A week and a half, to put it mildly, and my trusty notebook has scribbles everywhere.  It does keep opening, however, at the page on which I jotted down one of the Jeremy Clarkson classics – I think it may have been from last week’s episode – Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, of course: ‘You’re actually doing incredibly well for somebody who knows nothing!’  Makes me laugh everytime, the sheer audacity of such a comment but, to be fair, if he said that to me, it would have exactly the same effect.  Should I test it?  I am very tempted to enter but, as I have said before, there is just no way I would wave inanely as my name was called and the camera panned in on me.  That’s the only thing that’s stopping me, I promise!

Part of my life flashed before me on Monday when I saw, for the first time, the items from our childhood home, Lyndhurst, which I had requested but which had been put into storage, prematurely, by my brother more than three years ago.  Transferred to yet another container nearby – I’m collecting them – there was a union jack flag and a granite headstone for starters!  Do not ask.  Also there was an old cardboard box complete with black tissue and my wedding dress!  I had no idea my mother had kept it – lots of weird messages from the other side.  Suffice to say, it has a story to tell but there isn’t a hope in hell that I could ever do it up now.  Prophetically, it never really was my dress anyway – well, not the one I chose – and so in its black tissue it shall remain.  No Miss Havisham impersonations for me.

Oh, help!  It’s raining, it’s pouring and the SNP apparently rallied an estimated 200,000 people on a march through Edinburgh in support of Scottish Independence today.  One can only imagine – as must Nicola Sturgeon who, apparently, was unable to attend.  Perhaps she was at church …  Anyway, as if things aren’t bad enough!  There they all are, baying for independence citing the Brexit fiasco as the latest justification but it is merely yet another excuse devoid of any foresight.  Just how does one define independence?  Being controlled by Brussels?

At the Labour Conference recently, the message plastered behind was ‘For the Many, Not the Few’.  As Jeremy Corbyn spoke, the lectern displayed the words ‘People before Privilege’.  Age-old.  Boring.  Uninspiring.  Destructive.  The class war is alive and well, if not positively burgeoning; the very foundation for Scottish Independence, Nicola Sturgeon and her party are reliant on harnessing, nay inciting this mood of unrest fuelled by grievance and borne of envy.  Divisive in the extreme, what is best for the country is of no consequence.  One can only hope that, once again, the silent voice of intelligence proves the majority when it counts.

Personally, I’m still struggling with that monstrosity of a Scottish Parliament building!  How was that ever allowed?  Embarrassing in the extreme, it is on the doorstep of Holyrood Palace for goodness sake, an elegant historic building dating back to the 1670s, entirely in keeping with its beautiful surrounds; well, now with the exception of that concrete carbuncle.  Of course, the concrete block enhanced by bamboo serves its purpose, representing the defiance at the heart of the SNP; a spit on tradition and everything old school, regardless.  To build on a foundation of grievance alone, however, can spawn no positive outcome.

Who could ever trust a body responsible for that design disaster?  Seemingly sufficient numbers to enable jurisdiction and, as a consequence, we, in Scotland, now have a brand new law deeming smacking a child under the age of 16 illegal. Really?  An NHS at breaking point, an education system in dire need, drugs, knife crime, homelessness, lack of police … the list is endless but Nicola Sturgeon is – and has always been – focused on one thing alone: indyref2 (makes me cringe even to type that!).  Had that not been the case, I doubt this ridiculous bill would have been an issue.

It goes without saying that children should be protected from physical abuse and harm and, indeed, such harm was already a criminal offence but smacking?  Better throw up some more concrete gems pretty quick smart to house the influx of future villains.  Or, maybe not.  Aside from the fact that it is utterly ridiculous, how is it proposed that this law be policed?!

Smacked as a child – as were the majority of my contemporaries – it has done me no harm whatsoever (obligatory pause for laughter).  A momentary red mark on the back of the leg or hand as a reprimand of last resort, or a warning of danger, in no way constitutes a criminal offence – nor lasting damage or abuse.  It would seem, however, that discipline of any kind is challenged in this crazy world where self-expression is everything.  Children are glued to devices practically from birth and parents either don’t care or are just plain apathetic – amounts to the same.  In the face of this, schools are being increasingly forced to accept greater responsibility for pupils, in general, and to cope with the unruly behaviour borne of a lack of discipline or boundaries at home.

The lunacy of enforcing this law, then, beggars belief!  All very well to appear to be forward-thinking, moving with the times and, moreover, politically correct but this is the children of today.  Most addicted to technology, many are floundering in an egocentric world where self-expression is key; boundaries and discipline – never mind morals and manners – are a thing of the past and gender is fluid, let alone parents!  The family nucleus – key to lasting self-worth – is all but gone and nobody seems to care.  Without it?  The evidence speaks for itself.  Now, this law represents further devolution of the parent; an intrusion into the very home.  What’s next?  CCTV?  Surely the only means of ascertaining the truth when the rebel child is gifted the opportunity of empowerment by lying?!

Freedom.  A life without it is unimaginable and yet, slowly but surely, it is being taken from us.  Freedom of choice?  Freedom of speech?  The shackles are tightening.  Technology has enabled the collection of data such that our every move can be monitored and, as though brainwashed, most are willing victims.  The sheep syndrome has superseded the ability to think for oneself and the tyranny of tolerance is the bullying to which the lone voice is subjected.  I have all but wasted several paragraphs on this ridiculous law criminalising smacking but it is a metaphor for the future; a scary one in which our every move is controlled and the individual is lost in the crowd.  I passed Toppings bookshop today and Michael Palin’s latest book about his findings in North Korea caught my eye.  I think I’ll buy it.

‘Government exists to protect us from each other.  Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.’    Ronald Reagan.

This is Trish, signing off.