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Spying on you undercover, drinking coffee with your mother – am I getting closer?

A medieval giant, dancing astronauts, Greek men in kilts singing about free alcohol, a Finnish woman in a wedding dress begging her long-term boyfriend to marry her on the grounds that she will give him “cuter babies than other ladies”…yes, it can only be that very special time of year when bloggers and tweeters up and down Scotland stop doing whatever they were doing, and worship at the altar of Eurovision instead.  (And rest assured that those who don’t will be first up against the wall come the revolution.) The brilliant Sophia Pangloss got the ball rolling with this characteristically shoot-from-the-hip preview of the contest –

“Moldova – musical run-o-the-mill, but a lovely frock an great hair, awfy arrestin…

Finland – Trash. Next…

Russia – Big happy song wi a peace thing gaun oan, should dae awright…

Greece – Ach ye’ve got tae let the Greeks hae a wee laugh this year, it’s only fair…

Ukraine – Cannae understand this bein a favourite, an the giant cairryin her oan, er, whit?”

So what did Scotland’s tweeters make of the spectacle on the night itself?  Claire O’Gallagher was a fan of Norway and the Netherlands, although something gave me the slight impression that Greece was her outright favourite.  Maybe it was her use of screaming block capitals when she tweeted “THIS HAS TO WIN.  YAMAS!!!”  All the same, she suspected the “naked bodhrán drummers” from Ireland had snatched victory at the death.

Will Patterson started off liking “the woman with the flaming dress” (think that was Moldova), before apologising profusely to the people of Malta for enjoying their entry too much.  His favourites never win, you see.  He took sharp exception to the idea that the German entry was a rip-off of last year’s winner Loreen – after all, “Loreen was in tune”.  He also rated Norway highly, feeling it had “plenty of oomph”.  You’re a man of taste and discernment, Will.  Speaking of which, Lynn Corrigan also gets top marks from me for somehow referencing the Norwegian entry and the Blake’s 7 character Servalan in the same tweet.

Controversial Labour activist Duncan Hothersall reported that his partner reflexively started singing Flower of Scotland as soon as Spain struck up the bagpipes.  For pity’s sake, Duncan, take that man of yours to one side and have a stern word with him – we’re better together, God Save the Queen can easily be played on the bagpipes, and there’s no good reason why a separatist dirge should pop into anyone’s head at a moment like that.  Duncan also took an instant liking to Finland, for the very best of reasons –

“Lyrics awful. Staging embarrassing. Sounds a bit like she’s singing “f*** you”. Finland is definitely my favourite so far.”

In the end, of course, it was Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest who emerged as the comfortable winner – as I ingeniously managed to predict in advance by copying everyone else’s predictions.  Gail Ross reckoned that the ending had echoes of The Hunger Games (I’m not entirely sure what she means by that and frankly I hope I never find out), while Paul Leinster was just one of many who were eagerly awaiting Birgitte Nyborg’s statement on her country’s triumph.  Spectator editor Fraser Nelson proudly pointed out that de Forrest has a Scottish connection, as she has spent the last five years working in collaboration with Fraser Neill.

Even the sinister Cybernat hordes, who normally spend their recreational time driving national treasures away from Twitter with despicable abuse such as “hello” and “I like your cardigan”, took the night off to revel in the success of a small northern European nation of five million people.  Pete Wishart (famously the first MP to have appeared on Top of the Pops) declared that he had found the experience of tweeting during Eurovision for the first time “cathartic”, adding – “Go Denmark, and all those other independent self-governing nations”.   Alex MacLeod turned his attention to who might represent Scotland at the contest if we ever get the chance to follow in Denmark’s footsteps, suggesting that Wishart’s old band Runrig should get the nod.  But Wishart’s own colleague Angus MacNeil MP dropped a bombshell by approvingly retweeting someone who would much prefer Dotaman.

One or two Nats did express some misgivings about the prospect of Scottish representation at Eurovision.  Better Independent fretted over whether Scotland would have to apply to take part, pointing out that there is just “so much uncertainty”.  And Wishart himself wondered aloud if “oil is too volatile a resource for an independent Scotland to do well in Eurovision”.  Keep the faith, Pete – if all else fails, let’s not forget we’re the Saudi Arabia of marine renewables potential as well.

There was also a certain amount of non-Eurovision blogging this week which I am apparently contractually obliged to cover in this roundup.  On Thursday evening, Nicola Sturgeon and Michael Moore locked horns in the first of what may be a great many head-to-head debates over the course of the long independence referendum campaign.  Moore’s main attack line concerned the SNP’s supposed lack of a “Plan B” on their currency proposals, but Rev. Stuart Campbell was distinctly unimpressed –

“There’s a very good reason why nobody in the UK government will actually come out and say a Sterling zone wouldn’t be allowed, despite being repeatedly pressed on the subject by interviewers. It’s because it IS an empty threat aimed only at sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt. The longer the referendum debate goes on, the harder it will be to sustain the illusion.”

And now I have some grave news to impart, ladies and gentlemen.  Fascism is once again stalking the streets of a European capital – and this time it’s serious.  The March on Rome, the Night of the Long Knives, the Anschluss…all of these things pale into insignificance now that Nigel Farage has been called a bawbag on a trip to the Royal Mile.  He was of course there to launch UKIP’s campaign for the Aberdeen Donside by-election.  Tris from Munguin’s Republic and Mike Small from Bella Caledonia are just two of the many bloggers who bizarrely appear to be drawing some kind of amusement from this perfectly logical choice of location.  Could I just say, though, that I’d be really grateful if a Shetland councillor could resign his or her seat sometime soon, because I’d quite like there to be a local by-election, just so I can attend the UKIP campaign launch.  I’ve always fancied a visit to the North Pole.

The lifeblood of fascism is of course the demonisation of minority groups, and it looks like the chosen victims this time are former stockbrokers, and men from the Home Counties who don’t like Romanian immigrants.  How on Earth did that happen?  Lord Monty may have a clue – he’s discovered that one member of the “Scottish nationalist fascist” menace that Mr Farage has so bravely brought to our attention is a Labour-supporting former public schoolboy who attended Harrow.  Jeez, it’s always those guys, isn’t it?

On Tuesday, Highland Council gave the go-ahead for a lap-dancing club to open in Inverness.  Taking issue with claims from the Women’s Support Project that what goes on in such an establishment constitutes ‘violence against women’, sex worker and prolific blogger Laura Lee tells the story of how, in her view, taking up lap-dancing saved her life –

“In that club, I found solidarity and I found camaraderie with the other women. I also found independence and a freedom from fear. I was safe, at last.”

Today is the day of the ‘Pedal on Parliament’ event in Edinburgh, which is seeking action on improving safety for cyclists.  Sara Dorman has been wondering how to safely get families from Harrison Park to the Meadows during the event, and points out that the logistical difficulties are testament to the very need for holding the protest in the first place.

Michael of Carers Speaking Out is also involved in campaigning.  He explains how the isolation of life as a carer, and the need to fight for himself and the person he cares for, has given him the strength to also fight for the interests of other people in the same position, both locally and nationally.

For Gin or Gym, though, the true strength has been found in knocking down a wall she built a long time ago to protect herself –

“If you think about it when we cut ourselves we put a sticking plaster on to stop the bleeding or to help the wound heal but when we hurt ourselves psychologically, we stick a dirty great big wall up so that we will never be wounded again. It takes guts to demolish that wall, to let people see that you are human, that you do cry, you do hurt when unkind things are said even in a joke and yes, you do get emotional when you succeed. For those of us who suffer from any kind of panic or anxiety disorder taking that wall down is flippin scary because you worry that it could have other consequences. Not me, no more, I am demolishing that wall.”

And on that inspirational note, that’s your lot for this week.  Don’t forget to help out next week’s editor by nominating any interesting blogposts you come across on your travels.  Oh, and could I just offer my heartfelt thanks to the people I follow on Twitter for actually talking about Eurovision last night.  If they hadn’t, I’d have been in far more urgent need of a Plan B than Nicola Sturgeon.

So what did you learn at school this week?

It was the ‘silly season’ story that Scottish Roundup dreams are made of – petty bureaucrats at Argyll and Bute council attempt to censor a nine-year-old girl’s photo-blog about her school dinners, then back down live on air following a storm of protest on Twitter.  Actually, we should all be duly grateful they caved in as quickly as they did, because we were getting very, very close to entering into lunacy of “Free the Deirdre One” proportions.  But a thoughtful contribution was provided by Andrew Page, who urged Martha Payne not to allow the council’s actions to “undermine her self-confidence or to stem her creative talents”.

There was much “It Was Us Wot Won It” triumphalism on Twitter following the council’s abrupt change of heart, but it’s hard to be reassured by the notion that social media represents the best line of defence for our civil liberties – if Martha hadn’t happened to be such an obviously sympathetic figure as an articulate nine-year-old girl who blogs about a politically-correct cause, could the Twitter warriors have been relied upon to be quite so indignant on her behalf?

The First Minister made his long-awaited appearance at the Leveson Inquiry on Wednesday.  I missed the live coverage because I was too busy attempting to learn Mandarin Chinese (literally), but Mr Salmond must have done pretty well if the general thumbs-up from the pro-independence blogosphere (“shame on me for ever doubting him” says Kate Higgins) and the deafening silence from certain other quarters is anything to go by.  David Cameron had his day with Messrs Leveson and Jay as well, but he also found himself at the centre of another ‘silly season’ story, and it was the latter which attracted most interest from Scottish bloggers and Twitter users.  Kevin Donnelly and others discovered to their delight that the #bettertogether hash-tag, pencilled in for use by the No campaign in the independence referendum, has the potential for an entirely different meaning when the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has just absent-mindedly left his eight-year-old daughter behind in a pub toilet.  For Mairi Campbell-Jack, the incident represents yet another deeply troubling example of feckless parents from the wrong class who “just don’t care enough” about their offspring, and she wonders aloud why “hard-working taxpayers” should be expected to continue subsidising a lifestyle that plainly encourages such irresponsible behaviour.

Wednesday was also the day that the Olympic torch relay arrived in the capital.  Luckily, I had more or less abandoned my futile attempts to grasp the Mandarin tonal system by that point, and was able to pop by for a peek.  I’m delighted to report that the Nazi origins of the spectacle dampened the enthusiasm of almost no-one, although I’d still suggest that Twitter user Stronger United‘s summary of “Union flag waving crowds for torch relay – 250,000 happy smiling Scots” might be stretching the point slightly.  But you can judge for yourself what proportion of the crowds were actually waving Union Jacks by perusing the photos provided by SGMarinova at her blog.  She also sums up what catching a glimpse of the Olympic torch meant for her –

“Standing with a thousand other people waiting for a tiny flame to come is a very bizarre experience. Primarily because at a point you stop seeing everyone else and all you can think of is how special this tradition is. How special it is to be part of so much excitement, pride and strength. You sit there surrounded by so many people holding Coca-Cola bottles, little bouncy strings and drum like instruments, but somehow you manage to push it all aside, however hard it might be, as this particularly annoying child behind you is accidentally slapping you in the head.”

I must say that chimes with my own experience – there was a little bit of Scottish patriotism, and a little bit of British patriotism, but there was lots of Coca-Cola patriotism, and above all else there was absolute bucket-loads of Bank of Scotland Free Balloon patriotism.  Our overlapping identities grow ever more complex.  Speaking of which, there have been a couple of belated but compelling responses to Ed Miliband’s “it stands to reason” musings on national identity, in which he essentially claimed that people can easily feel Scottish without a Scottish state, but can’t possibly feel British without a British state.  Calum S Wright pointedly insists that “in an independent Scotland I would still call myself a Scot and a Briton, Miliband be damned”, while Lallands Peat Worrier dismisses as “candyfloss” the Labour leader’s entire characterisation of Britishness.

Tris at Munguin’s Republic reports on the estimate from Dr Richard Pike that more than twice as much North Sea Oil remains to be tapped as generally supposed – but begs David Cameron not to use that as an excuse to hold on to Scotland.  After all, as he points out, the Falklands now have plenty of oil as well, and are extremely keen to stick with London rule.  Indeed, to that end, the Falkland Islands Government announced this very week its intention to hold a constitutional referendum.  Over at my blog, I noted that London has reacted with somewhat greater enthusiasm to this development than they did to Scotland’s decision to hold a referendum on its own constitutional future.

In the coming week, Labour MSP Rhoda Grant will attempt to convince Parliament’s Justice Committee that her bid to criminalise the purchase of sex does not require a consultation process, on the grounds that her former colleague Trish Godman has already held a ‘consultation’ of sorts.  Sex worker and prolific blogger Laura Lee is having none of it, and issues a stirring call to arms for all those who share her views –

“Any right thinking individual can see how inherently flawed the Godman consultation was and it is my fervent hope that common sense will prevail…If the submission gets through the consultation stage though, what I will be asking YOU to do is use your voice which is as powerful a tool as can be, because you see what the anti’s rely on is that we will be too frightened as sex workers to speak up.”

The pretext for seeking to ban the purchase of sex is the hotly disputed notion that all prostitution constitutes ‘violence against women’, but a far less contentious definition of gender-based violence is at the heart of a lengthy post by Lucy Philpott, an Edinburgh University masters student who is spending six weeks in Malawi researching gender and education.  She recounts her horror at being told by a group of schoolgirls that the biggest challenge faced by their community is “fighting and rape”, and documents a tribal system of initiation ceremonies for girls as young as 12 that often mark the premature end of their school careers.

Also on a gender-related theme, Happy Science vents her fury at women’s magazines for failing to “promote critical thinking when it comes to beauty and health”, and charges them with “spouting pseudoscientific guff to their readers in order to raise revenue through product placement, and advertising”.

Turning to sport, the (mostly) illustrious 139-year history of Rangers Football Club in its familiar form came to an inglorious end this week.  Or did it?  Rev. Stuart Campbell was surprised to learn that it would be perfectly legal for a newco Rangers to retain exactly the same name, opening up at least the possibility of “a new Rangers FC, playing next season under the old name, in the old colours, with the old history, in the SPL, at Ibrox Stadium, led by Walter Smith, with the current playing squad, completely free of debt and with a £20m bank balance from season ticket sales”.  Over at The Rangers Standard, however, John DC Gow clearly takes the view that ‘business as usual’ is not a sustainable option, and identifies a number of issues unrelated to financial mismanagement that must now be confronted, such as apologism for use of the word ‘Fenian’ among the club’s support.

After the events of February and March, it feels distinctly odd to be turning to the national rugby team for better news about Scottish sport.  Alan Dymock reports on how Scotland followed up their sensational away win against Australia with a solid victory over Fiji.  But can they make it three out of three against Samoa?

Having referred to a Scottish view of Malawian society earlier, it’s only fair to take a few moments to see oursels as ithers see us.  But please don’t be apprehensive.  There isn’t a Scot alive who won’t be bursting with pride at the picture painted by Mr V. George Anthony, a recent visitor to these shores –

“Majority of the people in UK are above 40 or 50 and even old people go for work… We saw many men and women smoking maybe because of the extreme weather conditions… Many of them don’t get married, but live together and very few have children. All these are quite normal in northern UK. We could hardly see any expatriates in Scotland; it’s mainly their own people… Most men are tall and fat may be double our size and it can be because of their food habits.”

And Mr Anthony is particularly taken with the dazzlingly colourful apparel of our womenfolk –

“I think their passionate dress color is black because we saw many ladies wearing black dress most of the time.”

Now I can’t believe you’d need much more inspiration to holiday at home than that, but just in case you do, the LD Mountain Centre blog has some suggested locations for wild camping in Scotland this summer, including Rannoch Moor, the Cairngorms and Barrisdale.  Or if you’re looking for a much more refined holiday experience, you could always head for two cafes at the National Museum of Scotland which serve a scone of such magnificence that Cat Dean feels utterly compelled to tell us about it, at quite considerable length.

Let’s round things off with a dash of culture and the arts.  Kerry Dexter reviews Fiere, an album of songs in Gaelic, Scots, English and Shetlandic from Joy Dunlop and Twelfth Day.  And an American blog devoted to Scandinavian crime fiction is thoroughly envious of the residents of Edinburgh for having access to a special event at the International Film Festival celebrating “Nordic and Scottish crime in its dialogue between Scotland and Scandinavia, as well as literature and film”.

Well, that’s pretty much it for this edition of the roundup.  Don’t forget to make life as easy as possible for my successor as weekly editor by nominating your favourite blogs and blogposts.  In the meantime, have a fabulous EMBB* week.

(*Eve of Murray Becoming British)

They come out at night, and give you such a FRIGHT

Whatever the songs and rhymes you learnt at school would have you believe, you’ll be much safer taking your chances with the ghouls and witches tonight than you are dipping your toes into the black waters of the Scottish blogosphere – at least, that is, if the disquieting goings-on that have been reported to the Roundup of late are anything to go by. Helen McGinn had to exorcise the “evil anonymous pifflers” who have been haunting her blog in a scary bid to sell her readers “bizarre liquids” and “adult chickens”. And if you’re a male celebrity blessed with a desirable body part (Sir Chris Hoy, I’m looking at you) please steer well clear of Jinedin – she’s busily plotting a Frankenstein-style operation to construct her Perfect Man.

Our next spine-chilling port of call is to the door – quite literally – of SGMarinova. She recounts the horrifying tale of how a man trying to sell her cheap gas and electricity came calling, and asked to come inside. Her every instinct screamed “murderer” and “serial killer”. Then the phone rang, and at the other end was a person making very little sense indeed. Her every instinct now screamed “subterfuge to assist the murderer”. Were her worst fears realised? You’ll just have to read the post in full to find out, but to give you a sneak preview – no, they weren’t, really.

Now, you might be complacent enough to imagine that, if there’s one safe haven from all this terror to be found out there, it would be in the inspiring realm of shared experiences and mutual support that it is the British Mummy Blogging community. If so, you’ll want to brace yourself before taking a look at this parting shot from Clinically Fed Up as she takes her leave of the scene. The phrase “permeated with a sense of fear” will give you a taste of what to expect.

And what bigger fright can there be than a swift, clinical kick to the solar plexus when you least expect it? If you want to avoid that fate, I recommend that you tread very gingerly in the company of Dawn, aka The Moiderer. I honestly thought I was reading a straightforward, uplifting account of how she had decided to make the day of the in-house manager at her local Starbucks, who had complained that they never received any positive feedback. She reproduces the full letter she sent to the Customer Care Team, in which she waxed lyrical about the delights of Starbucks in general – “I am No. 1 Starbucks fan”, “I also run a little club on Twitter”, “the new stores in Welcome Break Services…are brilliant!” – and of her local store in Dundee in particular. She then reproduces in full the letter she received in response, which purred that “it is lovely to learn of your enjoyable experiences at your local store in Dundee”, that “your feedback will certainly be appreciated” and that “I hope you will continue to enjoy our coffee for many years to come and we look forward to welcoming you back to Starbucks”. And last but not least, Dawn offers her own verdict on this oh-so-rare exchange of mutual appreciation in an otherwise cynical world…

“What I find interesting is that I know for a fact when you write to complain they send you vouchers in compensation. Interesting that when you write with positive feedback you get nothing! That is not good Customer Service in my opinion.”

Ouch. Didn’t see that one coming.

I, for my part, am determined not to be cynical today, so when Nick Johnston says that the armed forces have a glittering future ahead of them in an independent Scotland, I take him entirely at his word and detect no sarcasm whatsoever. On a related subject, Lolaferrola has just returned from a holiday near to the doomed RAF Kinloss, and the “sombre” mood she encountered has spurred her to issue a rallying-cry to her readers to “get out there and support local communities”. In a rather unforeseeable twist, it’s an Ice Cream Road Trip she has in mind.

The BBC’s Question Time made one of its occasional forays to Scotland on Thursday evening, and a number of bloggers were deeply troubled by what unfolded. The central focus for controversy was presenter David Dimbleby’s treatment of Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Joan McAlpine gives this account –

“During a discussion about the comprehensive spending review, she [Sturgeon] tried to explain this crucial aspect of her party’s solution to cuts in Scotland. Her point was ruled out of order by David Dimbleby who more or less told her to be quiet. “This is for a UK audience!” said Dimbleby imperiously…It became even more extraordinary a few moments later when, during a discussion about the use of torture, Dimbleby himself raised the unrelated issue of Megrahi’s release from prison, and asked the panellists – except Nicola – whether the Scottish government made the wrong decision. She did get to make her point, briefly, but not at the invitation of the chairman. It was eye-boggling to behold.”

Alex Massie at the Spectator’s Coffee House issues the disclaimers that he didn’t see the programme and doesn’t agree with all of Joan McAlpine’s views on the subject, but nevertheless observes that “Dimbleby’s attitude – assuming it has been reported correctly – reflects a London-based parochialism that does neither him nor the Corporation any credit.” One valuable thing to emerge from the incident, however, is that it has sparked off a lively debate about how Scotland’s authentic ‘voice’ can ever be meaningfully accommodated within a London-dominated UK media environment. McAlpine isn’t convinced it can be, due to the simple structural fact that the vast bulk of UK residents live in England, and thus have little interest in hearing about distinctively Scottish issues. Gerry Hassan reaches a similar conclusion, for slightly different reasons –

“I don’t think it is possible for the UK media, political class and elite opinion to develop a nuanced, subtle, informed understanding of the UK; it just isn’t going to happen; they believe that their bunker-like Westminster mentality is a rich, pluralist, cosmopolitan view of the world, unsullied by the unreconstructed lumpenproletariat who live out in the sticks.

Change can only come from without. That requires taking action, and in Scotland’s case it means creating our own media spaces to develop our national conversations and debate.”

Meanwhile, Mhairi McGregor hits a nerve in the nationalist blogosphere by suggesting that a movement which is broadly left-of-centre, internationalist in outlook and pro-immigration should not be “giving a platform to” or “promoting” pro-independence bloggers who oppose multiculturalism. The examples given are Dark Lochnagar and Subrosa, both of whom show up to defend their views vigorously in a lengthy and explosive comments section.

Elsewhere in the political world, as Labour and the coalition government continue to battle it out for the mantle of Britain’s ‘progressive’ force, Pamela at Spirited Voice considers whether the term even has real meaning any longer. Neil Craig recounts an online exchange he had with Norman Tebbit about the declining importance of party conferences. Tocasaid reveals that, according to the Legatum Prosperity Index, countries from Alex Salmond’s famous/infamous ‘arc of prosperity’ still outperform the UK. And on the day that the clocks went back, there could hardly be a better moment to ponder the age-old question of whether the UK should switch to Central European Time. John Ruddy counters the oft-heard suggestions that an “extra hour of daylight” would save lives and boost tourism.

Political Innovation are continuing to promote their forthcoming event in Edinburgh – I know from my own mailbox that Mick Fealty has been inviting every Scottish political blogger he can track down, so expect to see the world and his dog there on November 13th! Duncan Stephen is particularly keen on the prospect of a free lunch (although my mum always taught me there’s no such thing).

At Thoughtland, Pat Kane reflects on the homecoming – in tragically very different circumstances – of “two brilliant young women of the Scottish diaspora”, Shirley Manson and Linda Norgrove. The article also appears in the Caledonian Mercury. Elsewhere, Pat can be seen in a video at The Play Ethic discussing “future scenarios for Scottish education and technology”.

Gordon Johnston takes on the myth that women are more likely than men to suffer from depression, and explores whether men’s greater reluctance to seek help can be blamed on the increasing “feminisation” of doctors’ surgeries. Of course another huge health challenge facing Scotland is the high percentage of adults who smoke, although Angela Harbutt’s concern is about the cost to the taxpayer of the public funding given to anti-smoking body ASH Scotland, and what she sees as its ill-conceived proposals to incentivise retailers for not selling tobacco.

Quite a few ‘campaigning’ posts have been nominated this week. Green MSP Patrick Harvie wants to save Glasgow’s atmospheric Otago Lane, while Fraser Denholm is concerned about the prospect of redundancies at Grays School of Art. Crafty Green Poet is drumming up support for the fundraising drive to save Edinburgh’s Forest Café, a “volunteer run, not-for-profit arts and events space and veggie café”.

As ever, there have also been some terrific photo and video related nominations. Wendy at A Wee Bit of Cooking tempts your tastebuds with a bird’s eye view of spaghetti with slow roasted tomato and basil. Euan Robertson captures some stunning Glasgow ‘traffic trails’, Lisa lifts the veil on the stylish homes of American fashion designers, while Scotland for the Senses has a number of wonderful shots of Arbroath Abbey in the sunshine.

Maggie Whyte reposts a slightly blurred photo from a fellow Tumblr user – and you’ll be relieved to hear that, contrary to how it might appear from a cursory glance, the woman in question is not looking pleased as punch because she’s just bought Boris Johnson’s 2011 Calendar. Over at her other blog, Maggie provides gratuitous pictorial evidence of a chocolate feast that unexpectedly dropped through her letterbox one day. Do these sorts of thing actually happen in real life? And if so, where did I go wrong?

AndyG has a video on his blog billed as “an epic battle between Grappa The Crazy Killer Demon Dog From Hell, and a stuffed Octopus”, although I must admit to my untutored eye it looks more like forty seconds’ worth of footage of a long-suffering dog being subjected to verbal bullying by the stuffed octopus, followed by an admirably restrained revenge attack by the dog.

Turning now to matters of law, this was of course the week of the earth-shaking Cadder ruling at the UK Supreme Court, although oddly enough there were no nominations relating specifically to that subject (unless I dropped them behind the fridge). But a post from Lallands Peat Worrier reflecting on the differences between the English and Scottish jury systems does receive the nod. In particular, he highlights the lack of a requirement for a qualified majority north of the border, meaning that it’s perfectly possible to be convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment on an 8-7 split – it sounds like a coin toss would do the business just as well. And in the week that Cardinal O’Brien came out in support of an inquiry into the safety of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s conviction for the Lockerbie bombing, Robert Black releases a statement from leading criminal case solicitor Len Murray, setting out the reasons why he found the original trial verdict at Camp Zeist incomprehensible.

Let’s move on to some superb reviews of TV, film and theatre. One of my dark secrets is that I’m a closet Doctor Who fan (Troughton and Davison are my favourites, since you don’t ask) so I’m horrified to discover I overlooked Matt Smith’s guest appearance on The Sarah-Jane Adventures – although I may not have missed much if Thumbcast’s review is anything to go by. Elsewhere, Statler casts his eye over Ian Low’s play One Gun, while ReelScotland carries a review of the film Burke and Hare in the entertaining form of a conversation between three people who have just been to see it.

A few poetry-flavoured posts : Mairi Sharratt enthuses about TraVerses poetry night in Edinburgh, Andrew McCallum Crawford presents his own poem ‘Dodgems’, and Christine McIntosh pays a highly personal and moving tribute to the late Edwin Morgan.

Misssy M’s sister had a cat go AWOL recently, sparking off memories of the time Gillian’s own cat Molly went missing for a month. You’ll be relieved to hear that both stories have happy endings, with the important caveat that Gillian doesn’t actually tell us if her ‘Meeester M’ suffered any long-term ill effects from nibbling on cat biscuits while out on the hunt for Molly.

Laura McIntyre had an enjoyable overnight escape to the ‘Bonnie Banks’ a couple of weeks ago, and shares three photos with us, along with a touristy YouTube video, plus a plug for the guest house where she stayed – before swearing blind she wasn’t bribed to do the write-up. On the whole, I’m inclined to believe her, in which case I’d like to invite her along to a highly selective guided tour of my own neck of the woods one of these days – it’s a losing battle, but some free propaganda probably wouldn’t hurt.

If you’ve had any setbacks in your life recently, I find it always helps to think of someone less fortunate than yourself. In fact, let’s get down to specifics – I invite you to think of Kevin, husband of Slugs on the Refrigerator blogger Kat. He’s been waiting patiently (actually, not all that patiently by the sounds of it) for his wife to knit him a hat, only to discover when it was finally finished that it was far too big and made him feel like Darth Vader. To add insult to injury, the wool was really, really expensive. Kat is duly contrite. (And before anyone mutters anything about gender stereotyping, I just work with the material I’m given, OK?)

Now, a few miscellaneous nominations to round things off : Steven Aitchison offers some advice on how to “stand out from the crowd when there is so much noise in the world”, Happy Science explores whether science can teach us anything about cooking, and Belinda at Freedom-2-Choose takes up Gillian’s recent call-to-arms, with a post promoting Scottish Roundup. Oh, and if you live on Islay or Jura and fancy a spot of chess, bridge or even belly dancing over the coming weeks, you’ll find a comprehensive diary of activities at the website of The Ileach, an independent newspaper for the two islands.

Well, that finally bring this week’s roundup to a close – it’s been a bumper edition, because Gillian’s exhortations for more nominations did the trick, and quite a few gems had to be carried over as they couldn’t be crammed in last time. So my challenge to you all is to keep those nominations flying in, and ensure my successor has an equally mammoth task next Sunday! Until then, have a great week.