Readers’ letters

The Lanark Rotary Pink Book
The Lanark Rotary Pink Book

Find out what our readers think of the stories making the Gazette headlines

Tsunami of calls

Dear Ed, – I write this letter in the hope that publication might minimise the tsunami of criticism about to wash over the Rotary Club of Lanark.

The 2011 version of the “Pink Book”, Lanark’s much-loved local telephone directory, is to be published and distributed to every home and business in Lanark by the end of September (and additional copies will be available at a fiver a time!).

However, by the time the pubs close on Saturday, October 1, Rotary members expect to be reviled by those claiming their basic human rights have been violated because their telephone number has/has not been included!

We are guaranteed only four things in this life: death; taxes; Perambulation of the Marches; and an auction at the market on Monday! More than ever before what is not guaranteed is that your telephone number will/will not appear in the Pink Book!

In the good/bad old days there was only BT and they listed all numbers unless the subscriber requested to be ex-directory. In those days it was a right dawdle to collate all Lanark’s numbers in one handy wee bright pink booklet.

Now though, many subscribers have switched to alternative suppliers who do not publish directories and these numbers are – naturally enough – ignored by BT and not listed in their directory. Byraway! Anyone who doesn’t know their own number should phone 118118 to find out what it is, let the Rotary Club know as well – and then seek treatment.

Others have dumped landlines and are now wholly dependent on mobiles but these can be listed in the Pink Book instead of landlines at the subscriber’s request. Land and mobile numbers can be used and/or additional numbers added for a small premium.

Mobile users are particularly paranoid these days! Their numbers tend to be known only to their mammies, News International and Ron Harris (although to be fair in Ron’s case the term “hack” refers to his role as an investigative – albeit incredibly handsome, articulate but very retro – reporter! Ron’s scoops owe more to his ability to lip read than any skill at IT hacking!).

Rotary members are a pleasant amiable bunch who enjoy each other’s company while doing their utmost to be of some service to the community – but they are most definitely not psychic.

So there will be no point whatsoever in girning at them, howling at the moon or wailing that old Lanark favourite, “Ye ken whit ye should’ve done?” after publication. Because by then, in the words so beloved of those who canny be bothered, “It’s aw the fault of the government/council/Lanimer Committee/community council/Rotary Club.”

Can I also remind all Lanark businesses (in anticipation that one day our roads will be fixed and customers might be able to access the town), who have as yet ignored the letters, telephone calls and personal visits of Rotarians offering the opportunity to take advantage of a proven advertising medium, the cut-off date for the submission of adverts is August 31.

However, those who might still fail to get their advert submitted in time should not be too downhearted! Many of your competitors are advertising so your chosen market niche will not go entirely without representation!

Anyone with a query can telephone or text me on 07970 912757 up to and including September 30.

Come publication on October 1 I am dumping this number and reverting to semaphore for all communications. – Yours etc.,

FRANK GUNNING,

Rotary Club of Lanark.

Can you help?

Dear Ed, – I am seeking information on the family of a late-19th century Scots-Australian poet, John Steele Robertson. The son of James and Maggie (nee Steele) Robertson,

John Steele Robertson was born in Biggar on 22 June 1867. The family migrated to Australia when Robertson was a child. He went on to a successful, although somewhat erratic, academic career at the University of Melbourne and worked as the librarian and secretary to the Medical School at that university.

During the 1880s and 1890s, Robertson occasionally wrote on medical matters. He also published poetry, stories and reviews in Australian journals and newspapers, and wrote operettas, pantomimes and musical comedies.

He was planning to publish a volume of his poetry but he died at the age of 30 before achieving that ambition.

I am hoping to bring Robertson’s goal to fruition (albeit a little later than he intended).

To that end, it would be helpful to know more of his Scottish background.

When did his family leave for Australia? What made them go? Did they maintain contact with their families? (Maggie Robertson’s father, John Steele, was Biggar’s veterinary surgeon; James Robertson’s father, also James Robertson, was a farmer.)

If you are able to fill in some of the blanks, I would be delighted to hear from you. I can be contacted at tessa.wooldridge@tpg.com.au – Yours etc.,

TESS WOOLDRIDGE,

via email.

Facing disaster

Dear Ed, – As a national charity that helps people in financial hardship, Elizabeth Finn Care wholeheartedly supports the stark warning by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research that an interest rate rise now would leave the typical family on the brink of financial disaster.

Sadly, this premonition may already be too late: millions of families are enduring a financial crisis now.

Research that we published at the height of the recession in June 2009 showed that over half of all households have experienced a fundamental change in their working conditions including a decrease in working hours, change in salary or job loss.

Sixty percent of the people we help say that before they came to us they had not been able to keep up bill payments. Purse strings are already pulled tight, families are struggling and, yes, an interest rate rise now would have a catastrophic impact.

The current Bank of England base rate is 0.5 per cent, yet rates charged by banks are significantly higher, with the average standard variable rate for a mortgage at over four and a quarter per cent and this is crippling families.

There is something desperately wrong with this picture and it is grossly unfair that families are living in fear of interest rate rises while this week’s first half results from HSBC and Barclays show that banks are generating profits worth billions of pounds.

We implore banks to take a long hard look at themselves and the devastating effect that their rate setting policies are having on families across the UK, and we urge them to use their massive profits to do more to protect vulnerable households.

It’s time for banks to do their fair share to help tackle the current and urgent crisis facing families. – Yours etc.,

BRYAN CLOVER,

Director of Elizabeth Finn Grants,

Elizabeth Finn Care

Hythe House,

Shepherds Bush Road,

London.