A new word—or a very old one?
A Googlewhack is a contest for finding a Google search query consisting of exactly two words without quotation marks that returns exactly one hit. A Googlewhack must consist of two actual words found in a dictionary. Every so often, when we are reporting committee or plenary business, we come across a word that has not appeared in the Official Report before, which is perhaps our equivalent of a Googlewhack.
At the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee meeting on Tuesday, when the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill was under discussion, Dr Tom Russon laid out some potential scenarios that might require changes to the interim targets but stressed: “These are necessarily entirely hypothetical examples, in that I am foreguessing the future, the advice of the Committee on Climate Change and the will of ministers, all of which I should not be foreguessing.”
After a bit of research, we discovered that foreguess was not a new fusion word made up of “forecast” and “guess” but rather a very old word. The 1913 edition of Webster’s English dictionary defines it as “to conjecture”, as does Samuel Johnson’s English dictionary of 1755. Other definitions include “to guess beforehand” and “to assume”.
We wouldn’t want to foreguess when it might come up again.
If music be the food of love, play on …
On Wednesday, the chamber hosted Adam Tomkins’s members’ business debate on music tourism in Glasgow. In the week when the O2 ABC in the centre of Glasgow was ravaged by the fire that devastated the neighbouring Glasgow School of Art, it was inevitable that MSPs would pay tribute to the venue. Professor Tomkins noted: “People could always get close to the stage and, because of the acoustics in the room, bands could turn it up and up without compromising the sound quality. I have seen countless great gigs in that venue, including by some of my favourite bands, the Felice Brothers, Jason Isbell and Drive-By Truckers among them.”
Sandra White echoed those sentiments, calling the ABC a “much-loved and historical place”, observing that it has been, at various times, a circus, an ice rink and a cinema.
In a trip down memory lane, Tom Arthur revealed that his first gig was Def Leppard at the SECC, Brian Whittle disclosed that his first gig was Saxon, in 1980, and Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, remembered seeing The Alarm at the Barrowlands.
Pauline McNeill spoke for many concert-goers when she said, “As a Glasgow citizen, I think that it is great that we can attend a concert by Beyoncé or whoever our favourite artist is and be home in half an hour for tea and toast.”
Assistance with funeral expenses
Although the Parliament passed the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 earlier this year, many of the details of the individual types of assistance, such as eligibility rules and payment levels, will be set out in regulations. On Thursday, the Social Security Committee took evidence on funeral expense assistance, which will be among the first devolved benefits to be introduced.
It emerged that, although the new Scottish system will be largely similar to the existing UK-wide one, there will be significant differences. For example, most people who are entitled will receive a payment of £700, which is in line with the UK scheme but, as Paul Cuthell of the National Association of Funeral Directors pointed out, “the £700 figure has remained static since 2003.”
The Scottish scheme will begin to address that by annual uprating in line with inflation, although there were calls for the amount to be increased substantially to cover the minimum cost of a funeral. As Paul Stevenson of the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors said, “£700 is not nearly enough for all the funeral director’s arrangements—the hearse, the coffin and the trained, professional staff.”