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  1. The tiredness, faintness, confusion and craving for carbohydrates all imply low blood sugar. I take it you've been tested for this?
  2. As I think I've said before on this thread, NorthLink's attitude towards sailing in bad weather is very different from that of the Steam Packet, who serve us here in the Isle of Man. The Steam Packet tend to be ultra-cautious, and despite having a vessel of around 13,500 GRT very often won't send it out in a force eight as passenger comfort is their number one priority. I suspect that if they served Shetland, you would get very few sailings taking place in winter as they tend to be very risk-averse. Before Christmas, there was a run of cancelled sailings and there was a lot of worry that many people's presents wouldn't arrive, but it all got sorted out at the last minute with an extra freight sailing. But the shelves at Marks & Spencer were certainly looking bare today, since last night's sailing was cancelled.
  3. As a complete outsider (never visited Shetland and never read any of Ms Cleeves's books), I enjoyed it. Then again, I do like this genre of TV and will cheerfully sit through Poirot, Morse, Touch Of Frost, Death In Paradise et al (though I do draw the line at the execrable Midsomer Murders). For sure, it embodied every cliché of the "cosy mystery" style: seething resentments between neighbouring families, unsolved crimes from the past, more red herrings than your local fishmonger, and (worst of all) the dreadful plot device of a character trying (and narrowly failing) to communicate information to the detective shortly before she is murdered. But it kept me quiet for a couple of hours, and I thought it presented Shetland very attractively, so I hope they make some more. Talking of Shetland, it was even more obvious from watching TV than from the pictures I'd already seen just how different the place looks from the Isle of Man…
  4. Indeed we are not, but we do have a clear exit strategy agreed with the UK: if we can gain a 55% "yes" vote in an independence referendum, we can sever all links with the United Kingdom. The danger is that Shetland does not, to my knowledge, have a similar exit strategy agreed with the Scottish Government. Given that Shetland is the richest part of Scotland, I cannot see an Alex Salmond-led government letting you go without a fight.
  5. I'm not sure how you imagine the three Crown Dependencies are "propped" by the UK. I'll agree that the Isle of Man was receiving considerable financial support from the UK until recently, via a VAT-pooling agreement that was weighted heavily in the island's favour, but this has now been renegotiated twice to remove any element of subsidy. All three Crown Dependencies are self-supporting, with the only services provided by the UK being defence and international representation (paid for in cash by the Isle of Man, and via somewhat differing arrangement for Jersey and Guernsey). Scotland, by contrast, is heavily supported by the English taxpayer, and if independent would need to slash its public services or increase taxation enormously. Were Scottish independence ever to happen, the best thing Shetland could do would be secede from Scotland.
  6. Yes, I can only take this to mean dynamic pricing, whereby a certain number of seats are made available at a certain price, and once that allocation is gone the price rises. That approach to pricing already exists on the ferry services to and from the Isle of Man.
  7. Yeah, that is not a good solution. I know that Gibraltar went down the same route on an even bigger scale, with a single giant medical practice covering the entire population of almost 30,000. Apparently it's chaos, especially as doctors in Gibraltar are supposedly not allowed to issue repeat prescriptions without seeing the patient again. The result is people on long-term medication having monthly appointments just to get their prescriptions, which is completely insane!
  8. How many medical practices and how many GPs do you have covering Shetland? Here in the Isle of Man, we have nine medical practices employing 39 GPs covering a population of 85,000. My own practice is one of the smaller ones, with two full-time GPs, two part-time nurses (who alternate on duty) and three receptionists (two on duty at any time). They provide cover for the whole of central Douglas, and there's never any problem in dealing with them. Calls are answered within three or four rings, emergency appointments are always available the same day if you call first thing, and even scheduled appointments are available within a week. If you need to speak to one of the doctors on the phone, you simply leave a message and she calls you back at the end of surgery. How come things seem so complicated in Lerwick by comparison?
  9. It's interesting to note the very different philosophies between your ferry company and ours (the Isle of Man Steam Packet). Whereas Northlink appears quite bold with regard to weather conditions, the Steam Packet won't send the boat out if there's even a slight possibility that the crossing might be bad enough to upset passengers (let alone cause injuries). Consequently, despite our main ferry, the Ben-my-Chree, being larger and heavier than either the Hrossey or the Hjaltland, it generally won't sail in anything above a force nine and sometimes not even that. The situation was exacerbated by the ship having a broken bow thruster for several months, which made it difficult for it to manoeuvre in port. With the Steam Packet unwilling to pay for tugs, the boat started to be cancelled in anything above a moderate sea and even slight gales: shops' shelves remained empty and at one point it looked as though Christmas presents would not arrive on time. The bow thruster finally got repaired just before Christmas, when the dry docking was brought forward from April. I suspect a lot of pressure was applied to them behind the scenes, as the Chief Minister was pretty irate about it.
  10. Something-else-masquerading-as-meat is a rather old and racist cliché concerning Chinese restaurants, but it has actually happened to me. At a quite expensive eaterie over here (now thankfully closed), I had sweet-and-sour chicken that, instead of chicken, contained… actually, I'm not 100% sure what it was, but my nearest guess would be some sort of tripe from a pig or sheep. I never went back out of principle, which is a shame as the rest of the banquet was very good.
  11. Clearly, the decision whether to cancel a sailing depends on two things: safety and not frightening the passengers. It's exactly the same here: a Steam Packet crewman told me that our largest vessel, the Ben-my-Chree, could safely sail in anything up to a Force 11, but they won't send it out in anything above a Force Nine as some passengers would be terrified and would start to worry that the ship could sink. Ironically, the only genuinely frightening sailing I've had wasn't a crossing at all, but a "pleasure cruise" (arf!) around the island on our smaller fastcraft. The weather and sea state, not good to begin with, turned significantly worse when expected to improve, and when the ship rounded the Calf of Man it was hit by a freak wave that rolled it to such an extent I seriously thought it would capsize.
  12. My own view is that Crown Dependency status (or outright independence) would suit Shetland very well: it has certainly done so for my home nation the Isle of Man, and has to be far preferable to being governed remotely from London and Edinburgh. However, this is essentially a legal issue: it would need to be proved, as Stuart Hill is attempting to do, that Shetland does not legally belong to the United Kingdom in the first place. Simply holding a referendum on secession and then unilaterally applying the decision would have no constitutional basis and would be a straightforward illegal act. Of course, practically speaking, the UK Government could not arrest the entire population of Shetland if you withheld your taxes. But it could certainly apply sanctions to counter any attempt at UDI, and in the absence of a convincing constitutional case from the new Shetland Government, it would have the backing of the international community in doing so. Further, the new nation of Shetland would go unrecognised by the EU and other global bodies. The Isle of Wight Council went down a similar route in the mid-nineties, making preliminary enquiries to see whether the island did in fact belong the UK, or whether it could declare itself a Crown Dependency. Research suggested that it was indeed an integral part of the UK, and nothing more was heard about the idea.
  13. Thanks! All my clients in my other job (advertising copywriter) will be getting emailed about it on Monday. (Well, the ones who are sufficiently bloke-ish to appreciate the book's humour, at any rate.) That'll be something for them to look forward to.
  14. Shameless plug time: I have a new novel out, and Amazon has it for an excellent price (below trade price, in fact, so I don't know they can sell it for this): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Warp-Richard-Falk/dp/1849820228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275587228&sr=8-1 Amazon has the back cover blurb, but if anybody would like to know more about "Warp", please post any questions here.
  15. My friend Paddy from Donegal is heavily into animal rights, and is a keen hunt saboteur. Every time they schedule a meet, he goes out the night before and shoots the fox.
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