I was dismayed to read Gerry Hassan's
excellent, forthright article about Glasgow City Council's recent panic-decision to permanently close various public libraries, such as Hillhead, Maryhill, Whiteinch, Baillieston, St Mungo's Museum of Religious Life and Art, and the historic Provand's Lordship. Has there been any public consultation regarding the decision to implement such permanent closures? Were public library staff informed beforehand? Is this not a case of outrageous high-handedness? With an election looming, it is a worrying scenario not just for Glasgow, but for Scotland as a whole.
Hutber's Law: 'Improvement' means deterioration.
John Lewis furniture is expensive. We don't own much of it, though I do have lots of clothes bought there. Our kitchen chairs are Jonelle, as is our oak dining table. It was significantly reduced in price, owing to a fractured leg. This has proved an unsatisfactory feature for a table.
In Darren McGarvey's recent series on social class in Scotland, a butler appeared from time to time, educating Darren on the ways of the upper classes (I make that plural, but I may be wrong). In one scene, Darren – wearing white gloves – learns how to lay out a proper place setting, including fish knives and forks. This took me back to a trip I made only a few years ago. This past was a foreign country, yet the specific memory is of things being done not differently, but the same. We visited a college in a very underprivileged part of a struggling land. The young people we met were studying two courses: one on technology and the other on how to wait at a table. In the latter, a wall chart illustrated a full place setting. I photographed it; there are 13 items of cutlery for the diner's meal, including fish knives and forks.
Fish knives and forks emerged in the 19th century. The knife was said to be well-suited for removing the skin from a fish and the fork to any additional filleting required at the fish course. A decent cover story, although in reality they became less like a potato peeler and more a badge of sophistication and tool of differentiation. But not entirely. In some dusty corner of my brain was the knowledge that those at the very top don't use such equipment. Sure enough, an online guide for Americans attending the 2011 wedding of William and Kate cautioned that guests should not look for a fish knife or fork. The Royal Family do not use them, unlike what may be seen at a formal dinner in North America. Darren may need a brief addendum to his tuition.
Fish knives and forks are available from John Lewis, at prices from £65 for six settings. My own inherited set (silver plate) may shortly be available on eBay. So, on whichever rung of the ladder you aspire to sit, you can do so with the right tools for your trout, although you won't need them should you achieve the topmost rung. But, going back to Palestine, how sad that a future for talented young people is predicated on a continuing demand for service from those who need to be set apart by the number and nature of the courses at their meals and the complexity of the cutlery with which they feast.
Uplifted and encouraged by the election fever swirling around Scotland, I have decided to become a political slogan writer. Four or five words is the given length. If anyone doubts my qualifications for this role, look no further than my telling suggestion for old friend Michael Grieve when he stood for a Westminster seat in Govan. 'Grieve for Govan.' For some reason he did not use it and, predictably, lost.
Anyway, here goes: Vote Tory Ross, get Boris. Vote SNP Sturgeon, get vilified. Vote Labour Sarwar, forget the past. Vote LibDem Rennie, compromise and cuddle. Vote Green Harvie, ignore volcanoes. Vote Alba, Reform, etc, have a laugh. I await the phone calls….
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