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Wings Over Scotland

Scouting For Bears

Posted on June 02, 2023 by

There’s still nothing happening in Scottish politics, so inspired by the Hieland Coo from yesterday’s godawful Economist front-page story, and for those of you who don’t use Twitter, and by reader request, meet some of my new friends from the last couple of weeks of strolling around Bath, guarding against ursine incursion.


New swan babies:

Evening squirrel capers:

The Odd One Out Round:

Cyclist with broken satnav:

The duck Kray Twins:

(Ducks available in a range of sizes.)

(Also true of men, dogs.)

Very long squirrel:

Swan Yoga – advanced level:

Bath: not the ugliest place for an afternoon stroll.

Or an evening one, for that matter:

Although some of the more deprived areas do have a serious heron problem:

Coming soon: further swans.

And relax. Back to politics horror tomorrow, probably.


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0 to “Scouting For Bears”

  1. Alan says:

    Have a bear on me, Stu.

  2. Chas says:

    Good pics Stu.

    How long before the resident nutters take over this thread?

  3. sarah says:

    Blissful, Rev. So pleased that you take some time off to relax. Great photos especially of the stretch-squirrel.

  4. turnbuldrier says:


  5. Ian says:

    Don’t get so close to the swans, they’ll break your bloody arms. 🙂

  6. Merganser says:

    A good balanced diet I see.

  7. Rory Forbes says:

    Bliss. Thanks for sharing.

  8. AberdeenPict says:

    Excellent, Enjoy your day.

    A bowl of chips like that out in the open wouldn’t last 2 seconds in Aberdeen. The gulls would be off with them before you cold sprinkle your salt. 🙂

  9. James Che says:


    Thank you so much for the beautiful pictures you have taken, it reminds us of what life is really meant to be like.
    Excellent photography by the way, I love the way you captured the reflections around the signets.

  10. Cuilean says:

    Loved that. Brilliant

  11. Margaret Wilson says:

    I’d much rather look at these lovely pictures of nature than read about the terrible state of politics in Scotland and the decisions that are being made by the SNP. I’ve come to the point where I don’t believe I’ll ever see independence in the time I have left and don’t intend to waste my vote in any election ever again. Only when we have a referendum on independence will my vote be counted.

  12. Peter Campbell says:

    “Further Swans”

    Brilliant! 🙂

  13. Terry says:

    Wonderful. Thank you.

  14. Doreen Milne says:

    Happy photographs, Stuart. You do live in a beautiful place but I think you’ll be missing a cracking Bathgate Gala Day this weekend! ?

  15. Dorothy Devine says:

    They are beautiful photos – love the beware of the bear , often thought that grizzly bears looked canine.

  16. Jan Cowan says:

    Lovely pics but very different water-side compared with the burn down the field from here with geese, sand martins, trout and water you can drink!

  17. Dan says:

    In a similar vein to Scotland having an abundance of compromised resources; I note you have the wrong type of squirrels in your area. They should be red and not the grey imports which carry the squirrel pox virus.
    You can get enough meat for a decent stirfry out of a grey though, so it’s not all bad…

  18. Iain mhor says:

    Beer, and chips – still a great combo of a Summers afternoon.
    Enjoy, refresh, relax,

    *Amstel used to be lager and as cheap as chips when chips were cheap, now it’s premium pilsner, and pommes fritte au batonette, because of Brexit.
    Amstel’s website says it was born from the friendship of two friends who wanted to share a better bier.
    That’s a 77th coded metaphor for the Treaty of Union that didn’t legally happen in 1707, When our Chips were extinguished, and replaced with Fries – Stu is obviously a fifth columnist.
    The recipe for bier (originally Gaelic bierm) was Scottish, and since its discovery, England has robbed us of our beer money in a rampant Act of Colonialism – if we don’t vote SNP, we’ll never get a referendum on salt, or sauce!

    Will that do @Chas ?

  19. Northcode says:

    This is my favourite line:

    “Although some of the more deprived areas do have a serious heron problem”

    Very good 🙂

  20. FionaN says:

    Beautiful pics. You certainly have plenty lovely thriving wildlife on your doorstep, just the thing to relax and just enjoy some beautiful weather at last. And a good break from the dire state of politics in Scotland and in the UK and indeed in the world right now!

  21. panda paws says:

    It’s like Soppy Sunday except on a Friday and on an entirely different blog. Enjoyed the change of pace!

  22. Luigi says:

    Thanks for sharing those great shots. Photography is clearly another considerable talent you have. It takes a fair bit of skill (and a wee bit of luck) to produce such amazing pictures.

  23. Cameron Lochiel says:

    News just in – something has happened!

  24. Effijy says:

    It looks like there is more life in the Dead Westminster Brexit policy than that pint.

    Listened to O’Brian on LBC today.
    The Aussies are laughing at the new trade deal with the U.K. as what they asked for was over the top which they know would be negotiated down but good old blustering buffoon Boris gave away a lot more than they had even asked for.

    The Farmers representative again explained that as the Aussies are quite cruel in their treatment of cattle as they cut costs and the environment doesn’t benefit from having
    your diner cross 12,000 miles.

    It’s not fresh of course when it lands here but edible if you are happy with the drugs put in it.

    It ends of course with our farmers shutting up shop and with no competition they charge anything they like.

  25. chic.mcgregor says:

    Is that you in for Stuart Munguin?

  26. Sharney Dubs says:

    Ah!! So you’re actually a closet human being!
    Good to see you’re enjoying a break.
    Nice pics

  27. Ian McCubbin says:

    Enjoy the peace, nature, beer and chips .
    It’s summer take a rest from your investigative blogging.
    It’s well earned.

  28. sarah says:

    @ Cameron Lochiel “News just in -something has happened!”

    Are you teasing? It’s not kind to raise the hopes of we desperate folk. 🙂

  29. Scotsrenewables says:

    Limo Lorna’ blasted for 350-mile chauffeur-driven journey to see some trees being planted.

    Scottish Greens minister Lorna Slater’s extravagant use of chauffeur-driven ministerial car service has come under fire following the furore over her private catamaran to the Isle of Rum

  30. Andrew F says:

    Love your swan photos.

    I’ve tried to post links in the past but they never got through moderation (AFAIK).

    Here we literally have “Black Swans”.

    But, best of all, where we live in Queensland on the Gold Coast these black swans just don’t ponce about in some muddy creek – they also go surfing!

    I won’t bother trying to put the link in again, but try searching something like: “black swans surfing on gold coast beach australia” and you can see the video.

  31. John Main says:

    @Effijy says:2 June, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    I keep thinking it’s cruel not to tell poor old Effijy that Boris is no more, but then I think – if nobody else is prepared to tell him, best keep out.

    Maybes I’m the only one who doesn’t know that Boris Bashing is the only hobby Effijy has left. In which case I agree, it is best to just let him alone to enjoy it.

    Still though, imagine if Effijy could muster against Yousaf even a tenth of the bile he displays against Boris.

  32. crazycat says:

    @ Scotsrenewables at 3.25

    Your loopy Lorna link archived:

    (Someone will probably have already posted this, since comments take a while to appear.)

  33. sarah says:

    @ Andrew F “Black swans surfing at Kirra beach” is the video clip. Thanks for the tip – the swans are surfing, doing it deliberately!

  34. Fairliered says:

    That’s a very long squirrel, Stu. It’s like a BBC Scotland squirrel that lasts a week.

  35. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    What a relief to see so many creatures happy in their skin…

  36. sarah says:

    @ Fairliered: “a BBC Scotland squirrel that lasts a week”

    Snap! That thought crossed my mind but I didn’t think of a witty way to say it.

  37. Derek says:

    That Danny MacAskill has a lot to answer for!

    Regarding the squirrel, a missed chance to use the word “dreep”.

    Vinegar; the proper choice!

  38. Scot says:

    “A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious but it cannot survive tre..on from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly but the tra..or moves amongst those within the gates freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.”

  39. Anton Decadent says:

    “The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”-Charles Darwin.

  40. smithie says:

    Yeah Stu we need to switch off now and then.
    Mind you i would love to hear from our resident GB flag waving stalwarts that put themselves in the front line for all of us hahahha ASA?

  41. Patsy Millar says:

    Thanks Stu, great pictures. Really made my day.

  42. Anton Decadent says:

    Last year I found a mourning swan at the large pond in the Queens Park. It was sitting out of the water with its head buried in its wings and when I walked up to the duck pond I saw it’s mate dead and tangled in the weeds at the little island. The live swan was quite clearly heartbroken.

  43. Northcode says:

    I’ve now read @Alf Baird’s book, Doun-Hauden.

    It’s available as a printed book and there’s a Kindle version, too.

    It pretty much answers all my questions about colonialism in general and its effect on Scotland in particular.

    I’ll have to go back over it again to properly digest all the information it contains.

    Anyway, my understanding of Scotland’s current status within the ‘union’ has greatly improved since reading Alf’s book.

    So if you can spare a fiver, or ten quid for the paper version, it’s worth getting a copy.

    Lots of useful references in the appendices, too

  44. James Che says:


    The Daniel de Foes of our modern times.

    Talking of which I see mr Union man is coming to Scotland to meet with the rest of his cronies in the labour party at Edinburgh.

    The has been that made empty promises along with Tories in 2014.

    I don’t know about yerself, but I feel I have passed the labour, Tories Snp and greens as viable parties altogether in Scotland,
    And the lib dems are’nt worth a mention.

    We have turned a new corner in Scotland politically without us even noticing,

    Gone are the days when we believed in fair politicians looking out for Scotland.

    We have turned a new leaf and Its a new chapter in Scottish politics from here on,

    Gordon Brown and his forked tongue union labour can take a hike,

    We no longer want devolution, we do not want Federalism, we do not want Colonising,

    We have Scotland and its people to be independent, to choose a life different than what you dictate to us,

    Sorry Scot, I was on a roll, and forgot to Stop 🙂

  45. Daventry Flange says:

    Any new finds for the freezer? Though I doubt even you can top the Tyson Fury ice lollies, we need to be kept up to speed with the latest chilled confectionery trends!

  46. Alf Baird says:

    Northcode @ 6:29 pm

    “I’ve now read @Alf Baird’s book, Doun-Hauden. It’s available as a printed book and there’s a Kindle version, too. Anyway, my understanding of Scotland’s current status within the ‘union’ has greatly improved since reading Alf’s book”

    Glad to hear you found the book helpful. It still appears to be the case that few theoretical works have been able to probe deep enough into the matter of independence. My text seems the only one that has developed a theoretical framework to explain the phenomenon, what independence really means and why it is necessary. I remain surprised that other academics within Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions (or political commentators) writing on independence have yet to discover the critical importance of such factors as culture, language, demographics, ethnicity, institutions etc, and indeed how Scotland fits the colonial template like a manky 300+ year auld gluve.

    For those unable to buy the book there is a published academic paper and a small pamphlet summarising the research findings:

  47. Scot says:

    James Che
    Gone are the days when we believed in fair politicians looking out for Scotland
    It is although the scales have fallen from people’s eyes and they can see how many of our key politicians and civil servants have been working against our interests.
    It is out in the open now.
    People openly talk about it but nothing is changing.

    How long must we wait.

  48. AnneDon says:

    You have to enjoy wee moments of peace when they arrive. It’s what keeps us sane.

    Enjoy your break, Rev.

  49. Iain mhor says:

    @Northcode 1:51 pm

    *groan…How did I miss that? Hahaha.

    Too busy looking at the picture when I read it, and thinking ‘I need fresh heron feathers for fly dressing…’

  50. Highland Crone says:

    Images worth the subscription fee. Made my evening feel much better.

  51. A Scot Abroad says:

    Alf Baird,

    has it not yet crossed your mind that there reason that there’s absolutely nothing of any authority written to support your assertions about Scotland being colonised is because those claims are nonsense on stilts, and proper and serious academics want nothing to do with them?

  52. Dan says:

    @ Iain mhor

    Is there anything special about heron feathers for fly tying, such as being good for dry flies as they’re naturally waxy and water repellent seeing as the birds spend so much time in the water?
    Over the years I’ve collected a load of the nice blue section of jay feathers. Jeepers, just checked on ebay and they sell for muchos beer tokens.

  53. Breastplate says:

    If it walks like a colony and quacks like a colony…

    Coming from you, giving people pointers on their argument is a bit Dunning Kruger, the guy who thinks England subsidises Scotland, the guy who thinks England subsidises Wales, the guy who thinks England subsidises Northern Ireland, the guy who thinks England was subsidising the rest of Europe, the guy who thinks England is subsidising the rest of the world through Foreign Aid and no doubt, the guy who thinks England is subsidising the home planet of the aliens in Area 51.

  54. Tom says:

    Breastplate 8.33pm

    Excellent post lol.

  55. President Xiden says:

    Who will release us from this tyranny of menopausal women ?

  56. holymamoses says:

    The Bath waters will be getting warm in the sunshine – no need for an immersion switch in this weather:-) It all looks very lovely: the weather is perfect for relaxation

  57. ben madigan says:

    Scotland (and Ireland back in the day) were not the same as “standard” colonies.
    They were “privileged” insofar as they elected MPs and were considered members of the UK “family firm”.

    Remember neither India nor any African country elected MPs. Indeed the American colonies rebelled because of “No Representation”.

    Yet Scotland and Ireland (Back in the day) were treated exactly the same as any other colony – impoverished,subjected to harsh “divide and conquer”rule,depopulation,famines,attempts to wipe out native languages and culture and replace them with the English language and culture, lack of investment etc

  58. A Scot Abroad says:


    it’s not a matter of doubt that England subsidises Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, given that is a matter of nationally published accounts. Often short-named as the Barnett Formula, more revenue is sent for spending in the devolved administrations than is raised in the three countries and sent to Westminster. And as for the EU, the U.K. was a net contributor, sending more money to Brussels than the EU spent in the U.K.

    Strange that you’d want to post something so laughably disprovable.

  59. James Jones says:

    All this talk of colonisation yet the independence movement can hardly wait to make Scotland a colony of the EU empire.

  60. Ian Brotherhood says:

    Can’t remember who recommended the film ‘RRR’ but whoever it was, thanks. Still have an hour or so to look forward to but michty me, what a tonic.

    Fabulous stuff, highly recommended.


  61. Breeks says:

    John Jappy from 2013.

    It is unforgivable what London rule has done to Scotland, and the lies and distortion just keep coming.

    Such is the derision for Scotland, that McCrone had to lie about his report being made secret when his candid observations were forced to become public, and it was a leak which confirmed Ian Lang devised the GERS figures specifically to undermine Scotland’s performance and Scottish Nationalism, yet 30 years later, we’re still presented with the same GERS figures fatally discredited by their authors admission, because that’s the Union way.

    I don’t give a flying fk if some Whitehall lackey devised a formula allegedly “proving” Scotland couldn’t tie up it’s boot laces, because these fkers don’t even blush when they’re caught lying through their teeth about Scotland.

    If there’s a figure or a fact produced by the UK Government, then that’s a figure or a fact that’s almost certainly a bare faced lie and malicious distortion of the truth.

    Where Scotland is concerned, far, far better the Devil we don’t know, than the thieving, two faced, fork tongued, pathological bullshitting wankers we do.

  62. Ron Clark says:

    Notice how ALL the “Trolls” have the same likes and dislikes,,,funny that.

    Top of their hate list is the EU and the Ruskies.

    Every single one of them.

    You’d be forgiven for thinking it was the same puppet master operating every single one of them.

    Surely not???

    Do you think if the “Main” man lost his right arm all the puppets would die off???

  63. Northcode says:

    @Alf Baird 6:57pm

    I found it very helpful indeed, Alf.

    And thanks for answering my questions in the various exchanges we’ve had over the past few weeks.

    This from your comment :

    I remain surprised that other academics within Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions (or political commentators) writing on independence have yet to discover the critical importance of such factors as culture, language, demographics, ethnicity, institutions etc, and indeed how Scotland fits the colonial template like a manky 300+ year auld gluve.

    Well, someone’s got to lead the way, Alf. And it looks like this time it’s you.

    I’ve always instinctively known there was something rotten in the state of Scotland. But I couldn’t articulate what that something was.

    But now, after reading your papers and your book, I understand exactly what that something is.

    Scotland is the victim of internal-colonisation.

    That’s an absolute, dead-certain, indisputable fact.

  64. James Jones says:

    Ron Clark at 10:19 pm
    Boo hoo! Trolls!

    Try engaging with the conversation instead of simply dismissing anyone with a different view to yourself as a troll. That’s if you have anything to say.

  65. Ian Brotherhood says:

    Here’s a wee bit of Tommy Cooper, if you fancy having a wee laugh.

    Most folk don’t realise how much Cooper ‘borrowed’ from Chic Murray. Not quite as deadpan but he used a lot of Murray’s stuff, sometimes verbatim.

  66. A Scot Abroad says:

    Ron Clark, at 2219,

    show me someone who does support the Russians in the current context of what they are doing, and I’ll show you someone who is a grade A fuckwit. Or worse, a Kremlin-sponsored/approved saboteur.

  67. Gordon says:

    A Scot, a broad, give us all a break and go entertain the US troops as broads are wont to do

  68. SteepBrae says:

    Ian Brotherhood 10.57pm

    The one about the Stradivarius and the Rembrandt? Good one!

    (Link didn’t work but just googled JamesAHogg2 twitter and there it was).

    Thanks for the laugh.

  69. Iain mhor says:

    @Dan 8:10pm

    Not water repellent or ocht like that. Just a slip or two wrapped around as a fuzzy ‘herl’ are used in some fly dressings.
    A bit niche, but a few of my own wet-fly patterns do use it as a ‘wing’ – more as a personal preference (and superstition) since I pick them up riverside, and they can be just the shade of dun (blue/grey) I like.

    For water repellent it’s cul-de-canard (CDC) or ‘ducks arse’ feathers. They are fine feathers found near the duck’s preen gland – they do have a natural water repellency.
    Even when the oils are no longer there, the nature of the fine feather makes it naturally buoyant.
    A staple of fly-tyers everywhere.

    As you discovered, there are some feathers which fetch a pretty penny – especially ‘genetic’ bred
    If you come across any jungle cock let me know! 😀

    Pretty much fly-tyers have used every natural material under the sun for the ‘must have fly’ – sometimes to ridiculous, and exacting standards.
    eg: the ‘Tup’s Indispensible’ fly, calls for the lanolin rich wool from around a ram’s scrotum, which is naturally dyed a very particular shade, by the various fluids emanating from a tup’s *ahem indispensible member.

  70. paul says:

    show me someone who does support the Russians zelenskyy in the current context of what they are doing, and I’ll show you someone who is a grade A fuckwit.
    Or worse, a Kremlin US-sponsored/approved saboteur.

    The peripatetic president was elected on a manifesto including reducing conflict within the country.

  71. jockmcx says:

    In the 1960’s martin luther king along with malcolm x (along with many other’s of course) had to expend thier energie’s,fighting for the human right’s of human’s who’s skin colour was of a certain shade!
    Two magnificent men who could have improved this human race so much
    if thier time had’nt been necessarily been taken up with such
    an absurdity!

    We in Scotland are plagued with absurdities!

    Manufactured absurditie’s…by the same sort’s of people,for the same sort’s of reason’s…power,hate and fear!

    What is not acceptable is that any SCOT!, should be allied to the
    the manufacturer’s in any way shape or form!

    So if your an elected politician,Holyrood or westminster,you have
    a duty to your own country and your own people!

    Be a Human…not a SLUG!

    ps.we will not forget!

  72. jockmcx says:

    And, belated thanks to rev stu for the head’s up to the transgender

    …I had no idea!

    Something nice…

  73. Dan says:

    @ Iain mhor

    There’s just no way I’m going to google “jungle cock” and have that search tainting my history! So you may want to elucidate further to assist me in identifying the source of the material you speak of.
    Admittedly I have previously highlighted the genderwoowoo rainbow coloured dildo butt monkey that made an appearance at a library with the dubious intent to encourage bairns to read, but I really don’t want to start racking up more dodgy searches as the moorov may be used against me in a future juryless trial…

  74. jockmcx says:


    straw hat’s and bowler’s wer’e the fad…but thier all dead now!

    Fad’s die out…and so will you!

    Don’t live like a SLUG!

  75. smithie says:

    jeez even the scot abroad took umbridge at some pics……

  76. smithie says:

    and just so you know…. i spent two weeks in the same B and B with these guys, chatting over a dram or two,,,it was a joke even back then

  77. Stephen O'Brien says:

    SNP & DevoMax. Happy as pigs in shite!

  78. sam says:

    It is not simply a question of per person funding.

    On the other side of the scale is the great harm done to Scotland.

    Poverty is avoidable. It is a political choice.

    Prior to Thatcher Scotland’s population health as measured by that good proxy, life expectancy, was firmly in the middle of other European states.

    From the 1980s the steady improvement in life expectancy faltered across the UK. Scotland’s life expectancy was overtaken by others.

    The west of Scotland, especially Glasgow, was particularly badly affected by deindustrialisation.

    That was when those thrust into poverty and alienation began resorting to substance abuse, the origins of the “deaths of despair” we still see across the UK. In Scotland it was drugs.

    ONS statistics show poverty levels in the UK rose from 13% in 1961 to 25% under Thatcher. Successive UK government’s followed the same neoliberal policies. New Labour reduced poverty levels to 22% which is where they are around today. Lower in Scotland.

    Both poverty and inequality affect population health.

    For the 2010 Marmot Report in England, Frontier Economics calculated how much would be saved to the economy if the UK people had the same level of health as those in the top decile by wealth and income.The sums saved in welfare payments and tax receipts received were huge.

    There would be a considerable saving in an independent Scotland’s expenditure on welfare and tax receipts. We will need a system of government that is redistributive, more akin to Nordic countries than neoliberal England.

    Barnett Formula is rather opaque. Not based on need.Independence allows Scots to choose their own system of government.

  79. Johnlm says:

    Rather than complaining about trolls such as A Brit Abroad, I take it as a sign of this sites success that they have to take time to come here now.
    Debate them if you have anything to say, hone your arguments.

  80. sam says:

    The north of Ireland, before partition, was a colony. Post partition it was also a colony. Governed as it was for 50 years by a single party that was permitted by all UK governments to discriminate and mistreat a large section of the population.

    If NI was/is,a colony why would Scotland not also be?

  81. Johnlm says:

    Ascotabroad 11.02pm

    Show me someone who supports ‘colour revolutions’ to replace elected governments and supports nine years of bombing civilians, and I’ll show you a right-wing Brit imperialist.

  82. sam says:

    A good piece in the Irish Times on the nature of colonialism and where Ireland sits.

    Seems to me a campaign for independence needs to focus both on the harms to Scotland, particularly its population health and economic well-being (which go hand in hand), by UK governments and how independent Scotland will deal with colonial legacies such as poverty and inequality.

    Sunshine beckons

  83. John Main says:

    @Ron 10:19

    Soz Ron, I was out enjoying myself last night so was blissfully unaware I had a starring role in your ongoing horror fantasy.

    Not sure I will want to continue living rent-free in your head, but on the plus side, there sure is lots of empty space!

    Get out more into the real world, Ron. You’re ill equipped for the virtual one.

  84. Derek says:

    Dan, Jungle Fowl should do it.

  85. John Main says:



    Show us the fucking money, in other words.

    Take your time to get it right, but make a start on showing us that money. Just imagine every reader on here is a fuckwit, so keep it simple.

    But lay out the chain of cause and effect so that any 14 YO fuckwit Scot can understand it. Elucidate how every fucking thing in Scotland, currently owned by others with an army of lawyers, national and international, backing up their entitlement, will find its way into the grubby paws of us Sovereign Scots, post-Indy.

    Jeezo, coming up 10 years since the referendum, and this fundamental foundation block of the Indy campaign is still missing.

  86. Dan says:

    @ Derek

    Cheers, well at least that narrows it down to a bird’s plumage of some sort, and not the pubes off of tarzan!

    @ John Main

    FFS, can you not find your own big fancy words like “elucidate” to use in your posts, rather than hawking my late night efforts to make me come across as intelligent and punching above my D “pass” in O Grade English.

  87. Joe says:

    ‘The west of Scotland, especially Glasgow, was particularly badly affected by deindustrialisation.

    That was when those thrust into poverty and alienation began resorting to substance abuse, the origins of the “deaths of despair” we still see across the UK. In Scotland it was drugs.’

    Thank god we are passed those days where government policies (originating in international think tanks) would needlessly cause large numbers of Scots to slip into poverty and alienate them in their own homeland, eh?

    Something completely unrelated – I am looking forward to reaching our net zero targets and becoming a far more diverse, multicultural society of equality where anyone from the world can arrive and be given all the courtesies and considerations that the Scots have never actually had and are still denied.

    We just need to cast our eyes to the emerald isle to see what our wonderful near future looks like.

    So excited.

  88. Northcode says:

    I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

    When I was doing some work for a well known petrochemical company at one of their massive oil refining plants I often enjoyed the petroly smell wafting aboot.

    Especially late in the evening on a warm spring day.

    It smelt of… overtime.

    Robert Duvall liked the whiff of petroleum, too, when he reminisced nostalgically over the horrific immolation of human beings.

    Except the smell reminded Bob of…victory.

    “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a
    hill bombed, for twelve hours. The smell, you know that gasoline
    smell, the whole hill. Smelled like . . . victory. Someday this war’s gonna
    end . . .”

    Apocalypse Now (1979)

    I don’t know what victory smells like. Maybe it does smell like napalm in the morning, or maybe napalm at tea-time.

    I know what a big chunk extra cash in my pocket smells like, though. It smells like…napalm.

    I suppose victory could smell like any number of things depending on the circumstance.

    It’s not just the act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle that can have a smell, though.

    I mean, can a woman really smell the way an old building in India at a certain time of day looks?

    Raymond Chandler thought so:

    She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight.

    The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler

    Just in the same way I don’t know what victory smells like, I don’t know what the appearance of the Taj Mahal in the moonlight smells like either.

    So, for me, Ray’s line doesn’t make me any the wiser, but I’m going to assume he meant that she smelled nice.

    When I was sixteen a ‘pal’ of mine spiked my cup of mead with a full tab of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or ‘acid’ as it is commonly known. Which is a powerful hallucinogenic drug, for those who don’t know.

    He was kind enough to tell me of his hilarious prank so I knew I was going on a wee trip to the exotic and far-off land of mindfuckerana.

    Now, in case you think I was one of those hippie types, I had never taken any kind of mind-altering drug before then and I never have since.

    Although I did wear an Afghan coat for a while until it got so mingin’ it ran off on its own and was never seen again.

    The effects of my drug-enhanced mead were at times quite terrifying and lasted several hours. But I learned a few things. Things like it was possible to hear colours, see music, and taste sounds.

    And I learned that you should never, ever, ever listen to Todd Rundgren’s ‘Initiation’ album whilst on a drug-induced, mind-bending acid trip. Ever.

    Oh, and I had a conversation with my pal’s Marilyn Monroe poster. She even turned and winked at me and told me a secret. A secret I promised her I would never reveal to another living soul. She said…aye, right. A promise is a promise after all.

    When your senses short-circuit and get all mixed up the brain doctors call it Synaesthesia; a mental condition whereby colours are perceived as smells, smells as sounds, sounds as tastes, and so on.

    Synaesthesia is also the term the ancients gave to a rhetorical device whereby one sense is described in terms of another.

    A voice as smooth as silk and colours that harmonise are two very commonly used Synaesthetic devices.

    Synaesthesias of smell can be effective, and are sometimes an easy shortcut to a memorable line as in Raymond Chandler’s Taj Mahal effort.

    However, if you ever feel the need to deploy Synaesthesia in your writings, be cautious. You may not want your words to be remembered.

    I’m a big fan of classical music and I like to find our more about the lives of some of the world’s greatest composers. And when I was checking out the life of Tchaikovsky I came across this effort from a guy called Eduard Hanslick, a well known music critic of his day.

    Now, many critics have been wrong, some spectacularly so, but few will be remembered as Hanslick is.

    He wrote of Tchaikovsky’s First Violin Concerto that it showed there could be “music that stinks to the ear.”

    Synaesthesia reaches its purest form, though, when, rather than mixing up the senses, a sense is given to something completely abstract.

    Victory doesn’t look like anything you can see or sound like anything you can hear or taste like anything you can eat, but to some it has a smell, a smell memorably described in ‘Apocalypse Now’.

    So, Synaesthesia. Now you know what it smells like.

  89. sam says:

    When asked most people in the UK think that the gap between the lowest paid in a business/company and the highest paid should not, in fairness, be more than 5 or 6 times the lowest wage in the business.

    That might mean that, for example, in the BBC where Huw Edwards gets £440,000 for reading the news and looking solemn when required, the tea lady should be earning £80,000 a year.It’s only fair. Innit.

  90. Jamie says:

    Bath does look beautiful but the head on that lager is woeful, only in England could a barman serve up that shocker and keep a straight face. Yes I’m a proud Tennents lager connoisseur.

  91. Alf Baird says:

    sam @ 10:29 am

    “A good piece in the Irish Times on the nature of colonialism and where Ireland sits.”

    Yes Sam, and as Bill Rolston writes in the context of Ireland: “Once colonialism is centre stage, some things become much simpler to understand.” This is the very same for Scotland: .

    Prevailing discourse in Scotland as in Ireland has focused mainly on ‘nationalism’ and has been characterised by a similar “disinclination in both academic and journalistic accounts to critique empire and imperialism”.

    And on the related matter of ‘Decolonising Cultural Heritage in an Independent Scotland’, an informative new research publication:

  92. dearieme says:

    Wot, no cats?

  93. sam says:

    Thanks, Alf.Keep going -I know you will.

  94. sam says:

    This is the Union.

    Food banks.

    Food banks are not a good indicator of the level of food poverty and the problem may be greater than food bank use suggests.

    There is a human right to adequate food and governments are expected to respect, protect and fulfil that right.

    In 2019 research found “clear and robust” evidence that five welfare policies pushed up demand for food parcels. Today, about 11 million of people in the UK are in absolute poverty. This means they can’t afford the basic needs of food, shelter, heat.

    A UK parliamentary Committee can find no evidence that sanctions work. They do little to change motivation to work. They may cause harm – hardship and health problems and poorer child well-being.

    Sanctions are punitive. People have been sanctioned for missing an appointment while attending a job interview. Others were sanctioned for failures to meet tasks assigned to them by use of computers when they have no PC or skills to use computers. Many are not told the reason for the sanction or indeed that it will happen or how to appeal it.Former DWP employees speak of having to meet targets of numbers of sanctions.

    Those using food banks may feel a sense of shame – compounded maybe by insults on media that such people are unable to budget or cook and these are reasons for food bank use.

    Poor diet and meal patterns increase risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer and may also be associated with poor cognitive development and academic achievement.

    We know the UK’s welfare safety net has been “deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos.” (UN Rapporteur)

    Sanctions are about to be applied more rigorously, says Jeremy Hunt.

  95. John says:

    It is a little known fact that swans actually have rounded heads with no protusions and are actually all wearing dog masks.

  96. Northcode says:

    @Alf Baird 12:42pm

    Thanks for the link to the ‘Decolonising Cultural Heritage in an Independent Scotland’ article, Alf. Very interesting.

    @Sam (1:50pm). Good post, Sam .

  97. John Main says:

    @Northcode 11:55

    Tchaikovsky’s first violin concerto?

    Sounds like you’re sitting on some news that will be explosive for the world of classical music.

    Or, perhaps once again, just avin a larff with us daft, clueless Jocks.

  98. John Main says:

    @Dan 11:08

    You were forced to study O grade English?

    You were colonised pal.

  99. John Main says:

    @Sam 12:01

    I don’t doubt that most people think exactly what you write.

    My guess would be that the people who don’t think that way, those filling the gap between “most” people and “all” people, are the ones running businesses.

  100. Northcode says:

    As has been pointed out, Tchaikovsky only ever wrote one violin concerto.

    In my comment @11:55am I should have written:

    “Tchaikovsky’s first performance of his Violin Concerto”

    instead of

    “Tchaikovsky’s First Violin Concerto”

    It is an irrelevant error, of course, in the context of my comment in that it doesn’t affect the point I was making. But pedants also have the right to be heard.

    And it is nonetheless a point of fact that needs correcting.

    Apologies for my sloppy sentence construction which might have led some readers to believe that Tchaikovsky wrote more than one violin concerto.

    A misapprehension that might have caused significant damage to one’s social standing if openly voiced at a particularly erudite dinner party.

  101. sam says:

    @John Main 3.00 pm

    I think you may know that the polling about wage differences between top and bottom paid is about perceptions of fairness.

    Fairness and perceptions of it matter. Poverty and inequality matter.

    “The social gradient in health is a term used to describe the phenomenon whereby people who are less advantaged in terms of socioeconomic position have worse health (and shorter lives) than those who are more advantaged. A classic example of research on this subject is the Whitehall study of British civil servants. Analysis of these data show a steep inverse association between social class and health and mortality from a wide range of diseases. Self-perceived health status and symptoms were also worse in subjects in lower status jobs. There were clear employment grade differences in health-risk behaviors, in possible effects of early life environment, in social circumstances at work, and in social supports. It is clear that people in the highest social strata live longer and have better health than those in the strata just below them who, in turn, live longer than those just below them and so on in a downward gradient until the bottom of the social ladder is reached.”

  102. John Main says:

    @Northcode 3:52

    I’m guessing nobody colonised you and forced you to study English at O grade.

    Otherwise, you would have written “the first performance of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto”.

    No erudite dinner party for you tonight.

  103. John Main says:

    @Sam 5:19

    What is it the yoof say? “No shit Sherlock!”

    As I see it, if those at the bottom have enough, it matters not how many multiples of enough those at the top have. But presumably you are arguing that those at the bottom don’t have enough, precisely because those at the top have too much.

    Don’t have an answer for that one, sorry. I used to think that people at the bottom would naturally, out of a spirit of fairness, fight back against excessive concentrations of wealth by refusing to subsidise systems and products that were inherently wealth concentrating.

    Then along came Amazon and Facebook, Bezos and Zuckerberg, to prove me wrong.

    Oh well.

    How does the pay of Linekar compare with the pension? Why does a pensioner continue paying her TV license to sub Linekar’s pay?

    It’s a mystery.

  104. Dan says:

    John Main says: at 2:53 pm

    You were forced to study O grade English?

    You were colonised pal.

    Au contraire! They tried to make me go to English, mais j’ai dit non, non, non.
    And to counter attempts to anglicise my mind I got a B in French O Grade. But to be honest I was only eager to attend and apply myself to French lessons coz there was an extremely bonnie exchange French assistant student with whom I hoped to form une nouvelle alliance… But alas it all came to nowt and we produced zero Frottish or Scench offspring. 🙁

  105. Northcode says:

    You’re right @John Main (6:00pm).

    I don’t have ‘O’ grade English. I don’t have ‘O’ grade anything.

    Seeing as I had to leave school before I reached the age of sixteen.

    But I’m always open to learning how to do stuff proper like.

  106. sam says:

    Around the world, the poorest have the worst health. Within countries, the evidence shows that in general the lower an individual’s socioeconomic position the worse their health and the earlier they are likely to die.

    There is a social gradient in health that runs from top to bottom of the socioeconomic spectrum. This is a global phenomenon, seen in low, middle and high income countries. The social gradient in health means that health inequities affect everyone.

    The two longitudinal studies in Westminster followed the same pattern seen across the world. The top grades of position and pay lived longest and had better health than the people in the grade immediately below.

    This went on down all the pay and grade positions from mandarin to messenger.All those in the Westminster studies were very unlikely to be living in poverty so poverty could not be the cause of the social gradient in Westminster.It is a psycho-social effect to do with inequality.

    This is the social gradient in health. It is found in child mortality. It is found in education, social care – all around the world.

  107. Johnlm says:


    Maybe the rich despise and want rid of the poor.
    The Duke of Edinburgh wanted to return as a deadly virus to get rid of us “useless eaters”
    When there are some with obscene amounts wealth it gives them huge influence over how society is run.
    Bill Gates for example is the largest owner of farmland in the US, and the second largest donor to the WHO. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are patrons of organisations setting agendas across the world.
    Gates’ father was on the Board of Planned Parenthood.
    ‘Sovereign’ Governments are having their societies steered by these organisations.
    What Gates wants he gets.
    When one or two rich have all the money, the poor have a much harder time being heard.

  108. highlander says:

    As Ringo once said-

    “You’ll like Bath… better class of duck in Bath”

    PG version

  109. Buck Stradler says:

    Where are the sheep ?

  110. highlander says:

    Buck Stradler says:
    4 June, 2023 at 10:45 pm

    Where are the sheep ?



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