Forget the Christmas Market and support our farmers - Readers' Letters

I recently visited both Edinburgh’s Christmas Market and its Farmers’ Market – what a contrast!

After my recent visit to the Christmas Market I agree wholeheartedly with your esteemed food critic Gaby Soutar (Scotsman Magazine, 4 December) and with comments gleaned from social media. I paraphrase: over-priced, and for the most part, tasteless and repetitive tat, most of it almost certainly cheaply produced overseas at knockdown prices and sold here at extortionate prices to fleece the tourists. Why tourists? Because surely no local would go near the place. The same furry hats etc can be found in any of the “Scottish” shops littering the High Street. My experience was of too many stallholders sitting absent-mindedly staring at phones or certainly not engaging with passers-by or customers.

When I visited the Farmers’ Market last Saturday, a bitterly cold day with rain and a biting wind, what did I find? A keen, engaging, friendly and eager to help stalwart collective of local traders and producers doing their best to make a living by promoting high-quality local farm or other produce housed in stalls, nay, makeshift shelters which are neither warm nor fully weatherproof.

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From those contrasting experiences, I come to the conclusion that the city council needs to wake up and smell the coffee (there is a rather nice one done at the Farmers’ Market), and extract itself from Underbelly’s hip pocket.

They should then take 40 or so of the rather nice cabins from the Christmas Market and set them up in another section of George Street or North Castle Street where they would make a natural extension to the atmosphere created by the ice rink. This would create a much more welcoming environment for customers and more tolerable working environment for the traders.

Who knows, the local populace may take to buying locally-produced food and goods in a more pleasant environment from producers who weren’t struggling to stay warm and cheerfully smiling through the grim reality of their trading environment and help promote good food and support employment in the region.

Neil Robertson, Edinburgh

Waterloo moment

The former French ambassador Sylvie Bermann believes that relations between Britain and France are “the worst since Waterloo”. As a Franco-Scot I think she has forgotten the rumpus that greeted Charles de Gaulle’s announcement in 1963 that he was vetoing our attempt to join the Common Market. I long ago stopped trying to explain my admiration for de Gaulle but the strategic reason for his veto – that Britain was neither ready nor willing to commit itself to the common project – has been more justified by events.

Apart from being linked together geographically, the original members complemented each other with similar economies and aspirations. Britain, with its island mentality and relationship with the US, was a poor fit. The general believed that France was too small in the post-war world but with Germany it could drive a powerful, centralised Europe. In the globalised economy which has developed I think he was right. Brexit aided the federalist cause and I cannot understand President Macron’s fury that we departed.

I believe we made a grotesque error in leaving the European Union and that there has been a blow-back on the Continent. However such a short term inconvenience is but a small price for the EU to pay to be shot of a semi-detached member which would always have been a dissenter and might well have prevented the vision being achieved. The best part is that Britain shot itself in the foot and cannot blame anyone else. So surely the time has come for France to be gracious – even if it laughs quietly up its collective sleeve.

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife

Troubled dreams

In the space of one single day (8 December) our wind farm-addicted Scottish ministers granted consent to four wind farms with a total of 87 giant turbines in Moray, East and South Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway. Obviously little consideration was given to the further destruction of cherished landscapes, wildlife habitats or the health, homes or livelihoods of countless people affected by the operation of these useless machines, which will be in situ for the next 30 years or longer.

So while our ministers are enjoying their Christmas dinner, doing their bit for climate change by cutting down on Brussels sprouts to reduce methane emissions, I hope they can spare a thought for the people who have been forced to bear the brunt of their wind farm obsession; the direct neighbours (not the communities who live far enough away to suffer no ill effects but are lucky enough to still receive community benefit payments) but the ones who have to tolerate rotating turbine blades from every direction; flicker, both during the day as well as at night from aviation lights, anxiety-inducing noise and depreciation in property prices. At least they still have homes though, unlike the wildlife who have been driven out of their territories.

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These are the downsides of wind farms which our decision-makers and the majority of people living in towns, cities and villages unaffected by them choose to ignore because it doesn’t bother them and after all, wind farms are good, clean and green, aren’t they? Maybe in their dreams.

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor, East Renfrewshire

Synthetic anger

On 18 December 2020 489 people died of Covid-19. They died alone because of restrictions to stop the virus from spreading. Not only did the Tories think the rules didn't apply to them by having a Downing Street Christmas party but they then laughed at the people who followed the rules. This isn't an aberration. This is the face of a greedy, selfish, uncaring ideology personified by Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

The synthetic "anger" expressed by "Baroness" Ruth Davidson and the "Scottish" Tory branch head boy Douglas Ross (Scotsman, 9 December) is entirely dissembling.

These Tories both stood in multiple elections and told the people of Scotland to vote for this incompetent, lying clown. Davidson even took a peerage from Johnson in exchange for pledging fealty to his rotten regime.

Now that Johnson has been exposed Davidson is trying to wash her hands of culpability. Too late – these Tory Unionists bear ultimate responsibility for Johnson and his lies.

Alan Hinnrichs, Dundee

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Captain Pugwash

Ruth Davidson and DouglasRoss may not have performed their “Et tu, Brute?” moment(s) yesterday had the headline “Tousled one saves scabby Afghan dugs for the nation” not been pushed from the front pages by all that Christmas party stuff.

Both Ruth and Ross have now played a significant role in holing the ship of state, HMS Global Britain, below the waterline. The question is: will they go down with Captain, Boris Pugwash Johnston?

Ian Hiddleston, Dundee

Memory test

There is video going around on Twitter of Nicola Sturgeon talking to STV about “vividly” remembering December 18 and 19 last year and of the need for politicians to be “straight and honest” with people.

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She is, of course, having a dig at Boris Johnson. Now, while I do not disagree at all with the latter statement or of the fact that the PM has to improve his game, I am amazed at how her Covid treatments seem to have had the miraculous effect of restoring her memory, given how she was extremely prone to such lapses – particularly in the “tough times” that she mentioned.

It does not, however, seem to have cured the brass neck she is equally famous for, given her difficulties in being “straight and honest” with committees set up at Holyrood to investigate her own behaviour and which gave her that “tough time”. Perhaps next year’s booster jab will cure that.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Gorbachev legacy

In criticising Mikhail Gorbachev, Kenny MacAskill (Scotsman, 9 Dcember) ignores the constraints he had to work under; he was by no means an all-powerful dictator, as the near-successful coup in August 1991 by Stalinist die-hards made clear. Even the USSR and its semi-Nazi Communist Party were subject to “the art of the possible”, particularly while he tried to change their direction so radically.

Likewise, he ignores Boris dYeltsin’s volatility and frequent changes of prime minister. It has never been credibly explained why, in his final act, he handed over the relatively liberal Russia that he and Gorbachev created to Putin and effectively the KGB (supposedly disbanded in 1991).

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Dating’s dog days

Since Covid began there has been a surge in dog buying so that people in lockdown have company of some kind. However, dogs need to be walked every day. I watch them as I walk in the Meadows in Edinburgh. Two dogs start sniffing delightedly at each other and complete strangers start exchanging feeding regimes and dog stories in perfect safety and can linger as long as they like.

Why risk ghastly evenings with dodgy dates from apps and dating sites when you can take your dog for a walk in the daylight and meet and chat with other dog owners in a pleasant safe park in the daylight, then make an assignation to meet again or break off without rancour on either side? Dog owners stand safely separated too so catching Covid is not as likely as in an enclosed eatery. I sometimes wonder how many happy unions have begun while walking dogs.

Haven’t got a dog? Offer to walk your neighbour’s pooch. You’ll be the most popular person in the street. This may yet become another reason for calling dogs man’s/woman’s best friend.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

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