When in Rome

THE NEW YEAR began at the Signet Library with a stunning Hogmanay Ball where guests enjoyed dinner and a ceilidh in the Upper Library, as well as access to the street party outside in Parliament Square. The exterior of the Signet Library featured projections from the Unique Events’ Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, and the WS Society was pleased to share in the huge success of the city’s New Year party which once again saw tens of thousands of people enjoy a safe and spectacular event. 

WALTER, LIKE MANY canines, is not a huge fan of fireworks, but sharp-eyed visitors may have spotted him at the next WS event of the year, just a few hours later on January 1 in the Upper Library. As part of “Scot:Lands”, Edinburgh’s popular cultural event on New Year’s day, the WS Society was a host to Wig:Land, a taste of Scotland’s National Book Town through words and music curated by the Wigtown Book Festival. Visitors enjoyed performances from Robyn Stapleton, the 2014 BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, the Bookshop Band and a dozen writers and artists. The reaction of Douglas Dodds, senior curator at the V&A, was representative: commenting alongside a picture posted on his twitter page, Dodds wrote “Rome? No it’s the fab Signet Library ceiling at the equally fab Scot:Lands extravaganza”.

Rome? No it’s the fab Signet Library ceiling at the equally fab Scot:Lands extravaganza
— Douglas Dodds

WITH MANY RETURNING to work this Monday, a wine tasting would seem to be an attractive prospect in the new year’s diary. The WS announced, “Taking the case on a pro Bordeaux basis” a second event in partnership with L’Art du Vin wine merchants, to take place on February 16 at 6.30pm. Continuing the French theme, the Cycling Podcast event at the Signet Library, recorded at the end of last year, also became available online this week.

IT WOULD APPEAR that a drafting lacuna on of heroic proportion, enough to induce palpitations for most lawyers, and head in hands for indemnity insurers, has resulted in the collapse of the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. Tuesday’s announcement by Martin McGuinness that he was resigning as NI Deputy First Minister over the “cash-for-ash” scandal automatically means First Minister Arlene Foster loses her post and will most likely ensure a snap election. The botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has so far cost the NI taxpayer almost half a billion Euros. Set up in 2012 to encourage production of heat from renewable sources rather than fossil fuels, a failure to cap a subsidy rate in the RHI left it open to massive claims from individuals and businesses who were effectively being paid by the executive to burn renewable heat systems such as biomass boilers. In 2016, a whistle-blower exposed countless examples of abuse, including, most egregiously, a farmer who was aiming to collect almost one million euros by installing a boiler in an empty shed. The resignation of McGuiness this week follows countless calls from his Sinn Fein party for Foster to stand down whilst the enquiry into the scandal took place. Foster has failed to do so, citing the fact that McGuiness did not stand down during the enquiry into his actions during Bloody Sunday. The news reports from Northern Ireland this week suggest there is little hope of any improving relations during what will be a crucial few months for the UK as a whole, with the timetable for the triggering of Article 50 in March.

NO NEW YEAR RESOLUTION from Donald Trump to show more decorum in the circus of the President Elect. The week began with a string of insults from Trump directed at Meryl Streep, (“Overrated”, “Hilary flunky who lost big”) and got worse from there following a release of unsubstantiated and, if true, highly damaging material on CNN’s website on Wednesday. Certain of the allegations are too distasteful to repeat here. Media lawyers will be very, very busy in the next four years, is this is anything to go by. Trump's first press conference as President Elect this week, ostensibly to publicise how he'd addressed any conflict on interest issues by assigning over his business interests to his sons (yes, really), turned into an undignified spectacle that veered between farce and menace as he harangued various members of the press corps. The elaborate stunt he'd laid on by way of verification, with all the low cunning of the lowest form of property developer - a lawyer or two and a table full of (real or imaginary) legal folders and documents - was lost in the chaos held in hotel which earlier footage revealed concealed the view of a busy Starbucks in the background concealed by a blue curtain and row of stars n' stripes. The production values were decidedly bargain basement. 

THE PRESIDENT ELECT is very fond of golf and golf courses and perhaps now we know why. Researchers in psychology in Arizona claim that golfers perform better the less they think. This new insight into the secret of a low handicap is revealed by MRI scans that show the ideal state of cognitive repose required to get the best out of the game. The implications of this ground breaking research could explain a great deal. Such as why Trump looks so at home on a golf course.  

— “Writer”

Writer's Week is not intended to represent the views of the WS Society or its members.