I manage to go on a veritable Scottish tour, namedropping a whole host of places who may be losing a sheriff or JP court (Annan, Dornoch, Duns, Haddington, Rothesay and Stonehaven) or will be taking up the slack accordingly (such as Aberdeen, Dumfries and Greenock). I also manage to mention the court-less Neilston, but in the context of community vitality as an example of a community who have used the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 to take-over an important building as a local hub.
Needless to say, the masochistical yet apparently egotistical strand of my persona felt the urge to listen back to what I had said. This is always instructive – for example, why did I adopt the hollow words “sort of” as something of a verbal tick in the early part of the interview? Of more interest to me are the comments made after my section finishes. For journalistic balance, Eric McQueen of the Scottish Court Service was asked for his views. He makes the case that the proposals are proportionate in the context of a 20% real terms reduction in the Scottish Court Service budget come 2015. I cannot deny that there must be some really tough decisions here and I am not the one making them, all I am doing is commenting on them. I do feel my comments are worth making though. A second point that was made relates to the apparent chance for rural-dwellers to save up personal admin for a trip to an urban centre, which presenter Euan McIlwraith characterised along the lines of “why not go to a medical appointment when you are also going to court”. With respect, that has to be written off as a complete non-argument and McIlwraith’s parody seems apt.
One last rather insignificant point. No, I do not pronounce my surname with two syllables. Alas, BBC Radio Scotland has given yet another permutation on my surname, rendering it Combie. My family has always pronounced Combe to rhyme with womb rather than comb. If that does not make sense to you, well, take it up with the non-existent English orthographical group. A visit to Cornwall or Wales to see places named Combe or Cwm may also add some weight to the argument that I am indeed pronouncing my name sensibly. Honest.