Who’s That Knocking At The Door

This is dedicated to all of the wonderful talented people I have met at the equally wonderful British Centre for Literary Translation Summer School, which has just ended.

In my wee bit of spare time, I did this wee bit of translation.

Who’s That Knocking At The Door?
Theodor Kramer (1897–1958)

Who’s that knocking at the door
Too early for most souls?
It’s just the baker’s boy my pet
Dropping off some rolls

Who’s that knocking at the door?
I’ll go, my child, don’t stir
Just a man at the neighbours’
Asking who we were

Who’s that knocking at the door?
Run your bath, you needn’t care
That letter we’re expecting
Here’s the postman on the stair

Who’s that knocking at the door?
Now there, just make the bed
It’s the landlord: we’re to be out
On the first of the month, he said.

Who’s that knocking at the door?
The fuchsia blossom is so near –
My sweetheart, pack my toilet bag
And don’t weep – they are here.

Herald letter: “Scotland And Self-Determination” (from Saturday.)

I AM asked directly (Letters, July 7) regarding civil and political freedoms enjoyed in Scotland whether these should not include self-determination, and whether the outcome of the Brexit referendum does not show a deficiency in these liberties.

In response, I would point out that the independence referendum of September 2014 was the biggest ever exercise in self-determination that Scotland had then ever seen, and that this was only exceeded by the Brexit referendum in which Scotland participated as part of the UK.

The 2014 outcome resulted in the participation of every Scottish voter in 2016 as to whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU: the question was not about Scotland, nor did any ballot paper bear the disclaimer “Does not apply in Scotland.” While a majority of Scottish voters rejected the proposition, the same can be said of London and various other parts of the UK, and the vote of every Scot was equal to that of every other voter, whatever their postcode or background.

Your readers may wish to reflect that those who deny these facts, such as some of your correspondents, are the true deniers of Scottish self-determination. The same applies to those, including the SNP, who seek to undermine the choices we have freely made both as Scottish and British voters.

Peter A Russell,

Wee letter in Herald – Scotland is free already.

IAIN Macwhirter rightly points out that “the case for national liberation is much more difficult in a country like Scotland when people do not feel oppressed or denied civil or political rights”.

There is also an extremely good reason why we do not feel oppressed: the civil and political rights we enjoy are amongst the best in the world, and Scots have no missing freedoms to be gained from independence.

Peter A Russell

Herald letter: “Count The Spoons”

(The section in italics was cut by the Herald and did not appear in the paper.)

Sir,

I HAVE recently received an election communication through the post from the SNP. I am told that it has been mailed directly to many others across Scotland.

As a matter of public service, I would like to point out to any others of your readers who may receive it that it contains a number of untruths in claiming achievements for the SNP.

The most obvious of these are free elderly care, free university tuition for Scottish students and free bus travel for pensioners. It is of course a matter of public record that all of these were introduced by the earlier Labour-Liberal Democrat coalitions. Those less generous than myself might also notice that the Borders Railway (another “SNP” achievement) was signed up by the Lab/LibDem administration before it left power in 2007.

Such untruths only go to reinforce the sense that if you are unfortunate enough to have Nicola Sturgeon or your local SNP candidate come round for tea, you should be careful to count the spoons before they leave.

Your readers may also like to ask themselves how these services are paid for. The answer is of course that they are only possible because of the many billions of pounds that Scotland receives under the pooling and sharing arrangements of the United Kingdom. Yes, the same United Kingdom that the SNP wishes to kiss goodbye to – along with all of the funding that comes with it.

That is not on the direct mail shot either.

Peter A Russell

 

Monologue Of An Emigrant – Mascha Kaleko

Inspired by our recent visit to Berlin: my translation of a work by a poet who grew up and lived there as a young woman before fleeing to the USA in 1938. After World War 2 she lived in Israel, and died in 1975 in Zurich, on the return journey from her last visit to Berlin.

Monologue of an Emigrant.
Mascha Kaleko

Once I had a lovely homeland
So sang the refugee Heine
His stood on the banks of the Rhine
Mine on The Mark’s home sand

To have a (see above!) was once the norm
It was eaten by plague, pulverised in the storm.
O, rose of the moor and of the heath,
Strength Through Joy put you to death

The nightingales were struck dumb
Looked around for a safer home
And only the cry of vultures was heard
High over the ranks of those interred

It will never again be as it was
Even if the outcome was changed
Even if the sweet fairy bell chimed
Even if the sword no longer clanged

To me it sometimes seems as if
My heart will break and more.
Now and then I suffer homesickness:
But I do not know what for…

Herald letter: Labour And IndyRef2

YOUR correspondent William Thomson (Letters, April 22) questions the Labour Party’s continuing opposition to a further referendum on Scottish independence. In fact, the reason for this is really very simple.

The back of every Labour Party membership card bears the following statement: “by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more then we achieve alone.” This is simply the application of our philosophy that humankind is most successful when we work in unions. This applies to our personal lives, in the world of work, in our communities and in the relationships between regions within countries and between nations.

There is no evidence that Scotland is so special as to be the exception to this rule. Indeed, the history of the United Kingdom shows that all of the progress from which we benefit today has been made through collective achievements at all levels.

In contrast, nationalism has achieved nothing whatsoever, and indeed has proven to be a destructive and divisive influence. Can anyone really truthfully say that Scotland is a better and happier place than it was 10 years ago before the SNP took power at Holyrood?

Or indeed that another independence referendum is what we need to heal the divisions and enduring harm of the last one?

Peter A Russell

Herald letter: GERS and the follies of GERS Deniers.

HAVING lost the 2014 referendum on the economic facts, it is now clear that Scottish Nationalists wish to muddy the water by discrediting the Scottish Government’s own GERS figures and creating a fact-free zone for any future repeat.

I would refer your readers to the excellent Fraser of Allander Institute blog on the derivation and status of GERS by Graeme Roy, and to the approval of the UK Statistics Authority, which is the “kitemark” for such data. They can then make their own minds up.

In the meantime, we can also consider two implications of the claims of the unreliability or inaccuracy of GERS.

The first is that margins of error work both ways. If the GERS deniers believe that the gap between our revenues and expenditures is, for example, a mere £10 billion rather than the eye-watering £15bn identified, they assume a margin of error of £5bn. By that same token, it could also be inaccurate by the same sum in the other direction: anyone fancy starting a country with a £20 billion per annum deficit? (No, me neither.)

The second point is to imagine that the GERS deniers are correct and that the figures are completely useless. Then we must consider just how completely crazy the proposition would be to embark on independence with no idea whatsoever about our revenues and expenditure, nor about the balance between the two. (Count me out of that one, too.)

Peter A Russell