Issue 214
August/September/October 2020


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Sep 20, 2020

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Editorial Comment

Artwork PO Box 3 Ellon AB41 :: artwork@famedram.com


Needed: a joined-up system

IT IS TOO EARLY to speculate on the causes of the recent tragic Aberdeenshire rail accident that mercifully took only three lives (it could have been so much worse had the early morning train from Aberdeen to Glasgow not been almost empty).

However, the overall state of our railway system can only induce a feeling of deep concern.

As a result of a fatally flawed franchising procedure and the fragmented nature of the whole rail network – broken into a hundred different pieces in an orgy of litigation at the time of privatisation – we are now faced with an almost de facto act of re-nationalisation. Most of the operating companies, facing appalling financial difficulties thanks to the Covid lockdown, are being taken back under the government's wings.

Critics of the original ill thought out programme (and this modest paper was one of the fiercest) argued that the system needed to be kept more or less intact for it to be workable.

One does not need a particularly sharp memory to recall the spate of serious incidents – many involving fatalities – in the early days of the operation of Railtrack, the privatised body tasked with owning and operating the physical assets of the railways.

Failure properly to maintain these assets famously put the health of even Scotland's 'Eiffel Tower' (the super-iconic centenarian Forth Rail Bridge) at risk with an absurd denial that the structure was suffering corrosion and then a seriously botched re-painting programme.

To be fair, there were those in government at the time of privatisation, including the Iron Lady herself (not a reference to the Bridge) who thought the planned move was indeed a bridge too far.

To restore faith in this vital part of our infrastructure, there needs to be honest recognition that a major mistake was made in breaking up the system in the first place and an equally honest attempt to learn from these mistakes and put in place a new structure that will be able to care for the whole system and take joined up decisions about its operation.

From a government that seems to be hell bent on a zig-zag course of U turns in almost every field of operation this may seem a great deal to ask.

Add in to this equation the likely effects of climate change which bring the prospect of severe weather effects such as flooding and high winds and the situation grows still more pressing.


Help where it's needed most…

FOLLOWERS of these columns will not be surprised to learn that we have not had recourse to any of the rescue packages kindly provided for small businesses and arts enterprises by Mr Sunak (and our own Creative Scotland).

Given the heroic support we repeatedly get from our loyal advertisers, we believe any help there is out there should go to more deserving causes – and, heaven help us, there are plenty of them.

Close readers of the Guide in this issue will see that most visual arts venues are emerging cautiously from lockdown to welcome visitors once more.

Though intelligent recourse has been had throughout the period of closure to online resources, there is nothing to compare with the real experience of seeing artists' creations (and their creators!) in the flesh, as it were.

In the weeks and months ahead many arts enterprises are going to be in intensive care. We must all do everything we can to support them and get them off their ventilators and strutting their stuff once more.


Thank you, Janet Henderson!

ONE OF THE early casualties of the Covid pandemic and lockdown has been the iconic Edinburgh vegetarian institution Henderson's

Founded by the inspired Janet Henderson back in the 60s as an outet for the family farm's produce and maintained and grown by her family over the years, Henderson's Salad Table was a must-visit destination for food lovers over the years.

Sadly, the effects of the Coronavirus shut down were too much for an organisation that was already finding it difficult to adapt to a changing world.

Fortuately, some of the finest recipes have been recorded in two slim volumes that this company has been proud to keep in print over the years.

Henderson's Wholefood Cookbook and Henderson's Book of Salads reveal the kitchen secrets that made customers happy to negotiate the tricky steps down from the street over the years to enjoy the delights of Janet's inspired vegetarian cookery.

The two titles will remain in print and readers can take advantage of a special offer in this paper to acquire both of them at a very special price.

See coupon on page 3 or visit www.northernbooks.co.uk



BOOKS FROM FAMEDRAM!

Classic Henderson Cookbook Offer - Henderson Book of Salads and Henderson Wholefood Cookbook
Click here for pdf self-address purchase slip

An extensive new preface by the Ross Herald of Arms, Charles Bunnett, Chamberlain of Duff House