Musings from the Merse
Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fancy finding a huge Garden Centre like Dobies outside Perth sells spades, pink, purple bog standard steel but not Shovels. Would not happen in the Borders you can be sure. Perthshire too posh for shovels. Leaving the store clutching a spade we had to run the guantlet of a well dressed geezer rattling a collection tin mostly ignored by the exiting gardeners. What was the collection for? I peered at the Tin as I cautiously approached and it was thrust aggressively at the people in front of us.

The Logo was familiar

Bank of Scotland A lost cause worth supporting

Bank of Scotland?

Bank of Scotland!

Pension top up perhaps? In case the former Chairman has to return half of his?

I started to brush past indignantly But my account is with the Bank of Scotland. Nice bank actually. Might be for the Duns' manager retirement pension.

I dropped in a pound coin

I then had another look at the tin. Bank of Scotland logo certainly but charity was
for disabled children. Mistake anyone can make

With my eyesight.

I did not put in another coin. Saving that for a


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Friday, February 27, 2009
  Drive 2ndKillin

Drive 2ndKillin
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Away from the Merse for four days-Kiliin and Cullen, neatly enough. Blogging spasmodic with normal service being restored on Tuesday. If we are spared, of course.
No I am not taking my golf clubs so along raking drive at the second at Killin needs, sadly, to await another visit
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Its a 71% Heaven on Earth, apparently

One thing you can say with statistical backing is that the Borderers are no moaners-at least that is the impression you get here This the findings of the latest public survey on services which having given many aspects of Borders life the big OK, concludes as follows;

For Berwickshire residents the main areas of complaint are: the condition of the roads; litter; recycling and waste collection needs improved; they say they don't receive many services from SBC; there is no NHS dentist in the area; dog fouling; and speeding.
Other services in the region that were surveyed: GP/health centres (86 per cent are satisfied); police (84 per cent are satisfied; dentist (83 per cent satisfaction); local housing associations (78 per cent)' and Scottish Enterprise Borders (71 per cent

And one oddity: 83% are satisfied with the local dentist services but there is no NHS dentist in the area.

Dog Fouling and Speeding.

A fervent Amen to those not forgetting the Faffer on the B6461 who drives at 45MPH in the middle of the road, refuses to be overtaken and is apparently outspoken about dangerous driving.

I bet she has 5 dogs

And the roads, although never crowded, are awful from the point of view of collapsed and muddy verges, long term potholes and albeit seasonal vast acres of mud around the farms. Again the B6461 takes the Palm D'Or with one particular farm not far west from Paxton consistently the worst offender. Apparently the roads budget for Scotland is not going to be able to cope with this years programme of running repairs
and as usual the Borders will be at the bottom of the list when cash is doled out. They may get too dangerous for the Jim Clarke Rally. That would be a


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spitall from the Cliff
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Spitall looked a bit like this yesterday in the faux Spring. We once considered relocating from Hutton to here but a major factor on not doing so was the huge number of dogs (rarely see one walker with only one cur) and therefore the piles of 'waste' (as the notices call the crap) where ever you go. Not even safe on the beach below the tide mark. You can't see the excrement from here but believe me, it is there. Either in situ or lovingly placed in a plastic bag and then left abandoned for the careless shoe.

And the other thing I find unattractive about this rather faded seaside resort are the numerous unfriendly notices on people's gates prohibiting parking, turning your car or possibly breathing through your mouth. If they are ignored as the anti Dog Fouling posters then I have some sympathy with the householders. But the whole thrust is 'move on, Jimmy. We don't want your sort here'

The other image is of a Spitall Gate notice. I am not sure what it means. If you don't close the gate

we might escape?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Road of (Slow) Death

The Blog's newly acquired (we could not get Jeremy Clarkson for contractural reasons) motoring correspondent writes:

Comment has been made previously about strange driving practices along the B6461, particularly along the stretch around Hutton and Paxton. Early last evening I was poodling in the Berwick direction at my standard 55 when behold (or did when he eventually doused his full-beam headlights) a black van man, someone having evidently resprayed a vintage Bedford . Every time the driver hit a pothole, the lights blared up again. He covered the ground between me and him as fast as if he were delivering a human kidney – hopefully not mine. He then overtook (without signalling) and veered (without signalling) into the Paxton cut-off then reduced his speed to normal. Is there something about the Paxton area which makes it into what sounds like the latest Alexander McCall Smith – the Resort of Needful Drivers?

There is certainly something about the B6461-a highway of (near if not sudden) death which used to feature regularly in the proceedings of the Hutton and Paxton Community Council when ever the Fuzz were in attendance. The first Paxton turn off (coming from England, as they do), on a bad corner is a very nasty accident waiting to happen. So many drivers seem to remember urgent business in Paxton at the very last moment or that the Cross has a particularly good Beer of the Month and veer off with no warning. And others seem so desperate to flee the village that they shoot out without observing the traffic on the mainer road.

And at the second turn off- to Paxton and eventually (if you are spared)Greenlaw) you have a choice of turning suddenly towards the village or an equally dramatic hand brake turn to the left into Paxton House with a good chance of marginally reducing the number of local dog walkers which remain in season even when PH is not.

Or of course you can control your instincts and carry on straight to Kelso.

But that would be a pity as you would miss the better Hutton turn off. And that would be a crying shame

(The image is apparently to do with a vehicle test conducted recently on the Fishwick Bypass)

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Two images eluded me in Hutton: Low flying aircraft caught in the act at undr 200 feet and unretentive dogs. But an occasional bloggee has helped out with the latter. I wonder if this was Spittal beach? Certainly not Hutton but it will do as an interesting image.
What an entry for the family album

And if the photographer noticed the backing group (npi) was the decent thing done? One assumes it was the photographer's dog.

Or as so often in Spittal was it left to the tide to do the pooping?

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Sunday, February 22, 2009


Having lived in Scotland for over 12 years Huttonian and the wife decided that it was about time we bought a Scottish newspaper. Not to overdue it, once a week and good riddance to the overblown,overbearing, oversized and overpriced Observer; so Scotland on Sunday it is: a good old fashioned broadsheet and 50 p less than the 'O'

You won't find much Borders news we were warned; no matter, we have the Ber Wick Shire for that. But as it happens one of the main articles in 'Insight' in SoS is mostly centred on one of our select band of Borders'Bloggers-not about her blogging skills but her Scrabble. Apparently the lady in question is the No 1 Woman Scrabble player in the World, if not No One. Full stop (It seems from looking at the rankings that its usually the men who head the lists. Why?)
So if you head along the Whiteadder Valley and come across a women fitting 'Cotlands' (the only allowable anagram of Scotland) onto a board you will likely have discovered the author of Country Strife (See link or go here) and I suggest play her not for money. Not during the credit crunch at any rate.

I fear that Scrabble is not my game given my uncertain spelling and reliance on Spell Check (Irish English) The rules on what words you can legally use are very strict and I am sorry that a term I claim as my own : LOWHEIDYIN is, according to the World No One not eligible -see here for elucidation. But as you can google it it might come into common currency one day. Google 'lowheidyin and not low heid yin btw) and see what comes up ** I am thinking of writing to the Highheidyins or High Heid Yins, to be pedantic, of the World Scrabble Governing Body and asking for a more flexible approach to newly coined nouns.

I hope Country Strife will support me. And I also hope she can confirm that the five letter F word in the image, more or less dead centre of the board-click to enlarge (Thankyou betsymartin of flickr)is not kosher, Scrabble Rules Wise.

** Enough links for one post. Blog Ed)

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Saturday, February 21, 2009


The Berwickshire's Looking Back column carries a report of a Burns Supper in Chirnside exactly 25 years ago (Still celebrating the Bard after mid February, little else to do in Chirnside in those days)It must have been a sensational event as as part of the traditional ritual a speaker gave the Address of the Haggis. As you presumably know the exact location of the Haggis's domicile is one of Scotland's closest guarded secrets, all are also ex-directory, thus keeping cold callers, double glazing salesmen and hopeful Jehovah's Witnesses at bay. Fortunately the Berwickshire in its report was discreet enough not to publish this indiscretion which still remains highly confidential and known to very few outside the Dumfries Burns Unit

Not unlike a famous incident when Prime Minister Lloyd George was subjected to a lengthy and fullsome introduction by some provincial chairman at a rural political meeting. The chairman, after a good 30 minutes of platitudes and mixed metaphors invited Lloyd George to 'give his address'

'10 Downing Street'

and stalked of the platform

(Image is taken from a discreetly silent Haggis)

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Friday, February 20, 2009

No Change at Reston. Hopefully

Huttonian's selection of the letter of the month is

SIR, - Quoting from a statement to the Berwickshire News from John Lamont:
"I appreciate that much of the focus is on the central Borders railway going to Tweedbank but this will do nothing to help public transport in Berwickshire. Residents in Eyemouth, Coldstream or Duns are hardly likely to travel all the way to Tweedbank to get the train to Edinburgh. As the central Borders railway grabs all the headlines, Berwickshire must not be forgotten about and I will ensure that the Minister is reminded on a regular basis of the local need for a station at Reston."

Why would anyone be stupid enough to travel from Duns, Coldstream or Eyemouth to Tweedbank when Berwick-upon -Tweed is only a few miles away. In fact all three are as near to Berwick than Reston if not nearer.
This proves once again that the idea is more based on novelty than reality.
When Doctor Beeching was brought in all those years ago to revamp the railway system, one of the cuts he planned was cutting the Newcastle to Edinburgh line, on the basis that the west coast line could serve Scotland via Glasgow. His reason for this being that only Berwick-upon-Tweed would be affected and that the population of the town did not justify an extensive 120 mile rail track.
Luckily that one got away from the doctor and we now have an excellent rail service at Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The idea that a small village in Berwickshire should have a rail service is ludicrous in the extreme, Reston should no more have a station than any other small village and arguments for are flawed, leaving the door open to all small communties to demand they also should have a service.
“Good Morning Trainline here.”
“Oh yes I was enquiring about a super saver from Reston to Ayton.”
“That will be £5 please.”
“What! £5 to Ayton, that’s ridiculous.”
“Not as ridiculous as having stations in small villages sir.”

It would be nice to think we will hear no more about Reston Station, except from Mr Lamont who needs the votes from pleasing all the people all the time. But I am sure that is a forlorn wish . RAGES will be up in arms -ENRAGED indeed and the nonsense will go on. But with a bit of luck the Crunch will finish it off.

The image is from a mock up of a future Reston Station from the archives of the Hutton Think Tank. A lone passenger on platform 32B awaits the 0901 from Aberdeen to Lands End. The only train due that day

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gay Abandon

'Why are there so few men doing Pilates' I enquired at large in my class this morning. 'Not few actually. None apart from you' said the teacher.'I have tried to get males along but to no avail' 'Its a Border's thing said a fellow torturee. All this stretching stuff is a bit, er, effeminate as far as Berwickshire males are concerned. Weight lifting fine, Aerobics, ok but Pilates. No.

'Like owning a Whippet. Perhaps?' I thought. Don't see many of those around these parts. Rescue Greyhounds coming out of your ears. But Whippets, nary a one.

'Perhaps' someone suggested to our instructor, 'If you advertised your classes as thought not suitable for Gay men, you might get some male applicants?'

There's a thought

The image is of a Whippet. According to its caption on flickr "It literally pranced its way around the park." "merrily" apparently

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Winning The Pooh?

This letter to the Berwickshire:

SIR - I read with interest the regular correspondence regarding dog fouling across the Borders.
My team and I have been working hard to get the message through to everyone that dog fouling will not be tolerated.
Part of the publicity/awareness campaign has involved the team putting up around 200 posters reminding dog owners of their obligations and providing contact information for people to ask questions or report offenders.
In the past few weeks, a large percentage of the posters have been ripped down in the Chirnside and Swinton area.
This means that tax payers’ money and council staff time has been wasted.
We would ask the parties involved to please stop destroying these posters.
I would also ask anyone with an issue about dog fouling to contact us on 0800 376 1030 to discuss it.

Senior Dog Warden

is indicative of how dog fouling remains one of the main issues in rural villages, not just in the Merse but throughout the UK. Much noise and heat is generated at Community Council meetings with most people supportive of attempts to reduce the Berwickshire crap mountain. So one wonders what the problem in Chirnside and Swinton with posters being torn down? Are thes anal rtentive dog owners (the orifice pertaining to the canine, not the owner) fed up with constant unnecesary admonitions?
Or local anarchists. And if you don't approve of this anti poo campaign what arguments can you deploy on 0800 876 1030 to convince the Crap Czar to lay off?
Perhaps A Peasant can shed some light?

At risk of overkill I repeat a post of some years ago:

Dogged does it

At the (fairly) recent Scottish Border council elections most candidates pledged to do more about dealing with the mountains of dog poo which besmirch our villages and sure enough a plan of action was pledged in the aims of the new administration. A 'vision' rather than a plan of action in councilspeak. This pome(?) by a local bard is seemingly based on a vision-poppy/puppy induced? Who knows. I am advised that although considered by some as possible line of action it was never actually implemented. A pity.

The Hutton Solution

‘ The Notice reads:

'Dogs who offend will be shot’
and in smaller letters:
‘Owners of offending dogs.
You have been warned!’

‘That should do the trick’
said the large man
with a baseball hat’.
putting another shell
into his shotgun.
stepping carefully over
the spent cartridges
the corpses

There were some dead dogs
as well.

‘I sometimes think
that the chairman
of the Community Council
takes his duties too seriously’


the lady with the pooper scooter
and the bullet proof

NB very carefully. The chairman of the community council thus depicted must have been well before Huttonian's time

The image is obviously to encourage the responsible disposal of poo while it is still fresh and steaming. Worth trying in Whitsome? But perhaps put it into Gallic rather than Welsh?

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Black Monday Revisited. The Thursday After

'What are you doing,then?' asked
Pensioner One, basking with the snowdrops
in the watery sun
of a Merse Winter

'Waiting' said Pensioner Two, scrabbling in her
lunch box.
'For Godot.? Perhaps'

' No. He has long since gone.I am waiting
for the Outreach Van.
'Out of second class stamps'
Replied Pensioner Two. Shaking out the crumbs.

'But it comes on Friday. This is
Thursday' Said Pensioner One, putting an
offering into the Dog Poo

'Not long to wait then'

'I'll join you' said Pensioner One
'Not much else on,
most Thursdays'

Attrib: Bob Mossom. Aka The Berwickshire Bard

(The image is of snowdrops. Also waiting?)

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Monday, February 16, 2009
Dun Postin. Sic Transit Gloria Monday

Black Monday in Hutton. After goodness knows how many years, in many diferent houses, the Hutton Post Office expires at 1230pm. A sad morning marked by coffee and biscuits served to some of the faithful long time customers. I was the only former Post Master to turn up by mid morning. One lives in the village, another in Chirnside, a third in Ayton and our former lodger, in charge of the kitchen table facility in the Old Manse for three years has long since left for the Big Smoke. Now we have the customer outreach van. Mondays and Fridays. An hour over lunch time. Parked outside the hall and unlikely to turn up in inclement weather whilst the pensioners shiver in the Hutton winter. And all at extra cost to the Post Office.

After the farce of the 'consultation exercise' one can only assume the policy is to make the remaining 'customer base' so fed up that they vote with their feet (actually by car) and go to a bigger more 'viable' office in eg Berwick or Duns. And oblige the remaining pensioners to do what the Post Office has been urging them to do for years-'get your bloody pittance paid into your bleeding bank account, for goodness sake. Cash in hand is so 20th century'

'Service to the community?'

'You must be joking!'


Sunday, February 15, 2009
Knights of the Road

You see little evidence of the homeless, in an urban sense, squatting in cardboard boxes in Berwickshire. I suspect our resident Big Issue seller stationed, from time to time, outside the Duns Coop is unemployed rather than homeless as Big Issue sellers generally were. We once had an itinerant (Tramp? in old money) camping in our local Episcopalian church but he moved on with little to say for himself as to his circumstances.

As we were leaving St James, Piccadilly on Wednesday, a large, macintoshed, untidy gent with several plastic bags was moving in, presumably for a nights shelter. The well heeled departing congregation seemingly avoided his eye as they hurried off for a bean feast at the nearby BAFTA building, not that he was soliciting donations, spare change or otherwise. A fellow guest at the reception, who had noticed his arrival told me of a similar encounter at St Martins in the Fields. Someone noted a 'down and out' coming into the church and made some comment about seeing a lot of vagrants around. The person concerned, stopped and said with great dignity 'I am no vagrant; I am a


Demonstrating that even in the most straitened of circumstances the Knights of the Road, as romantic Victorian novelists occasionally described the tramp fraternity, maintain their standards.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009
Good Laird!

Well the Laird will not just give up if the Berwickshire News is to be believed This not a new application in that it is on more or less the same site and appears to be the previous one tweaked a bit to take account of the objections made to application number one, which failed, and also the further objections made by the adjudicator when the appeal was turned down.Its a nice touch to want to build on a 'former stackyard' -makes it sound all industrial regeneration-much better than constructing in a woody area-not that is any longer an inhibition as the offending wood has been bulldozed away-inferior Norwegian Spruce, apparently, uprooted in early January to provide a wonderful opportunity for getting Christmas Tree bargains with only 345 shopping days to go.

The correspondence including a massive letter of support from one of the Laird's men and a trenchant critique from a neighbour can be viewed here In brief the supporting documents claim that the Laird's new project will enhance the neighbourhood to a Zanadu like degree whilst the objector strongly disagrees, pointing out, inter alia,that extending an 'existing building group' in the way desired by the Laird could be the start of ribbon development along the upper Hutton Road.
And when that happens,with the huge traffic growth inevitably involved, thus potentially creating a very dangerous corner, who might then suggest a bypass-a la Fishwick? (and on whose land?)

Who indeed?

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  On the train

On the train
Originally uploaded by wabbit42
Thankyou wabbit for this study of an on line (npi) computer on the National Express East Coast/ I suspect Wabbit is a frontman for the NE wifi highheidyins advertising their technical credentials in contrast to low tech Virgin Cross Country.

Fine when it works. It didn't as we left Kings Cross heading northwards. The on board wifi help team are only contactable via their website which is a bit of a Catch 22. I asked the ticket team leader for assistance-sorry not wthin her area of competence-'On Board' Magazine was equally useless and then I remembered the advice of a survivor of many NE trips.

'Wait for a long tunnel and try again'

I did.

Magic. OK its dial up speed. But bette than reading the complimentary Times.

Any time
Friday, February 13, 2009
Failing to find the Berwickshire News in N13 I had to resort to the electronic version. The letter column being obviously short of material prints an antediluvian cut and paste recycled joke,

SIR, - From the following (heard on the grapevine) you can see that the special relationship is still going strong between the USA and UK.
What is the difference between the USA and the UK?
Answer - America has President Obama, Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Stevie Wonder. Britain has Prime Minister Brown, no cash, no hope, no wonder we are in a mess

They might as well start soliciting correspondence from the self styled Regent of Scotland who seems to be lying low.
This is more interesting and demonstrates how at least two of the Huttonian grandchildren have inherited his numeracy. Hope they don't grow up to being Banksters. Given their obvious skill with figures this is an unlikely prospect

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Momento Mori.

Huttonian is in the Big Smoke for a memorial service for a former colleague and friend who died much too young and very unexpectedly. Going to Memorial Services is becoming a significant committment to add to all those seventh age activities. THree in the last ten months. It is always interesting to see who has not yet dropped off their perch, still around, live if not kicking too hard. At the last such occasiion I was accosted by someone whom I thought I recognised and said with an air of surprise..'Long time no see. I thought you had left us.' I explained I had-gone to Scotland 'Gone to Scotland?!' That's not quite what I meant' and wandered off. Later I saw him talking to another elderly gent and pointing at me. He then came over and apologised for mistaking me for some one else-.'Didn't think you could be him. Was at his memorial service, Recently. Well last Monday actually. Remarkable resemblance. Then anxiously 'Keeping well are we. Cold Scottish Air keeps one going I shouldn't wonder.

I hope to see him this afternoon.

I wish I oould remember who he is

The image is of St James Picadilly

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Off to the Big Smoke to escape the ice and snow of Duns-perhaps Lunnon will be worse so this may be a bad move. We are in for a 'quiet few days' said the boys in the Blether Centre, a shade regretfully, I thought.

So I fear the worst.

The wife is off to Paris to grande mere for a few days after grandmothering in N13. I will have a spell on my own in Duns; the first bit of culinary independence since we left the Old Manse. I have forgotten many of Les Specialities de La Manse-but can probably still manage Ouefs 'Utton and Sardines Nues de Whiteadder.

And if all else fails there is always The Siamese Kitchen

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sun Also Rises.

"Those Poor Sods" said the 'The Scottish Sun?' purchaser to the newsagent. 'Poor Sods'. Asked for elucidation by the 'Daily Record' just behind me in the queue he jerked his head in the general direction of South Street: 'Yon Poor Sods. The English. What a something clobbering from the something weather. Normally I have not much time for the something English,but Poor something Sods' Daily Record had a peek at Page 3 of the Scottish Sun as the speaker headed door wards;' She's something English' he commented'. Doesn't seem to be something suffering' .Yer man stopped in his tracks, turning Page 3 towards him.

'Mon, you're right' Certainly those aren't something


And left.

Sometimes I feel the Grudian is incomplete in its coverage. Rather like the page 3 models in its sisterly publication)

(The image is an example of the Suns penetrating political analysis)

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Monday, February 09, 2009
Off Line on Line

Where Virgin Cross country just does not compete with National Express is its inability to provide a blog facility in the form of an Internet connection. Nat Ex is slow enough-my old dial up ISDN line in Hutton seemed faster but at least you can answer one e-mail, write another and the first para of a post between Ber Wick and Embra. The trouble is that the Virgin 1121 to Embra is quite close in time to the 1141 National Express and I had meant to take the latter but I had mistaken the time. A station announcement said something about the train now approaching platform Two so I dashed out of the Waiting Room-the train roared past whisking away the Sports Section of the Grudian which I had retrieved from the waste basket in the Loo. As it dwindled into the distance the Deputy Assistant Operational Train Co-coordinator (Porter in old money) said with some satisfaction 'That train does not stop here' and retreated back into his Office. Job done. I then got onto the next train which did stop and hence the no Internet connection.

I went up to Embra with some misgivings hopeful that the Terrorists in the Blether Centre had lost interest in southern Scotland and were concentrating their efforts on the WINTER STORM due to lay waste Middle England later today.

'Stay Tuned to our TV bulletins' they urged

'Especially during power disruptions'

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Huttonian has much sympathy with this writer (again to the Berwick Advertiser)

I read the ‘Comment’ feature in your issue of January 22 concerning a recent job description issued by the county council – Director of street scene in the place directorate.
I am appalled at this obscure title and wonder if this is yet another method of distancing the public from what actually is being done in our name. I hope the job itself is a proper one, even if the title is not.
Whatever happened to the Plain English Campaign? We need to support it now to prevent the spread of such idiocy.
This could be an excellent campaign for your newspaper to sponsor!

I quite agree that this issue needs envisionment whilst pushing the envelope without disturbing the elephant in the room. How my distant relative Sir Ernest Gowers of Plain Words fame must be rotating coffin wise.

My favourite job title coined by a GLC borough long ago (Probably Islington or Brent) was aimed to elevate the self esteem of the good old fashioned Bin Man;

Environmental Hygenist

The Americans are much more advanced than we Old Europeans at making the job title suit the business. In New York if you have a problem* with cockroaches, as you do, you send for

The Exterminator

The image is of Environmental Hygenists in Norn Iron. One once took his title of Refuse Collector, plain and to the point, very seriously. Never picked anything up.
Ulster still says No, apparently.

* or an issue

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Saturday, February 07, 2009
  Golfing for (Polar) Bears

Duns Golf Course. The Finish
Originally uploaded by old_greywolf2000
Had debated about going to Newcastle, Norn Iron, for February to miss the Merse winter and get some golf. But there is golf in Duns said Faff Mc Faffer. Why bother to move? We didn't.

Here is the 18th fairway Duns Golf Club (MPBUI). Pretty yes; especially the Cheviots in the background. Golf? I think not. And yet in Newcastle County Down, the Royal County Down (PBUI) is swarming with golfers admiring the snow on the Mountains of Mourne. Bah!
Friday, February 06, 2009

Huttonian only rarely reads the Berwick Advertiser as the world it reports on although only 15 miles or so from Duns and less than 7 from down town Hutton it might well be on a different planet as far as news and 'issues' are concerned. Its letter column, always a good indicator of what the lunatic fringe is up to carried this gem :

SIR,-As neither our council nor our overstretched blue thin line seem to be able to rid our public areas of intimidating groups of alcoholics and drug addicts, who appear to flaunt local bylaws with relative impunity, may I be permitted to offer a solution?
My thoughts are that we should, perhaps through public subscription, purchase a water cannon.
I for one would volunteer to be trained on such a vehicle and I am sure the dog warden would be right there with me.
The use of this vehicle, which would supplement the refuse cart, on a regular basis would go some way to resolving the problem.
Not only that, we could also tackle dog and seagull deposits at the same time and perhaps loosen chewing gum on the pavements, particularly at the 'methazone' (Boots forecourt)!
If, as I suspect, the above is considered too cost prohibitive in today's current financial climate and/or a tad too politically incorrect, then can I suggest a cheaper alternative?
We could designate a dedicated area where these morons could congregate (the low water mark at Spittal beach just before a spring tide springs to mind) and place at their disposal their very own recycling apparatus by way of a bottle/can bank, sharps bin and mega skip!
Seriously though. I ask the question.
Is it really beyond our collective wit to rid our parks and beauty spots of these non contributing low life before they (the former) all become permanent ‘no go’ areas for townsfolk and visitors alike?

Is this really so OTT? Could Duns get like this? As for Hutton,the Think Tank believes there is a certain resonance: The CEO (HT2) points out that if it was known the first dog owner who permits his pet to defecate in a public place would be swept away by a water cannon, together with animal and deposit, what a marvelous deterrent that would be. The Community Council is to be addressed by the Dog Poo Highheidyin-or Crap Czar, at its next meeting so here may well be a idea worth putting forward.
(The image is of a mini water cannon, child operated to minimise costs. Three of these on the Hutton main street and a handful more on the walks around the village would soon raise Hutton to the coveted title of the 2009 European Village of Curfree Cleanliness or something) Much better than the rather hackneyed Best Wee Wee Village competition-Wee Wee being not far of the mark in this context

Paxton might like to follow suit

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Thursday, February 05, 2009
Marching with Georgia

Paxton girl a finalist in Miss Universe GB
is a headline in today's Berwickshire on line Full story plus tasteful image here

She beat of 500 'hopefuls' to reach the finals.

How many from Hutton one wonders

( I assume it is the same lass here)

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Borders Council is getting into the Will- Ye- No- Come-- back-again- to- Scotland's- Favourite- Short- Break-Destination- Year- of -the- Homecoming business by writing to favourite sons and daughters of the Merse with specific invitations to attend the Common Ridings. After much head scratching and Googling as to whom to get hold of (Jim Clarke is dead so is Duns Scotus) a personal letter has gone to the actress Tilda Swinton. The Berwickshire has the whole story here

Doubtless Ms Swinton pops back now and then to see her parents just down the road but whether she can be prevailed upon to grace the Common Ridings or even the Duns Ba' game remains to be seen.

The letter of invitation lists Scotland's contributions to the Planet:

Robert Burns (the 250th anniversary of his birth is in 2009), golf, whisky, great minds and innovations and Scotland's rich ancestry and culture.

The order is interesting. Personally I would have promoted Golf ahead of Burns and indeed whisky, as it was the uisge beatha or water of life which surely inspired his greatest poems (Try preforming Tam O'Shanter without drink taken)I am told that the Gallic Studies Centre at Edinburgh University has turned away many doctorate theses on the theme of 'Burns: One Third Inspiration, Two Thirds Intoxication' as too hackneyed. Anyhow the Uni's Health and Safety regulations forbid extensive research into aspects of this topic.

(Blurry Image from the Berwickshire: Tilda Swinton is on the right)

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Scots Make Hae, Away

An excerpt from a rather sour article in the latest Scottish Review categorises a certain type of sentimental expat Scot as follows:

"The group as a whole is redolent of the Sean Connery School of Scottishness, an academy of exiles who sing the praises of their native land without the inconvenience of having to live in it"

And one is singled out for special attention:

Lulu, the vocalist, who 'dreams every day of Scotland' from her mansion somewhere deep in the Home Counties'.

The article which was provoked by a recent Burns Supper in the Big Smoke at which awards for Great Scots were announced can be read in full here. Somewhere else I read that there were now more Scots south of the Border than domiciled in Scotland-including No 10 of course. That's nonsense

One authoritative figure quoted in 'Undiscovered Scotland at http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usscotfax/soc/scottish.html puts 800,000 Scots in the UK outside Alba but the word wide figure is frightening.

To highlight two paras in the Undiscovered Scotland article:

Scotland's often turbulent history and its long record of large scale emigration means there are far more people who consider themselves Scots outwith Scotland than within it. In the 2000 Census, 4.8 million US residents considered themselves Scots by ancestry. And another 4.3 million US residents considered themselves to be Scots-Irish, i.e. descended from Scots who settled in Ulster, perhaps for generations, before emigrating to the United States. This makes a total of around 9 million Scots in the United States: and some estimates suggest that a further 38 million US Citizens could consider themselves to be Scots or Scots-Irish, but don't (and so don't count as Scots under the definition set out above).

Meanwhile, 4.1 million Canadians reported Scottish ancestors in the 2001 Census. Scottish communities exist in France, Italy, Holland and Poland, and it has been estimated that up to 250,000 Russians are of Scottish descent. Further afield, 20% of the European settlers in New Zealand were from Scotland, as were many who went to Australia. And there are significant numbers of people descended from Scottish settlers living in Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Overall there are probably around five times as many Scots living outside Scotland than within it.

If this lot all return for the year of the Homecoming!

Book your Foreign Summer Holiday now

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow Eventing. Duns Dings 'A

What the Terror Striking Service of the BBC (Blether Centre) has been calling a 'significant snow event' for England and Wales has reached Duns (Scotland)and frustrated plans for Phase One of the garden at the Small House in Duns. Emulating Country Strife the Wife was hoping to have a crack at the veggie plot having disposed of the remains of the prolific Sprouts harvest. No chance of that until the event has taken place, medals distributed and we can draw a line in the slush and move on.

You may remember the Two Ronnies Headline :

'News of Panic Buying in Scotland. There is none'

Yer man in Joe's claimed on Saturday that so grim were the SEVERE WEATHER WARNINGS that he had noticed twitchy if not outright panic purchasing. Candles, matches, kindling wood, stiff bristled yard brushes and a run on the cash machines as if the Royal Bank of Scotland's liquid assets were to freeze overnight and the replenishment Securicor species wagons could not reach Duns on Monday. The wife in the spirit of all this has laid in a calor gas camping stove to ride out the power cuts and we managed to get one of the last bags of seasoned hardwood from Pearsons which had been well panic bought over the weekend judging from the state of its timber section

The images are taken some hours apart. As of early evening the BBC Terrorists are predicting an Olympic Style snow event. And the warning has been upgraded to


This is apparently more serious than SEVERE . One word left in the eventing vocab:


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Sunday, February 01, 2009
Best Laird Schemes. The End?

Those of you who sympathise with the Laird's attempts to create a greater Paxton (or Poxton as a bloggee has called it) will be dismayed by the ruling referred to here The appeal to reverse a decision by the Scottish Borders Planning Department (another oxymoron) against the building of two bijou residences just outside the village on the upper Hutton road has been turned down. The grounds for refusal are a classic of planning Gobbledygook to do with road alignment and existing building blocks-not a mention of scrub land nor bull dozed copses. And for once it seems that neighbours with their objections have won the day.

Could it be that there is an inbuilt prejudice amongst the Planning Highheidyins as far as the Laird's schemes are concerned. And if so


(Answers on an A 3 sheet to the Hutton Think Tank: Wild Ideas Department)

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