Outraged, Tunbridge Wells

If you have the stomach you might want to dip into the Daily Telegraph readers’ threads on Scottish issues to discover the cesspit of Scottophobia, defined by Tom Devine as: ‘the irrational aversion among the English establishment to Scots who, through the Union of 1707, achieved high political office.’ It has morphed into something deeper and uglier – a vicious, quasi-racist loathing for friends and neighbours by people convinced self-determination is designed to spite them.

From politics these English bigots jump seamlessly into sneering diatribes about poverty-stricken, useless Scots whose companies and institutions only exist courtesy of their Britain and will leave if the tartan hordes ever get control. Today there is a contribution from, presumably, a sane, educated Telegraph type claiming London has a superior IQ to Scotland and it is our collective lack of developed intelligence that blights our future. Wasn’t that the Boer’s argument against the blacks? Are we heading not into separate political systems but into apartheid?*

The slurry of unresearched accusation and demonic delight at the idea of a failed Scotland is clearly a psychological outlet for their hatred of us and, I suspect, a personal manifestation of what the UK Government is undergoing now – a crisis of confidence and identity. Without wishing to overplay the metaphor, there is something of the cornered rat at play here. The veneer of mutual respect is torn away as soon as they don’t get their way and in return for making them feel the fear, they fall upon us with teeth bared.

In this online underworld of acrimony can be found the seeds of resentment sown by the Unionists who never correct impressions that Scots are subsidised and therefore dependent, never stand up for their country in public and are blind to the crying need for Britain’s economic and democratic imbalances to be corrected. To English voters, there is only contempt for people who appear to win concessions unavailable to them. When do you hear any Unionist politicians explain how Scotland’s budget is set at Westminster, where there is an overwhelming majority of English MPs?

And does it help that a Cabinet minister, the Highland MP Danny Alexander starts talking about businesses leaving Scotland?  I find it irresponsible for someone tasked with defending the economy to deliberately undermine confidence by reckless and unsubstantiated remarks. He is in the Telegraph claiming that Alex Salmond had made a dramatic shift in policy when all Salmond said was that sterling was tradable. Such was Danny’s excitement at Phase Two of Currency Wars that, instead of waiting for Salmond to deliver a Plan B, he just blew off anyway saying that thousands of jobs were at risk, the banks would leave and business would follow…what an irresponsible, knuckle-dragging position for the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to take. Has Britain ever had such an inexperienced, unskilled, juvenile, student politician in the Treasury team? As for defending Scotland’s interests…that concept seems never to have occurred to him. This is a democratic process in which there are two sides, neither of which wishes to destroy the economy either of Scotland or Britain. It may require a degree of intelligence or, heaven help me, subtlety, but the UK really has to try for a higher standard of contribution. I have tired before to explain that there are nuanced ways of putting over a message while maintaining one’s integrity and the dignity of office, but I’m afraid Danny is falling well short on both.

Here’s his argument: ‘We’re able to have that scale of financial sector in Scotland because we’re part of the United Kingdom, because we have access to the Bank of England, the deep pockets fiscally of the UK Government as well, which helped to bail out RBS and Bank of Scotland.’ That means – we only have a financial sector because we’re in the UK. Scots themselves couldn’t have created this because they don’t have the nous. You may have read about 300-year-old banks and the first trustee savings banks and the Co-op and Adam Smith and Jardine and Matheson but Danny was off school that day. ‘I think it’s very hard to see how major financial institutions could keep their headquarters in an independent Scotland if there was no central bank and no lender of last resort.’ And even harder if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

The use of a currency board is a perfectly logical concept which uses its funds to maintain the level of the currency, as far as I can see. It works elsewhere without London’s financial genius which, as you’ll recall made such a spectacular success of the meltdown, aided by Gordon and Alistair’s regulatory system.

And the lender of last resort argument was disproved in Scotland’s case by the banking crash when the brass plaque was found to be all but meaningless. The bail-out money came from the central banks in the countries where the Scottish banks operated. That’s why London paid in £65bn to RBS and HBOS and would have done so if Scotland had been independent. However the US Federal Reserve made emergency loans available to RBS of £285bn and to HBOS of £115bn and bailed out Barclays with $550bn, because they were operating in the USA.

The same principle would apply to banks in an independent Scotland. Most of their trade would be abroad and that’s where the bail-out would take place.

Danny is heaping ammunition into the English bigots’ tray with this latest rant against any logical solution for his countrymen. They are the same ones who said it was wrong for a Scot to be Prime Minister, misunderstanding what their own country is meant to be about. The very fact that Brown as a Scot could be PM was confirmation that the Union worked but they are blinded by their prejudice. Which is what I have always believed about the Union. It is an artifice built on a myth. It only ever worked when everything suited the larger neighbor and now that they are being challenged any concept of “British fair play” and stiff upper lip has evaporated in a vapour of barely-concealed hatred.

One of the legacies of this referendum episode is that it has exposed once and for all that the Union was a con – it was a takeover as confirmed in the UK’s legal advice – and British meant English and if we go along with it we are demeaning Scotland. That’s what the English Scot-baiters expect of us, that we acquiesce and acknowledge their generosity and charity. Their ignorance about their own country, let alone Scotland, has been presented to the world and underlined by Cameron’s fear of debate. And the true nature of our “family of nations” is now out there, not just on the internet but buttressed by the state – Civil Service, ALL the main parties, big business and the media. That won’t go away after September’s vote, whichever way it turns out.

*2 hours ago 
The greatest threat to the future success of an independent Scotland
has nothing to do with oil, nor business’s exodus, nor Scotland’s other physical resources, which are indeed enviable. 
The greatest threat to Scotland’s success is the intellectual paucity of Scotland’s human capital.
It is not widely appreciated that as a consequence of so many 
intelligent Scots having, since the Union of the Crowns, left Scotland 
to make their lives elsewhere, the residual population presently has the
lowest average IQ in Europe outside of the ‘Boratland’ countries of the
former Soviet bloc and France.
The Scottish average IQ of 97 is well below the England and Wales 
average of 100.5 and about level with the IQ of citizens of the Republic
of Ireland; not a very high bar to jump.
As one would expect, London and the south-east of England scored top in the UK, with an average IQ of 102. 
Scotland – when differentiated from the rest of the UK – comes 
two-thirds down the table of European average intelligence, beating 
Russia by only one percentage point, but France by three. 
I’m not at all sure that anything can be done about this as the trend
looks set to accelerate in a post-Independence Day Scotland, which is a
sad thing indeed.




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Taking the Mickey…and the Oil

I think I’ve got it now. The people who took £400 billion of our oil and didn’t save a penny over 40 years should be allowed to get away with it. And to make the case for carrying on, they show their commitment by coming to Scotland for the second time in a century and their PR man wears a helmet in a chopper – he’s a real rig roustabout, isn’t he?


I marvelled at the chutzpah of a political machine that trots out tired cliché after cliché in the Yes Minister fantasy that people are simple mugs who can be lured like dumb animals with sugar lumps before the snare goes round their neck. Posh Dave on a rig, cheques flying out of the book, new projects launched and “almost the entire Cabinet” (copyright BBC News) actually leaving London with a whole army of BBC big shots and travelling like other people do to a city at the other end of the country where other people really live and work – no really – and nearly speak the same language and pretending to be just like ordinary folk with reasonable concerns and honest intentions to do their best and not resenting being roused from SW1 one bit and so happy to be here in Aberdeen, God it’s cold…

This took me back to the nineties when Major was hanging on to power by Edwina’s knickers and twerps like Lord Glenarthur or Ian Lang (remember the dead) were actually paid to be government ministers. They would turn up at some muddy brownfield site in Lanarkshire wearing a Gieve’s pinstripe and City shoes to announce work on a factory given free to a Korean television tube/microwave maker. They would put on a yellow hard hat, climb aboard a digger and give a thumbs up for the cameras. God, it was boring for the reporters; embarrassing, if it were possible, for the policy-free, photo-op politicos and humiliating for the tax payer who subsidised the whole charade and was usually left with an empty plant and a hollowed-out wallet when the grants ran out and Doosan-Dingbat Industries moved to Ireland.

And here we are again, trapped in the same noblesse oblige Downton Abbey pretence that the British ruling elite gives a stuff about North Sea workers or the lives of the Scots beyond the credit line that extends all the way south. If Salmond said: ‘Tell you what, here’s a cheque for the next 10 years of oil revenues, now fuck off,’ Dave would grab it, whip off his hard hat, jump on the shuttle and be back in Notting Hill before Sam had read the Boden catalogue. (I know he lives in Number 10 at our expense but happily he rents out the Notting Hill place for £6000 a month).

If you chopper out to an oil rig for publicity purposes it might be appropriate to tell the people who do that every day why there shouldn’t be an inquiry – a public one – into 20 lives lost in four years from helicopter crashes. Or even give a government response to Total allowing the G4 well on their Elgin field to blow out.  That “event” was by all reports a very near miss – a spark away from disaster – according to the RMT union. http://peopleandnature.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/safety-on-the-north-sea-back-to-business-as-usual/

‘Over 8,000 cubic meters an hour of explosive gas escaped during and after the four hours it took to evacuate the installations by helicopter, and during this time and for a further five days that spark was actually very, very close in the form of a naked flame left burning in the flare stack.  Only the wind direction (luck) stopped Elgin going up – and with what consequences for oil workers’ lives if it had?… workers in the industry still don’t know why the well was allowed to blow out and why 238 lives were put in jeopardy.’

Still, that wasn’t the point of The Coalition offensive, was it? Saving lives is one thing but saving the economy is another.  It now seems to be official – that Scots are too thick to run their own oil industry. It needs the “broad shoulders and deep pockets” of the UK to do that. Or should that be “brass neck and bottomless pockets” of the UK…


If you look at Norway’s oil fund, the annual interest payments and dividends are around £14 billion profit on investment already made, which would still be there if the wells ran dry tomorrow. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that Britain’s revenues from North Sea oil this year will be less than half that.

How outrageous is that? Norway, smaller than Scotland, gets twice as much income from its investments alone with the capital untouched than the UK gets from oil production taxes. Meanwhile the Mighty UK has nothing, nada, not a bean, not a brass farthing, in savings from the years of the oil bonanza – all shoveled into the current account and spent while Britain builds up unpayable mountains of sovereign debt, borrows relentlessly and impoverishes its people – except the bankers.  Norway has a prudent rule (who was it that used that phrase?) that no more than 4 per cent of the fund’s capital is spent in any one year. That’s around £20 billion, which is more than the UK raises in capital gains tax, stamp duty and inheritance tax combined. This is a scandal on a monumental scale perpetrated by the people who lied to us about its worth. If Scots vote No out of fear, we must be very frightened people indeed because the callous way this natural bounty has been blown is a warning to everyone in Britain. I read the anti-Scottish hate as people in England sneer at our ambitions but surely they are the dimwits, being distracted by our campaign when their venom should be aimed at the people they constantly elect into power, people whose policies mean they are earning half of the GDP in Norway.

I know Alex Salmond would like an apology for the squandering of our natural asset but I’d be satisfied with a Thank You, Scotland for bankrolling Britain for the last 30 years. I can’t believe we are going to endorse them ripping us off a second time.

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Estate(s) of the Nation

Getting poor people to register to vote to change their lives is now branded “hatred”. Have Unionists lost all decency or just a little perspective? I don’t care who goes into Easterhouse and the other sprawling estates outside Scotland’s cosy middle circle of professionals, well-paid pensioners, business types and commentators, so long as it works.

Who lives their lives content that thousands of our fellow citizens live such dreary unrewarding lives that they have no motivation to engage with society? The answer is the selfish, the uncaring and the undemocratic.

If the Unionists had bothered to go into these areas themselves to claim them for their politics, it might be different. But the unspoken pact of the elite is that some people are undeserving and beyond redemption and if they wont help themselves, what’s the point in us trying? It’s a shame, but what can you do?


Do what the RIC people are doing – get your hands dirty, engage, encourage and enlighten. To present it as anti-British is pythonesque. Who runs the country? Who holds all the powers? Who has the budgets? Who has directed money upwards for generations and made unemployed the former factory workers of Glasgow? Who closed the steel works? Who closed the shipyards – and who is still closing shipyards? British government after British government, of course. Labour and Tory, now squealing in complaint when they are found out. They decide we should have a low-wage, zero-hours contract economy while they run to Brussels in support of bankers bonuses.

And when Britain – as I always say, the British state – gets its just desserts in terms of blame, it is branded as hatred. I know what hatred is. It is knowingly consigning families to shrivelled lives with low-grade shops, poor health facilities and welfare dependency. That is hatred. How disingenuous of Labour to side with the Tories. Who represents Easterhouse, Springburn, Drumchapel in Westminster? What are the anti-poverty policies of Margaret Curran, Willie Bain and John Robertson? Vote for me, that’s their answer. Just as Michael Martin happily pulled on the silk stockings of the Speaker and snuggled into the grace-and-favour house instead of campaigning for one of the country’s poorest communities, Labour’s record in protecting the poor is abysmal.

I have my doubts about some of the views expressed by Radical Independence because I think it goes too far to engage ordinary voters. But which democrat can condemn the registration of voters and encouraging them to stand up for themselves against a system which writes them off? The answer for Better Together is to get out there and tell them about the Union, explain how inequality works, why some people are worth millions and they are worth nothing, why public schoolboys and millionaires are in the Cabinet and they are in the Jobcentre. The SNP and Yes should not be squeamish. This is where the campaign has to go next. The British elite has put on its tackity boots and so must we. Only our way is democratic, theirs is the opposite. They don’t want people to register, they want them to suffer and to do as they say. They tore up the Edinburgh Agreement, the pulled away our right to the currency. They obliterated our country in their legal advice. Is anybody in any doubt that the British state is now in full cry? The RIC message is that it is time to stand up and be counted, not by fighting but by voting. There is no reply to that, nothing they can do, just count the votes. And in the West of Scotland where sickened Labour voters are looking for answers, lies the most fruitful constituency of all – the people beyond the Better Together propaganda.

How sweet would it be if the people who decide this referendum for Yes and throw out the British mercenary elite were the poorest Scots of all?

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Time To Grow Up

With one short phrase a blonde-haired legend from the 80’s said more than all the hysteria of the No side put together. Forget Bowie; it was Jackson Carlaw who made the ground-breaking remark that brings sanity and the Scottish national interest to the front of the debate.

When the Tory deputy promised to “man the barricades” to get Scotland the best deal he could from London after a Yes vote, he stepped out of the laager and dared to speak the truth about what will happen after September 18. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26296632

But he wasn’t letting any cat out of any bag on how the British government will behave, as the nationalists claimed. The West of Scotland MSP, however elevated in Scottish Tory ranks, will not be formulating policy for the British Treasury any time soon. What he was expressing was the democrat’s view – that this is a campaign we all fight to win and after the people have spoken we implement their wish. In the case of Scottish MSPs, all of them, that would be to wrest the best deal achievable for the Scots. If you believe, as he does, that means currency union and EU membership, then his shoulder will behind Bill Kid’s (fellow panellist on the Radio Scotland programme) and Alex Salmond’s.


That this rudimentary statement became news – and was predictably hijacked by sections of Yes claiming it meant more than it actually did – provides an insight into the conduct of the national debate so far. To me it is axiomatic that the politicians exist to serve the people so long as they find their demands within their conscience – otherwise they resign. Anybody actually questioned on this point in the No side will surely say Of course they will abide by the democratic decision. It’s just that the tone of their approach says the opposite, not helped by an honest declaration designed to clarify being turned against him. If, for once, a politician tells the truth, how helpful is it that his opponent jeers as if it’s a slip and his own side tut in despair? These reactions typify the Twitter age where grown men – no names – bitch and snarl in tweets like schoolgirls.

I think the Carlaw Doctrine is one of the most sensible interventions so far, at a stroke opening up a new vista in which all Scots come together in a common cause whatever the outcome. It shouldn’t be a revelation, but it is. It sounds almost statesman-like against the shrill relish of his own leader whenever an obstruction is placed in front of independence. Her delight is evident in her latest “massive tax bombshell” – that VAT will be levied on all goods and services by the EU. “It’s not just Scottish families that would be affected, but Scottish business too. Thousands of people in Scotland are employed across the construction sector in areas like shipbuilding and aircraft repair – areas which benefit enormously from VAT exemption and would be hit hard by such tax breaks being taken away under independence. No ifs, no buts – those are the rules for any new member.”

Actually there are If and Buts, the first being that it only applies to “new Members”, a category the treaties could not ascribe to Scots, even new Members negotiate their own exemptions and the principle that a Member shouldn’t suffer detriment through EU membership. She conveniently forgets David Cameron’s pre-election statement (before raising VAT to 20 per cent): “We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT.”

In May 2009, said that he would never raise a tax that “hits the poorest the hardest”.

He said: “You could try to put it on VAT, sales tax, but again if you look at the effect of sales tax, it’s very regressive, it hits the poorest the hardest. It does, I absolutely promise you. Any sales tax, anything that goes on purchases that you make in shops tends to . . . if you look at it, where VAT goes now it doesn’t go on food, obviously, but it goes very, very widely and VAT is a more regressive tax than income tax or council tax.” And then he put it up. Ifs and Buts, Ruth?

Apply the Carlaw Doctrine to the above and instead of hysteria which even at a human non-political level turns people off, you get instead: Has the first Minister considered how EU VAT rules will apply? Without exemptions the cost to families and businesses could be severe. Which exemptions does he propose retaining and has he, for example, spoken to the building industry? If not, will we have to step in to help him fight the European Commission on Scotland’s behalf to save the exemptions?

That way you get out two messages. One, you’ve flagged up a potential problem for Yes which fits your campaign and two, you’ve also informed the voter that whatever the outcome you stand ready to serve the country’s need. Isn’t it simple?

It also makes it harder for your opponent to criticise, since in a way, you’re standing with him, albeit with a different outlook. Maybe it’s too complicated, after all.

What has become complicated is the other fair-haired superstar in the debate, David Bowie who made a delicate intervention which I thought was sweet but said nothing…only that he was engaged with it, which I like. In fact, what’s not to like? To me this is a sign that our debate is reaching out way beyond Scotland and making all kinds of people think. It’s a lot better than being ignored. It also puts Bowie in the same category as Jimmy Krankie and I like that too having never understood what his music was about or who Captain Tom was. Bowie also managed to unleash yet more ill-informed metropolitan moaning from the Guardian stable. The Observer actually wrote a leader on it bemoaning the childish abuse Bowie had – apparently – received. (Does anyone ever see this abuse? Did anyone ever get sight of Susan Calman’s offensive epistles or did we take her word for it?) Frankly, if you enter the debate – and Bowie did, you take what’s coming. We all do. It’s part of the game so grow up. Which is why I was astonished at the Observer characterising this as indicative of our campaign which is like saying all football should be stopped because of 10 thugs on a terracing. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/23/scottish-independence-proper-debate-david-bowie-twitter

“The subsequent outpourings on Twitter were mostly negative, puerile and cumulatively underlined the message that, without a sharp reversal of course, the Scotland debate that ought to be an important platform for a modern, informed and progressive exchange of views on the meaning of national identity, the value (or otherwise) of the union, and the possible development of a more positive form of nationalism, will prove elusive.”

Really? Is that what you think in London? For years now we have been having erudite and intellectual debates in our country covering all those areas and more, we have think tanks, forums of academics, Nobel Laureates, and entire online community and two huge campaigns running, the Royal Society, the David Hume Society and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research have weighed in along with the Institute for Fiscal Studies and in case you don’t receive television down there, even Richard Madeley has given his Einstein opinion. There are public meetings all over our country. We are debating nuclear weapons and their worth, a new Nordic model for tax and welfare, how to live off renewables without nuclear to save the planet, how to end poverty, ditching the neo-liberal economic model, how nationalism fits with social reform, should education be free? We are having a debate in Scotland that you couldn’t begin to have in London where your only obsession is house price inflation and bankers’ bonuses. If anybody needs to grow up, it is you supremely cocky, ignorant M25 media luvvies who know nothing about the country you write about. This is more condescending drivel which inches us further away from those who claim to be the bright and conscientious and who increasingly display just how far apart we now are in Britain.

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These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

I had fun with the Guardian’s G2 list of things England should apologise for http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/19/scottish-independence-76-things-apologise until it went beyond 12 where it stopped being funny and then 20, when it made me wince, up to 50 where it was tiresome and ended, oddly, at 76. (1976 Scotland 2 England 1?) Sorry…just a reminder.

This is a go at bringing humour to a touchy subject which is a good thing and a change from the sense of bemusement – and inaccuracy – of so much London coverage. So Sorry for Calling You Jock, Sorry for Tory Governments, Sorry for thinking Flodden and Culloden were the same battle, all worked for me. But as I say, once you do the deep fried Mars Bar and Irn Bru and get to 74 – ‘Sorry for laughing at the prospects for your army in an independent Scotland. Of course you could always use it to invade the Faroe Islands if nothing else’, I was sensing it had morphed into derivative default mode…no longer laughing at out our shared prejudices but laughing at US. It doesn’t take long for our petty resentments to emerge in this kind of exercise, does it? We would never sink to pathetic stereotyping which only shows how ignorant we are too…would we? Oh yes, we would! Here’s my list. Feel free to add your own.


Sorry you still think you are a major power when the rest of the world hides its laughter. Being Washington’s poodle and buying their nukes doesn’t fool anyone, except you.

Sorry we don’t share your xenophobia. This must be related to the above as you love to think you are superior to the French, Romanians, Bulgarians, Africans, Irish, Welsh and Scots

Sorry you are one of three countries playing Test cricket. How did you get on in Australia?


Sorry you’re not a real nation but a hybrid claiming someone else’s identity (Britain) and when anyone does express Englishness it’s the EDL or Morris Dancers

Sorry we had to bail you out for the last 30 years when we have been net contributors to our shared economy and sorry you called us subsidy junkies when the opposite is true.

Sorry you didn’t save a single penny of our oil revenues to replace flood defences, build high-speed railways, secure our pensions or tide us over financial meltdown

Sorry not to laugh at Terry and June

Sorry to scoff at Eton and Harrow plonkers. We don’t understand why you like to be told what to do by public schoolboys. Is it something to do with matron?

Sorry to find your casual superiority grating – why is the FA not the English FA? Why is the RFU not the ERFU?

Sorry for providing most of your broadcasters and media types and for speaking your own language properly. It is not Lawrrr and Ordaah…a bird is not A bed and Boris is not the Meeeeah

Sorry for tearing down your goalposts and digging up your turf

Sorry for allowing your policies to kill men in our biggest city in their mid-fifties…still it keeps pension costs down

Sorry you don’t have any wild areas left and have to use our landscape for real outdoors activity, buying a cottage, owning an estate salmon fishing or stalking


Sorry you haven’t the stomach for wind turbines and rely on Scotland and Ireland to do your renewables and are surrendering your nuclear power to state-owned Chinese and French companies who will take your subsidies for 35 years

Sorry you can’t sing Auld Lang Syne properly

Sorry so many of your kings have been warmongers drunk on power and determined to crush other people and that they, like now, misunderstood us. Edward thought he’d stopped rebellion after sacking Berwick where he murdered half the population, raped the women and burned people alive but instead he incensed us  – and William Wallace – and it led to your slaughter at Stirling Brig. Sorry

Sorry for Jocky Wilson who proved that an unhealthy, overweight, mildly educated Scot can still beat you


Sorry you have no equivalent national instrument to bagpipes, no national dish, no world recognized design like tartan and no national dress (orange jumpsuits?)

Sorry for Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander. No, really….sorry. Some things are forgivable, like Susan Boyle but not that

Sorry for showing up your medieval parliament by making sure everyone is elected! AND by proportional voting. Isn’t it time to get over the gold-trimmed Ruritania stuff, kick out the bishops and turn the Lords into flats?

Sorry you have so many shaven-headed louts with pit bulls on crime-ridden estates and have created one of the least equal societies on earth

Sorry for thinking of you as stuck-up, effete, self-centred, unreliable tosspots when there is absolutely nothing in history to support such bigotry

Sorry I can’t keep up the vitriol. I just don’t dislike you enough, or at all. Why not come up and find out about us sometime

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