Spurtle welcomes correspondence from named readers. Anonymous or pseudonymous correspondence will not be published. The Editor reserves the right to cut or adjust letters for reasons of space or clarity.


6 December 2010

Dear Sir/Madam,


The almost complete stoppage of national life occasioned by the
current spattering of snow is scarcely believable. When I was a child,
our schools were kept open by every janitor, able bodied teacher and
even the school dinner ladies being set to the task of digging out the
playground with old fashioned shovels. The same "all hands to the
deck" attitude applied to airports where the General Manager was to be
seen setting an example with his spade alongside ground and cabin
staff as well as pilots and navigators as they fought to keep runways

Not only are we now far too reliant on often inadequate and unreliable
mechanical means of snow removal, but the EU mandated adoption of the
SI system of units has brought a touch of fatalism to how Britons
regard low temperatures. O degrees Celsius is now seen as a sign that
civilisation as we know it must be temporarily suspended whereas 32
degrees Fahrenheit never had that effect!

John Eoin Douglas [Spey Terrace]

6 December 2010

Dear Spurtle,

I don't know if you've heard about the Council's proposals for the
Assembly Rooms – to effectively privatise the ground floor and turn it
into boutique shops and a 'fine dining' restaurant? I got news of this
via Gerda Stevenson, the prominent Scottish actor, director and
playwright (see below).

I know that it's not quite the geographical area you cover, but it does
seem to me emblematic of the Council's habit of turning public, cultural
free space into exclusive commercial development. Broughton residents (I
am of their number) may like to add their weight to the list of those
who object to this.

with all good wishes,

Dr Sara Lodge

Dear Friends
I wonder if you are aware of Edinburgh City Council's plans to turn the
wonderful, historic Assembly Rooms into a shopping centre? An appalling
decision, in my view. The Assembly rooms should not only continue to
operate as the superb fringe theatre venue it is during the Edinburgh
Festival (I have seen so many ground-breaking theatre productions there
over the last three decades and more), it would make a terrific centre
for the Arts all year round in our capital city.
Do we really need another shopping centre? And during this time of
recession? It's well documented that in hard times the Arts do well –
people need hope, which is what the Arts give to us. And the Arts
provide tremendous stimulus to our economy. The Assembly Rooms venue
offers a unique possibility for the city of Edinburgh – its
distinctively beautiful and practical lay-out of accommodation all under
one roof offers an amazing opportunity for a visionary enterprise. We
could have an Arts hub that connects with Education – the two could be
working hand-in-hand in the same building. There could be
artists-in-residence, a resident theatre company/ies, resident chamber
orchestra, etc. – the possibilities are legion. But instead, our capital
city's councillors, in their infinite wisdom, are going to hand it over
to ubiquitous, utterly superfluous commercialism. It would do no harm to
lobby MSPs and the Minister for Culture, Fiona Hyslop (email: Fiona.Hyslop.msp@scottish.parliament.uk) and the Minister for
Education, Michael Russell (e-mail: Michael.Russell.msp@scottish.parliament.uk).
I attended a major European theatre meeting in Glasgow last month
(IETM), and it was interesting to hear about how many theatre, dance and
arts organisations other European countries have per head of population
- we are not well-endowed in Scotland, nor indeed in Britain, when one
makes such comparisons.
All best

3 November 2010

Dear Spurtle,

By chance I found your thrilling request for information regarding Peggy Desmond [Issue 185]. Having spent my formative years in Broughton Place, I have vivid memories of the many families and characters there who were, with great spirit, picking up the pieces after the Second World War. Many lived in appalling slum conditions and were very much down on their luck, but most were boisterous and hopeful, some spent and resigned. All were street-wise. In the late 1950s many scattered to all parts of the globe, myself included.

Peggy was all of those and more, having been on stage for many years with most of the luminaries of the era until her star descended. I believe she was in the premier league of her time. At this point, I am thinking, my sister knew Peggy as an adopted aunt much better than I. She had close contact during her Broughton Court days and later when she moved to Portobello. Therefore please feel welcome to contact me with whatever information you require and I will pass it on to my sister. I am sure she will be glad to oblige.

Yours faithfully and wishing you success,

Tommy Kemp [The Netherlands]

PS: If  there's anybody out there who remembers us, please feel free to contact us [via Spurtle]: Norma Valerie and Tommy Kemp.

[Spurtle's Ross Maclean is now preparing an article on Peggy Desmond. If any other readers have information about her, please get in touch.] 



27 October 2010

Dear Spurtle,

Very glad to contact you!

Datong Coal Industry Jinyu Kaolin Chemical Co., Ltd.  is one of the largest professional manufacturer of calcined kaolin (Anhydrous Aluminum Silicates) in China.  The total investment capital is 230 million and annual capacity of two superfine-calcined kaolin 6250 meshes and 4000 meshes amount to 70,000mt. Please browse our company website for more information.

Our calcined kaolin (GB-CK90, GB-CKR90, GB-CK88A  are recommended), a functional additive, is widely used in wire and cable, especially in EPDM cable. PVC and PE colophony are applied in common wire and low-tension cable (1-2KV) jacket material and no extender is needed but for fire retardation. Sometimes calcium carbonate is added to lower costs and improve dielectric property.

High-tension jacket is mainly made up of EPDM and XLPE. And XLPE needs no extender. EPDM, which represents 90% share of the industrial market, has higher requirement for cable's physical and mechanical properties, and it needs high-quality extender to meet the application requirement. Our modified calcined kaolin series is specially applied in EPDM wire and cable as functional extender. After being resurfaced particularly, it can strengthen the insulating, mechanical and other properties of wire and cable. And it is an excellent functional additive in EPDM cable because of its unsurpassed performance.

Best wishes,

Duan Yunjie
Managing Director


26 October 2010

Dear Sir/Madam,


The ConDem Government has taken leave of its senses by intending to significantly cut expenditure on policing.

Do they not realise that a much thicker 'thin blue line' will be needed to keep the lid on all the social unrest and crime caused by the high unemployment levels which will be a natural consequence of their other policies? This is something that Mrs Thatcher well understood.

Policing costs can be better contained by instructing forces to eschew expensive and prestigious enquiries into historic crimes which all too often result only in the conviction of those, such as Peter Tobin, who are already rightly incarcerated for life.

John Eoin Douglas


13 October 2010

Dear Spurtle,

I was born in No. 7 New Broughton in 1931 and for many years have been trying to find a photograph of the area from that time.

I always said that New Broughton must have been new in the early 1800s as it was slum buildings when I was born with families being shifted to ‘better housing’.

I attended a small ‘kindergarten’ or child-minding centre with a Miss Stevenson I think was her name. They had little ‘old’ tin pedal cars, and a wooden dolls house. 

My husband was born in Broughton Road around the same time.  His sister was hit by a lorry which damaged her pelvis when she was about 7 years old and was concerned that all her cigarette cards had got scattered whilst mum had run out of the house when cleaning the fireplace and still had ‘blacking’ on her hands. 

I was engaged to be married in Edinburgh. My fiancé left in April 1952 and I followed in October. We married in Sydney three weeks after I arrived and have lived in Sydney ever since then.

The changes around New Broughton and Warriston are incredible. Through the internet I have met the people who now live in the house I lived in in Stockbridge.

A chance internet meeting with a lovely lady who subscribes to your magazine gave me this  address.

Elizabeth Fraser (née Simpson)

[See 'Broughton's changing churchscape', Breaking news 1.11.10]


14 September 2010

Dear Editor,

I see Fiona Manson is researching and looking for photographs of her grandfather's grocery shop which once stood on the corner of Rodney street and Heriot Hill Terrace (Breaking news 10.9.10). I'm afraid I don't have any images of the shop but do have memories.

As a boy in the 1960s I worked for Fiona's grandfather delivering groceries. For a couple of hours every day after school, I'd stack up a sack barrow with boxes of groceries and deliver them to the Bellevue area and the New Town. It was really hard going, all up hill!

Mondays were always my easiest day as they were reserved for folding flat a mountain of boxes that had built up in the storeroom. I remember always being concerned not to crush the shop's cat as it had the habit of hiding somewhere within.

At the end of the '60s I was leaving Edinburgh to live in England and sadly had to give the job up. When asked if I could recommend someone to take over, no sooner was the word out, I was besieged by all the kids around – so it seems it was the job to have.

Kind regards,

Donald Graham

Staufen, Germany



(19 July 2010)

Dear Sir or Madam,

Relative to your comments on big bags, although seagulls undoubtedly cause a great deal of inconvenience, I do not think that containers are the answer in the New Town. Apart from the aesthetics, many people here are elderely and could neither carry bags for any distance or reach high enough to place them in the containers.

I understand from Councillor Whyte that an experiment is being carried out on the south coast with bags made, I believe, of jute, which are thought to deter the gulls. Perhaps this could be considered as an alternative, as they are the culprits in this area.

Yours faithfully,

J. Starr (Dr)



(1 July 2010)

Dear Spurtle

Re: Issue 184, 'Spurtle seeks mystery makar'

Maybe it was a giant Mars Bar that had escaped the opportunity to be deep-fat fried and wanted the world to know that in spite of its hard exterior, there is more to it than meets the eye.

Adam Wilkinson
Director, Edinburgh World Heritage


(10 June 2010)

Dear Editor

I am saddened by the imminent demise of the video store on Broughton Street that has served the dedicated film lovers community for many years [Breaking News, 10.6.10]. Blockbuster-type shops and other large chains can give us the big sellers. But only this shop could offer Godard, Truffaut, Renoir, Bunuel, and a vast back-catalogue of everything from Hitchcock to more obscure world cinema.

Chris Docker, Hart Street


Dear Spurtle

Re your report: 'Crime wave just an illusion' [Issue 183].

Can you really do this? I mean – actually checking on the facts, and writing about them, rather than just generating hysteria with no factual basis? ... Not done, old boy – not by the British press!

I am of course joking.

Peter Verity, Dundonald Street


(2 May 2010)

Dear Editor

If nothing else, the news about Tesco's not contributing to trams [Issue 182] disproves the idea that Edinburgh Council stood to gain from approving the move to Picardy Place [Issue 181].

Margaret Berry, Bonnington Road


(21 April 2010)

Dear Spurtle

Disease of the heart and circulation is Scotland’s biggest killer – around 19,000 men women and children are dying every year and another 600,000 live with it every day.

British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland is the nation’s heart charity and our mission is to play a leading role in the fight against heart and circulatory disease, so that it is no longer a major cause of disability and premature death.

But we cannot do this without the help of your readers.
If you have any spare time to give us each month, then please get in touch and help us save the life you love.

BHF Scotland are looking for volunteers who will help with various tasks, ranging from placing collecting cans in your local shops or clubs to organising fundraising events that get your local community involved.  You can easily take a hobby or interest and turn it into a fundraising event with support from your local Fundraising Volunteer Manager.

BHF Scotland spends millions of pounds saving lives with our pioneering research, our nurses who are caring for those living with heart disease, our life saving equipment that can be found up and down the country, and of course, our prevention and care resources that are available to everyone in many languages.
If you think that you can help us save lives in Edinburgh please get in touch with me today.  You can call me on 0131 561 3364 (Mob. 07920 088318) or email me at scottf@bhf.org.uk

Ffyonna Scott
Fundraising Volunteer Manager, BHF Scotland, Ocean Point One, 94 Ocean Drive, Edinburgh EH6 6JH
Web:  www.bhf.org.uk


(24 February 2010)

Spurtle People

Was February's hungry bear modelled on Malcolm Chisholm's photo? [Issue 179, p. 4]

Helen Lizaar, Leith Walk

[No. But interesting thought.]


(19 February 2010

Dear Editor

I write to highlight the issue of the planned closure of [Blenheim Place to right-turns from London Rd].
There is overwhelming support on the Terraces among residents, business, the Church and community for this junction to remain open. This right-turn allows us to stay connected to the local community of Leith Walk & Broughton which we feel part of and belong to.
February 22nd is an important day for citizens of Edinburgh - the start of the 28 day public window for objections to any of the planned proposals to accomodate trams in the city. It is particularly important for those involved in the Terraces on Calton Hill.

Adequate access for us, and for all those who enjoy these spectacular Playfair designed streets, requires that many objections are raised.
Hopefully Spurtle will, in turn, highlight this public consultation period and encourage readers to write or email and object to the planned closure of this junction, and 'Keep Blenheim Place Open'.
Carol Nimmo

Royal, Regent & Carlton Terraces Steering group
aka 'Keep Blenheim Place Open'

[Regarding Carol Nimmo's letter above, we refer readers to 'Breaking news' (19.2.10).] 
(28 January 2010)


Dear Editor
It’s really easy for your readers and advertisers to support National Heart Month in February – by selling our red heart pin badges.

During February, British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland is asking people to be a part of Red For Heart, our fundraising campaign, that will raise vital money to keep hearts beating in Scotland.

I’m asking local businesses to take a box of pin badges and put it on display in their premises. For just £1, members of the public can show their support for the boys, girls, men and women throughout Scotland who have heart disease. Buying a pin badge can also benefit their own heart health, as the packaging on each badge contains information about our new heart health code, the BEAT, and how to get a free, online lifestyle check.

To be a part of Red For Heart call me on 0131 561 3364, email scottf@bhf.org.uk or visit bhf.org.uk/red

Ffyonna Scott
Fundraising Volunteer Manager


(10 December 2009)
Dear Spurtle

I am writing with reference to the responses by Mrs Campbell [3 Oct.] and Mrs
Lauder [13 Sept.] to my proposal for the future use of the old Royal Edinburgh
High School premises.

Truly, I have not visited the premises in the near past, and I take as
good news the building is not defunct (Mrs Campbell) as I thought.
Moreover it seems that the current use by people and organizations
dealing with Literacy and Numeracy, other classes, and social work is
close to what I proposed, which brings me joy. On the other hand I
am sorry to read that this may cease.

My point relates to use by civil society and local entities for the benefit
of the people of Edinburgh and enhancement of participatory democracy,
instead of new ʽdevelopmentʼ. I understand that neither respondent
rejects this point.

Dr Costas Dikeos


(24 October 2009)

Dear Spurtle

In his article ['Stones that speak' in Extras], James Simpson refers to 'Hopetoun Crescent', where – in this historic context – he should be using its original name of 'Hope Crescent'.

This demonstrates clearly its connection with John Hope etc.

The change to Hopetoun Crescent came about in the 1960s when there was a rationalisation of various Edinburgh/Leith/Portobello street names: e.g. Pitt Street, Edinburgh became Dundas Street, leaving Pitt Street, Leith because of Leith's associations with the Pitt family.

In the case of Hope Crescent, because of Hope Street elsewhere and the close physical proximity of Hopetoun Street, the crescent was changed to Hopetoun.

If the logic had been carried through properly, we might have had East Claremont Crescent, and East Claremont Bank; but what should Brougton Road have been? Its old name was Hay Terrace up to about 1912, leading to confusion with the 1930s Hay Terrace some three miiles away.

Yours sincerely

Alex Dow
Cowdenbeath, Fife


(3 October 2009)

Dear Spurtle
Dr Dikeos [Letter of 17 June, and Extras] has obviously not seen the old Royal High recently or he would know it is definitely not defunct. It is a busy workplace for many groups of people. I work for CLAN (City Literacy and Numeracy) and we use many of the classrooms. Other buildings are also used by organisations including Social Work. We have a good canteen, well used by staff and learners. Many of those learners are upset that the buildings are to be sold off – they love their classes. We hope to be offered a suitable replacement in the near future.
Yours sincerely

Mrs Campbell, Hopetoun Village


(1 October 2009)

Dear Spurtle

Regarding wheelie bins [Issue 175, p.2], I think a new CEC survey might find they're acceptable to New Town locals. Most feared would be the possible loss of parking spaces. When bags are hung on railings, they may deter the seagulls, but they also deter the bin men.
William Austin, London Street


(13 September 2009)

Dear All

I agree with Dr Costas Dikeos's ideas [Letter, 17 June, and Extras] for the old Royal High School building [see Extras]. Lying empty will only mean it deteriorating and it will cost even more to rectify. So let's get moving, Edinburgh.

Alice Lauder


(3 September 2009)

Dear Spurtle,

Interesting to see page 2 column 1 of Issue 174  (theft of kickplates from Drummond Place & Dundonald Street) because mine went from 23 Scotland Street on the night of 30th/31st July. The police rang about it yesterday, said they had got nowhere, and didn't mention that there had been similar thefts in surrounding streets. Perhaps you should send them a complimentary copy of the Spurtle – it might help them to put 1 & 8 together ...
Peter Verity


(17 June 2009)

Dear Spurtle,

At best my name may ring very old bells to some of you. I, however,
still feel affection for town and area, as I lived there for about 
5 years.

I hereby send you some alternative views for the use of the old 
premises of the Edinburgh Royal High School on Calton Hill [see Extras]. 

Dr Costas Dikeos
(Eyre Crescent resident, 1989–94; now Komotini, Greece)