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Archives for February 2009

A quiet retirement?

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Graham Stewart | 08:51 UK time, Friday, 27 February 2009


Sir Fred Goodwin

Sir Fred Goodwin is reportedly "furious" that details of his pensions have been leaked. Not as furious as some of you are this morning — though for very different reasons.

Four months after leaving Royal Bank of Scotland, the former chief executive is under fire for the generosity of his £693,000-a-year pension.

You can read Sir Fred's rationale for not giving back his pension here.

That's what we're talking about on today's Morning Extra. Let me know what you think by posting a comment below.

Edinburgh's trams: another Holyrood?

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Graham Stewart | 10:14 UK time, Thursday, 26 February 2009


Edinburgh tram mock-up

Have you visited our great capital city recently? If it resembles something like a building site, that's because it is. And there are fears that it could go on looking like this over Christmas and New Year if the current dispute over Edinburgh's tram network isn't resolved soon. Just imagine how that would affect the annual Hogmanay celebrations.

The project's costing the taxpayer around half a billion pounds and there are claims that the tramworks could now be £100m over budget.

It's all rather reminiscent of that other great Edinburgh construction project. Remember the Holyrood fiasco?

The SNP government has always been against the network. So, as we were discussing on today's Morning Extra, is it now time to pull the plug before any more taxpayer's money is wasted? Are there other transport projects in Scotland which you think should be given greater priority? Or is it important to complete what is an essential improvement to our capital city's infrastructure?

The golden age of rail?

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Graham Stewart | 08:51 UK time, Thursday, 19 February 2009


Are Scottish rail passengers being ripped off? New research shows you pay, on average, 50% more to travel on trains here than elsewhere in Western Europe. The report by the watchdog, Passenger Focus, is recommending the Government looks at how the rail service is funded, and how the advance ticket procedure works. Plenty of you have already been getting in touch, and it's the subject of today's Morning Extra. You can leave your comments here by clicking on "Comments" below.

Jade Goody: dying with dignity?

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Graham Stewart | 08:52 UK time, Wednesday, 18 February 2009


Jade Goody

Reality TV star Jade Goody is at the centre of a bidding war for interviews and pictures as she faces terminal cancer in the full glare of the media spotlight. We asked you this morning whether there's any dignity in dying this way?

Jade was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in August and last week learned she had just months to live after it spread to her bowel, liver and groin. Her wedding to boyfriend Jack Tweed takes place this Sunday amidst reports that she could earn upto £1m from the television and magazine rights.

Jean in Aberdeen who called the show this morning said: "She's very brave 'cause she's getting paid for it. If she put half her money into cancer research I wouldn't mind, but she's exploiting it."

Jade says she's simply making plans for the future care of her two children, Bobby, 5, and Freddy, 4. Kris in Edinburgh texted me to say: "How can anyone feel anything other than sympathy for Jade? She is a vulnerable, ill-educated young woman who is trying to look after her kids. Good luck to her."

And could Jade actually save lives? We heard from Cancer Research Campaign Scotland who told us that they've seen a massive increase in the number of people visiting their website to look for information about cervical cancer.

Please continue to post your comments here. In the meantime there's an interesting interview with her publicist Max Clifford on BBC Radio 1's website.

John Suchet: coping with dementia

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Graham Stewart | 10:45 UK time, Tuesday, 17 February 2009


John Suchet and his wife BonnieA lot of you were well able to relate to John Suchet's story about coping with his wife Bonnie's dementia on Good Morning Scotland today (if you're listening back to it on the iPlayer, it's around 1:08.00 into the programme).

Of course, John is just one man who happens to be in the media spotlight and health charities are predicting that by 2021 there will be one million people (and their families) in the UK suffering from dementia. However, it's often nicer to hear a personal story than experts and politicians talking about the issue.

John is lucky because he has access to good carers, but not everyone is as fortunate. We had lots of feedback this morning so thanks for being so open with me. It really is such a cruel, insidious disease. I promise we'll return to this topic at a later date and discuss it at greater length.

A reminder that the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Helpline is free to call (from most landlines and some mobiles) on 0808 808 3000. It offers confidential help for sufferers and their carers 24 hours a day.

And Dolleen emailed to remind us about The Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling. She writes: "Twice I have visited this marvellous centre and Professor Andrews herself does make herself available to groups etc who could benefit from the Centre's expertise. This centre is known world wide but for some reason Scottish population is ignorant of the same. Once you access the website you will be amazed at the wide ranging services courses and help there is for carers, as well as professionals.

Do leave your stories by clicking on the "Comments" link below. I know at lot of people reading this blog will appreciate it.

It could be you...

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Graham Stewart | 16:01 UK time, Thursday, 12 February 2009


biglottery_dharmendra.jpgFriday 10am update: Thanks for your calls on this. If you want more information on the Big Lottery Fund, either click the link above or call 0141 242 1400. You can still leave comments and questions here though and we'll pass any relevant ones on. Just click on the "Comments" link below.

Quick note to say that we have the Scottish director of the Big Lottery Fund, Dharmendra Kanani, on Friday's programme.

BIG takes 14 pence of every pound spent on a Lottery ticket. With a remit covering health, education, environment and charitable purposes, they're focussed on "bringing improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need".

One of its current Scottish projects is a new funding programme focused on Glasgow's 2014 Commonwealth Games, offering local sports clubs, community organisations and schools grants of £300 to £1,000 to support and stimulate involvement in sport and physical activity.

So are they spending your money in the right way?

The theory of life

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Graham Stewart | 08:31 UK time, Thursday, 12 February 2009


Charles Darwin

Did you know that the iconic naturalist, Charles Darwin, attended medical school at Edinburgh University? Who says you don't learn anything on Morning Extra?

Well, 200 years after his birth, he's still ruffling feathers with a legacy which continues to polarise scientists and clergy around the world.

It was Darwin, of course, who demonstrated that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors with a process he called 'natural selection'. His work was denounced as "the work of the devil" when it was published a hundred-and-fifty years ago.

Prevailing opinion has certainly changed since then, yet a poll last week suggested that more than half the British public believe that the theory of evolution can't explain the full complexity of life on Earth... and that a "designer" must have lent a hand.

That might partly explain why Sir David Attenborough receives hate mail from viewers for not crediting God in his nature programmes, as he revealed in the Radio Times the other week. "They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance," he said. (By the way, you can still catch his recent BBC1 documentary on Darwin on the iPlayer until Saturday.)

So, on Darwin Day, are we guilty of overlooking religious beliefs and placing too much faith in science? And should alternative theories — such as creationism — ever be discussed in our schools? That's the topic of this morning's programme. Please do continue the debate by clicking on the "Comments" link below.

And do check out the BBC Darwin site where you can find lots more information and links to related radio programmes.

A stramash aboot the Scots language

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Graham Stewart | 13:15 UK time, Monday, 9 February 2009


Burns says yer havering!

Whit a load o' blethers on the programme the day! Aw thae folk gaun on aboot thon audit o the Scots language and the palaver aboot whither it shuid be taught in schools. Is thare really room for anither wee toty language in auld Scotia? Weel, ye certainly had a gid rammy aboot it.

Gerard emailed wi' his bawbee's worth: "Scotland... please don't go down this route of a pseudo language... use the word 'dialects' as they add an amazing dash of colour to Scottish language, but don't pretend it's a language."

Now dinnae you be startin' a stramash Gerard! That wifie we hud on the programme frae the Scots Language Dictionaries wad'a tell'd ye to go awa an bile yer heid!

But a lot of ye wanted to fen' for the mither tongue tae. "Lose your language, lose your culture!" said John in Grangemouth.

An' plenty of ye were gein us yer favourite Scots words. Ma favourite wis thon "horny golloch" beastie — Scots for earwig. "Scoople an' scaly, he has twa horns and a cantle o' feet an' a forkie tailie," I wis telt. Help ma boab!


Brian McLeod says his favourite is 'bogin'. "It sums up the state o' the country!" he telt me. Ach wheesht! Awa ye go Brian, that's gey negative o' ye is it no?

Mind you, have ye noticed Scots has a lot of guid words for insulting fowk? Alex texted to say: "Gordon Brown is glaikit!" Maybe if thon Jeremy Clarkson had used such language he widnae be in the guddle he's in!

Then I got a text fae some besom girning aboot me 'cause I said the Scottish Government disnae print everything in Scots as weel as English. Apparently they dae sometimes. But, I said, there's no mony signs and literature oot there wi the Scots, is there? That didnae stop this tumshie nippin' ma heid though.

"Your point is still wrong. Many place name road signs are in Scots. One example is the Sma Glen! Keep on retracting."

Texts like thon dinnae half mak me crabbit. So I wis getting fair forfochen by the end of the programme when a Sassenach fae Cumbria stairted speaking Shetland dialect! Aw jeez, ma heid wis burnin! So mibbie ye cud continue yer havering by gaun on tae the comments section below? A ken it's a footer signing up, but dinnae be feart. Be gallus and I'll hae a read o' yer messages later.

Right, I'm gauin hame noo!

(* Remember, ye can aye listen again to the blethering on the BBC Och-Aye Player!)

Another Thatcher who splits opinion

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Graham Stewart | 10:59 UK time, Wednesday, 4 February 2009



An overwhelming reponse to today's Morning Extra. It's unusual to hear so many Scots defending a Thatcher, but in the case of Carol Thatcher's private remarks referring to a tennis player as a "golliwog" it seems many of you can't see what the fuss is all about.

Margaret in Kirkintilloch emailed to say: "Our individuality is being taken away from us. Heaven help the future when no one can think for themselves." And a similar point from Alison who says: "I am sick to death of the dictatorship that is this country. We can no longer make any decisions or say anything in case we upset someone. Golliwog as a description of a hairstyle is perfect. It does not mean racism."

Many of you raised points about double-standards. Why should Jonathan Ross keep his job when he was just as insulting to a pensioner? And what about racism against the Scots? Margaret in Stonehaven wrote to ask: "Does Russ Abbot have to apologise to all Scots for wearing a red wig, a tartan bonnet and speaking with a silly 'Scots' accent?"

Nonetheless, plenty of calls, texts and emails from those of you who think Carol Thatcher was deeply offensive and that the BBC was right to drop her from The One Show.

Steve echoed the thoughts of many when he made the point: "If this comment was made in my place of work (and in many others) then disciplinary action would be taken — and quite rightly."

John on the Isle of Skye added: "Language and actions are the window onto the core values by which we live, it is not case of political correctness, its an indication of who we really are and what we really believe, and by that we should be judged. We should act the same in public as in private, any private conversation is still an indication of who we are."

Debates like this often come back to an analysis of the origin of the term. Alisdair writes: "The word "wog" was a description specifically created with racist connotations. The name "golliwog" was not, it was reacted against because of an association with it's abbreviated derivative. Referring to Michael Quinion's book "P.O.S.H.", American author Bertha Upton is thought to have invented "golliwog" by combining "golly!" (a disguised reference to God) with "pollywog" (a name for a tadpole which comes from the Old English "poll," meaning head, plus wiggle). This seems like a very accurate description of a toy which was loved my many children and presumably gave many their first positive introduction to black people, as any pink rag doll gives a very acceptable introduction to white people."

But does the origin of the word matter if it later takes on more sinister undertones? You can leave your thoughts below.

Finally, you're telling us that golliwogs are still on sale. Apparently 3ft tall golliwogs are available at a number of city centre newsagents in Glasgow, they've been spotted on sale in Hamilton and there's a window display of them in Callander. Do you know of other instances? Let us know.

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