Senscot Bulletin: 05-05-2006

Dear members and friends,

I’ve been crabbit of late – anger and discouragement are too close – when I lose my alignment like this I head for the seashore. Tuesday morning – in queue for Malaga flight – a ‘hard’ looking woman pushes loaded trolley into momentary gap in front of me. ‘You can’t do that,’ I say, ‘there’s a queue.’ She ignores me, so I shout, ‘This woman is jumping the queue.’ The man who joins her is 6’2′ and about 17 stone. ‘What’s your problem?’ he asks. ‘Your friend is jumping the queue’ – ‘My wife’ he says. Mind racing – fight or flight? I’m off to my favourite spot to relax for a week – all I have to do is get there intact. I’m raging but I swallow.
The adrenaline rush leaves me feeling ill. As I pass the bar a bottle of cognac winks at me. I`m upset. Half an hour in the bookshop doesn’t calm me. I ask pharmacist in Boots to prescribe me a calmative. She sells me ‘Kalms’ which have as much effect as ‘Smarties’. The flight is delayed 2 hours – when I eventually arrive at apartment it’s raining and Luis the porter is drunk. He goes to the shop for me – then I wrongly accuse him of diddling my change – paranoia too close.
It’s my 66th birthday next Wednesday – without the courage of the warrior or the stoicism of the sage – a grumpy old man. I’ll send a happier message when I feel more ‘tranquillo’.

It wasn’t widely reported in the Scottish press but a piece in last week’s New Start magazine informs us that COSLA has demanded a meeting with the Scottish Executive to urge them to scrap Scottish Enterprise and transfer its responsibilities for economic regeneration to local authorities. A few weeks ago it was shaping up to fewer/larger Councils and fewer/larger LECs. One could see the rationale for this. Now we seem to be going in the opposite direction again. My theory is that the Scottish Labour Party is controlled by municipal councillors and that their narrow self interests inhibit good government.

David Miliband recently urged the policymakers and practitioners in local and central government to apply the concept of ‘social capital’ to their work. More and more of us now use the term to conceptualise a society where social networks, shared norms and co-operative relationships help us get along together but our Scottish politicians don’t get it yet.. One of the world’s experts on social capital is Dr. Thomas Sander, Executive Director of Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University. In what is something of a UK scoop, Colin Campbell (Assist Social Capital) has persuaded Dr Sander to come to Glasgow on June 9th as the keynote speaker at a day conference. This is a rare opportunity not to be missed. For information and booking details, see  

Over the last few months, we’ve been following the fortunes of Holmhill Ltd’s appeal against the ‘late application’ ruling over land in Dunblane. We now hear that their appeal has been refused. The refusal, it seems, was not down to the merits or otherwise of the original ruling but because the sheriff concluded – based on other precedents – that he should not interfere with the decisions of Scottish Ministers. Andy Wightman offers his thoughts on the case and its implications for other communities.

The Independence Convention was launched towards the end of last year and is a group of individuals, organisations and political parties who want Scotland to be more independent. Its main objective is to develop and publicise the case for independence. If I had been home on Tuesday, I’d have supported the Edinburgh meeting so I’ll go to the Glasgow one on 15th May. I believe that for the advancement of social enterprise we would be better off as part of England. I also believe that because of Labour Party selection shenanigans we have some second rate MSPs. But these are secondary matters. The people of Scotland have a right to independence if we so choose.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs ( or events ( and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 33 vacancies, incl. posts with: The Scottish Community Foundation, Gorbals Community Forum, Greater Easterhouse Development Company, Partners in Advocacy, The Rock Trust, Flourish House,

EVENTS: Redhall walled Garden Open Days, May 7 & 30, Edinburgh; Introduction to Social Accounts and Social Audit, May 18, Perth; Breathing Space’, Midlothian Social Enterprise Trade Fair, Dalkeith, June 12

The Senscot Exchange has produced a new format of Tools and Templates. See There are still some gaps in the resources and we need your help: feedback on the new format’s usability and any documents you can recommend would be helpful as we are continually modifying the structure. Drop us an email at with your comments.

Scottish Enterprise’s evaluation of network activity with social businesses is now available on their website. One of the key recommendations is for more proactive engagement with prominent social enterprises. To download document, see

The last couple of weeks we’ve commented on the decrease in EU funding to the sector. The debate goes on about the best way to allocate or distribute funds with The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) calling for unallocated funds (£3.7billion) to be directed towards England and Scotland’s largest city-regions. See

This week’s bulletin profiles the Drake Music Project Scotland based in Edinburgh. Set up in 1997, Drake Scotland is part of the UK-wide network founded by Adele Drake in 1988. They specialise in utilising music technology to create opportunities for disabled people to play, learn and compose music independently and last year won an award for designing online adaptive music technology into their website. The organisation is currently working to develop a new purpose built venue within the SPACE Social Enterprise Centre in Craigmillar. For further info’, see

At a recent funeral I was moved by the reading of a poem which I have now traced:
‘How long does a man live after all? A thousand days or only one? One week or a few centuries? We fret and ask so many questions – then when it comes to us the answer is so simple after all. A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us, for as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams, for as long as we ourselves live, holding memories in common, a man lives. His lover will carry his man’s scent, his touch: his children will carry the weight of his love. One friend will carry his arguments, another will hum his favourite tunes, another will still share his terrors. And the days will pass with baffled faces, then the weeks, then the months,
Then there will be a day when no question is asked and the knots of grief will loosen in the stomach
And the puffed faces will calm. And on that day, he will not have ceased but will have ceased to be separated by death.’  Lines from ‘So Many Different Lengths of Time’, by Brian Patten, after Pablo Neruda.

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.

Best wishes,

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