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Three men who contributed much to the Borders in the 13th and 14th centuries were highlighted by Isobel Gordon, of Kelso, in her very interesting talk to Berwick Probus Club.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 19 August, 2018, 09:00

Entitled The Scholar, Wizard and Peer, it featured John Duns Scotus, Michael Scott and Thomas the Rhymer.

Prominent events were taking place as England and Scotland captured each other, and religion had a great role to play.

It was a time when the four great abbeys of Kelso, Jedburgh, Melrose and Dryburgh were built, and when Roxburgh and Earlston assumed great importance.

Thomas the Rhymer was taken on a great journey and became known as a prophesier, whose predictions still ring true.

Her wizard, Scott, was born in the Borders and was a clever man who was awarded a doctorate. He was a giant of a man and was claimed to have split the Eildon Hills into three.

John Duns Scotus, closely associated with the town of Duns, was a brilliant scholar, a Franciscan who studied at Oxford University. He was loved and revered by his colleagues. He was also a leading theologist.

• Exotic fish and corals, warm water on and under Pacific Islands, but a constant danger from toxic fish and plants.

That was the world into which Berwick Probus Club members were taken recently when guest speaker Ian Cartwright gave a slideshow and talk on the shots he had taken on three of the Papuan Islands.

For many years he and his wife have been divers and he has produced outstanding work.

He also highlighted the plight of the area’s macaque monkeys, where there has been a dramatic population fall in the last decade.

Many of the shots he showed the club were of rare varieties in an underwater world of sparkling colour.

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But many of the fish which live there can cause injury, and even death, because of their lethal stings.

Divers need to be aware of the problem and never go barefooted.

The Mangroves that grow on the islands produce the ideal setting for young fish.

Mr Cartwright also showed slides of sharks which make their own camouflage.

• The world should watch carefully the situation that could build up in the South China Sea.

In a very interesting assessment of the growing influence of China and Taiwan, and the huge United States naval presence, Ian Corsie told Berwick Probus how atolls were being turned into airfields.

Mr Corsie’s talk covered the great battles in the Pacific and South China Sea in the Second World War, and said a “quietly bubbling flashpoint” was happening in the area now.

An expert on naval affairs, Mr Corsie served with the British Navy in the fleet put together in the 1960’s as part of a large logistical exercise.

His talk referred to the complete domination of the Japanese after Pearl Harbour in 1941. This was followed by the recovery of the United States and the Allies, which ended with a remarkable ‘island hopping’ operation, culminating in the dropping of the atomic bomb.

As China’s influence has grown, situations are arising in the South China Seas and China has been claiming that the ‘Nine-dash line’ is theirs. The neighbouring countries challenge this and international order is under threat.

The rules were very important, but China was pushing the borders, Mr Corsie said.