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A while back I was reading one of Ian Rankine’s Rebus novels and it involved Rebus phoning a cop in Shetland. The cop was more Western Isles than Shetland in the way he spoke. I thought, wrong island group there chum. But I’d forgotten something. Many of the Shetland cops in the days of the old Northern  Constabulary were from the Skye, the Hebrides or very remote parts of the Western Highlands. There had been a problem with Big City cops raised among the bright lights of Inverness. They hated Shetland and they took it out on the locals. One of my colleagues at the Shetland Times once heard a couple of them as they got into their squad car declaring they would “Spill some Sheltie blood  tonight”. A few weeks after I went to Shetland to work I was back in Inverness for a couple of days and went with a pal to a local hostelry. The owner pointed out  a guy sitting at the bar with very fancy, very shiny, shoes and said he had just returned from the Shetland. It turned out he was cop. Oddly, my pal stayed at the other end of the bar and after I’d finished chatting with the cop I asked him why he hadn’t come across. It turned out he’d met the cop only a couple of days earlier. My mate told me that the cop had wanted to beat the crap out of him for no good reason and had only been restrained by an older wiser colleague. Anyway,the Northern Constabulary had decided only volunteers or cops from remoter regions  of the force area should be posted to Shetland.

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Next time someone trots out the old "The British Invented Concentration Camps" lie, consider that you might be talking to a Nazi. I had forgotten that this canard was a central plank of Nazi propaganda. It even featured in a German Second World War film called Oom Paul, set during the 1899-1902 Boer War. Of course, there was a big difference between a Nazi murder camp and a poorly run British refugee camp for Boers whose homes had been burned down in a savage anti-guerilla campaign. Something like 28,000 died in the British Camps, mostly children and mainly from disease. An estimated 14,000 black Africans died in their segregated camps. Something like 14,000 British troops died in Southern Africa during the same period, also in the main due to official stupidity and incompetence. Official credit for "inventing" concentration camps has to go to the Spanish Army in Cuba around 1896,  once again linked to anti-insurgency warfare. And what were the US Indian Reservations and Canadian Reserves but concentration camps without barbed wire? Another point is that the British brought ignominy on themselves through a basically humanitarian gesture to fellow whites. No effort was made to help the non- white victims of previous colonial punitive campaigns after their homes were burned. Anyway, next time someone tells you the Brits invented concentration camps, you'd be entitled to wonder if they know they are spouting Nazi nonsense. They may well do. Another group who trot out this lie are supporters of the IRA joining the Germans in bombing Britain during the Second World War. 

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For several years now I've been making my own calendars on the computer. The monthly illustration is usually on a military theme of some kind. It is very seldom that any image is used more than once. About the only exception is for the month of November. It is a photo taken of a First World War battlefield dotted with the kilted corpses of soldiers from a Highland regiment. Somehow the glimpse of a scrotum peeking from under a kilt brings home home that we are looking at human beings and not uniformed automatons. And it's a reminder for how soldiering can end. The photo is usually attributed to the Imperial War Museum. But I have seen it credited to the Official Canadian war photographer. So, the bodies could be Canadian. The Canadian forces fielded several kilted regiments during the conflict. I've also come across mention of Zonnebeke, 1917 and the Battle of Passchendaele. Anyway, click here to see the photo 

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So, the BBC has declared Glasgow the capital of Scotland. I take it that it backs what it broadcasts. According to People Fixing The World presenter Marnie Chesterton Glasgow is the Scottish Capital. If it is not, I suppose Chesterton will be fired in a bid to restore the programme's credibility. I mean, if she got something so basic wrong, what else does she get wrong? In real life, I wonder how many other BBC presenters covering the COP 26 in Glasgow will show the same ignorance of life north of Watford. My guess is that Chesterton will not be only one. UK national broadcaster? 

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I was recently reading a novel set in a British military prison during the Korean War. What struck me about this tale of life and death in The Glasshouse were the parallels with high school in Scotland. No, not the constant drill and endless mindless bullshit, but being forced into the company of nutcases. Maybe Craigshill High School had more murderers and psychos among the pupils than most schools. Maybe some of the staff only kept their jobs in teaching because no- one else was prepared to brave the literally murderous pupils.  I remember years later in a bothy south of Ullapool meeting the brother in law of one of my teachers and voicing the opinion that he and another teacher from the same department were certifiable psychopaths. The brother in law immediately agreed. It was only as an adult that I realised how dysfunctional several of my teachers were. She is only a schoolie and maybe you shouldn't be taking a shower together in the boys' changing room sir.  I guess  the end of National Service meant there was less job opportunity in the Army for psycho inadequates as Glasshouse staff. Shame Scottish Education offered a cosy billet to so many who would have been  otherwise unemployable. 

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