The Rampant Scotland Newsletter - your insight into what has been happening in Scotland, snipped from the Scottish media, for Scots in Scotland and abroad. Bringing you news and events, plus a Scottish magazine section. Published every second week, with 100% recycled electrons.
Previous editions of this Newsletter are available in the Archive> and the Index to the other pages of the Rampant Scotland site is available here>.
The Scottish Snippets Newsletter in its original format began in April 1997 and continued in an unbroken series for 591 issues. Although no longer produced in that format there is now a regular update on the new and updated pages on the Rampant Scotland site and also "Scottie's Diary" on an intermittent basis, To receive this, kust send an e-mail to Scottie with "Subscribe Newsletter" in the subject line.
Royal Bank's £691 Million LossThe Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) announced this week that it had made a pre-tax loss of £691 million during the first six months of 2008 - the second biggest loss in UK banking history and the first time that RBS had made a loss for 40 years. The cause was of course write-downs after the credit crunch cut the value of its mortgages and assets, with the bank taking a £5.9 billion hit. RBS had been expected by analysts to post a much larger loss - speculation ranged as high as £1.7 billion. But creative accounting (and/or encouraging financial analysts to go for higher figures) meant that the bank's shares rose 2.7% following the better than expected announcement. There is a hope that if the bank has fully come clean on its losses, it could still produce an overall profit for the full year. Chief Executive Sir Fred Goodwin, not known for a lack of confidence, said that the losses had been a "chastening experience" and that reporting a shortfall of £691m was something he and his colleagues "regret very much". Putting a better gloss on the picture, he said also that the write-downs created, "a very unsatisfactory situation, made more so by the shadow it casts over the good performances across a wide range of our businesses".
Halifax Bank of Scotland Profits CrashEdinburgh-based Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) has announced that its profits have crashed from £2.96 billion for the first half of last year to £1.45 billion in the first six months of this year - a 51% drop. It took a £1.1 billion hit from the credit crunch and its bad debts soared by 36% in the same period as customers struggled with repayments. HBOS is the UK's largest mortgage lender, but its market share of new lending fell from 22% at the end of December to just 7% as it tried to increase profit margins, rather than grow volume business.
Nominations for "Worst Job in Scotland"The nominations for the contest to select the next leader of the Scottish Labour Party have closed and there will be three candidates - Andy Kerr (former health minister), Cathy Jamieson (former deputy leader) and Iain Gray (former enterprise minister). Andy Kerr, considered by many to be the front runner, did himself no favours when his responses to expected media questions were obtained by a Sunday paper. These included an anticipated question (which no journalist made) that leading the Scottish Labour Party was "the worst job in Scotland". His suggested response was a weak "This is an opportunity not to be missed" and "I'm in politics to make a difference." The contest followed the resignation of Wendy Alexander in a row over donations to her own leadership campaign last year. With the party in disarray, a robust contest is probably the last thing the party needs, but already there have been spats between the contestants. The new leader will be announced on 13 September.
Exam Pass Rates Rise158,000 exam certificates were dropping through letter boxes across Scotland this week with the results of standard, intermediate, higher and advanced higher examinations taken earlier in the year. About 21,000 opted to get their results first by e-mail or text messages - ideal for those away on holiday. Pass rates at most levels have gone up, but the total number of exams dropped slightly to 776,000. Pass rates for higher exams - the "gold standard" - rose from 71.7% last year to 73.4% this year. The range of courses available has been increasing too, with Urdu available for the first time, while 84 pupils sat a higher exam in health and social care.
Scottish, British - Or Both?When asked for nationality on official forms, most Scots will readily assert that they are "Scottish" rather than British. Now a new form of question on the official census will allow all residents to spell out in detail what ethnic group - or groups - they belong to. Previously, the census question asked people to decide whether they were Scottish, "other British" or various other overseas groups. Now it is likely that there will be boxes for all the main ethnic groups and sub-groups and people will be asked to tick one box - or more if they wish. So those who feel that they are both Pakistani and Scottish can indicate that on the form. Equally, those who consider themselves both Scottish and British can indicate that too. Of course, many will select just one category - but that is their choice. Initially, when the story on this aspect of the census broke, there was a misunderstanding of the tick boxes by the media and a suggestion that we could only choose one category - Scottish, British, Pakistani etc.
Roll Out the Barrel for The Gathering 2009Edinburgh’s last remaining brewery will be rolling out the barrels at one of the largest international events being held in Scotland next year. The Gathering 2009 has secured a deal with the Caledonian Brewing Company, which will see the brewer sponsor a major part of the Highland Games in the capital’s Holyrood Park on 25 and 26 July 2009. As a result of the deal, its award-winning brand, Deuchars IPA, will give its name to the Deuchars World Highland Games Heavy Events Championship as well as become the official beer of The Gathering 2009. The Gathering 2009 is one of the key events of next year’s Homecoming Scotland programme and is expected to be the largest international clan gathering and Highland Games ever held in this country. Around 8000 clans people from around the world will take part in a parade along the Royal Mile and an anticipated 40,000 visitors will attend the Highland Games where the Heavy Events Championship will take place. With one year to go until the event, members from 140 clans have already booked their place in the Clan Parade, and 110 of those clans will have a presence in the clan village in Holyrood Park. Tickets and Passports to The Gathering 2009 are available from www.thegathering2009.com.
Graphic from VisitScotland.
Scottish Household SurveyScotland's Chief Statistician this week published the 2007 Scottish Household Survey Annual Report. This contains figures on a number of key topics. For example, it shows that 51% of adults are married and living with a spouse, while 23% are single and have never been married and 32% of households in Scotland contain only one adult. 21% of households have an annual net household income of £10,000 or less (well below half of average annual wage rates) and 41% of households have no savings or investments. The number of adults travelling to work has increased from previous years and has now reached 69%. 57% of households have access to the Internet, but only 15% of those in the most deprived areas of Scotland have Internet access. An estimated 24.7% of adults smoked in 2007, a very slight drop from the previous year, but 5.7% down from 1999. See Scottish Household Survey for the full report.
Digit Al on 100-Day CountdownIt's now less than 100 days before the Scottish Borders becomes the first full region in the UK where analogue TV signals will be switched off and service will be only provided by digital transmitters. The Selkirk transmitter and its 11 relays, serving Scottish Borders, starts switchover on 6 November 2008 and the process will be complete on 20 November 2008. Homes with digital sets now are already receiving around 20 TV channels instead of the five channels provided by the analogue service. If they adopt the "Freeview" service rather than a pay-to-view satellite or cable provider, there is no cost apart from the usual TV licence fee which every household with a TV set must buy. In the Scottish Borders, it is estimated that over 80% of households have digital on their main television set while more than half have converted all their televisions or bought new digital sets. But they will need to hurry up if they want to continue to have as many digital TVs as they had analogue.
Scotrail's Saltire LiveryTransport Scotland, the Scottish Government agency, has announced that all of Scotland's trains will be rebranded with a dark blue livery with a large Scottish Saltire emblazoned on the carriages. The move will create a uniform colour scheme for "Scotrail - Scotland's Railway" and the present mix of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and First Scotrail colour schemes will go. Stations will use also be given a dark blue colour scheme and blue signage. The repainting of the rolling stock will be done on a gradual basis as part of normal maintenance, so it will be some time before the new colour scheme becomes standard throughout the network. But it will mean that if there is a change of franchise operator, major repainting will not be required to incorporate their logos. It will also emphasise that the network is funded largely by taxpayers, rather than the commercial operators. There were claims by opposition parties that the change was being pushed by the Scottish Nationalist Government as a part of "independence creep" but Transport Scotland (whose own logo incorporates the Saltire emblem) claimed that work on the new design began before the SNP came to power last year.
British Airways Under FireA major reduction in the number of flights operated by British Airways between Scotland and London has understandably come under fire from the business community. Around 850 flights each week are being cut between Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen and the London hubs of Heathrow and Gatwick as BA struggles with high fuel costs and an 88% drop in pre-tax profits in the first quarter of its current financial year. Planes in March to June flew 73.4% full - a 3.4% drop on figures for the same time last year.
Beano Comic "Vital" Part of Dundee CultureThe 70th anniversary of the "Beano" comic was celebrated by enthusiasts and academics at Dundee University where it was claimed that the publication was "more than just a comic book" but was a "vital" part of Dundee’s cultural heritage. Lovers of the comic heard a series of talks from experts in the field and toured an exhibition in Dundee University celebrating the last 70 years of the publication. Dr Chris Murray from Dundee University’s school of humanities commented that "The perennial images seen in the Beano have given an enormous amount of joy to people all over the world and have given Dundee great cultural significance." When the Beano and its stablemates were launched, they featured anarchic working class heroes, rather than those from the middle class, who had dominated before.
Dundee All Mapped OutSearch giant Google has confirmed that a high-tech, car-mounted camera has been capturing images of Dundee to be included in an extension of the Street View service in Europe. Earlier this year, Google did a trial run over the Tour de France route and is planning to roll out the service across cities and towns in Europe. Until now, the Street View system has only been available in cities in the US. To comply with local laws relating to privacy, technology will be used to blur faces of individuals and car licence plates.
Wave Power Harnessed in IslayThe Scottish Government Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism was on hand to officially start a new Wavegen 100kW turbine near Portnahaven on the island of Islay in his Argyll and Bute constituency. The LIMPET facility, where the 100kW turbine is installed, is claimed to be the world’s first commercial-scale, grid-connected wave energy plant. The startup of the latest turbine is a major step forward for the Siadar Wave Energy Project (SWEP) which will harness power from the Atlantic waves in Siadar Bay in the Western Isles to generate up to 4 megawatts of electricity, using forty Wavegen 100kW turbines. The energy produced each year could supply the average annual electricity needs of around 1500 homes on Lewis and Harris.
Military Heritage in ScotlandPlans for a Military History Museum have been announced and the scheme has received moral (but so far no financial) backing from First Minister Alex Salmond and MPs and MSPs of all parties. The multi-million pound museum could be based on the river Clyde at Govan or Rosyth in Fife or the Leith area, with warships, a submarine and landing craft moored nearby. The aim is to house tanks and fighter planes as well as uniforms, medals and memorabilia. In addition to the British Army's Scottish regiments, the centre would contain displays on the Scots Army and Navy, the Covenanter regiments, Bonnie Prince Charlie's army, Scots who fought in the American War of Independence, the U.S. and Spanish civil wars and the Scottish overseas regiments formed in South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India and Burma. Plans include a Scots Victoria Cross "Hall of Fame," telling the stories of the 158 medal winners. Of course, raising the funding for such a museum will be a major undertaking - but the New York-based Friends of Scotland organisation has already made a donation towards the early planning stages of the project.
Falcon Named Goose Flees Seagull AttackA Gyr falcon named Goose was giving a birds of prey demonstration with his handler on Glasgow Green recently when it was attacked by a flock of about 50 urban seagulls. The falcon, the largest of all falcon species, was driven away from the area and for a spell was lost in the streets of the city. A small radio transmitter attached to its leg initially failed to locate the bird and the owners, the Cumberland Bird of Prey Centre at Kirtlebridge near Lockerbie, asked other bird owners in the city to look out for him. A few days later, Goose the falcon was spotted, perched on a chimney by a local falconer. It was not in any hurry to come down, however, having just had a meal of a local crow! Eventually, the bird was grabbed on a roof by a local falconer, having been enticed by a piece of chicken attached to a string.
Picture of Gyr Falcon via Wikipedia.
Scotland's Weather in JulyThe weather data for the month of July published by the Meteorological Office shows that the mean temperature for the month was 1.4C (0.7F) above the 1961-1990 average. Rainfall was 114% of the long term average and sunshine was slightly below the norm for July as cloudy skies blocked out the sun on many days.
Recent Weather in ScotlandAugust began with heavy rain in many parts of the country, triggering flooding in some areas - water in the Ayrshire town of Kilbirnie reached waist height in the worst-affected streets after a local river burst its banks. Callander, Stirling, Larbert and Cambusbarron experienced floods with problems also reported in Dumfries and Galloway. There was more heavy rain this week, resulting in a section of the Edinburgh City Bypass being closed and the Galashiels to Peebles road also closed due to a landslip brought on by heavy rain. Train services between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street and from North Berwick to the Scottish capital were also disrupted, with the tunnel between Waverley and Haymarket stations subjected to two feet of water. Temperatures were largely around 19/20C (66/68F) in the early part of this week, but fell on Wednesday to Friday, 15C (59F) being a typical maximum. Stornoway in the Western Isles had the best of the sunshine, midweek, but maximum daytime temperatures only reached around 14C (57F).
This Week's Colour SupplementThis week's large format photographs taken in Scotland to show the current season and its flora and fauna include:
~ Paddle steamer "Waverley", the last operational Clyde steamer and the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world;
~ Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) with its mass of frothy creamy-white flowers, which have a sweetly scented, almost sickly, aroma; (See thumbmail here).
~ An entire border of tall, stately spires of Astilbe, beside one of the terraced walkways below Culzean Castle;
~ Small Tortoiseshell butterfly enjoying a radiant Inula flower;
~ Flowers of Sweet Peas (Lathyrus), long known for their strong scent;
~ Callistemon, often known as Bottlebrushes, because of their cylindrical, brush like flowers;
~ Dierama (also known as Fairy's Fishing Rods or Fairy's Wand) with its bell-like flowers at the end of thin, graceful stems.
See This Week's Colour Supplement.
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
Statue to Adam SmithThe world's first statue to the Scottish economist and philosopher, Adam Smith, has been unveiled in Edinburgh's historic High Street, beside St Giles Cathedral and opposite the City Chambers, the seat of local government in the city. Adam Smith (1723-1790) taught at Glasgow University and is buried in Canongate Kirkyard in Edinburgh. Smith was one of the key figures of the intellectual movement known as the Scottish Enlightenment. He is best known for his treatise "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations", commonly known as The Wealth of Nations. Smith is also known for his explanation of how rational self-interest and how competition can lead to economic well-being and prosperity. His work helped to create the modern academic discipline of economics and provided one of the best-known rationales for free trade. He is widely acknowledged as the "father of economics".
40,000 Year-old BearThe skeleton of a bear which could be up to 40,000 years old has been brought to the surface from Scotland's longest cave in Assynt in Sutherland. The remains were found in 1995 by cave divers exploring a two-mile long stream, but it took cavers until the end of last year to unblock a deep entrance shaft and provide a dry way out. The caves are designated as a site of special scientific interest and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Historic Scotland (HS) had to give their permission for the work to take place. It is the first time that such a complete bear skeleton has been found in Scotland. The bear may have been washed into the cave at the end of the last Ice Age, making it at least 11,000 years old. But animal remains in nearby caves have been dated to over 40,000 years ago and the bear bones could be as old as these. Radiocarbon dating will be used to establish when the bear died and whether it is a polar bear or a brown bear. Bears were hunted to extinction in Scotland around 1,000 years ago.
Northern ExposureArbroath business "Squadron Prints Ltd" are publishing a pictorial book about the Royal Air Force (RAF) in Scotland with the profits from the sale of the book going to the RAF Benevolent Fund. Scotland plays host to several RAF squadrons so it was felt that it would be an ideal subject for the book. The authors and photographers travelled all over Scotland to experience first hand the workings of the RAF. From training to operations, rescue to engineering, they have tried to cover all aspects of the Scottish based flying squadrons at Leuchars, Lossiemouth and Kinloss as well as the Volunteer Gliding Squadrons, University Air Squadrons and Air Experience Flights. The publishers have taken most of the photographs themselves and written "Northern Exposure" with additional anecdotes from serving members currently in the RAF. The book has 160 pages and 200 full colour photographs and it is hoped that it will not only raise funds for a good cause, but also supply an insight to the workings of our Royal Air Force here in Scotland, which celebrates 90 years of operation in 2008. The book will be available from the Squadron Prints stand at the RAF Leuchars Airshow on 13th September, 2008. There is information on how to order the book and sample pages on view at Northern Exposure.
Memorial for Radar PioneerThe Watson-Watt Society is campaigning to have a memorial to Brechin-born radar pioneer Sir Robert Watson-Watt erected. They will have an official presence at the RAF Leuchars air show in September where they hope to be able to gain publicity and boost their funds with contributions from air enthusiasts attending the display. Watson-Watt began to look into how aircraft could be detected by the distortion of radio signals after World War I. Workings as superintendent of the radio division of the National Physics Laboratory in Teddington, his developments meant that in 1936 his radio stations were able to detect aircraft up to 70 miles away. A network of radar (short for "radio detecting and ranging") stations provided early warning of aircraft attacking over the English Channel. The over-stretched resources of the RAF were able to be in the right place at the right time as Luftwaffe aircraft streamed over during the Battle of Britain from August to October 1940.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- August 10 1460 - King James III crowned at Kelso Abbey. August 11 1560 - Latin Mass prohibited in Scotland by Parliament as Protestant faith gained the ascendancy.
- August 12 1922 - Popular character actor Fulton McKay was born in Paisley.
- August 13 1957 - Scotland's first nuclear power station at Dounreay went "critical" ushering in the generation of power from atomic reactions.
- August 14 1337 - King Robert III born at Scone.
- August 14 1390 - King Robert III crowned at the Augustinian abbey of Scone.
- August 15 1771 - Novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott born.
- August 15 1840 - Foundation stone for the Monument to Sir Walter Scott laid in Princes Street Gardens.
- August 16 1766 - Birth of Carolina Oliphant (Lady Nairne), poet and author of many Jacobite songs, including "Charlie is my Darling". Her songs are second only in popularity to Burns.
- August 17 1822 - Visit of George IV to Edinburgh began, orchestrated by Sir Walter Scott.
- August 17 1947 - First Edinburgh International Festival opened.
- August 18 1966 - Tay Road Bridge opened.
- August 19 1745 - Charles Edward Stuart, raises his standard at Glenfinnan, at the start of the '45 uprising.
- August 20 1897 - Ronald Ross, the first Scot to win a Nobel prize (in 1902) dissected a mosquito and established the link with malaria.
- August 21 1689 - Battle of Dunkeld when the newly formed Cameronians defended the town against 3,000 Highlanders.
- August 22 1282 - Devorgilla, Countess of Galloway founded Balliol College, Oxford. She was mother of John Balliol (who acceded to the Scottish throne in 1292).
- August 23 1305 - William Wallace executed.
Edinburgh FringeThis year's Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, got under way in the Scottish capital last weekend - despite a technology failure that threatened to derail ticketing for thousands of theatregoers. The 62nd annual event runs until 25 August and an estimated 18,792 performers from 46 countries will present 31,320 performances of 2,088 shows in 247 venues. Four of the main venues (Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance and Underbelly) are joining forces for the first time to create a "festival-within-a-festival" at the Fringe, the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, to showcase their 253 stand-up contributions to this year’s event. Over half a million people are expected to visit Edinburgh in August to take in the different festivals staged during the month. In addition to the Fringe and the main Edinburgh International Festival, there is the Military Tattoo, the Film Festival and the Book Festival. But the Fringe is by far the largest event, with around 75% of the "market share".
Edinburgh MelaIn the last week of the Edinburgh International Festival at the end of August, yet another festival runs alongside. The Edinburgh Mela concentrates on local ethnic communities featuring dance and music and will feature film and theatre for the first time. The multi-cultural Edinburgh Mela will include a world premier of a group showcasing South Asian and Scottish music and Japanese drumming will be presented by Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers, who are based in central Scotland. Scotland's biggest annual multicultural arts festival takes place at the waterfront beside Ocean Terminal in Leith from 25 to 31 August. For all the details, see www.edinburgh-mela.co.uk.
Scottish GoldThe Scottish Media Group (SMG), owners of the commercial channel Scottish Television (STV), is planning to create a new "Scottish Gold" TV channel in partnership with the BBC. The new service would be the "best of the BBC and STV" plus an injection of news, current affairs and Scottish-based factual programming. Some of the finance required would come from public funding, in the same way as the proposed Gaelic language TV service.
Arctic Tern Returns to North BerwickPint-sized comedian Ronnie Corbett was on hand (with the help of a step-ladder) to unveil a massive sculpture of an Arctic tern outside the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick. The Edinburgh-born comic has had a house in nearby Gullane for 25 years and is often to be seen in the town. The artwork tern was displayed outside the Seabird Centre in 2005 but was only on loan at that time. Now, after a spell being exhibited abroad, the eye-catching sculpture is back again as a symbol of the sealife there and the Seabird Centre itself. Real arctic terns fly from their Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back again each year, a journey of 12,000 miles each way.
Summer GrazingAward winning British chef Michael Caines was in Glasgow this week to launch the new and innovative "Amazing Grazing" menu at the stylish ABode Hotel in the city. Grazing is described as the perfect way to explore the modern European cuisine served in the award winning Michael Caines restaurant at ABode (yes, that's how they spell the name). The menu offers miniature size portions from the a la carte menu, taking diners on a culinary adventure and allowing the creation of a personal, bespoke tasting menu. Perfectly matched wines are also available in taster servings. The grazing menu is available for only £9.95 per person for your choice of 3 dishes and is an ideal way of "try before you buy" before returning to choose from the full price menu. For more details, see ABode Hotel, Glasgow.
Travis Autumn Tour Launch in InvernessTravis, one of Scotland's most successful rock acts of the last decade, have announced that they will begin the tour to promote their latest album "Ode to J Smith" in Inverness on 22nd September. Thereafter, the band will go on to play shows in Aberdeen and Edinburgh before moving on to the English leg of their autumn tour. Travis are a Scottish Indie pop band from Glasgow who have twice been awarded British album of the year at the annual BRIT Awards, and are often credited with having paved the way for bands such as Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol. They have released five studio albums, beginning with their debut, "Good Feeling" in 1997. Their most recent album was "The Boy with No Name" published in 2007.
Gourmet GlasgowThe annual festival promoting what Glasgow has to offer to tantalise your tastebuds is now underway and continues to the end of August. More than 50 restaurants and eateries are taking part in "Gourmet Glasgow" as the city tries to enhance its reputation for fine food - instead of deep fried Mars bars... The festival allows you to indulge in the finest foods Glasgow has to offer and features food and drink with competitions, demonstrations by celebrity chefs and many of the city's finest restaurants will provide gourmet menus. Not only that, but diners will be given discounts, so you can eat for less.
Scottish Culture Around the WorldThe main focus of the Scottish Snippets is news items, usually about Scotland. But the "Scots Abroad" section, invites folk to write in about Scottish-related events in their part of the world. It allows publicity for them and an appreciation by others of just how much Scottish culture is perpetuated in every corner of the globe.
Scottish Cultural Events in South AfricaRory Bellinghan, who is one of a group of enthusiasts promoting Scottish culture in South Africa, is the bandmaster for the Jeppe Boys High School band and has his own band called African Skye. He has also been involved in the recent Highland Gathering at Benoni High School, east of Johannesburg (see illustration). This was the final event of the year in the Johannesburg area for pipe bands and Highland dancing. But next month Rory is putting on a tattoo, in a format based on the Edinburgh event. It is being held at the Montecasino Hotel in Johannesburg. Rory is currently in Edinburgh to gain an insight into producing this type of event.
"Play for Australia"The organisers of the "Silver Tassie" point out that you don't have to play rugby or cricket to play for your country - you can play the bagpipes! The Silver Tassie is an international, annual solo piping contest held at Sutton Forest, New South Wales. The winner is acclaimed as the Australasian Young Piper of the Year. Young pipers come from Scotland, England, Canada and New Zealand, as well as from Australia to compete for the Silver Tassie. A "tassie" or "quaich" is a traditional Scottish drinking vessel. It is usually shallow and has a handle at each side. This year's event takes place on Sunday, 19 October. For more details, see Silver Tassie.
League TablesThe start of the new Scottish Premier League on Saturday saw Inverness Caledonian as the surprise leaders at the top of the table after defeating Aberdeen 2-0, their first win over their northern rivals. Rangers (struggling with a narrow 1-0 win over Falkirk), Hearts (defeating Motherwell 3-2) and Kilmarnock (1-0 defeat of Hibernian) all won, but the Inverness goal difference placed them at the top of the table. Celtic play St Mirren on Sunday and Hamilton host Dundee United on Monday.
The Scottish First Division kicked off last Saturday. St Johnstone's 2-0 win over Livingston put them at the top of the table but it didn't last to this Saturday and Saints could only draw against Greenock Morton. That allowed Dundee, with their second win and 6 points to take top place in the First Division after two games. Partick Thistle also won their first two matches.
Rangers Crash Out Of EuropeThe signs were ominous when Rangers could only manage a 0-0 draw at home in the first leg of their European Championship qualifying match against Lithuanian club Kaunas. Things began to brighten a little in the away leg when Rangers scored first - a vital away goal by Kevin Thomson giving them an edge. Even when Kaunas scored as well, two minutes before half-time, Rangers could still have gone through to the next qualifying round on the away goal rule. But with 4 minutes to go and Rangers trying to hold on to a draw, Linas Pilibaitis headed home for Kaunas from a corner, the ball squeezing past three Rangers players on its way into the net. So Rangers, one of the finalists in last season's Uefa Cup, will not be playing in European competition for the rest of this season. Quite apart from the demoralising effect on players and supporters, not playing even in the next stage of the European Champions League will mean the loss of at least £10 million to Rangers.
Queen of the South in Uefa CupAs a result of reaching the Scottish Cup final, Queen of the South are playing in the second qualifying round of the Uefa Cup and have been drawn against Danish club Nordsjalland. The first leg will be played at Airdrie's Excelsior Stadium on 14 August as First Division Queens do not have a ground that is suitable for European matches. It's the first time in the club's history that they have played in a European competition. The second leg in Denmark will take place on 26 August.
Anger as Sky's Exclusive DealThe Scottish Football Association (SFA) has announced a deal with satellite TV company Sky to exclusively screen Scotland's home internationals as well as nine live Scottish Cup matches. While that will net the SFA as much as £60 million between 2010 and 2014, it means that fans who do not pay for the Sky service will no longer be able to see the matches on the free BBC channel. The BBC will only be able to show edited highlights of the internationals and five live cup games. The deal sparked anger from members of the Tartan Army fan club and many other supporters who will no longer be able to see Scotland's qualifying matches for the World Cup as a result of the deal. Last month the BBC Audience Council for Scotland called for Scotland's international qualifying matches to be added to the list of sporting "crown jewels", events that must be made available to mainstream, free-to-air broadcasters.
Strike by Referees AvertedA threatened strike by Scottish football referees could have delayed the start of Premier League football this Saturday. Last season, the referees received £575 per match and were reportedly asking for £1,000 to take charge of a match in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League. Eventually, they settled for £800 a game - with further talks to take place. There will be a "benchmarking" comparison with what is paid in other European leagues and the Scottish referees are confident this will lead to a higher figure being agreed.
Bob Crampsey (1930-2008)Bob Crampsey, who died last week, was described in the London Times as a "much loved Scottish cultural institution". Others regarded him as a "Sporting Legend" even though his fame rested not on playing sport but on writing, commentating and having a prodigious memory for the minutiae of sporting events. He worked for BBC Radio Scotland from 1987 to 2001 while still pursuing his career as a highly regarded school teacher and then headmaster. A graduate of Glasgow University, Bob Crampsey was multi-talented, excelling as a musician, historian and linguist. He won the BBC "Brain of Britain" contest in 1965 and it was his encyclopaedia knowledge of football events in particular that amazed everyone. He could name match referees, football teams, the size of the crowd - and could fluently entertain all who listened. In recent years, suffering from Parkinson's disease, his ability to recall sporting facts and figures was undiminished.
Andy Murray Wins Cincinnati MastersScots tennis star Andy Murray won his first Masters title in Cincinnati last weekend, propelling him to 6th in the world tennis rankings. He played some masterful tennis in the tournament, including coming back from 2-6 down in the first set against Carlos Moya in the quarter-finals. He was perhaps fortunate that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were knocked out in earlier rounds by other players, but in the final he defeated world number three Novak Djokovic in two sets. Djokovic had earlier defeated Nadal and went into the final with a 4-1 record against Andy Murray.
Picture via Wikipedia.
Women’s British Open Coming to ScotlandFollowing the success of the Women’s Open at the Old Course in St Andrews last year, EventScotland has secured an agreement with the promoters to stage the championship in Scotland on at least five occasions between 2011 and 2020. The promoters have dropped the policy of not taking the championship to clubs that do not admit women as members. So the Ricoh Women’s British Open could be staged at all-male bastions such as Muirfield or Royal Troon. It is suggested that bringing the Women’s Open to exclusively male clubs could result in them perhaps being convinced to change their ways. The Women’s Open has been held in Scotland on only two occasions since 1976. With TV pictures broadcast to 26 countries last year, there is considerable value to Scotland in staging such high-profile events.
The "Magazine" section includes songs/poems of Scotland, Scottish humour and brief descriptions of Scottish Culture items added recently to the Rampant Scotland Website - with a link to the page where you can find the full feature, if you find the subject of interest to you.
Scottish InventionsWith a relatively small population, Scots have been responsible for many inventions over the centuries - something that we take great pride in telling anyone who will listen! There are many well-known Scottish inventors and inventions (like Alexander Graham Bell who was the first to patent the telephone and Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin) but some are less well known:
Prevention of Scurvy - James Lind (1716-1794)
James Lind was born in Edinburgh in 1716, to a family of middle class merchants. He was well educated and at age 15 was apprenticed to an Edinburgh physician and surgeon, spending eight years studying medicine. In 1739, war broke out with Spain and Lind joined the Royal Navy as a lowly surgeon's mate, spending the next 7 years practicing his trade. He was promoted to Naval Surgeon aboard "HMS Salisbury" which had a crew of 350. Lind conceived and conducted the earliest recorded clinical trial involving supposed remedies for scurvy - the biggest killer on naval ships at that time. An analysis of the 185,000 men who served in the Seven Years' War with France, recorded that approximately 133,000 died of disease, primarily scurvy, while only 1,500 were killed in action! His ideas made little official progress even after 1758, when he was appointed chief physician to the Royal Naval Hospital at Haslar, just outside Portsmouth. Even so, his findings influenced a number of intelligent seafarers - Captain James Cook (son of a Scotsman) did not lose a single man to scurvy on his epic first circumnavigation of the globe in 1768-1771 due to his insistence on the men having the juice of lemons. For more on James Lind and his contribution to dealing with this disease, see Scottish Inventions - Prevention of Scurvy.
Scottish Place Names Around the World
Houston, Texas, USA
As a result of feedback and further research the article on Scottish-related place names in Houston, Texas, has been expanded. Houston is a distinctly Scottish family name, present in Renfrewshire from the 12th century. Of the names of the 1,149 suburbs, subdivisions and neighbourhoods in Greater Houston that have been identified to date, 194 (16.9%) are based, in whole or in part, on place names that can be found in Scotland, on Scottish family names, or on Scottish words. Of course, many of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well but at least 93 of these (8.1%) appear to have a direct or indirect link with Scotland. For all the background to Scottish names to be found in Houston, Texas, see Scottish Place Names, Houston, Texas.
Scottish Poetry and Song
The author of this poem, Alexander Anderson (1845-1909), was the sixth and youngest son of James Anderson a quarrier. Anderson seems to have taken inspiration from his walks in the hills of Kirkcudbrightshire in his later poetry. He began his working life as a surfaceman or platelayer on the Glasgow and South-western railway, and generally wrote under the name of Surfaceman. Self educated, in 1870 he began to send verses to the ‘People's Friend’ of Dundee, and subsequently his first book ‘A Song of Labour and other Poems’, was published in 1873. He later became assistant librarian in the University of Edinburgh, and after an interval as secretary to the Philosophical Institution there, he returned as Chief Librarian to the university. He made many friends, including the Duke of Argyll and Thomas Carlyle.
A Whiff of Nature
I stand alone on the hillside,
The scent of heather about;
I am so free of the city
That I leap and dance and shout.
The curlew and the lapwing,
They look for a moment at me,
Then they whoop and dive together,
For they understand my glee.
I can fancy I hear them singing
As I see them flying along —
“Here is a weary old fellow
Who is still in love with our song.
"Let us sing him our shrillest and wildest,
That it may sink in his heart,
And be with him again in the city
When he turns his face to depart.”
And over moss and moorland,
They swoop and wheel and sing,
Till the very ferns beside me
Begin to quiver and swing.
And ever, as if from dreamland,
The wind brings this echo along —
“Here is a weary old fellow,
Who is still in love with our song.”
After a lifetime of hearty eating of all the wrong kinds of food, Davie McFlannel was as wide as he was tall (OK - he wan't very tall...). One of his friends suggested to him that he should exercise to lose some excess weight - even a short walk (to the public bar, perhaps) rather than driving there and back might help. Davie glowered and commented, pointedly: "I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me." Then he added: "The only reason I would take up exercising is so that I could hear heavy breathing again....."
Lachlan's Laws - # 71
That great Highland philosopher, Lachlan McLachlan, propounded a number of irrefutable laws of life, the universe and everything, usually after a "bevvy" in the Auchenshuggle Arms on a Saturday night. Here is another example: "Eve and the apple was the first great step in experimental science". It has to be said, however, that the Scots' author and playwright James Bridie may have made the comment first.
Wee Donald wasn't very good at grammar and spelling at Auchentoshan Primary School and the teacher kept testing him in the hope that he would eventually learn. One day the teacher asked Wee Donald "Give me a sentence beginning with 'I' " Wee Donald thought for a moment and then began "I is..." The teacher angrily interrupted him and firmly said: "How many times do I have to tell you that you must always say 'I am' !" Wee Donald looked crestfallen and resumed: "All right. I am the letter in the alphabet after H...."
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