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Newsletter for 19th January 2024

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  • Newsletter for 19th January 2024

    Electric Scotland News

    The first published recipe of the Clootie Dumpling dates back to 1747. A Clootie Dumpling is a wonderful Scottish fruit pudding cooked in a unique way. Once all the ingredients are mixed to the perfect consistency, they are wrapped in a freshly boiled ‘Cloot’ that has been sprinkled with flour. Cloot being Scots for cloth. The flour is what forms the delicious ‘skin’ around the outside of the dumpling after it has been boiled.

    See our Champion Clootie Dumpling Recipe at:


    Burns Supper - Thursday, January 25, 2024
    Search for "Burns Supper" in your area of the world and you'll likely find an event in your neighbourhood which you can attend.

    Robert Burns Lives!
    By Frank R. Shaw, FSAScot

    Lots of great stories produced by Frank Shaw which you might enjoy reading. There are 269 Chapters so loads to read and you can get to these at:

    Here is what he said in his Introduction many years ago now...

    This is a new column that will appear regularly in our paper. The column will attempt to bring insights into Burns for those who may not be as familiar with Burns as they would like. On more than one occasion I have heard people say they would like to know more about the writings of Burn but they try to understand the Scots dialect and eventually give up – sooner rather than later. I know. I have been there. Done that!

    Well, nearly two years ago I took the bull by the horns and joined the Burns Club of Atlanta. I felt that the only way to get past this "bump in the road", aka understanding the Scots dialect, was to expose myself to those who know more than me on the subject and buy books on Burns to study. I have fallen in love with the Atlanta Burns Cottage, which is an exact replica of the original one In Scotland where Burns was born at Alloway. The membership has welcomed us and made the two of us, Susan, my wife and I, feel right at home. We both look forward to the monthly meetings. It is just a lot of fun mixed with a little learning each month.

    I have been impressed with most of the speakers, particular those who did not try to impress you, but the general membership is to be admired and respected for their knowledge of Burns and, more importantly, their willingness to share their knowledge. Some of our better speakers are among our own membership. My quest to be better informed about Burns by joining the Burns Club has not been disappointing. To the contrary, it has been more than I ever imagined.

    Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a local Burns Club to fall back on for information about Scotland’s National Bard, his life and his work. So, I discussed with Beth Gay, our Editor, about the possibility of having a regular column on Burns. Why wait for Burns Nicht one time a year to honor Burns? Maybe the haggis but not Burns! This will be like a mini correspondence course without the exams. It will be an Introduction to Robert Burns 101, if you please. Guest authors, and laymen like myself, will write this column and from time to time, I’ll stick my two cents worth in with an article or two.

    We’ll try to bring you pictures of Burns, the statues of him & the places in the Burns triangle – Ayr, Edinburgh and Dumfries, where he lived, loved, drank, ploughed, wrote, sang, collected taxes & died. Susan and I will be in London and Scotland for a couple of weeks in October if everything works out the way we plan and, with the guidance of Thomas Keith, our friend from New York City and fellow Burnsian, we will search out as many of the statues as possible. We will bring you the men and women who influenced Burns by their lives, their loves and their writings. We will talk about the poems, songs and letters of Burns. We will learn the difference between a "Skinking haggis" and a "stinking haggis". We will look at the best and the worst of Burns in his writings and his life since this by and large this will be a teaching column.

    We will learn that bawdy is not necessarily dirty and that the sublime is, sometimes, rather simple. Hopefully, some of you, particularly those who are unfamiliar with Burns, will build a notebook of the columns to have as a reference when needed. We will recommend books to the beginner and tell you if some are a wee scholarly.

    We’ll see how this young genius died between his 37th and 38th year but left the world a much better place because of what he left us. We’ll hear about his views on liberty, freedom, love, "my Jacobitism" and whom he would hold as his chief enemy. The Burns scholar may be bemused about this effort but we will enjoy the last laugh since Burns was one of us!

    My only regret is that The Family Tree is only published every two months but if you hang in there with us, the ride will be worth it. Some may scoff at this undertaking but it is at least that – an undertaking that we all can participate in if we are willing to learn as we go.

    One thing is for sure, we’ll take this journey together and somewhere down the road we will look back and feel good about where we started. Welcome aboard!


    Got a decent fall of snow here in Chatham and looks like not many people are out and about and more to come on Friday and Saturday. It's -5C and with wind chill its -11C at time of writing this.

    Scottish News from this weeks newspapers

    I am partly doing this to build an archive of modern news from and about Scotland and world news stories that can affect Scotland and as all the newsletters are archived and also indexed on search engines it becomes a good resource. I might also add that in a number of newspapers you will find many comments which can be just as interesting as the news story itself and of course you can also add your own comments if you wish which I do myself from time to time.

    Here is what caught my eye this week...

    Humza Yousaf is trapped in quicksand and has no idea how to get out
    Daily Record Political Editor Paul Hutcheon says the only thing the First Minister is hoping to achieve from the general election is staying in post

    Read more at:

    The UK’s Trade Negotiators Are Post-Brexit Heroes
    Amid the media’s relentless focus on the negative, a great UK success story is proceeding almost unnoticed.

    Read more at:

    They were Israel's eyes on the border - but their Hamas warnings went unheard
    They are known as Israel's eyes on the Gaza border. For years, units of young female conscripts had one job here. It was to sit in surveillance bases for hours, looking for signs of anything suspicious.

    Read more at:

    Conrad Black: Hard currency standard the best way to fix Canada's teetering economy
    The country should fix the value of its currency to the value of a combination of precious metals, oil, basic housing and food.

    Read more at:

    The Tories have tried nothing and they're all out of ideas
    Polls are suggesting that the Tories are set for a 1997-style wipeout at this year's general election. Predictably, the left and right of the party are pointing fingers at each other but they're missing the bigger picture. The Conservatives' real problem is the political economy they have created in government.

    Read more at:

    Think of the children
    A recent Bill passed by the Scottish Parliament, incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law, seems innocuous and well-meaning enough. Yet look a little closer, and a number of things should make Scots distinctly worried about what the SNP has done in their name.

    Read more at:

    Feminism has a women problem
    Debates about sex and gender have exposed the significance of intrasexual disagreement.

    Read more at:

    Jordan Peterson EDUCATES Piers Morgan Israel Hamas War
    Peterson on Israel War. Trump should have received Nobel Peace Prize for the Abraham Accords.

    Watch this at:

    Just 51 fly-tippers referred to prosecutors despite 284,762 reports
    New fly-tipping rules could see on-the-spot fines of up to 500 issued more than double the previous 200.

    Read more at:

    King Haakon VII of Norway’s legacy to Scotland
    INVERLOCHY Castle Hotel, near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, is a masterpiece of Baronial architecture. Sitting at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, it was built in 1863 as a private home for Lord Arbinger.

    Read more at:

    Iowa caucuses: What Trump's dominant win means for his rivals
    Donald Trump won by a landslide in the first contest in the Republican race for a presidential nominee, the margin in the end as comfortable as the polls had predicted for months.

    Read more at:

    How to get new nuclear built faster
    Let's allow any design approved in the US or Europe to be built in Britain

    Read more at:

    Einstein’s 7 rules for a better life
    The most celebrated genius in human history didn't just revolutionize physics, but taught many valuable lessons about living a better life.

    Read more at:

    Scots Royal Marines stuck in reindeer traffic jam
    More than 1000 commandos are preparing for NATO's biggest Arctic exercise in a generation.

    Read more at:

    Electric Canadian

    The Battle of Ortona
    Canadian Christmas in the Italian Campaign of WW2. Added this video to our Canadian Armed Forces page which is currently the final video towards the foot of the page.

    You can watch this at:

    Schedule of Indian Reserves in the Dominion
    Supplement to the Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs Year ended March 31 1913 (pdf)

    You can read this report at:

    The Canada Year Book 1939
    The Official Statistical Annual of the Resources, History, Institutions, and Social and Economic conditions of the Dominion. Published by Authority of The Honourable William D. Euler, M.P., Minister of Trade and Commerce (pdf)

    You read this at:

    Thoughts on a Sunday Morning - the 14th day of January 2024 Getting it together
    By the Rev. Nola Crewe

    You can watch this at:

    Royalty in Canada
    Embracing sketches of the House of Argyll, the Right Honourable the Marquis of Lorne, (Governor-General of Canada), her Royal Highness the Princess Louise and the Members of the New Government by Charles R. Tuttle (1878) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    The Settlers Guide to Homesteads
    In the Canadian North-West by John T. Moore (1884) (pdf)

    You can read this Guide at:

    Electric Scotland

    John Dick, Shipbuilder, Banff Harbour 1838 to 1842
    By Staanley Bruce (pdf)

    Another in his series of books about ship building in the Aberdeenshire area of Scotland which you can read at:

    List of Scots and Scots-Irish poets
    I came across this list but have no idea of the publication it came from so add it for research purposes only. Does include some biographical information and includes names from M - R. (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    Scottish Society of Louisville
    Got in their December 2023 newsletter which you can read at:

    Aunt Janet's Legacy to her Nieces
    Recollections of Humble Life in Yarrow in the beginning of the century by Mrs. Janet Bathgate (1894) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Reminiscences of Yarrow.
    By James Russell with Preface by Professor Campbell Fraser. Edited and annotated by the late Professor Veitch. Second edition. Cr. 8vo. Selkirk, 1894. (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Clan Leslie Society International
    Got in their January 2024 newsletter which you can read at:

    The Works of Charles Fraser
    He got in touch and has sent in a couple of new poems to add to his collection, "Holocaust of The Highlands" and "Enchanted Midnight Encounter".

    You can read his poems at:

    The Laird of Norlaw
    A Scottish Story by Mrs. Oliphant (1859) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Ending Stagnation
    The Economy 2030 Inquiry - The Final Report

    You can read this report at:

    Observations on the various Modes of inclosing Land
    By Robert Somerville, Esq. of Haddington (1805) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    Plan of Education
    In the Marischal College and University of Aberdeen with the reasons of it drawn up by order of the faculty (1755) (pdf)

    You can read this at:

    The History of the Twenty Seven Gods of Linlithgow
    Being an exact and true account of a famous plea betwixt the Town Council of the said Burgh, and Mr. Kirkwood, Schoolmaster there (1711) (pdf)

    You can read this at:


    Justice on the horizon?

    For those living under a rock, this week’s news cycle has been dominated by the Post Office Horizon scandal – a story that has re-emerged in light of the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office. It follows Alan Bates (Toby Jones) in his Sisyphean struggle to take on powerful vested interests and edge closer to the exoneration that he and so many others deserved.

    This scandal, like many others, has been years in the making. In 1999, the Post Office rolled out Horizon – a flashy new computer accounting system developed by a subsidiary of the Japanese technology company Fujitsu. It soon became clear that the software was faulty and that this was leading to serious accounting errors. In the years leading to 2015, 736 sub-postmasters and postmistresses (the good people who run our post offices) were prosecuted for false accounting, theft and a series of other charges. Some were subsequently imprisoned, and others took their own lives.

    So who is to blame for this gross miscarriage of justice? Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells is going to return her CBE. But many are also pointing the finger at Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey. Davey was the Post Office minister from 2010 to 2012, during which time he did nothing to address the complaints of those who had been wrongly accused. His defence is that he was lied to by the Post Office puppeteers at the time, meaning that he couldn’t possibly have applied Occam’s razor. But this hasn’t cut it, and Davey is now inundated with calls for his resignation. There’s even a petition with 5,000 signatories demanding that his knighthood be revoked.

    Although the politically minded love Schadenfreude more than most, in this case punishing an incompetent few will not deliver the requisite justice. As Henry Hill argued in these pages this week, while it is always tempting to find a Davey-sized dunce hat and be done with it, the causes of this scandal are deeply embedded in how poorly some parts of government are run.

    First, the frequency of Cabinet reshuffles has meant that ministers remain in their posts for increasingly short periods of time. This has fostered an environment where politicians in charge of large departments (often riddled with intricate and entrenched problems) do not have the time or institutional knowledge to identify hazards before they emerge - and the same can be said of many of the civil servants. Consequently, they are forced to rely on outside parties, who may occasionally have an interest in concealing certain facts.

    The other issue is the growing trend of abdicating political responsibility to unelected quangos, or in this case companies owned by the state but operating separately from it. As Henry highlights, this poses problems for democracy, as ‘vast parts of the machinery of state operate on official autopilot with minimal input for our elected representatives’.

    To add insult to injury, the Post Office appears to have used every trick in the book to minimise compensation payments. These crafty tactics include forcing elderly victims to endure unnecessarily complex legal procedures and ensuring postmasters don’t receive legal advice when they fill claim forms.

    The scale of corruption this fiasco has uncovered is truly shocking, but shock alone will not compensate the victims. Of course we should scrutinise the individuals involved. But unless we address the structural factors that allowed this abomination to happen, then it is only a matter of time until a future TV drama exposes yet another national scandal.

    Joseph Dinnage
    Deputy Editor, CapX


    Weekend is almost here and hope it's a good one for you and wishing you all a Happy Burns Day on this coming Thursday. You might want to explore our Robert Burns page at: