Issue 202
March/April 2018

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Apr 27, 2018
The Ultimate Travel Guide
Scotland's Stations - Northern Books

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    Maxwell's Cauld Blast

    RIGHT, so Donald meets Angus on the beach in Barra.

    "Ah my lifelong friend! If I ever have two Rolls Royces I will give you one!"

    "Indeed Donald, but what if you had two hens?"

    "Ah. now. that's different you KNOW I have two hens."

    I was contemplating that famous encounter last week at the Holyrood debate on the Scottish diet. Now it looks like the National Health in Scotland will be going bust soon enough.

    At the moment around 10 per cent of the National Health budget in Britain is going to those with diabetes and in the last ten years the number of those being so diagnosed in Scotland has increased by some 40 per cent.

    So if we assume that in twenty years' time perhaps a third of Scotland is needing treatment that's a dynamic that will be financially unsustainable, and our streets will be cluttered with the blind and legless.

    I would laugh more if I didn't have the disease myself.

    In short, if you are aged less than fifty, assume your old age is going to be hellish, unless you are rich, or they have found a cure, which looks highly unlikely.

    Actually there is a cure. It's called stopping our young people from getting fat.

    Only 16 out of the 129 MSPs available turned up for the debate. Some of them advocated intervention. One said we should encourage our children to play more games.

    Great, so that's that sorted, even although Mike Lean, Glasgow's Prof of nutrition, says that the main benefit of taking exercise is that it keeps you out of the kitchen.

    Now, by my calculation, around half of those MSP's in the chamber who were advocating a better diet for Scotland were fatties themselves, some had bellies like footballs.

    Meanwhile, down in the café, the Scottish government were running a big push on cakes. Ten different types were available, with Holyrood shortbread being particularly recommended. When are we going to start taking this crisis seriously?

    So after their walk on the beach Donald says to Angus:

    "Fancy a cake? Ach go on, spoil yourself, it's all going to be fine. Thon Maxwell was probably just exaggerating. It's nothing to worry about really."

    I wish.

    TALKING ABOUT remarkable people, last month saw the death at eighty seven of Australian Harry Wallace, the man who for me personally will always be the iconic figure most worth aspiring to.

    He was in short a multi-millionaire who nonetheless lived an abstemious lifestyle. Born the son of a Glaswegian engineer who made his living re-cycling used oil, Harry started off getting his hands dirty in that trade before coming over to Scotland and working as a school teacher in difficult schools before turning his hand to business consultancy.

    Once back in his native Australia, he bought a tiny fully furnished house off an old lady. At the time of his death he was still living there, still using her furniture, still working off her dining room table and growing his own vegetables in the back yard. He had no cleaner and wore a ten dollar watch.

    He also set up a charity building homes for native Australians, working as a labourer himself. His businesses, though, were thriving and making millions. He had a printing ink company, a farm, a business distributing groceries in PNG (now employing over 500).

    So what did he do with his cash? He gave most of it away. Started a political party, a newspaper, a nation wide buy local campaign.

    Over in Europe he poured money into Palestinian causes. He told me recently that although he accepted my point that the issue was incredibly complex, the bottom line was that the Palestinian people were being exploited, bullied and ripped off daily and that once we stopped that we could then start negotiating for justice for all in the Middle East.

    Recently he sent me £1000 to finance getting some nurses over from Bethlehem to Scotland. He seemed to have a new idea a minute.

    Harry died in twenty five degrees of heat at his farm, keeling over with a heart attack as he was planting a tree, aged 87. His four kids drove up to the farm and finished planting the tree.

    Nobody has lived a life that I admire more. A stone to his cairn. Now I'll have to get on with getting those wretched nurses over from Bethlehem. The man was a caution.

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