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This Week in Scotland – 06/08/22 – 12/08/22

06/08/22 – 12/08/22

Naming the Dead – the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Anniversaries

Last week, the 6th and 9th August marked the 77th anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb attacks. It was remembered in a dutiful but unexceptional fashion by all concerned. It’s in stark contrast to the annual reporting and ceremonies that precede the anniversary of WW1, with poppies aplenty, military bands and a minute’s silence.

No one wants to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the West. It wasn’t war. It was slaughter. It was shameful.  But with the bomb, the old world ended and the new world began. Since 1945 we have lived with the tick of the atomic clock in the background and the knowledge that we have the capacity to destroy ourselves as a species. This is not simply history, but it is something ever present. We can’t ignore it. And we in Scotland particularly cannot ignore it, not when we are hosting these weapons on the Clyde. The current game of literal Russian roulette round the Zaporizhzhia plant in Ukraine is a reminder that disaster can strike just as much from stupidity, brinksmanship or a simple accident as it can from actual intent.

Neither is peace simply absence of war. Peace requires effort. It is an action, not a state. And that is why it is worrying that so little attention is paid to these anniversaries. Somehow, we have got used to the shadow of mutually assured destruction. If we don’t start paying attention, we may not live to regret it.

The Commonwealth Games

The Games closed this week to much fanfare. Scotland came a very respectable sixth, while England took second place. Eilish McColgan added to her medals, while Laura Muir took the 1500 metres to conclude an outstanding games for Scotland.

And yet, we should remember something about the countries that came below us. Nearly all of them have a prize which Scotland hasn’t yet won – that of independence. They had to struggle against the British Empire at the peak of its strength to do this, and yet do it they did. They had the courage and confidence to assert themselves as sovereign nations, and today compete on equal terms with their former colonists.

This is what we need to aim for. That by the next time the Commonwealth games are held, that we, Scotland, will have gained our independence and compete together as equals with other countries in the Commonwealth. Now there is a prize beyond price..

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Caledonian MacBrayne has issued a consultation notice to people on the Isle of Arran and also to those in Ardrossan and Campbeltown regarding the proposed shift of the Ardrossan/Arran crossing to a temporary berth at Troon. This is to allow essential works and an upgrade at Ardrossan harbour. The consultation notice states, ‘The CalMac service will temporarily relocate to Troon in Summer 2023, when MV Glen Sannox is expected to enter service.’

Quite what is going to happen if MV Glen Sannox doesn’t enter service at this point is anyone’s guess. Arran hasn’t had its troubles to seek in recent years; the re-positioning of Brodick Harbour has been blamed by locals for making the ferries more susceptible to easterly winds and cancellations. If the Glen Sannox is ready by 2023, it will be five years late. And the shift to Troon is going to have a profound effect on Ardrossan. Lots of the workers in Arrans’ shops actually live in Ardrossan and take the ferry there and back. What now for them? It seems a bit late to be having a consultation when Troon harbour has already been adjusted. The local paper, the Arran Banner has not been impressed and the last time this author was on the Arran ferry, they were told there were no Banners available in the ferry shop. Something they said perhaps?

The local Arran Ferry Action Group recently met with Neil Bibby MSP to discuss the situation. They outlined their concerns that both Brodick and the proposed Ardrossan upgrade were over designed and unnecessarily expensive and not foot passenger centred. This was also the case for the new ferries, which they felt were far too big for a 50 minute crossing. Smaller, simpler vessels was what was needed and also a Samso ticketing system for the ferries which would give locals and workers priority on the ferry. We don’t know how Neil Bibby reacted, but prior to the meeting, the ferry was half an hour late, in case he needed any convincing about the current choppy waters that the ferries are sailing, or not sailing in..

For those wishing to attend CalMac’s consultation on the Troon crossing, the dates and times are as follows;

  • Ardrossan, Whitlees Community Centre (KA22 7DT), 23 August 2022 at 13:00-15:30
  • Campbeltown, Town Hall (PA28 6AB), 24 August 2022 at 13:00-15:30
  • Brodick, Ormidale Sports Pavillion (KA27 8BY), 25 August 2022 at 13:00-15:30 and 16:30-18:30

In the meantime, the tiny isle of Pladda, which is just off the coast of Arran is up for sale; a mere snip at £350K. Its attractions include a walled garden, a lighthouse and a hundred different species of birds. However, it doesn’t come with a ferry..

And finally,

We were sorry to hear of the death of Dr Peter Boyle, a Scottish medical researcher . He was an epidemiologist initially, but progressed rapidly to become one of the leading lights in Europe on the prevention of cancer, heading up the European Institute of Oncology and helping to develop the European Code against Cancer. His scholarly work was immense and he was honoured by many different countries for his contribution.

 At a time of uncertainty and violence in Europe, it is a consolation to be reminded of the countless quiet men and women who give so much of their energy and talent in the pursuit of good and the eradication of disease. Maybe, if we are fortunate, our future will not be decided by politicians, but by those like Dr Boyle, who light our paths and keep us safe.

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