Musings from the Merse
Friday, November 30, 2007
  Will ye NO come back again!

Mendicant Piper
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Between trains yesterday I managed a quick visit to Princes Street. No sign of the young man with his wee dog-perhaps he has earned enough to winter in warmer climes-Dundee or Arbroath perhaps? But the Piper was out and about having abandoned his usual exposed pitch for a more sheltered ambush position just off the main street. Not a good day for attracting the specie. Few tourists and too cold to take hands out of pockets (an old Scottish excuse, that one) Even a stirring rendition of '100 Pipers an' 'a an' 'a' failed to stop folk in their tracks-but being 99 short of a full house this was perhaps not too surprising.
Virgin on the ridiculous

"If you look out of the window you will see that the next station is Penrith. Otherwise keep your eyes shut. If leaving the train at Penrith please do so with your eyes open otherwise you may fall down the gap"

Said the Vigin Train Guard on the Lancaster -Edinburgh 'cross country' 9.57 yesterday.

and approaching Carlisle'

Next station Carlisle: 'If you don't want to go to Scotland, get off. It's your last chance'

And finally as we pulled into Embra Waverley Street:

'That's it Folks. Out you get, smartish, otherwise you'll be lost with the Christmas Mail.'

Good knockabout comedy if a bit wearisome for some of those fellow passengers nursing hangovers after wild nights out in the City of Lancaster. But a great improvement on the badly read, nasally intoned, GNER mumbled announcements which are the hall mark of that crumbling institution:

'Berwick is your next station stop. Take care when alighting from the train that you have all your personal possessions, none of your fellow passewngers' and that your wife does not fall through the gap between the train and the platform in which case any inconvenience is regretted'

Or that wonderful call to inaction:

' Attention Train Crew Disabled Passenger alarm activated'

In this regard National Express can only be better.


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Thursday, November 29, 2007
Scots Wi' Hae or will Haggis do*?

A letter in today's Berwickshire reads:

I left Scotland in 1960 a Scots pie was filled with mutton, minced small with plenty of pepper as the recipe for Queen Victoria’s Balmoral pies, has it.
Now every Scots pie seems to be filled with beef sludge and no trace of thyme, parsley, mushroom or Worcester sauce as in F Marian McNeill’s recipes from Scotland, 1946.
Would not a return to the original recipe solve the problem of the farmers’ light lambs and broken mouthed ewes as opposed to the dairy farmers cast cows?

I don't know about that not being much into Mutton and have really little desire to eat Broken Mouthed Ewes although they may be less bitter than Broken Hearted ones who have seen their light lambs taken away to be roasted.

A BLOGGEE enquires, apropos of this topic, who to ask about the ingredients of Haggis. My advice is

not to.

You don't really want to know

(the title is from the verse of Wullie Robson, a Berwickshire Bard, little known contemporary of Rabbi Burns)

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Come friendly Bombers.........

Lancaster Bomber
Originally uploaded by tlucal
Not many people know that there are 71,000 plus images of Lancaster on flickr. This I found surprising as the youngest son-in-law had claimed that Lancaster City was one of the most boring places in the UK whose only useful purpose was to act as a gateway to the Lake District. And the fascinating town Duns, a paradise for the interest seeker has only a fraction of the pictures attributed to yawn worthy Lancaster.

I have now been through the first few pages arranged in order of 'interestedness' as Flickr insists on calling its selection procedures and I do believe the ysil is dead right. Unless you are a bus spotting anorak or a Flight Buff junkie there seems nothing worth photographing apart from city and corporation buses and the Second World War bomber which bears the town's name. Looking out of the window high above the uni campus there's little to photograph except wet concrete and hissing down rain. And judging from a nocturnal trip around the city apart from the Castle (now the town stir) and the Priory there is very little to squeeze the camera trigger for. Chain stores, Victorian pubs, and of course buses.

Scenically and architecturally it will be good to be back in the
Merse. If there is a new building in this city to match the style and beauty of the Hutton Village Hall let some kind person to lead me to it.

But 9-30 am tomorrow will be too late.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lancaster University Campus map 1
Originally uploaded by ISC websites

Huttonian is moving out of theatre to break his academic duck in the07/08 academic year. Not teaching at Embra until January I am on an away fixture at Lancaster University. The junior son in law claims that Lancaster town was boring, deadly boring but the uni campus seems self contained from the map above (thankyou flickr), and may be more stimulating-if you magnify it enough you may see students hurrying to a lecture on King Hussein's Jordan. If they are, then I am afraid, they wil be much

too early. But will the wait be worth it?

Report later. If I am spared


Monday, November 26, 2007
  It's Morningtime!

It's Morningtime!
Originally uploaded by erase
My images of Ffion from her dedication are not yet available so in the meantime this stunning picture from the junior son in law will have to do. Apart from attempting to wrestle the microphone away from the Rector she behaved beautifully as you might expect given her genes-or some of them at least
  National Express

National Express
Originally uploaded by steve near cambridge
We keep on being told that National Express is taking over from GNER. November they said but no sign. And there is also no indication that change is at hand. Surely the first thing that will have to happen is the rails on the east coast line being replaced with bus lanes? That will take more than the usual disrupted week end 'maintenance work' when buses replace trains anyhow So let us declare a lengthy maintenance regime, replace all GNER services with National Express coaches and Bobs your uncle. If only life was so simple.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
  St. Barnabas ceiling

St. Barnabas ceiling
Originally uploaded by Joel Heaslip
Ffion is being churched today at St Barnabas Woodside Park-this is the ceiling-thankyou Joel Heaslip for the only image we could find on Flickr. Big family occasion with French, Australians and Welsh all present-anyone in need of inspiration can look upwards and admire the roof-live as it were.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
  November leaves

November leaves
Originally uploaded by Lenka P
This is Palmers Green where we are gathered for the churching of Ffion or Fffion (first F is silent). Very very very cold. The Merse is balmy compared to this deep freeze. Huttonian is off to buy an extra pullover in a charity shop.

Report later if spared.

Blogging in two pairs of gloves is a challenge
Friday, November 23, 2007

Blogging will be a bit intermittent for the next few days s Huttonian and the wife are off to the Big Smoke for a family gathering to celebrate the 'churching' of the wee Welsh grand daughter. The Chain Bridge Bloggee will need to brace himself for lots of images of small people as the French lot are coming as well. The rather ancient image does not do Ffion full justice as she is now in the transformation stage from baby to toddler.

All this is GNER permitting. Wrong sort of frost perhaps. But at least the leaves have gone.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Whiteadder is normally the gentlest of rivers but there are times in dark early Winter afternoons, after about two inches of rain upstream, when it appears menacing as it rushes towards the Tweed. It was certainly, yesterday, much too wet for visiting fishermen to venture near the bank, never mind stand in the river and the self catering establishment aka Hutton Mill was deserted -no 4x4s nor Barbour jackets in evidence. And it seems that the new house beside the Mill, billed as a Gillie's or Baillie's abode is also deserted and with little evidence of human life-such as furniture within it. Perhaps the gloom of the Whiteadder gorge, sunless on the south bank from November until March, has driven the inhabitants to hibernate elsewhere.

And out of the gorge it was all bright and sunny with Douglas the Dun Bull still enjoying his harem seemingly unaware of the blue/black clouds heading his way from the north.

We shall miss all this in the-small-house-in-Duns.But at least the long winter still stretches in front of us until specie changes hands and the Whiteadder if not the Rubicon can finally and irrevocably be crossed.

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Hutton Expects

But probably not very much. It is hardly true to say that tout Hutton is agog with anticipation of a Croatia victory at Wembley tonight. But the general feeling is (which Huttonian shares) that Poor Old Scotland go out having played so well and England could go through having played so badly. There is no justice in this United Kingdom-vote SNP etc etc. Not that anyone in Hutton apart from Mrs O is likely to vote for the Nats.

The Croatian manager is highly critical of the Wembley pitch. Never been the same since they played American Footie on it a few weeks back.

It is probably too late to switch the match to Farmer H's field in front of the Kirk. Its a bit damp but not churned up and any cows could be put into the West Stand for the duration. I am sure the answer is a polite no but

it remains on the table.

(The image is of wrong kind of football on ground)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Is it Cricket?
Living as we are 'entre deux Merse' as a local wine might well be called-Manse in Hutton (sort of sold but very occupied) and a small-house-in-Duns (bought but rather unoccupied) there is an almost daily trek between these two hots spots of the Borders-sometimes, indeed, twice a day. I enliven my solitary excursions by playing B Road Cricket-a Huttonian invention: Hutton versus Duns: It works like this; Hutton bats on the way to Duns: Cars count one run, cyclists and ridden horses two, a bus 4, a very full bus with people standing, a glorious six (yet to happen) Pedestrians one each, a jogger two (but must be running) Duns takes wickets with commercial vehicles: a van up to small lorry One wicket, large lorry two out and a tractor is a hattrick. To be 'commercial' a van must have writing on it.(Third Umpires decision final on appeal) All vehicles must be moving and on the road. Inside a 30 mph (Hutton and Allanton excepted) limit, its rain stopped play. From Duns to Hutton the process is reversed; Duns bats, Hutton fields.

AS Fishwick is not en route you will not be surprised to learn that most matches are low scoring. A flurry* of buses on the Manderston to Duns stretch can boost a score, indeed double it, given that Hutton's highest effort is 24 for 9 (4 heavy lorries and white van man) If one goes the lower road towards Greenlaw the score can remain stationary for 15 minutes with a burst of scoring and often a major collapse on the Gavinton Bypass with the corner/junction near Puton Mill taking a lot of spin in the morning rush hour **.

With some care Hutton generally wins these encounters and they occasionally end in almost scoreless draws-no wickets fall on Sunday mornings-nor are many runs scored. I once hit a great six in Allanton as half a dozen inebriated punters emerged from the Inn simultaneously.(That was Sunday early afternoon) But today was nearly a massacre: Hutton all out 6 (would have been only two but for a last minute appearance by the Duns Berwick Rail Link Bus-and I had to stop for a minute to let it emerge from the 30MPH limit to allow the score. Duns 5 for one (Post van) entering Hutton Village with the Old Manse almost in sight. Suddenly, from nowhere, a flash of red-three, yes three Massey Ferguson tractors coming around the phone box bend. 9 wickets gone- a triple hat trick and Hutton was home by one.

Beats Trainspotting.

I'll be sorry when we have moved.

Hutton Think Tank are working on a proposal for including this event in the 2220 Olympics

* Two Buses

** 4 vehicles visible at the same time

(The image is of a former Hutton strike bowler)

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Monday, November 19, 2007
  Ffion:Toddler Olympics

I like to...
Originally uploaded by erase
The youngest grand child has just been accepted for the Toddler Olympics training camp in N13. The proliferation of balls will also be useful training should she wish to go into Welsh politics and with a name like Ffion her options are limited.
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Klueless in Kelso

Its not often for Huttonian to be at a loss for the right words in the face of an audience, especially a friendly one, but last Thursday in Kelso it was a case of the wrong sort of leaf on track.

For the last ten years I have talked to a number of audiences all over the Eastern and Central Borders (Local organisations are generally desperate, thats the only word, for someone to speak to them) -mostly on two well worn topics:(A) Life of a Brit Diplomat, pitfalls, privileges,problems, Important People Met, Important Events Witnessed, Funny things happening on the way to Forum, Thrill of living in Foreign Parts, Illustrated with acetates-'Look that is me with Prince Charles, with King Hussein, with Dr Kaunda, with a deposed despot,ad nauseam etc. And the other (B) is about the politics of the Middle East (arising from the talk of the first part, but most jokes omitted, and acetates of Princess Diana replaced with maps of Israeli Settlements on the West Bank Talk one is for the more social societies: Guilds, Rural Institutes, Probi (Plural of Probus?)Rotary, and the second to the higher of brow: Political clubs, Peace Churches, Human Rights Societies, University of the Third Age. And very occasionally I have combined the two presentations with a third: 'Diplomatic Poetry'-Life of a Dip overseas,Muse by Mandarins, inspiration for verse-same jokes , same acetates but aimed at literary gatherings in the Bigger Border Burghs.

Kelso is a BBB. But with the Thursday Club I got it all wrong. This was no U3A with a largely (retired) professional clientele but a social gathering for the very very retired who liked one day a week outside the house, a cup of tea, a dry biscuit and a different place to snooze. People who had lived in the Borders all their lives and had very little interest in foreign parts too far across the Tweed. And I knew once that I had risen to my feet, acetate on 'Israeli Conquests since 1948' simmering on the Overhead Projector, that I was not going to grip but to glaze-indeed as soon as the lights went down four heads drooped in sleep and four others twitched in anticipation of at least 35 winks. By omitting 14 out of 15 slides,pages 4-12 of my presentation and including two extra (local) jokes I somehow got through my very truncated talk and even had a generous round of applause when the audience, woken by the chair, realised I had finished and they could advance on the tea urn with warmed hands.

Over tea I heard two ladies discussing the event. 'Where does he come from?' Anxiously 'Not from Kelso?' 'What was he on about?' 'The Middle East' ' Oh That'

Long silence and then glancing at the Autumn Programme of the Thursday Club' 'Missed the one on old postcards of Kelso' last week' ' But it looks good for next Thursday' ' What's that then'


I decided not to make any reference to a 'prickly subject'

And went home.

(The image is a new acetate I am working on for my a possible talk to the Tuesday Evening Club in a smaller BBB : Diplomatic Hedgehogs-At Home and Abroad

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Scots out in blaze of something
Sometimes the poor Scots do themselves no favours with their anti-English ginormous Chip. Take this offering on the BBC Euro 08 Football blog:

After claiming that the Scots would murder the Italians in tonight's qualifying match Braveheart continues

England are going out i cant wait to laugh at them ohh england are so great say the most hated nation in the planet Scotland came from nothing u still think ur amazing ur gonna get beat by croatia and im gonna laugh so hard at u nobodys as u continue to be the most hated nation with no euro spot

For this sober assessment to be realised Scotland had to beat Italy (2-1 would have done it) and Russia to win against Israel (2-1 would be fine)

Sadly for Jock Strap Italy got the two as did Israel. So its good night for Scotland and high hopes for England.

Mind you they have still to play Croatia.

Guess who Jock wil be rooting for

(The image is of the Tartan Army about to celebrate defeat-even with 19 players......)

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Hutton's A**e. ( Pardon my French )

A bloggee has kindly reminded Huttonian of the existence of this publication with a rather striking title. Not the kind of book to ask for by name-even in a Gay bookshop-so God Bless Amazon-your fingers can do the talking without embarrassment or fear of derision. ' Hutton's Arse'? shouts the trendy young sales person as you reach the head of an impatient queue clutching their Harry Potters-'Sorry Sir. We don't stock that type of publication. Best try WH Smut next door'

Actually no need for fumbling around on the top shelf of sleezy book emporiums. Its a perfectly respectable publication for those interested in the geology of Northern Scotland, and on Thursday night in the Cross, they talk of little else.

The Amazon reviews are favourable:
'Bought this book on the strength of its title and the backup material on its website huttonsarse.com. Not disappointed - it lives up to its title. Not a field guide, and doesn't assume any knowledge of geo-jargon. But serious heavyweight geology in a lucid, personal, and entertaining style. I gave my copy away to a friend who lives in Wester Ross so now I'm back on Amazon buying another.'

I have a slight worry why the reviewer bought the book on the strength of its title (which it lives up to) :back up material in this context is also somewhat ambiguous? And he (it is a he) was 'not disappointed' I am also intrigued by the website referred to:


Musings will have to look to its laurels and Huttonian to his-

well never mind.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Buy one Mason get one Free?

A 'Streamer writes to the editor of the Berwickshire;

SIR, - With reference to the article recently on the Masonic Lodge in Eyemouth, can anyone say why it was named ‘The Land of Cakes’?
I have asked a senior Mason who did not know and said he was unable to find out.
It is such an unusual title that I thought there must be a particular reason.

One theory which I pass on untested is that the original lodge, before transfer to Eyemouth was in the little village of


I am endebted to Flickr for the image which is titled 'Scottish Rite Masonic Symbol'
whatever that may be when it is at home. Connection with Eyemouth? Don't know but will ask a guy with a funny handshake if I ever come across one

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday morning is good news for Huttonian as the letter column of the Berwickshire can usually be relied upon to cast light on the issues which really concern Borderers. Not Mr Brown and his fears over terrorism, nor the 'occupation' of Iraq, nor even Blue Tongue or Bird Flu (although we are urged to be vigilant*) but canine poo which surely takes more column inches than any other topic. For example:

SIR, - I wish to take issue with Robert Dickson (Letters, November 1, 2007).
Whilst I also abhor, and despair at the state of our pathways, which is correctly attributed to dog excrement, what I cannot agree with are the sweeping statements, that seemingly classify all dog owners as irresponsible.
Yes there are unfortunately some dog owners that do not behave in a correct manner (I am not one of them I must say) but to intimate that if they do not look after them in public, then in his mind they cannot look after them at home, this does not follow.
Also, as for his assertion that the RSPCA or the Police should check on the way these dogs are treated, presumably at home, this statement seems to imply that he knows the offenders.
If so report them, if not, do not make such comments.
We responsibly minded dog owners have also had to cope this past year with some deranged person trying to poison our beloved pets, so I on behalf of all dog lovers, ask please, if you have a dog do the decent thing - PICK IT UP!

Indeed a novel solution. Picking up and carrying your dog will greatly increase the exercise value of your daily walk and its effleunts will full conveniently on to your palm and not foul our pristine footpaths.You will not need a nasty plastic bag as long as you have deep pockets. 'Pick it up** and pocket it' can be the new slogan for dog owners.

* One of our sparrows sneezed this morning.

** I am not sure that this is what the letter writer meant. Blog-Ed

PS this Great Dane might be a bit of a challenge?

PPS I can't resist reminding bloggees of the Kerry Man*** who when seeing a notice at the top of a London Underground escalator insisting' Dogs Must be carried' exclaimed, in despair;

'Where can I find a dog at this time of night?'

*** Yes, Yes, Yes. Politically incorrect. Racist? OK; for Kerry Man read ' a person from Paxton'

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tree House. Abbey St Bathans
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Under the Freedom of Information Act we have managed to secure a previously unpublished image of Fishwick Special Branch's covert 'out house' at Abbey St Bathan's-see post immediately below.
Its cover as a child's tree house, like the leaves concealing it, was blown some time ago.

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Hutton Ready for Terrorist Strike

The Fishwick Special Branch is digesting the implications for their bailiwick of the forthcoming West Report in the light of Mr Brown's remark They will be guided by the following considerations:

(a) 'Anywhere' includes Hutton, Paxton and Fishwick.
(b) 'Crowded Locations' include the Cross at the weekend and Fishwick traffic infested streets at all times
(c) Transport Networks is/are the No 32 Bus. Volunteers for riding Shotgun may be called for
(d) Unobtrusive security measures to be fitted into any prominent new buildings such as the McMansions on Farmer C's land and any new creations such as that monument to good taste now mostly erected at Dorranfield
(e) Blast proof curtains to be considered for the village halls and the removal of disabled access to frustrate disabled terrorists.

Post Office Security to be reexamined: Bullet proof screens and electronic queueing a possibility. Body searches of pensioners under 60* may be suggested.

The story as carried on AOL is as follows

Britain could be hit by terrorist attacks "anywhere from any place", the Prime Minister has warned.

Gordon Brown was speaking ahead of the release of two major security reviews.

Home Office Minister Lord West has completed an inquiry into security at crowded locations across the UK, including sporting venues, shopping centres and transport networks.

His report is expected to highlight areas where more must be done to protect the public from possible attacks.

But it will also warn that security measures should not disrupt everyday life.

Architects are also expected to be told to integrate counter-terrorism measures in major new buildings, but in a way which makes physical measures such as barriers as unobtrusive as possible.

The review is believed to be too sensitive to publish in full, and today's publication will include only general conclusions and limited points.

The second study, led by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, examined whether police and other staff could be included in the new border force, which is designed to strengthen security at ports and airports.

The Prime Minister announced a new uniformed border force would bring together the Home Office's Border & Immigration Agency, Customs and the UK Visas overseas operation.

"Terrorism can hit us anywhere from any place," Mr Brown wrote in The Sun.

Citing the July 7 bomb attacks on London, he added: "But just as the terrorists use every method and the very freedoms we enjoy to kill or maim people, so we must also adopt new tools to beat the terrorists, secure our borders and create a safe global society."

He said Lord West's report contained "key recommendations for the protection of our national security" but physical protection had to go alongside improved community relations.

"It is a battle we will have to fight street by street, community by community and year by year. But standing together, resolute and calm, we can win it," Mr Brown insisted.

We hope life in these parts will not to be too disrupted and fighting street by street community by community will not be overly time consuming in this rural and under populated region. But if we spend too much time standing together, albeit resolute and calm, well then nothing

will ever get done.

* How many Pensioners under 60? Blog-Ed

PS the image in the top left corner has been obscured for security reasons being too sensitive to publish in full-it is thought to be a previously unknown picture of Fishwick Special Branch's Abbey St Bathan's outpost

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Ghurkas were here

Yes really and in a very unusual setting. Abbey St Bathans, almost more than Hutton, is the sort of place that 'time forgets' to borrow from the language of Newcastle, Norn Iron's tourist people when signposting sights of obscure interest around the town. Rather like Hutton, Abbey St B is not really on the road to anywhere and when you have got there up a steep winding one track road traversing grouse moors you have to make sure you are looking out of the left hand window otherwise you might miss it completely. A pity if you do as it has a really good restaurant and a pretty church. The only human life you are likely to see on the road up are beaters with flags rousting out the grouse for stockbrokers to shoot and on the way down the odd body of an unlucky city banker mistaken for a game bird-not a crime to shoot one as bankers are still in season (up to mid-December). No need to rush. Stocks seem unlimited.

What has this to do with the Gurkhas? There is a very narrow footbridge across the Whiteadder which was apparently erected by a Gurkha squadron to connect the Left Bank with the Right-or in this case possibly vice versa, near the church. You can read the sign about the engineers by clicking on the appropriate image. Some of the glorious scenery may have reminded these Nepalese visitors of their own country although the Lammermuirs are not on the same kind of scale as the hills around Kathmandu. And how on earth did these soldiers get involved in Abbey St B in the first place-a peace keeping mission to separate the Stockbrokers from the City Bankers? Or were they retained by the Grouse Protection Society? The narrowness of the bridge may have been quite deliberate. Any plump city banker, bulk increased by his Barbour and the excellent lunch from the Riverside Inn, would have found it very difficult to cross the footbridge at any speed (or at all) when being hunted by a vengeful bird loving Gurkha. And the erudite old Etonian, being so hotly pursued, will have known all too well that once a Gurkha's Kukri has been drawn it only can be replaced in its sheath after it has been blooded. In the absence of Royal Blue Blood that of a senior stock broker or 'someone in the city' will do

just as well

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Huttonian offers the following item from a (deadly serious) academic web site to which he makes the odd (but not odd as this) contribution on Middle East matters

Bay Area FBI agents wanting to find Iranian secret agents data-mined grocery store records in 2005 and 2006, hoping that tahini purchases would lead them to domestic terrorists, according to Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein. The head of the FBI's criminal investigations unit - Michael Mason - shut down the Total Falafel Awareness program, arguing it would be illegal to put someone on a terrorist watch list for simply sticking skewers into lamb, Stein reports.

Like Hansel and Gretel hoping to follow their bread crumbs out of the forest, the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists.

The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.

The brainchild of top FBI counter terrorism officials Phil Mudd and Willie T. Hulon, according to well-informed sources, the project didnt last long. It was torpedoed by the head of the FBI's criminal investigations division, Michael A. Mason, who argued that putting somebody on a terrorist list for what they ate was ridiculous and possibly illegal.

A check of federal court records in California did not reveal any prosecutions developed from falafel trails.

It's not clear how the FBI got the records to sift through in the first place - did grocery stores volunteer the data or get served with national security letters or the dread Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The FBI need a bit more grooming on Middle Eastern cuisine. If they were after Iranians they were targeting the wrong food. Tahini and Falafel are Lebanese/Levantine dishes-not Iranian! Rather like the item in the Fishwick Special Branch files when in the 1980s Berwickshire shops were targeted in similar way-any one buying excessive amounts of potatoes were suspected of 'Irish sympathies' and liable for a spell in the Maze.** (Operation Market Garden Revise)

Or so one of my informants was told by a certain Pa**ick Fl**n* not far from the Cross Inn late Friday night

(* full name concealed at the request of the informant)

No, confused of Coldingham, Maze as in detention centre near Lisburn, not as in Amazing Maize Maze as in Fishwick

IMAGE is of a Felafel Trap set by FBI agents-thanks to our mole.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007
What an undervalued lot they must be in Coldstream-and how has the local Community Council got up the nose of the writer of this letter to the Berwickshire?

There appears to be some idea locally that, on occasions, the Coldstream provost’s robes and chain of office, could be used by the chairman of the local community council.
I need not remind readers that, prior to the dissolution of many Scottish burghs with local government reorganisation in 1975, local affairs were managed by a burgh council with a good deal of autonomy, duly elected as was the provost.
The office was highly regarded here in Coldstream and had authority and dignity with it.
I would certainly hope that the notion of a chairperson of a body that has no authority or fiscal power being entitled to wear the provost’s chain can be laid to rest once and for all. I think I am correct in saying that in Coldstream none of the community councillors have been properly elected and are not necessarily representative of the town.
I do know that in 1975 the Coldstream Museum Committee, on behalf of the recently opened museum, considered it to be right and proper for the burgh chain and robes to be permanently housed there, along with the roll of ex provosts from 1832.
This was achieved, but only after correspondence with the Lord Lyons Office in Edinburgh, who were adamant that the robes and chain be lodged in Edinburgh. However, we obtained the concession for them to remain in the museum, but only on giving them an assurance that they would not be used.
I am aware that time and circumstances have moved on and it may be that the position has altered as far as strictures from the Lord Lyon are concerned. But the provost’s robe and chain were used to dignify important events in the burgh calendar and I honestly cannot think of any equivalent occasion justifying its use by the community council

This is not a problem for Hutton and Paxton.We have no Provost to follow-Never a Burgh, always a couple of wee villages and a stressed out hamlet Our chairman of our community council would never need such trappings to signify the importance of the office. No Chain, no robe, no sparkling sequins or lambs wool hood. Just skin.

Thick, preferably

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Saturday, November 10, 2007


On our way;eventually. Like mid-May. Closing date come and gone and we have a buyer. 'Subject to Survey' Otherwise the first bit of the job has been. Now its up to our buyer to find the specie and possibly then the buyer of their house will have to sell theirs. The modern version of the chain gang. And all as Winter breaks-a traditional time for invading Russia not selling houses.

We will miss the walk down to the Whiteadder and a view of the Old Manse from the north on our way back. Or perhaps we won't have to; we can always come back and walk to the river to admire Mr R's 30,000 pheasant chicks, his 5,000 partridge, his 37 Guinea fowl and the crow.But when we walk by next June we can comment sadly:

'No longer ours '


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Friday, November 09, 2007

Surge Horror. Hutton safe*.

When its not the BBC Blether Centre terrifying the living daylights out of us with Severe Weather Warnings-maps covered in blazing red promising disruption and carnage on the roads should you dare to step outside, its the Environment Agency, borrowing the language of George W Bush predicting a massive 'surge' not in Baghdad but in our own dear North Sea. Huge walls of water varying from 18 inches above normal (Junior Agency Spokesman, Paisley jersey and dirty sneakers)) to 10 feet (very senior EA guy with expensive mac and brown wellies) roaring down the coast devouring the unwary and wiping out East Anglia as winds roared and tides rose to heights not seen since the Coronation. Never mind East Anglia and the other bits that stick out the whole East Coast was threatened (surprisingly no mention of Lindisfarne,perhaps that was evacuated or sunk earlier) No mention of Hutton either. We are only 6 miles from the north sea and vulnerable to flooding in the Whiteadder gorge (only a mere 100 feet below the centre of the village) but no doubt SEPA made sure that the Whiteadder Dam had a couple of extra barriers in place so some of us could sleep with easy consciences. Not all of us possibly as Hutton Think Tank aided by Fishwick Special Branch personnel had Plan C : Evacuation Code Word Reassurance in operation whereby The Trauma Team went around the community at 2am, knocking on doors to tell people

to stay where they were (Op. Noah's Arc Revised Two-on hold)

Only a handful of casualties have been reported as result of this exercise. And a bit like East Anglia, Hutton is

still there. (When I last checked)

People in Kent however are advised to remain vigilant.

* So far

(The image is a computer generated mock up of Hutton Main street following a failure in the Whiteadder Barrier)

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Thursday, November 08, 2007
Concrete Deferred

A small item caught Huttonian's eye in the Berwickshire 'House Plans deferred'

Amongst them are the four houses at Hutton Castle Barns, strongly opposed by neighbours and indeed not surprisingly, given the lack of any consultation (Farmer C is just across the road from his neighbours)-see previous posts. According to the Planning Website the application had been withdrawn by Farmer M-so it is slightly puzzling that the Berwickshire Area committee considered it at all-never mind deciding to 'continue' it at a future meeting pending more information. The Berwickshire report mentions that the local planning people had recommended the application for refusal because of difficult access to the site and road safety :' conflict between farm and domestic traffic being considered unacceptable' We had all assumed that the applicant jumped before he was pushed hearing of the planning difficulties-by withdrawing he can apply again within a year without paying any further fees-if refused the whole process starts again from scratch.

Good news for the Bananas but not so good for Mr Brown. He is still 4 houses short of

Three Million

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

WI launches crusade for licensed brothels

is a head line in The Times On-line-reflecting the Thunderers tabloid approach to most stories. It opens:

They are better known for making jam, selling cakes and stripping off to make calendars for charity. Now the Women’s Institute has started a campaign to license brothels to protect women who work as prostitutes.

The village of Holybourne in Hampshire is the unlikely birthplace of this crusade. Members of the WI branch there were deeply moved by the events last December when five street prostitutes were murdered in Ipswich.

The branch made licensing brothels the subject of its motion for debate at the autumn meeting of the Hampshire WI Federation, which has 6,000 members. The motion received almost unanimous backing and Hampshire WI will now go to the national organisation and mount a lobbying campaign to try to persuade local councillors and MPs to change the law.

Apart from wondering if 'crusade' is quite le mot justein this context ( 'Richard Coeur de Lion in Jerusalem Harlot Horror' to quote a 12th Century Sunne-page 2) we can only wonder if the Scottish equivalent of the WI the Women' Rural Institute will now follow suit. One, can, I suppose, speculate about brothels in the Borders but Huttonian does not want to fall into the trap sprung on a visiting CofE bishop to New York when asked for a view on the City's houses of ill repute replied, innocently: 'Oh Are there Brothels in New York?' fed the headline in a local Tabloid ' Visiting Brit Bish in search of Brothels''

No, Randy of Reston this is idle conjecture, not the start of a research programme, much less the launch of the XIth Crusade. All I do know is neither the Hutton Think Tank nor Fishwick Special Branch are 'into' local vice, as it were, nor am I aware of Sex Workers being asked to talk about their industry at meetings of local Probus, Knit and (K)Natter, Rotary, University of the Third Age, or other bodies (no pun intended) generally desperate for speakers-as Huttonian knows judging from the amount of times he has been asked to speak. Pity. Might liven up some rather dull afternoons, Knit and Knatter always excepted. Nor does prostitution seem to feature in the Duns Sheriff's court unless there is a gagging (no S or M implication) order on the cub reporter recording the cases for the Berwickshire
So we must assume that Whores and their safety is not an issue north of the Border and south of Glasga. When it is I will watch the agendas for forthcoming meetings of the Women's Guild with

Great interest.

And another thing: Members of the Women's Guild have yet to strip off for making calendars or for any other purpose-

as a group, I mean.

As far as I know, that is.

(The image of a sex worker demonstration is thought not to be from the Borders)

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Yes we have no Bananas

Whistling past Dunbar en route to Embra on the only-slightly-late-GNER-hardly-any-inconvenience-to-regret 0928 I noticed a lovely green field with a surveyor right in the middle of it doing his thing with his thing -thelodite thing, don't get me wrong. Being a Berwickshire BANANA I cared not too much-Dunbar I sometimes feel with its ill mannered golf club has it coming.

More worrying and more BANANA like a regular bloggee tellsm e that a surveyor was very recently seen surveying Knowe's Close -surely the most surveyed piece of good agricultural land in eastern Berwickshire.

Is the Laird at it again?

The price of avoiding concrete is eternal vigilance.

You read that first here.

(the image is of a prototype surveyor specially developed by Hutton Think Tank for the Eildon Housing Association. Remote controlled and with one very important feature for working in the countryside-it is very

Thick Skinned)

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Time Gentlemen, please. Almost

Just when we were beginning to enjoy the feeling of not living in a show house or a set from Gracious Living-the Movie we suddenly have a rather belated viewer-all the way from Fife, squeezing in under the bar before the closing date on Thursday. Apparently keen as we are the only property they are looking at in these 'ere parts, -not the two other Manses, Old and Ould and the latest one on the market-The Manse, Hutton,recently vacated by our last incumbent minister. So it is a frenzy of tidying up around the house,kick stuff under the beds and sofas but sod the garden and the outhouses and hope the wind will disperse the last of the leaves into neat looking piles.

We may need the Fifers as two of the likely bidders have decided not to. Mr Rutherford's yard and its disruptive potential (unlikely as that is) did for the guy with cash and the lack of return on capital investment for the other-obviously building up a property portfolio on arising market being the priority there. So our short list has shrunk somewhat not helped by talk of recession and another Northern Rock type meltdown rumoured hovering in the wings.

So here is an image of the Whiteadder Water at Abbey St Bathans.

What on earth has this to do with selling the Old Manse? I hear a sharp bloggee intellect exclaim.


Nothing at all.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Duns Space Probe
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
It possibly a good thing that CIA spy satellites did not find structures like this in Iraq pre March 2003 as all their fears about missiles ready to launch in 45 minutes would have been confirmed and the country might have been pre-emptively nuked . A classic rocket launch site and judging from its size housing a three stage ICBM at least. These are non covertly taken images of a farm complex between Duns and Preston (as in Berwickshire not as in North End).Some idjit in Fishwick Special Branch when first seeing the photograph muttered something about the Duns Space Programme.

Mind you farmers around here, specially when the tatties are coming up do have WMD-Wagons of Mud Distribution. Tractors to you and me.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007
  You Can't Take it With You

Beech Tree
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
They say.

Certainly that applies to much of our furniture in our move to the Small-House-in-Duns. Quarts into Pint pots apply. In our case its more like a gallon into a Sherry Glass. No matter, we can find good homes in Lunnon and Paree for some of the stuff.

But not for this Beech Tree. Ten years old and planted when we moved in. And years to come people will scratch their heads and say 'I wonder who planted that magnificent specimen' And the old gnarled person will tentatively suggest 'Could it have been Huttonian away back last century?' And the head scratchers will reply: '

Huttonian? Never heard of him'

There's an epitaph for you.
Friday, November 02, 2007

Forged notes discovered is a small headline on page 98 or so of the Berwickshire

A 22-YEAR-OLD woman was found to be in possession of two forged Bank of Scotland £10 notes when stopped by police at about 2am on Saturday, October 27, in Northburn Road, Eyemouth.
A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal and police are advising businesses in the are to remain alert in case there are any more forged notes in circulation.

One wonders, does not one, what on earth possessed the Eyemouth Police to stop a 22 year old woman at 2am on a Saturday morning on the off chance that they might find forged £10 notes. Did they search her? Or Did she offer to bribe them and they noticed the forgery?

It could have course been thanks to a tip off from Fishwick Special Branch who in a recent dawn (Sunday) swoop found a number of notes issued by the Bank of Scotland. These were said to be excellent forgeries, state of the art stuff and would have gone undetected if one smart eyed sleuth had not spotted that they were for £7 each. And he only noticed this after he had paid for a couple of packs of fags at Sir Morrisons later that day with the proceeds of the raid and got some unusual currency in his change: Two

Three Pound Notes. Allegedly

Fishwick SB have issued this image of a suspect whom they believe can help them with their enquiries with regard to an unusual method of money laundering

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Partying in the Borders
Huttonian does not normally do politics and the UK political scene seems not to impinge much on our rather remote life in the deepest Merse. Community Councils are normally apolitical and although our Scottish Borders Councillor, under the old system an ex-officio member of the CC, is a Tory he has never sought to thrust Conservative party doctrine down our throats, even if he knows what it is. For that relief much thanks: Big Jim Conundrum. And down here Embra seems as remote as Lunnon as far as government is concerned and Newtown St Boswells is also on a distant planet; in practice most of our dealings are with Duns-and the majority of those with the Planning officials.

Having said that I was nevertheless persuaded (by that rara avis, a fellow Borders Blogger) to attend a meeting of the Borders Party in Duns. This is a brand new organisation and was formed not long before the last Local Council Elections and succeeded in getting two councillors elected-see http://www.bordersparty.org.uk/-but only in the Galashiels and Melrose areas-nothing in either the central or eastern Borders; hence the meeting in Duns to spread the word and encourage support.

It is I think worth supporting as a party with a small p. If you want British troops out of Iraq don't involve the BB. But if you would like a more efficient service from the Scottish Borders Council bureaucrats, hope to stop the foolish proposed Waverley Line, keep Reston Station firmly closed, oppose inappropriate development, stop the whole scale closing of all except the most massive schools, and other issues which the bigger nationwide Parties can't be bothered with in an area where the voter base is fairly insignificant in the wider scheme of things. In other words a ginger group. And to make any serious impact on Borderswide policy it needs to be represented outside the Borders 'urban heartland'of Melrose/Galashiels/Newtown St Boswell. If it can bring 'Independents' and 'Greens' into its fold it could have a chance of being the biggest political organisation on the SBC.

It already is having an important irritant effect on planning judging from a fellow councillor who apparently accused the BB members of being super Nimbys-or in the more memorable description, BANANAs : Folk who are against Building Anything New Anywhere Near Anything. Perhaps not a very accurate description of BB policy but a compliment in my book. Thanks to the massive influence of the major supermarkets on food producers it is now accurate to state that what ever else you might have against Bananas they are at least


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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lost in Translation

The middle daughter has broken away from the Huttonian family tradition of producung very serious books on various serious subjects (Middle East, Poetry, Environment, Cerebral Palsy) by writing a novel-psychological thriler no less. Lets have at it I hear you cry! You can-if you can read Dutch as although Mr Macmillan is publishing his Dutch friends have got there first with 'De Jaarlijst'See image above And the English edition is not available before May next year.

Can't wait until then? Well, neither could I so I put the publisher's blurb into a Dutch English on line translator and rather wished I hadn't as it was almost gibberish-a sort of Double Dutch, you might say.

To demonstrate: Here is the post so far in Dutch:

De middendochter heeft vanaf de Huttonian familietraditie van producung zeer ernstige boeken over diverse ernstige onderwerpen (het Middenoosten, Poëzie, Milieu, Hersenverlamming) door een nieuw-psychologische minder geen thriler te schrijven gebroken. Laat bij het hebben ik horen u schreeuwt! U kunnen-als u het Nederlands zoals kunt lezen hoewel M. Macmillan zijn Nederlandse vrienden publiceert hebt daar eerst met het ' hierboven beeld van DE Jaarlijst'See en de Engelse uitgave is niet beschikbaar volgend jaar vóór Mei. Kan tot toen wachten? Goed, konden geen van beiden ik zodat ik blurb van de uitgever in Nederlandse Engelsen op lijnvertaler zetten en wensten eerder dit ik niet aangezien het bijna een brabbeltaal- soort van het Dubbele Nederlands was had, zou u kunnen zeggen.

Put it back into English from the translated text above and Hey Presto you get:

The middendochter have as from the Huttonian family tradition of producung very serious book concerning several serious subjects (the Middenoosten, poëzie, environment, lord paralysis) by writing new-psychological less no thriler break. Lets at has I hear you shouts! You kunnen-als you Dutch such as can read although M. Macmillan is Dutch friends publishes have there firstly with above the picture of the Jaarlijst'See and the English expenditure is not next year available by May. Can wait to then? Well, were possible none of both I so that I put blurb of the editor in Dutch english on line translator and wished rather this I since it almost brabbeltaal - type of double Dutch was had, you are able say.

Me, I am going to wait until May after all

(Ik heb de Denkgroep van Hutton (Vertaalcentrum) geraadpleegd en zij gaan akkoord)

or, as we put it in the Merse :

I the Denkgroep of hut barrel* (Vertaalcentrum) have consulted and they go agreed

* Hutton Think Tank (Translation Centre)
Happenings in A small Scottish Community


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