Thursday, July 14, 2005

New columnist — from “south” Scotland

Due South
By Mark Entwistle
The Southern Reporter
Selkirk, The Borders

(Writer’s Note: With this column, The South Reporter in Holly Springs, Miss., USA, launches a “sister” column from The Southern Reporter, Selkirk, The Borders, Scotland.)

Through many emails and a “telly” conversation from Scotland, Mark Entwistle and I have become regular correspondents, discussing the similiarities and differences in our two “South’s.” There are fewer differences than you’d suspect!

We at The South Reporter hope you will enjoy learning about our “southern” friends; and please, send your comments and any little story or Southern adventure you’d like to include in the article for The Southern Reporter (; P.O. Box 278, Holly Springs, MS 38635 or Linda at 662-252-4261.)

The Southern Reporter, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, has its head offices in the town of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders region of Scotland. Selkirk is one of eight towns ranging in size from 4,000 people up to the biggest at around 15,000. These towns make up part of a region of southern Scotland called The Scottish Borders which equates to Marshall County.

The local government is Scottish Borders Council and it answers to the Scottish Executive (the government of Scotland) which is located in the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh. The Scottish Borders is the second most sparsely populated area of Scotland with a total of 106,000 people in an area of 1,831 square miles.

Local industries are mainly centred on agriculture, forestry, textiles, fishing and tourism. Other important, but smaller contributors to the economy, are electronics companies of which there are several.

Rugby is the main sport and there are more horses here per head of population than anywhere else in Great Britain.

As well as being world famous as the home of writer Sir Walter Scott, the Borders is also known for its romantic and often bloody history. Its ground has been fought over for centuries, most notoriously during the dark days of the Border Reivers in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

A number of U.S. presidents could also have claimed descent from famous reiving clans such as the Nixons and Johnstones.

The circulation area of The Southern Reporter is not the entire Scottish Borders regional area, but the smaller counties of Selkirkshire, Peeblesshire and Roxburghshire.

Mark Entwistle, the chief reporter on The Southern Reporter, says he and his staff are excited by the prospect of a link-up with an American paper. “Believe it or not, we actually started down this road over two years ago trying to find a newspaper we could join forces with for a mutal venture.

“What we want was to find a weekly English language newspaper somewhere in the world with a title similar to ours, covering a similar area geographically and economically.

“That wasn’t as easy as it sounds and countless hours were spent trawling websites on the internet.

“And it was only recently that we contacted The South Reporter in Holly Springs. But such was their enthusiasm, especially that of columnist Linda Jones, that we knew right away these were the folks we wanted to work with.

“The idea is that we here in Scotland will contribute a column to The South Reporter about the most recent happenings here in this part of Scotland, while Linda will send us a regular column for our paper on the goings-on of the good citizens of Holly Springs and Marshall County.

“The column will run twice a month and hopefully both sets of readers on either side of the Atlantic will find it fun and enjoyable.

“I see our columns as a little bit like ‘Lake Wobegon Days’ mixed in with a good dose of ‘The Waltons’ — that is to say something interesting, quirky, with gentle humour to make the readers smile.

“And during the course of the columns we will try and inform our American readers about this part of Scotland, its history and traditions, while Linda and her colleagues will do the same for us with your part of Mississippi.

“Although Scots are very widely travelled, when it comes to the United States, we are most familiar with holiday destinations such as New York, Florida and California.

“Mississippi is a state which most in this part of Scotland will know more through television and the movies than from actual experience.

“That means our perception of your part of the United States can still be a little like something you’d see in ‘Gone With The Wind’

“But, according to the last survey, about one percent of the population in Marshall County claimed to be of Scottish descent, so there could even be some good Borders blood coursing through some of those Mississippian veins!

“And who knows? Maybe this twinning arrangement will have some beneficial spin-offs between our respective communities.”

Mark Entwistle
Chief Reporter
The Southern Reporter
Scottish Borders, SCOTLAND

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