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So, according to the BBC, the Anglo Saxons once ruled Britain. That’s news – news to folks in Wales and Scotland.  This is getting like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s too easy to find a BBC journalist who cannot differentiate between England and Britain. This week I’m back with a regular offender – Dan Damon of the BBC World Service’s World Update. English “journalists” are the worst for this. Irish, Scottish and Welsh know better. The increasing number of foreigners to be heard on the BBC airwaves also tend not to make this kind of blunder; possibly because they have taken an interest in their adopted homeland and done some background study.  Sadly, many English assume they know it all. Damon perhaps needs some re-education, or should that be “education”, before he should be allowed on any programme which purports to be “British”. Until that is done he may be better suited to Radio Leicester or Radio Cumbria. The Anglo-Saxons never ruled Britain. It was only shortly before the Norman Invasion of 1066 that large swathes of northern England were wrested from Scandinavian control. English dominance of the British Isles had to wait until 1707. By which time our rulers were more Anglo-Norman than Anglo-Saxon. 

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A lot of the criminals live in a fantasy world in which in their own minds they are some kind of Robin Hood character. When I worked as a reporter on Tyneside, ram raiding was a popular crime. A vehicle would be driven through the front of a shop and then a faster getaway car would be loaded up with items and vanish into the night. The haul was usually highly portable but expensive property, such as electronics. One day local police were pursuing a stolen car when the thieves miscalculated a turn and were killed in the ensuing wreck. They were described in the paper as 'joyriders'. Almost unbelievably an outraged family member of one of the dead, I think it was his mother, phoned up to complain. The dead kid was no mere joyrider, he was a ram raider. I can only imagine that in her twisted and romanticized world ram raiding involved a classier sort of criminal. 

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I hate to tell you this; but there ain't no crock o'gold at the end of the rainbow. I know, because years ago I managed to get within a few feet of a rainbow touchdown. It was on at the beach at Campbeltown. I didn't think it was possible to get so close. So, apparently did the people who put out the story that there was a crock of gold at the end of the rainbow. Some folks just love sending others on fools' errands; anyone got a tin of elbow grease? Now the science is that because a rainbow is caused by light refraction, they are usually only visible at a distance. But, obviously based on my experience, with the right combination of factors, it is possible to be within a few feet of a rainbow touchdown. There are people out there on the interweb who claim to actually have stood at the bottom of one. In my case I couldn't get closer than about 20 feet or so from the multi-coloured spotlight touchdown. So, either there's a treasure trove of over one hundred square feet under the beach at Campbeltown or there is no crock o'gold at all.

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Years and years ago I was in Jasper National Park in Canada. I was looking at the thousands of acres of timber spreading up the mountainsides to the tree line. It suddenly occurred to me as I lay there that I was seeing was what much of Scotland used to look like. Once the Highlands and much of the lowlands was forest. The Caledonian Forest. All those grand Highland stark mountain views are due to a man-made desert. Those majestic slopes were clad in trees in much the same way as the mountains around Jasper still are. The culprit in the Highlands is humanity via the agency of sheep and deer. The original blanket of trees was burned or cut down for reasons ranging from flushing out outlaws, to making charcoal for early metal smelting, through to boring out tree trunks to make London sewer pipes. But the regenerative new growth never came because the saplings were chewed down by sheep put on the land for profit or deer put there for rich men's sport. Of course, regimented blocks of trees are planted and harvested in Scotland every year but it's not quite the same. And the bio-diversity on the slopes is pretty minimal. Sadly, the damage is too far gone for simply removing the sheep and deer to make much difference - too much soil erosion now for a start. 

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When I was 17 or 18 years old I bought a record. No big deal that a teenager would buy a record, you may think. Big wows. The thing was that at the time I didn't have a record-player. But I knew, just knew, that one day I would have a record player. And that's why at the end of the Paul Downes and Phil Beer concert at, I think, The Third Eye Centre, on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow I splashed out on their record. They were that good. Two English guys. Session musicians I think. They sang an eclectic mix which included the Beatles and Benny Hill as well as more Folk orientated stuff. I don't think they ever became famous but I hope Music gave them a good living. I guess they numbered among the unsung heroes, and heroines, of the music industry. Good enough that someone without a record-player would buy their album knowing he wanted the chance to hear them again at some time in the future.

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