Glass houses and stones

16 March 2009

There’s been a bit of furory in the blogosphere recently. A story involving a journalist, children, tragedy, and drunkenness.

Children, who survived the Dunblane shooting tradgedy, are now eighteen. Erm, that’s pretty much the story. The journalist writes:

A number of the youngsters, now 18, have posted shocking blogs and photographs of themselves on the Internet, 13 years after being sheltered from public view in the aftermath. In the days and months that followed the survivors, then aged just five and six, were the subject of overwhelming worldwide sympathy. But now the Sunday Express can reveal how, on their web-based social networking sites, some of them have boasted about alcoholic binges and fights.

I am not sure why this is a story – how are these kids, discovering drink and sex different to any other teenagers in the UK – how it this the shame of Dunblane survivors, thirteen years on? Are they supposed, because they survived tragedy, supposed to be exemplary? Regardless of what one thinks of this behavior, how are these things linked?

The editor of the newspaper has blamed bloggers for their inundation by complaints and refused to make any form of apology for their intrusion.

But maybe the journalist who wrote the exclusive story should remember that “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” – after scouring social networking sites for Dunblane survivors being teenagers she herself has been found: “Paula Murray Drinks” is the shock tactic headline used by one of those bloggers her paper despises. In her own words she’s been legless, fallen off the wagon, drinking large glasses of wine and posted pictures – over a social networking site (like those she scoured) drinking and drunk.

It’s one of those amusing blogosphere stories, but shows the hypocrisy of someone who quite clearly will stoop to the lowest of lows for a “story”…

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Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race! (Burns Night)

25 January 2009

25 January is Burns Night, the celebration of Scottish poet Rabbie Burns. The “king of sentimental doggerel” wrote such famous odes as A Red Red Rose, To A Mouse and Johnie Lad, Cock Up Your Beaver (which apparently is about Johnie wearing a hat). Arguably though he’s most well known for tonight’s Address to a Haggis.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

This year, 250th anniversary of Burns’s birth, the Scottish First Minister has instigated homecoming year, encouraging people to “come home, to the ‘birthplace of valour, the country of worth’“. I have an unexplored Scots heritage: my Grandmother, who died in 2007, was a Fraser. Maybe I’ll take up the challenge and go to Scotland for the first time since a short trip I took to Glasgow over ten years ago.

Tonight is a night for celebration of everything Scotch. Being a vegetarian, though, Haggis doesn’t have quite the same appeal (despite vegetarian immitations being available) as for those meat eaters.

For those who don’t know, the Haggis, of course, is a small four legged creature found in the Highlands of Scotland. The legs on one side of the creature are smaller than those on the other, which means they can only run one way around a hill. One species has longer left legs, the other longer right legs: so while one goes clockwise around hills the other goes anticlockwise around them. The two species coexist peacefully, but cannot interbreed. Over time, therefore, the leg-length differences have become more marked. Haggis are hunted in the wild, particularly during Haggis season, culminating in Burns Night tonight.

To all those who will celebrate Burns tonight, in whatever way, enjoy the Haggis, the Whisky and maybe I’ll see you in Scotland this year.

Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!


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