The 19th Hole: Knife-crime documentary was an eye-opener

Norrie T MacDonald

Watching the Kate Silverton documentary about knife crime in Scotland on BBC’s ‘Panorama’ on Monday night was a harrowing experience for those of us happily/luckily cocooned in our Hebridean, relatively serious crime free, idyll.

The notion of young men (for this was primarily about young men) running around like cut-throat pirates with a season ticket for A&E is a complete anathema to folk whose only reason for holding a knife outside of the dinner table would be for crofting, fishing or just trimming the cuticles.

To most of us, a knife is a practical tool, not an assault weapon.

Kate Silverton filmed with Police Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit

Almost in their entirety, those found in possession in the inner cities cited self-defence as the primary reason for being ‘tooled up’.

Having worked in a chandlery, I was used to carrying a knife for my work.

Cutting rope was a daily chore.

A multi-tooled, Swiss Army type sits in the glove compartment of the ‘office’, lest a mishap on the road requires something more subtle than a smack with a wheel brace.

Handling a knife was something we were taught as kids.

“Always cut towards your friends” and “There’s nothing more dangerous than a blunt knife”, seemed like strange mantras at first.

I still have a whetstone, slightly worn, and an old-fashioned oil can in the shed.

There’s definitely something satisfying about sharpening your own knife.

And yes, on the (relatively few) instances over the years that I’ve deployed one I have, on occasion, taken a nick in moments of lapsed concentration and carelessness.

But the notion of plunging a deadly weapon into a fellow human being in an act of ‘self-defence’, far less an aggressive attack, is so far removed from what I’d hope is an ingrained Hebridean psyche, that knife-attacks are still rare here in the, not so Wild West.

The days of the broadsword, claymore and the ‘biodag’ are surely long behind us.

We’d certainly like to hope.

What was also an eye-opener in the programme, certainly to someone completely removed from the inner-workings of a modern classroom, was the way in which today’s teachers deal with unruly, disruptive, behaviour.

I can’t ever imagine ‘Habba’, ‘Dool’, ‘Brown Owl’ or any of my more ‘combative’ teachers inviting some of the miscreants I had the pleasure of sharing my school days with to ‘leave the classroom and walk around for a bit in the playground to calm down’ when they were raising merry hell.

A flying duster or piece of chalk, a barking reprimand which you ignored at your peril, were the milder rebukes.

The ‘draw’ as we called it, was the stinging application of the Lochgelly tawse; deployed by, and enjoyed by, many teachers in very unequal measure.

You knew who you could tease and taunt, safe in the knowledge that they’d never belt you.

You knew the ones who would only do it under extreme duress.

You knew the sane ones who would apply it fairly, and often very squarely, when you deserved it.

And the maniacal psychotics who loved to belt children, for even the most inane reasons, as it appeared to deliver (to them) an almost physical pleasure.

For some it wasn’t just the belt.

A hook around the side of the head or even an uppercut to the solar plexus was not unheard of.

Who doesn’t look back upon their school days with huge affection, and on memorable teachers with, despite the scarring, a small degree of fondness?

Naturally we all think that kids today are, by comparison, mollycoddled.

That they’re on easy-street and have carte blanche to do as they please both in the classroom and at home.

Or so we like to kid ourselves(?).

Who would be a teacher or law-enforcer today, one hand tied behind your back, dealing with young adolescents, each fully more fully aware of the European Convention of Human Rights than they are of the five times table?

From my own, growing, realisation of how difficult a time modern kids have; my understanding of the reality is rapidly changing.

Ask yourself this: “would I rather have the childhood of today’s youngsters, or would I wish for them to have experienced mine?”.

You might find yourself conflicted.

I’ve just glanced to my left at the bookcase in the room I’m in.

Sitting on top is my mother’s ‘tawse’ from her teaching days, recently rescued from a shed clearance (it does, happily, look very unused), and her uncle’s bayonet from WW1.

Both are very scary indeed.

I promised her that I’d behave.

This week, anyway.

Golf latest

In a South to north trajectory, this week’s scores come to us first from a confused South Uist.

I’m pretty sure only Colin Russell will be watching any ‘big’ European football anytime soon, the rest of his compatriots pretty much guaranteed a paltry domestic quadruple something or other, once the SFA.have thrown everyone else out of the competition.

Co duibh…Colin’s not bitter at all.


“March Medal – obviously it’s July, but we’re playing catch up, so the March Medal was played out last (mid) week.

Similar to how they wax lyrical about the big European nights at the football, there’s something magical about Askernish on a fine summer’s evening when you can see every hump and hollow of the turf (even if you can’t see your ball). Anyway, in my opinion the scoring didn’t do the conditions justice, and the winner on 34 points was John Archie MacIntyre keeping up his recent good form.

Well played John Archie.

Runner up was another form player in the shape of Ron MacKinnon.

He only missed out on consecutive medals by virtue of the dreaded countback. One point further behind was Steve Montgomery, usually a danger man in Stableford competitions given his high handicap.”


Further north at Benbecula, their summer season is well under way, a plethora of ‘usual suspects’ to the fore.

“The 6th round of the Order of Merit competition was played on Tuesday 7th July.

Winner: Willie John Monk (37 points)

Runner-up: Harry Luney (36 points)

Damie Steele still holds a commanding lead, thanks to never finishing outside the top three to date.

On 54 points, he is 14 clear of a charging Willie John Monk

Congratulations to Archie Naylor on winning the July Bonus Medal on Saturday with a one over par 63.

A great score in what were clearly testing conditions given the number of NR’s and other high scores. Archie is rewarded with a handicap cut – he was only on 24 for one week.

Archie’s delight in winning was tempered slightly when informed that it wasn’t a qualifying event for the season ending Gold Medal.

Better luck next time Archie!

Winner: Archie Naylor (63)

Runner-up: Willie John Monk (66).”


At Scarista, a similarly busy week saw plenty of decent golf.

Zuckerhearach was in top form:

“In possibly the most unlikely of pairings since Nicola Sturgeon & Jackson Carlaw; Captain Kenny ‘Kuna’ Morrison & Russell Tennant won the Holyrood mixed doubles badminton crown.


Stormed to victory in Tuesday’s pairs scramble with a score of 65(58.7).

The only team to post a below par, gross, round; they beat the pairing of John Blunt & Steven Brown into runners-up spot.

Their 69(61) was adjusted by +1 for inappropriate use of a Tomsh (his partner was a ‘no-show’).

Congratulations to the winner of the latest round of the Backpackers Stop, Par-Bogey Accumulator.

Allan ‘The Gunner’ Gunn’s  winning score was +4,  a very consistent 80 (40/41) saw him 2 up on both nines.

Meanwhile, runner-up Steven Brown was having the metaphorical game of two halves; racing away to +5 front nine (actually front 8), before returning at a more sedate pace of -1.

Countback on his poorer back nine cost him victory by the slimmest of margins.”


In the far north, Stornoway yet again saw a healthy turnout for their weekly competitions: 50+ in the midweek, W.I.K.P.A. (Western Isles Kidney Patients Association) and 75+ in Saturday’s Millennium Trophy.

Former captain, Pete Middleton, 76(64) narrowly pipped DJ MacLeod 67(65) with some excellent play.

Pete Middleton

Peter is blessed with an ability to always be in the ‘zone’.

He doesn’t appear to ever be a million miles away from buffer, a combination of being straight, and incredibly frugal when it comes to wasted shots.

Out in a tight, 38 blows; an assured finish saw him safely home, despite his only ‘double’ at the dastardly Dardanelles.

Dan Crossley put very clear daylight between himself and the rest of a faltering field in the Millennium Trophy on Saturday; a 6-shot margin of victory just reward for his continued impressive form.

His 77(60) full of good play and no unforced errors, a recipe for certain success when still off a bountiful handicap.

Dan will continue to make a mockery of his handicap and, once he harnesses his prodigious striking ability with a Middleton-like miserliness with unnecessary ‘extras’; we will have a very decent, and dangerous, player in our midst.

Dan Crossley

In the junior “Lifeboat Spoon”, the real surprise was that the dominant player of the season thus far didn’t win yet again.

That he lost by the narrowest of margins, separated by virtue of the dreaded ‘countback’  following yet another impressive score, 83(65), was tough enough for Calum G Ross; that his younger brother, Geordie, 96(65) beat him was doubly distressing.

Their ‘keep it in the family’ routine was 10 shots better than the third placed finisher.

Well played young Geordie.