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That arch Little Englander Matt Damon of the BBC World Service has been at it again. Actually, I know his name is Dan Damon, but I thought I would echo his cavalier attitude to names. His announcement that a Scottish barrister had successfully challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnstone's shut down of Parliament seemed a odd. Scotland's legal system has advocates rather than barristers. But, of course, a Scot qualifying for the English Bar would indeed eventually become a barrister. So I checked. Joanna Cherry is an advocate and not a barrister. Would Damon describe a rabbi as a priest?  I think not. A few days earlier I heard one of his colleagues on the World Service express surprise that the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, could stand next to Johnston and be so rude about Bouncing Boris. He seemed genuinely shocked that a mere Irishman would behave this way to his obvious superior. If this reflects, as I suspect it does, the attitude of the English Establishment to the government of the Republic, then no wonder Varadkar and his people are being so unhelpful when it comes to Brexit. 

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I was disappointed to see that the Inverness Courier is still being credited by many as breaking the story of the Loch Ness Monster in May 1933. It pains me as a former chief reporter of that august journal but I am a sworn servant of The Truth. The fact is that the Courier's rival, the Northern Chronicle, carried a story about the sighting of a large unidentified creature in the loch in August 1930. The stories are very similar and that should be no surprise as the same part-time freelance journalist, Alex Campbell, was responsible for both. The difference, perhaps, was that the Courier story was printed on a particularly slow news weekend in Britain and several Fleet Street newspapers picked it up. The rest is history. What the Courier did do was brand the creature a "Monster". Campbell described it in his report as either, I can't remember which, "a creature" or perhaps "a beast". The then editor and owner of the Courier, Dr Evan Barron, changed it to "Monster". In fact as far back as the mid-1800s the Courier had been reporting sightings of strange creatures in the loch, often thought to be associated with the Highland tales of Water Horses or, if you prefer, Kelpies. I own the typewriter used for the original Courier story, and if you believe that you probably have also seen the Monster. 

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I recently watched a very good, excellent in fact, film about the war in Afghanistan. The first thing that struck me was how realistic the opening scenes featuring  the Danish patrol at the centre of the plot were. It turned out this shouldn't have been a surprise because many of the cast had served with the Danish Army in Afghanistan. The second thing was how probable the plot was. Basically, the politicians back home want a war in which nobody gets hurt and, with the assistance of a cringing military hierarchy, hang the lead character out to dry. Courageous Restraint gone mad. Sound familiar? I suspect that almost anyone who served in Afghanistan would join the film audience in rooting for the lead character. And be thankful that same thing hadn't happened to them. 

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A little historical footnote. Many more years ago than I care to acknowledge I was sent to the Mitchell Library by the Glasgow Herald to find out what its leader articles had said about important world events during its 200 year history. I was given a list of events and told to feel to free to harvest anything else I spotted that might also be of interest. It’s a long time ago and what I’d found it said about the treaty that made Hong Kong part of the British Empire in 1842 was not included in the book marking the paper's bi-centenary. So, I’m relying on my memory and quite possibly paraphrasing. But the Herald opined that it was hard put to see what the British gained by acquiring “this miserable little island in the mouth of the Canton”.  It speculated that the British had been outfoxed during treaty negotiations by the wily Chinese. I’m maybe not surprised that the Herald decided not to repeat that misreading of events. 

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I picked up an interesting video tape about the Korean War recently. What made it interesting was that it was produced by a Canadian war veterans group. So, it was a little less gung-ho and a little more humane than many military history video tapes. The group is called The War Amps, the "Amps" being short for "Amputees" and was set up as a charity to support men who had lost limps as a result of combat. The organisation's remit was later expanded to include children who needed prosthetic limbs. It also produced a series of videos explaining to later generations of Canadians just what the original amputees had been involved in. Most of the videos are pretty good.

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