Monday, 27 March 2017

Investigative Journalism is crucial


Investigative Journalism is crucial. More than ever in turbulent times it is essential to read competent investigative journalism. 

There is ‘mass media persuasion’. – which is from ‘Rulers’ who want power and don’t want dissent. Newspapers or tabloids like Daily Mail or Daly Express or Sun are emphatically NOT about presenting balances views (as some older voters believe) and they are controlled by the British establishment. They present only one point of view.

Literature is also about many diverse voices. Excellent article on the importance of the Arts and literature is particular, by Glasgow university professor Alan Riach on the Power of Mass Persuasion – The National March

The New York Times and the Washington Post have had a recent surge in subscribers as Americans seek to find out what is really going on.

The National Newspaper has Investigative Journalism.
Some may falsely believe the National is only one point of view – it is not! It carries right and left articles, in depth articles by Professors and experienced political journalists.

Channel Four news uses investigative journalist – in recent days they have been interviewing non-politicians and commentators, to look seriously at the issues around Scot Ref and Brexit. Rather than empty Political Rhetoric.

As a direct result of the 2008 economic crash, after which nothing has changed in the UK, people are desperate for change, any kind of change!  The trouble is the far right has taken over arguments with blaming immigrants!   

The best way to have debate is through informed discussion, and NOT by throwing around insults. Politicians need to learn this too and they dont' in Westminster that's for sure!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Emeli Sande Usher Hall Edinburgh


What a buzz from Emeli Sande’s Usher hall gig and it was wonderful to see and hear her on the Big Stage!
This was my 9th
Emeli Sande gig! (2007 – 2017)
I saw her perform in Glasgow Oran Mor (2007, 2011, 2016), King Tuts (2011), Old Fruitmarket (2012), Clyde Auditorium (2012), Olympic Torch Relay Glasgow July (2012), Royal Albert hall (Nov 2012)

My daughter was at Medical school in Glasgow with Emeli and she suggested that I should come hear her sing at the Oran Mor in December 2007. A year previously I had started seriously shooting music and events – Mugdock music festival, sports events, theatre, Edinburgh festival. 

I took photos at the concert that were used for Emeli’s promotional flyers and in print press after contacts from her manager over the next 4 years (2007 – 2011). Then in 2011 she debuted the songs for her upcoming number one selling album 'Our Version of Events'. In 2012 Emeli performed at the Opening ceremony Olympic Games London.  

My highlight was definitely shooting at her Royal Albert hall gig November 2012! What a thrill. You enter the hall via spiralling steps that take you right in front of the stage with the audience behind. There was a black and white photo of Frank Sinatra with the audience behind him on the wall. Inspired.

The Concert
Emeli performed songs from her new album, Long Live the Angels, along with her hit songs of 2012. She sang a breath taking, expressive Breathing Underwater, a soul-filled Give me Something to Believe In. After which she took the energy up with her rocking soul songs Babe (one of her favourites), hit single Hurts and the popular Wonder.

Her well-rehearsed band and backing singers did quality justice to the songs, while behind her she had an ever-changing back drop of clouds, candles, raindrops, cosmos and more.

Emeli covered all the bases from her Highs and Lows of bright yellow energies to poignant blues - with the intimate emotions of Clown at piano and Your Beautiful with only guitar backing.

The concert climaxed with her hit favourite songs Next To Me and Read all About It. She built us up with her songs of the wonder in us and helped us too to climb mountains. She exclaimed too, how much she appreciated fans being there.


Sande has a powerhouse soul voice with an engaging presence and hope-filled songs. She is also a sincere, open hearted and generous lady! In turbulent days she sings of the good in us. ‘Long Live the Angels certainly!

(PS There was problems with ticket touts at the concert hall door, with reportedly as many as 200 fans turning up with fake tickets and being badly disappointed. This problem needs to be seriously looked into! Tip – buy tickets early from the venue.)



SONGS: Selah, Breathing Underwater, Tenderly, Free, Give me Something,  Garden, Kung Fu,
Every Single Little Piece, Heaven, Hurts, Sweet Architect, Hurts, Happen, Beneath Your Beautiful, Clown, Shakes, Babe, Highs & Lows, little Bit Longer, Next To Me, Read All About It.



Monday, 20 March 2017

Suppression of Scottish Culture - Writers and Artists

Robert Burns statue bottom Leith walk
A recent tv program documented Burns success in American. There are 15 Statues of Burns there, more than to any other writer or musician. Yet in Scotland’s capital, which is covered in unionist statues along its Hanoverian new town streets there is one statue hidden away down the bottom of Leith walk. I was over for the Edinburgh festival and noticed all the George St statues, shockingly there is little on Scotland’s most famous son. 
This happened to the world’s greatest poet who was dismissed as simply a ‘heaven taught ploughman poet’ – when in fact he knew five languages and was a ferocious reader of the classics, philosophers and of the Scottish enlightenment. 

There has been devious, underhand, manipulative moves - not only to ignore the Scottish contributions to the world of the arts, writing, history, and science -.but to whitewash them out of history by those who support the Unionist establishment, the Anglicised Scots of all things English, who see their future in a House of Lords!

**As an example in 1854 the Irish poet Oscar Wilde was born and his mother named him - Oscar Fingal Ossian - ‘Isn’t that grand, misty and Ossianic” she said - yet today who has heard of James MacPherson's Ossian poems? More recently the 1980s there were moves by the English controlled Arts council to close the Scottish National portrait gallery and ignore Scottish art, which was strongly opposed, and thankfully has instead been refurbished and is flourishing today.

Oscar Wilde
This happened in Scotland’s schools where practically no Scottish history was taught until recently – nothing on the Scottish enlightenment, nothing on the great inventions, nothing of great Scottish writers, nothing of the medical inventions.

What I did learn was of Tudor England, Shakespeare, Wilfred Owen and some American writers. My only lessons in Scottish history were a couple of Burns songs with the Primary schools choir – Ca the Knowes, Comin Through the Rye. I was hooked. I feel angry that at school and college in Edinburgh, I learnt of French, American and English writers – but nothing on the great Scottish writers! Hopefully today with Scottish studies at our universities, this has improved in our schools too.

We need to ask - Why have we Scots forgotten? The idea has been to suppress the subordinate cultures such as Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Writers likes Burns and others fought against this in the years after the forced union. I was reading of the origins of Romantic poetry after I picked up a book at the National portrait gallery London on Romantic poets – of the Ossian poems of James MacPherson, Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson, Walter Scott, and of course the unparalleled Robert Burns. there was no mention - the international success of Scottish writers has been suppressed.

A few years ago my son graduated at the Royal college of Surgeons Edinburgh, where I was surprised to learn that we have the oldest centre for medicine in the world! There have also been many great Scottish scientific and medical innovations.

Artist and teacher Alexander Moffat and poet and lecturer Alan Raich, write in their informed book, Arts of Independence –“In most countries in their national galleries, half are devote to International Art and the other half to the Art of that nation itself.

I sat beside an Irish woman at a Celtic Connections concert once and I mentioned the wonderful Irish Writers museum in Dublin and by contrast  the tiny Scottish writers museum in Lady Stairs Close. She wondered, perhaps there are only a few great Scottish writers she may well wonder….where are they and how are they remembered?

I believe it is not only very important, but also time we honoured our great Bard, with a statue of him in St Andrews square (and not the other forgotten tyrant Dundas).
And that we also honoured Fergusson (Burn’s muse), Allan Ramsay and the many recent great Scottish writers along with the manygreatrecent authors with a decent Scottish writers museum.

Nationalism matters – it matters to know and understand our roots, heritage and the stories that inform our nation. To understand the places and streets we walk upon. And not in an exclusive way but an inclusive way.
Hugh MacDiarmid
***The great Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid wrote, “To be truly international, you have to be national to begin with, to see the entire Scotland – and not an Anglo-centric or Anglo-American perspective that dominated media and 20th century cultural analysis.“

“The idea that national self-determination can fuse and ignite art, safeguard its provision, be the ground from which self-knowledge, love of others and the optimism of curiosity grows.”


Sunday, 19 March 2017

A United Nations of Britain?


When I visited the Dublin Irish writers museum I picked up a card that listed the best of them.
As I looked at the illustrations list I thought of all the great Irish culture and how much the world has benefitted from these Irish voices.
Which made me think also of Scottish voices – our innovations, our Scots songs, the Scottish Enlightenment. Then there are the wonderful Welsh choirs. I thought of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Turner, Wordsworth too and the great English writers and artists.

I thought of the nations of Scandinavia – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark – they were also once joined through a royal marriage.
For the past hundred years each nation has been able to offer the world its own unique voice and are stronger for it – while they are still the nations of ‘Scandinavia’. In fact their voices are an even clearer, unique and positive force in the world than ever before.
Finland offers one of the world’s best education system with highly trained teachers. Norway, Iceland and Denmark too offer a more collaborative approach to running society, that favours equality, fairness and hard work at its heart. All Scandinavian countries are flourishing as independent nations. There is no point looking at the US – the story there is so different - a newer place where each state is fairly autonomous and is more comparable to the EU.

Then I look at us here in this disunited kingdom of islands – the routes of division and discord, misunderstandings, wasteful squabbles, power sharing, disharmony, extreme inequality and class divisions. Many of these wounds run deep and will not easily heal, disappear or ever go away. There is really only a simple answer – to look over the North seas to our Scandinavian cousins and learn lessons of how self-determining nations are working in a healthy way both independent and together.

Perhaps we too on these islands, can be a United nations of Britain and I hope Britain does not only mean England? England has historically been reluctant to offer Scotland real federalism. This half way house of 30% tax and limited control of welfare is unworkable and for sure something has to give. This doesn’t compare well to other devolved nations or states in America  - such as Quebec, Catalonia – who control their immigration and taxes and broadcasting. Catalonia alone has four tv channels! While Scotland has none1


Knowing that Ireland used the pound sterling for 50 years after its independence, it was demoralising for our supposedly fair and equal union to hear that England would not allow Scotland to use the pound and also knowing that if the Bank of England refused to allow the use the pound, it would also have to refuse other countries access to do business in pounds sterling and was like shooting itself in the foot! Scotland felt bullied and told off like a naughty child told to go to its room to play with only the toys assigned to it.. 

Why would Scotland be like Greece – rather than Iceland, Norway or Denmark? We have more resources than Greece, better universities and R & D. Fear is not a good way to cement a happy union. Let us try to look forward with positive expectations.

It is strange Gillian Bowditch Sunday Times 5th March, sees Scotland as diminished by wanting what other nations have – I see Scotland instead as empowered and flourishing in the belief we are as confident, capable and able for self-determination as any other peoples!