Friday, 16 June 2017

Grenfell Tower Fire!


This burnt out blackened building is a ‘metaphor’ for the Tories failed policies.

This disaster is beyond comprehension. Unforgivable.
That those in authority have such disregard for those who are just starting out - the young, the students, the refugees coming here for a better life…
 what is London offering them?

Any inquiry will take years. Action needs to happen much quicker to have safety inspections on other tower blocks across the country.

Any fire should be contained on each floor, this did not happen. The other story is that the cladding outside was put there recently for cosmetic reasons.
 And all this in the richest burgh in the UK. Totally shocking. Any country that doesn’t value all its citizens and looses sight of humanity or that puts fast profits before human life is bound to fail.


Our PM Theresa May went to visit the people caught up in this disaster – but she never spoke to any of them… 
This is what happens when its all about a few rich elite, and a society neglects its citizens. Trickle down economics is dead and does NOT work!!
The Grenfell Renovation cost 10m - £4,750 for fire-resistant cladding is a drop in the ocean. Cutting corners will cost them many millions... Now we have to wonder, what is the value of human life?

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Macron's New Future

Promises a new dawn in France of progressive socialism – business friendly, more democracy in Europe, based on a stronger vision and identity for France. He’s a breath of fresh air in Europe, in the centre ground. Politics are no longer about out-dated empires or right or left (this is all good news for Scotland). 

Our divergence and diversity of views is our very strength and what makes us human. Clamping down on an ‘open press’ – turns us to our dark side; the side of fear of strangers or strangeness and the fear of the unknown - rather than be open to travel, to new ideas and to ‘otherness.’

Macron has offered France hope for another way – can we offer Scotland this too? The far right unionist media’s response is funny - they are a bit scunnered and they had been hoping for another crazy far right nutter in Le Pen with headlines – 'Populisms weeps across Europe.' (or sweeps)

Scotland has to choose now whether to be tied and restricted by a Brexit England, isolated from Europe and desperate for far away deals with corrupt and murdering governments – or wanting to be the 51st state of Trump’s America. It’s a prospect for failed capitalist, imperialist polices.
What will a foolish Brexit mean for the Arts, culture, music and writers? Or writing for an American or Chinese audience, while we try to ignore our European past? Yes in recent times we’ve had Hollywood cinema and Netflix, but when we dig deeper to the centuries before, we find our close ties and our very European past.


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Cara Dillon at Milngavie folk club 2017

Sam Lakemand & Cara Dillon
Cara sings with  a purity of tone and very natural sound.

She both looks and sounds angelic. Dillon and her talented husband Sam Lakeman (brother to Seth Lakeman) performed a full set at Milngavie town hall stage along with their top quality folk band - Luke Daniels (accordion), Niel Murphy (fiddle),  Ed Boyd (guitar).


With only Sam on piano, on ‘Bright Morning Star’ Cara encouraged her audience to join her chorus, with the words ‘Day is breaking in my Soul’. She also sang an intimate version of Beth Sorrentino’s ‘River Run.’

She sang a moving Tommy Sands ‘There were Roses’ for these turbulent days and a hope there may remain peace in Ireland. She sang of that the shamrock and thistle may flourish together.

She performed an expressive ‘She’s like the Swallow’, and the folk classic ‘Black is the Colour.’ Along with two new album songs and a couple of Irish language songs. She does many quality interpretations of folk classics – although I missed her wonderful take on Dougie MacLean’s ‘Garden Valley’. Her songs touch on themes of love, human frailty,

Between songs we enjoyed her friendly chat. There is a special close synergy between Lakeman’s dynamic piano and Dillon’s perfect subtle floating voice.

Cara also sang her excellent interpretation of  Van Morrison’s ’Crazy Love’  and then she finished her set with her award-winning song ‘Hill of Thieves’.

An evening of intimate song and heartfelt honesty, as Cara wished us joy with her encore song ‘Parting Glass.’
*Luke Donnelly from her band, was the entertaining support with his ‘Revolve and Rotate’ from the 1880.

ALBUMS, A Thousand Hearts 2014, Hill of Thieves 2009, Cara Dillon 2001, Sweet Liberty 2003, Upon a Winters Nights 2016.
http://www.caradillon.co.uk


Can a Thousand Scotlands Bloom?

This blossoming of artists, musicians, writers since the Scottish parliament opened 1997 (20 years ago) gave us belief back. I used to hear – ‘oh Scots are a nation of scroungers!’ After the 1979 vote farce, many left Scotland and we felt demoralized, it was a sad time. For centuries Scottish culture has been suppressed and ignored by those Anglicised Scots – those Scots who view themselves as English first, scotland second.  

In response to Gillian Bowditch and her Sunday Times article, Narrow cultural focus will tie us all to a tartan straight jacket’ where she writes on the author Muriel Spark -Spark wrote of a decidedly small niche of cloistered girls at Gillespie’s secondary school Edinburgh– how is this so deep or rich, compared to say Burns or Irvine Welsh?

How can a thousand Scotland’s bloom when we were taught nothing of our heritage, and culture in Scottish schools until recently….!
I grew up in Edinburgh and walked her historic streets and I wondered about her stories. Meanwhile I learnt of the Tudors, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Wilfred Owen,  and American writer Hemmingway at school.

Plockton cottages

In their time Burns, Scott and James MacPherson were internationally famous.
Burns was greatly influenced by both Scots ballads and English poets and he knew four languages, he was not simply a ploughman poet!

The only place I encountered Burns was at Primary school choirs. Burns wrote of nature, love, radical politics, hypocrisy, those conflicts between morality and our wilder passions.




Burns crossed many borders and was both national and international.

We are strongly linked to England and Ireland, but that doesn’t mean Scotland should be ruled by London. We never gave up our Kirk, which was far more important than the politicians in 1707. Burns also wrote the proud Scots songs Scots Wa Hae, and Parcel of Rogues

Scottish historian Tom Devine, in his lecture on the Scottish Enlightenment, spoke of how Scotland has for centuries been an outward-looking, trading nation – many Scots travelled to Poland, Netherlands, France, In fact more outward-looking than an often more insular England. “Scots suffer from “virtual universal historical illiteracy’, says Devine, “ perhaps that’s why they’ve struggled to engage with Referendum campaign."

It is only when we understand our roots, that we can also look outward. 
Yes the old tartan shortbread, White Heather club idea of ‘Scottishness’ of the 60s was so embarrassingly parochial. Surely we have moved on.  Two major Scottish festivals, Celtic Connections and Edinburgh Festival, both embrace their international element. Each August I attend the Edinburgh International Book festival where I see many inspired young Scottish writers of today. 

Edinburgh art galleries
This is also about whether you view empire building or stories of ancient Rome – where you have one group superior to the rest and an exploited underclass. Or you see a more progressive future for Scotland of a more socially integrated, fairer society that is fundamental to the success of our culture, economy and education. A successful small country in a larger European trading block.

pipers at Edinburgh castle

The Scottish nationalist movement is a broad church and not exclusively about the SNP. It was begun by poets such as Hugh MacDiarmid, back in 1939, and the Scottish renaissance of Montrose. MacDiarmid wrote - 
We are both national and international and to forget our rich heritage is a dark, ignorant thing…

skies across from Appelcross
near Loch Ardinning and the Campsie's

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Searching for the Hidden Vienna


From the moment you arrive this is a city that sings and echoes its personality – from the colourful graffiti, to Mozart’s music notes and image, perfect cakes and the stories everywhere.
Many composers lived here – Hadyn, Schubert, Strauss, Beethoven and of course Mozart. We were pleased to attend Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Opera expresses a big emotional dynamic range – plaintive pleading, soft caressing, comic timing, absurdity and questioning, heady emotions, collective joy, contemplative heartbreak….


This is a small country of 8m who have fought for their survival at the heart of Europe. A crossroads place with Russia on one side, Hungary and Germany on the other. Austria at one time was the centre for the Habsburg empire. One senses today the European Project is alive and well here

There is the well-known tourist Vienna –the tour buses, the horse drawn carriages, the coffee houses, the imperial palaces. There are glittering rooftops, ordered cycle ways, the walks in the old quarter and of course luscious and light cakes! Of The Sisi museum stories and the moving images of Empress Elizabeth and of her tragedy, the reluctant princess. 
This is a city for music lovers, bookshops and art. People are very polite, well mannered, positive and hardworking with a good attitude to life. You find answers here – perhaps.


Then there is underneath the real Vienna – of a warm, proud and friendly people – proud of the heritage of their city and it’s history.  We took the first class underground system to the Schonbrunn Palace on the sunny Saturday, but found it packed out with bus loads of tourists. So instead we headed back to the Vienna old quarters.  

At the St Stephendom at the heart of old Vienna, inside the light seems to play tricks as it dances on the very tall dark columns and lays soft shiny highlights on the gold statures. We search for the quieter cobbled by ways behind the dramatic light and shade of the cathedral and find a small coffee shop near Mozarthaus to stop and enjoy the moment. We discovered the Vienna Peace museum and the Austrian Journalists Club (OJC) – The Vienna International Press centre.  

St Stephans
Mozarthaus
**ART
In Vienna’s 1900s Liberalism battled absolute power.-
The Succession Movement. ARTISTS – Klimt, Kolo Muer, Otto Wagner – all died 1918.
There was also the artists Max Licberman, Eduard Munch, A Rodin.

There were many posters of Austrian painter Schiele’s work.
Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918) – Symbolism to Expressionism “There are only a few, very new new artists. Chosen ones. The new artist must absolutely be himself; he must be a create; he needs to have the base on which he builds inside him immediately and by himself, without using that which has been handed down from the past. Only then is he a new artist.”
Vienna Museum Windows for Peace
Places to visit -
*Hofburg Palace and Imperial Palace
MozartHaus
St Stephansdom,
Scots Quarter
Schonbrunn
Vienna State Opera