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Many years ago I was voluntold to take part in an an annual endurance event run by the Canadian Army in Edmonton's River Valley. I seem to remember it involved putting on rucksack with 33 lbs (15kg) of stuff in it and running 20 miles (aprox 32km) before putting an 18 foot (5.5 metre) aluminium canoe on my head and tottering 3.2 kilometres (two miles) to the North Saskatchewan River. There competitors had to canoe 10km (something like six miles) downstream before running 5.56km (about three and half miles) to the finish line. I was so bad at paddling my canoe that at times the eddies in the river were strong enough to carry me back up stream. But I almost didn't even get to put my canoe in the water. There was an army medic stationed at the canoe launch and it was his job to ask competitors how they were doing. This was actually a test to weed out those who were so close to exhaustion that they were incoherent. My problem was that when I'm tired and excited my Scottish accent becomes very pronounced. The medic looked at me as though I was babbling and you could tell he was seriously considering sending me to join a couple of others who had already been pulled from the event after failing the Babble Test. But luckily for me, one of army doctors was just behind me. He announced to the medic that he had been brought up in Glasgow and could understand me. He vouched that I was not in fact babbling, though probably only other Scottish people could understand me at this point. So, I was allowed to continue. I honestly can't remember what my finishing time was but I do recall announcing that if I ever even suggested entering The Mountain Man again, people should feel free to bash me in the head with hammer. 

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Here in Canada we are in the early stages of the ice hockey Stanley Cup playoffs. The whole league season is basically a qualifier for the cup with the bottom few teams failing to make it into the knock-out competition, which is played out on a best of seven games basis. No-one ever remembers who wins the league competitions, the only thing that matters is who wins the Stanley Cup in a given year. The only other team sports competition that gets any attention in Canada is the Canadian Football League, which has slightly different rules from the National Football League. But the rules are similar enough for most of the CFL stars to be rejects from the NFL. Both the final stages of the ice hockey and the football league attract so-called bets from civic leaders keen to precariously latch onto the brief fan enthusiasm for the home teams. So we have the mayor of city where the team is based betting on "their" team going through to the next stage against the mayor of the rival team's home city. Sometimes, the provincial premier will bet against the premier of whichever province the other team is from, or in the case of American ice hockey teams, the governor. The bet usually consists of the loser having to wear the winning team's shirt at a big official function or occasion. Sometimes a case of locally brewed beer is involved. It's all too often a bit bogus and sad. I suspect that many of the politicians involved might be hard put to name three members of the local team and haven't chugged a beer since they left high school. And I hope the tax payer isn't funding this blatant electioneering. Any costs involved should come out of the party's election treasure chest, not provincial government or local council funds. Let's not pretend its about boosting civic pride. I find it hard to stomach a politician whose loud support for team can often span as few as four games a year.

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There are a couple of things I hear regularly on the radio or read here in Canada that drive me crazy. One is when it is reported that police are seeking a suspect in a crime. The giveaway is when a description of the supposed "suspect" follows. That says to me that the cops don't actually have much of clue who was responsible for the crime and certainly not a name. So, who is it they are supposed to suspect?  I think what the so called journalist means by "suspect" is perpetrator. But that's a long word. I used to just say "gunman" "robber" "raider", "knife-wielding thug", or something along those lines. But I never said "suspect". That's just stupid. The other one that really bugs me at the moment is when it is announced that such-and-such a country is sending 30,000 forces to some other country. I suspect what is actually happening that 30,000 troops or, more accurately sometimes, 30,000 military personnel are being deployed. The confusion may be when the so-called journalists remember that there is something called the Armed Forces. Sadly, this ignorance is now deeply ingrained in the media and I fear there is no turning back the tide on this one. But really it's one force of 30,000 that is being sent. I would question if someone with such a lack of grip on matters military, or alternatively on the English language, can really be trusted to get the story right.

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I remember a worried colleague coming to me once. It looked like he might get in big trouble with the authorities. But our bosses would back him up, he asked, wouldn't they? What do you say to that one? It would be nice to say, yes, of course they will. After all, you only did what they told you to do. And that is what I told him. He seemed relieved. The thing is, I didn't believe they would back him up. The first sign of trouble and I was pretty sure that the bosses would leave him swinging in the wind. They would paint him as an out-of-control rogue operator. That is how far too many bosses work. To a large extent that's how many of them got to be bosses; taking the credit for other people's work and successfully denying responsibility for their actions when things go wrong. It's Standing Operating Procedure. I know I considered starting to tape one of my bosses when he was doling out instructions. And when things went pear-shaped and he denied stuff, I could play the tape. Then again, that's sadly a sure-fire way to win a battle but lose the war. But back to my colleague; why add to his worries? Why make him feel worse and more scared than he already was? Go on, tell me you would trust your boss 100% to tell the truth when it's you or them face the sack as a result of their stupidity. 

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I was disappointed to see a well respected Scottish historian apparently blindingly accepting that there is a photo of jubilant Adolph Hitler in a 1914 crowd scene welcoming the outbreak of the First World War. I am not convinced the man in the photo is Hitler and I'm suprised that this historian didn't mention that many people also doubt that it is. The problem for me is that it looks too much like Hitler - the Hitler of 1929; the year when he was supposedly found in the 1914 Munich crowd photo. The guy in the photo even has the famous "Hitler Moustache". But all the First World War photos I've seen of Herr Hitler show him with a full moustache, sometimes a very full moustache. The guy in the authenticated First World War photos does not look much like the Hitler we all would easily recognise. The guy in the 1914 crowd scene, however, does look very like the Second World War Nazi dictator. Apparently, Hitler was talking to the photographer, Heinrich Hoffman, in the 1929 about his 1914 crowd picture and said he might be in it. At the time, he was a still a politician and was keen to show the German voters evidence of his patriotism. The photographer got out his magnifying glass and "found" Hitler in the crowd. "Is this you?" he probably asked the dictator in waiting. "Why, yes, it is," we can imagine a delighted Hitler saying. But he would say that, wouldn't he? He was after all still a politician in those days.

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Many years ago I applied for a job as a public relations guy. I didn't get it. But if I had, the chances are good that I would have done very little work to earn my pay packet. I worked out after the interview that all these guys really wanted was a name to put on the bottom of their press releases. The press releases would in all probability actually be written by the guy who interviewed me, who would have been my boss if I had got the job. I knew from the research I'd done on the company before the interview that a couple of the senior executives had had their wrists slapped for insider trading. They had dumped their shares in the company before some very disappointing trading results had been made public. A big no-no according to the regulator. What I didn't know was that the head of the public relations department had been among those executives. His problem was that he couldn't deny that he knew about the trading results in question because he had written a press release about them before dumping his shares. He got away with a slap on the wrist. This was where whoever got the job I applied for would come in. Theirs was the name would go on future press releases and the head of public relations would have what is called "plausible deniability". Next time around, he would be able to say, "I didn't know the trading results were so bad, Paul (or whoever) was handling the latest figures and did the press release". But of course, actually he wouldn't have trusted anyone but himself to have written the press release on such a sensitive issue as another major round of losses. This may also be known as employing a "cut-out" In places where libel could result in jail time, I understand some American newspapers used to have what was called a jail editor. He was legally responsible for what appeared in the paper and went to jail if it broke the law. This guy, and it was nearly always a guy, was probably familiar with a jail cell as he was often a down-and-out kept around the office for the sole purpose of going to prison. Meanwhile, the real editor made sure he was not legally associated with the contents of his paper. Legend has it one of the big New York department stores operated a similar dodge. If a customer made a complaint, one of the high-up store managers summoned the supervisor of the department involved. This supervisor was harangued and then fired in front of the customer. The customer was naturally very impressed by this. What the customer did not know was that the "supervisor" was just a smartly dressed guy who spent most of his time playing cards in the boiler room with janitors and could be summoned several times a day to be fired in front of customers. I can only imagine that the ploy was found out when one literally awkward customer encountered the supposedly sacked supervisor apparently more than once on the same day.  

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When I much younger, a lot of lot of years ago, it sometimes seemed that almost every weekend at least one of the Scottish Mountain Rescue teams was called out for some English climbers. At first I used to think that obviously English people weren't used to real mountains. I mean, the rescue folk never seemed to go out for Scots or people who actually made their living working on the mountains. It finally dawned on me what was going on. These folk had come up a long way from England on a special trip, often taking time off work, and they were damned if bad weather was going to make them call off their mountain climb for perhaps another year. So, they were going up the mountain in weather that meant they were just asking for trouble - and sadly sometimes they got it in the worst way. I was reminded of all this recently when I saw a TV programme which involved a well known TV personality doing stuff in the Scottish mountains. It seemed that nearly everyone he met in the Scottish mountains was English; but that's not important. One English guide started taking him up a mountain and then declared the weather was so poor that the trip was off and back down they came. The programme makers didn't spell things out but it seemed next day he went up the mountain in much the same weather with yet another English guide. Perhaps the first guide was a little too sensible for a TV production company keen for some footage of their man on top of a mountain and a filming schedule that did not involve returning to the area any time soon. One thing that struck me about the second guide was that he kept his wedding ring on while rock-climbing. I always thought that was a big no-no because the ring could get trapped in a rock crevice and that when the ring finger is gets tapped it holds the whole person unless very drastic action is taken which involves a hopefully very sharp knife. But then I'd always thought was a wise person who knew when the weather was too wicked to risk going up the mountain.

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Hey, has your government done something terrible to you? Want to share it with the rest of the world? Then we at the BBC World Service's programme Outlook want to hear from you.  We don't bother to get the other side's story. They would only, anyway, deny what you say happened. And because we're on the radio, there's no chance of any embarrassing photographs or television news footage that might cast doubt on your version of events. Just don't worry. Only last week the BBC World Service repeatedly told listeners that that 1969 British robbery caper film the Italian Job featured little Fiat cars and not, as many who saw the movie thought, Minis. Why would they call it the Italian Job if the cars were British? And if the balance of interviewees on our BBC news programmes are to be believed, at least 50% of Dutch people hate Muslim immigrants. Hey, after being caught out by Brexit and Trump, we at the BBC don’t want people to think we’re out of touch with the xenophobes. And if the tone and balance of BBC coverage appeared to back Turkish Government claims that the Dutch are Nazis, we can assure you that it has never been proven that any BBC employee is on Ankara’s payroll.  We particularly want to hear near death stories from countries not usually accused of attempting to murder their own citizens. [No actual BBC employees were involved in the preparation of this appeal for contributors to Outlook]

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There used to be a radio programme here in Canada which was an unabashed and unacknowledged rip-off of a very popular American radio programme. This show used to be broadcast from a different location in Canada every week. The presenter would talk a little about whatever place the broadcast was in and speak about the couple of days he'd just spent there. He always mentioned some popular local hang-out or institution. And then he would leave a pause in his script for a cheer or a burst of applause. Most times he got it. But there occasions when the mention was met by silence. It would appear that the hang-out or institution wasn't as popular locally as the presenter and his team of researchers had been led to believe. Perhaps the people who ran it were deeply, very deeply, unpopular with the locals. But the programme was like something out of that Hans Christian Anderson story, the King's New Clothes; you know the one about the foolish king and the invisible, non-existent, suit of clothes that all the fawning courtiers insisted was a thing of beauty, and then a kid who doesn't know any better announces the king is naked. Anyway, few would publicly criticise this show. I remember a visiting writer in Edmonton agreeing with a member of the public that the show featured some of the finest modern short stories being written in Canada today. I asked him afterwards if he really believed that, as I often found the stories trite, predictable and saccharine. No, he didn't think the stories were that great either, "but what can you say". Recently another visiting writer threw out to an audience at one of his talks that he was looking forward to spending some time while in Edmonton with a well known local author. The local author is a git. I really think folk should be careful risking their own reputation by trying to curry local favour by invoking supposedly popular community institutions. I'd had a lot of time for that visiting writer until he mentioned his new local best buddy. I'd liked him when we chatted a couple of years ago about Afghanistan. 

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I don't know about you, but I cringe when someone on television or radio starts spouting in that synthetic version of English known as Lallans, which some like to describe as "Guid Scots Tongue". There's something just bogus about it all. You can almost see them translating from the way they usually speak into this essentially made-up language. And I kind of resent having to translate it back into normal speech. A lot of the problem is there has never been a single Scots language which could be understood throughout Scotland. Each area of the Lowlands had it's own variety of English, which had evolved by mixing old Anglo-Saxon with even older tongues spoken locally. To this day, folk from various parts of Scotland have trouble comprehending what natives of other parts are saying if the dialect and accent is not toned down a bit. That's why education is best done in standard English. Many kids are tri-lingual; the English of the classroom, the English spoken in the playground and the language of home. And some lucky kids can also throw Gaelic into the mix. It's important that Scots conduct a national dialogue and the best language for that is as close to standard English as they can manage. Children should not be educated in language of the playground.  I actually find it a bit rude when someone on television or radio launches into a language that doesn't really exist and I have to make a big effort to comprehend. I think I can understand why sixty years ago, or more, some people thought there was need for Lallans but it was always a muddle-headed project. Language is constantly evolving and flowering - we don't need artificial blooms.

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If there is one kind of advertising I cannot stand it is for news programmes. These seem to consist of bimbos trying to look intelligent and earnest as they hold a cellphone to their ear before jumping into an SUV to rush to some kind of news story. The voice-over is meanwhile telling me, "You know what's happened, we tell you why". Well, for starters, I don't know what's happened because the programme's motto seems to be "Yesterday's News Tomorrow!" And the chances of a superficial news medium like television being able to explain much is very tiny. I've written for television; that's why I stuck with newspapers. TV news is footage of a broken doll or ripped teddy bear at the scene of a 10-killed-in-motorway-pile-up. I hardly blink an eye these days when seeing  actors in an advert wearing white coats pretending to be scientists quoting evidence that Product X works better than Product Y. Or even a happy chicken laying a egg. But news isn't a product like soap powder. Film of some bimbo running to an SUV with a cameraman, or woman, not far behind isn't going to persuade me of anything. Most people can judge for themselves who provides the best news coverage. And it's seldom the organisations that run adverts saying how wonderful they are. I would advise them to spend their money on journalism and wean themselves away from staged events and publicity masquerading as news.   

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I remember a time when many English shops could get pretty stroppy at the sight of a Scottish bank note. I once went down to London from Inverness and forgot to change my money. I was in one place and handed over a Scottish tenner in payment. The woman behind the counter announced in a loud voice "Oh, your from Bonnie Scotland then" and guys started coming out of the back shop carrying meat cleavers. I basically said either they took the note or they took the goods back. They took the note. Scottish notes are just as valid in England as Bank of England notes. Except that they are not legal tender. Legal tender is actually a technical term for a form of cash payment which cannot be refused when offered in payment of debt. No bank notes are legal tender in Scotland - only coins. But to get to my point. Scottish people often bitched about English shopkeepers turning their nose up at Scottish notes, but try to get a Scottish shopkeeper to touch an fiver from Ulster Bank. I didn't have much luck but the note was just as valid as any issued by Bank of Scotland, the Clydesdale or the Royal Bank of Scotland. I think there was a chip shop in Larne that not only accepted all the notes issued by British banks but also took Irish punts which were valued at 90 British pence to the pound. So, a £1 bag of ships cost one punt and tenpence. The other point I wanted to make is the English are maybe the worst people in the United Kingdom at being British. And that spills over into making folk in other parts of the country ignorant of what is happening in their own neck of the woods. I remember when the 12th juror was chosen at the High Court in Inverness everyone else called for jury service got up to leave. But there are 15 people on a Scottish jury. However, as nearly every courtroom drama on so called national television is English, you can see why so many Scots didn't know how many of them are needed for a jury. Just over 16% of the United Kingdom's population don't live in England but you'd never know it if you relied on the country's supposedly national broadcasters. 

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I was recently reading an American edition of a British book. This is always an irritating experience because I have to constantly remind myself that that's not how labour, colour or centre are spelt. But that's what I get for reading the American edition. What annoys me was when a piece of writing by a British person is quoted and their spelling is Americanized in the book. Look, the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor and the Saudis the World Trade Center. But there is no British Labor Party and no British person would write that there was. The spelling of proper nouns has to be respected. If for example, an organisation chooses to call itself "The Britush  Carporation for the Improvment of Speling", then that is how the name has to be rendered. The thing about putting something in quotes is that what has been said is exactly replicated. You have to put what the person said not what you think they should have said. The same is true when it comes to the written word. Changing the spelling strikes the same false note as quoting a London banker as though he talks like a New York docker, or longshoreman if you prefer. 

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A while back I had ago at Scotland's General Ian Hamilton for sneering at the 8th Scottish Rifles because it recruited heavily in the slums of Glasgow. Then it turned out that it was Seaforth Highlander Granville Egerton, whose 52nd Lowland Division included the battalion, who reported that while it was recruited from "the lowest slums of Glasgow" as it had good officers could be expected to fight well. Now military historian and author David Raw has been in touch to tell me that I've got Major General Egerton all wrong and no slight on battalion or slum dwellers was intended. And Mr Raw should know, he has done an exhaustive study of Egerton's diary and other papers and has a book coming out on the General's experiences in Gallipoli with the 52nd Division in 1915. The Egerton of the diaries turns out to be a warm hearted, kindly and compassionate man. Apparently in September 1915, Egerton even declared the 8th Scottish Rifles his "favourite battalion, what is left of them;recruited from the lowest slums of Glasgow, many of them awful little ruffians, just ‘Glasgow Keellies’, but cheery game fellows". My take on the "lowest slums of Glasgow" remark was that thanks to the high quality of the officers this handicap could be overcome. Was I being too harsh with that interpretation? Was I guilty of jumping to the conclusion that an upper class and socially well connected officer would disdain and disparage the urban poor? Should Egerton be given the benefit of the doubt? The answer to that last question has to be "Yes". I retract my "Big Boo" to Granville Egerton. By the way, Egerton's "what is left of them" refers to the fact that the 8th Scottish Rifles had pretty much been wiped out on the 28th of June in four battalion attack on Turkish trenches that made the First Day on the Somme look like the handiwork of a military genius. 

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Never, never, attempt to answer a hypothetical question. Here's one. If a medical charity like Medicin Sans Frontieres had existed in 1945 and Hitler turned up at their tent flap wounded - would they have treated him? Then what would they have done? And if the British or Americans found out that Hitler was in the tent hospital, would they have been justified in bombing it? There are those who suggest that aid charities actually prolong conflicts and that without the food and other humanitarian supplies they provide, one side in a conflict would be forced to surrender sooner and the killing would end earlier. There are even those who say that sending out rescue ships to look for sinking migrant ships in the Mediterranean does not reduce the number of drownings. The argument goes that a greater number of people take to the seas in leaky rafts, dinghies and derelict fishing boats in the belief that they will be rescued if things go pear-shaped. And therefore, so the argument continues, a greater number of ships sink and despite the efforts of the rescue ships, a record number of people are being drowned in the Mediterranean. What do you think? I think we have to think carefully about the full consequences of the things we do in our attempts to help.  

 

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There was a time when most British Army regimental museums occupied only one or two rooms. And half of the space was taken up the display cabinets was containing medals. There was also at least one cigarette case or bible that had taken a bullet. The regimental museums have come a long way since then. So, it's ironic that more and more of them are coming under threat as the Ministry of Defence cuts their funding. The bean-counting bureaucrats at the MoD have always found the regimental system a baffling irritant - more so these days when so few civil servants have any idea what life in the military about. The MoD has decreed that it will only give financial help to one museum per regiment in the British Army. Among the latest victims of the cuts is the Gordon Highlanders museum in Aberdeen; which is expected to survive for the time being at least without the government funding. The Gordons merged with the Queen's Own Highlanders in 1994 and the combined unit is the 4th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, rather unimaginatively known as The Highlanders. The QoHldrs was itself a 1961 shotgun marriage between the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and the Seaforth Highlanders. The Highlanders museum is at Fort George, the one time depot of the Seaforths and for the moment the home station for the Black Watch, the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (whose museum is in Perth). Now I seriously doubt if many of the new recruits to the RRoS walked out of their local regimental museum straight to the nearest army recruiting office. And I know that many Scottish school teachers would fight tooth and nail against a class trip to the local regimental museum. But these museums, if some thought is put into what is shown, play an important role in what used to be known as KAPE, Keep the Army in the Public Eye, which was intended to encourage local awareness and understanding of what the Army is all about. The Army, and for that matter the Ministry of Defence, goes to war every year. But that "war" is the fight is between government departments for taxpayer money. Few people are prepared to shell out for something they know very little about and what they do know they mainly learnt from Hollywood films. It might be one thing if the museums were being sacrificed so that present day soldiers are better equipped - but that's not going to happen.  

 

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I wonder how Robbie Burns would have made out as a slave driver. The farmer turned poet and high society darling was planning to head out to Jamaica to work on the Port Antonio slave plantation in 1786 and probably would have if his scribbling hadn't started to pay off. Supporters sometimes point out that his job description was "book keeper". But Burns himself admitted he was going out to become a "poor negro driver".  Part of Burns's popularity is his supposed egalitarian leanings. All men may have been brothers in Burns's eyes but the ones with the darkest skin tones obviously were less equal than their lighter skinned brethren. Of course, Burns was not the only Scot who had no apparent objection to slavery in the West Indies. Thanks to Americans' self obsession, when most whites think of slavery they think of Dixieland and the Land of Cotton. The truth is that slavery in the West Indies was often far more cruel and brutal than anything happening south of the Mason-Dixon line. It had to be. There were far fewer whites in the West Indies per head of population than there were in the southern states of the USA. Any slave rebellion would have far more serious consequences. Something like three-quarters of slave overseers in the British West Indies were Scots and the greatest concentration of British-based slave owners in the 1820s were in the Glasgow area. An estimated one-third of the white population of Jamaica at the time was Scots or of Scots descent. One of the reasons Kingston in Jamaica remains so lawless is that the police force on the island was never intended to tackle crime but to cow the majority of the population and prevent a racial bloodbath. To this day, the force has never really shaken free of its roots. Only now the exploiters they serve are black instead of white - a not uncommon state of affairs in today's Commonwealth. 

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I remember the "good" Blue Peter. The one with John Noakes, helped out by Peter Purves and Valerie Singleton. Noakes was an apparently ordinary bloke in amongst the still cut-glass accents of the BBC. I don't think that it was just because I got older that some of the later presenters, including if I remember correctly a guy who used to make porn movies, irritated me more than somewhat. The presenters moved from being Uncle or Aunt figures to trendy and annoying older siblings. But throughout the programme's history I would never have entered one of the artistic competitions. What was the point? The overall winner was nearly always the top entry in the youngest age group. So, the Post Office ended up issuing a stamp of a stick-man going to moon or something. It could be that this foolishness, which discouraged talented teenagers, sent out the kind of wrong message that in turn accelerated Britain's decline? Bad Auntie Beeb.

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It used to be that journalism on both sides of the Atlantic offered a good path out of the ghetto for working class kids who did not excel at professional sport. Of course, not all journalists were products of the mean streets but the ones that weren't usually wrote for papers hardly anyone read. Then came Watergate and journalism became sexy. Rich and privileged kids, especially in the United States, decided they wanted to bring down governments too. And being rich and privileged, these kids got what they wanted. All the President's Men became their talisman and bible. I read the book while I was working in Newcastle upon Tyne. A lot of it didn't make much sense. But, I thought, maybe journalism works differently in North America. I now know the operating procedures for good journalism are the same on both sides of the Atlantic. But thanks to All the Presidents Men, there isn't so much good journalism around nowadays. What we've ended up with is a bunch of so-called journalists who didn't see Trump or Brexit coming because the lives of ordinary people are as alien to them as the Queen would find life in Cranhill, Pilton, Wester Hailes or Easterhouse. Horses for courses and fewer blue bloods in the reporters' room, I say. A good newspaper has staff from a wide variety of backgrounds. Right now, on both sides of the Atlantic (I can't comment on the Antipodes), there are too many who have basically been able to buy their berths thanks to an accident of birth.

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A very senior detective told me once that a person had two choices if they found an intruder in their home - a) Nothing b) Kill the intruder and take his body to the town dump. His point was that capturing the intruder and calling in the police was not really a good option. The bad guy, and his buddies, obviously knew where you lived as a result of his visit and it was highly unlikely that you would be testifying in court against him. Criminal prosecutions often rely on witnesses. No witnesses, no conviction. Even the dumbest of thugs can work this out. And if they can't, their lawyers can. Believe it or not there are lawyers out there who only care about getting their clients off. Where I went to high school it was widely believed that some local lawyers contrived to make sure that the local thugs got to know the addresses at the top of witness statements. Eventually, many witnesses contact addresses were given as care of the local police force. But the fact is that the local thugs or their families went to high school with the witnesses or their families and already knew where to find them. One of the biggest problems was that the lawyers and Sheriffs or Judges tended to live in nicer areas than the rest of us and didn't have to survive having the thugs as neighbours. I've always found that the communities where these thugs live are far less understanding and forgiving than the courts tend to be. They have equally shitty lives but don't steal and maim. I can only imagine the disappointment of all involved when the cops did persuade some people to stand-up to one of the most notorious thugs only for the Sheriff to suspend sentence so that the bad guy could pursue a supposedly promising music career. I would have been a little happier if the Sheriff had offered to let the thug move into his home until the music career took off. Why should only the thug's neighbours be put in jeopardy because the Sheriff wanted to take a risk? And did I mention that I think that lawyers whose clients are arrested for offences committed while on bail should share a cell with them until the case is dealt with? I would anticipate a drop in both bail applications and crime.

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