2011.05.11 Meet our Scottish twin

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

 I looked at the photograph and thought it was a joke. Someone had done a nice job with Photoshop, I figured. It was the Observer’s flag—newspaper talk for the display of the paper’s name at the top of the front page—cleverly inserted into a photograph in some other city.

The presenter of the photo was Carol (Bachelder) Steck and she said the photo was taken in Scotland

Anyway, the photo showed my flag inserted onto a small billboard above a newsstand. Or so I thought. It was actually the flag of the Stirling Observer, with the same bright red color and a very similar typeface.

I visited the paper’s website and sent a PDF of my paper to Donald Morton, deputy editor and chief reporter. He said it was nice to have a doppelgänger. I suppose it is, but I had to visit the dictionary. I’ve seen the word many times, but never used it. Ah, a twin, an alter ego.

Donald also said, “I might have a little delve into your website and do a story on you if that’s OK.” I told him I would certainly be doing the same with Stirling.

There will probably be some chortling going on in the other Observer’s newsroom. I gave him the April 27 edition, with the Easter Squirrel on the front page and the big story about coon hunting. There’s a headline that contains the words “Bootlegging, rum running,” there’s a headline that includes the archaic word “thinclads” for track and field athletes, and the entire thing is just 16 pages.

The other Observer is published in a city of 41,000 and a district approaching 100,000. I assume the twice-a-week paper is significantly larger.

They will likely be as puzzled by our thinclads as I am by their ladies and men “of the pavements, cycle tracks and underpasses.” I’m looking at a story about the National Road Relay Championships run on a recent Sunday.

In the road relay, runners alternate traveling 3.15 miles and 5.85 miles (what? no kilometers?). Runners range in age from the under-20 division down to under-11.

If you’re shopping for a unique baby name—unique on this side of the Atlantic—just check out the Scottish sports stories. Espeth, Catriona, Iain, Isla, Eilidh, Roisin, Bevhan, Shamsa, Kalim, Aisla and Tewoldederhan. Actually, that last one was a native of Eritrea.

The indoor track and field season has ended and the outdoor season is beginning. Lots of running and jumping, but no mention of games in which a bat strikes a ball. Instead, there’s football (soccer), rugby, cricket and, of course, golf.

I assume that warmer weather will bring out the lawn bowlers. Stirling has the oldest bowling green in Scotland.

Donald Morton might be scratching his head when he visits our Observer website since it isn’t at all a traditional newspaper website. I’m still too old-fashioned to publish all my new news on the website every week.

Stirling has lots of up-to-date reports, including the grueling eight-hour rescue of six sheep from a rocky ledge—a 500-foot volcanic plug. All six were healthy and unharmed following the rescue.

A man was sentenced to community pay-back for a racist rant at a policeman and another guy went to prison for nine months for growing 24 marijuana plants. We had a couple of suspicious situations and an animal complaint in the paper I sent to Donald, along with a bicycle theft.

There’s no way we could ever match this one: “Three men in fancy dress started a fight with football fans on a busy train. One of the thugs threw a bottle of Buckfast which broke a man’s nose and eye socket, while the other two hurled sectarian abuse at fellow passengers.” Impressive, huh? 

I don’t suppose we have anything to equal the popular highland bull named Hamish who recently became a father. Maybe our Easter Squirrel isn’t so unusual after all.

Our April 27 edition includes the story about Morenci Area High School’s “Beating the Odds” recognition. The Stirling Observer has this doppelgänger: “Wee County’s smallest primary school has been given a gold star by inspectors.”

Here’s a quote by the headteacher: “We may be the smallest school in Wee County but we certainly pack a punch.” 

Muckhart Primary School consists of three classrooms plus an auditorium/dining room. Fifty-three students are enrolled.

I wrote about the “dour” state of school funding. In Stirling there was mention of a “vile” predator.

Our front page included an update on Fayette’s school wind turbine. The other Observer reported on wind turbines and the expansion of a wind farm.

Donald recently wrote an excellent column praising crows. I remember writing a story about crows several years ago. Our doppelgänger is out of synch, but I think I would enjoy spending time with the chief reporter. We’ll bring his Keith Graham along for a stroll, also, because he writes wonderful essays about nature in his “Country View” column.

Stirling is already twinned with Dunedin, Fla., and Summerside, Prince Edward Island, and others, so our doppelgänging might end with the newspaper.

Besides, we just can’t match up in the history department. Morenci: founded in 1833. Stirling: Well, I read that it was a Stone Age settlement. There are historical references to the seventh century.

And even returning to where this column started—the newspaper flag—leaves us on the short side. When I pointed out the similarity to Donald, he was quick to point out that his paper has been around for 175 years—about the time Morenci was settled—and that the paper’s flag has changed very little.

That makes me sound like the copy-cat, but honest, Donald, I never saw your paper’s flag until last week. We’re just twins from different eggs.

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