Senscot Bulletin 30-05-2003

MAY 2003


Dear Members and friends,


Coming home from Spain last Saturday we boarded the aircraft
at noon – but it didn’t move.  After an
hour on the tarmac without air conditioning we were getting ratty so they
herded us back into the terminal where we waited another six hours till they
found us a plane. After a while some passengers (including me) started berating
the airline’s ground rep – until I saw that the poor woman was on the edge of
tears – so I switched sides “There’s no point shouting at her”, I shouted.  We got free vouchers and gradually most of
the passengers got tight, which seemed a very sensible thing to do.  It’s 20 months since I had an alcoholic
drink but occasions like these are ‘testing’. 

This ‘lost day’ in Malaga’s
godforsaken terminal reminded me of a similar incident 20 years ago in Rome’s
Fiumicino airport with 200 Polish pilgrims who had been to the see the
Pope.  During an alcoholic 13 hours
delay their religious fervour dissolved into a boisterous party.  I sat with a woman called Penny, who, I
convinced myself, worked for the secret service, one of Smiley’s people at
Cambridge Circus.  Glass for glass we
drank my bottle of Hennessy XO cognac and talked about the meaning of
life.  A week later she sent me a
beautiful carafe of antique cognac from Harrods, which made me wonder if she
fancied me – but when I phoned she didn’t know who I was. I think she looked me
up on the ‘state computer’ and realised I’d told her a few porkies.



Senscot’s AGM will be held a fortnight today (13th
June) at The Hub in Edinburgh (where Parliament met this week).  The Hub does good ‘nosh’ and we have ordered
a sandwich and cake lunch starting at 12.30pm. 
Lord David Puttnam will speak and answer questions from 1.30-2.45 then
after a coffee break our formal AGM will take place at 3pm.  No charge but if you would like to attend
please e-mail



Well, as predicted, the Labour Party in Scotland is
absolutely livid about the prospect of PR in council elections which could
remove half of the present crop of Labour councillors. If Jack survives the
knives in his back this issue could be the making of him. Of course there is no
way he made this decision alone – Tony Blair himself must have given the
go-ahead. Our Prime Minister and our First Minister have a common interest in
reforming Scottish Labour. The woeful state of the party is clearly reflected
in the calibre of MSPs and councillors which it selects. Frequently, both North
and South of the border I hear folk laugh at our Parliamentarians – but of
course it’s not funny. While our Executive wallows in mediocrity, the truth is
– we have more able people than these.



Jackie Baillie is one of the ‘more able’ but is excluded from
office by some obscure factional rivalry. 
She told us on Radio Scotland this morning that she will introduce a
private members bill to oversee charities properly. Our whole sector is damaged
by the disgraceful story of the charity scam (Breast Cancer Research Scotland),
and some blame falls to government, who were well warned.  It’s two years since McFadden reported, and
this is one of the worst instances of Executive inaction since devolution.  Martin Sime’s letter to The Herald this
morning is justifiably irate.  The best
efforts of SCVO over many years have failed to get this matter taken
seriously.  Their position has been
consistent, ‘Ministers’ plans to establish a non-statutory regulator will make
little difference in the absence of new powers, for example to regulate
professional fundraising.  They will
divert time and resources from the task of securing necessary law.’  Jackie B has certainly rattled the cage, and
she’ll get support, including ours, for her bill.



Cubby Broccoli, producer of the James bond films, when asked
why he kept working into his eighties, replied, “If I stopped, I’d turn into a



NOTICES: See ‘Listings’ at
for more on these and other items and job vacancies. If you have a relevant
notice you’d like posted, send it to


The consultation period on government proposals for
Community Interest Companies (CICs) ends on June 18. A forum to discuss it is
held in Edinburgh, June 6. Contact
(places limited). CICs summary and document:


McSensce from Dalkeith did Scotland proud in March by
winning main prize at the New Statesman UpStarts Awards 2003. Let’s see if we
can make it a double for Scotland by capturing the National Social Enterprise
Award – ‘enterprising solutions 03’:


‘Making Sense Of Social Responsibility’workshop (Agenda and
RCVS), Thurs 5 June,15.30 – 18.30, The Wynd Centre Paisley. Contribs. incl. BAA
Scotland, Rolls Royce, Social Enterprises, National Trust for Scotland,
Renfrewshire council et al. Contact: Kyla Brand, 0131 446 0993.


Glasgow CVS courses in June: “How to use race equality
schemes to empower your organisation” (Fri 20 June); “Strategic Planning in the
Changing Environment” (Wed 4 June & Thurs 25 June). Some bursaries
available. Contact Duncan Wallace, GCVS Training Coordinator, 0141 332 2444,


A radio 4 programme on social enterprise – “a minority
interest – or the next big thing?” – is on Tuesday, June 3, 4-4.30pm. Guests
include founder of Re-Cycle, Merlin Matthews, and SSE’s Rowena Young.



Melanie Sims, Communications Manager of Glasgow Alliance
e-mailed to complain that our piece last week about Glasgow SIPs contained
inaccuracies. We’ve not been able to get a copy of the Rocket Science Report
but we phoned and they confirmed that, ‘the formal evaluation of the SIPs was
specifically excluded from their brief.’ We are sorry for this error – can
anyone ‘leak’ us the report’s summary or is it too controversial? Melanie’s
full response to us is at:



This week’s bulletin profiles the Banffshire Partnership
Ltd, a network of groups and organisations, working for the benefit of people
living within a ten-mile radius of the mouth of the river Deveron. Established
in 1999, the Partnership`s 32 founding members signed an accord, committing
themselves to the economic, social and environmental well being of local
communities. Since its inception, the Partnership has been actively helping
local communities plan and run project that help people get back into work or
that improve local services for visitors and locals alike. Amongst the projects
that the partnership has been instrumental in developing are the Whitehills
Marina, the Princess Royal Sports and Community Trust and the local Community
Transport project, Dial-a-Bus. For further information, see  (‘Project Profile’).



Bill McCallum, a community activist on Teeside writes in
last week’s New Start mag. ‘Real regeneration is not about councils and service
providers stealing the cash to enhance their own work – Why not give 500
Development Trusts one million each – then watch and see what community
regeneration is about.’  This made us
wonder if in Scotland we have 50 locally owned Development agencies who could
utilise one million. The answer is: probably not yet – but we’re working on it.



Someone who saw my name in ‘The Big Issue’ has sent me a
photo dated June 1951 – of a cricket team including me aged 11.  I was not an accomplished batsman or bowler
but I think I was a good fielder – big hands. 
The picture sparked a favourite memory. 
It was a game against our bitter rivals – we can’t budge their captain
who is punishing our attack – I am moved into second slip.  He takes a swipe and the next moment the
ball smacks and sticks in my right hand. 
Folk cheering, hugging – slapping my back.  These moments of intense joy are important for children.  They teach us that the possibility of the
miracle is with us all the time.  On
childhood and happiness from Anton Chekhov’s, ‘A Visit to Friends’ –

 “Misha, don’t run away from your happiness.  Take it while it offers itself to you
freely, later you will be running after it, but you won’t overtake it.”


That’s all for this week.

Best wishes,



If you would like to receive this bulletin directly, e-mail