Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, I should have trusted the teacher

By Norrie T MacDonald

If you’ve ever been acquainted with the Shakespeare play, Much Ado about Nothing; you may well remember that far from being about nothing, it was one of the most convoluted plots (and boy, did he like convoluted plots?) that the Bard could ever have dreamed up.

Now there is much within the machinations that occupy the precious time of our Comhairle officers that could well be regarded as relatively ‘trivial’, although I will fully concede that even the most improbable deliberations might well form the centre of somebody’s entire universe.

But when we, as a community, or section of that community, continue to press for answers and resolutions to a subject that has already been explained fully to us, then we should ask ourselves one important question: “Are we doing this for the greater good, or because we are trying to promote our own agenda?”.


Several weeks ago I wrote about my alarm about some of the material that was included in the Scottish Government’s RSHP (Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood) guidelines and how I felt that some of it was completely over the top for inclusion in any classroom.

Several concerned parents had written to me, asking what on earth was going on.

I enquired of both the Director and Chair of Education and Children’s Services as to the validity of these concerns.

I was happy to note that the ‘plot’ wasn’t as sinister as had been portrayed by some ‘concerned’ groups both within the council (I was amongst them) and on anti-social media.

Some alleged that the Comhairle were somehow, through the back-door and under the cover of the Covid-19 crisis (it gets the blame for everything), trying to sneak through an agenda which went against the “moral values of this community”.

An inflammatory accusation, one that was sure to ignite passions and ring yet another Pavlovian bell.

Extreme example

Except that, far from being subject matter that was about to get rammed down our children’s throats, not just ‘promoted’; it was simply an extreme example of what was included for reference, should anyone wish to avail themselves of it.

Yes, some of it was fairly graphic stuff and, as I’ve said before, I was hugely alarmed that it was even considered for anything to be found in our classrooms.

But, as is the case with material which has been taught in our schools for at least a couple of centuries; the devil is in the detail (which anyone chooses to extract).

Luckily we have seen teachers, historically, opt to use the message of love, forgiveness, compassion and mutual understanding from this particular tome; ignoring the more sinister aspects where death, retribution, punishment and all kinds of nastiness are very much front and centre.

Choosing your testaments wisely is what this is primarily about.

Common sense

We are lucky to have an educational framework where common sense prevails, otherwise there could be very many distractions in the subjects of Biology, Geology and quite possibly Physics.

I attempted to be amusing about a topic which has very legitimate, obvious, and serious, implications for our most impressionable (and possibly confused, who can blame them?) young people.

I hoped I was taking a cue from people who think that a banana dipped into a jar of Nutella is a suitable metaphor for something.

Possibly the obesity crisis?

I think a jar of Bovril might have been funnier.

If people wish to identify as a Unicorn and have sex with the pavement, then that’s fine too, but not surely for inclusion in ‘guidance’ material.

Yes, I have to admit that I also jumped onto the bandwagon, until I had the situation clearly explained to me and was told to trust the teacher’.

They will be given the ultimate discretion and they know best what’s appropriate for their young audience.

We do ‘much ado’ well here.

When ‘Ironside’ and ‘Bob the Budget Builder’ steered the Comhairle and helped many local businesses through the worst of the effects of the ongoing pandemic, we turned inward and focused on upholstery.


With Bernie, Angus and the Education Department, all under immense pressure to get a hugely problematic school year underway on time, we are more focused on what won’t (in almost all certainty) be getting taught, rather than what will, and how.

And if our kids come home from school with a penchant for strange combinations of fruit and nut sandwiches, then it will have been discussed with the Head Teacher and Parent Council first.

A lot of the contentious issues which occupy us here in the Western Isles (ok, Lewis & Harris) are perceived to exist somewhere between a conservative, culturally protective, radically Christian, ‘right’, and a somewhat more progressive, more liberal, secular, bunch of left-wing snowflakes.

Most of us are somewhere, far more certainly and squarely, in the middle trying to make sense of it all.

If we cannot empower and trust our teachers to do what’s best for the most vulnerable amongst us, then we will have failed both.

Golf latest

Anyway, onto more deadly serious, trivial matters.

The man of the week, last week, certainly in the northern half of this county, was the irrepressible David Black.

David Black

Three rounds crammed into 36 hours saw him claim the Thompson Bruce Trophy at Stornoway and take an early lead in Scarista’s 2020 ‘Blue-Riband’ event.

Rounds of 71+ 74(145) around Lady Lever Park on Friday and Saturday saw him edge out Eddie Rogers, 70 + 76(146) by just a single shot over 36 holes.

A further shot adrift saw Murdo ‘Griddy’ MacLeod, 76 + 71(147) in third slot.

Iain ‘Juke Box’ MacKay won the handicap trophy with two excellent rounds of nett 66 for a 132 total.

In between his Thompson Bruce exploits, Davie also posted the leading score in the, two-round, Harris G.C. Club Championship.

His 68 was 4 shots ahead of nearest challengers, Billy Fraser and Cal Robertson, both on 72.

Starting with six straight pars, he succumbed to bogies at the ‘amen’ of corners, the deadly-deceiving brace of par-3s at 7 & 8.

Naturally he bounced straight back; birdies at the new 9th, and the 10th brought him back to level.

He swapped a birdie for a bogey at 15 and 17 to see him home safely.

Only a shift in plate tectonics will see him throw away this lead.

Iain Moir

Midweek at Stornoway saw the Glennie Trophy claimed by Iain Moir on 39 Stableford Points. Starting his opening four holes, five-over par, couldn’t have been good for his confidence.

He was just one-over for the next 14.

In the Junior section, Calum G (Ross) bounced back from his recent humblings at the hands of brother, Geordie H in the Par/Bogey competition.

Six ahead of the course, he demolished the rest of the field by 5 clear shots.


In the Scarista midweek competition, Billy Fraser kept up his, season-long, decent form, partnering Chris Sutton to a fine win in the Pairs Greensomes.

Their 73(62) was two ahead of Russell Tennant and Alan Gunn’s, 79(64).

Benbecula battle

Benbecula’s finest continue to battle it out for their season-long Order of Merit, Dami Steele returning a semblance of normality, bouncing back from a week out of the top spots to consolidate his lead at the top.

His round wasn’t, however, good enough to claim the full points last Tuesday evening, Domhnall MacKay storming to a 40-pointer and the maximum 10 (league scoring) Point haul.

Apparently Donald has been keeping his powder (very) dry and intends, after a decent sabbatical, to make a strong charge over the coming weeks.

In the “Archie Nicholson Memorial Trophy”, congratulations to Damie Steele who won the stroke play part of the subject competition on Saturday.

Damie continued his fine form, shooting a 71(64) to also qualify for the matchplay stages in first place.

Second place went to Willie John Monk with a 77(67), despite slicing his tee shot OB on the last when tied with Damie.

This ultimately cost him the chance of the win.

This competition is unique, however, as it is decided via a matchplay format so the top four actually qualify and remain in with a chance of lifting the trophy.

The 3rd and 4th place qualifiers are Hector MacIntyre (70) and Shaun Brennan (75).

Hector also claimed nearest the pin (resulting in a birdie) and won the bonus hole too.

A good holiday all round Hec!

WJ had the longest drive.

The semi-final line up is as follows:

Damie Steele v Shaun Brennan

WJ Monk v Hector MacIntyre

Down at Askernish

Angus Glen Trophy – though it’s supposed to be July, we were met with a gale and showers on Sunday.

Fortunately we dodged most of the showers but the wind caught a few out, especially on the coastal stretch (5 thru 11) and the scoring was poor.

The victor was Allan Louis MacDonald who hit the turn in 17pts, greatly assisted by birdies at 3 & 4.

Despite the wind being more favourable coming home, he scored poorly, returning ‘just’30 points.

Runner up by a point was Roddy Steele and he tried his best with a par/birdie finish but just fell short.”