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Fighting Terror in Haddington.

What would you do if one of your neighbours bombarded you with abusive messages on Facebook? Delete the messages? Delete your neighbour, by deciding that she was no longer your “Friend”? Or pity the unfortunate woman and simply ignore her pointless ranting? It seems that the residents of Haddington, East Lothian, were not up to dealing with such an emergency and that the local Facebook troll was too mighty for them. Henceforth, enter the state!

Thirty-three year old mother Nikola Graham has been issued with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order, which bans her from posting “threats” on Facebook and Twitter. She has been apparently banned from “shouting or “swearing” in both her own home and throughout the whole of Haddington at large. Let’s hope that she is not the sort of person who cannot open her mouth without swearing, else she must be currently in the same agony as somebody who is trying not to breathe underwater. Breaching this ASBO could lead to a jail sentence.

The local Tory laird, Ludovic Broun-Lindsay, has claimed that, “These orders are not given out easily. An established pattern of behaviour has to be built up.” Behaviour such as, say, “shouting” and “swearing” every day. The Edinburgh Evening News tried to humiliate Graham today by publishing her address and an unflattering “doorstopped” photograph. Graham may be an unpleasant, spiteful woman, but if we are being honest, then all of her neighbours in this armpit of a community are probably just the same. If you demand help from the police to deal with a difficult neighbour, then you are effectively saying, “I am a child. I need the state to act as my parent.” In this respect, the people who sought Graham’s ASBO prove themselves to be just as childish as she is.

Pirates on the Horizon.

Perhaps the tram was a dream? The disastrously unsupervised instalment of a single tramline, with projected costs now at a billion pounds, has virtually bankrupted Edinburgh’s council and made the city a national laugh stock. Yet with council elections in seven days, it seems that the plucky local press has together agreed to treat all of our motley politicians as if they were the Royal Family, by not asking too many unhelpful questions.

The “transport convenor” Gordon Mackenzie last year effectively admitted to the BBC’s David Miller that he was put in charge of the trams despite being too dim to supervise an engineering project. Yet he is today allowed to waffle on about his cycling policy in the Edinburgh Reporter, without being distracted by a single question on the trams. It is rather like interviewing Doctor Shipman and failing to bring up the murders. Over at the Evening News, an editorial insists that when it comes to local politics, “we ignore the subject at our peril,” but the paper’s “Opinion” pages seem to address every subject under the sun except for the local elections. Moreover, the Evening News appears to have sent its weather correspondent to interview the party leaders.

Labour’s Andrew Burns is offering a vision of David Cameron’s Big Society in all but name, but nobody is so impolite as to comment on this incongruity. The interview with the Greens’ Steve Burgess makes no mention of the trams which his party demanded, whilst the Lib Dem council leader, Jenny Dawe, who has by now surely offered her opponents enough evidence to have her sectioned, alludes with vague wistfulness to her tram project. The most important word in her slogan, “We’re leaving Edinburgh in a better place” is without a doubt, “leaving.” Her repeated failure to comment publically on the greatest disaster under her leadership, or indeed any leadership in modern political history, is not deemed worthy of pursuit. Dawe may be so obnoxious that she makes her slimeball party leader, Nick Clegg, look like John F Kennedy by comparison, but this coverage remains accommodating enough for the Lib Dems to still feel confident lingering around the crime scene. Earlier in the month, the Evening News published a headline so extraordinary that it should have provoked riots or a military coup: “Lib Dem Election Plan: Let’s Have More Trams.”

Meanwhile, what is happening out in the world of politics? Edinburgh’s leading leftish blog EdinburghEye plumps for the independent candidate Gordon Murdie, who is standing in Newington out of exasperation at an ongoing statutory repairs scam. It has gone largely unnoticed that the Pirate Party is also fielding a candidate, Phil Hunt, in Meadows/Morningside. Internet “piracy” may remain a turn-off for many voters, but once you get beyond the name, the Pirates have a virtually unique respect for civil liberties and a treasure trove of golden policies. Hunt has disputed the present costs of building social housing and his flagship policy is “Affordable Housing for All.” Having not thrown away almost a billion pounds of our hard-earned wealth, however, it remains to be seen whether he will receive a sycophantic interview in the Evening News.

On the Inkwell.

Despite being an eternal champion of English Literature, Tychy is struggling to reach a favourable verdict on The Inkwell, a glossy quarterly produced by the student-run literary society PublishEd. They should have really asked for my advice.

For a start, there is the title. The Inkwell claims to showcase the literary talents of new writers, but an inkwell is a quaintly obsolete item from the forlorn world of Dickens. No writer who still uses an inkwell is going to say anything very penetrating about the current class struggle.

Secondly, there is too much poetry. It does not even have the jolly quality of doggerel, but the carefully-written awkwardness of that poetry which cannot bring itself to rhyme. Aside from its excellent Limerick competition, The Inkwell should declare a moratorium on poetry and stick to prose. Drama is also a strength, not least because The Inkwell published an extract from Eva O’Connor’s superb “My Best Friend Drowned in a Swimming Pool” several months prior to its arrival at the Fringe.

Thirdly, few of the contributors to The Inkwell have anything to write about. The reader may predominantly feel pity that these people have led such empty lives. The short prose mostly plays safe with whimsicality. In the latest edition, Kathryn Bailey shares something which happened to her during an outing to Barnes and Noble. Previously, Rebecca Brown wrote about some people whom she had observed in a park, whilst Katya Johnson’s reflective essay on the “East Main Industrial Estate” could not find an answer to her opening line, “It’s hard to know quite why I’m here.” Tychy venerates writers such as Daniel Defoe and Herman Melville, whose lives were action-packed picaresques before they had even picked up a pen. The contributors to The Inkwell need to learn that they too have to live, before they can write.

There are some good scoops – interviews with Iain Banks and Jeff Randall, and access to the Bedlam Theatre’s latest scripts. There are shrewd competitions, with entertaining results. And, most importantly, the magazine is completely free, adding to the array of have-a-go publications that you find lying in piles around the entrance to the George Square library. There is the potential here to grow legs as long as those of The Drouth, but these people need to have a few revolutions first.