Musings from the Merse
This story just will not go away:
"A LABOUR MSP who has been criti
cised for billing the taxpayer for staying in his son's flat was warned about his behaviour six years ago.
The then presiding officer, Sir David Steel, told John Home Robertson that his rental agreement was leaving himself and the parliament "open to criticism".
But the politician sidestepped the complaint by insisting he could not face the "hassle" of decorating another property.
The revelations are contained in letters released by the parliament concerning Home Robertson's controversial living arrangements........"
So there is a novel twist to this tired old tale. The Sunday Herald story continues:
"Patrick Home Robertson bought the £72,000 property, at the age of 17, days before his father was elected as an MSP. No mortgage was taken out on the flat.
The Labour MSP, who announced his intention to stand down days after his rental arrangements were made public, insisted he had done nothing wrong.
However, correspondence released by Holyrood shows that officials were concerned about his use of the allowances regime six years ago.
Presiding officer Steel asked Home Robertson in March 2000 to provide further information on his rent deal as a way of helping officials decide whether it was "within the spirit" of the rules.
Having received the additional details, Steel wrote to the MSP regarding the concerns of the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) about members renting from relatives. He noted that officials "could not legally withhold payment", but he flagged up his anxieties about Home Robertson's conduct.
"We believe, however," he wrote, "that this sort of arrangement, whereby you rent from a close family member, could leave you open to criticism if it were to get into the public domain. Since we had in effect endorsed your arrangements by agreeing to reimburse them, there could also be criticism of the SPCB."
He also told Home Robertson that the SPCB was minded to recommend that renting from relatives should be "spe- cifically proscribed".
But the MSP claimed his rent deal was signed in "good faith" and said that any move to outlaw the practice of renting from family members should not apply to him.
"My concern is that the application of the suggested change to the rules might be applied to existing leases, which would compel me to move out of my flat and find another one.
"Apart from the obvious cost and hassle of flat-hunting and flitting (sic-no pun intended), I don't think that I could face another bout of decorating, carpetting(another sic*) and curtain making," he wrote.
The documents also revealed that Home Robertson's son has received around £43,000 from the public in rent."
The New Year honours list is out but Tout Paxton is waiting for the list of new peers to see if Mr Blair's promise of turning Laird into Lord is to be honoured.
* Enough sics-Blogg-ed-quite enough at Hogmanay
After much deliberation
the latest addition to the family has been officially named as :Ffion (yes 2 fs-not a typo).It means Fair or even White and is the Welsh equivalent of Fiona.
Early days but she is quite dark
Perhaps one day she will captain Wales at something.
Its good to have (modest) ambitions
THUS PERISH TYRANTS
All Huttonian's working life in the Diplomatic Service he lived in the shadow of the Iraqi tryant: the late and unregretted Saddam Hussein Al Takrit.
My first day in the FCO,27 January 1969, on the 'Iraqi desk' I was confronted with the news that a number of 'Israeli spies' had been publicly hanged in Baghdad on the orders of the Iraqi regime then as until 2003, dominated by the butcher of Takrit. They were members of the small Iraqi Jewish community put to death on a series of trumped up charges at a time that the Ba'athist regime was under domestic pressure and a small diversion of popular sentiment was thought necessary.
Thereafter Saddam loomed large in my life-delegations of Iraqi Kurds told me of the regime's brutality against these people-a policy which culminated in the killing of many thousand Kurds in the Anfal campaign of 1989 as a revenge for their alleged support for Iran in the Iraq/Iran war in the 1980s I had a close view of this war-four years in Dubai and three in Kuwait-then there was no doubt about Saddam's possession of WMD and his use of it-against Iran and the Kurds. I missed his invasion of Kuwait by the good fortune of being posted away from there 6 monthsz before I was due to leave.And after the liberation of the Emirate I was soon back in the area, in Jordan, 1993-97 when acounts of Saddams brutalties reached us on a daily basis as hundreds of his citizens fled to safety in neighbouring Jordan often leaving relatives to be rounded up and murdered for the 'disloyalty' of other family members. His two son in laws also fled Iraq in 1995 and confirmed that stories of his crurel practices were no western propaganda-as indeed King Hussein, for one, used to believe and who subseqently told me that nothing he had dismissed as western spin measured up to the realities of life in 'the Republic of Fear'
I rejoiced in the overthrow of this brute. I never believed that the man whose actions caused me to burn the midnight oil in the chilly rooms of Near Eastern Department in Downing Street West would ever be called to book and face a court of his former,citizen I used to long for this as I heard what his troops were doing in Kuwait including the torture and murder of an old friend whose battered body was dumped out side her house 'pour encourager les autres'Our day will come claim the IRA-Saddam's certainly has. Al Hamdillah(Praise be to God), I suppose I should say.
But I don't. I believe, despite his blood stained hands, his almost unchallenged record of callous calculating cruelty, that it was a mistake to execute him. Even he,feared tyrant that he was, will now be a martyr-another rallying point for disaffected Sunnis. Much better to have left him to rot in prison and to have stood further trials for those crimes against humanity which are yet to be held. Many people, especialy the Kurds, will have desperately wanted to have had their day in court to confront their oppressor face to face.But the urge for revenge amongst so many other Iraqis, espsecially Shia was so strong that it must have been hard to resist.
A little voice whispers : 'Revenge is mine. I will repay said the Lord'
Indeed. And then another even smaller whisper:
'Perhaps he has'
One advantage of being in Lunnon until next week is that we will miss the New Year festivities(?)north of the Border. Hogmanay has been described as the same as the English New Year but with added vomit Mind you in N13 we won't even have much of an English New Year but a Turkish/Greek/Polish/Romanian/Ghanaian one. In Sir Morrisons this morning I was part of a multi ethnic check out queue-Sudanese, Greek Cypriot, Bangladeshi, Egyptian and possibly Romanian. The checkout person was from Donegal.A change from homogenous Caravan people at Sir Ms in Berwick and a lot politer. The local farmers market had exotic goodies from forrin parts including Romanian Buffalo cheese, and oddly, fish.
So no Caledonian Old Years night with the excruciating count down to midnight in every time zone culminating in a noisy knees up in Glasca', first footing with half enpty bottles of Scotch, hearty wishes of all the bhest (sic or rather hic)for 2007.
Rather a nice mug of Horlicks, a video of Botham's Ashes and bed.
Ten O clock.
Zoe meets babeling
I can't resist nicking this from Erase-the sisters getting to know each other? No. Babe was fast asleep and Zoe was reluctant to hold her sister. Not sure it was real
Suddenly ms Zoe Kate is not the only fledgling in the nest and it is interesting to se how she will take to the new arrival in her new capacity as big sister. She is certainly fascinated by the baby, gave her a good going over when she first arrived including a full facial and spent some time trying to find her sister's hands buried deep in her oversize babygrow. All this pummeling and being overcrowded with toys and dolls failed to arouse the babe from her post natal slumbers.
Zoe's Parisienne cousin is here and they two youngsters had a great chat on the park bench comparing notes about siblings
The benifits of being a Huttonian are illustrated by this item from the Berwickshire. You would not hope to live that long in Paxton. No way, Jose.Festive celebrations for Hutton's centenarian
MARY Utterson, formerly of Hutton and now a resident at Seton Hall Residential Home in Berwick, celebrated her 100th birthday on Christmas Eve.
Mary, born in Burnmouth, has two daughters, six grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and six great great grandchildren. She is pictured above with two of them, Lauren, aged seven, and Olivia, aged six.
So it may be a bit flat from now on with Christmas gone and the baby (still unnamed) born at last. Grand parents slip into post natal duties(Huttonian enjoys hoovering the stairs) and we have a week of that before returning to the peace and calm of the Merse. More images please shriek the bloggees, some of them at least.Well a couple actually.
No middle nephew. It was not wind.But a baby. Arrived after two weeks overdue in something of a rush taking parents by surprise-so no name yet.
Yes she seems a quiet peaceful little thing. But her lungs are very well developed, apparently. I am sure we will hear more from her but not tonight. She is likely to come home tomorrow.
So its a girl. Big. 7lbs 12 oz in old money. Parents expecting boy so no names for girl yet. Images to follow.
Life in and around the Borders can be dangerous as this BBC story demonstrates: Hutton is not a milion miles from Dumfries. Unfortunately the Hutton Think Tank Richter Reader was being repaired after being dropped by a careless boffin so no accurate recordiing could be made-however the stand in sea weed sensor was observed to tremble slightly at the time of the tremors. Dumfries is shaken by earthquake
The tremors were felt in and around Dumfries
An earthquake measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale has shaken parts of Dumfries and Galloway.
People living in and around Dumfries said they felt two tremors at about 1040 GMT on Boxing Day.
Police said they had been inundated with calls from people reporting the earthquake, which was also felt by people living in Lanarkshire.
Retired teacher Meg Edgar, who lives on the outskirts of Dumfries, told BBC Scotland it was "really frightening".
She said she had heard an "almighty, thunderous crash" on the roof as she went to put away Christmas presents.
She said: "I really thought somebody was trying to break in through the roof.
"My immediate thought was that it can't be Father Christmas because it is a day too late***, but it was really frightening."
The British Geological Survey said the earthquake was the largest in the UK this year.
Bennett Simpson, a seismologist with the BGS in Edinburgh, said: "This was a significant earthquake, but we would expect one or two of this magnitude every year.
"We have taken a number of calls from people in the Dumfries area reporting windows rattling, houses shaking and hearing a large bang."
The Edinburgh-based BGS has created a web page - at www.earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk - where people can send their experiences of the quake.
A police spokesman in Dumfries said it had lasted for about 10 seconds.
"We weren't sure what it was, then the phones started ringing and they haven't stopped. It was actually scary," he said.
The spokesman added that no injuries or damage had been reported.
Marie Brown, a receptionist at the Station Hotel in Dumfries, said: "I was sitting in the bar downstairs and all of a sudden I thought there was a convoy of trucks going past. But it didn't stop.
"The walls then started shaking and I became quite frightened. My fiancé is a builder and he looked at me and said 'This isn't good', but then it stopped.
"It was a scary moment for us but everything seems to be okay."
*** Fishwick Special Branch spokesman confirmed that there could well have been a delay locally in Father Christmas'progress through the Borders and South West Scotland A man answering his description was detained overnight for acting in a suspicious manner, breaking and entering a number of premises and being away over the limit. 'He stank of cooking sherry' commented a senior officer. He was allowed to proceed on foot next morning-the 26th- after his a number of 'traumatised' reindeer were taken into care by BARK (Berwickshire Animal Rescue Koncern)
No movement last night so birthing party have set off for Chalk Baby Farm Hospital to see if a change of scenery can do the trick.
Nine and a half months
2 Well not quite but 12 days overdue
Bulletin the Next.
The baby appears to have passed a comfortable night but refuses to leave its winter quarters. It risks inducements at 0800 tomorrow. Signed N.O. Broken-Waters Obstetrecian to the Bed Chamber
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK<
The following message has been received by a Paxton House Bloggee
">30th June/1st July 2007 some 40 children of Grenadian descent, from the youth group ‘Descendants’ in Acton, will be at Paxton House with stories, plays, songs &c based on their heritage in the presence of the Deputy High Commissioner for Grenada – thanks for the ongoing encoragement
Its Nice to see Huttonian's advice being taken so promptly
WHY! WE ARE WAITING. STILL
Over pregnant mother snoozes upstairs; Huttonian guards the Christmas tree from marauders as presents are sacrosanct until after the Queen's speech and the rest of the household are at church. Baby now 12 days overdue and may well avoid sharing birthday with future Christmas celebrations. No show by the 27th irresistable inducements will be provided by people in white coats.
A nephew has asked if we are sure there is a baby in there and not a persistent case of wind? Nurse! Nurse! The Rennies
With luck a bit of both: A blast of fresh air.
Will do us all a power of good.
But soon, please.
No sign of the other baby.
Christmas Cake 2006
Channel 4 has the alternative Queen's speech whilst one can count on the middle nephew for an alternative Christmas Cake message which needs to be read with close attention. And talking of Christmas Cakes all Palmers Green and most of north London was scoured for Christmas cake decorations. To no avail. All gone north we were told-to Killin obviously
To see the rest of this photogranza go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/ross_angus/
Sunset Christmas Eve
Flickr has 34500 plus images with Christmas Eve in the title. This is one of the most attractive.
A Happy Christmas to all bloggees.
The prospect of Sir Morrisons
being closed for two whole days has galvanised tout Palmers Green into a last moment shopping frenzy. Huttonian to beat the rush and in search of two newspapers entered the portals at 0830 hours to be greeted by an anxious young Morrisonian with a tin of festive toffees. 'You are very welcome' she said through toffee stained teeth 'to view our products and make a choice but you cannot pay until ten o'clock' The store was apparently technically open but only it seemed for cashless browsers. I pondered the attractive prospect of choosing a product and admiring it until the checkout ladies arrived 90 minutes later but decided that life had more to offer even in Palmers Green on Christmas Eve. So I thanked the tin bearing Morrisonian for her nice thought said I would return when the store was open open (as opposed to just open) and turned to leave.She smiled understandingly and offered 'have a nice day'.
But not a toffee.
Same as Bulletin No 11
TEN DAY ITCH
10 days overdue and can we beat Christmas? Even at this late hour? If strawberry leaf extract does not work, try exercise. So rake up leaves, mow lawn (it needed it-global warming in action) run up steps. If all that does not work there is always Gin. But we were frustrated by local police regulations.
Tonight could yet be the night.
Yes we are waiting.
B Day Plus 10. No news
End of Bulletin No 11
A bloggee has sent me the folowing Christmas message
Christmas Story for people having a bad day....
When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves
did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones,
and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure.
Then Mrs Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to
visit, which stressed Santa even more.
When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that
three of them were about to give birth and two others
had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where.
Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the
floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and
all the toys were scattered.
So, frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of
apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the
cupboard, he discovered the elves had drank all the
cider and hidden the liquor.
In his frustration, he accidentally
dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of
little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor.
He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten
all the straw off the end of the broom.
Just then the doorbell rang, and irritated Santa marched to the door,
yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great
big Christmas tree.
The angel said very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas,
Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you.
Where would you like me to stick it?"
And so began the tradition of the little angel on top
of the Christmas tree.
Happy event in its 9th day of not happening. Fog still thick; very cold with a steamy 2C forecast as maximum. Frantic hunter gathering as mostly Moslems pack Sir Morrisons for last minute Christmas bargains Widespread gloomy faces; eyes down for dropped 5 ps.Greetings unreturned.
Baby hang on in there.
For the time being at any rate
HAVE A CONSCIENCE FREE CHRISTMAS DINNER
is the headline in the Electronic Berwickshire with the accompanying image of the conscience free farmers concerned'Berwickshire farmers have joined forces to provide families with a conscience free Christmas dinner of home-grown geese and dry-cured gammon this year.
East Berwickshire farmers, The Caley Walton Partnership of Peelham Farm, Foulden and the Logans of Alemill Farm, Ayton both follow similar principles of livestock rearing for their Tamworth pigs and Embden geese - free-range on grass and fed only on home-grown feed, guaranteeing 100% traceability. This ethical food production method is gaining popularity with the public and both companies sell direct to the customer. Both agree that dealing directly with the customer is demanding but very rewarding and they have decided to join forces, joining an increasing band of farmers who recognise the benefits of collaboration to capitalise on changing markets for the industry.'
So wash down your geese and gammon with Cafe Direct or Organic wine. organic chocs, local cheese which you brought home on the back of your thoroughly green bike. Christmas Pud made from locally grown ingredients (Sultanas from the greenhouse)doused with home distilled brandy and lit up by candles you rolled yourself. No global warming, no air miles, no reasons for shopping at Morrisons.
Free Conscience, no. Clear Conscience, perhaps. Impracticable, certainly.
fog fog fog
This image is not Palmers Green.N13 but it might as well be except it is worse here and the Merse is under bright sunshine. The Scots have a pop group called Wet Wet Wet and the Southron folk's answer is Fog Fog Fog.
No wonder the Happy Event is still unhappening
Freezing fog at the sharp end. 3-30 pm. Too light for muggers, too dark for dog poo
Freezing fog closes in on Palmers Green-Broomfield Park. Cold by Hutton standards? Er, yes
The Happy Event remains pending and it may be that th baby reckons it should wait until warmer weather before star
ting its slide down what Tom Lehrer called 'the razor blade of life'. And who is to blame it. N13 remains colder than Hutton with no relief in sight until 'milder but unsettled'weather returns on Christmas Day. So it is beginning to look like a Christmas baby. However despite the delay work is found for idle hands and Huttonian is well experienced in grand parental duties away from familiar territory:
(a) Top up shopping. Master of house does comprehensive shop with list dictated by mistress. Mistress does another comprehensive shop, assisted by visiting grand father with list agreed by Master etc. Huttonian does two top up shops for items overlooked or
not found by M and M of house.
(b) Amusing Ms Z. Not generally a problem. But 30 minutes of guiding little fingers on the mouse to activate the more dreary interactive antics of La LA, Tinkie Winkie etc on the CBEEBIES website leads to repetitive strain injury and premature pall syndrome.Philosophical Question: why does the CBEEBIES website never crash?
(c) Odd chores. Bread crumb manufacture, bird feeding. More top up shopping. Do be a dear and just pop out.....A luxury we are denied in Hutton-you can pop out, but that is as far as it goes, as it were. But if there was a village shop I am sure I would never be out of it scooping up those unconsidered trifles forgotten by the wife at Sir Morrisons.The man on the bench,
behind the war memorial,
outside the kirk complained
about the view
(obscured by the war memorial)
He complained to the passing fireman.
'Waiting for Godot? Is it?, asked
the fireman (fresh from dousing
the flames under a Christmas turkey)
revealing a hitherto, unsuspected
'I am Godot' replied
the man on the bench.
Untruthfully, as it
No response from the fireman,
busy on another call. This time
(from Beckett Revisited,
(Mouse Droppings from the Merse.1997. Pub Hutton Think Tank)
The relis always arrive at the Old Manse ostentatiously shivering,smothered in fleeces,scarves, gloves and muttering 'bloody cold' through blue lips and with chattering teeth. And that in August. London, by contrast, is by definition warm. A given as academics would say. But I have to say Palmers Green, N13, is bloody cold on stilts. Oh for the Rayburn.the wood stove, the warmly purring cat, the comforting whir of fan heaters. Here the central heating is either off or on. Tropicana or Artic ice pack. And the pond in Broomfield Park is hard frozen, as hard as the ice in the bird path on the Old Manse patio. The latter you expect, the former not or so London habitues would lead you to believe.
Season to be jolly? Not if you judge by the long glum faced ones packing the pavements. Eyes downcast, glowering at the cracks and the long discred chewing gum and barging their way through the mass of humanity with not an 'excuse me'between them. Say 'sorry' for accidentaly almost touching someone and expect a snarl in response. Not at all like friendly Hutton-where it is very difficult to shove someone off a pavement, accidentally or no. Hutton does not lack much-but someones can be few and far between.
Not like Fishwick in the rush hour.
They are very considerate in Enfield. The Nanny State at borough level. If we ever get our bottle bank in Hutton we should follow suit.
Groveland Park Lake
North London Park at dusk. Mist gathering. Enlarge image to view the Priory where the late General Pinochet spent some time on his last visit to the UK. It specialises in drying out druggies
Ms Zoe in a relaxed mood awaits a Happy Event
on the proposed new road at Fishwick as recorded on the Scottish Borders Council Website is from a 'neighbour' and wannabe developer Farmer C. He talks about the dangers of the present road and the 'bad' corner during the Fishwick morning and evening rushhours. Rushhour? I wonder if Farmer C would recognise one of them things in the real world outside the Merse. If evey householder at Fishwick left their houses simultaneously at 8-30 am to head for the metropoli of Berwick, Duns and Kelso that would mean 8 cars on the road for about 75 yards until they had a choice of direction on the Berwick-Swinton Super Highway with its traffic of about 30 cars an hour. Add to that Mr C himself, Farmer N, two house guests, 2 builders vehicles, three tractors and the solitary fisherman who comes to the Tweed every other Wednesday you will be getting nearly 40 vehicle movements on a two mile stretch of road on a good day-80% of which never reach the 'bad' corner.
Most comments on the website favour the road-and the roads department are positively drooling over the prospect of 200 yards of brand new tarmac to their specifications and at someone else's expense. And does anyone want to recognise that this whole exercise borders( no pun intended) on a scam: Build an unnecessary road across good farming land thus creating an infill sight just the right size for six spanking new houses. Oh yes we need to sell the housing sites to pay for the road. And a lttle over for luck But the road.....There's a hole in my bucket Dear Liza a hole. And the biggest one will be in the Local Plan if this goes through.
Yes, no sign of the Happy Event, since you ask.
And don't mention the Ashes. Ever.
Or at least until 2009.
freddie flintoff celebrity scarecrow
Not so much scarecrow as man of straw
The Happy Event now 4 days overdue Huttonian killed time by walking out to get the papers from down town Palmers Green. Just about to enter the shop to select the wishy washy Observer and the fascist Sunday Times (at junior son in law's request)when a 1950 something Silver Cloud Roller glid to a halt on the pavement and Huttonian's progress was monentarily obstructed by the driver, a very fat black lady, getting out to cover the two feet or so from the car door to the newsagent's entrance. The passenger, an even fatter white guy was enjoying a breakfast of several chocolate pastries and talking on a gold plated mobile no doubt enquiring about the news from Perth.She bought two Observers and handed them to her passenger who put down his phone and carefully wrapped the remaining pastries in the Sports Section of one of the Observers. I could not help noticing that Mr Flintoff's visage was now smeared with chocolate.
It should have been egg.
Overheard in Sir Morrison's in Palmers Green, Lunnon. Aggressive Turkish looking lady to Timid Eastern European:'THe least you bloody immigrants can do when coming to this country is to learn your way around our supermarkets without barging into people' and flounces off.TEE carries on regardless having not understood the strong Turkish accent. Barging away like mad. He was I think blind judging from the white stick in the trolley.
Journey south enlivened by a ten minute delay because of 'obstruction on overhead cables. Turned out it was the right kind of helium balloon so we carried on. It may have escaped from a signaller's birthday party or a celebration to mark GNER losing the 'profitable' East Coast franchise on which they have made a loss.
We were not told.
The happy event
has not evented yet and could possibly drag on until after Christmas but Huttonian, although possibly surplus to requirements, will travel south tomorrow as planned to join the wife etc in north London to join the waiters. Blogging may be a bit intermittent and may not be of much immediate interest to Merse watchers. Lots of baby shots eventually, I fear-Chain Bridge Bloggee-you have been warned.
Someone -an occasional visitor to Musings is intrigued about the connection between the slave trade and the early days of Paxton. Why not flaunt it rather than remain coy? He (or she) suggests. Next year will have a big focus on the Slave Trade, the 200th anniversary of it abolition in British legislation. Surely, She (or he) asks is not time to stop being ashamed of our part in it;a long time ago and nothing to do with modern Britain.
Indeed Paxton House could exploit the connection- mount an exhibition about its links to slavery, commission a statue of Ninian Home.invite back slave descendants from Granada and put them on display in the gallery as honoured guests (free to go t any time), market its own brand of Paxton House sugar with a warning 'Not made by slave labour' (at least not in the Caribbean; Bangladesh?)Build a small sugar plantation on the croquet lawn and charge visitors a small fee for working on it on a PYO basis-minimal costume provided, shackles optional. Perhaps, to add local colour, chain the salmon fishermen together when they do their netting (they are all white, so no offence likely to be taken) Have the occasional manumission celebration for any member of staff contemplating retirement, Build a replica of a slave galley and have it sail up and down the Tweed to the Chain (no pun intended) Bridge; it could be a floating restaurant franchised to MacDonalds thus recreating the original cuisine with a fair degree of authenticity. Come on Paxton House Trust, the
possibilities are endless and only bounded by your imagination.(And a share of the profits to social services in Granada as is only right and proper).
Hutton Think Tank is on the case
Crossing the CanalA short play set in a private dentistry in Embra:
Dentist (not the regular one but with a doctorate, possibly from Eastern Europe, so must be good, looking at cavity left by fallen out filling: 'Has it been hurting?'
Dentist (poking around with mirror and small excavator) 'Does it hurt now?'
Huttonian (mouth full of mirror and excavator) 'nnnnnnnn' shakes head
Dentist 'No pain.Not good We will need to do root canal treatment'
Huttonian (visualising tariff of prices for RCT : 'mmmmmmmmmnnnnn????'
Dentist 'Little point doing filling before root canal work. Tell you what I'll try Some drilling without anesthetic to get rid of the decay.. If it hurts at all -and this is unlikely-you won't need root canal treatment.
Puts miners drill no 1 onto maximum setting No 6 and drills into cavity
Huttonian 'AARGH AAAARGH RRRRRRRR! Schshurtz quosha losh!'
Dentist (almost stopping) 'It hurts? Quite a lot? I am so happy. You won't need canal root treatment'
Huttonian got his filling but no discount for lack of anesthetic. And went off singing down Rose Street
'I don't need root canal treatment' to the tune of
Hark the Herald Angels Sing' Try it.
Its very uplifting (and the favourite mendicant got £1. Loose change not an option in Advent.)
The wind is howling banshee like and for once the weather terrorists of the BBC Blether Centre seem to have got it right. Huttonian needs to hold out here for three more days before joining the wife and junior daughter in calm and peaceful London where it is only the nasal chuckity chuck of the Capital Connect Trains that provide the background noise which is strangely soothing and certainly less alarming and quieter than the hurricanes now prevailing in the Merse.
Today should be the Happy Event. 9 hours left of Wednesday. Nothing seems to be happening. Gestation moves into its tenth month. The chance of arriving after the birth in time to view a nice cleaned up three day old grandchild no 4 is fast receding. The junior son-in law talks confidently of 27 December. Could be right. Ms Z arrived two weeks later than predicted,siblings can uncannily similar in their Birth arrival patterns. So Christmas Day could yet be, suitcase packed, car ticking over, Queen's Speech unheeded and Turkey on indefinite hold. And Youngest daughter exhausted from pounding up and down stairs in a fruitless attempt to make things happen.
Ah welI I prefer my plum pudding cold
HOME SWEET (as in sugar) HOME
One of the best sources of information on our own local stately home, Paxton House is at http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/berwick/paxtonhouse/index.html and what an intriguing story it is and how well it is told by the guides who take parties around this historic mansion. A bloggee has added a very topical dimension in showing the connection between the earlier owners of the house and slavery in the West Indies. According to research into public records the saga is as follows;"I noticed in your Musings a recent reference to Paxton House and the Laird's ancestral connections with slavery and sugar plantation wealth in the West Indies. Perhaps your readers may be interested in a summary of some of the published references to this chapter of the Home family history in the 18th century.
In 1700 Sir George Home, the 3rd Bart. of Wedderburn owned the Paxton estate. Sir George had his estates confiscated by the government for his part in the ill-fated, French-backed Jacobite uprising of 1715.
A relative of Sir George, the Revd. Ninian Home of Billie, recovered the estates by complex legal moves and then gave them back to Sir George in return for Sir George's agreement to his marrying Margaret, Sir George's eldest daughter and 30 years the Revd. Ninian's junior.
The Revd. Ninian and Margaret Home had 4 children, the eldest was Patrick. After the death of his father, Patrick inherited the Paxton estate when his mother was murdered by her butler.
While the Revd. Ninian was busy with Margaret, Sir George's other daughter Isabel married the Revd. Ninian's other son Alexander (from his first marriage). Alexander and Isabel had a son also called Ninian (Jnr).
At the age of 19, Ninian (Jnr) left to join his uncle George in Culpeper Virginia who had emigrated in 1715 and owned land and plantations in Virginia. At this time black slave labour was imported by colonists from Africa to work on their plantations. It seems that the young Ninian learned his trade there, then, after a few years in St Kitts, became a sugar plantation owner in Grenada. The British colonists in the West Indies also imported their slave labour from Africa.
He made his fortune in Grenada and bought the unfinished Paxton House in 1775 from Patrick for £15000 (equivalent now about £750,000?), for his occasional visits to Scotland, and employed the Chippendale Co to furnish it.
Ninian (Jnr) was a major landowner in Grenada and was clearly very successful and was made Lieutenant Governor in 1792. However, he is described in one paper as "a tyrannical, jingoistic zealot who was responsible for the catastrophic events of 1795/96"( see http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/ctccs/research/theses/polson/-Blogg-ed)
In 1795, the black slave workers of Grenada revolted against the oppression of their British masters. The revolt lasted 18 months, caused the deaths of about 100 British settlers, almost lost one of the richest British colonies and resulted in the economic ruin of Grenada. Amongst those killed was Ninian (Jnr).
On Ninian (Jnr's) death, Paxton House passed to his younger brother George"
End of story: Other references available on request)
The Prime Minister has recently expressed regret at Britain's involvement in the slave trade-not an apology but an acknowledgement of our ancestors role in what was a crime against humanity although, as he pointed out not regarded as a crime in those
days-merely enterprising and highly profitable commerce. So many fine buildings and I dare say some still flourishing businesses have their origins in this era and as a direct result of money made in the trade in human beings. It may be that the Paxton Trust, now the owners of Paxton House, will follow Mr Blair's example and express their own regret how this fine building was at least finished as a result of money made overseas in sugar plantations employing, it must be assumed, quantities of slaves.
It was good to hear that one of the guides at the recent open day referred to the slave trade connection. Indeed there a clues in the house if you know where to look. One painting (in the corridor leading from the mainannex to an annexe) is by a descendant of a slave and it is of one of the former Home plantations- They had two in Granada. The painter visited Paxton House by invitation frpm the Homes in the early 1950s and was invited to spend the night there by the then chatelaine. Two other paintings, in one of the bedrooms are contemporary studies of the plantations. Perhaps the Paxton Trust might mark the celebrations (next year) of British legislation to ban the slave trade by inviting descendants of former slaves who had worked for the Homes to come to Paxton House as guests of the Trust. A nice little 'expression of regret' would then also not go amiss.
Of course the Home family no longer own Paxton House. But they used to. Will they be saying anything about their connection with slaving and sugar? Now is the time to do it. Where the Blairs lead can the Homes dare to follow?
Our little Post Office
is once again under threat and a very serious one this time with the announcement that several thousand post offices, mainly rural, will be for the chop early next year. There is no way that our two mornings a week 9-12-30 facility could be 'viable' It is , pure and simple, a service to the community and the only public service institution left in Hutton now that our school has been closed. Huttonian was briefly Sub Post Master when we bought the Old Manse in 1997 and found we had a post office in situ operating on our kitchen table. We felt that we must keep it going as our contribution to our new home. Our lodger ran it for a couple of years, then a neighbour at the point that the kitchen table was abandoned and a computer installed in the 'Milk Room' the kitchen annexe. It later moved to the Village Hall and the new one has a purpose built post office room with its counter and storage.
I don't know how much the curent operation costs the Post Office. My salary 10 years ago based on 9 hours a week (We put our lunch back to 1330 on Mondays and Thursdays) was just above the national minimum wage. I had a contribution towards phone costs and that was it. The Post Master-and since then, Post Mistress provided a public service. No possibilty of linking it with a shop or other business in this tiny hamlet(Paxton people very rarely bothered to come here after they lost their own post office and tiny shop) And I suspect given the ungenerous part time remuneration the subsidy costs are not high-a computer, line, credit card facility and costs of keeping it stocked. It will be a very small price for maintaining what is a well loved local institution with a larger 'congregration' than the church. THe number of pensioners may have gone down (from 19 in our time) but more customers for stamps,parcels, banking and other financial services than in the kitchen days. There have been a couple of attempts to close it before (or not re-open it after some hiatus) but it has been kept going. But for how long?
The following ditty was based on our experiences and those of other similar rural offices and was published in the Eildon Tree-any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is miraculous:COMMUNITY POST OFFICEUp the pock-marked lane,
harassed by nettles and bombarded
by the odd petulant butterfly
they come. Singly, spaced out.
Mondays usually. Our pensioners.
A hardy (but dwindling) band
Homing in on the kitchen table
just cleared of cornflakes
and the smudges of marmalade
Where the cash awaits a second
opinion. Not quite trusting
the nimble fingers
of the young Post Mistress.
Rheumy eyes follow each crisp note
slapped on the table
silently mouthing the mounting value
A wordless nod A snap of the handbag
like a startled rabbit.
Some coins reluctantly
returned for a second class stamp
(these are careful Border folk)
Before relaxing into
first class gossip.
Or a weather forecast.
Or a pill by pill
no bowel unturned.
Ping of the bell
Another customer thresholds
So time to go, ritual completed.
‘See you next Monday. Same time
You can bet your last
first class stamp,
The wife is hurtling
southwards, GNER borne, to ensure that she is in timely situ for a Happy Event due to take place Wednesday. Mind you her haste may be a trifle premature as the previous Happy Event in this family was two weeks late. Huttonian will maintain a firm base here until HE occurs and if it does or does not by Saturday follow the distaff side south to fulfil a modern version of the Three Wise Men-one of them at least will come from the north and no messing around with shepherds on this occasion. I suspect any shepherds deserting their charges, abandoning them in cold Borders fields, and especially at night, would nowadays be in dire trouble with health and safety never mind with the farmer for being in breach of their contract to provide a 'reasonable standard' of primary care.
Sheriff Kevin 'Why did you leave your sheep'
Shepherd ' I was following a star Your Honour'
Sheriff Kevin 'I see. Remanded for medical reports'
7 Wood across the Tweed
According to the Iron Bru Book of Records (2nd and last page) there is no entry for the record for hitting a golf ball from Scotland into England so this shot may be a trail blazer. 7 wood, 170 yard carry and landed well into England thus demonstrating that the idea of a trans Tweed golf course featuring a par 3 across the river is feasible. Mind you at present it is a trip of over two miles to get the ball unless you borrowed the Salmon fishermen's boat. By enlarging this image you can see the ball in flight near the top right hand corner.
After an initial period of laid backery the environmental hygenists are taking a tough line with recycling. Toe the line or keep your rubbish. Two weeks ago a bin was firmly rejected as being full of cardboard boxes which could be recycled rather than sent to China for underpinning the Great Wall Land fill site. Week before the self same boxes had been left in a neat little pile: rejected as they were not in the transparent Purple bags. This week-see image-a bin has been returned full-not because of the unrecyclable contents (polystyrene) but because the lid did not quite close.
Topical if politically incorrect dialogue:
Health Inspector Where's your Bin?
Chinese Restaurant Owner I have bin to Hong Kong
HI No, wheres your dust bin?
CRO I have dust bin to Hong Kong
HI No, No Where is your Wheelie Bin?
CRO I reely reely have been to Hong Kong
Thankyou From 'The wit and Wisdom of Borders Primary Schools Annual for 1997'
Horrors. Tornado North West London; blaze Hutton Hall TD15. The Busy Bees going up in flames? Who left the cooker on? A Fire Dance taken too literally? Post Office Christmas stamps spontaneously combusting?
No. Dawn sky reflected in Hall windows. Phew!
Hutton Dawn Old Manse
The moon as seen by Huttonian at 7.45 am this morning whwn pulling out the wheelie bin and recycling down Kirk Lane. THen into the car and off to golf. 2C and a cold breeze. How one suffers for one's art
aftermath of Kensal Rise tornado 6
Well this is smart work getting a picture of today's tornardo onto flickr.com. But what a boring one! 'Small tornado in Kensal Rise Nothing worth photographing
' And this is me blogging about it
Just think if the Romans at Pompeii had broadband and mobile phones to get instant images around the known world. Mind you in the case of Vesuvius erupting there would have been no shortage of hotspots.
Collectors of Huttonania might be interested in Hutton's Arse: 3 Billion Years of Extraordinary Geology in Scotland's Northern Highlands (Paperback)
by M.H. Rider (Author)
For an image of the book cover go to http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/images/0954190610/ref=dp_image_0/203-3370970-6446305?ie=UTF8&n=266239&s=books *
Huttonian-no relation-has had his attention drawn to this work by a bloggee who follows developments north of the Tweed with sporadic attention. 'Arse' is an unusual word to find in the title of a geological study and the blurb throws little light on the reason why this bit of the human anatomy -or indeed which Hutton it adorned is so presented. THe posterior in question is apparently focusing on the northern highlands, if that is what it can do, so little relevance to a local Hutton.Warning* arsophiles may be disappointed.(Blogg-ed)
Nor do we need bad jokes about our village being a bit of a hole.
News is the local ‘country’ paper and is slightly different in content (more bricks, less manure) than its city slicker cousin the Berwick Advertiser
. We look at it now and then as it’s good to keep up with urban issues whilst watching Farmer C’s cows ruminating out of our kitchen window. Nor actually ruminating out of the window, that could be messy at the other end, on our floor-but it is what we can see 250 yards to the north. Or we could until the cows retreated to winter quarters. But you know what I mean
One issue is whether to have an Asda and a Tescos to add to the Sir Morrisons, Somerfields, Co-op etc. So far the city fathers have been a bit reluctant to increase the competition for the existing mid town shops and it is debatable whether we either need or could support more large supermarkets. But obviously some townees are anxious to increase the choice-hence this letter in this weeks News
“On Friday, November 24 ,we decided to go to Galashiels to visit the new ASDA.
What a treat we were in store for.
What a store!
It is not only massive and modern, but the prices are much cheaper than the supermarkets in Berwick. George, the store's clothes line, is cheaper than most shops and more affordable. I bought trousers for £5 and pretty tops for £3. They weren't from charity chops but for brand new items.
They have a bigger range of products than any other local supermarket.
Everything was for the customer's convenience. Also, every check-out was manned whether needed or not so there was no chance of a queue, something that still happens at Morrison's and always at the Co-op.
The staff were helpful and cheery. Why not? ASDA bought jobs to their town, jobs sorely needed by local people. It's brought a sense of pride!
If it means travelling further to Gala for the superb choice and value that ASDA and the new Tesco offer, then it is worth the extra petrol.
And Berwick? Berwick makes it almost impossible for the town to expand and to give choice AND jobs to those who live here. They don't want ASDA and Tesco. They give these supermarkets such a hard time.
About time Berwick got out of the dark ages”!
Its good to know that in the dark ages we even then had a Morrisons-and even in these more enlightened times it is always crowded-unlike the Co-op, a much nicer, less peopled shop-and the clientele, especially in the caravan season good give pointers on how Neolithic hunter gatherers went about their supermarker shopping, brandishing their tattoos, wooden clubs and carrying off the check out ladies for a bit of Humpty Dumpty in the comparative comfort of their own caves.
‘Another reason for shopping at Morrisons ‘as the Village Cryer used to say ‘Take one check out lady, get one later, absolutely free’.
They don’t do that in Galashiels.
Mr Flintoff-bad one mate
Yer, the Aussies won't be much of a problem-5-0 in my book, no bother. Who 'll get the 5?
Thats an interesting question? Continue this in the bar?
And then come home please.
HANG OUT LESS FLAGS
This blog rarely ventures into the realm of world affairs apart from the odd foray to the Middle East. But today's news has cast a gloom over the Old Manse and the streets of Hutton are quiet and deserted. Three Lions flags droop and even the Saltire, normally proud and flowing looks dejected in an act of unusual sympathy(mind you, there is no wind-blog-ed
Bad news from Afghanistan? Iraq? Scottish Parliament? Tories certain to win next election? Mr Bush unlikely to see sense?Probably on all counts
But worse. England pathetically and abjectly surrender the second test after 4 days on top. Flintoff et alios go home and stay there. Send the Scots and Yasser Arafat out as honorary Englishmen for the last three tests. Desperate times, desperate measures.
They can't do worse.*
In the meanwhile all leave has been cancelled for both members of the Hutton and Paxton XI-in-waiting.
Better safe than sorry. Just a precautionary measure. Flannels issued, bats oiled, balls poised, as it were.
* Want a bet? (Blogg-ed)
Stranded Door: Tweed in spate
Floods in the Tweed usually bring down all kinds of flotsam and jetsam-trees, bushes, plastic containers which generally find their way to the sea and get washed up on Spittal beach. In this case a door has been stranded as the flood waters receded. In quite good nick. I hope the owner was on the right side of it as the waters took it.
Someone from Hutton, a few years ago found a very nice garden bench floating down the river. As it was empty at the timehe rescued it and it now graces his garden.
How to do it: Jordan style
Huttonian remembers from his time in the Middle East how tough local security forces can be. The Jordanians who have quite a reputation for dealing with demonstraters having left their kid gloves at home at least do have a sense of humour about crowd control-and in this age of Global Warming seem to have got their priorities right. Vide this recent police statement-thankyou Jordan Ladies< http://www.jordanjournals.blogspot.com/ >We kept the situation under control and still the people were able to protest", a senior official said Thursday evening speaking anonymously because he was not authorised to speak with the news media. "They burnt some flags, but for us, burning flags is not a security issue, it's an environmental issue". T
Next time we have massive and violent demonstrations urging better road safety at Fishwick I hope the BordersPolice will also remember where their priorities lie:
burning flags, no; rock throwing ok.
FISHWICK TRAFFIC REPORT
Huttonian has received a leaked copy (via DHL) of a report by the Fishwick Special Branch Undercover Traffic Team on traffic flows on the Fishwick to Tweedhill Fisheries road focusing on the stretch from the Berwick-Swinton road until past the notorious dangerous corner. It was done over a 5 hour period:
(a) Car movements: 1 (erratic)
(b) Tractor movements 0
c) Heavy vehicles 0
(d) Bicycles 2 (both erratic)
(e) Pedestrians 2 (from No 3 to No 4 Fishwick and back (1)
(f) Ships 6 (2)
(g) Fishermen in 4wd 0
(h) " " " in Jaguars 0
(i) " " " in bog standard vehicles 0
(j) Milk float 2 (there and back,eventually)
(k) Official FSB vehicles 2 (there and back)
(l) Casualties 1 Hen Pheasant, 10 Cock Pheasants. (Milk float apparently exceeding usual speed)
(1) to borrow tea bag (2) Should be sheeps
The report is annotated with a rather testy comment by a senior officer:
(a) Why was this exercise carried out from 0100 until 0600?
(b) Your claim for overtime (£430) is rejected.
(c) Speak soon
Winter on the Tweed with extra moon.
A moonlight walk? Solitude. No dogs or homo sapiens around? (I can't vouch for the wolves)The Tweed is the place to be-and the moon? At 3-15 pm! This is looking down stream with England, hurrah(!) on the right .
Click to enlarge and see the December moon. Bay at it and feel better
Winter at last: the Tweed
This is of the Tweed, looking up river at 3-15pm today. Suddenly Autumn has vanished. Strong current flowing and the tide is in. If you want to walk in solitary splendour after 2pm this is the place to go. If you don't ,take the wife
THE REIVERS RETURNThe Today Programme
had one of its rather patronising jokey items about the Border Reivers this morning. Apparently people with traditional Reiver surnames: Armstrong, Robson, Trotter, Elliot, Graham etc are being asked to provide DNA samples as part of a project to identify to what extent their are still clusters of old Borders' families with continuous occupation of an area since the bad old days. One Robson was commenting smugly that a business called, appropriately enough 'Robson the Butchers' was operating in Newcastle. And we of course have Trotters the Butchers in Duns. And as far as one strand of the Trotters are concerned they have gone from butchers with a small'b'to a Lord Lieutenancy in not quite three generations -more like 33.
One of speakers pointed out that there were two interpretations of Reivers: the Walter Scott version of noble Sons of the Heath, with a strong code of chivalry, opposing oppression-sort of Robin Hoods some what outwith Sherwood Forest. The other version being, not to put to fine a point upon it: rural pyschopaths. The truth he claimed was poor people desperately surviving in a war zone:
War zone? Indeed for about 400 years. But who was doing the fighting and whose war was it anyhow?
Are, now your asking:
The rural pyschopaths, perhaps
Four of the primary schools
closed in the last year or so are now up for sale. Including the liitle school at Hutton which is yours for a mere £75,000-an application for change of use is now with the Berwickshire Area Committee. These developments are on page 3 of the Berwickshire
with our SNP Parliamentary candidate seeking some publicity with her questioning the decision to sell the schools without 'engaging with the communities-'at the best insensitive' (apparently- not stated what the worst is-genocide perhaps or grand larceny ) 'Ms Orr' who had headed up the Save Hutton (school) Action Group (SH(s)AG?) claims that the parents believed that the land the school was built on belonged to our Laird, 'Lord Paxton-in-waiting' Certainly for someone who was involved in the campaign to keep Hutton School open this comes as a surprise. It is known that LP gave a small strip of land to extend the site but the assumption was that as a school had stood on the same piece of land for well over a hundred years it was owned by the education department.Most mothers knew that and I am sure if the Laird believed he owned the whole plot the world would have known about it by now. No own trumpet left unblown.
The Scottish Borders Council is having none of this. Pointing out the Laird has his wee strip of land back and that pending the sale of the school and before our new hall was opened the School was used as the local post office. And indeed also for other community purposes such as the Community Council, fund raising events etc -all this in consultation with the local people as represented by the Hall committee-Ms Orr seems unaware of this.
Anyhow aware or no Ms Orr is calling for a public enquiry into the sales. Why?
The search for truth? For the public good? Global warming? Or
an election coming up?