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Everyone has an excuse for why their life didn't turn out the way they wanted. Sometimes they blame their gender, social background, skin tone, or even their lack of stature. Even people widely regarded by others as blindingly successful feel that but for... (fill in the blank) ... their true worth would have been recognised and rewarded. Dissatisfaction with life is natural, essential even for the progress of humankind. Otherwise, music would still consist only of banging two rocks together. Where the excuses get toxic is when they lead to division and so-called reverse discrimination. Two wrongs don't make a right. All discrimination is wrong and ultimately harmful.

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If one more motorist who runs me down or almost runs me down announces "I didn't see you", I'm going to drag him or her out and beat them savagely. They didn't see me because they weren't looking. Too many motorists only pay attention to what other motorists are doing to the exclusion of everything else. Yesterday I had eight or nine vehicles ignore the flashing lights on pedestrian crossings that should have stopped them. I'm not sure whether it was five or six vehicles zoomed past, one actually accelerating, at the first crossing. The third guy at second crossing half an hour later only just missed me as he accelerated to follow the first two in turning onto the road despite the crossing lights being activated. Motor vehicles weigh a lot and the physics says that if they hit a pedestrian or cyclist there will be a surprising amount of damage done to bicycles, internal organs and bones at even low speed. Driving involves a degree of care which fewer and fewer people these days seem prepared to exercise. The fact that someone didn't mean to kill or veggie me and is sorry is not really going to be much of a comfort.

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What is a “suspected shooting”? Either shots were fired or they were not. And yet the BBC is comfortable reporting a suspected shooting. Sometimes it seems that the world is becoming mired in ignorance and stupidity. How else can the standing ovation for an ex-SS man in the Canadian House of Commons during a visit by Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelenskyy just over a week ago be explained. His acclamation as a “Canadian war hero” also takes some explaining. And how can something be “pretty unique”. It is either unique or it is not. The ignorance extends to adjectives. Why Italy Prime Minister. Why nor Italian Prime Minister. Could be because so many so-called journalists don’t know the adjective? Of course few of the people who cover Scottish matters for the London-based BBC programmes are Scottish. But Our Scotland Correspondent jars for me. Why not Scottish Affairs reporter or something like that?

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Striking up a conversation with the person sitting next you at the beginning of a long journey can be a risky business. I believe everyone has at least one good story. But maybe the chances of it coming out during a casual conversation on a bus, train or plane are slim. Most often the conversation dies out to the embarrassment of both parties. Many people seem to forestall conversation by putting on headphones almost as soon as they sit down. That's not to say I haven't got lucky a couple of times. Once the Australian woman next to me turned out to be the sister of a girl I was at high school with. When their parents split, one girl stayed in Australia with her mum while the other returned to Scotland with her dad. Another time the guy next to me worked with a former colleague of mine. Sadly my seat mate was flying to Scotland to be at his Dad's deathbed. And there was the rail journey to Inverness. For some reason the carriages were the old fashioned compartments with four seats facing each other and a long narrow corridor down one side, or perhaps doors opening directly out onto the platform . I deliberately didn't start up a conversation with the only other occupant of the compartment until we were only half an hour, 45 minutes, from Inverness. What a mistake. The guy was incredibly interesting and amusing. I have no doubt he would have been incredibly interesting and amusing from the moment we left Edinburgh or Glasgow, I forget which.

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Three things struck me when I used to cover Hebburn Magistrates Court. Actually, four things. I decided that if I ever committed a crime I would flee to Scotland and commit another, bigger, crime rather than face England's medieval justice system - magistrates court was only slightly fairer than trial by combat. And I think it was while I was working as a reporter in South Tyneside that I was finally older than most of the accused. Thirdly, the number of crooks who were let off Scot-free provided they fulfilled their supposed "career dream" of joining the Army before their case was called again was noteworthy. If Hebburn Mags was anything to go by, The Light Infantry must have been composed of 80% house-breakers. The fourth thing was how many of my neighbours from north of the Tyne were caught thieving in Hebburn or Jarrow south of the river. It took me a couple of months to work out where I lived was next to a former railway goods yard and for generations whole families had made a living stealing from it. The closure of the goods yard meant the young generation had been forced further afield to pillage.

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