The Gurn will be winding down this week for an extended Christmas break and will return mid January. Unfortunately the Gurnmeister has too many projects piling up and has to pay full attention to a few pressing matters. It is great fun editing the Gurn but it can be time consuming and thus a wee break is necessary. In the meantime you may get some topical debate over at Brian's or even Bill's blog (if he sorts out what is making his blog so slow). If you get withdrawals you should be aware that you too could easily become the next Nairnshire blogosphere sensation if you wish, it is soooooooo easy to create a blog on the blogspot service. So have a good one folks and see you in January sometime. Cheers.
Nollaig chridheil dhuibh uile agus bliadhna mhath ùr nuair a thig e
The sun is trying to break through the heavy mist covering the top of the hill opposite my home, 1600 feet above sea level, and it is quite cold outside and so I’ve been browsing the Gurn from Nairn whilst having my morning ‘break’. There I find two pictures of properties on the market – The Latino Restaurant and Jacko’s which evoke memories.
Are they pictures of the same building taken at different times and sited between Burntisland Street and King Street?
If this is the case I recall that before the war the premises were owned by a local man – today he might have been considered an entrepreneur since he owned and rented a number of domestic property in addition to other business enterprises in that part of the town – and at the rear of the shop were two rooms. In one was a full sized billiards table and in the other a half-size billiard table. Snooker was not as popular then as now.
The smaller table got more use than did the “big” one by young lads. We each paid a penny for a game of “fifty up” or for a half hour whichever was the earliest but provided there were no other lads waiting to play that half hour was often extended so that fifty point were on the board.
I smoked my first ever cigarette in the bigger of the two rooms and felt very ill afterwards – don’t think I finished it.
Thanks Hamish. Latino's is in the location you are describing, Jacko's is a bit further down harbour Street.
The Gurn's usual unreliable sources indicate that there will be a massive demonstration tonight in support of Woolworths. We are trying to find out more and will report later. In the meantime with the increase of folk coming down for a look and perhaps a final shop in the iconic flagship High Street store, the Highland Council have installed a public viewing platform to enable free flow of pedestrians and traffic.
Having just moved to the "Prestigious" West End from the other side of the A96 I was expecting a reduction in my car insurance when I notified my insurers of my change of address. No such discount was forthcoming. Have I been discriminated against?
It isn't often the Gurn goes off-topic and directly comments on mainstream London politics but the arrest of Damian Green MP is very worrying indeed. Maybe you don't normally give a toss about politics especially anything connected with the Tories but you should pay interest this time. The Gurnmeister makes no secret of his life-long distate for the Tory party but when the cops start arresting politicians for the like of this we must all be very wary indeed.
According to Tory Blogger Iain Dale:
'His "crime" has been to reveal Home Office statistics and misconduct which they tried to cover up. If it is now a crime for a politician to do this sort of thing then just think how many other people should have been arrested - Robert Peston being a good recent example. What about government ministers who relished leaking information about the PBR?'
Quite ironic that less than an hour after Woolies went into administration the Nairn Ward Partnership were to meet just across the road from the Nairn store in the Courthouse and discuss the town centre redevelopment plan. It seems both Somerfield and the Highland Council are putting a brave face on it and moving towards January when, hopefully, outstanding issues can be addressed. And that is? Well something called ‘purifying the title’ on the Council side and preparing a ‘Green Travel Plan’ on the Somerfield side. The Trunk Roads Authority still need to make an input too. Yes they are working hard behind the scenes but as we know there are other factors that will come into play soon and the Co-op seem not to be in the slightest bit interested in letting the Council know what is their ultimate intention with the Nairn store and as for dealing with the folk at Somerfield - well they are a business sitting on death row, they will quite happily fill in the time talking to anyone who still takes them seriously. We’ve heard it all before really, the rest you can make up for yourself in the meantime, maybe someone will market a ‘Strictly Nairn town centre redevelopment’ game for Christmas. The real fun comes in 2009. Sheena Baker asked her usual question about what would happen once the town land was finally handed over to the supermarket owner and say, they didn’t build a new supermarket? Her big worry is that this might happen and there would be no way that Nairn could get the land back. Reading in-between the lines of the response she got from officials the Gurnmesiter reckons that would be it, the land would be gone for good out of public ownership.
There were also council officials giving talks about how community groups can apply for funding, very complicated stuff and you must meet the criteria and have matching funding etc, the Gurnmeister got very bored with it and after the discussion on Somerfield and a bit about other developments that didn’t really reveal anything new, another gentleman in a suit got up to deliver a presentation. The Gurn made its excuses and left. You can get too much of all this 'masterplan' stuff, this wish list stuff, this A96 corridor stuff, this meeting in Edinburgh stuff. Fair play to anyone that stayed the course, the Gurn salutes your courage.
Never mind the Somerfield saga, tonight please spare a thought for the woolies staff who will come down the street tomorrow to an uncertain future and wondering even if there will be anything left in their pension fund. There were billions available for the banks – will the government give anything to help the 30,000 woolies staff?
No matter what you think of the latest budget, the great majority of us are tightening our belts when it comes to spending. Spurtle made a humorous remark about a Turkish coffee shop coming to High street that made me think about bartering. In many other countries no-one would ever dream of paying the full advertised price for an item. In the UK we tend to be shy of such ways and Mr Shop Person must be very happy when we march in and say ‘I’ll take one of those please’, hand over our cash for whatever the amount is on the sale ticket and leave. Some of us now shop around on the web and get a best price that way, although usually it is just that, a best price with no haggle factor as you don’t get to speak to a real person.So gripping those precious notes or pieces of plastic where should you begin? Small items are probably not a good idea, and the queue in the supermarket won’t thank you for trying to knock a penny off a carton of milk. Use the Internet to find the nearest cheapest local price (Argos for example) as well as that of purely an on-line retailer such as Amazon. Now choose your store and enter when it is quiet rather than knee deep in customers. If possible go armed with a few print outs of the prices you can obtain the item for elsewhere (They might not have Internet access). This method worked for me when purchasing a new vacuum cleaner. A local electrical shop was prepared to match the price of a large chain in Inverness. I not only obtained a good price but saved myself a drive - just goes to prove that you can get a bargain in Nairn High Street and don’t have to go elsewhere!Another good tip is to haggle whenever a renewal comes up such as a house or car insurance. Again do some research on the Internet to get alternative prices but play the loyalty card ‘I’d really like to renew again with you this year but I can get better prices from other companies’ (You may have to name them!). This saved me 10% today and to be honest the original price was pretty good but the call centre person said they would be keen to keep my custom.So Nairnites, surprise yourself and our shop keepers and try haggling up the street (Wish the Turkish coffee shop was a reality though!)
The Gurnmeister was aware that a lot of people were not happy with what we were served up for the year long cultural event. For some it goes beyond that and they have found a vehicle to express their anger with the organisers and Highland Council in general. Usually articles on the Inverness Courier site do not attract many comments but a recent article about the failure of the Highland 2007 marketing campaign has so far attracted over 50 comments. Not very nice reading for the organisers of last years failed cultural flagship extravaganza.
BBC Radio Scotland has been making a series of programs recording people’s lives. In this program it looks at the fisher lassies, those women who followed the herring fleets around the country. This episode records the recollections of women from Nairn and also Lossiemouth. It was first broadcast last week but it is available on BBC iPlayer for another few days - well worth listening to.
Want to support Nairn High Street? Now's you chance to put your back into it!
'The procession through Nairn will include the White Witch’s large war chariot, pulled by two burly polar bears, as well as new creations including a water dragon and a giant effigy of Aslan, the lion. But volunteers are still needed to carry the new structures through Nairn High Street. '
'Latino Restaurant in Nairn fronts onto Harbour Street. Accommodating 34 diners, the restaurant's Liqueur Licence runs to 31st August 2009. Run for 4 years as a restaurant and take away and ideally situated to attract visitors to Nairn's beach front and historic Fishertown.' Full details here.
The Christmas lights going up this morning. Later on the Gurnmeister had a stroll around Woolworths, hoping that it would still be in existence next week and that wasn't the last time ever inside the familiar store. Let us hope the lights in the Woolworth building will not be turned off before the Christmas lights go on. Once again a part of Nairn's retail landscape awaits the decision of others far away from the town.
Perhaps we should have a march to save Woolies? - only joking Spurtles.
'Not wishing to overly put down the influence of bloggers on corporate reputations in our earlier post, here are the top bloggers using Blogspot as their platform...'
They list a hundred of them here and well, we are in at number 93. Obviously this isn't an article about the best blogs in the world just somebody's idea of the blogs that get noticed a little when it comes to this field. Not bad for a bunch gurnygurnites! That's what we get for talking/obsessing about supermarkets all the time.?
They continue: 'Not just an automated web-clipping service, our people actively monitor what is being written by consumers, employees, shareholders and activists. We provide our clients with the very best early warning of public concerns and expectations. Being aware of what people are saying is essential to reputation management, helps compliance with the risk assessments and provides a foundation for a meaningful dialogue with stakeholders. '
The Gurnmeister suspects, however, that we may be a tad overated , or maybe some influential people do read us but never admit it in public?
Disappointment for anyone who was expecting a speedy start and a quick conclusion to the inquiry. From the agenda for the pre-inquiry meeting to be held on the 1oth December, it seems that the Reporter intends for things to kick off almost three months into the new year. The Gurn urges all supporters of this project to prepare for this inquiry. Maybe when it does eventually start we should have a demonstration to show our support for this project - well it's more than that, yes it is Sainsbury's application but it is our fundamental demand for the shopping facilities that other towns of our size take for granted. Our demand not to have to travel on the dangerous, overcrowded A96 in search of a decent choice of food. If ,for any reason, this inquiry was to find against the wishes of the people of Nairn, then it would be the biggest scandal for a generation.
Sorry if the picture is a little small but hopefully you can make out the full agenda
There's a petition on the Scottish Parliament website calling for BBC Alba to be available on freeview. The channel, so far only available on Sky (channel 168) and one other small satillite provider is none the less attracting a lot of viewers, regardless of the language it seems to be providing the sort of programmes people want. If you haven't had a look yet give it a try, there are subtitles in english on a few programmes. Now when you consider that this channel was set up with £14 million and the idiot Jonathon Ross is on a £17 million contract it puts into perspective what you can do if you simply give real talent a chance instead of foisting loudmouth fools on us and claiming that they are 'talent'.
So why isn't the channel on freeview? Are the authorities scared that too many people will watch it, turning away from the mainstream rubbish that fills so many prime time hours on the main channels? The Gurnmeiseter hopes you will consider signing the petition.
Soon there may be even more to tempt Nairnites through to do their shopping in Forres. As if the major draws of Tesco and Lidl weren't enough, now a major new retail scheme is planned along the road in the neighbouring town.
'NEWS of a £25 million retail and commercial development which is being proposed on a site on the edge of Forres has received a mixed response from people living around the area. The proposed investment was announced last week by "RedCo Milne Assets", who unveiled plans for a massive development along the Bogton Road corridor from the Mosset Burn end, taking in the old Tesco site to near the junction with Romach Road. The development could pave the way for a supermarket, petrol station, 60-bed hotel, visitor centre, retail park, garden centre and shoppers car park, with improved pedestrian access onto the High Street and town centre, as well as re-location to a new stadium for Forres Mechanics.'
The full story here on the Forres Gazette's site. As Nairn waits for others to make decisions, will Forres take another step forward, leapfrogging ahead of Nairn again?
'Beautifully presented, attractive, traditional, fully licensed Highland Hotel. Excellent central trading location in the ever popular seaside town of Nairn. Trading profitably on strong, year round mixed trade. Owners accommodation and 5 good quality en-suite letting bedrooms.'
The Gurn wonders what it all means for a landmark High Street building. Could another building shortly become available for 'town centre redevelopment?' We are certainly living through a time of great change and it is a bit hard to imagine the High Street without Woolworth's but that sadly may become a reality.
'Woolworths is in talks to sell its entire high street business to Hilco, the specialist distressed fund, for £1. Any deal will require the approval of the troubled chain’s banking syndicate, which recently appointed restructuring advisers from Deloitte to guide it on further loan negotiations with Woolworths. The talks are likely to hinge on how much of Woolworth’s debt Hilco, a global turnaround specialist, is willing to take on. Negotiations over the responsibility for the £100 million pension fund deficit, which Hilco will not want to assume, will also be difficult. '
Near to the junction of Albert Street and Seabank Road and in the latter there is a large house named 'Linkside' - I believe that in the 1930's it was owned and occupied by the Arburthnot family - and beyond that in the direction of the shore there was a property with the name Kevin. This really is taxing my memory but I'd say that the entrance gates shown in the film clip gave access to that house. If the large white building seen in the background is the Golf View Hotel and the clip of Mr. Lamb and daughter walking the ponies along the Prom confirms that the hotel was a white building at that time then if the building in question is not Kevin I'd say it is one very close to it.
Incidentally the "mystery beast" picture is one of a fairly large badly burnt tree root. It won a gill bottle of whisky as a prize in a competition run by Aberdeen Press and Journal.
Google Earth is an ever growing product offering more and more features. Its not a new feature, but Google Earth allows you to show YouTube film uploads for any given area on the planet. If we look at Nairn in Google Earth we can see several YouTube films, the directors range from holiday makers to local loons. I wonder how long it will be before we can have a Nairn film festival showing locally made films?
Usually before stepping out for a carry oot I consult my Michelin guide or Google the establishment to see what great food critic has stepped through it’s doors and shredded all but the very structure of the building to pieces. Tonight though my choice of eaterie has been decided by a report on establishments from the local environmental health inspectors. Stars they do nor give out but a critique of all health risks they do, it makes sober reading. Next time you visit a food establishment it might be best not to offer your compliments to the chef but ask if chef has washed his or her hands before preparing your meal! And yes a rat (Dead) was found in the basement of one Nairn establishment in recent times. The credit crunch is apparently leading us to eat at home and sales of take away type spices etc are soaring but the real reason might become apparent when you read the inspectors report - bon appétit?
"Today editors are losing this power. The internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren't satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog and cover and comment on the news yourself."
That sums it up doesn't it? Dear fellow citizens of Gurnia - if we're nae happy about an issue, we'll just gurn all over the information super-highway about it. The people are their own media now!
AyeRight caused a panic with his more vigilant neighbours by sleeping in this morning. ‘Normally I am up by 06:30’ said AyeRight, ‘but last night there were a lot of rowdies on the street and I simply slept in’. The local community were concerned that the curtains remained drawn at AyeRight’s abode long after 06:30. Closed curtains have meant only one thing for vigilant Nairnites in recent weeks, that of cannabis cultivation.Luckily AyeRight climbed out of his sack and drew the curtains just in time to avert being awoken by the drug squad.‘Folk were really concerned’ said AyeRight. ‘I can’t blame them for thinking the unthinkable, especially as they know I am a keen gardener and had just taken delivery of a pile of dung, I’ve never inhaled any drugs’. Keen to assist any Nairnite thinking of sleeping in, AyeRight has designed this poster to place at his window next time he fancies an extra long sleep.‘To assist our local vigilantes I ask everyone to print out this poster and place in in the window anytime they know they might not be up at their usual hour’ stated AyeRight ‘Lets try and eradicate growing drug problem in our community and help crime fighters'.
Nairn blogger Bill is talking about the merits of buying the Big Issue, the Gurnmeister doesn't believe in that anymore. Meanwhile Ayeright has stumbled upon a slightly out of date guide to Nairn that is a very strange read indeed. 'A trip advisor with bad attitude', suggests Ayeright.
The Gurn has been forwarded a copy of a letter sent to residents of Jordon House. The Albyn Housing Society will not be renewing the lease they have on the building in February 2010 and this obviously has serious implications for the residents. Albyn cite, 'current commitments, financial restrictions and the current economic climate' as their reasons for taking this decision. Hopefully some means will be found to allow folk to continue to live there. In the current climate that sort of letter is the last thing you need to help you lead a stress-free life. Maybe the only proper type of affordable housing should be council housing, under the control of demcratically elected councillors? Click on the letter to enlarge to read the full text.
'Welcome to the bench mark database.The database contains records of Ordnance Survey bench marks, with particular focus on the numbered flush brackets which appear on walls and buildings across Britain. In addition, fundamental bench marks, projecting brackets, tidal observatories, and other bench marks are also included, to help give a more complete picture of the levelling lines'. If you were wondering what the 'bolt' was on the Town Hall all is now explained. Follow the bolts and never get lost again!
Ayeright has been out and about surfing again and he has clicked on a real enigma. Anyone heard of the Maryborough Hotel and Spa, on the Inverness Road Nairn? There's a very nice web page telling you all about the facilities but if you got into a taxi at the airport and asked for that address would you get there? The picture on the bottom of the page looks familiar though.
Thanks to Hamish for this picture of a mystery animal he took during one of his visits home. Did anyone else see it?
Hamish also has another Harbour related memory for us. Does it ring any bells with any of the Gurn's older readers?
'In addition to harbouring drifters and smaller local fishing vessels two colliers - the Swift and the Wisbech - arrived there from time to time from Stockton-on-Tees with cargoes of coal for John Gordon the Coal Merchant. I believe they may have carried timber from Nairn to Hartlepool on some return trips. The colliers were registered in Aberdeen and owned by two brothers by the name of Smith.'
I’m a big fan of web sites such as Trip Advisor. It allows for paying customer to give feedback on accommodation and food outlets throughout most of the world. To my cost I have discovered that is can be all too easy these days for hotels and restaurants to employ a great web designer and have carefully shot photos only for you to arrive at your destination to be bitterly disappointed and voting with your feet by vowing never to darken their doors again. I appreciate that my views and tastes when it comes to the catering and the hotel trade may be very different from others, but the feedback left by Trip Advisor tends to give a good overview as to what to expect (Or not, and hence avoid!). So how does Nairn fair? Have a look at Trip Advisor.
Some of the info is a bit out of date with regard restaurants, but in general Nairn comes out quite well in terms of feedback. Maybe Nairnites could update the restaurant part of the site and keep potential visitors up to date?
A publicity leaflet for the SNP's Westminster parliamentry candidate came through the Gurnmesiter's letterbox recently. Extolling the electorate to put ex-policeman John Finnie 'on the Westminster beat'. Now regulars will know that the Gurnmeister is an SNP supporter and cannot seriously envisage voting for any other party in the future. However, John Finnie's leaflet has raised concerns with this supporter. Among the 'If elected John will..' commitments is something concerning the road networks in the area:
'Support the Scottish Government's commitment to dual the A9 and lobby to ensure funding for the Inverness Trunk Link Road.'
And the A96 please? I'm sure that John Finnie will support a Nairn by-pass, can't think why it didn't rate a mention on the leaflet though? The last thing we need is the SNP going Invercentric on us.
Ma bhrùthas sibh air an dealbh gheibh thu fear nas mhotha agus chì thu gu bheil Iain ag ionnsachadh Gàidhlig ge-tà, sin thu fhèin a bhalaich!
On reading recently about Brooman's Well and its having had a major makeover and the reference to the 'valley' by Min Walker from Tomnarroch Farm in NewZealand set me wondering why the 'wishing well' in the valley has been so badly neglected. The whereabouts of the latter was much better known by the people of Nairn in the years before the war. It was reputed to be a "Wishing Well" and I can confirm that wishes made after partaking a drink of water from it can be, and sometimes are, granted. On a warm, sunny day in July of 1927 my Mother took me to the 'valley' where we had a picnic and sitting together alongside the well she told me that ifI sipped a little of the water and made a wish that that wish might come true. I did just that and wished for a baby sister to play with and, believe it or not, two weeks later my sister Jean was born. I have often wondered was I primed to make such a wish??
A very interesting comment came in on response Number 29 on the Gurn's shopping survey.
You can take part yourself here and see all the responses so far here:
'Man (and Nairn) does not live by shopping alone. While exercises like this might be interesting, the results are fairly predictable. The greater risk is that this takes our eye off the ball. While we obsess about Sainsburys, supermarkets and shopping, we fail to notice the juggernaut which threatens to obliterate Nairn's remaining attractive features. The cumulative impact of developments within the framework of the appalling Inverness/A96 Corridor plan pose an existential threat to the town of Nairn. It's not surveys we need - it's a public awareness campaign!'
Regulars will know that the Gurn has more than touched on this subject since its creation and we will continue to do so. Nothing to stop anyone else blogging on the subject however. The Gurn will link to anyone who sets up such a 'public awareness' blog or website.
UPDATE 1430:'A96' has commented and thus we have a response to the response
A96 said... I unlike response number 29 applaud the Gurn for the shopping survey. It might well be that the results are no great surprise but thus far it confirms Gurn readers unhappiness with what Nairn as a retail venue has to offer and also their disquiet with Highland Council. Clearly a large amount of Nairnite money is being spent outwith Nairn which must be of concern to current local businesses, and those thinking of moving to the town. The topic of shopping has rightly been debated in the Gurn before and I very much hope that it will provide a platform for further discussion on this very important issue. The future of Nairn is dependent upon us getting the right balance of shopping facilities so that we are not traveling to nearby towns.With regard proposed developments along the A96. To my knowledge there has been a large amount of publicity for each and every proposal which I would have thought would have been brought to the attention of most Nairnites and hence most of us are already very aware of the impact such developments might have upon Nairn? Unpalatable as many of these proposals may be to current residents this is a separate issue to that of shopping in Nairn and who knows, maybe the Gurn will run a survey covering this subject (But I think the results may be predictable) And for the record women (and Nairn) do not live by shopping alone, not just men!
Tilda may be hosting film festivals around the world post this years event in Nairn (As reported in the Gurn) but just across the Firth Cromarty are once again staging their film festival Their opening venue is unique in that it will be on the tiny car ferry which sailed to Nigg - very limited seats but visit their website and you could win a ticket No deck chairs or bean bags from what I can see but looks as though it will be a very good event if you can attend.
Please take a couple of minutes to fill in a few questions on our shopping survey. You'll find it here. Update: the survey only running for an hour and a few statistics produced already. This results page will be updated daily. There are also some very interesting comments coming in.
'But now the actress Tilda Swinton is taking her off-beat film festival from her home town of Nairn to the other side of the world – Beijing. Cinema fans in the Chinese capital will be treated to Scottish classics, from the urban grittiness of Trainspotting to the 1945 romance I Know Where I'm Going!.'
Our correspondent Hamish writes again for the Gurn:
I have been reading again Graeme's recent letter re. his walk around the harbour, the links and along the river and memories of the opening of the new harbour basin in the mid thirties came to mind. The weather was fine and dry and children from Millbank School were assembled in the area at present used as a viewpoint over towards the Sutors. Pupils from the Academy may have been there too but I'm not sure about that. I visualize the drifter fleet tied up alongside the east pier and the 'Flagship' of the fleet - The Brighton of The North - sailing past them and a ribbon stretched across the entrance to the harbour basin being cut by Lady Grant. As I recall Lady Grant was the wife of Sir Alexander Grant who was, I believe, the owner of McVitie's biscuits and a close friend of Ramsay McDonald the Prime Minister. After the opening ceremony all of the school children assembled in two large marquees which had been erected on the cricket ground and where lots of soft drinks, buns and biscuits were consumed. A day to remember.
and a wee PS from Hamish:
When I attended the school of that name in 1934/36 (the Academy) It's official name was Rose's Academical Institution. There is a website on Google but having made many attempts to download the information I have had no success. Does anyone have any knowledge as to the origin of that name?
TWO party-goers dressed as a pantomime horse and cow were being hunted by police last night over a drunken Halloween fight. The bizarre pair were caught up in a brawl with two other men and a woman after a fancy dress party.
Just about all Nairnites I know want more choice in our home town when it comes to grocery shopping. I am not sure as to how supermarkets view Nairn, but I wonder if we come across as a desperate cap in hand bunch who would accept a new supermarket anywhere in the town from any of the major players? News that Inverness would like another multi-story car park made me think about the land we have in the centre of town. Could Nairn not have its own multi story plus supermarket? We could then make the High St pedestrianised and maybe the bus garage could become a terminus for a fleet of busses bringing local folk into the town? All this to be paid for by Highland Council and the new supermarket owners? Maybe I should have saved this article for April 1st - you can but dream!
They're both very worried about changes to Scottish Arts Funding. With everything else going on, or going down the pan perhaps, it is hard for other subjects to register on the radar but here's what Tilda said:
Oscar-winning actress Swinton is leading calls for a significant rethink. She said she was "deeply disturbed" that Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council should pay for the transition costs, and expressed concern about the quality of advice being offered to the government. "As a Scottish citizen and arts worker I object to the huge hole that will be left in our cultural life by this diversion of funds," she said. "This £4m to £7m bombshell would mean that cultural and arts funding in Scotland will be devastated in the next few financial years and would constitute a dangerously unpopular policy for a Scottish government to implement. Our fear is that this proposed course indicates a lack of practical, intelligent and informed advice available to our executive."