Our daughter Frances still owes the Student Loans Company £26,000. If she had been Scottish and had attended a Scottish university she would owe nothing, not one penny, zilch! This is patently unfair. Every month The Student Loans Company deduct money at source from her salary. She has paid off about £10,000 since she started her working career. A parallel Scottish graduate would have been able to use that money to buy a car, have a round the world holiday or build a deposit for a house purchase. As I say, it is damned unfair.
Anyway, back to Kirkcudbright the weekend before last. I am sitting in "The Steam Packet Inn" talking with my new best friend Jack. He is wearing a faded Glasgow Rangers football shirt and his accent is as thick as a bowl of Scottish porridge. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he had just turned sixty. He opens his wallet to proudly show off his free bus pass. In Scotland, men are still entitled to free bus travel when they reach the age of sixty. Jack was rather puzzled when I told him that I am sixty three and won't be entitled to a free bus pass till I'm sixty five. England v Scotland - there's another blatant injustice.
On the morning of Monday the 14th, I met my camper van friend Jimmy again by the drizzly wharf, overlooking the River Dee close to where his vehicle had been parked up for the night. I extolled the virtues of a town that has no double yellow lines, no parking ticket machines and no parking enforcement officers.
I said to Jimmy, "I hope it stays this way and that Kirkcudbright council don't get greedy and start to squeeze parking charges from motorists."
"Nae chance of that," smiled Jimmy, "as long as England keeps subsidising Scotland!"
That made me laugh somewhat ironically..
"I wish they's subsidise Yorkshire in the same way!" I said.
By the way - here's a little known fact. Using our ancient county boundary line, the population of Yorkshire is bigger than the population of Scotland and yet our county has been denied so many of the benefits that have headed Scotland's way. Here's one symbolic example - The Scottish parliament building which opened in Edinburgh in 2004 cost £414 million to build and currently costs £72 million a year to run. There is no parallel building in Yorkshire. Jimmy was surely right about subsidisation.