Musings from the Merse
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Wrong sort of Chocolates on Line?

Huttonian does not usually do links to you-tube but this recently discovered neo-Nazi documentary (Thank you Fritz Goebbels (-your grandfather may have had some redeeming features you say?) is worth sharing with bloggees. I am told there is another fascinating piece floating around the ether-Benito Mussolini and his gang discussing the possible re-opening of Reston Station but only on the condition that East Coast National Express is taken over by a Swiss/Italian Consortium. Quote from BM : I Britannici sanguinanti non hanno idea su come fare i loro treni funzionare in tempo" *

This is a sore point with me. I was once the subject of an official complaint by the Swiss Government over a remark I had made to the Swiss Charge'd'Affaires in Kuwait when I was a very junior member of the British Embassy there in 1975. This guy had bent my ear banging on about how dismal the UK was-strikes, inflation, high unemployment, trade unions, under performing public services,low standard of living-after he had finished I remarked that there were more important things in life than getting your chocolates to run on time. He stormed off shouting about lack of respect for senior colleagues and friendly countries. Later he formally complained to my Ambassador for such impertinence and a few months later a puzzled British Ambassador in Berne was summoned by the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs to receive a formal protest about my behaviour. Fortunately our highheidyins unlike the Swiss had a sense of humour and I doubt if my promotion prospects were too damaged!

(* The Bloody British have no idea on how to make their trains run on time)

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rain in Duns. Noah on standby?

Only one topic of conversation at Nairns this morning: Rain. I would not have expected such a feature of the Duns weather- scape to arouse so much comment but we have had the longest period of aridity that I have experienced in what is usually a very wet place-the one significance difference from rain starved (if dreich soaked) Hutton. So having had 76mm on the 3rd and 4th of September it has been dry since until last night.
Hence the stir amongst the early paper buyers this morning.

Actually rain may be a bit of a misnomer. Drizzle really and our weather gauge barely registers 1mm but the garden gleams in the damp and the just ripening tomatoes are looking perky. But in Greenlaw, a mere 8 miles away, and our nearest weather station -see here the statistics claim no precipitation whats so ever-yet you can clearly (well, rather murky with condensation) see via the live web cam here that if it is not exactly hissing down it is pretty damp.

I wonder if the Greenlaw meteorologists are of the Mr Fish school of forecasting-more interested in what they think may happen and not diverted by the actuality, of what is. It is therefore interesting that the web cam site carries an ad for 'An Evening of Clairvoyance' next month-is this our experts night job? Commercial forecasting sites seem to me to lose some of their professional credibility when they are dependent on sponsorship from such quarters-but, of course, it may add to their accuracy.

That is not much of a challenge

By the BBC Blether Centre's usual standards at any rate.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

One caller asked if this was a bird hide-another:work in progress on a (military style -not Duns Golf Course) bunker?

Well, actually it is a pond. A very small one, covered up until we can get the right kind of water. We miss our rather larger pond at the Old Manse which was quite a selling point. One potential buyer, a couple from down south, who had sneered their way around the building not finding it up the standards of their neo -Jacobean Mansion in Hertfordshire ( 'Yes we have working shutters' 'And the original servants' bells'' Yes.We live next to an Abbey, actually) looking disparagingly at the Kirk and the graveyard and were surprisingly, seemingly impressed by our very natural and rather overgrown and (almost) kidney shaped concoction. 'Oh' said the female:'That's nice. We also have a pond' 'Well' said the male ' Ours is really a lake' 'Yes, echoed Mrs Distaff ' We have a boat on it'

But they didn't make an offer despite us having a green floating polystyrene frog refuge containing about 6 frogs at any one time which do not, apparently, feature in Herts.

And I hope you will notice the latest just got* (last years must have) in the garden of the small house in Duns. A dry stone wall for the wife's terracing arrangements to show off next years weeds, sorry, shrubs, flowers etc.A local stone waller (dyker in some places) put it together for us and its good to know that these old skills are still around in Berwickshire.

* There was a wall there before but totally destroyed by Builder's scaffolding aided and abetted by small scrambling grandchildren feet.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Taking a Butchers. Might be a vote in it
Is it just Huttonian who is getting a bit fed up with seeing our Tory MSP all over the place? Energetic is one thing but omnipresent is something else. Has the man nothing better to do than to be visible where ever you dare to look-I bet there are many editions of the Berwickshire which carry half a dozen pictures of the guy. Take the one above-opening of a butchers shop in Duns, or to be more accurate reopening of an existing business under new ownership. Did the Tories bring this about? Was it a Lamont initiative? What is it to do with him?

I suppose the Tribunes of the People feel they have to keep themselves in the public eye. If its not a soundbite (And I don't think I have ever heard him speak) it has to be a Photo Op. And all on top of his weekly self congratulatory column in the Berwickshire.

Give it a rest John. Wait until the election for goodness sake. And please stop sending me volumes of party political bumph.( I suspect at my expense)

Admittedly make better stove lighters than the Guardian. But Mr L I am not going to read it so cross me off your list.


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Saturday, September 26, 2009


Huttonian is loathe to return to this distasteful(npi) topic but it is No 1 worry in the community (dis)satisfaction survey recently published by the Scottish Borders Council and every time I go to Spitall-Northumberland's most depressing seaside holiday destination-known to many as The Last Resort-I think of Dog Poo.

Ostensibly the City Fathers are doing some thing about it-hence the rather fierce warnings but to what effect? Has anyone been fined a thousand quid? I doubt it. Spitall is where dog owners go before they die and they are thick on the ground. And it is not just one man one dog; its lots of dogs per person. Yesterday I saw a guy with four dogs on four leads; between his fingers on one hand as well as two leads he was clutching a small transparent plastic bag. One smoldering turd, fast asleep, lay within it. Good man. But how did it get there? Put there before he left home to show willing, one suspects. There was no way he could hold onto all his curs and scoop up an offering to bag it-and sure enough as we followed his progress there was evidence of fresh droppings; reminiscent of marking the elephants progress in New York every 17 March but the St Patrick's Day Parade Marshalls had armies of clean up Crap Collectors, with scoops to follow the parade and do the needful.

Verb Sap: the only safe place to walk in Spitall without having to dance the Northumberland Two Step: Do Do, Do Do, Do is on the beach. close to the sea, at low tide.

On a Monday Morning.


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Friday, September 25, 2009
A pint of Haggis and a couple of Fags. Mate

A kind (English) friend has just sent me this story from the BBC here (so it must be true) giving the origins of Haggis as an English dish and only taken up by Burns and Co after the English had dropped it from the national menu for, I am sure, very good reasons. Not everyone seems convinced and indeed Mr Patrick, the 'Champion Scottish Haggis Maker' says with some indignation :

" the idea haggis originated in England was akin to claims by the Dutch and Chinese to have invented golf"

He added: "Anything that's to do with Scotland, everybody wants to get a part of"
(One can think of some exceptions, but let it go. Nor do I want to get into another controversy (well I do, but later) about the English inventing baseball which now seems to be an open and shut case as you can read here)

If true it might solve one historical conundrum. Why did Burns make his famous visit to England from Coldstream and then return never to go again? Who did he meet during his brief stay. (Cornhill Scotland's favourite very short stay destination?) We may never know whom he met but we do know now what he brought back with him

The recipe for Haggis

Isn't wonderful how now and again all the pieces fit together!

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Berwickshire Books:we have em

Its good to see from reading here that the Border's most distinguished blogger is in the news in a positive way (not like Huttonian in the Mail in Sunday you might say)Richard Havers is certainly a prolific author and I doubt if you will come across many people who can produce books on such diverse subjects as the Second World War (this is his second) the Rolling Stones, the delights of flying (In Flight Confidential)Frank Sinatra and Marylin Monroe. Some indication of his prolific output is here

On a more modest level details of the Berwickshire Poetry Anthology : Spectres on the Landscape are with the ace reporter on the Berwickshire so we live in hopes of some publicity before the
the official launch on 18 October

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Royal County Down
Originally uploaded by erase
Thank you Erase for this image of the Royal County Down(PBUI) And not an aerial shot in the usual sense but taken, on terra firma from high up on the Mournes. For a temporarily (one hopes) incapacitated Huttonian this is is a sight to salivate over all the way from Duns. If you can click on the largest size you can see four players striding up the tenth fairway chatting happily perhaps blissfully unaware of the huge drive over the sand dune that faces them at the 11th (just over right hand portion of the clubhouse-clubhouse I said, not the Slieve Donard Hotel in the foreground) Most of both courses is covered by this photograph and my feet itch as I look at it

How does Newcastle compare with Duns(MPBUI)Well the RCD regularly features in the top three courses in the world. Duns in the top ten in the Borders.

Does that answer your question?

And where does Duns score over Newcastle?

The absence of bloody caravans-see at top of picture.

Come friendly bombs etc

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Send not out to ask for whom the bell tolls. You won't be told.
Was the thought that occurred to me last night when we were looking for the Bank of Scotland Building in the 'First Toon in Scotland'

Coldstream is a lang toon-basically a main street with alleys off it and although the BoS is a prominent building the street lights are so dim that the wife and I missed it completely. Being in a hurry-we were late for an appointment, I lowered the car window and asked a respectable looking gent 'Excuse me Sir..?' He scurried on' head down. I tried again but he accelerated, reached his front door, ignored a third appeal when inserting his key and disappeared inside. 'Knock on the door' said the wife. I did; no response and the light in the hall went off.

Irritating. Coldstream did have a reputation in Burns time of being unfriendly, perhaps that is why he was so determined to cross the bridge to England. HV Morton in one of his travel books about Scotland had a disagreeable encounter in a Coldstream pub-he was obviously English and he was not buying a round-two black marks apparently and not necessarily in order of importance.

Mind you I have always found 'streamers friendly enough so I am not sure what was it with this guy. Desperate for the Loo? Stone Deaf? Scared? (Do I look like a mugger he asks rhetorically) Anxious not to miss East Enders?

I doubt if we will ever know. I have the house number. So perhaps next time any of you plan a visit there, doubtful about directions and care to ask me, I can save you sometime by letting you know what door to leave unknocked.

Just a thought

Why not ask someone else I hear you cry?

8-30pm, Tuesday, Coldstream. Marie Celeste syndrome, you might call it.

(And you will no longer run into this famous 'streamer-Lord Home of the Hirsel, once my boss)

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

As the Berwickshire feverishly searches for new 'Issues' to titivate its readership it has now found one that is sure to attract a large yes vote.

So far so good:

Should stronger action be taken to control dog fouling in public places?
Yes [100%]
No [0%]
Don't Know [0%]

Of course not many people will read the real question which is about 'stronger action' as the gut feeling is that dog fouling is so. er, foul something must be done perhaps ignoring that there are quite a raft of measures already in place-hefty fines, dog wardens, much publicity and a general public attitude of intolerance towards incontinent dogs. Although very few Borderers will actually risk confrontation by tackling an offending dog owner direct. Go home muttering and write to the Berwickshire, yes, tell the big burly man walking his whippet to bag the filth, no.

And what is stronger action?

The question needs to be rephrased
"Do you support persistently offending dog owners being put up against a tree or lamppost and shot? "

A bit harsh in this day and age and unlikely to attract more than a 60% yes vote

Think out side the box. Or sand tray. Its the dogs who crap, not the owners. Shift the onus. Bring back the licensing of dogs (Give underused rural post offices some thing to do) and no cur would be allowed in a public place unless certified Eco Friendly. If a dog can be taught to come to heel, sit, round up sheep, beg,, die for daddy,get the paper, nick golf balls it surely can be taught not to crap outside its own premises.

So if dog poo continues to be a problem once the necessary legislation and certification then you know who you are looking for.
The Dog.

Remove 'owners' from the above rephrased issue.

You would get as big a yes vote as reopening Reston Station got a no And the Berwickshire could move on to (clean) pastures fresh and issues new

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Monday, September 21, 2009
Fast and Lewes

Oxymorons of our time: John Lewes Customer Service -as per this helpful hint

"Due to the Data Protection Act I am unable to discuss any information relating to this order with you.

Please ask the person who placed the order to contact us and we will be more than happy to discuss this matter with them. This may be done by email, or by calling 08456 049 049.

If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Alternatively, you can contact my colleagues by telephone on the number below.

Yours sincerely,

"Mr Help" Himself

If Customer Disservice had bothered to read my e-mail before pressing the piss off button they would have learned that Yes, it was the wife who placed the order for a Toshiba Netbook, Yes, it was a Christmas present to me, Yes, I had been the sole user and yes it had crashed whilst I was using it and Yes I would like something done about it. After all it is mine.
So I re-sent the message in the wife's name and guess what got a reply-not exactly helpful but a reply, to the effect that although the note book was still under John Lewes guarantee, that mattered not a whit. It was Toshiba rubbish and under a Toshiba manufacturing Rubbish guarantee, so nothing to do with us mate. Contact Toshiba Rubbish Customer Service, here is a number that you can get through on if you have the patience of a saint. They will sort you out. Or not.

In other words Piss Off. But substantially and thoughtfully not merely instinctively

No wonder John Lewes is never knowingly undersold.
They never know

(Anyone would like to sample John Lewes Help! (or are you beyond it?) Service please feel free to call the number above)

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Who Has Been Eating My Borrage?

For reasons too boring to rant about, Huttonian has postponed his trip to the Six Counties and returned to familiar pastures.

But only after going more than half way to stay the night with a fellow blogger in remote Dumfrieshire. As the wife and I were about to get into the car to be guided home by Sean, the smooth tongued Tom Tom, our hostess said, looking down, 'watch out for the Borrage'. Not wishing to damage an important ingredient for Pimms No 1, I did. But it was just a question of another organ operating below par. Porridge not Borrage. The remains of Breakfast scraped off plates, scattered on the drive, destined strictly for the birds.

Left over porridge! Indeed a rare phenomenon in Scotland, if perhaps not in Dumfries and Galloway where there are a large number of English incomers. Unfinished Porridge would,in a Scottish household, be finished. Waste not, want not etc. I recall a survey carried out by an independent organisation some years ago about what Scots did with old razor blades. 500 people from across the country were polled. The result:

100 % replied that

they shaved with them

(the image is the best I could do on Flickr-if you click to enlarge you will see that the colour and consistency is a trifle suspect-Macroni Cheese look a like- but the brown sugar is genuine enough)

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Saturday, September 19, 2009
Westward Look The First Tee is clear

The blog is westward bound today- a night in deepest Dumfrieshire, a transit through crap town tomorrow, High Speed Stena -ie 4 knots for thirty minutes from Stranraer, 4 knots for forty minutes in Belfast Lough and just under the hour at a speed swift enough to gently titivate the chilled Chardonnay in Stena Plus.

Norn Iron

Mountains of Mourne.



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Friday, September 18, 2009

A worried duty officer from Fishwick Special Branch contacted Huttonian about the banner headline in this weeks Berwickshire :

SAS are 'risking their lives' at Pease Bay

On being advised to read the article which you can here he was persuaded that the rather sinister looking invaders hurtling onto the beach in dark uniform were not SAS or Special Boat Service -merely surfers protesting against the reduction of effluent standards from the nearby water treatment plant during the off swimming season in Scotland
From my view point these guys should be well rewarded not so much for taking a stand against sewage but for having the courage to go into the frigid sea at all. As someone has commented the concept of an off season for swimming in Scotland is a novice one in this context. When, he wonders

is the On Season?

( Given Italy's reluctance to keep its troops in Afghanistan after suffering casualties the other day and Silvio BERLUSCONI 's apparent indifference to the outcome of the conflict explains much about the reputed motto of the Italian SAS:

Who cares who wins

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Thursday, September 17, 2009
Scotland's Favourite Brake Hard Destination seems not to be Birgham village according to this letter to the Berwickshire

SIR, - Recently two road signs erected several years ago by a local resident were removed by Scottish Borders Council.
These signs bore the words ‘Please Drive Carefully Through The Village’. On the back of the east end one I personally had placed a ‘Slow - 30mph’ sign.
Why were these removed? Apparently, the story goes, because a Peebles person had complained they were a danger to drivers.
All over the country such signs can be seen. What was so different about these?
Since this occurred the main road through the village has become a race track. We are horrified by some of the speeds.
SBC only rarely now put up the smiley/grumpy road signs which I fought, with Euan Robson, to get placed up, and the 30mph signs are useless. I understand the local community council are now seeking something more positive to be done. I can only hope that they have made an urgent request. If not why not?
There are 80 year olds, 70 year olds, 60 year olds petrified of leaving their driveways in their vehicles in case some idiot slices them in half. They are happier driving out of the village than in it.
I hope the Peebles resident (if the story is true) can live with this.
Resident of

The Hutton Think Tank (Roads and Space Section) as part of a road safety campaign are also concerned about the standard of driving particularly on the notorious B6461 East of Paxton House. They are lobbying for smiley/grumpy road signs every 400 yards or so until the A1 Berwick By-pass which will frown at anyone doing less than 45 mph. Perhaps the bulk of the offenders are the as yet unsliced in half Birgham evacuees fleeing their driveways for safer pastures. May I suggest that it would be more convenient for them and safer for us if they aimed their souped up Ladas further West. Peebles rather than Berwick for example

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009


"Q Here" the Quartermaster of Fishwick Special Branch has drawn Huttonian's attention to an ad on the front page of the Gerdian which asks : 'Where else could you Travel the World and Witness History in the Making?" No, not a puff for British Airways but for "Operational Officers" in MI6 aka SIS. If you want to know more, sure you do, go here

It reminds me of a much better drafted Army Recruiting Poster current in the 1950s:

'Join the British Army. Go to Exciting and Exotic countries. Meet Exciting and Exotic People.

And Kill them'

Someone told me that this was a spoof. Having been in Operation Musketeer in 1956

I am not so sure

In the meanwhile and assuming you have nothing better to do try the Virtual Tour on the SIS website. I am sure the charming lady taking you around here, the official Spooksperson, as it were ,will make you consider a career change?

Failing that there is always Second Life

(I am told that this building was originally intended for Fishwick but failed to get
Planning Permission despite Big Jim F' support. It now houses FSB's sister organisation in the Vauxhall area)

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Well here it is. Thank you Meigle Printers of Galashiels for a good job. The book is unveiled: small yes, slim very and perfectly formed

It will be launched on to a suspecting world at a concert given by Brass on Tweed in Christchurch Duns on the evening of 18 October with some of the poets reading their contributions interspersed with Scott Joplin, Asher, Handel and the like. Three Prize winning contributors (Primary School age, High School, and previously unpublished adult) will be presented with their prizes and will also read. And amidst the crunching of crisps and slurping of wine, copies of the anthology will be on sale as part of the apres culture entertainment

Space is very limited. I have all the tickets

If you want to avoid a mad rush you know what you have to do

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Monday, September 14, 2009
  Binnian walk

Binnian walk
Originally uploaded by erase
Roll On Next Week as Huttonian and the wife will hope to be in Norn Iron looking at views like this-or perhaps not as it is a long walk to get to this point and I have 'done something' to a leg as a result of over enthusiastic sand castle building with the middle granddaughter in Fife There comes a time in life when the bucket and spade should stay in the boot and together with King Cnut (Canute?) accept that the tide is going to overwhelm your edifice despite your frantic efforts and shouts of encouragement from a five year old 'Come on Grandad you can do it'

How wrong she was

Thankyou Erase for this stunning shot-and many more where they came from
Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chatter Never on a Sunday

Oh for a Nairns in Palmers Green. Even after a lie in to 8-15 and a gentle stroll to downtown PG the newsagents were firmly shut. Sunday certainly but this is work ethical multi ethnical London. Its also non committal, out of my space, sod off London The guy at no 19 or so was prodding a snail with a plank as I went town wards. I made some apt comment about snails as one does in such circumstances. He grunted and lowered his chin, still prodding. On my way back the snail was in a successfully prodded posture slime oozing from a broken shell. No 19 has good peripheral vision and having sussed my approach lowered his head even further, knuckles tightening around his slime stained plank.' That's that then' I suggested giving his gate a wide berth.

Not even a grunt this time

I will need to get back to Duns for that bright Berwickshire Bandinage.

And indeed for Scotland on Sunday

When I finally found the newsagents open (they had overslept they confessed) I found the Observer-new slim shape? No. Supplements. Overslept?

Irish Times, check. USA today, check; Good Morning Warsaw, likely. Turkish DAily Delight, probably

Scotland on Sunday

WHAT on Sunday?

I am to collect the supplements later

(I did not see the Polish Gazette as in the image above. I wonder if Scotland on Sunday has a Polish edition? Only in Scottish of course)

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reston : the last Shufti. Hopefully

As seen from N13 on a glorious warm Autumnal day sense reigns supreme amongst the sun kissed voters on the Berwickshire News 'Issues' Poll

Should Reston station be reopened?
Yes [2.7%]
No [93.8%]
Don't Know [3.6%]

So apart from John Lamont and Big Jim F who has voted yes? Must be a number as each vote changes the percentage by .1 . Which equally shows that a very large number are voting no.

Power of the Blog?

Or common sense?

(The image, thank you Hutton Think Tank, Photos and Fish Section, for this mock up image from their Report : Reston Station: Gateway to Berwickshire: Predicted usage.
The title of the picture : 0800 Monday Rush hour. The figure who has just arrived has not been identified )

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Friday, September 11, 2009
Reston on whose Laurels

'CAMPAIGNERS for the re-opening of Reston Station were given a major boost last week when the Scottish Transport Minister agreed to fund the next step in the process to find out whether it will be financially viable.' is the opening sentence of Janice Gillie's main story in yesterday's Berwickshire. You can read the rest of the article here

AS a long time opponent of wasteful public spending (New benches in Hutton Village always excepted) I am delighted to the read that at last the value for money aspect is going to be examined-the elephant in the room will be found to be white. You would have thought that financial viability would have been the first thing to consider-years ago when the campaigners in RAGES fired their opening salvos. But there you are. Financial cut backs means hard choices but in the case of Reston Station and its hourly service to East Linton this is an easy one. So Mr Minister pull the plug and throw it away.

If you can bear to read the article in full you will come to the usual supporters for madcap if locally populist schemes. Mr Lamont will loudly back anything that might add a vote or two to an already healthy majority and as for Big Dim Jim-dim does not necessarily apply in this case, the developer's faithful friend has a nice acre or two down Coldingham way-railhead at Reston, commuter housing at Coldingham. Oh but isn't that good farming land? Yes. And look at Big Jim's record of support for building on farming land.

And much will become clear

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Thursday, September 10, 2009
Huge Majority against reopening Reston Station shock

The 'issue' in today's Berwickshire News on line is whether Reston station should reopen .
The Will of the People is expressed as follows :

Should Reston station be reopened?
Yes [0%]
No [100%]
Don't Know [0%]

Pretty decisive, what?

But it is just occurred to me given the early hour that I may have been the only person

to vote!

So vote early and vote often seems to apply here as it did in Norn Iron up to the 1960s

I have done just that. The public are not fickle :

Should Reston station be reopened?
Yes [0%]
No [100%]
Don't Know [0%]

Keep them coming in

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009
The flowers that bloom/hang in Paxton Tra La

Well as a Huttonian, or ex Huttonian in a residential sense may I be amongst the first to congratulate our neighbours, the 'wee' Village of Paxton for doing this First entry and instant success. I don't know what Vox Pop in Hutton will make of this stunning victory (sucking of teeth and the odd pursed lips probably)-it did not enter and it has to be said neither village took much interest in this competition all the eleven years we lived there and I am not sure that I could work up much enthusiasm about hanging baskets and their like. But good show none the less.It will be interesting to see what the Hutton Hall Committee make of all this. Paxton will need to be cut down to size, somehow.

I note that Duns does not feature amongst the top towns. Given the rather garish floral displays foisted on us by the SB Council 'gardeners' I am not surprised

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Lots of Swallows Don't Make a Summer
is Borders Saw # 421

I am grateful to the new owners of the Old Manse for this image of young swallows taken in the little summer house on the back patio from where Huttonian used to shoot rats in the wood pile-those were the days as you can see here (scroll down)But it is glad to know that the Swallows (and these are swallows) returning to old haunts. There is little we can do for them in the Small-House-in-Duns apart from admiring the way they avoid low flying aircraft. Apparently these two little chicks tucked up in their dry mud double cot are the last of the litter-the others are away and preparing to fly south to sunnier climes.

If any

The new Old Mansers have thought of an ingenious way of getting rid of rats from the woodpile.

They have got rid of the woodpile.

I never thought of that

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Let Dirty Cars Lie

is Borders New Saw #52

One my way back from picking up the overpriced Guardian from Nairns, I met my regular 8.45 bloke of passage-Scotsman reader, on his way to pick it up. He was talking to a guy leaning heavily on two sticks. When the latter had struggled off, I was told that he was lucky to be alive. Vehicle accident apparently. No not the victim of a some wild eyed boy racer; he had been persuaded that his car parked outside his block needed a clean (any car which has been more than 800 yards from Duns especially in the Hutton direction, needs a clean after wet weather.I.e most days)This involved carrying a bucket of water down twenty stone steps to a yard. He tripped on the first one and fell down the rest banging his head on most of them on his way down. Badly cracked nut, two broken legs and severe concussion. But alive.

I suspect if you look at the small print on your personal accident insurance you will find under the list of non coverable activities-just before skiing:

'Car washing' and quite right too.

And anyhow as indicated above keeping you car clean in the Borders is as open ended and interminable as painting the Forth Bridge. Any road which goes anywhere near a farm, and of course they all do, has a built in skim of instant mud-just take a bit of rain and four revolving tyres and its off to the car wash again. Muggins

(The guy in the image (thank you Lauren of Flickr)-no not the damaged Dinger-does not seem too put out about the prospect of cleaning his car. Perhaps it is not his. But it has obviously been along the B6461. Quite recently)

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Monday, September 07, 2009

BBQ SUMMER. The Sequel

I am assuming that even Duns (and Hutton) were included in the BBC Terror Centre's forecast for a Barbecue Summer. The highest temperature in these parts over the last few weeks was 19C. In the kitchen. (The wife had left the oven on and its door open.)
Some weather sites are talking about an 'Indian Summer' I suspect that it will be confined to India.

If we had a barbecue we would now move it indoors. Apart from anything else with our double glazed windows hermetically sealed it would reduce our carbon footprint.

And the Hutton Think Tank (meteorological and climate change encouragement centre) is forecasting a
Wood Stove Winter

WEF last week.

So we lit ours

last week.

To join the stampede to reduce our contribution to climate change by 10% we switch off our lights and watch the fire (claimed to be carbon neutral but whether that is before or after lighting it we are not sure)

There is nothing much on TV.


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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Unsupervised dogs will be shot
is the heading of a letter to the Berwick Advertiser the townee cousin of the Berwickshire News

"SIR,-For the fourth time this year one of my sheep has been mauled by a dog!
I have not personally observed these events happening. But I have decided that, in future, any dog not properly supervised will be shot.
I do realise that to many of your readers this will seem harsh. However, if anyone has seen the result of a dog attack they would surely agree with me.
The sight of a lamb with the skin of its face torn off or so badly bitten that the bone of its back leg is exposed is quite an horrific one.
I do appreciate that most dog owners are very responsible. To be privileged to have a dog and walking on Goswick beach is a fantastic experience.
Dogs are, by their nature, hunter and need to be fully controlled, more so especially when there is livestock about.
I do not want to carry out my threat so please keep control of your pet at all times"

Bully for him.

Perhaps incontinent curs could be added to the cull.

And Spitall Beach be added to Ground Zero

(Even if you enlarge this image of Spitall Beach you can't quite see the dog crap. But believe me

it is there)

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Saturday, September 05, 2009
Humble and Obedient

As a junior member of my first Foreign Office department my principal chore was replying to letters from the public-and being involved in the Arab/Israeli confrontation there were plenty of angry customers with strong views to sooth and inform. And plenty of right eejits who were away off the wall but still had to be responded to punctiliously and politely. We had to take the job seriously as long gone were the days that civil servants could reply to persistent letter writers with a 'Dear Sir or Madam, I am instructed to inform you that your letter has not been selected for a reply. I remain, Sir or Madam, your humble and obedient servant...

Accordingly I much enjoyed this letter from the Guardian sent in by a regular bloggee

Dear Mr ,

I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to
our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise. I
will address them, as ever, in order.

Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a "begging
letter". It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a "tax demand".
This is how we at the Inland Revenue have always, for reasons of accuracy,
traditionally referred to such documents.

Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the "endless stream of crapulent
whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the
doormat" has been noted. However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other
letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from
"pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers"
might indicate that your decision to "file them next to the toilet in case
of emergencies" is at best a little ill-advised. In common with my own
organisation, it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as
a "lackwit bumpkin" or, come to that, a "sodding charity". More likely they
see you as a citizen of Great Britain, with a responsibility to contribute
to the upkeep of the nation as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point. Whilst there may be some spirit of truth
in your assertion that the taxes you pay "go to shore up the
canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services", a moment's
rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the
government in any way expects you to "stump up for the whole damned party"
yourself. The estimates you provide for the Chancellor's disbursement of the
funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful, are, in fairness, a little off
the mark. Less than you seem to imagine is spent on "junkets for Bunterish
lickspittles" and "dancing w**res" whilst far more than you have accounted
for is allocated to, for example, "that box-ticking façade of a university

A couple of technical points arising from direct queries:
1. The reason we don't simply write "Muggins" on the envelope has to do with
the vagaries of the postal system;
2. You can rest assured that "sucking the very marrow of those with nothing
else to give" has never been considered as a practice because even if the
Personal Allowance didn't render it irrelevant, the sheer medical logistics
involved would make it financially unviable.

I trust this has helped. In the meantime, whilst I would not in any way wish
to influence your decision one way or the other, I ought to point out that
even if you did choose to "give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live
in India" you would still owe us the money.

Please send it to us by Friday.

Yours sincerely,
Customer Relations


This is said to be a genuine letter (I have removed the names)

I can believe it

Inland Revenue for me in Second Life

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Hurrah! Another Record for the Borders

Co'path motocyclist denies doing 166mph

is the headline over this little item in the Berwickshire News

"The offence is alleged to have happened on the Dolphinton straight of the A702 the Scottish Borders in May.

BERWICKSHIRE motorcyclist has denied travelling at what is thought to be the fastest speed ever recorded on a Scottish road.
Neil Purves, 27, of Cockburnspath, was charged with reaching 166mph on a 60mph road .
Mr Purves denied the charge at Peebles Sheriff Court last week and is due to stand trial in October this year"

At least he wasn't on the B6461 or the Fishwick Bypass. Most of us can cope with the boy racers and other speed merchants, just wince, move over and good bye Jimmy -the problem is more from the inveterate middle of the road slow coaches intent on driving(npi) other road users mad with frustration.

We confidently predict a future item about some one travelling at what is thought to be the slowest speed ever recorded on a Scottish road. And I have a very good idea who that will be. And where. And just my luck to be right behind her.

I wonder who nicked Mr P? Observation by a low flying aircraft? Not overtaken by the fuzz and flagged down you can be sure.

(The image is not of Mr P on the A702-but, allegedly, of a visiting biker who had failed to notice an unexpected speed bump on the Fishwick Bypass-designed for speeding tractors, apparently)

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Thursday, September 03, 2009
Beggar your Neighbour?

Huttonian could hardly believe his eyes. A Mendicant in Berwick. It must be the credit crunch. This was in the station just outside the main door. He seemed familiar-could it be my old friend the Princes Street beggar? On a short break holiday?The wee dog and its snug warm jacket was very similar but this was a younger man. No requests for small change, no sardonic 'Have a good day' as you slunk past, trouser pockets unentered, and praise the pigs, no bagpipes. Just an empty tin.

Grateful for the absence of the pipes (It is England after all, if only just) I dropped in a pound. The wee dog wagged its tail, the bloke gazed into the middle distance. A slight curl of the lip. Jumped to his feet, picked up his tin, flicked the coin into his jacket pocket jerked the wee dog after him and disappeared in the direction of the ticket office.

Got the final bit of his dosh for his ticket?

Kings Cross?

First Class?

Mission accomplished

Glad to have been of service

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Barber Shop Quartet

The Scottish Review, or at least the editor Kenneth Roy continues to plough a lonely furrow defending the decision to release the 'Lockerbie Bomber' He may be getting to the point of overkill but I still recommend his latest (possibly last) word on the affair here :
Like I Mr Roy I have generally found the Barber Shop, especially the male only STFTWE?* variety a bastion of the right wing knee jerk UKIP adherent. Customers and Barber alike so I would hesitate to quote views expressed there as a genuine example of vox pop
But perhaps it is in this instance? Kenneth Roy makes much of the "32% of the Scottish population – 1,277,056 adults – (who)support Mr Megrahi's release on compassionate grounds"
As he says "You could build a decent, humane society with 1,277,056 people"

But what about the 68% who might not all advocate the the unkindest cut of all but who would have preferred for him to have died on Scottish soil; preferably banged up?

What shall be done with this lot? Three million or so on Mr Roy's arithmetic. They are the ones who surely need working on when you start to build a decent, humane society

I sincerely hope we do,

"starting tomorrow"

(* Something for the Week end? )

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