Your picture of the week

A frosty morning at Denholm Green.
A frosty morning at Denholm Green.

Curtis Welsh supplied this image of a frosty morning at Denholm Green.

Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to southern-letters@jpimedia.co.uk

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE REAL WORLD VERSUS LA-LA LAND

Yet again our councillors demonstrate that they are living in la-la land.

Many of us who inhabit the real world cannot understand many of the decisions being made by them, supposedly on our behalf.

Having told us that their priority is to regenerate the centre of Galashiels, we now see extensive activity in Tweedbank. For example, the £9+million spent on the purchase of Lowood Estate (well above market value), demolition of buildings by the station to build offices and a retail park.

Many people cannot understand why more office space is needed when previous council initiatives such as the Transport Interchange stand empty and ‘To Let/For Sale’ signs for offices in Galashiels abound. How can building more in Tweedbank help?

Along with the thousands of people who are going to flock to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland (not), where are all the businesses and shopkeepers going to come from? Have there been any serious expressions of interest? So many questions and no answers or realistic justification for these extensive and expensive plans.

The real-world inhabitants know that shopping and working habits have changed dramatically – much done online, less space required, not more, or at least the development of what is already there.

All of our major towns have food banks which are becoming busier because people are living in poverty; companies which employ essential carers, who are often on minimum wage, are going out of business because the council does not pay them enough.

Perhaps councillors could consider investing in realistic projects guaranteed to make a positive difference to the lives of Borderers.

Mary Douglas

Glendearg

Galashiels

FROM EU ACCESS TO THE EVIL EMPIRE

Last Thursday we were treated to William Loneskie’s classic “It’ll Be Alright on the Night” defence of a no-deal Brexit.

Back in 2014, Mr Loneskie praised the “unfettered access” to the biggest single market in the world (EU), warning of the risk that Scotland would have to leave the EU if we became independent, and why it was vital for us to stay in.

Now he’s decided that the EU is, in fact, the Evil Empire, and it’s vital for us to leave. Well – why bother with logic and consistency when you’ve a different bee in your bonnet?

Mr Loneskie reminds of various times people have worried about stuff that didn’t happen.

He fails to remind us about all the other times when warnings were being ignored about major issues – the serious financial problems that led directly to the economic crash of 2008, never mind the “voices in the wilderness” warning of the build-up to two world wars last century.

The evidence of the damage a hard Brexit (and particularly a no-deal Brexit) will do is out there now, and growing, and no amount of sticking your head in the sand will make it go away.

Then Mr Loneskie moves on to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, and how trading solely under these would bring about a veritable cornucopia of wonderfulness. It’s no surprise that his “evidence” for this comes from the absurdist right-wing “Economists for Free Trade”, whose reports have been variously described by actual economists as “doubly misleading” and “bizarre gibberish”.

All 164 WTO members have trading deals with other countries, as trading alone under WTO rules is insufficient. They need the vital access to other markets that these deals entail.

Britain will not only lose free access to the vast markets of the EU, but also access to the 35 other free trade deals the EU has with other countries (and 48 partly in place; and 22 pending). “WTO rules” means import duties and a whole range of restrictive controls, with agriculture particularly badly hit. Madness.

My last word here, however, must go to Margaret Hodgson (letters, February 7) who hit the nail precisely on the head.

The UK as a whole voted for Brexit, she says, and we must adhere to the decision. This is an accurate assessment of the situation. In any one of our successful neighbouring countries, an overwhelming decision to remain in the EU would result in us remaining in the EU.

Only in the abnormal situation that Scotland finds itself in do we find ourselves completely powerless to stop ourselves being dragged out anyway – and in a way that currently looks designed to create as much damage as possible.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – we can do so much better for ourselves than this.

Eric Falconer

High Road

Galashiels

UNCERTAINTY AND CIVIL UNREST

Why are we so worried about a no-deal Brexit?

After all the weakness from the UK Government and a Prime Minister who is a Remainer (there is not one Brexiteer in her advisory team), she is still playing for time until March 29, when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.

Theresa May wants to include as much of the EU as possible, notably the customs union, before then.

The electorate will not stand for any more uncertainty for much longer, and there is also the problem of civil unrest.

Paul Singleton

Gordon

MOST HAVE NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD

“Tory austerity” comes the cry after “Tory cuts” was worn out.

However, the truth is most of us have never had it so good.

I was born a few years after the end of the Second World War. Our house had an outside toilet and no central heating. Winters were cold, with no heating in the bedrooms. Often there would ice on the inside of the windows. The living room had a coal fire with a back boiler to heat the water. Electricity was a semi-luxury.

I remember my aunt buying us a fan heater. Before going to school I would dress in front of it – my mother would turn it down, complaining of the cost.

My mother had a scrubbing board and wringer to do the washing. It was many years before my parents had saved enough to buy a washing machine – an English Electric Liberator, as I recall.

Much later, as income improved, they were able to afford a Lec fridge and a “huge” 21-inch Ekco black-and-white television, complete with doors and two channels.

Of course we had no telephone. A red call box was a mile, away replete with buttons A and B. It was exciting for an eight-year-old to use. I can still smell the cigarette smoke!

My parents didn’t smoke or drink then (although my dad was a great whisky drinker in his later years), and we never went hungry, although food rationing did not fully end till 1954. My dad was a keen angler and we often had trout and salmon. Returning fish to the river after being caught, as is the practice today, would have been met with incredulity.

Mother was a great cook; we always had a three-course dinner made with fresh produce; and scones, rockcakes and sponges were baked regularly.

For recreation my parents had a tandem and I went on a buddy seat at the back, shouting “faster”! Later we would go on camping holidays every summer in the rain and midges of the west coast.

The transport then was dad’s Triumph Thunderbird and a Watsonian sidecar. Later still, with my brother added to the family, and as Dad was promoted, we graduated to four wheels – a Standard Eight, a Ford Anglia with an Aquaplane engine which Mum crashed into the Black Water Bridge at Contin, and then a new VW Beetle.

Coming back from Lorne on the last day of a fortnight’s wild camping, Dad pulled into the Esso station at Arrochar and gave the attendant all the money he had, which was just loose change, to put petrol in the Beetle. We had to get home to get to the bank to draw his salary paid in at the end of the month. There were no credit cards in those days. So Dad emptied the paraffin for the Primus stove into the tank in the hope we would get back. We did, running on to reserve and the engine pinking, billy-oh.

In those days people were prudent, avoided waste and many lived healthier lifestyles.

My parents were 87 when they passed away. They never lived beyond their means and their expenditure was always less than their income. Austere? No, sensible, happy, positive and uncomplaining.

As I said, most people have never had it so good.

William Loneskie

Oxton

SCREECHING AND SHOUTING

I want to express my dismay about an incident involving my friend and I on a trip to try out the Caberston Cafe, Walkerburn.

While we were driving there we became aware of an irate woman travelling extremely close behind us.

After we pulled into the cafe she got out of her car. She was screeching at us about holding her up on her way home.

From what we could gather as this woman shouted at my friend, she lived near the cafe. As my friend was very shaken up by this unprovoked onslaught, we decided to leave without going for lunch.

It’s a real shame as we had heard great reports about the cafe, but this incident made us feel very unwelcome.

I hope the female concerned reads this and has a long think about her behaviour.

Lucy Millar

Peebles

FAMILY BUSINESSES

After 28 years of running Border Chainsaw & Lawnmower Services, we would like to thank all our customers for their support over the years.

Many of you have also become friends, and we are privileged that this is the case.

Thank you to all our customers, family and friends who have sent their good wishes, cards, flowers and gifts. We will miss the contact, but are ready to take on a different path in our life.

Also a big thank-you to our employees for their commitment over the years because they have played a major part in the success of our business.

We are delighted the enterprise has passed from one Borders-based family business to another, and wish the new owners, Pearsons of Duns, all the very best in the future. We are confident Garry Pearson and his team will take Border Chainsaw & Lawnmower Services to a new level.

Graeme and Lesley Cowe

Earlston

HELP FUND NEW CHAPTER FOR NEEDY

I’m the author of the award-winning Geek Girl series, and more recently The Valentines.

I’m writing to ask if you will help send books to people around the world who need them by fundraising for Book Aid International on World Book Day, which takes place on Thursday, March 7.

Books changed my life. Without access to books, I would not have discovered the magic of getting lost in a story, or the power of loving and connecting to a fictional character. I would not have felt encouraged to my dreams of writing, and to eventually create stories of my own. And now, as an author visiting schools, I continually see the enormous impact books continue to have on young lives all over the UK.

Having seen and experienced the value of books, it is devastating to know that millions of children around the world have never even held a new one.

This World Book Day, I am asking you to consider fundraising for Book Aid International.

Book Aid International is a brilliant charity that sends new books to thousands of libraries, schools, hospitals, refugee camps and prisons around the world. In the last three years alone, schools have raised over £350,000 by fundraising on World Book Day – that’s enough to send over 175,000 new books.

This year, we want to get more schools across the UK to take part. Just £2 sends another book, so no fundraising event is too small, and every single book could change a life.

Books could reach Syrian children struggling to learn despite the conflict they face, stock the shelves of a donkey-drawn library going from village to village in Zimbabwe, or reach pupils in one of the world’s largest refugee camps in northern Kenya.

There are many ways your school can fundraise on World Book Day – from dressing up as a favourite book character to holding a big Booky Breakfast, to something else entirely. Book Aid International has free resources to help you bring books to life while raising funds. Visit https://bookaid.org/wbd to find out more, or call the charity on 020 7733 3577.

Holly Smale

Book Aid International

Camberwell

London