Still they want more! I am at my wits' end. What's left to cut? I decided to go and visit my wee sister and her brood for the May Holiday. Now Auntie Bridget is always a welcome visitor at their house as she brings sympathy, understanding and a liberal supply of Tunnocks caramel logs, Diet Coke and lucky tatties, all of which are banned by my tree- hugging, save-the-whales sibling.
I have a great relationship with Lizzie, my 16-year-old niece, who is in the midst of her exam revision. She has aspirations to be a journalist and wanted to show me her "portfolio". She had done the usual school magazine articles, reports of hockey matches and her pride and joy - an interview with leading local councillors.
I skimmed through the material, making the usual encouraging noises, and had to confess that she showed an adult perspective. I stopped in my tracks when I encountered her final effort. The wee gem had managed to interview the key figures in the council and seek their views on impending budget cuts. Lizzie's feature was entitled "What I Would Defend At All Costs", and the great inflated ones had poured out their tin hearts to say what they would never support in the next round of cuts - sorry, savings.
I asked for a copy. Lizzie was glad to oblige. Have another lucky tattie, my favourite little niece.
After the break, we were summoned to council HQ and each director had to bring out their dead - again. I wore black. It was appropriate. I gave a performance of West End quality. If only Andrew Lloyd Webber had a vacancy.
I hadn't gone for the detailed financial presentation like my colleagues. All I had were my photos. Slide one - wee St Andrews Primary, in the foothills with its seven pupils. Slide two - award-winning restored Victoria Library reading room. Slide three - Queens Road Nursery with its snotty, grotty, gap-toothed urchins playing in the snow. Slide four - the area youth orchestra performing in the town centre shopping mall at Christmas. Slide five - county football squad at the national stadium. Slide six - over-70s aerobics team as featured on national TV. Slide seven - the Special Olympics participants at the council reception.
I'll swear I saw hankies being produced. I heard sniffs. Words like Dead, Over, Body and My were clearly audible. The lights went up. Men were sniffling. Mascara was running - on the female councillors too. Lars sniffed and thanked me for my list of "savings". In all conscience, they felt they had to reject them.
I was sent away. Education was to be saved from further attack. Thanks, Lizzie. I may have the body of a weak woman, but I have the support of a great niece and she well deserves her future place in the fourth estate - and another dose of E numbers from her grateful Auntie Bridget.