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.
Biggest Poll Lead Ever for NationalistsAn opinion poll by YouGov gives the Scottish National Party (SNP) a 19% lead over Labour in voting intentions for the Scottish Parliament. The poll puts the SNP on 44% (up 11% on their May 2007 election result) with the Labour party trailing at 25% (down 7% from May 2007). The Liberal Democrats (14%) and Conservatives (13%) were both down on the last election figures. If these voting intentions were translated into constituency seats in a real election, it is calculated that the SNP would win 58 of these, leaving Labour with just 8 seats and the Liberal Democrats 6 and the Conservatives only one. The 56 regional seats, voted for on a proportional representation basis, are difficult to accurately predict from such polls. But as the system is designed to favour "smaller" parties, Labour would recover some ground there - small consolation for the party that once dominated Scottish politics for so long.
Persistent, Heavy Rain Causes ProblemsRainfall in July in Scotland was above average and August is proving to be even wetter. After a dismal start to the month, heavy rain in the last two weeks has produced flooding and disruption to roads and travel services. In some areas, rainfall in 24 hours exceeded the normal quota for the month. Fife was badly affected last week with over an inch of rain being recorded in 24 hours. Emergency services were stretched to cope with incidents at various points across the county. The main A92 road in north Fife was blocked for a time due to a landslide and some drivers abandoned their cars. Then the torrential rain returned this week with yet more areas were affected by over an inch of rain in a short period, falling on saturated ground. Edinburgh was lashed by a deluge on Tuesday night, causing some flooding in the centre of the city. On Wednesday, the rains returned to Fife again, causing flooding in parts of Cupar and Freuchie. On Thursday, flooding affected the west, including parts of Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Lanarkshire. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of all this rain has been that although there have been local flooding problems, there have been no major incidents with rivers such as the Tay or the Spey bursting their banks. Perhaps the flood prevention measures put in place over the years have at last proved their worth.
Glasgow Airport to be Sold?Earlier this year, the UK government's Competition Commission warned the British Airports Authority (BAA) that their near-monopoly of airports in Scotland and the south-east of England was harmful to competition and was bad for both airlines and passengers. BAA owns Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports in Scotland and London's Gatwick, Stansted and Heathrow air terminals. The company was taken over by Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial a few years ago. Now the Competition Commission has produced a further report which recommends that either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports should be sold off to improve the levels and quality of service for both airlines and passengers. BAA is expected to contest the findings, but already it is being reported that Manchester Airport in the north of England and a consortium of local government authorities in the area are looking at the possibilities of launching a bid for Glasgow airport. BAA are more likely to accept the loss of Glasgow, as Edinburgh traffic is growing well, while Glasgow has stagnated, despite growth in international services.
Disruption as Local Government Staff StrikeMost local government services, from schools to refuse collection to museums and galleries and ferries closed down on Wednesday as up to 200,000 staff staged a one day strike. The workers are protesting at a pay award of 2.5%, which is well below current inflation rates (but a government imposed maximum for the majority of public service workers). More strikes have been threatened and the local government employers have suggested further negotiations.
Scottish Retail Sales Outperform UKThe Scottish Retail Consortium's report for sales in July shows them to be 6.2% higher than the same month last year - far better than the UK-wide figure of just 1.7% reported by the British Retail Consortium. However, both figures include new retail space, rather than like-for-like sales from established outlets. This does give a better picture of what consumers are spending but the like-for-like data shows an increase in Scotland of just 0.5% year-on-year. This is still better than the 0.9% decline in the UK as a whole. Of course, some of the growth is due to price rises in the last year rather than increased volume, with food prices in particular growing fast.
More Licensed PremisesPrior to the ban on smoking in public enclosed spaces being introduced in March 2006, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association argued that many of their members would be forced out of business. But the latest figures show that the number of buildings holding a licence to sell alcohol has risen since the ban came into force. There are now 5,186 public houses in Scotland, roughly one for every 800 people aged 18 and over. There were 4,472 bars in Scotland in 1980 and that number rose to 5,122 in 2003. Edinburgh has the most licensed premises per head of population, with 2,000 (one for every 200 people) while Glasgow with a larger population only has 1,890 (one for every 300 people). The figures do conceal, however, the steady closure of smaller establishments, especially in rural areas and the move to diversification, with the sale of food now an important aspect. It is also argued that although the licence is still in place, the premises may no longer be open as the licence is only renewed every three years.
Golden Hoy - the Flying ScotsmanChris Hoy has made history at the Olympic games in Beijing by winning three gold medals in the cycling events. The Edinburgh athlete became the first Briton in 100 years to win three golds in the same Olympic games and the most successful Scottish Olympian - he also won a gold medal in the one kilometre cycling time trials in the Athens Olympics in 2004. When they return home, Hoy and other Scottish Olympic medalists and participants, who helped Britain to their best Olympic medal haul for 100 years, will ride in an open top bus down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh after attending a reception at the city's castle. Aberdeen canoeist David Florence was runner-up in the slalom, while rower Katherine Grainier also won silver (her third - she has won silver in three consecutive Olympics).
Picture of Chris Hoy in Manchester via Wikipedia.
Arguments Rage Over Trump Golf CourseThe official public enquiry into the proposal by US entrepreneur to create a £1 billion golf, leisure and residential complex on the coast of Aberdeenshire at Meanies estate may be over. But that has not stopped the supporters and the critics from mounting a strenuous campaign for and against the plan. In a rare display of unanimity, the leaders of five business organisations in Scotland have joined forces to encourage the government to approve the plan. The Confederation of British Industry (Scotland), Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC), Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Federation of Small Businesses and Institute of Directors (IoD) all hope that by coming together they might persuade the government to green-light the proposals. They argue that "this is a once- in-a-lifetime inward investment opportunity which we must grasp with open arms". Meanwhile, environmental groups such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Scottish Wildlife Trust placed full-page adverts in two newspapers urging the public to write to Finance Secretary John Swinney encouraging him to turn down the plan. They insist the development would cause irreversible damage to sand dunes designated as a site of special scientific interest.
Investigation Into Edinburgh's World HeritageRecent approvals of major commercial developments in the centre of Edinburgh have caused concern at Unesco and the cultural body is sending a team of inspectors to Scotland's capital to consider its position as a "World Heritage Site". Key projects such as Caltongate (fronting onto the historic Royal Mile) and at Haymarket (where tall buildings will obscure views of the castle from some directions) have prompted the move.The inspectors will report next spring and will recommend whether Edinburgh is placed on Unesco's official "at risk" list of endangered sites. The Unesco director-general has asked for a delay on final decisions on the developments until the probe has been completed. Caltongate is the biggest single development in the history of Edinburgh's Old Town (see picture here). The site was the capital's gasworks in the mid-19th century and it became a bus depot in the 1930s (now demolished). So redevelopment is essential - it is the nature and scale of the plans that concerns heritage campaigners. Final approval has yet to be given by the council and the Scottish Government. But Edinburgh City planners have already approved the £200 million Haymarket scheme, which involves the creation of a 17-storey five-star hotel on a derelict former railway goods yard which has been vacant for over 40 years.
Glasgow Hits High NoteScotland's largest city was this week named as a Unesco "City of Music" which recognises its "musical pedigree". Edinburgh citizens may regard Glasgow's pedigree as a bit of a mongrel, but the UN cultural body has put Glasgow on the same pedestal as Bologna in Italy and Seville in Spain. As part of its bid for recognition, Glasgow said it staged 127 music events a week, ranging from contemporary and classical to Celtic and country. The city can claim that it has given birth to many well-known musicians, particularly in the pop world, from Lulu to Travis, Franz Ferdinand and the Fratellis. The city is also home to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish Opera.
Site Chosen for New Bruce StatueThe newest statue to King Robert the Bruce, arguably Scotland's greatest monarch, is to be sited outside Aberdeen's Marischal College, surely the city's most eye-catching building. The design of the larger than life statue shows the monarch astride a horse and waving Aberdeen's charter. He granted this to the city 1319 in recognition for providing shelter to Bruce when he was deposed by the army of King Edward I twelve years earlier. The statue's design was voted for by the people of Aberdeen from a short-list of three sculptors. The successful submission was by artist Alan Herriot, who will be starting work on the statue later this year. It is expected to take a year to complete.
Piping LiveGlasgow became a sea of tartan in the week preceding the World Pipe Band Championships last weekend. There were 8,000 pipers and drummers in the city - along with their many supporters. Bands from as far afield as Pakistan and Australia took part in performances which included an International Piping Concert, featuring artists from across the globe. Barrowland Ballroom was the venue for contemporary international piping concert and a late night ceilidh.
Canadians Win World Pipe Band ChampionshipsThe Simon Fraser University Pipe Band has been consistently placed in the top three in world competition in the last 25 years. Last Saturday the band won the Grade One World Pipe Band Championships for the fifth time, having just missed out on other occasions since their last win in 2001 - they have been placed second seven times in the last 25 years. The band is affiliated to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada (a suburb located just east of Vancouver). This year, Simon Fraser University band beat last year's winners, Field Marshal Montgomery from Northern Ireland into second place. Scotland's House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead were in third place. See Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association for full detailed results. 40,000 piping enthusiasts (and a few who came along out of curiosity) turned up on a dull but dry Saturday to hear and see the bands tune up and then compete on Glasgow Green. Organisers claimed this year's event was the biggest yet, attracting 221 bands - amounting to 8000 musicians - from 15 countries
Vivienne Westwood Opens in GlasgowDame Vivienne Westwood is an English fashion designer, said to be largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. Her outrageous designs included safety pins, razor blades, bicycle chains on clothing and spiked dog collars used as jewellery, as well as outrageous make-up and hair. The inclusion of more traditional elements of British design, such as tartan fabric only served to make the overall effect of her designs more shocking. She revolutionised fashion, and the impact is still felt today. Now the "Grande Dame" of haute couture is bringing her unique style to a Scottish outlet for the first time with a new store opening earlier this month in Glasgow's up-market Princes Square shopping mall. It promises to provide "experience" shopping and will sell all of Vivienne Westwood's label lines as well as couture pieces bought specifically for the Scottish market.
Picture of Vivienne Westwood via Wikipedia.
"Glorious Twelfth"The 12th of August is known as the "Glorious Twelfth" as the grouse shooting season gets under way. The birds may not think the day is very "glorious" but sporting estates play an important part in the rural economy. The cold, wet spring did not help the number of grouse in the Highlands and the inclement weather has continued. Although the Scottish Countryside Alliance and others point to the economic benefits, others such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds point to research showing that the number of golden eagles and other birds of prey are continuing to decline in parts of Scotland where grouse moor management predominates. There are suggestions that gamekeepers are killing such predators to protect the grouse.
Economic Boost for Deprived AreaThe Easterhouse area of Glasgow used to be a run-down area of the city, full of deprivation, crime and poor amenities. In recent years, much of that has changed. A lot of the subsidised social housing has been demolished or refurbished, new schools and sports centres have been built and private housebuilders have been busy (at least until the recent credit crunch) building smart new detached houses for aspiring families as well as low-rise modern apartment blocks. Perhaps the biggest symbol of the regeneration of the area was the completion of the Glasgow Fort shopping mall. When it was proposed, there was an initial resistance to the "Fort" name as it seemed to reinforce the ghetto image that the planners were trying to eradicate. But the development has been highly successful, drawing in shoppers from a wide area - it is well placed beside the M8 motorway with links not only east and west but also south into Lanarkshire via the link to the M74. Now approval has been given to expanding the retail centre from 48,000 square metres to 64,000 square metres. The major part of that extra space has already been taken up by Marks & Spencer, a major clothing and food retailer. The owners of the Glasgow Fort have also been persuaded to donate £10 million towards improvements in the area, including the Provanhall Visitor Centre, new sports facilities and road and pedestrian upgrades.
We're Not Dour Scots Any More!Official research into social attitudes suggests that far from being dour and Presbyterian, Scots people are among the highest in Europe for their perceived level of happiness and well-being. Scots were overwhelmingly positive about their personal lives and standard of living and scored the highest mark given in any European country for these two measures - leaving England behind. Some economic researchers have previously argued that high levels of social deprivation contribute to low levels of happiness and well-being in Scotland as a whole. They claimed that dire health and economic inactivity have conspired to dampen the Scots' outlook. But this latest research, based on face-to-face interviews with 1,500 people, found that Scots fared well compared to generally accepted measures of happiness across Europe. Of course, people were more likely to have a positive outlook if they were in a job, married and healthy. But the survey found no appreciable difference between people living in towns or the countryside. Of course, the cynics point out that being content with your lot could arguably mean people had low aspirations which lead them to be relatively content and happy with their lives. Some people are never happy with positive data!
Tracking Ospreys for 3,000 MilesTwo osprey chicks, setting off on their 3,000 mile migration to West Africa this month, have been fitted with satellite tags so that their progress can be followed over the coming months. The birds left the nest at the famous Loch Garten bird sanctuary for the first time in mid-July and have been spending the last month learning the finer points of flying and diving for fish around Strathspey. The two chicks have been named Nethy and Deshar after two local primary schools. You can track their progress via the web site at RSPB Osprey Tracking.
Picture of osprey via Wikipedia.
Recent Weather in ScotlandAs noted earlier in this newsletter, rain was the major weather feature for many of the days in the last two weeks, causing localised flooding, surface water on roads and - even when it wasn't raining - there were frequent spells of thick, dark clouds. The Western Isles (once again) got the best of any sunshine that was making an appearance. Maximum daytime temperatures have been largely in the range 16/19C (61/66F) though Glasgow reached 21C (70F) on Tuesday of this week and on Thursday, Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth could only struggle up to a maximum of 11.5C (52.7F)
The illustration is of raindrops an a leaf.
~ Five hungry swallow chick beaks pointing towards the parent with the next meal for the second brood of the year;
~ A "Large White" butterfly feeding on the flower of Heliopsis;
~ A rare Comma butterfly, with its ragged, scalloped wing edges and orange and brown markings;
~ A fine Peacock butterfly, with its large red wings, black markings and distinctive eyespots on the tips of fore and hind wings - see thumbnail here;
~ Kellie Castle in Fife with its kitchen garden, now owned by the National Trust for Scotland;
~ A busy bee seeking out nectar from the globular flower cluster of a tall Echinops - the globe thistle;
~ The beautiful Red Admiral butterfly, combining camouflage with a striking, colourful design. See This Week's Colour Supplement
Historical Affairs - Topical Items from Scotland's Past
New Comprehensive Burns CollectionThe University of Glasgow and Oxford University Press (OUP) are collaborating to produce the most comprehensive collection of the work of Robert Burns ever compiled. The work will start next year to coincide with the celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland's most famous poet. The Bard's work is being re-edited from scratch by a group of prominent academics - and it will take them 10 to 15 years to complete. Burns' songs will be part of the 10-volume collection but will also be showcased on a large web resource so that they are available to all.
Highland Historic Environment Record (HER)A new Web site has been launched which contains information about tens of thousands of historic buildings, archaeological sites and finds dating from earliest prehistory through to the present day which can be found in the Highlands. Items range from buildings and prehistoric sites to rusting petrol pumps and wartime anti-tank defences. The complete Highland Historic Environment Record (HER) database is available on-line, along with thousands of linked documents and images. The public have been encouraged to flag up other sites of interest or add more information to those already featured. The online HER is fully searchable using the interactive map. There is also a wide range of other resources including themed articles and heritage trails. See her.highland.gov.uk.
Anniversaries of Scottish Historical Events
- August 24 1482 - Berwick on Tweed finally ceded to England (Edward IV) after changing hands 12 times.
- August 25 1930 - Actor Sean Connery born.
- August 26 1875 - Novelist and statesman John Buchan born in Perth.
- August 27 1784 - First balloon ascent in Britain by James Tytler, Edinburgh.
- August 28 1296 - Edward I of England held a parliament at Berwick to which he summoned all Scottish landholders to sign the Ragman Roll.
- August 29 1930 - Island of St Kilda evacuated.
- August 30 1991 - Liz McColgan won the World Athletics Championship 10,000 metres in Tokyo by a margin of 20 seconds.
- September 1 714 - Death of St Giles, patron saint of Edinburgh (and Elgin).
- September 2 1834 - Death of engineer, road, bridge and canal builder Thomas Telford. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
- September 3 1745 - Prince Charles Edward Stuart proclaimed his father as King James VIII of Scotland at Perth.
- September 4 1962 - Last tramcar run in Glasgow (to Auchenshuggle).
- September 6 1715 - The Earl of Mar unfurled the standard of the "Old Pretender" in Braemar at the start of the first Jacobite Uprising.
"Fundamental Change" for Fringe FestivalThe near-disaster caused by the failure of the on-line booking system for this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe has prompted the setting up of an independent enquiry into the causes and consequences of the box-office problems. It will also examine the way in which the Fringe Society runs the event. The 40 Fringe venues involved in the biggest arts festival of its kind in the world agreed that the review will look backwards as well as forwards and should involve all those involved, including "stakeholders" such as the Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council. The Fringe Society organisation will be celebrating its 50th birthday next year and will be hoping to avoid the chaos which resulted from the failure of the new ticketing system introduced this year.
Robbie Coltrane - a "Wanted Man"Scots actor Robbie Coltrane became famous long before appearing in the "Harry Potter" films with the TV series "Cracker" in which he played a criminal psychologist. So it came as a surprise to find that his face is being used on wanted posters being circulated in Christchurch, New Zealand, with the words "Active Burglar in this Neighbourhood" printed underneath. It seems that pictures of young offenders cannot be published, but the police say that the portly actor is a good substitute, declaring: "Robbie Coltrane is not the burglar but imagine him at 16 with lank greasy hair and you have the picture." The police admit that it is provocative to use the picture but hope it will get more people reading the crime prevention material.
Picture of Robbie Coltrane via Wikipedia.
Edinburgh Military Tattoo Moving OutThe success of the annual Military Tattoo in Scotland's Capital is due in no small part to the setting - on the esplanade in front of Edinburgh Castle, with the historic building towering behind. When the Tattoo has been taken abroad (notably in Australia and New Zealand) an attempt has been made to create a backdrop simulating the castle. It will be interesting to see if the same effort is expended next year - when four satellite shows will be arranged at venues in other parts of the country as part of Scotland's Year of Homecoming, which coincides with the 250th anniversary of the birth of national poet Robert Burns. The 2009 Tattoo will also have a Burns theme. So far, the venues and locations for the four extra shows have yet to be announced - but has been confirmed the events will be free.
Promenade Concert Avoids RainOpen-air events in Scotland are always at the mercy of the fickle weather and this summer's above average rainfall has made organisers even more nervous than usual. There was indeed rain in the morning of this year's 16th Grand Scottish Prom at Glamis Castle last Saturday, but that didn't deter 5,500 concert-goers turning up on the lawns at the castle to enjoy the concert. They were not disappointed - either by the weather (which stayed dry until near the end) or the atmosphere created by the performers and the surroundings. The National Symphony Orchestra of Scotland was conducted by Iain Sutherland and Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti made a welcome return to the venue.
Air Show to Celebrate 90 Years of RAFThis is the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the occasion will be celebrated at the air show at RAF Leuchars on September 13. There will be historic aircraft on display, including a WW1 SE5a Scout bi-plane once flown by 111 (Fighter) Squadron based at Leuchars. With a top speed of 138mph it will be appearing alongside the RAF's latest Typhoon fighter jet (capable of 1480mph). Over 100 aircraft, including representatives from other nations, will be taking part. A highlight will undoubtedly be the fly-past of the WW2 Lancaster bomber accompanied by the Battle of Britain Spitfire (see graphic) and Hurricane. Other historic aircraft will include the Gloster Meteor, De Havilland Vampire and Hawker Hunter. The extensive flying display is backed up by a large static display. There was no display last year due to resurfacing of the runway prior to the arrival of the new Typhoon fighters at the base, so a large crowd is expected, with profits going to the RAF Benevolent Fund.
League TablesCeltic, Rangers and Kilmarnock all have 7 points from three games as they have all struggled to get going this season. Rangers could have gone to the top of the Scottish Premier League table on Saturday but were held to a 1-1 draw by Aberdeen. Celtic lead the table on goal difference. Newly promoted Hamilton surprised everyone by winning their first two matches and although they lost on Saturday, losing 1-0 to Kilmarnock, those six points earned so far put Hamilton in 4th place.
In the First Division, Dundee are at the top of the table with 10 points from four games, followed by Partick Thistle and Livingston with one point less.
Scotland 0 Northern Ireland 0The friendly international between Scotland and Northern Ireland proved to be unsatisfactory from many points of view, with Northern Ireland content to defend and Scotland failing to make any break-throughs. The result leaves new manager George Burley without a win in three games in charge of Scotland and the Scots still searching for their first friendly win at Hampden since 1996. Scotland will hope they can be sharper in attack in the forthcoming World Cup qualifying double-header against Macedonia and Iceland.
Queen of the South's European DebutIn their first competitive match in Europe, Queen of the South were defeated 2-1 at home by Danish side Nordsjaelland. The Doonhamers recovered from losing a goal after two minutes with an equaliser but the Danes scored the winning goal just three minute later. Queen of the South now face an uphill struggle in the return match in two weeks time, having conceded two valuable away goals to the Danish side.
Velodrome Named After Golden HoyScotland's Commonwealth Games velodrome is to be named after triple Olympic cycling gold-medalist Chris Hoy. The new facility is being built in Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and will become the new home for Scottish cycling. But Chris Hoy has joined appeals to Edinburgh City Council to think again about their plan to demolish Meadowbank Stadium in the capital and create as "downsized" sports venue. Hoy says he could not have reached the Olympics without the Meadowbank Stadium. The local cycling club Edinburgh Racers is fighting to save the 16,000 capacity athletics stadium and sports complex in the Capital.
England DefeatedWell, maybe "England defeated" is a bit of an exaggeration, but the Scottish weather did force a draw in the first international cricket match between the two countries. After a shaky start, Scotland scored a reasonable 156 for 9 in 44 overs, with Gavin Hamilton's 60 the highlight of the score. England had hardly got going when the rain began to fall - and didn't stop - bringing the match to an end.
Andy Murray Crashes Out of OlympicsBritain's medal tally at the Olympic Games in Beijing may have broken records, but Scots tennis star Andy Murray didn't add to the total. He was beaten in two sets by Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei who is 77th in the tennis rankings. He then lost out in the doubles contest, partnering his brother Jamie. At least the early defeats will give Andy (currently ranked 6th in the world) a rest before his next challenge - the US Open.
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.
Speedo Swimwear - Alexander MacRae (circa 1890-1935)
As we watch all the swimming events in the Olympic Games and the gold medals being won by the top athletes wearing "Speedo" swimwear, it is worth remembering that the company was founded by a Scot - Alexander Macrae. He was born around 1890 in Kyle of Lochalsh in north-west Scotland. In 1910 he emigrated from his home near Loch Kishorn to Australia. He was already married to a local girl and they later had five sons and a daughter. His wife died in 1925, giving birth to their only daughter. MacRae himself died on November 30 1938 - St. Andrews Day. MacRae established a company, MacRae Hosiery, in 1914 on Bondi Beach, Sydney, but changed the name later to MacRae Knitting Mills as he began to expand into swimwear. The brand name initially was "Fortitude" - taken from the motto of the clan MacRae. Its Racerback brand was one of the first figure hugging designs specifically created for athletes rather than just fashion - and covering up the skin. The name "Speedo" was adopted in 1928 after an employee, Captain Jim Parsonson, won a company competition with the slogan "Speed on in your Speedos". Always in the forefront of design and new materials - and powerful marketing - the company now dominates the sport. For more on how MacRae and Speedo conquered the world of swimming, see Scottish Inventions/Discoveries - Speedo Swimwear.
Scottish Place Names Around the World
Wilmington, Delaware, USA
As a result of feedback and further research the article on Scottish-related place names in Wilmington, Delaware, has been expanded. Of the names of the 714 communities and neighbourhoods in the Wilmington-Newark-Glasgow-Elkton metropolitan area that have been identified to date, 126 (17.7%) 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 associated with other parts of the British Isles as well but at least 50 (7.0%) of these appear to have an exclusive link with Scotland. For all the background, see Scottish Place Names - Wilmington, Delaware.
Scottish Poetry and Song
The author of this poem, George MacDonald(1824–1905), is best known for his fairy tales and fantasy novels. He inspired admiration in such notables as W. H. Auden and J. R. R. Tolkien. C. S. Lewis wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master" while G. K. Chesterton cited "The Princess and the Goblin" as a book that had "made a difference to my whole existence." Even Mark Twain, who initially detested MacDonald, became friends with him, and there is some evidence that Twain was influenced by MacDonald.
The Thankless Lady
It is May, and the moon leans down at night
Over a blossomy land;
Leans from her window a lady white,
With her cheek upon her hand.
"Oh, why in the blue so misty, moon?
Why so dull in the sky?
Thou look'st like one that is ready to swoon
Because her tear-well is dry.
"Enough, enough of longing and wail!
Oh, bird, I pray thee, be glad!
Sing to me once, dear nightingale,
The old song, merry mad.
"Hold, hold with thy blossoming, colourless, cold,
Apple-tree white as woe!
Blossom yet once with the blossom of old,
Let the roses shine through the snow!"
The moon and the blossoms they gloomily gleam,
The bird will not be glad :
The dead never speak when the mournful dream,
They are too weak and sad.
Listened she listless till night grew late,
Bound by a weary spell;
Then clanked the latch of the garden-gate
And a wondrous thing befell :
Out burst the gladness, up dawned the love,
In the song, in the waiting show;
Grew silver the moon in the sky above,
Blushed rosy the blossom below.
But the merry bird, nor the silvery moon,
Nor the blossoms that flushed the night
Had one poor thanks for the granted boon :
The lady forgot them quite!
The Sainsbury Supermarket at Braehead near Glasgow was extremely busy one Thursday evening - when the stores stay open longer to encourage customers to spend, spend, spend. The queue at the check-outs were getting longer and longer, but the express lane (for baskets with less than ten items) was quiet as most customers had bought a lot more than that. Completely ignoring the sign, a large woman unloaded her overflowing trolley-load onto the conveyor belt. The shopping reached the cashier and the lady was getting ready to pack her goods away, after they had been scanned. The cashier looked up at the lady and said sweetly "And which ten items would you like to buy?" After some loud arguing, during which a supervisor (trying hard not to smile) backed up the cashier, the lady had to load her shopping back on the trolley and join the end of one of the long queues at another lane.
Lachlan's Laws - # 72
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: "There are three kinds of mathematicians - those who can count and those who can't."
Willie and Jeannie McCotton were getting on in years but still liked to go out to smart restaurants on special occasions. So to celebrate the 65th birthday of their first son, they took a taxi to the up-market Pompadour Restaurant in Edinburgh's Caledonian Hotel. But as they hadn't made a reservation, they were told there would be a 45-minute wait for a table. Willie McCotton frowned and addressed the head waiter: "Young man, we're both 90 years old. We may not have 45 minutes." They were seated immediately.
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