapon-and in the case of male strippers two of them

Vox Pop welcome
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Two Days in Norn Iron without golf at the Royal County Down (PBUI) =not a good start to a break from the stresses of the Merse. But the neo-Fishes are in the ascendancy and being rung up at 8am by my golfing partner to ask if I had seen the weather was an unwelcome shock. The BBC hour by hour weather forecast for BT330EZ had promised balmy sunshine until lunch time-but I could not see the weather at 8 as (a) it was too dark and (b) too wet. Tomorrow the retreat of the clocks means brighter 8ams and the prospect of getting to the first tee before the very elderly and slow local male members on the Championship Course and the earliest of early birds (in all senses) on the Annesley No 2 links where the distaff side hold ascendancy with an endless series of 'Ladies Days' many of whose competitors move crab like up the fairways leaving a series of unrepaired craters in their wake making golf for those trailing in their wake a bit like a stroll through Faluja after a US 'surgical strike' But even that seems desirable after watching the rain stream down our windows and the lane a rushing torrent making it difficult for the young lady from Near Buy to chase me up it for the remaining debit balance on our bill.

Even if she wanted to.

But it will be a nicer day tomorrow and in the meanwhile we will enjoy a retrospective

With it hissing down today I decided to cheer myself up with what it was like last Winter and may be next week. Coming off the Par 3 10th after a just missing a birdie.

And that is how to do it-15th No 2 Course and hard enough by any standard. A slight slice and you are buried in fiendish rough-a faint hook and you are with the Little People in the Gorse.

The closing hole at Newcastle. But not the weather of today. Tomorrow hopefully
Friday, October 28, 2005
By request I am putting up two images of Autumn in London from one of those many public parks, especially in North London which are such a redeeming feture of the Old Smoke. I had a nice message from the New World about our Autumns so I hope she enjoys these.

Just like Hutton? No as some of these are exotic rather than native-a Canadian Maple for instance. The similarity to Hutton is the absence of Homo Sapiens.

So why go to New England with this on your doorstep?
The great thing about our wee cottage in Norn Iron is the pleasure of walking to the shop for newspapers, loo rolls and lightly salted crisps-the necessities of life. A pleasure denied in Hutton with 5 miles to the nearest paper. Also somehow the pressure is off in a shop such as Near Buy-it is one of those places that you can fumble through your pockets to get the exact sum for your purchases without sensing the impatience, rage and sc orn for crumbling fumblings so evident at the check out at Sir Morrisons where even the check out lady's outstretched hand is claw like with irritation at your inaptitude with 5ps and one pences. Today a couple of other customers smoked calmly at each other while I slowly counted out £11.13p into the warmly welcoming hand of the owners eldest daughter. I found myself with an empty pocket and 3p short. I could have resorted to a £20 note and cram my pockets with heavy specie again but the young lady preempted my move towards the wallet with an 'Ah Now; don't worry. I wouldn't chase you up the lane for 3 p!' Such a nice start to the day.

I left wondering what she would chase me up the lane for.
The transition from Merse to Norn Iron was remarkably painless. And what a glorious day up North. All those relis usually snug (and smug) in Lunnon town would have looked right eejits had they travelled up to Scotland in their usual array of fleeces. The hottest 27 October ever recorded in the UK (including Lunnon) was in the Scottish Highlands and I don't suppose Hutton was far behind. Yes those folks up there will remember the 27th October of 05 until they are well passed their anecdotage and we sun bronzed northerners will never travel south without our oiled Hebridean sweaters and Borders Cashmere. 'I well remember sun bathing in Glasca Toon and believe it or not the sun was down those past three hours or so-don't have October 27s like that any more and certainly not in them effete Hame Counties south of Watford. Brings me in mind of ......' And so in until death do them part.

And it is quite warm here as well.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Zoe R the sensational Toddlers Olympic prospect had a full mornings training at a secret training park in North London. Images show some of this plus other techniques including tree hugging required for the under 4 'Green Marathon' which requires a number of trees to be 'hugged' in the closung stages. The personal trainer is receiving cell phone instructions from the head coach about the so called 'hands out in front technique' which enables toddling atheletes to pick up bottles of milk en route or sweeties from doting fans. Images (click to enlarge) include Zoe R practising for an indoors event and receiving news that her main Oz rival may have to withdraw because of nappy rash.
It is unwise to rant too much about GNER even in the nicest possible way and the Empire struck back with a vengeance when attempting to return to Hutton. a 'vehicle incident' involving a power cable some where south of Peterborough plunged the departure board at Kings Cross (later Kings Very Cross Indeed) into a sea of 'delayed' 'cancelled' and 'you can't be serious' notices' Leeds was a no go area. Cambridge a hope less aspiration. Luckily the 1800 to Glasgow via Berwick just had to go as it was the last through train to the frozen north that day. So having eventually left 'delayed' and instantly becoming 'late running' with constant regrets for
'any inconveniences caused' in the plural-a nice touch that-we acted as the man with the dust pan behind the parade of elephants picking up stranded passengers whose trains had been 'terminated' south of Peterborough at stations so small that our mighty snake could only be boarded from two carriages at the platform. But not Grantham I am glad to say as we had a driver on board somewhere-we knew this from constant 'ding dongs' : 'Will the duty guard contact the driver' interspersed with the plaintiff automated call ' Attention Train Crew the disabled passenger alarm has been activated' Activated maybe but apparently ignored as this refrain was repeated ad nauseam until either the poor guy was rescued or passed away in some isolated and forgotten loo. Posibly the shiny new 'disabled toilet' which required a Masters in Electronic Engineering to open the door from the inside at the close of business, as it were

North of Doncaster waiting would- be passengers had obviously made other arrangements perhaps including early retirement as the dark and shuttered stations were deserted-the theme of the Marie Celeste occurred to me again but, fortunately, the wife managed to keep Berwick open until I alighted leaving the extremely exhausted and very very late running 'service' ( another oxymoron) to head for Embra and Glasca in the hope that they were still open-otherwise the service-reclassified as the Flying Dutchman may wander the rails of Scotland until the end of time. Sad thought but no doubt surviving passengers will have a claim for partial compensation.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Despite 8 years working in London betwen forays to foreign parts Huttonian's tube wisdom semed to desert him after he had left the comfort and security of the Marie Celeste. How else could I find myself going both ways on the Central Line when I thought he had changed lines from Central to Circle. On the first Central line excursion I experienced a new watershed in advancing maturity when I was offered that special seat for the overburdened in years or heavy packages by a gentleman very much older-and with a stick who was very relieved when I declined the kind offer. Partly because there were 45 empty seats in the same carriage but I was touched by the gesture. Then to my amazement when finding myself in the central line train going in the opposite direction which I had mistaken for the Circle Line there I was in apparently the same carriage that I had just left with the same elderly gent, now gently snoozing, in the self same seat-or so it seemed. Another bit of magic transferred from the Good Engine Marie Celeste. Or perhaps the whole day was a dream and I am going to wake up in Hutton having never left the place. No,a good pinch later, I am still here looking at massed ranks of parked cars and not Farmer C's coos.

It wil be good to get back to the certainties of rural life. No fear of halucinations on the 32 Bus
GNER were splendid until Grantham. 3 minutes late and no excuses. but then we sat there. THen a mysterious announcement' If there is a GNER drIver on this train could he (no she note) report eto the station master' Goodness-how did we get to Grantham without a Driver? We collectively Boggled and you could hear a fresh sandwich drop.. No one seemed to leave the train. Driver or otherwise. But why leave the train. Did he need to get his' 00' licence from the Station Master before he could take the train on to Kings Cross? We never knew. The train set off , wiyh no further explanation ten minutes later and became categorised as 'slightly delayed' the stage before 'slightly late running' But no explanation as to the presence or otherwise of a driver. However we arrived safely-perhaps with the aid of the Grantham Station Master's remote control.

I rushed down the platform to see who got out of the driver's cab.

No one did. I looked at the engine name: 'The Marie Celeste' Odd
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Alas a drear dreich day-two days with lots of rain for the second time in a week-global wetting has a lot to answer for in these usually arid parts. At least the harvests seem to be in so the local farmers are quite laid back for the moment. Happy contented farmer is oxymoronic in most parts and I suspect this state of agricultural grace will be short lived . Anyhow the wet and chill will make a rare visit to the Big Smoke a more pleasurable experience than usual. The wife is being left at home to straighten out the aftermath of twelve days of benign neglect (her perception, not mine (judging by what she said telephonically to the middle daughter)before we set off to Norn Iron on Thursday. So bloggees should brace themselves for golf images from the Royal County Down (PBUI) which will make a change from the junior family members-althoughI might be able to squeeze in one or two more of the senior granddaughter as she continues her training for the Tiny Olympics at the Palmers Green Sports Academy.

I may even buy a Big Issue. If I am spared.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Man, Machinery and Morrisons. The struggle continues

I did the wife a favour by accompanying her to Sir Morrison's for a spot of welcome home shopping. Friday afternoon is not a great time, especially when it is foully wet and there is nothing else to do in Berwick. Obviously Customer Relations (Crumblies Division) have been warned about the erratic behaviour of old persons bewildered by the stores cutting edge technology. Emboldened by Huttonian's triumphs with make it yourself Latte we decided to go for tea and some' still fresh' (claimed Morison's) well reduced pastries. But first we had to park our trolley in the special high security self locking lockers so as not to block the aisles in the caff. The Wife wrestling unsuccessfully with stage one: unlock empty locker-the essential fiirst step in a four stage process (one more than launching a rocket from Cape Kennedy so being a rocket scientist does not really help) was pounced upon by the female warder from CR (CD) who showed that brute strength rather than finesse is the secret of locker technology and with one shrewd blow from a massive fore arm managed all four stages simultaneously this imprisoning the space capsule securely whilst the old folks could enjoy their tea. The tea machine was a comparative doddle although you could not, unlike the Latte, get it a cup at a time-the water would only flow into a small pot in which a tea bag a]had been prepositioned by one of the good elves in the food resource and processing area aka the kitchen. The button for the hot water worked perfectly and we required no assistance from the handmaiden.

Flushed with our technical triumphs opening the secure locker was a pushover and we wheeled our empty capsule into the store getting an admiring nod and a small standing ovation from the good folks in Customer Relations as we passed. One seemed to be saying some thing to the other about Old Dogs and New Tricks but I am sure it was kindly meant and proves that some of these old saws are actually rubbish.

I was told this morning by a shop keeper in Berwick that he had heard that Sir Morrison's 'Terrace Cafe'-more appropriately CarPark View had been closed today for 'refurbrishment' and 'fine tuning' Perhaps the Egg Boiler is on the blink or the Walking Dead have taken a dreadful revenge on the Latte machine when the folks in Customer Relations (CD) had their backs turned. As long as there is no attempt to pin it on me and the wife....
Friday, October 21, 2005
Good. The wife is back from France and a brief week of normality before setting forth for Norn Iron. Despite being without a cleaning assitant for more than a week-a long time in the dusty Old Manse -Huttonian's house keeping efforts appear to have escaped the seal of disapproval. There was just some scrubbing in a mildly marked manner around the kitchen surfaces and that was it. 8/10 probably. Not bad and a tribute to the hasty mopping operation I had yesterday hampered by painters tramping in and out in mud encrusted boots comung in and painted splattered ones going out A bit of house husbandry is good for the soul and makes one's appreciation of the return of the wanderer all that much greater. I am awarding myself a week off all except light duties.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Huttonian risked a second Latte at Sir Morrisons this morning on the assumption that the risk of two fire drills in three days at the same time was an acceptable one. No fire broke out that I noticed although the Latte machine does not seem to have got over its excitement of 48 hours ago. It is one of those automated help- yourself- press -the -appropriate -button type. I did a message appeared: 'Empty' I asked a handmaiden if she could help. With a scornful look which seemed to indicate that I was well beyond the age of reason and stuck in the wind -up gramophone era she pressed the self same button. Same result. In a great rage she shouted to the handmaiden in chief' 'Its says its empty' The Gaulieter asked 'Is it?' Opening of a plastic drawer at bottom of machine by irritated Hand maiden-'Yes its empty and it says its empty. Its never behaved like that before'.-another glare at me 'The old Geezer must have b******D it' was the unspoken thought.

I got my Latte but it wasn't her day. The next customer, another sexagenarian, so obviously on the point of death, omitted to place his delph cup in the receptacle provided (Morrison speak) before pressing the magic Latte Button. Result : Coffee on floor and over his natty shoes. Scurrying around, much fussing and mopping up by handmaiden subjected to 'quality control' by customer relations looking after vulnerable old persons(Your fall may be monitored and is important to us.) Consequently the Hand maiden had to keep to herself any further thoughts on the Walking Dead to herself.

The latte was rather nice.

Autumn is slow to reach the old manse-wrong type of tree (see how green they still are in the bottom picture)I suppose. But the leaves have come from somewhere and are needed for the Wife's leaf mulching plans for 06. Two similar Images show the lawn before and after Huttonian spent an hour raking up several wheelbarrow loads of greenish leaves. A bit like painting the Forth Bridge A small prize for the correct identity of the before and after picture. Its a bit scary when you consider what it is going to be like when the Autumn really arrives. The whole lawn will be a bit like the top image which was taken under the Beech Tree. But not to worry-this time next week we will be heading to Norn Iron and it won't be my problem. But I am not sure if the wife will agree.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
The High Heidians in Brussels have identified Scotland as the dirty man of Europe having the worst recycling record this side of Turkey. The Scottish Executive, stung by this, have decided to make recycling a major priority over the next five years and may have welcomed the exit of the Bravehearts from the World Cup as one less distraction although I am sure the Tartan Army would have done their best in recycling Bavarian Beer and processing it in great quantities through their normal channels. The Borders are bad by even Scottish standards. All our refuse is dumped outside houses in large recycling resistant plastic bin bags and anything else besides from old beds to half empty cans of motor oil and the environment hygenists will duly take it all away every Wednesday. Huttonian treks a couple of a hundred yards down Kirk Lane with his one (carefully chosen recyclable) bag but then drives miles consuming large quantities of non-renewable resources to take everything except plastic to Sir Morrisons and the plastic to the Coop. That is England of course.There is an 'amenity' centre in Duns-twice the distance from Hutton and invariably littered with broken glass blazing a trail to the bottle bank seemingly only emptied at Hogmanay when the glass is broken by party people long before it is dumped. One plus in Scotland is that bottles once containing alcohol don't need rinsing-the last drop has been drained painstakingly. I am told that the only era of successful recycling of bottles in this part of the world was when you got tuppence back on empties returned to the shop. That might well be worth reintroducing.

Anyhow we have been promised wheelie bins for household rubbish- rubbish, blue ones for paper and even brown ones for Garden Rubbish (as in Norn Iron) Whether people will bother to sort stuff out remains to be seen. In the meanwhile Hutton ThinkTank (Media, Spin and Slogans branch) have come up with a neat idea for publicising any environmental refuse campaign by suggesting renaming the local bicycle-mind-your back-heavy lorry dodging-facility- as 'The Tweed Recycle Track' Might just give pause to the the Big Mac consumers, flashing through the Borders enjoying a rapid short break, who throw their packaging out of their car windows when they have finger licked it well and good. On the other hand it just might encourage them.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Living so far from the nearest Al Qaida cell (according to info received by Fishwick Special Branch anyhow) we are spared the excitement and disruptions of false alarms, bomb threats, house searches at dawn etc-although we did have Berwick Station closed quite recently because of a 'suspect package' abandoned on Platform 1-turned out to contain a copy of the Guardian and the Sun-grounds for reasonable suspicion in my book Anyhow Sir Morrison's did their best to make up for it early this morning whilst I had successfully completed my one basket shop and was enjoying a well earned Cafe Latte. An announcement said (I thought) 'WE are about to have a fire. When the alarm signal, goes vacate the store leaving all bags, trolleys and bulky possessions in store. You will be able to return for them later' (Whilst we are shifting through the smoldering refuge?, one wondered) The fire alarm sound like this: High pitched noisy signal. No one moved as this must be a demonstration it seemed to be assumed. Petulant Voice' No this is a real fire alarm. Please vacate the store' We did so. One man taking out his coffee in Morrison's best delph cup was asked to leave it behind' But it will get cold' he reasonably complained 'Not if there is a fire'said some cynic sotte voce * He reluctantly complied putting his cup back on the table

We hung around in the fringes of coolish wind swept car park whilst they searched the loos, cubicle by cubicle. An amazing number of employees flocked out and went straight to the comfort of their conveniently near parked vehicles to have a quick drag and a sip from a thermos-they had done this before. Then the all clear sounded -the same as the alarm but a note lower and we all trooped back inside.

'Thankyou for sharing our fire drill' cooed customer relations 'Morrison's looks after you' She almost added ' Experience one drill get one free' But didn't.

My Latte was cold. I left overhearing the delph cup gentleman demanding a warm refill. But in all the excitement the Latte Machine had shorted and caught fire. Only a small one. No cause for alarm, as it were.

* eschew foreign phrase please. Blogg-ed
Monday, October 17, 2005
<cookie jar for sale in jedburgh Scottish borders> is the 'string' put in by a bloggee into Google from Melbourne Oz and amongst several other sites he/she/it has unearthed Musings. If only because of a rant some months ago about our marvelous bakery in Newcastle Norn Iron called The Cookie Jar which produces the world's best wheaten bread and caramel shortbread-the latter usually sold out by 9.05 am making for Huttonian a difficult choice between early golf and a visit to the bakery .

I doubt if the OZ surfer got any hard information on where to buy cookie jars in the Borders-the websites I saw were not particularity helpful. And why the Scottish Borders I wonder?Are such artifacts not available in Melbourne or Sydney. Perhaps the Aussie in question was prepared to make a favourite short break destination trip all the way to Scotland in search of his elusive prize. If so, and if there are others similarly inclined in the pursuit of excellence-indeed there might well be out there a whole lot of Cookie Jar spotters anoraks, then surely here is a spendid marketing opportunity for the hard pressed Scottish Borders Tourist Board. Surely some local potter could be encouraged to turn out cookie jars, perhaps in the shape of Hume Castle, and have the wares advertised world wide via the slogan 'Come to the Scottish Borders the Cookie Jar capital of the world' And with all the usual short list of Borders attractions shutting down at the end ofOctober -Paxton House, Manderston, etc here would be a Holy Grail open all year round in competition with the Honey Farm (which is in England) Indeed make a virtue of this-sell (English) Borders honey in (Scottish) Cookie Jars. We know of one prospective customer from Oz and Scottish Air could put on special cookie jar flights from Melbourne to Newcastle or Edinburgh. It just needs a bit of drive and enthusiasm

A very exciting prospect And a good inspirational start to the week. Go to it SBTB
Sunday, October 16, 2005
A bloggee has asked why we no longer hear from Kevin the Sheriff of Dun's court. Reader fatigue, I fear. Crime in Berwickshire is so drearily predictable _ minor drug offences, drink driving, speeding with or without drink driving, common assault, minor vandalism, more recently incontinent dogs with lazy owners; all lovingly recorded in the Berwickshire but is one big yawn. Occasionally an odd item attracts attention: 'gunfire over Hutton' or a woman behaving suspiciously as mentioned by the police representative at a community council meeting. The first item might make quite a good title for a locally produced 'B' film and indeed the scriptwriters in the media section of the Hutton Think Tank are working on n outline script at this moment-their embryonic Film production company is in trouble with its proposed nomenclature : 'Twenty First Century Foxhunting, Ltd' and may never clear the first ditch, as it were. Huttonian may however have had some contact with the 'suspicious woman' albeit fleetingly. During a noisy feeding frenzy with the grandchildren just before they left for France the horrible hullabaloo was interrupted at the back door by a caller- a very attractive young blond woman who introduced herself as a Russian Student trying to earn a rouble or two to pay her university fees by selling Russian artifacts. She offered to show me some. Was I interested? I was but thought that probably the wife and the eldest daughter might not be. As I was formulating a tactful response the grandson came to the door and the young woman claiming not to be able to understand his 4.8 year old babble decided to make her way elsewhere.

An hour later, driving en route to Paxton, I overtook the girl as she was heading on foot in that direction. I hesitated about offering her a lift but thought she might not wish to attend the Community Council meeting which was my destination. So I left her behind.A pity as it was at this meeting the visiting copper mentioned sightings of the 'suspicious woman' and her presence in his might have helped his clear up record. I perhaps should have mentioned that the Russian female had only one very small backpack about her person and it did occur to me that there was not much room for many Russian artifacts-not even the teeniest weeniest icons. So if I had shown interest in what she had to offer I wonder how that scenario might have developed in the absence of the icons. Much more interesting than 'Gun Fire over Hutton' I fancy. Thankgoodness for the providential intervention of the grandson.

I think.
Saturday, October 15, 2005

Americans flock to New England to see the 'Fall Colors' as they mispell it but you don't have to go very far in the Merse to match them-if less garish and more subtle than Vermont of upstate New York. Our own Paxton House (sorry 'Streamer but you should have a second look ) must have the most attractive car parks in the shortstay Borders and even the Highland Coos have an autumnal tint. (Sorry about some duplication -pretend its in stereo) The entrane to Paxton House is also spectacular this time of year. And you don't have to go into Paxton House to enjoy the colours-the rounds around are spectacular enough.
Well, once again we are without our village post office. Alert bloggees will recall that Hutton Village Hall is to be knocked down and replaced by a new one-work on which is likely to start in early November. The Hall Committee looking for an alternative site for Hall activities and for the post office which has been in the hall since it left the Old Manse three years ago asked the Scottish Borders authorities to allow them to make use of the Hutton School building lying empty and unused since our primary school was closed wef the beginning of the new academic year. It seemed a perfect solution to a short term problem given that the school can absorb most of the activities carried out in the hall except perhaps the bowls and it is certainly ideal for the Post Office being in the heart of downtown Hutton and it would also be practicable to have the regular Community Council meetings (alternating between Hutton and Paxton) there as well.

To the man on the No 32 Golden Square to Hutton (via Paxton House in season) Omnibus it would seem a simple matter for the Education Department to authorise the temporary use of the school for a worthwhile community purpose. And they have had certainly plenty of notice about the present hall being demolished. But, of course, its the lawyers; apparently The request is currently passing through the legal department with the urgency of summer grass tracking through a cow's three stomachs, and a congenitally constipated cow at that. No decision has been reached and the school, like the IRA's arms, is put 'beyond use'. Or 'on hold' . Same difference for thePost Office which cannot move to new temporary premises and is closed 'sine die' * Meeting arranged for the school this month, including the Community Council have to find new venues of which there ain't any in Hutton so Paxton Village Hall will have to step into the breach but already is well used by Paxton organisations and is highly inconvenient for local pensioners who do not drive especially of a Winter's evening -and theNo 32 Bus, gives up mid afternoon.

Why the delay? Don't know. One would have thought that one lawyer, with a sharpened pencil, and an old envelope, could have drawn up a contract in his tea break. One has a slight suspicion, hasn't one, of an Education Department still feeling bruised after a confrontation with the School campaigners in which there were some intemperate exchanges, is not in a mood to do favours? But this may be an unworthy thought. A lot of digits now need to be extracted fairly rapidly in Newtown St Boswells by the legal people and the High Heidians generally

. From experience I know that certain elements in the Post Office might not be dismayed to see the end of a small unprofitable, two mornings a week only, branch office like Hutton's which provides a service to the community at some loss to the organisation. If there is to be a lengthy hiatus and use of the School remains 'on hold' excuses might easily be found to close it for ever. Is this another unworthy thought?
Friday, October 14, 2005
It sometimes is wise to assume that Hutton has not necessarily got the best weather in the Borders. This morning was a scheduled golfing morning at Duns (MPBUI) The deal is to met my partner at first light so as to avoid the post dawn geriatric rush of three balls* with self propelled, remote controlled anti cardiac seizure pre programmed trolleys. They can be desperately slow moving despite the high tech. But when I got up some one had removed the garden wall which was disconcerting until realised that thirty yards onwards was obscured by mist. The neo-Fishes had promised a bright sunny day with 'occasional' mist patches. We we well and truly occasionalised. So taking an enormous gamble I crept through the fog to Duns and arriving at the elevated course could see the mist below me and the sun all around. Gamble paid off. One minor problem was that my clubs were in the wrong car and I had to share my partners swinging sixties set- a snip on EBay with change from a fiver but a far cry from my dernier cru collection which you just hold lightly and the club does the rest.

Munching a bacon butty and sipping a restoring coffee from the snug comfort the 19th hole my heart was gladdened by the magical sight of a self propelled trolley proceeding majestically down the 18th fairway. The owner (who was playing the first hole) had seemingly let the trolley escape out of range of its remote controller and it was doing its own thing. The Weather Beaten Green Keeper emerged from his bunker (Hitler rather than sand type) with the fourth of his five pullovers already on (Did I mention it was 2C by the time we had finished -1C when we started?) and muttering something about new fangled rubbish neatly tripped the runaway machine and allowed the very out of breath but nicely warmed up owner to retrieve his possessions and start all over again. Yes, a good way to start the day.
* This refers to games of three players and not genetically enhanced elderly males. Blog-ed
Thursday, October 13, 2005
PARCEL FARCE Part The second Well done les Frogs. My attempts to have a positive dialogue with Parcel Force over the senior daughter's Purple Suitcase lifted by the Red Van nearly a week ago and untraceable on the Internet as there was 'no paperwork' continued to come naught as it takes two to logue and I was issuing queries and instructions into the void of Embra's Parcel Force Dee po help line and did not even after two calls of 40 minutes plus get beyond the debateable statement that my call was important to them. In despair and to think out my next move I went out for a breather attracted by the skirl of the pipes from Hutton Kirk. A huge funeral was in progress and suddenly the Piper within played (after the Barren Rocks of Aden) my favourite skirl : Amazing Grace. Indeed it was, as it gave me a good idea about the Embra Dee po involving a small but perfectly targetted W of MD and warmed up seige oil. I was about to call the duty assassin but was pre-empted by a call from the SD. She had been promenading (they don't walk in France-either march or promenade) in her street when she met a man wheeling a very large Purple suitcase in a the weary worldly wise manner of the habitual Gauloise smoker who knows he has a mission impossible to fulfil-ie no idea how to deliver his charge as none of the precise instructions relayed in 5 e-mails to the dee po ever got near him. The reunion was joyeuse and the PS was handed over with bi-lingual expressions of relief on both sides. Good on you Frogs as they say in Oz.

I still don't know if the Embra Dee po help line asctually rings in Ould Reekie or in Pakistani administered Kashmir. I doubt if we ever will and I don't now care very much.

50mm of rain in the last 24 hours must surely be a post Fish record for arid Hutton. But compared to the central borders with their 75mm plus we seem to have escaped lightly. The Floods website told of a severe flood warning on the upper Tweed so I hastened down to Paxton House to see if it was bad further East down river. For once the warning notice: 'This path is thought only suitable for agile ducks' seemed to make sense. The Tweed was a near a raging torrent as it can get and the river was full of debris heading East and bound for Spittal Beach. No sign of garden benches this time. Some one from Hutton salvaged one a few years back but no luck this time. The usual paths along the river bank were under a lot of water and only about 50 yards was passable. Back home there was a surprise visit from Cocky who had not been seen for some weeks and whom I feared had perished in 'the Season' at the hands or rather automatic shotguns-with-telescopic sights and heat seeking shot firing so beloved to southern stock brokers looking for thrills in the mists of the wild Merse. As you can see he is in his seasonal drab camouflage and is looking fairly miserable. Where Ollie and the chicks are we have no idea. As I departed the Tweed I was accosted by a gentleman of well advanced years who assured me that this was the highest flood level since 01 or perhaps 02-or indeed comparing almost with '48-his memory was n't what it used to be so it could have been the great snows of 47 when whole gardens floated by never mind them benches, mind you with global warming.. I left him to it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Another problem with living in the sticks is the difficulty of getting or sending things. Local delivery firms are not that local and for anyone coming from Embra or Newcastle (Tyne not Norn Iron) the Borders is a vast Terra Incognita -'Here there be dragons'. Several times consignments addressed to us have been dumped elsewhere-outside the village hall post office which opens twice a week or at a house in the village in the expectation (presumably) that Hutton being a small place everyone knows everyone else and the parcel will eventually get to us; eventually being the key word if the family in whose greenhouse the perishable goods have been dumped are away on two weeks holiday.

Take Parcel Force. Please. The senior daughter organised a pick up of a large purple suitcase weighing 30kgs (try carrying that on a state pension) to be consigned, lovingly, to France the next stop for the OZ Family. The Royal Mail driver found us-good start-and apologised for lack of 'paperwork' , said it was a last minute instruction (we had booked the collection three days before) and (with difficulty) carried the suitcase away in the direction of France. Trying to track progress on the Internet-Parcel Farce's super duper super cool tracking system proved impossible as the reference number we had been given when booking the collection was a collection number and not a delivery number.This info we gleaned after 4 unanswered (but courteously acknowledged in a standard non committal pro formal-'do not dare to reply' form) The delivery number should have been on the receipt given to the senior diaughter but 'No Paper work-no receipt- and presumably no hope of tracking it on the www. More e-mails (the Phone help line doesn't) and we now know that the driver came from the Embra Dee-po -despite having a Geordie accent and the Dee -Po will create a tracking number and let us have it so as we can track the purple suitcase as it careers towards St Germain en-laye where the Oz Family are in temporary asylum. Nothing from the Dee-po and the contact phone number rings in an echoing void, possibly in Pakistan controlled Kashmir. I have tried to explain (by e-mail) that our concern is not tracking for the hell of it but the safe arrival of the PS with its contents of desperately needed Oz kid clothes, smart Paris ready haute couture, the contents of a smaller Berwick charity shop and Class D drugs.

The saga will continue and it all gives work for the internet to do. In the meanwhile the wife's latest order of bird seed cakes with extra insects from replaceable insect stock is 5 days late.....
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
The cheery postie has just brought our mail (Long tall streak of misery is on holiday) One letter is addressed to Huttonian at 'The Old Muse' (not the Old Manse) I like it and feel a house name change coming on.

Hutton Haiku # 78f

Is this the Old Muse?
asked the Postman.
Who are you calling Old?
Said the poet, tripping
over his long white
Land shortfall prompts call for crematorium

This is the headline in the last issue of the Berwickshire about the need for a Borders Crematorium and Huttonian reproduces the article in full below at the request of a bloggee Morbid of Mordington (name and address not suplied)

A CHRONIC shortage of land at many Borders cemeteries has prompted a study into the possibility of a crematorium being built in the region. It has also resulted in a plea to benevolent landowners to consider selling sites for burial ground extensions to Scottish Borders Council, which has statutory responsibility for 147 cemeteries, many of which have long since reached capacity.But any transaction will have to be at a knock-down price because the council's bereavement services department has just £80,000 in its current capital budget to buy land for that purpose.
The seriousness of the situation was conveyed in a shock report to councillors this week - Kelso and Coldstream being the most immediately in need of new land."The cemetery division is in desperate need to acquire land for cemetery extensions in the Kelso and Coldstream areas or we will be in a position where we have no space left to bury the local residents of these communities," said Mr Mathison, the council's bereavement services officer.There has been increasing concern in Coldstream about the lack of available spaces in Lennel Cemetery and after being contacted by a number of residents Coldstream Community Council contacted Scottish Borders Council in May this year to ask how many spaces were available in Lennel cemetery and were told that there were 60 lairs left that would give a life expectancy of two to three years.Rev Jim Watson also wrote to the council on behalf of Coldstream Parish Church, St Marys and All Souls at Lennel and St Marys at Kelso expressing concern at the lack of space at the local cemeteriesIn the report before SBC's executive this week the number of spaces at Lennel is down to 24. The number of burials in a year was estimated in 2003 at 15 but that figure dropped to 9 last year, but either way the cemetery is likely to be completely full in less than two years.Replying to Coldstream Community Council, Mr Mathison asked if they knew of any land available for a new extension or a completely new cemetery, as extending the present cemetery may be difficult because there is woodland on one side, water works on the other, the River Tweed to the south and pipeworks under the field on the opposite side of the road that would restrict works. In his reply to Rev Watson Mr Mathison explained how many lairs were now available and that such was the pressure on land that they were looking at putting together a business case for a crematorium in the Borders, something that has been talked about for over twenty years but the costs involved have been prohibitive. Consultants have been appointed and the council is now waiting for their report.Suggestions that the council inquire about the woodland area up to Lennel are being followed up and community councillors were also keen to incorporate a woodland burial area too, if possible.Other Berwickshire cemeteries with less than ten years remaining before they will need extended or new ground found are Edrom (5 years) and Eyemouth (8 years).Last year there were around 1,400 registered deaths in the Borders and 900 of them were interred in local burial grounds or cemeteries.With few exceptions, the remainder of 500 were cremated at Edinburgh's three crematoria at Morton Hall, Seafield and Warrender. Some families living in the eastern Borders chose the Cowpen crematorium at Blyth, 12 miles north of Newcastle.Highlighting the need for a local crematorium, Mr Mathison said:"It now merits serious consideration, not only because of the pressure of space in our cemeteries, but because it offers choice to people whose interment can no longer be guaranteed in their own communities."He said no particular site had been earmarked for the crematorium and he admitted its location would be a contentious issue."The feedback from the past is that no-one wants to live near a crematorium, but there are legal requirements which mean it cannot be built within 200 yards of residential properties."Mr Mathison said he has spoken to individual funeral directors and the consensus was that they favoured a Borders crematorium."I am told it would have practical benefits for undertakers because of the time taken to travel from the Borders to Edinburgh. If there was a local facility, they would be able carry out a burial on the same day."He also stressed the economic benefits which would accrue.
06 October 2005

So there we are. Local Landowners step forward please and let us have some land for a Borders Oven facility-£80,000 could be yours. Hutton Think Tank has been asked to provide an attractive name for the Crematorium: 'The Reivers Return' is the current favourite and as for a slogan 'These are the Ashes the Aussies will never get' is at present in the front runner position.

Monday, October 10, 2005
What happens if you are surfing in the US and put into Google 'Norn Iron Aquarium' or in OZ and insert 'Hutton Church Berwickshire' or nearer to home ' Morrison's Opening Hours Tamworth' Yes, you get directed to Musings-various parts of the archive and varying standards of erudition. What you won't get are the opening hours of Morrison's in Tamworth. Better use the phone whoever you are and unlikely to get a response from a live person at 3am unless the Morrison's call centre is in Mumbai or Perth, Australia.

With the wife in Franco parts Huttonian is once again forced to do penitence in Sir Morrison's. Nearer than Tamworth but as stressful. At least now the caravanners have followed the swallows south it is less crowded and the company in the aisles less belligerent and considerably slimmer and mainly minus tattoos. I fear that my criticism of this store has rubbed it up the wrong way as I have just suffered from what can only be described as Morrison's revenge: I am spared the Curse of the Dummies now that little Katy B is safely out of our universe in a parallel Parisian one. Unusually I had run out of milk -this under the previous regime so I am blameless in that regard. Reluctantly I bought a pint (?half a litre or so) of semi skimmed Morrison's own brand from their concentrated camp herd. The milk man being late on his bill collecting run I was forced to open the packet early this morning. Having with some difficulty unscrewed the cap I was confronted with a piece of tartaned paper which said 'Pull' It was unclear as the strip was in the middle of the cardboard/synthetic protective cover which way to 'pull' . I tried one way and then t'other -these northern folk must have strong fingers-but to no avail. I was not to be defeated by this Mancunian grocery boss, so I took my strongest pair of plyers, made on the right side of the Pennines and 'pulled' Well after I had changed my trousers and mopped the floor the milkman mercifully appeared with proper milk in proper bottles from the lovingly tended free range Coop cows. Talk about Mafeking.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Short Walk to Kirk
With such a quiet house (Noise transferred to Paris) Huttonian most unusually slept in this morning and found himself with a rush to get to the Kirk for the 10am once-a -fortnight- service. Not functioning on any cylinder I found a rarely used song book thrust into my hand by the Elder on duty and assumed that this was the hymn sheet from which we would all be singing. I did take in that our Minister was not at the door which means that there would be a stand in preacher for the morning now lurking in the Vestry waiting for the call. I was right on the second count but it was only during the second verse of the first hymn (the publication that I had been given did not have number 476-in my confused state it took me several moments to register this )did I realise that I was one hymn book short of a full set and that all the hymns bar one were to be from the usual book-the one I had not got. Dilemma: Dare I walk up the twenty yards to the front to pick up the right hymnal? Dare I give the impression to the stand in Minister, if only momentarily, that I was walking out disliking either his face or his cassock, or both? Should I confirm to the rest of the congregation that I was off the ball to a David Beckham like extent and could not even get the church paper work right from the outset. I dursn't. I stood my ground miming away to demonstrate I had no need for the written words knowing all the hymns-or that one anyway, off by heart. I had actually never song it before and I am sure the mime was away off sinc.

Of course once I had done that for the first hymn there was no going back-no question of going up during the second one as if I had only just woken up. So I stood up straight avoiding eye contact with our visitor who seemed to be giving me a quizzical look from time to time-like every five seconds or so. I hoped he wasn't going to comment on how impressed he was that one member of the congregation seemed to have no need of the hymn book, or, worse still, rush down the aisle with one for me. I was putting so much artistry into the mime that I only realised after the 4th hymn that I had just 'sung' the one song that was in the book that I had. Perhaps a good thing as to have sung with one book visible and not the other might have been interpreted, not so much as forgetfulness, but as some obscure protest against the very old fashioned hymn book with mostly very old fashioned hymns by mostly very dead people.

The visiting Minister-a retired clergyman, recalled to the colours for today only and who was incidentally very good, was nice enough not to raise any queries with me as we shook hands on my departure. Perhaps he really did think that I knew all the hymns-ancient and modern, and had no need for a script. Or perhaps he took me for elderly buffer* who lacked the bottle to make the short if very public walk to put right a small oversight. We will never know but I think I can guess accurately enough.

*Don't you mean bluffer? Blogg-ed
Standing Room Only

The Big Issue in the Berwickshire this week is the grave (no pun intended) shortage of space in Borders' cemeteries. Apparently many grave yards are full or nearly so ( controlling waiting time is apparently unworkable) and extra space for expansion is hard to find. Nor is their a crematorium nearer than Ould Reekie to the north or Newcastle to the South (and that is in England. ) 'Benevolent Landowners (oxymoronic suggests a bloggee) are being approached but with £80,000 only available for a crematorium site in the coffers of the Scottish Borders Council there does not seem to be a rush to sell. Low Cost Housing versus a Crematorium may be a hard choice to make for local Lairds looking to dispose of land for the common good.

Hutton has not an immediate problem as with most projections of the local death rate of an elderly but small population the 'new' graveyard should see us out, as it were. Hutton Think Tank in their 'Death-a Vision Thing' forward looking position paper have made radical proposals including burying people standing up to save space in individual or family plots. But vertical coffins are not catching on and there is someresistancee to ordinary lie -in- comfort coffins being interred feet end first. It is possible that Berwick upon Tweed may come to the rescue with a crematorium much more convenient for Merse people than making the long funereal crawl to Edinburgh or Newcastle. 'Come you huddled Mersians yearning to be fried' might be an alternative to the existing Town Motto and I don't suppose anyone except the most radical diehard (again no pun or disrespect intended) Nat would mind ending their days in an English oven. Its not that they would feel a thing.

Its a thought anyhow.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Sadly for Huttonian this is the last day that the Oz grandchildren will be in their Merse residence before taking flight to France and a new life slightly nearer than Canberra. The wife is going with them as a senior Au Pair and Huttonian will be fending for himself (again) for nearly two weeks. At least some of you will be spared the endless images of the young (last ones immediately below) and we can get back to real Musings about the local scene -the building of the new village Hall to be a major topic no doubt as it gets under away next month for all the winter. We folks up Kirk Lane will no doubt be subject to some disruption as heavy materials and large lorries blockade the Northern Approaches.

The wife has kindly left 10 recipes within Huttonian's culinary skills and once the raw materials (heavy on Sardines, Anchovies, and mushrooms all organic, Fair Trade and not marketed by Nestle, nor caught in Israeli Territorial waters) have been gathered in in one massive shop there will be no further need to bother Sir Morrison.

The house will be sadly empty. No screams or crows of delight. But run with perfect organisation. Tidy, neat clockwork like. Ditto the garden.

Dream on.

The last visit this trip by Ms KB to Paxton House playground. Next time here she will scorn such trivial pursuits Next playground Gay (old sense) Paree.

Mr P waiting for his boat to come in.

Making a break for freedom. A short cut to France perhaps

Mr P throwing a stone in that limp wristed style so beloved byf the Aussie fielders

Last sight of Ms KB a lone sad figure by the Tweed. Abandoned to her fate. Only joking, she galloped after us home
Thursday, October 06, 2005
The Daily Mail (which Huttonian buys for a neighbour he hastens to point out) claims that British Pension Funds have a black hole in them the size of Brazil's National Debt. Like the 54 Double Decker buses on top of each other such imagery of comparison will not resonate here. Our local pensioners, a handful of whom still physically pick up their pensions in cash at the Village post office I suspect would not care too much about the size of a black hole as long as they continue to pick up the readies, cash in hand. When the wife and I had (briefly) to run the post office in the Old Manse-something we inherited from the previous owner with the kitchen table I, as Post Master, had to sign a form making myself and staff (the Wife) responsible for any cash not accounted for. Theoretically we could pocket any profits after reconciling the account every Monday and Thursday-our kitchen table was in business from 9-1300 twice a week. This never happened but I spent long afternoons chasing the odd £1.78pp somehow mislaid when paying out the the 14 pensions or so on a Monday and the 3 or less on a Thursday. Once I thought I had overpaid £1000 0n a £450 turnover but this turned out to be a decimal point shift and the mistake was 10p which I replaced, after 5 hours checking and cross checking, from my own pocket to shut everyone up. So I suppose this was our local black hole which varied from the aforementioned 10p to the occasional £2.76. It was a great relief when our lodger from London assumed the post mistress role and I could sleep better at night.

After five years the Post Office left us for the Village Hall. A pity because it was a great chance to keep in touch with local affairs. We had a nice arrangement of serving Mulled wine and mince pies with the Christmas pensions and the young Post Mistress thought after a convivial morning that she had made a profit of a £500 plus. Sadly no and after diligent and increasingly acerbic investigation she had to settle for a a £3 loss after an afternoon wasted with the wrong type of pocket calculator whose battery died after tea. Happy days.

Ms KB posing for a new Merse Magazine: Farming for the Under Twos

Despite the back seat driver Ms KB managed a tractor quite well

This latest child amusing expedition was to a friend's farm. Mr P and Ms KB enjoyed sitting on the harvest

80 tons of Field Beans-destined for Egypt as the basis of Foule. With Ramadan approaching the timing is good for Iftar (breaking fast) evening meals.

The black faced sheep are a rare breed from South Africa-they have hair rather than fleece.

Dog walking Mr P

All the time we seem to have been under observation from a spy plane. Very very noisy for a stealth fighter. Perhaps a Flight Buff could advise

He subsequently did : 'Hello Huttonian,
I have looked at the aircraft photo, which as you appreciate is rather small and indistinct. However I'm fairly sure that it was a Jet Provost. Used by the RAF in the 1960/70's as a jet trainer. Now only a few in civil use, and no not Iraqi ! Colour schemes vary - black, red/white, silver, camo, etc'
Have a look at http://www.airliners.net/open.file/455343/M
and see what you think. Glad to have been of help, I hope.

Many thanks Flight Buff.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Huttonian ranted previously-possibly in the old blogg of sacred memory-about a bloke (I assume it is a he) who kept a car in what seemed to be his lounge, or more poshly, sitting room. It was certainly not a garage(the house had one presumably for the second car) and was an integral part of his house. To the casual observer-and all too easily observed from the road-the car did not appear to be a vintage one or a high performance machine to be hoarded and kept unused as an investment. Just a bog standard Saloon(tho' made in Japan rather than in Ireland, one suspects) Now the family in question are building an extension to the house. Perhaps it is for a new car room-a kind of his and hers arrangement; one for the Focus, the other for the Astra or whatever. Time will tell.

There could be a very good practical reason for all this building activity. With harvesting farmers mowing down power lines with gay (old sense) abandon we have been having a number of fairly prolonged power cuts recently in this area. How nice to be able to retreat to the comfort of one's own car without having to go outside, turn on the lights and heater and put on a good CD or listen to Radio Borders. One of those miniature TV's would be the icing on a very desirable cake. And why wait for power cuts (if if they are frequent in this corner of the Third World) How nice to sit in one's car and watch the TV (Digital soon) in the corner of the room with the wife knitting away in the back seat and with no cause to comment on your driving habits)This idea of a architect designed 'Car Lounge' could well catch on and we might look into the possibility at the Old Manse athough I am not sure what the Planning Czars in Duns would have to say if we put a large hole in our sitting room wall to make an entrance for our Focus and er, Astra. The Old Manse being a category 3 Listed Building. The people up the road have sliding glass doors on their Car Lounge which presumably have to be taken out if and when the car goes out for a wee jaunt. But if they are saving the road tx that won't be a worry

Hutton Haiku # 65c

Car in the Lounge,
Car in the Hall,
No 32 Bus goes tootling by,

(attrib to M. Fish author of 'After the Hurricane')
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Well the U3A was a great surprise. Eyemouthians must have time on their hands as we had thirty plus attending and expressing interest in the trials and tribulations of the Arab World. Moreover the Overhead Projector worked first time -this was a relief and a change from my last visit to the town when I gave a talk to 100 plus ladies and one elderly man. A talk which depended on being able to show about twenty acetates to turn a mildly boring presentation into a slightly interesting one. I was assured by the chair woman that the latest, all singing, all dancing state of next years art brand new projector would be available. It was. It was even erected and pointing towards a large pristine screen. One problem was when I pushed the switch nothing happened a sibilant hiss of 100 dismays creaked through the hall. The Chairwoman immediately became all womanly helpless and denied any knowledge of electronics(Some one told me later that she had a doctorate in rocket science) Amid mounting impatience and the increasing clatter of dentures, an unnerving sound at at the best of times, I checked the fuses. They seemed fine. The socket was live having tested it with a standard fan. I reconnected everything and tried again. Nothing. Hissing gathered volume. Nerve crumbling I contemplated talking without the benefit of slides. A mass walk out would have solved the problem but the ladies had nothing better to do until the tea after the lecture. Bums stayed on seats and clattering of dentures upped a notch. Suddenly a sole male voice shouted: 'Try kicking the bugger. It works with the Telly' (I was told later that he was an Emeritus Professor of Electronic Engineering). I did. It did. And the lecture proceeded apace.

I am invited back next week to a different location . I have asked for the same projector to be brought along. I hope it travels well. I'll wear my stoutist boots just in case
Monday, October 03, 2005
Huttonian has ranted before about speaking to the University of the Third Age (U3A) at Kelso and the pains and pleasures thereof. Today a different challenge: the newly created U3A at Eyemouth. The problem is that you have no idea what sort of audience to expect-apart from the fact that they are fellow crumblies of an uncertain age. But how many? At Kelso I got about 100 but they had been enticed by the AGM and then the doors locked from outside, or something. I am speaking about ' Background to Conflict in the Middle East ' A series of three lectures over two weeks. I wonder how much interest there now is in Eyemouth about what is happening in that region with all the overkill on TV (analogue, naturally) But if two or three are gathered there.....I'll have to do my thing. Reminiscent perhaps of the expert who turned up at an important seminar to find that he was the only person on the platform and the audience consisted of another man. He delivered his speech as (obviously badly) advertised. Got a polite round of applause from the sole spectator. Nodded graciously and started to tidy up his papers. 'Please don't go' said the guy from the floor' I am the second speaker'

Oh dear. My difficulty is that I have 90 unforgiving minutes to run .I was hoping to waffle for half an hour to forty five minutes and invite long comments and questions from the floor. Long waffly replies and a spiel about my book -'yes I seem to have brought a few copies with me if you have a chequebook about your person. Signed? Certainly' But no crowd no comment and no sales. Might be a stressful afternoon. I suppose I might fill in time with 'Oral Sex with a Duck' A good tale but wasted possibly on a bored chairman, two deaf and slumbering very Senior Cits and the cleaning lady anxious to have the room cleared so as she can get her work done.

Report later If I am spared.
Sunday, October 02, 2005

Today's divertissement was Kelso Races and Fun Fair. KB missed the main events as she refused to leave the Carousel nor would Mr P abandon his sister

And Mr P was entranced by an explanation of the Common Agricultural Policy and its effects on Child education in the Borders

Apparently there was a shortage of horses so extreme measures were called for
Page 6 of the latest Berwickshire carries a photo of what is claimed to be Dunbar fishermen taken in the 19th Century. A letter from an Ipswich lady beside the image appeals for more information about the photo and the identities of the remarkably hirsute fisherfolk portrayed. The writer's husband's ancestors were fishermen in Dunbar and one of the fishermen a resemblance to her husband. It seems to Huttonian that the fisherman on the extreme right bears a remarkable resemblance to Saddam Hussein-or at least the shot of him taken as he emerged from his hidey hole last year having been unearthed (literally) by US troops. And more extraordinary still he seems to be wearing the self same hat favoured by the former Iraqi leader in that photo of him on a balcony firing a rifle into the air which was so beloved by the Ba'ath PR machine pre 2003. I hope that I have not innocently fingered the one who looks like Mr Ipswich Lady, if so many apologies. Otherwise I suspect a devoted supporter of Mr Saddam who has doctored an old photo in the hope it receives some publicity and cause fear and confusion amongst the Western forces in Iraq. Bloggees have a look. Fishwick Special Branch are on the case.

In all its glory. Top engineering wonder in UK? The Falkirk Wheel. We are travelling further and further from Hutton in search of diversions for Mr P and Miss KB. Mission sucessful but it is 170 mile round trip.

A boat on the upper canal having come up the wheel. This is the trip we all went on -it was a family mob handed affair. The wheel is eqivalent of a lock 'staircase' of about 40 locks.

Here the wheel lifts a boat to the canal above

The Falkirk Wheel as seen by approaching narrow boat

The Captain and his running commentary was worth the fare. On the upper canal about to descend on the wheel

Mr P had as much fun on the tunnel slide as he had on the boat going up the wheel

And Ms KB also enjoyed a flying experience. The boat trip was decreed as being terminally boring for her and her slightly older cousin

The exhibitors must have seen this coming as there were lots of them peering into digital Crystal Balls-the analogue ones having been switched off under the new wireless legislation. Admision was actually free for everyone including the slightly shortsighted
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Hutton Think Tank have been asked to prepare a bid to site locally the Super Hyper Casiino only one of which is allowed to be built in the UK as the result of recent gambling legislation. The bid will be concerted with the Scottish Borders Tourist Authority. ' Its a safe Bet in the Scottish Borders'-a much more visionary title than the present rather negative 'Scotland's Favourite Short Break Destination. Ht2 can point out that this area is ideal. No crime, plenty of room, cheap labour, excellent communications especially North and South. Various farmers and landowners are being approached to provide the land for a monstrous edifice and the response is said to be enthusiastic-Casino versus Low Cost Housing-no contest. Local schools are being involved in the marketing exercise and there is a competition at Primary level for the best slogan. Entries include 'Lose Your Shirt at Sunny Sunwick' '' Its a Bettor place all round' 'Come here and Double your return' Entries from the general public are invited direct to Ht2 at its usual dead letter box. The prize is one weeks free membership of the 'Hutton and Paxton Money Farm' with £5 spending money. Roll up Roll up.You never know your luck.
Happenings in A small Scottish Community


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