Saturday 30 April 2016

WB Yeats: Revolution of the mind

WB Yeats 
Revolution of the mind

Songs and imagining the immigration myths - There is no free state without Yeats.  Ireland does not exist without the Poet.

Excellent TV program recently about the Irish poet WB Yeats narrated by Bob Geldof.
Yeats became the Irish National Poet. He looked at the old myths and stories and wanted to write of the spirit and voice of Ireland. He had a vision of a pluralistic, tolerant Ireland that prevails today. 

He was a Protestant born in Dublin.  His father was  a barrister and his mother’s family were from Sligo Ireland which they visited often and where he learned of the myths and magic tales from the servants.
He later lived in London where he Oscar Wilde and other writers and poets. There he also met his muse, Maude Gonne, who was a revolutionary for a free Ireland.

He believed in the arts, poetry and in the sovereignty of intellect and the mind.
His work was about the celebration of pro Ireland NOT what Ireland is against and to celebrate Irishness – rather than oppose England.

He wrote “No fine nation without literature and no fine literature without nationality.
He dreamed of a modern, tolerant nation that was open and pluralistic .  He wanted to tear down the idols of the market place. And he knew that nations are not about lines – and that every people need their myths.

Yeats gave the Irish ‘who they were’ before the endless fighting. Yeats elevated the old heroes – political expression of a people. – Pens not guns.

Meanwhile in Scotland in 1780 a Robert Burnes
also wrote of the old stories and collected the old songs around Scotland, from the borders to the highlands. He too became the core and poetic voice of a true and honest Scottish voice. 
In 1920s after WW1 in Montrose, as part of a Scottish Renaissance there, another poet Hugh MacDiarmid took up this mantel again and he too wrote in both Scots and English – drawing on the past stories and imagining the Scotland of the future.  He was one of the visionary poets that began the Scottish national civic movement.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Scottish Music 2016

Kathryn Joseph
Findlay Napier – Top reviews for this singer songwriter. On tour April/ May 2016.
Kris Drever – Scottish folk guitarist and songwriter. New album 2016 - If Wishes Were Horses.
Chvrches. - One of the most exciting new Scottish bands. New album 2016 - Every Open Eye.

Kris Drever
Idlewild. -  Scottish indie folk-rock band, Great show live. Album, Everything Ever Written..

Kathryn Joseph – New album. bones you have thrown me and blood i've spilled. Winner of SAY award 2015.
I met her briefly going into play at the Edinburgh book festival where her vintage piano was carefully being lifted over the stone steps via the backstage entrance into the Charlotte square gardens.  
Rachel Sermanni –  Young singer songwriter, excellent subtle voice. Album Tied to the Moon -

Rachel Sermanni
Karen Matheson
Julie Fowlis. - .Perfect Gaelic voice, excellent live.. Album Gach seugl – Every Story.

Blue Rose Code - aka Ross Wilson from Edinburgh, reminds one of a young John Martyn, even toured with bassist Danny Thompson. New album The Bird is on the Wing -
Karen Matheson -  Beautiful Gaelic singer. New album 2016 –  Urram
Singer with the band Capercaillie.  -

Julie Fowlis
Rob Noakes
Rab Noakes - Some of Noakes best work. He played with Gerry Rafferty.  New Album - I'm Walkin Here -
C Duncan - Short listed for Mercury prize 2015.  Album, Architect -

Thursday 14 April 2016

Famous Scottish Women

Elsie Inglis

Famous Scottish Women
 the many stories of Scotland’s histories there are many stories of great men
but it is nearly impossible to find stories of famous Scottish women.
It occurred to me – who were they? I went in search of them.

….for their words, actions, innovations or creativity. And there have been outstanding women in history – but no statues to commemorate their memory  of their contributions. Doctor Elsie Inglis is revered in Serbia and largely forgotten in Scotland – there is a foundation to her memory in Serbia, but only a plague in St Giles Edinburgh to her.
Even those who study university level history are not introduced to great Scots and in particular Scottish women. So much has been forgotten and air brushed out. I feel ashamed to know so little of them….

I attended the Royal college of Pediatric medicine graduations in Knightsbridge 2016. Today over 70% in medicine are women – several were pregnant. I hope the young women of today, remember the stories of the first women who fought against strong prejudice. This matters, - it matters for young girls to see the Photos of great women scientists, writers, politicians, - and know that their role in life is not solely about their looks but about how they can contribute to society. Here are only few famous Scottish pioneering women. 

*Elsie Inglis -  (1864 –1917) Scottish doctor and suffragette, who fundraised for the first Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH)  hospice for poor women Edinburgh in 1894. She attended Edinburgh medical school and qualified from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Edinburgh. She trained at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson’s new hospital for women London and later at the Rotunda Dublin. She was appalled by the general standard of care and lack of specialization in the needs of female patients.

She is best known for The Elsie Inglis maternity hospital and her war work when she set up the SWH for Foreign Service which sent medical teams to Belgium, France, Serbia, and Russia. After the British army turned her down she gained support from the French government. She was told – to go home and sit still by the UK war office! She went to Serbia and worked to improve hygiene to reduce typhus and other epidemics. She was awarded the Order of the White Eagle of Serbia

*Muriel Spark – (1918 – 2006) Scottish author, known best her book The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Margaret Macdonald

*Margaret Macdonald – (1864 -1933) Scottish artist whose design work became one of the defining features of the "Glasgow Style" during the 1890s. With her husband, renowned architect Rennie Mackintosh, she was one of the most influential members of the loose collective of the Glasgow Four. She exhibited at the 1900 Vienna Secession, where she was arguably an influence on the Secessionists Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffman.

*Victoria Drummond - (1894–1978) marine engineer.  She was awarded an MBE for bravery at sea during the Second World War when she single handily kept engines of the SS Bonita running while under German bombardment.
*Katharine Marjory - (1874 – 1940)  female Scottish MP,  known as ‘the Red Duchess’, in 1923 Katharine Marjory, the Duchess of Atholl, became the first ever female Scottish MP, when she was elected to the House of Commons.

Mary Barbour
*Mary Barbour (1875  – 1958) was a Scottish political activist, councilor and magistrate. She was active wit hthe red Clydeside movement in the early 20th century and known especially for her role as the main organiser of the women of Govan who took part in the rent strikes of 1915.[2]

*Lorna Moon,  Hollywood screenwriter, - Helen Wilson Low grew up in the rural village of Strichen. Through her own endeavours, she became Lorna Moon,
*Jennie Lee - (1904 –1988), Scottish Labour politician. She played a lead role in the foundation of the Open University working directly with Harold Wilson.
Mary Somerville
*Mary Somerville  (1780 – 1872) was a Scottish science writer and polymath. She was self taught and studied mathematics and astronomy and was nominated to be jointly the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society.  The University of Oxford’s Somerville college is named after Mary. She wrote a book On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences in 1834, which helped to encourage astronomers to search for - and eventually discover - the eighth planet, Neptune.  Mary was friends with and influenced the artist JMW Turner.

*Nan Shepherd - (1893 –1981), Scottish novelist and poet. She was an early Scottish modernist writer, who wrote novels set in small, communities. The Scottish landscapes played a major role in her novels and poetry. She is best known for her book the ‘Living Mountain’ Shepherd about her experiences walking in the Cairngorms.  She was a lecturer at the Aberdeen College.
*The Edinburgh Seven, group of pioneering female students in Scotland that became the first in Britain to be admitted onto a university degree program.

Our mainstream media mainly glorifies models, actresses and singers. When I attend Edinburgh International book festival (EIBF) each year and I see the many women there who have achieved truly great things – but receive little attention. This can change. 

Nan Sheperd

More Info Websites – The Saltire Society, Glasgow Women’s library, 
In Edinburgh there are 200 statues of men.  Two statues of Queen Victoria and two of dogs.