View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Closing the day

Eleven minutes to eleven in the evening as I start to write this post. My header pictures has been changed once more, and this time it is not a landscape picture - it is quite typical of this time of year. The time was 8pm yesterday evening, and I went to the shop to try to get a copy of my daily rag (the Press and Journal). It had of course sold out hours before. The street is in an industrial area of Stornoway - yes, those are private homes on the right of the picture. I like taking pictures at night, and have devoted an entire set to them on

I have sorted out my subscriptions on Google Reader, and noticed quite a few blogs that were on there which were no longer in existence. The mess, caused by my ill-advised link-up to Blogger, has been sorted - I have a group of blogs that I monitor regularly; the rest are a repository of links.

Spent the afternoon and evening watching an episode of Colombo and one of Poirot. And managed to find the score for the tune for Poirot, so I can now play it on the keyboard. Should be interesting. For now, we're heading into a week with a lot of wet weather. November here we are.

Illicit drugs, the advisor and the government minister

At the moment, the British government is involved in what I can only describe as an unseemly row of the 'screaming' variety. He is at loggerheads with the head of the drug advisory council (I should really say: former head) on the classification of cannabis as an illegal drug. The government have reclassified cannabis to category B, up from the less severe category C. The advisory council have advised the government to downgrade cannabis, but the government have declined to follow this advice. The head of the council, Prof Nutt, has attacked the government over this decision. The government in turn, has asked the professor to resign - which he has done - for interfering in government policy and acting outside of his remit.

This is very harmful to all parties involved. Other members of the advisory council are quitting as well. At lunchtime, we were treated to the spectacle of a Home Secretary raising his voice on BBC TV to put his point across that he really felt the council acted out of order.

Rather than sitting down behind closed doors, and if necessary shout their heads off at each other, this is now being conducted in the full glare of the media spotlight. As a result, the credibility of both government and council is undermined. The misuse of cannabis, an illegal substance, is a major problem in society across the world. In my personal opinion, cannabis should remain classified as a category B substance. On its own, it is a harmful substance. Smoking it is more harmful than tobacco, as the amounts of tar inhaled are far higher. Cannabis can bring on florid (overt) schizophrenia in those individuals predisposed towards that incurable condition. Furthermore, there are thousands of people who can tell the horror story of a relative or friend using cannabis, then as a result, moving on to the use of heroin or cocaine. Cannabis is not an innocent "soft drug".

However, it should be borne in mind that its use is widespread, and a pragmatic approach, along the line taken by the Dutch authorities, might work. Cannabis is a proscribed substance in Holland, but the authorities will not prosecute anyone found in the possession of a quantity, sufficient for their own personal use. They also do not prosecute the owners of so-called coffeeshops, where cannabis can be purchased in small quantities. Anyone found in possession of large amounts of cannabis, clearly intended for supply, will be prosecuted with the full force of the law.

There is this misconception that cannabis is legalised in Holland. It is not. And anyone returning from Holland to the UK or any other country, in possession of a small, user's, quantity, will be liable to prosecution and a criminal record.

Sunday 1 November

A wet day in Stornoway. Not as wet and windy as is currently the case in northern England and southern Scotland - more than 2 inches of rain and winds up to 60 mph. Autumn is now firmly in charge.

I am very displeased with Blogger and Google Reader today. First of all, I am unable to manage my Followed blogs on Blogger, and when I tried to do that on the Reader, it messed up my arrangement of blogs on there. I have nearly 400 subscriptions (not all blog, but put that count at 350). Adding Blogs I Follow was a big mistake. Things rearranged themselves, and I'm find myself going through that unwanted addition to put it all back.

Some football fans, travelling by train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen last night, were dressed up as sheep. Those in the UK will be familiar with an advertisement, showing a railway station and a train full of sheep - and one man. The fans decided to have even more fun and set one "sheep" alight. Two people were hurt and taken to hospital in Kirkcaldy, on the Fife coast. Others were arrested and are assisting police with their enquiries.