Readers’ letters

Crosstalk 27 11
Crosstalk 27 11

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

Blown off course

Dear Ed, – Well done to the communities of Cartland, Kilncadzow and beyond who are celebrating South Lanarkshire Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for two 125m high wind turbines on our doorstep.

The plan by Cumbrian wind farm developer Energy4All, acting for an absentee London landowner, was flawed from the start and motivated by financial gain. It sought to dress it up as a community project by calling it the Clyde Valley Energy Co-operative.

As chairman of the real community group, Stop Clyde Valley Wind Farm, I would like to thank South Lanarkshire Council’s planning department and its councillors for not being intimidated by last-gasp, desperate tactics employed by Energy4All, including a hollow threat that it “may” seek costs if the council did not defer the hearing.

I would also like to thank the Gazette for its excellent reporting of this local issue which also affected Carluke, Braidwood and Lanark. Who could forget the iconic front page image of the proposed 400ft turbines towering over the Statue of Liberty?!

At the planning hearing, Councillor Chris Thompson severely criticised Energy4All’s underhand tactic of urging its shareholders from remote parts of the UK and abroad to copy and paste a letter of support penned by Energy4All’s spokesman Paul Phare.

What a waste of valuable council resources in having to process dozens of letters from people who probably could not even place Clydesdale on a map! Councillor Alex Allison also observed that the local community had clearly opposed the wind farm.

It is disappointing that Energy4All’s Paul Phare, who found himself in bother with the Advertising Standards Authority during the process for circulating misleading propaganda, could not accept defeat gracefully.

In the same week as Cartland Muir was refused, another Energy4All co-operative quietly settled out of court with a Lincolnshire couple whose lives they have ruined by building wind turbines too close to their home.

Thank goodness South Lanarkshire Council stood up for its citizens and stopped Energy4All from destroying our community. – Yours etc.,

NIALL ROBERTSON,

Cartland,

Lanark.

Orra best to you

Dear Ed, – Down Memory Lane’ is one of my favourite features in the Gazette, mainly because it reminds me that folk nowadays are no better or worse than their forebears.

However, I was disappointed to read in a recent feature the following definition of an ‘orraman’: someone ‘who did “orra” jobs needing done in the community’.

This definition is factually inaccurate. An orraman or orraster was a farm servant who was ‘fied’, or employed on a half-yearly fee, to do odd work of an unskilled auxiliary nature.

Orramen were distinguished in the popular mind from skilled servants, like herds and ploughmen, as worthless, dirty, slatternly, coarse and disreputable characters; so much so that ‘orraman’ also became a soubriquet for a male vagabond or perceived lowlife.

The descriptive and moral nuances of the term are captured brilliantly by Kirkfieldbank writer, Robert McLellan, in his characterisation of the orraman on his grandfather’s farm in his Linmill Stories.

More seriously, the inaccurate definition appears to be based on the mistaken idea that ‘orra’ derives from the urban creole ‘aw ra’ (‘all the’), as in ‘aw ra joabs needin din’. ‘Orra’ is in fact an authentic Scots word with the same derivation as ‘owre’, via the Old English ‘uer’ – ‘spare’, ‘additional to what one requires’, ‘extra’, ‘supernumerary’, ‘odd’, ‘superfluous’ – from which the English ‘over’ also derives.

Scottish urban creole is a product of the globalisation of modern English. It is made up of cognates of a colonising language which has over the past century gradually displaced our native tongue.

Unfortunately, much of the ‘Scots’ spoken by Scots today – and the little that is taught in our schools – is not Scots at all, but is little more than a pidgin English with a smattering of quaint ‘ethnic’ words.

Misattributing the provenance of native Scots words like ‘orra’ to urban creole only accelerates the disappearance of Scots into a kind of Orwellian memory hole, where a key element in the construction of our cultural identity (‘the Scottish genius’) is forgotten, replaced by a basilect of English masquerading as Scots. – Yours etc.,

ANDREW McCALLUM,

Boghall Park,

Biggar.

Preserve nature

Dear Ed, – Pandas have arrived in Scotland in bullet-proof boxes on their own chartered Boeing 777 panda express. At the zoo their new £275,000 enclosure can be rented for weddings at £6000 pounds an hour or £12,000 for a corporate get together.

The zoo will pay £6 million pounds to China to rent the pandas in return for a doubling of visitor numbers.

Pandas, meanwhile, are struggling in the wild as their forest habitat is replaced by fields, factories and towns.

The panda people hope to be able to reintroduce pandas back in the wild. This is the real issue both here, in China and around the world, as ‘the wild’ continues to be removed by human exploitation. To date only one panda has been re-introduced into the wild and sadly it died within a year.

Pandas are bears and therefore carnivores. Like most bears, except the polar bear, they eat vegetation. The panda, however, has taken eating vegetation seriously and eats bamboo for 14 hours a day.

Conservation is a complex business. Here at home, we are currently reintroducing beavers at a cost of £250,000 a year but this at least is likely to work as far as ecology is concerned.

I see on the road out to Cleghorn that fields are for sale next to the Cartland woods national nature reserve and these should be bought and returned to ‘the wild’ for very little money.

Action is required in Lanark and China to preserve the natural world and we need to use our sentiment towards nature with pragmatism. Then we can prepare for the return of the wolf! – Yours etc.,

JOHN DARBYSHIRE,

Cleuch Farm,

Crawfordjohn.

It is a big snoop

Dear Ed, – At a time when everyone is forced to economise, why is NHS Scotland conducting a Patient Experience Survey? Surely the money and resources could be put to better use?

Moreover, why should any patient answer questions about the Medical Practice they attend? If a person has a complaint about their treatment, they should take it up directly. Our medical staff are very helpful.

The NHS Questionnaire is just another example of Big Brother snooping.

Lessons will be learned, they claim but, as usual, nothing will be done – and all that at the taxpayer’s expense.

WT RICHARDSON,

Old Lanark Road,

Carluke.