Your letters to The Buteman: December 11, 2015

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This week’s crop of your letters to The Buteman includes a thank-you message to all involved in the Stand Up To Cancer campaign on Bute, observations on the future of CalMac ferry services, a poetic tribute to the late Jenny Brown and more.

As ever, to add your views to the debate on any of the topics raised, or any subject of interest to Bute, drop an email to by 5pm on Monday at the latest - though as always, the sooner we hear from you, the better are your chances of seeing your views in print.

Please keep your letters as brief as you can, and remember to include your name and address for publication. We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed.

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Be careful what you wish for

I must confess to being more than bemused at Alan Reid’s comments on the CalMac tendering process.

He refers to Martin Dorchester, CalMac’s MD, who said that the Scottish Government should award the contract on the basis of quality rather than price.

That is precisely what is happening, and sadly for Mr Dorchester, when a parameter such as quality is applied Mr Dorchester’s personal and administrative performance is woeful. I would say to him: be careful what you wish for, because quality of service is not your forte!

Of course, win or lose the contract, Mr Dorchester will not leave empty-handed.

The crews of the vessels and the pier staff do a wonderful job. When my son became seriously ill on board MV Bute, the cafeteria crew and the senior deck staff got stuck in and gave much needed help to us and seemed genuinely embarrassed when I thanked them profusely.

And despite ill-informed comments about the navigational abilities of the deck officers expressed in The Buteman, their safety record is unsurpassed in the UK.

However, take a trip up to Gourock Pier and you enter a nether world of quill pens and candles. CalMac’s admin and management has not altered since the 1960s - or perhaps the 1930s.

They are arrogant, inefficient. incompetent and downright petty.

We, their poor victims, are a nuisance to them. I will shed no tears if the management and dozens of shiftless directors are dumped by Serco. Let them go and torture someone else. However, before they go, have them try to walk down that Gourock gangway during a 4.5 metre high tide with three weans and a bag of messages.

As Cromwell said, “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately...Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”.

I have respect for Alan Reid: he was a good constituency MP, whose inappropriately slavish service to the Tories saw him soundly defeated by an outstanding SNP candidate, Brendan O’Hara.

Mr Reid is decent and kind. He is regrettably, foolish. He is foolish because amongst other things he wrote, “Of course, we are all critical of CalMac at times, but I would much rather try to influence a public monopoly than a private monopoly. For that reason it would be best if the contract stays with CalMac.” Sorry Alan, but you said the exact opposite about the Royal Mail - an organisation you have tried to privatise for years even before the coalition government. Which of your policies are we to believe?

Mr Reid talked about the appalling vessels on the Dunoon run and yes, I am told that they are indeed pretty naff. But I sailed on one of the last MV Saturn runs and aside from my party, there were 12 passengers, a Morrisons truck, a light van and three cars. Clearly, few were using the service, and you know the old adage: “Use it or lose it”.

Where did he expect CalMac to find more suitable vessels?

And did he seriously expect the taxpayer to build a large ferry for a handful of passengers and vans?

Jack M. McDonald, Ascog Boathouse, Ascog

Thanks to Bute for MS Society support

The MS Society’s Dunoon and district support group would like to thank the residents of Bute, and visitors to the island, for their generosity during Bute Vintage Club’s annual road run and ploughing match this summer.

The magnificent sum of £1,350 was raised.

MS (multiple sclerosis) is a debilitating neurological disorder, prevalent in Scotland, and the MS Society offers advice and help to those affected by MS, as well as supporting ongoing medical research.

Our thanks again to all who gave so generously.

Dawn Morley (treasurer, MS Society Dunoon and district support group), The Old Steading, Glendaruel

Name that space

I have, for some time, become aware that a space of significance in the very centre of our town has no apparent identification.

Many times I have been in conversation with local people and no-one is able to instantly refer to it.

It is a nice space and surely deserves an appropriate name, such as ‘Montague Square’?

I hope others may agree?

Jeff Worrall, Springtide, 8 Battery Place, Rothesay

Stand Up to Cancer thank you message

Firstly, I would like to thank three wonderful groups of people for their recent contributions to our cause; the artists who put together the Ballianlay Christmas Fayre and allowed us to serve refreshments there raising £455; the Sailing Club for organising a lovely Ladies Night and raising £185.20, and also Rothesay Primary’s last year’s P7s who raised an amazing £441 for us in their Triathlon event.

I’m sure plenty of folk have been wondering how we did this year with the Stand Up To Cancer campaign and I must apologise for the apparent tardiness of this letter - I can only say that the campaign was on such a large scale that I haven’t been able to gather everything together before now!

So to the following (and in no particular order!), I would like to express my heartfelt thanks:

To our stunning live mannequins (£117.10), Rothesay Cadets (£213.13), The Grapes Bar and its customers (£196.71), Alex Robertson and his Raft Challenge team (£419.54), Sarah Daniels, Kingarth and all who bought a ‘Ladies Night’ ticket (£771.07), Rothesay Fire Brigade (£404.44), Rothesay Campus (£135.00), Ettrick Bay Tearoom (£638.72), Jan’s Tarot reading (£70.00), my teams of bag-packers in both Morrisons in Dunoon and Rothesay Co-Op (£750.53 & £869.33), Rivendell Tattoo Studios and all those who decided to commit to a life-long message of defiance! (£430.00), to the face-painters, loom-banders, cake-bakers, and ‘Lucky Lemon’ bowlers, to those who chose to come quietly and give a personal donation, to all my volunteers who worked extra hours and gave that time so willingly, and finally, to Paul Simpson, Ricky Harrison and all those who stood with us in Guildford Square in the glorious sunshine on October 16 to show an act of solidarity (£644.37), to you all, and to our wonderful community,

I would like to say that our sum of £7267.91 is no mean feat. It is something we should all be proud of. It forms the third highest collection in the UK for Stand Up To Cancer this year and is also part of an incredible £57,581 raised in our team of 19 shops on the West Coast, £303k in Scotland and N.Ireland and £866,547 in shops throughout the nation. It is a hope for the future and our immediate present because it will pay for the very best minds in the world to come together and push forward our research ten-fold. And finally, it is a testament to everyone here that such a sum can be raised by such a small collective force! Photos and videos of the Stand in Guildford Square have now been kindly shared by Paul to our Facebook page, Cancer Research UK/Stand Up To Cancer where you can also keep track of our latest discoveries and exciting news.

Well done everyone.

My team and I wish you all a very happy and restful Christmas!

Anna Harrison (Cancer Research UK’s Rothesay shop manager), Montague Street, Rothesay

A few facts on Bute’s new families

The new Syrian familiesfamilies are settling in well and bringing the younger children to the pop-up community centre staffed by volunteers, where the children can draw, paint and play with toys, all of which have been donated.

Fyne Homes and ACHA allocated houses which had been lying empty and the council welcomes new pupils as school rolls have gone down. Any other services like translators and support staff, as well as council input, are paid for by the UK Government from the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Fund which is part of the International Development Budget.

All the churches and Rotary are supporting and Bute Oasis have provided food hampers as they do for vulnerable families every year with help from Bute Advice Centre.

The team have been overwhelmed by donations of clothing, footwear and toys from local people and messages of support from further afield with emails and phone calls from as far away as New Zealand and the USA. For the people of Bute, we hope you will welcome the new arrivals, who ‘have been to hell and back’.

Cllrs Robert Macintyre, Isobel Strong, and Len Scoullar, Kilmory, Lochgilphead

‘For Jenny with the Smiling Eyes’

Jenny with the smiling eyes,

That’s how I’ll always remember you.

No matter when I saw you,

No matter what you were doing,

You were always smiling.

When I met you in the street

You had a smile for me.

When I met you in the pub

That smile flashed too.

If I met you on a dull, rainy day

Your smile lit up the darkness.

When you led the Jazz Parade,

Multi-coloured outfit cladding you

From head to toe and parasol twirling,

That smile was still the brightest thing on show.

When you talked of all the jazz greats

And your trips to New Orleans,

I was entranced.

When you danced on shaky pins

Along the Promenade,

I was captured once again.

And when you sang!

O God when you sang!

How wonderful to hear that voice

Cleave the night

And leave me wanting more,

Wishing I’d heard you in your

Young smoky-cellar, jazz club days.

Those days won’t come again

But I count myself lucky

To have known you, Jenny.

Jenny with the smiling eyes.

Alan J. Carter, 15 Argyle Terrace, Rothesay

Christmas lights apologies

I would like to apologise for the cancellation of the switching-on of the Christmas lights at Guildford Square on Friday. This was due to stormy weather conditions, and special apologies go to the school-children due to sing, and to our MC Douglas ‘Big Dougie’ Lyle.

Councillor Len Scoullar, 45 Craigmore Rd, Rothesay