Monday, July 04, 2011

Bad Start to the Hols.

Typical! Start of the school summer holidays and in comes the 'man flu'! After an enormous bout of Bailie Duties and lengthy Council Meetings I end up bed ridden. The last few weeks have been my busiest ever with things on every evening and most weekends. Finishing up at the school, most important Council decisions for a generation (trams) , the always enjoyable Bailie Duties and local events and meetings. By the time you get to the Summer Recess you certainly need it.
Bailie Duties have a diversity that will never cease to amaze me. One example is the Friday before last when I rushed out of a meeting at the City Chambers and jumped into a taxi to get me to HMS Portland only to become mired in the congestion the city is rapidly becoming renowned for. The driver displayed some confusion as we approached the docks about where HMS Portland might be moored. Looking straight ahead I laughed and said I expected it would be the enormous naval ship just over to the left. Sure enough it was! After being piped on board and meeting the Admiral we were treated to the Royal Marines Band who finished up by playing the hymn 'For Those in Peril on the Sea' which merged softly into the last post. On the last note, seemingly from nowhere , the Red Arrows flew over our heads and spread out in front of us with the red white and blue trails streaming. I have to say at this point that at events like this I always think of my father who died ten years ago. He was a cook in the Mediterranean fleet during WW2 serving on the Abercrombie, the Kent and the Aurora. His stories include being head chef at a dinner on board ship at the Yalta Conference. Guests included Eisenhower, Stalin and Churchill - at least it may have done. There were two other dinners on two other ships to confuse any would be assassins. Dad's was the flagship and he was the Admiral's cook so it seems likely his was the real one but there you are, that is the story. The Admiral wanted my father to go with him after the War as his personal chef but he was under orders to get back to Selkirk to marry my mother ( and a good job too or I would not be here). We sang the same hymn at my fathers funeral so suffice it to say that the event was particularly moving and impressive to me. It could  not have been a better start to Armed Forces Week.
Something important happened later on that Friday however that is worthy of a mention. All my duties done I headed for a bar in town to meet some friends. While I was there a young man mistook my City badge for a regimental one. I explained what it was and they introduced themselves. It turns out they were up for Armed Forces Week representing a group called 'talking 2 minds' who deal with the psychological effects of tours of action like Afganistan. They have achieved an over 80% success rate with just one course of treatment with others requiring more. They are very loyal to each other and emphasise they help each other as a group. I immediately took my badge off and gave it to the one who had spoken to me first and promised I would go down on the Sunday to Holyrood Park and visit their stall. The one I gave the badge to was so pleased and said he would wear it on his uniform the next day (which he did).  These badges have little or no financial value but have the City crest and motto. They are sometimes handed out by the Lord Provost or Bailies.  Was there ever a more worthy recipient? I handed out another three when I went down on the Sunday to their stall. One was to their fundraiser who had done two tours in Afganistan and something about an Afgan Warlord (I didn't want to press him on the subject). At any rate the experience had left him such that he was admitted to an institution down south from which he was 'rescued' by 'talking 2 minds'. As far as I am concerned the sacrifice these boys have made is every bit as great as those with physical injuries and can take just as long to heal - if they ever do. Visit the web site and support this charity.