Capital of a confident nation

Michael Wilson’s letter last week anent Edinburgh’s role as “Athens of the North” certainly contained food for thought.

Basically, his thesis is that Scottish political secession from the UK would lead to Edinburgh becoming the capital of a “failed state”, supposedly like modern Greece.

History teaches us that great cities can indeed experience dramatic rises and falls in fortune. In the case of ancient Athens it was the growth of the imperial dominance of Rome (another hilly city!) that eventually sealed Athens’ decline into obscurity.

Eighteenth-century Edinburgh has often been compared to ancient Athens, yet despite the splendid classical architecture and being home to famous thinkers like David Hume and Adam Smith, the city was already politically neutered and its descent into provincial prosperity was almost inevitable.

By the 19th century, London, as capital of the British Empire, was becoming to Edinburgh what Rome had been to Athens. Nobody should attempt to undervalue the massive contribution that London has made to world culture, but, unfortunately, the dominance of any imperial power comes at a cost.

Satellite nations become provinces. Their people come to believe that wherever they happen to live is merely peripheral and second rate. This attitude can becomes a self-fulfilling vicious circle as often the most able people are tempted to leave, leading to a spiralling loss of cultural and economic confidence.

I regret to say this “cultural cringe” still continues to affect a small minority of Scots, though not nearly as badly as in the past.

The good news is that the tides of history can flow both ways and, as ever, nothing will succeed like success. Even with Holyrood’s limited powers, modern Edinburgh is already becoming a noticeably vibrant capital of a confident, growing nation.

Douglas Hunter




Discriminatory labelling

Re Ally Entwistle’s article on Les Amis d’Onno in last week’s issue.

It’s great to know she enjoyed seeing animals and people performing together in partnership. It’s a hugely positive experience which has cultural and social value, as well as teaching us how we can communicate with other species.

But why does your writer feel she has to succumb to the cliche that animals in other forms of circus are “beaten”.

The people of the circus are also animal lovers, that’s why they choose to take on the arduous, yet rewarding task of animal communication which allows them to perform to a wide public.

Beating animals would surely be counter-productive? Training works by making friends, not enemies, of one’s animal partners.

As a member of the classical circus community, I resent being labelled in this discriminatory way.

Chris Barltrop



A dangerous trade deal

I’m writing to spread the word about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – a dangerous trade deal being negotiated in secret between the European Union and United States.

I’m one of two million people who have signed the petition to scrap the deal.

This deal could allow big corporations to buy up some of our most vital services like the NHS. It would also give big businesses the power to sue our government if they don’t like the laws that protect all of us. That’s just not right.

Our MEPs were meant to vote on TTIP on June 10 – but when it looked like they might actually vote against TTIP, the parliament’s president cancelled the vote.

MEPs still need to know that the public want TTIP scrapped. They need to feel public pressure.

Brenda Ward


dental care

Gentle and professional

I would like to praise the NHS in the Borders.

I am in my 70s and required major dental work. Having been frightened since an early visit to a dentist as a child, I regretted not taking care of my teeth, despite having free dental care during 22 years service with HM Forces as well as a government dental plan and on into retirement.

Sadly, I did not use my free dental care.

However, fast-forward to 2014/15 when I asked at Newcastleton medical centre how I could have my teeth removed under full anaesthetic. I was referred to a dentist who agreed to recommend me to Borders General Hospital dental department.

From my first visit to the dental department, I was made to feel at complete ease. They understood my fears.

Dental surgeon Dr Priya Karsi, Nurse Shaw, Dr Cripps and the remainder of this fine team team eased my fears and convinced me that sedation would be preferable.

I opted for this at the last moment. Dr Karsi and her team did a wonderful job on me. I felt nothing except pure relief. They treated me with gentleness and professionalism, allaying my fears.

I cannot thank them enough.

I just thought that with so much negativity being written about NHS services, a nice letter would be a change.

Albert McRobb



UK Aid

MP urged to sign pledge

Calum Kerr, recently-elected MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, has an important opportunity to help people beyond our borders as well as those at home.

By signing The ONE Campaign’s ‘Just Say Yes’ pledge, he can help to ensure that most UK aid goes to the world’s poorest countries and that girls and women are put at the heart of global development.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to almost one billion people, around half of whom live in extreme poverty. Girls and women in these countries are hit twice as hard – by being born poor and female, they face disproportionate social, economic and political barriers far greater than for men or for women who live in richer countries.

Ending extreme poverty is in our national interest as a more stable, secure and prosperous world clearly benefits the UK. With international summits in Addis Ababa, New York and Paris still to come this year, 2015 is a unique moment to put us on a path to ending extreme poverty for good.

Politicians around the world have a part to play in achieving this goal.

I urge Mr Kerr to join the campaign by signing ONE’s ‘Just Say Yes’ pledge.

Diane Sheard,

(UK director)

The ONE Campaign


Unrealistic targets

The Scottish Government has been accused of a staggering lack of ambition after missing its emission reduction targets for the fourth year in a row.

For once I must support the SNP administration.

Scotland’s targets were forced through by Alex Salmond who, like a deranged gambler, kept raising the stakes until he could boast: “Scotland has the best CO2 reduction targets in the world.”

Other countries have seen sense and gone back on their pledges. China has not promised anything.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would be wise to review her predecessor’s figures, explain why they were never feasible, explain why wind turbines are not reducing CO2 and ensure a realistic energy policy that will prevent the lights going out.

Clark Cross

Springfield Road



Arches demons

Among all the conspiracy theories over the demise of The Arches in Glasgow, nobody seems to have put the blame squarely where it lies – the selfish hedonistic users of illegal recreational drugs who caused the licencing board to take the action it did.

They are the ones who should be hunted down by police and arts lovers alike.

John Eoin Douglas

Spey Terrace


christian aid

Wonderful response

A very big thank-you to all who supported the 2015 Christian Aid Week appeal in any way.

The response from our community has been just wonderful and the total raised has broken all previous records of Christian Aid Week fundraising in Kelso – £7, 521.81.

The focus this year was to raise money to provide cows to women in Ethiopia. Our community has raised enough for 50 cows, together with the necessary training in care and management. This means the lives of 50 families will be transformed.

I must also thank the Cross Keys Hotel, Kelso, who so kindly sponsor our QuizAid night, Kelso North Kirk Session for the use of the church for our most successful and enjoyable MusicAid concert and all the performers who gave so freely of their time and talents, particularly those who stepped in at the last minute when, through unforeseen circumstances, the Gordon Fox Dance School could not attend and also Alex Black for letting us use his shop window in Kelso Square for the Christian Aid display.

On behalf of all the people whose lives will be transformed by your generous response, thank you.

Ruth McGrath

Kelso Churches Together Christian Aid group



Galashiels gathering

Borders Asperger and Autism Group Support has organised Bounce for Autism, Accept and Gather in Galashiels Volunteer Hall on August 3 (10am-3pm).

The idea behind the event is to allow some of the new children to meet new people before the trauma of entering a new school/classroom with a sea of new faces. It is also a benefit to any parents who could be turning up at the school gates for the first time – having a familiar face can reduce the anxiety and worry.

Derek Purvis


Borders Asperger and

Autism Group Support



Stepping out for AEDs

On behalf of Kelso Heartbeat, can I thank all who donated to our recent charity walk between Dunbar and Kelso.

We raised a total of £3,108. This sum will greatly support the charity in providing AEDs (automated external defibrillators) and training to the Kelso community.

Scott Forbes