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An easy mistake to make

Posted on May 03, 2014 by

BBC Northern Ireland website, 2 May 2014:

“Former NI First Minister Lord Trimble has said the biggest threat to peace in Northern Ireland would be if Scotland were to vote for independence.”

Lord Trimble on “Good Morning Scotland”, 3 May 2014 (31m 30s):

“I want to correct what you said… [the website] reported me as saying that would threaten the peace process. I did not say that, that is not my view.

Actually, a Yes vote in Scotland would reinforce the argument against violence, because it’s a demonstration of how you can achieve major change through the political democratic process.”

Whoops, eh? Oddly, while the original story is still on the BBC NI website, we can’t seem to find one reporting the correction anywhere, even though Lord Trimble spoke to GMS more than eight hours ago. We’re sure it’ll be along any minute now.

Here’s the appearance the BBC website story refers to.

It could scarcely be any more explicit and clear, both from Lord Trimble’s words and the subsequent discussion with other studio guests, that he was referring to a Yes in Scotland creating interest in a referendum in Northern Ireland on reunification with the Republic, not a renewed outbreak of violence. But that’s a bit boring, right?

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76 to “An easy mistake to make”

  1. Ali says:

    More ‘quality’ journalism from the BBC.

  2. Will that be a “grassroots” correction, I wonder?

  3. bookie from hell says:

    The first casualty of NO,is the truth

  4. Democracy Reborn says:

    Lost in translation, courtesy of the Bettertogether Broadcasting Corporation

  5. galamcennalath says:

    Derek Bateman, has posted an interesting and thought provoking article about the BBC on his blog today. He does know more about their mysterious workings than most.

    He convincingly argues that there isn’t the conspiracy to be biased, most of us think we see.

  6. Claire McNab says:

    I think it’s a little more complex than Stuart’s summary suggests.

    The original BBC News article quotes Trimble as saying: If the referendum in Scotland goes in the way I regard as the wrong result, that will change the political context in Northern Ireland and that would cause strains. It would put what is now a non-issue [a possible referendum] into a major issue and it would be divisive, obviously.”

    In other words, Trimble says its effect could be divisive, which the BBC hypes as “the biggest threat to peace in Northern Ireland”.

    Next day on “Good Morning Scotland”, Trimble backpedals on what he first said.

  7. grunt says:

    Hearing what they want to hear.

  8. Martin says:

    I’m not sure yet if it’s a conspiracy to be honest. But whether by fault or design, the BBC is biased.

  9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I think it’s a little more complex than Stuart’s summary suggests.”

    I’ve added the video of Trimble’s appearance on Daily Politics. It’s absolutely plain what he’s talking about, and it’s not violence.

  10. muttley79 says:

    Lord Trimble is well known as a former Ulster Unionist leader, and British nationalist. These are quite remarkable comments from him. Trimble is obviously against Scottish independence, which is understandable given his political views. Divisive is not in the same league as saying that Scottish independence is the biggest threat to peace in Northern Ireland. For him to have to publically correct the BBC over their misreporting is anther shameful episode for dear old Auntie. This is starting to get farcical now. They really are not even trying to hide their actions anymore.

  11. Alan Ferrier says:

    Hardly backpedalling. He categorically did *not* say “the biggest threat to peace in Northern Ireland would be if Scotland were to vote for independence”, which is what is being reported by the BBC.

  12. Murray McCallum says:

    I think this must count as one of the worst misquotes thus far.

    Given the appalling events that have taken place in NI over the last 30 – 40 years and the tremendous steps all parties have taken to improve the situation, it is really hard to accept that the BBC can misquote someone of Mr. Trimble’s stature implying a likely return to violence.

    This is deeply insulting to Mr. Trimble and all people in N. Ireland.

  13. Macart says:

    Members of the CBI.

    Says it all really.

  14. MD says:

    No conspiracy needed, just the in-built bias of a media serving the powerful: “Herman and Chomsky quickly dismiss the standard mainstream critique of radical media analysis that accuses it of offering some sort of “conspiracy” theory for media behavior; rather, they argue, media bias arises from “the preselection of right-thinking people, internalized preconceptions, and the adaptation of personnel to the constraints” of a series of objective filters they present in their propaganda model. Hence the bias occurs largely through self-censorship” ––.htm

  15. MD says:

    Sorry Rev, broken link in that last comment 🙁

  16. a2 says:

    “He convincingly argues that there isn’t the conspiracy to be biased, most of us think we see.”

    ah not quite, there’s a difference between seeing bias seeing organised conspiracy to produce bias.

  17. Greannach says:

    Let’s not forget how the BBC saw fit to misrepresent Irish minister, Lucinda Creighton, too. Maybe they thought Creighton then Trimble wouldn’t notice from the other side of the North Channel, which in itself shows how unimportant the BBC in Scotland thinks it is.

  18. gordoz says:

    BBC 1, BBC 2, BBC 3, BBC Reckless

  19. ronnie anderson says:

    Its well past the point of hilarity

    Interviewee’s wil need to ask for a signed contract from

    the Bbc Interviewers that there will be no interputation

    applied to what was said,& no interuptions in reply during

    a interview, same applies to newsprint Journalists.

  20. Proud Cybernat says:

    If Scotland votes No it will largely be as a result of the deceit, misinformation, disinformation, propaganda and downright lies pumped out by the State broadcaster. And you if you are an undecided voter reading this, it is not just me saying this about the BBC–they have been found guilty by their own Trust for breaking their own guidelines and of bias towards the No camp by a year long academic study. All is not what you think it was–dear old Aunty Beeb is an effin banshee. Open your eyes.

  21. John fowler says:

    Well you can’t expect the BBC to take a truthful and unbiased stance…. they never have before.

  22. Geoff Huijer says:

    It all went way beyond a joke a long time ago
    and yet it still continues.

    The BBC are untouchable.

    And if you ask me the Electoral Commission is
    a sham too.

  23. BuckieBraes says:

    @Claire McNab
    I think you’re about right. There is a bit of back-pedalling on Trimble’s part; and neither he nor the BBC cover themselves in glory here. Unionist peer; unionist media organisation: hey-ho!

    I just get sick of this. It’s our (remarkably peaceful) referendum campaign; nobody else’s. First we have a contention from some loopy academic that if we have the temerity to vote Yes it will cause mayhem in Africa. Now the BBC tries to ‘sex up’ comments made by David Trimble to suggest that we will be responsible for Northern Ireland descending back into carnage. Oh, just get lost, you people!

  24. Croompenstein says:

    Listening to Whiteford trying to talk over and correct Trimble is an embarrassment, It’s not an easy mistake to make Derek B it is deliberate and cannot be put down to incompetence I mean WTF what do we pay these people to serve us our ‘news’ and current affairs

  25. handyscot says:

    The Electoral Commission’s Commissioner with responsibility for Scotland is John McCormick, former Secretary of the BBC and subsequently Controller of BBC Scotland. How long should we hold our breath?

  26. Chic McGregor says:

    I really hope the Brit nats are not trying to stir up trouble in NI just to invoke that old sectarian scare for our ‘benefit’. Surely even they are not that bad.

  27. From Derek Bateman’s blog:

    “Whatever is going on in the BBC, a conspiracy to defeat the Yes side in the referendum isn’t it.”

    So what the hell is it then? What else explains what we’re seeing, especially over the last couple of weeks? It’s not just incompetence that edits clips from FMQ’s for example.

  28. Truth says:

    I read Derek Bateman’s blog and I still don’t buy what he is saying.

    He is basically saying that how could a conspiracy be kept under wraps. Why has nobody no longer connected to the BBC not spoken out?

    I give him two words: Jimmy Savile

    It is now apparent that hundreds of people knew of his actions and failed for whatever reason to speak out. Or if they did, they were silenced or ignored.

    So that there Mr Bateman demonstrates how a conspiracy operates.

    However much I respect Mr Bateman (and I do immensely) I refuse to accept his words on BBC bias.

    I am happy to believe he was out of the loop (he himself admits they knew he was a “Nat”) but that is not true of them all.

  29. muttley79 says:


    I cannot agree with you. David Trimble clearly said a Yes vote would be divisive in Northern Ireland. That is not in the same league as saying that it would be the greatest threat to the Northern Ireland peace process. It is an awful misinterpretation by the BBC of what he said. The BBC basically imply that Trimble believes a Yes vote for Scottish independence would lead to violence in Northern Ireland. It is truly awful reporting of his comments. It is almost indefensible imo.

  30. RogueCoder says:

    I don’t think the bias is planned, I don’t think it’s even really intentional. I just think that as a society we have swallowed so much propaganda about the British state from the British state that people are having a hard time adjusting to a new reality where Scotland can – and will – leave for something better. I think that also explains why Bitter Together have made such a God-awful foul up of their campaign thus far. When the fear bombs didn’t have the intended outcome, they floundered and flailed, shaking their heads as if it didn’t compute.

    What most people outside of the Yes camp are slowly coming to terms with is the fact that Scotland is and always has been a nation. The political union can and will be dissolved. We can do this, and there’s really nothing they can do to stop it. That’s a bitter cup of coffee for the UK to swallow. It’s not so much bias as denial. Leave the UK? Preposterous! Why… why… Scotland couldn’t exist! You’d fail without our help!

    As the Yes vote edges out the Unionists, I think the realisation that this is really happening will hit home, and hit home hard.

  31. Alister Meechan says:

    Next up on FOX News……….

  32. muttley79 says:

    @Alister Meechan

    Next up on FOX News……….

    More like Next up on WEASEL News…. :D: :D:

  33. muttley79 says:

    😀 😀

  34. BuckieBraes says:

    Oh absolutely: saying something is ‘divisive’ is not in the same league as saying it’s the greatest threat to the peace process.

    However, Trimble’s initial comments were unhelpful and gratuitous (Andrew Neil didn’t prompt him to mention Scotland, at least not ‘on air’) and I think by the time he appeared on GMS he realised this himself.

    I think we’re just about all agreed on one thing, though – the BBC put words into Lord Trimble’s mouth for the sake of a headline.

  35. msean says:

    Absolutists,who are they? Never heard of them,are they a new party?

  36. muttley79 says:


    Trimble is a former Ulster Unionist leader, so he is bound to be against Scottish independence. That is his democratic right, and to be honest Trimble remarks were moderate and restrained in my opinion. They were not said in an aggressive way at all.

  37. birnie says:

    Original misrepresentation of Trimble’s comments still on the BBC NI website at 18.30.

  38. Vestas says:

    I think reading between the lines Derek Bateman is saying that the BBC is pretty much the only game in town (the UK) for many journalists/media people.

    Basically criticise the BBC in public & you’re history.

    Given the monopoly position (backed by the threat of jail) which the BBC holds in the UK that effectively means you are exceptionally unlikely to be able to continue your career.

    A lot of you are waking up to the BBC, many of us woke up to that when the BBC (again) broke its charter & started competing with commercial websites in the UK. Lots of people lost their jobs & we find out (years later of course) that the BBC lost at least £200mill “competing”.

    The BBC has such a distorting effect on the UK media market because if you don’t pay the license fee then you potentially go to jail. That’s why they defend the status quo so vehemently.

    The license fee needs to be changed to a subscription fee. No more taxpayer funding because that IS what the license fee is in practice.

  39. galamcennalath says:

    The bias in the BBC’s is truly awful. They are serving the democratic process very badly.

    If there is a No win, by a close margin, then it will be reasonable to call foul and lay the blame at their feet.

    Some episodes I can see what possibly happened, like the launch of VTB. The press releases were to BBC London and of course they don’t have a scoobie what’s actually happening at grassroots in Scotland. It is possible they were hoodwinked in believing VTB.

    However other things, particularly as Dave Beveridge points out above, the way BBC in Scotland edit clips. It happens so often it has to be conspiracy to pervert democracy.

    I find it fascinating that Derek Bateman thinks not.

  40. Horseboy says:

    ex Chief Constable Royal Ulster Constable Ronnie Flannagan( now Sir) during the Northern Irleland “TROUBLES”, now on BBC Parliament Ch81 “On The Runs Inquiry”. He’s getting easy time by Northern Ireland Affairs Committee but he’s putting great effort into saying nothing!

    ps. He’s knows all the secrets of the UK’s Northern Ireland Troubles and where the bodies are hidden! I thought the Establishment would have put him under the M25 by now!

  41. Lesley-Anne says:

    I think there is only one thing to do from now on and that is to rename the BBC as Pravda London Corporation. To continue to call the broadcaster the BBC is just fooling ourselves.

  42. Thepnr says:

    Anyone been having problems today posting? I know that some are and no posts appearing at all. Please advise.

  43. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Anyone been having problems today posting? I know that some are and no posts appearing at all. Please advise.”

    I suspect it’s because you changed your name and then changed it back. Give poor Akismet a break, how’s it supposed to know you’re not some multi-identity spammer?

  44. Thepnr says:

    Not me Rev, I haven’t had a problem it’s another regular.

  45. RogueCoder says:

    I’ve had trouble posting. Lost a couple of long posts and couldn’t be bother to re-write. If I do a long post now I copy and paste it to Notepad first.

    You might be having database write problems, Rev.

  46. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Not me Rev, I haven’t had a problem it’s another regular.”

    There were a crapload of your posts in the Spam filter.

  47. Lochside says:

    I heard bumbling, mumbling Bill Whiteford trying to talk over Trimble this morning. He did it deliberately despite Trimble explaining he’s concerned about our Ref. leading to a referendum claim for a re-united Ireland. He also was at great pains to support our Ref. as peaceful and democratic.
    Why was Whiteford primed and ready to interrupt him?

    Why is there a push to arrest Gerry Adams now, when there are Euro elections coming up, even tho’ all the evidence against him has been in the public domain for ages?

    Why was there wide spread reporting about trouble at an Old Firm u/17s game? Sure there was some disorder, but three arrests hardly merit the coverage.

    Add in the concerted campaign and ongoing collusion of vilification of AS over the ‘Putingate’ pish by ‘our BBC’ and the msm, and you can see the old divide and conquer tactics are now being fed in like raw sewage into the ‘debate’.

    Is the new phase of ‘Shock and Naw’?

  48. heedtracker says:

    Its not conspiracy, its just a bunch of highly paid middle and upper middle class men and women who know they don’t have to give a damn what anyone thinks of the UKOK BBC propaganda they pump out. Upper middle class people in teamGB are now protecting their own privilege and they are using and protecting Labour in Scotland to do it. Its just plain old white collar fraud.

  49. Capella says:

    @ Thepnr
    Anyone been having problems today posting?
    I tried to post twice on the Diageo whiskey export issue but neither post appeared so I gave up

  50. Croompenstein says:

    @Lochside – superb ‘Shock and Naw’ that just about sums it all up. Let’s hope and pray they don’t reach the ‘mission accomplished’ stage

  51. muttley79 says:

    I would read absolutely nothing into the arrest of Gerry Adams in regards to our referendum on independence. The McConville family have been tirelessly and very painfully campaigning for decades, they have published a book on the murder, The Disappeared have been on the agenda for decades over there. I really think it unhelpful to link this case with events here. The arrest of Adams for this murder has been coming for a long, long time.

  52. Thepnr says:

    “There were a crapload of your posts in the Spam filter.”

    Sure, all with http:// in front of them. I’m only only trying to help a genuine poster who said he was having problems.

  53. Paula Rose says:

    Problems posting comments? – stop using your real names and go back to the silly ones like left-legged-haggis.

  54. Croompenstein says:

    From BBC Scotlandshire..

    Lord Robertson, Baron of Port Ellen said, “These comments make clear where this dangerous lunatic stands. He is a devil worshipper, perhaps even the Anti-Christ himself! If the splittists have their way this year the world will be plunged into a thousand years of darkness where evil will stalk the earth, the dead rise from the grave, the sun turn black like sackcloth made of goat hair, and the seas will boil. And people in Scotlandshire won’t even know what currency they’ll be paying for all this in!”


  55. Lochside says:


    I do not mean to diminish the McConville family distress and the tragedy of the ‘Disappeared’. What I’m highlighting is the BritGov cynicism in the timing of Adams’ arrest. The other points I made linking to this timing point to what I believe is the real motive:

    To deliberately stir up the lumpen Orange and Green elements in our country.

    Please don’t use this to start kneejerk arguments about Gerry Adams per se…that only would confirm my mistrust of H.M. Government’s real motives.

  56. muttley79 says:


    I honestly do not see the point in trying to link the arrest of Gerry Adams with our referendum on independence. The truth is when Jean McConville was abducted and murdered, Adams was already a major figure in the Belfast Brigade of the PIRA. I have no idea if there is evidence that he was directly involved in the order to execute her, but I really do not think wildly speculating about a possible link to the independence referendum is going to us any good whatsoever. Anyway, those who are hardline bigots in Scotland are more likely to get stirred up by an Old Firm game, even if it only involves the Celtic and Rangers youth teams playing each other…

  57. Craig says:

    I have severe doubts about Derek Bateman’s sincerity on the BBC issue.

    Due to his previous (and almost certainly present) very close connections with the BBC, he is not an honest broker on the issue.

    If he wants to have any credibility left, he should never again mention the BBC on his blog.

    There are many others, like WoS and newsnetscotland, who are in a better position to point out the BBC’s shortcomings than Derek Bateman is.

  58. Joannie says:

    It was Gerry Adams who chose the timing of his own arrest anyway. He presented himself for questioning, in the full knowledge that he would be arrested and cautioned as a matter of course.

    None of this has anything to do with the Scottish referendum, its Irish politicking. Adams knew there was a likelihood of being arrested at some stage so he chose a time which would cause maximum backlash among the nationalist community. Nothing for Scotland to be distracted by.

  59. lumilumi says:

    Sorry I haven’t read all the above comments but this (the article) really makes me hate/fear/despise the UK state.

    Is there nothing the Engl… the Britsh Establishment won’t stoop to?

    The state propaganda outlet (BBC) seems to be stoking up false nationalist and sectarian violence even in a peaceful neighbouring independent country to help them hold on to another piece of their crumblig “empire” and “punching above our weight” and “seat at top tables”.

    This is the death throes of an empire and seriously scary stuff because it goes without comment in the MSM/BBC.

    Do the MSM/BBC ever ask what the rest of the world think of the sabre-rattling UK? No, they don’t, because they might not like the answer.

    UK/England might’ve had a positive international “brand” but being the US’s lapdog and rushing into illegal wars have wreaked untold damage on “brand Britain”, whatever they try to tell you. UK/England isn’t very much liked, despite the great music or whatever.

    Brand Scotland is less tarnished. I’d say that most of the other independent countries in the world would welcome Scotland in their family. And maybe secretly snigger or gloat a bit but that’s what comes around goes around…

  60. Croompenstein says:

    @lumilumi – Spot on, if only more of my fellow countrymen saw what is right in front of their eyes..

  61. Walter Scott says:

    the Sunday Herald has pledged its support for a yes vote around an hour ago !!!!!!

  62. Truth says:

    @Walter Scott

    Yes, and I’d encourage everyone to make an effort to buy it over the coming months if you can afford to.

    You never know, an increase in circulation may just be enough to convert a few other newspapers.

    I say this as someone who hasn’t bought a newspaper in years now.

  63. a supporter says:

    Craig says at 9:52 pm

    “I have severe doubts about Derek Bateman’s sincerity on the BBC issue.”

    I do too – and have nagging doubts about his whole role too. It is not credible for anyone not to see the bias in BBC reporting of the Indy Ref. And especially incredible for an experienced journalist.

  64. Dr JM Mackintosh says:

    I think it is worth reminding ourselves about the BBC charter…


    44. Accuracy and impartiality
    (1) The BBC must do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output.

    Perhaps the BBC Scotland news reporters and journalists also need reminding as well. They seem to have forgotten this for some time now?

  65. Craig says:

    a supporter:

    “I do too – and have nagging doubts about his whole role too.”

    I have said it here before – I will not be at all surprised if Derek Bateman turns into a No before 18th September.

  66. Grendel says:

    Hows about this from Pravda, sorry the BBC in Northern Ireland:

    More scare stories and uncertainty, and no facility to comment in case us Scots find it.

  67. Grendel says:

    My complaint to the BBC:
    In the headline of the article published on 2nd May, it claims that Lord Trimble has stated that Scottish independence is a threat to peace in Northern Ireland. On 3rd May Lord Trimble was interviewed on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland. In it he clarified that he wished to clarify that he did not say that, and that it was not his view. He further stated that a Yes vote would demonstrate that a peaceful democratic process was achievable, which would reinforce the argument against violence. Despite this clarification on BBC Radio, two days later on 4th May, and 24 hours after his clarification, the original story remains on the BBC website. The BBC has, rightly, been accused of bias in the coverage of the Scottish independence debate, and this illustrates that bias in action perfectly. The story is untrue, and should be retracted and replaced with a corrected version immediately.

  68. natfisher says:


    This Craig maybe a troll!

    He’s continually dissing Bateman!

    We must be alert.

  69. Taranaich says:

    Regarding Derek Bateman: I think it could be one of two things.

    1: Derek knows a lot more than us in terms of what really goes on behind the scenes of the BBC, and so he is in a greater position to say whether any bias is deliberate or concerted. All we have to go on are what we see on television, and what little is leaked to the public.

    2: Derek is so close to the BBC, and has been invested in it for so long, that he cannot offer an entirely unbiased perspective. It’s a bit like a parent who won’t accept their child is a bully, or a spouse who won’t accept their partner is cheating – it becomes less painful for them to admit anything other than coming to terms with the fact that something he loves has been complicit in something so hurtful – even if that means replacing that with another harmful idea.

    So to Derek, the BBC’s grotesque anti-independence is not the result of deliberate, concerted bias, but simply because they completely lack any ability or inclination to challenge anything if they happen to agree with it. In short, Derek thinks his colleagues at the BBC are stupid, rather than malicious.

    It may be that Derek is entirely correct – but that makes the BBC incompetent to a scandalous and completely unacceptable degree. The CBI “we’ll just keep being biased until we’re obliged to be impartial” kerfuffle and the “No Borders” stuff is bad enough, but now they manage to twist the former NI FM’s comments into suggesting that a Yes vote threatens violence in Northern Ireland, in the same week when Adams was arrested… If they truly are that bad at their job, then they STILL need to be sacked, only this time for gross incompetence rather than bias.

    Occam’s razor is that we should never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity. Unfortunately, as far as I can see, the damage the BBC has done is so great that neither option is preferable. Either they’ve done this because they’re unforgivably naive or dimwitted, or they’ve done this because they’re biased and willing to jeopardise their reputation of impartiality.

  70. Morag Graham Kerr says:

    That’s Hanlon’s razor actually. Occam’s is something to do with not multiplying hypotheses unnecessarily.

    I think the truth may be somewhere in the middle. I don’t believe for a moment that Derek is insincere, and I agree with him that there are no overt editorial instructions to take a No line. However, when most of the staff are convinced unionists, and more so when the prevailing opinion is that Salmond is some sort of illegitimate usurpur of Labour’s right to rule pretending to be an international statesman, broadcast output will naturally take a certain turn.

    The conspiracy, if there is any, may be purely at a senior level, in deciding to let these people run unchecked, blow off complaints, and avoid doing any independent audit of bias.

    Even at that level, nothing needs to be explicit. Just that everyone is quite happy with the output so nothing needs to be done about it.

  71. Taranaich says:

    That’s Hanlon’s razor actually. Occam’s is something to do with not multiplying hypotheses unnecessarily.

    Ach hell, I’m always mixing those two up!

    I’m in agreement with you in that it’s probably somewhere in between. Certainly we’ve seen astounding naivete from journalists on other subjects. But it’s gotten so bad that even if there is no collusion whatsoever, the BBC have made such a pig’s ear of the referendum that I’d be amazed they survive the outcome – knowing the current trends in government, we’ll probably see the Beeb privatised as well.

  72. Paula Rose says:

    (Taranaich dear, can we have another blog thingy soon, please?)

  73. Craig says:

    “This Craig maybe a troll!

    He’s continually dissing Bateman!

    We must be alert.”

    Bateman is being “dissed” by his own readers – go and have a look at the comments on his BBC apologist articles.

    I think almost everyone posting on W o S believes that the BBC is deliberately biased against Scottish independence, the SNP and Alex Salmond.

    Do you, like Bateman, think the BBC is not doing it deliberately?

  74. Taranaich says:

    @Paula Rose: (Taranaich dear, can we have another blog thingy soon, please?)

    Goodness me, madam!

    (I actually have a few coming up: I had friends visiting from Kansas last week, and while they were lovely and gracious, I felt duty-bound to give them the best holiday possible. It took it out of me, I tell ya!)

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