INKSLINGERS – 19th January 2019
The Inkslingers are a talented group. They can express themselves in the most amazing ways. The wonderful Pat and Sandra, Harry, Teresa, Frank, Brian, Steve, Brendan… still getting to grips with the names.
Frank was asleep… or was he just resting his eyes in concentration. Harry noticed. Does that man miss nothing! He is fantastic “let’s see how we can take this one apart” is his battle cry… hilarious. Pat’s comments in his story are brilliant “I must be the unluckiest man in Ireland. I’m 76 and still have a mother in law!”. Brendan’s story about being in love with someone from the wrong side of Dublin was side splitting. In fact, all the Inkslingers are brilliant. They understand my humour. Not so the Scots. Except for a few, such as a well known estate agent, a retired engineer who has worked in the Middle East for years, and a guy who works in a bank in Inverness. Not to mention the lovely Brian. He is not Scottish of course, and is a quarter Irish. He endured my sceptism and humour for over 30 years. He deserves a sainthood. He has written the foreword to my book “The Battle for Brough Bay”.
In the pub we were regaled by stories – home of Michael Collins, about Arlene Foster and the DUP. I was wearing an orange scarf. Perhaps not wise in Dublin, but I had lost my red one.
Prompt: “He \ she did it in spite of the opposition”
The North Highland Way across the top of Scotland from John o Groats to Durness is to be the only multi use route in Scotland, for horses and cyclists as well as walkers. And the only route adhering to the principles of the EU Directives on Sustainable Tourism and Climate Change. Not so the NC500. The North Highland Way has been wanted by the community since 1992. The local walking group, the Caithness Waybaggers, had brought it to the tourism bodies but were not able to get it in place due to landowner objections. They were overcome in 2003 with the introduction of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and in 2004 by the Land Reform Act, updated in 2016. In 2006 the Waybaggers gave the writer all of the press cuttings about the route. She put them on a blog. The community councils were contacted by the Highland Council. Read my book, Creating the North Highland Way. I knew that, but the Council were determined that it would be done on voluntary basis. So much for them being responsible for economic development. They had their day. The businesses, 50 of them, donated money to the lead organisation, LetsGoNorth, backed by John Thurso then a Liberal Democrat MP, a hereditary peer, and led by the snob. Read the book “The Battle of Brough Bay” due out in February. So the support was proven. Now for the grants.
But there’s always one. The village idiot, the snob’s next door neighbour bought the URL www.northhighlandway.co.uk.. The snob had bought .org. He proceeded to try to stop the project going ahead. After all, he wouldn’t have the intelligence to do it. He bad mouthed LetsGoNorth round the place until it had no credibility at all. He also tried to steal land belonging to the writer – and succeeded. He broke his arm when he fell off the peer. How we laughed. The snob shoved him off the road in her four wheel drive into a ditch full of snow – how she laughed. He should learn to reverse. He built a cathedral of a house and turned it into a B&B in order to compete with the snob and her long suffering partner who had moved to Scotland in 2000 to buy the B&B next door. We just sent him clients when we were full. The village idiot then attacked the Dunnet Head Educational Trust, and the snob twice. No way was she going to back down. In the end, harassed by the police at the behest of the village idiot, the snob and her long suffering partner left for Spain in 2015. The police kept phoning to find out where she was on behalf of the village idiot. She had done nothing. She told them if they phoned again she would get the Civil Guard on to them… she could do that as she speaks Spanish and knows a number of the local constabulary, as well as the Civil Guard. They went away.
Three years later, she has made significant progress on the North Highland Way, having secured the support of Ordnance Survey, ViewRanger and Long Distance Paths Association. She retained the feasibility study and business plan and is now working on the land owner survey. She refused to hand them over until a grant was forthcoming. “But we need them” protested the “enterprise” company, the same one responsible for the rocket project and the NC500…. Neither of them sustainable tourism projects. “We can’t evaluate the project until we have them.” “What is the project?” asked the snob. “We don’t know” they admitted. “Well, how can you evaluate it without knowing what it is?” asked the snob. They went away scratching their heads.
The Highland Council, already committed by doing the consultancy report, was asked if they would consider making the area a sustainable tourism zone. “What’s that” they asked. Then the snob found that they had a whole committee devoted to Sustainable Development. Mmm. She went to SUSTRANS (Sustainable Transport). “No, sorry” they said. “You are not based in Scotland.” “Oh right” said the snob. “You don’t want inward investment then?” They scratched their heads, splintering their fingers. “We want the feasibility study” they cried. Oh no, not that old chestnut. “You’ve got it.” “Yes” said the snob “and I’m keeping it until I get paid.” The representative accused her of not having enough experience and qualifications to manage such a project. The snob pointed out that she had handled five projects of £1m each for Barclays bank in 2000. Not enough. Ah well.
Now for the good bit. Happily ensconced in Ireland, and of course part of either the UK or the EU depending on your geographical and cultural knowledge, her company now pays its taxes to the local purse, not to Scotland. She has told the Scottish Assembly that the Irish Government are interested and will invest and get a return. Will they ask with part of Ireland? Do they even understand the difference? Or will Ms Sturgeon be cross that her dream of fiscal independence slipping away. All because of the village idiot, his supporters and a couple of guys in the House of Lords. After all, the Treasury know all about it. Will they amend the Barnett formula? The north of Scotland will have its North Highland Way, but the organisations supporting it will be in Ireland, not Scotland. The money will go into the Irish purse, not the Scottish.
A sad tale (for Scotland) but true. Don’t ever cross someone from Lincolnshire, Maggie Thatcher country.
You can order my book “Creating the North Highland Way” on Lulu.