Over the Sea to Where?

I’m glad I visited the Isle of Skye when I had the chance. Thursday it will be no more.

The jewel of the Hebrides will not sink beneath the waves, but rather under the weight of political correctness. The Highland Council has decreed that the island should shed it’s “Anglicised slave name” and now only be known as Eilean a’ Cheo.

This follows the Western Isles changing its name to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. I didn’t even know about this until I read about Skye. But then I’ve never been known to be one for political correctness.

If you think Eilean a’ Cheo is the ancient name for the island, you’d be wrong. Most Gaelic speakers call it An t-Eilean Sgitheanach. The latter means “Winged Isle” while the new adopted name means “Isle of Mists”, previously used as a poetic nickname for Skye.

Not everyone on Skye is happy about this. Less than half the island speaks Gaelic. It would be like everyone in Welsh-speaking West Wales telling the majority English speakers of Pembrokeshire they would no longer being able to refer to Pembroke or Milford Haven or Haverfordwest. It would even be like not calling them Penfro or Aberdaugleddau or Hwlffordd but rather giving them new names out of the Mabinogion or The Book of Taliesin.

The unhappiness is more practical as well. Each year 250,000 tourists bring in £90 million to Skye. This is what keeps Skye alive. Go changing the name and people may have just a little trouble finding their destination or even booking their holidays, especially since the council is changing the name on all of their documents and tourists inquiring about travelling to Skye will be encouraged to use the new name. Political correctness may come at a high price.

St Edelienta

When we stayed in Cornwall a couple of years ago, we stayed near the village of St Edellion. As with so many places named after local saints, the place becomes part of the local fabric whilst the story of the saint is lost to the modern or post-modern age. Thus even though we passed by repeatedly we never stopped to see the remains of the shrine of St Endelienta.

She was quite a lady. She was a daughter of St Brychan, King of Brycheiniog, namesake of the town of Brecon and the county of Brecknockshire (now absorbed into the county of Powys). St Brychan sired many saintly sons and daughter – the most common number given is 24.

St Edelienta chose to join a number of her siblings as missionaries from Wales to north Cornwall. She was very ascetical and lived on the milk of one cow and well water. The cow was killed by, or on the orders of a local chieftain, when it strayed onto his land. The chieftain was killed by others in retaliation, outraged at the injustice. Various stories connect this revenge King Arthur (either he sent someone to do it or did it himself), but this is extremely unlikely for reasons that would take too long here.

Was appears to be undisputed is that the local chieftain and the cow were both brought back to life by St Edelienta.

The site of the church bearing her name is also a result of her last wishes. She asked that her body be put on a cart, yoked to two unguided bulls and that they be left to take her wherever they liked. The church was built at the place where they stopped. Her shrine remained there until the Reformation, when the whole miracle thing was not popular with the Protestants and it was demolished.

A troparion in her honour:

O holy Endelienta,/ when thy cow, thine only source of sustenance, was cruelly killed,/ thy heart was filled with forgiveness for the slaughterer./ Pray to Christ our God/ that we may ever forgive our enemies/ and ourselves find mercy.

St Endelienta, pray to God for us.


If it wasn’t evident before that Tony Blair is leaving the premiership sooner than Watford Football Club, it is now. Tony’s actually admitting mistakes. No one in politics admits mistakes unless they have no future.

First he admitted that he failed on his pledge that everyone would have an NHS dentist by 2001, no matter where they lived. Six years later, less than half of adults are registered. This is fewer than when Labour came to power.

This week, commenting on a 10-year-old given an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) after committing 60 offenses (including assault, criminal damage, drinking in public and swearing at police), Blair admitted that money won’t solve all of the problems of this sort, or does it help to blame society.

A couple of days ago, there was a lot of publicity about a 10-year-old given an Asbo, with his father given a parenting order. Of course it’s shocking that a 10-year-old was causing such mayhem. But the answer, I’m afraid, is neither to give his father more benefit or for society to explain why such behaviour is wrong.

And go and ask the community if they would prefer the Asbo not to exist.

What I have learnt over these 10 years is that the original analysis I had was incomplete and therefore misguided, ie, guiding us to the wrong policy conclusion, not in the sense that investment in poorer neighbourhoods and regeneration was wrong – it has been absolutely right – but in the sense that it will not deal with this small and unrepresentative minority.

Reading this, it only seems logical that Tony should join the Old Tory party when he leaves office. Of course he’ll be the only one, because with David Cameron the Tories have all adopted New Labour policies.

More of the Ills of Socialised Medicine

Last week we learned there may be a lot less radiation around hospitals this summer. This is a bad thing, because if doctors want to know what is going on inside your body they may have to resort to more guesswork than usual. The Society of Radiographers has voted to consider industrial action if the government does not reverse its decision to stage a 2.5% pay rise.

This comes on the heels of the 22,300 NHS jobs that have been cut in the last 18 months. Because of what have been called “recruitment flaws” due to a computer selection process, there are more than 34,000 junior doctors are chasing 18,500 UK posts. The Government’s current plan is to ship some of them out in a deal with Voluntary Service Overseas. Over half of those surveyed, however, have said they will go abroad looking for work.

Now we know they’ve cut training places for a variety of skilled professions, even though these are needed to meet the needs of the health-care seeking population. Seems they don’t meet the needs of the NHS budget. In fact, the money that had already been allocated for training was needed elsewere, so those funds have been raided. Read more of this post

Who’s Who?

The Government has admitted that it has lost 9 million national insurance numbers. Just like a social security number in the States an NI number is a powerful thing.

Ocassionally frausters get caught. Recently Adesola Adelana, Stephen Ayankoya and Adetutu Olowe stole 37 numbers in total and used them to help open 11 bank accounts, obtain eight forged driving licences and access nine credit cards. They also attempted to obtain £357,000 in tax credits.

Often they don’t get caught and there is no telling how the numbers have been used in the same manner as Adelana, Ayankoya and Olowe.

The scariest thing was outlined by the Opposition.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said he was alarmed at the admission, primarily because the Home Office intends to use the NI database as the model for setting up Britain’s national identity card scheme in 2009.

“The Government cannot know who is in this country and who is entitled to what,” he said.

“How can they claim the integrity of their £20 billion ID card database, which will hold dozens of pieces of information on every citizen in the country, will be protected?”

 This follows on last month revelation that 10,000 false passport were issued by the Home Office last year. 10,000. A Government minister indicated that this is the number than slipped through out of the 16,500 fraudulent application.

Yet Another Scandal

Labour is expected to lose and lose big in the local elections this week. There has been much speculation about whether the Prime Minister would plan his depature from office for just before or after the elections to absorb some of the media attention away from the results.

And with Labour in bad shape, now is not the time to find out that The Sunday Times planted an undercover reporter amongst Labour campaigners in Leeds.

Keith Wakefield, the leader of the Labour group on Leeds city council, told party canvassers to help voters, many of whom were elderly, to complete their postal ballots. Student activists, including an undercover reporter, were then told by another councillor to take away the postal voting forms, hide them as they left people’s homes and only post them later if they were for Labour.

The councillor, Graham Hyde, admitted, in a secretly tape-recorded meeting, that he thought the instructions to collect the postal votes were “illegal”. Hyde, a parliamentary aide to a former Labour whip, warned the student activists that after collecting votes: “Don’t get caught with any on you. We are not supposed to collect them.” He even joked about flushing postal ballots down the lavatory if they were for the Liberal Democrats.

Scandals are not uncommon in any political party or political system. Why is it, however, that, Watergate – the notable exception – aside, electoral scandals seem to always involve the liberal end of the spectrum, whether Democrats in the US or Labour in the UK? This is even true historically. In 1888, when the Republicans were the liberals, they brought in voters to Indiana and paid them to vote Republican.

Why is it that parties that claim to be parties of the people never trust the people to do their job?

Wedded Bliss

My usual flurry of Saturday posting was not possible yesterday, as we were doing a wedding all day.

My H’s best friend from her school days tied the knot sometime between 12:30 and 1. The service itself, as is true of most weddings I’ve attending, was a reasonably perfunctory affair.  Then there were photos done in the church yard. I’d never seen this before, but it seems common over here.

We went from the church to the reception at a golf course. There was a sit down meal at 3:00. People then just sat around drinking all afternoon. There was a huge bouncy castle with a boucy slide and a mechanical bull for the amusement of various ages.  You would have thought the former would have entertained the children and the latter the adolescents and young adults, but you would have thought wrong. There were very big people bouncing down the slide and both tiny tots and old men riding the bull. A drunk Welshman on a bull can be quite a sight. Mrs H even had a go and she was completely sober.

Not long after the disco started, they provided a buffet. The big hit with the buffet was the chocolate fountain. Having had one of these at Papa’s party in Texas, the kids knew exactly what to do. Aidan was covered in chocolate. I’m glad his suit was much cheaper than Abby’s dress, because it is not the same colour it was 24 hours ago.

After the buffet, the groom’s brothers set off fireworks. I can’t imagine how much they spent on them, because it was like Bonfire Night. There was added excitement due to the fact that the pyrotechnicians were bladdered and there was no sign of health and safety.  The whole thing could have gone up at once. At one point they got up on a hill on the golf course and lauched the rockets horizontally at low altitude. It was a bit like an artillery bombardment.

The disco in the evening went on until 1:00 am. Abigail was quite fleet of foot on the dance floor, spinning around in her dress. (As expensive as it was, I’m glad she got some mileage out of it.) Mrs H went the distance, though I took Abby home at about 11:00.