Kirsty McCluckie: Our liberty is a small price to pay to keep the verges tidy
I'VE always been opposed to governments' increasing checks on their population: the hidden surveillance using CCTV cameras; the suggestion that it might be a good idea to keep everyone's DNA on file, whether or not we are criminals; and the introduction of identity cards from birth.
But perhaps I am just following the well-worn path of becoming less liberal and more reactionary as I get older, because the news that drivers will be fined if caught on camera throwing litter from their cars makes me hop from foot to foot and rub my hands together with glee, in the style of Rumpelstiltskin.
Keep Scotland Beautiful has announced plans for fixed-penalty notices of 50 to be issued to motorists caught littering on motorway CCTV. The plan is to track drivers through their registration numbers and send a fixed-penalty notice through the post.
And while terrorism, sex offences and knife crime thus far haven't manage to sway my principles on civil liberties, this small item in the news just might, for I am what you might call a 'litter Nazi'.
My only concern with the new scheme is that there won't be enough cameras in the national network to catch the worst offenders. Motorways may be covered, but what about Scotland's rural areas, scarred by auto-borne cans, crisp packets and takeaway trays?
About once a week I walk the mile-and-a-half trip to pick the children up from school, along a single track road. Each time I do, I note that the layer of rubbish lining the hedgerow has been renewed from passing cars. And it isn't the locals that do it, I'm sure: on one occasion I found a vast array of McDonald's detritus among the primroses, at least an hour from the nearest fast-food outlet. City folk must load up their cars and spend their days despoiling a particularly beautiful spot.
I think it was the sight of this unhappy meal that finally made me toss away my liberal principles, in the manner of an urban daytripper with a pizza box by Loch Lomond.
For I have a solution, but it is only feasible if we embrace the government's radical ideas for the Britain of the future. If we did invest in a nationwide database of the population's DNA, wouldn't it be possible for a discarded chicken nugget on a picturesque lane to be analysed? One phone call from the lab could then lead a swat team directly to the door of the culprit.
And from there the punishment could be entirely lo-tec. Having to wear ankle cuffs welded to a skip for a couple weeks should do it.
Good odds for Sheilas with GSOH
THE Mayor of Mount Isa, a remote mining town in Queensland where there's a massive shortage of women, has unilaterally launched an appeal to redress the balance.
"With five blokes to every girl, may I suggest that beauty-disadvantaged women should proceed to Mount Isa," John Molony said in a press interview.
"Quite often you will see walking down the street a lass who is not so attractive, with a wide smile on her face," he added, alluringly.
The council has since been swamped with complaints from both men and women about his comments. Fellow councillor Jean Ferris wasn't impressed: "It's an absolute disgrace," she told a newspaper, "we're appalled."
What, even when the mayor couched his remarks in perfectly politically-correct terms?
I suspect Ms Ferris herself is exceptionally attractive. She seems to lack "a good sense of humour", the international euphemism for an ugly Sheila.
CHILDREN'S authors at the book festival this week argued that age-banding books, that is, showing the age group at which they are aimed on the cover, could stigmatise weaker readers. The Publishers' Association has defended the plan to introduce the system, pointing out that parents and teachers might need guidance.
But the huge range of understanding, preferences and emotional maturity in any one age group means age alone isn't much guide as to what is suitable for an individual child.
Nor should their favourite books be categorised as too old or too young. Please leave this plan quietly on the shelf.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west