A Scottish Political Mystery

There is an element of ‘Follow-My-Leader, right or wrong’ in one area of Scottish politics, just now, which begs understanding. Attempts by the national and international Press and experienced commentators to explain what is happening have failed miserably, never mind indicate to the electorate, as to how it could be influenced.

The dramatic rise, and rise, of a Nationalistic Party in Scotland, must be viewed in the light of its inordinate failure to provide any evidence of competence, or co-operation with other countries (except those which have patriotism, nationalism, paternalism, centralisation as their main aim), or belief in discussion within the Party, or regard for other politicians who have a manifestly greater experience in real-politic, or a viable international policy, or a respect for the value of hard-earned tax-revenues, and a life where ‘self-doubt’ is obviously a phrase which does not belong in their vocabulary.

To many of us, the last few years have brought gasps of dis-belief in how such a small coterie of people could change, for the worse, a nation whose intellect, art and culture, energy and hard-work ethic, self-sufficiency, ability to settle all over the world, able to negotiate and get-on with people of every class and background made us the envy of the world. And what do we see now? The English-hatred from the SNP which has been stirred-up is un-believable, the inward-looking attitude (manifested in the £26M spent on road-signage in Gaelic), the nepotism which favours relatives and friends over knowledgeable advisers, the misuse of funds to dubious groups, with no Second Chamber to call them to account, the belief that Scotland could defend itself un-aided, in a time of international crisis, and the total absence of forward-looking practical policies except the concept of INDEPENDENCE… Now there’s a word to conjure with in an increasingly-close-linked world!

Scotland voted by a substantial majority in 2014 that they wanted to remain within a 300-year old alignment with England, Wales and N. Ireland. That should have been enough, but Edinburgh didn’t listen and still carry-on this demand for an elusive Utopia. For some reason, they are able to convince a sufficiently-large number of crosses on ballot papers that this is how Scotland should be going, with no road-map, or indication what would be at the destination.

So why or how has this come to be. We have the right to vote but is this right always properly used? The right to universal suffrage was hard-won, and especially for women. With the value of hindsight, I think we can all agree that it was right and proper, because of the tenet that there should be ‘no taxation without representation’.

There are, however, two other points of thought which I believe are necessary, if we are to hold together our theory of democracy……

  • if you have the Right to vote, something comes with it called Responsibility. You have to use all of heart, head, emotions and pragmatism in thinking of how you use that vote. At one time, we would have voted how our parents voted, or how our friends, workmates, or business colleagues voted. This provided a stable, slowly-evolving, political landscape against which the various parties could display their beliefs and aspirations. It would not have been easy for us as a voter to move out of the mind-set of our environment and circle, or convince them they were wrong without animosity. Now-a-days, we see violence on our streets and in the media against those who would dare to stand against our Scottish masters…very dangerous for democracy. But it is now more imperative than ever to THINK, THINK, and THINK again about how our vote is to be used. We must read, listen, and look at as many aspects as possible about the possible result of the appointment of our parliamentarians on the way of life of our nation.
  • secondly, our elected members must realise firstly that they are the Servants of the people…it is the voters who put them in there and the voters who will eject them. They must learn to listen (which few do), and act on what they hear from all the electorate. And lastly they must accept that taxes and other incomes do not belong to them. They come from the people, belong to the people, and must be spent for the betterment of the people.

Perhaps out of all this latest disruptive nonsense will come a stronger, and more-wisely-thinking electorate and government in the northern half of the UK…..but I have yet to be convinced……

Feeling a little guilty….

I got a little note from WordPress today to say that I have been with them some eight years.

It encouraged me to look over a number of the early ones, and the replies they received. Some of my contacts from those days are still in touch through Facebook and Twitter, whilst others do not seem to be about.

It was then that I felt guilty about what had happened over those years. Early on I was contributing at least one decently-long ‘_thinking’ blog per day. Then when Facebook came along, it was easier to write a few sentences, and my blogging declined till I was doing about one or two a month.

My introduction to Twitter was quite a bit behind the rest of the population,  but I noticed that many of my politically-aware friends were using it in a fast-moving situation, and with the limitations imposed, it was not designed for history. So I adopted it, which meant that blogging and even Facebook contributions decreased even further.

So, sorry, WordPress, I regret not contributing so much recently, I hope to renew the acquaintance of my some of my old friends.

To my FB or Tweeting friends, can I recommend that you try blogging; it really is worth the effort!

It was actually quite a good day……

I can’t say that I often think of a day of medical intervention on one’s body as normally a cause for celebration, of hilarity, or even pleasure.

A nagging pain, and the insistence of  ‘Lady of the House’ meant a visit to my GP some time ago. A subsequent uncomfortable, and personal, examination at Stobhill Hospital, near Glasgow, discovered no under-lying life-threatening situation…. so relief was unbounded. However…… the pain was still around, and a visit to another practice GP showed that there were now TWO seats of pain to be investigated…..ugh!  An appointment with a surgeon decided that knife-cutting was to be the answer.

We had a family cruise organised and knew that it was unlikely that a surgical team would meet us in Santorini, or Dubrovnik, to perform an operation, due to sensible, not-unexpected, budgetary constraints within the NHS. However the waiting list involved (which was within the guidelines) meant that no such options/decisions had to be made!

I slept better the night before the op than usual, and the alarm gently woke me. Daughter and wife saw me safely into the arms of the Receptionist, medics, and nursing staff, and I was swiftly re-clothed in the double front/back- tied surgical clothing. Strangely, it was printed all over with…. ‘Only to be Worn by Hospital Patients’……as if any non-hospital-patient person would be seen dead in it!

Then the re-questioning began…….again and again. Every member of staff who came near had to ensure themselves that I was who I was. Maybe a label attached to me like Paddington Bear, with all the details, might be more sensible…or is that what they do in a morgue?

The amount of technical information pumped-into ones brain, by the surgeon, anaesthetists (yes, I had two!), and ward staff, before the procedure, is astonishing…..as if one were able to retain it, and if necessary act on it under anaesthetic! On the trolley, going to the theatre, the chat is pretty trivial, enlivened only by me seeing a trolley coming the other way, and it looked as if we were in a race for the same theatre!

For me, the worst part of surgery is the holes they make in you, for blood samples, plasma drips, different anaesthetics, and nerve blocks in various parts of the anatomy….It’s a bit like the Tony Hancock comedy ‘The Blood Donor’ (You-Tube it). They can be painful, and you might well wish to call the whole thing off, before they get the real cutting implements out. But by then the numbing chemicals have taken effect, and no amount of complaining will come from your mouth!

Surgery started at about 9.15, and I wakened in the recovery room just after 11. Professional but very kindly faces asked on a regular basis, how I felt. This I was to indicate, on an index of pain. Since presumably everyone has a different threshold, it has little absolute meaning, but comparatively it gives an indication of improvement level. I like to work on the basis of ‘How would I accept having this for the rest of my life’, and it seems to work for me.  I have to admit that I was not a happy bunny for some little time, (after all, they had worked on two parts of my anatomy!) and pain-relief protocols were discussed and applied. This all happened within a framework of daft jokes, laughter, and good-hearted banter. The anaesthetists came to see me and gave their professional advice.

I then had the cheek to ask if I could get up to go to the loo, (‘Permission refused, Mr Monroe, as protocol does not allow it just yet!’). A bladder scan suggested to them that it would not be necessary. Gentle persuasion and discussion of the consequences, allowed a compromise, and my bladder proved it WAS necessary…technology isn’t always right!

Alternating episodes of inactivity, brief walks, and coffee, hot choc, and numerous biscuits passed the afternoon with everyone in a jovial frame of mind (it was Friday afternoon after all!)  Lady, and my Daughter arrived to take me home and I was discharged at 4pm. On return home, they indulged in a chilli con carni, whilst I made do with a bowl of cereal, apple pie and custard.

…………..and thanks to a lot of people, it had been a good day!

……..another 25 things you might not need to know about me

A while ago I did some self -analysis, and this is just the first follow-up…….

51 We are now retired but I took a long time to get used to it

52 We now have a lovely daughter-in-law

53 We seem to be as busy as when we were working

54 The weeds in my garden seem to be as prolific as before, even although I do some weeding every day

55 I still can’t do the Rubik’s Cube

56 I rarely get a chance to have an afternoon nap.

57 I have kept a daily diary since 1958

58 Jobs DO expand to fill the time available

59 My hair now looks less like my father’s…..

60 …….and more like my grandfather’s

61 I am more tired than I was when younger….yet I sleep less

62 Lady of the House and I have both had our 70th birthdays, but neither looks our age

63 Am confirmed in my belief that Nationalism and Patriotism have no place in today’s civilised world

64 Enjoy having young people around; it makes me feel very wise

65 Enjoy having much older folk around; it makes me feel youthful

66 Enjoy having people the same age around; it allows me to see if they have mellowed better than me

67 I am beginning to forget how to tie a tie

68 I am not interested in installing Windows 10…..Windows 8.1 is confusing enough

69 I am now reading some of the books I got as presents over the years

70 I now have more ‘old togs’ than ‘good clothes’, which is fine

71 I enjoy the old comedy sitcoms and panel game-shows much better than the modern foul-mouthed ones

72 Love our Quirky Nissan Juke

73 Use my tablet computer more than my laptop, except when doing lots of typing

74 When younger, Could never imagine what 70 would be like…..now I can’t imaging what 80 will be like…..hopefully

75 Still enjoy a good blether and a laugh with friends….the best tonic you can have

 

 

 

Not the slightest idea….

The old Irish Homestead, which has seen better days

The old Irish Homestead, which had seen better days, but still very much part of my childhood.

The Scottish ancestral home, near Inverness, Scotland

Foulis Castle, the Scottish ancestral home, near Inverness, Scotland, wich we have visited many times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I have become older, I have become more interested in my back-ground. Where have we fitted-into the world, what influence have our great-grandparents had on who we are. And what influence have we individually  had on our succeeding generations. Besides our blood family, there are also many other circles within which we move, our neighbours, club memberships, school friends, and work colleagues, to name but a few. So do we have an influence on all these folk?

Then there are those far-off relatives-by-marriage whom we have never met, and are unlikely to meet. However we are duty-bound to at least use one ear when listening to the intricacies of the relationship when relayed by someone close. Social media has brought many of these people within communication range, but we will still not meet them in the flesh.

No, I am mainly concerned about my own recent, and not so recent, predecessors and their close families, …….my DNA, if you will.

I am fortunate in that those before me were able to utilise the clan system, and the known history (from about 1100 ad) to document the earliest ancesters right through to my grandparents on my father’s side. This info was available to me through family publications….so no real problems there.

Luckily I knew my maternal grandparents well and many aunts, uncles and cousins, but my paternal grandparents had both passed-on before I could know them, even as a child.

So I was able to get into the history of a well-to-do Scottish land-owning family, and the life of a small Irish farming family, but even then I have only scratched the surface. I know nothing of their daily lives and how that influenced their approach to life. Did it make them ‘harder’ if life was difficult, and would this percolate into the ethos of the family, and the behaviour of their descendents?

Images of more than two or three generations back are limited so we cannot see, or image whether our facial features, skills, attributes etc are discernible as part of a long line. Very strange, that we are part of this long lineage, and yet, we are only in connection with a maximum of two generations on either side of ours.

Presumably, future generations will be asking the same questions as we do, but I hope that the work I have been doing on digitising all the available photos, documents etc into some form of logical order for generations to come will prove hopeful……

Carol, Sweetly Carol,

Some years ago I used to write an occasional little article in our Church Magazine. It was called, not very originally, ‘From the Organ Stool’, as I was the Organist and Choirmaster. One year I did one entitled ‘ Some facts you might not have known about Christmas Carols’. I thought perhaps some of you might be interested:-

  • Originally a Carol was not a religious song, but a secular dance, often in triple time.

  • The carol ‘In Dulci Jubilo’, when the words are sung as a mixture of English (from the German), and Latin, is an example of what is known as a ‘macaronic carol’. The melody can be found in a 14th century manuscript in Leipzig University.

  • The wonderful combination of Charles Wesley and Felix Mendelssohn gave us ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’.

  • The tune of the French carol ‘Whence is that Goodly Fragrance’ later appeared as the rousing drinking song ‘Fill ev’ry glass, for wine inspires us’ in John Gay’s ‘The Beggars Opera’ in the 18th Century. I remember well singing it with the Kirkintilloch Players some 20 years ago!

  • ‘Good King Wenceslas’ originally appeared in Piae Cantiones in 1582, as a Spring carol. It was only about 170 years ago that the 10th Century story of Saint Wenceslas of Bohemia was told. After his father died, he encouraged Christianity in Bohemia, against the wishes of his mother, and was murdered by his brother Buleslav.

  • The Romans used Holly to decorate their houses at the feast of Saturnalia, which occurred in the winter season. Ivy was dedicated by them, to Bacchus from the idea that it warded-off drunken-ness!

  • The Coventry Carol (‘Lul-ly, lul-lay’) is one of the oldest English Carols. The original tune comes from 1591 and was sung in the Coventry Plays of that era.

  • There are several Wassailling Songs. The word Wassail means ‘Keep You Well’.

  • Czechoslovakia has provided a number of lovely quiet carols including the ‘Rocking Carol’, ‘The Birds’, and ‘The Zither Carol’. ‘Infant Holy’ is from Poland.

  • ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are’ was written in 1857 by Dr J.H.Hopkins of Pennsylvania, one of very few well-known carols from the USA.

So give a thought, when next singing over Christmas, that the words and music may have had a very strange history

Have a very pleasant Advent and Christmas period…..

Shopping Madness………

The nonsense in our shops today, based on the concept of Black Friday,  is surely very indicative of a sickness in our psyche. The sight of supposedly grown-up adults fighting and shouting over the acquisition of some ‘bargains’, does not lead one to the conclusion that we are civilised as a society or, in many cases, as individuals.

The bad example set to our children, the threats and trauma caused to shop-staff, police and other shoppers , the snub to those who do not have the money to join in the melee, and the damage caused to premises and stock, don’t really show any kind of appreciation of why we have this season.

Even those, who don’t accept the Christian significance, can still spend a considerable amount of cash and time, in purchasing gifts for their nearest and dearest. Much of it may be trivial, with gallons of after-shave and perfume, and numerous bits of technology, car accessories, clothes etc among the pressies. But this is how they express their friendships with people, and relations, and a good time is had by all. No problem with that.

But the thought that people will queue from an early hour, fight their way through crowds, physically argue with other shoppers and staff, just to get some goods at a discount seems out of synch with a season of peace and goodwill.

Maybe sometime they may think of the people who wait patiently in areas of deprivation and drought as they are handed bottles of water and basic food, and take that as an example.

……so America, you are welcome to take back the idea of Black Friday, and let us get back to celebrating our Christian Festival or Winter Solstice, whichever we wish.