Monday, 31 August 2020

Hugh MacDiarmid’s Renaissance


MacDiarmid reimagined a Scottish rebirth and renewal of a truer heart and stories, that had been forgotten ever since the unwanted ‘union’ . 

He looked at the Edinburgh historic skylines, the seashores of Shetland, the north eastern town of Montrose and his border hometown of Langholme and felt  strong disgust at all that had been lost.in his 1942 Scottish art and letters essays: the Present position and Post war prospects, included 17 chapters on Scotland’s reconstruction. He welcomed a new generation of Scottish writers – Sorley MacLean, WS Graham, Sydney Goodsir Smith and others.

The Scottish renaissance was conceived in the first world war and then leapt into lusty life in the second world war. In the 1920s, national self-determination became a cultural priority. 

Partly as a result of reimaging of Scotland by MacDiarmid, and other writers, artists, composers, critics and historians. The 20rh century saw the irreversible development and re-establishment of cultural and political self-consciousness, and ideals of self-determination. In Scotland. The beat goes on. 

At the heart of that beat is a regenerated sense of national identity and international connection, both with a sense of historical depth. 

The artist is not refined out of existence, but bears the weight of conscious connection with his or her society, family, language and national history. And this is to do with a feeling of home or belonging. 

Friday, 28 August 2020

Song for Scotland -'Auld Lang Syne'



Scots spread around the world as – explorers, lecturers, innovators, writers – and had close trade to Europe.

Kane writes of the impact songs can have, to bring us all together in community spirit, to build hope. 
From a shattered apartment Beirut – windows blown in, amid her ruin an elderly woman sits at her piano and plays the classic international song by our Bard Robert Burns, his song of unity and friendship -

'Auld Lang Syne.’

Making beauty from ashes.....
This song's emotional power travels the globe and gives people hope. Not about divisions but about bringing people together in what really matters. 

Making beauty from ashes.

Scots and journalist musician Pat Kane concludes for indy (Scotland National August 8th)
All the way from Beirut the perfect national anthem for indy Scotland. 
“hardly for the first time, Scotland is already profoundly woven into the world, as the world waits for our official return. Closing suggestion, isn’t this the obvious, post indy Scottish national anthem in waiting? A song the world already sings – joyfully, harmoniously, in happy celebration? Right under our noises, all this time. “

Here are the pipes and chorus and a perfect rendition of Auld Lang Synehttps://www.youtube.com/auld-lang-syne

Burns heard the old song and added new verses - its a song too for the auld Scotia that was being lost. 
This is a song about bringing people together. Because Scotland's self-determination is not about any nationhood - but rather our right to democracy for all who live here in Scotland - for our fairer, more equal, greener and well being future. 

Kane writes of the impact songs can have, to bring us all together in community spirit, to build hope. Collective singing can ‘induce feelings of happiness, safety and security in a group – calming, energising, organising and inspiring. 
He recommends the book - David Levitin , The World in Six Songs. 

Odyssey of Thomas Muir

Odyssey of Thomas Muir
The '''Society of the Friends of the People''' was an organisation in Great Britain that was focused on advocating for Parliamentary Reform and votes for all men.

Muir was a leader of a movement for democratic reform and one of the Scottish Martyrs. 
There is a 90ft tall obelisk at the Calton Cemetery Edinburgh to the martyrs. It includes a quote of Muir’s - 'I have devoted myself to the cause of The People. It is a good cause – it shall ultimately prevail – it shall finally triumph. '

His attachment to the popular party in the kirk, his opposition to patronage, his involvement in student politics and influence of contemporary thinkers. The Reformers worked against corruption, nepotism, favouritism and elitism of landowning nobles who controlled the nation’s parliamentary representation at Westminster. Only 5% of men had a vote.
An organisation called 'Friends of the People' led by Thomas Muir, a lawyer from Glasgow and William Skirving, grew to a national movement. Other societies were also formed in England and Ireland.  
In France Muir met Thomas Paine. The movement met with determined and tremendous opposition in London, Edinburgh and Dublin. The radical but self-consciously legal and loyal campaigns of parliamentary reform were mercilessly killed off wittiin 4 years.

Muir and the other leaders were brought to trial, convicted and sentenced to transportation. Muir; Thomas Palmer, a minster from Dundee; Skirving, a farmer from Fife; Maurice a London wine merchant and Joseph Gerrald, a lawyer from the West indies. They were a diverse group.

Their enforced deportation voyage to Australia was recorded in letters and pamphlets by Palmer (published Cambridge 1798) which recorded the government repression and destruction of political and individual liberties.  


**Muir's Pacific journey on the Otter
After 2 years Muir escaped from botany bay on the French ship the otter, which was records in diaries by first mate, Pierre Francois Peron (published Memoirs 1824 Paris) Memoires du Capitane Peron sur ses Voyages.

His voyage took him to Nootka Sound, Vancouver island to Monterrey, San Blas and on to Mexico City, where Muir requested to be allowed travel to America. But the Spanish refused and sent him back to Spain. 
He travelled then Havana, Cuba and Cadiz, Spain – where he was caught up in a naval battle with British men of war and in the gunfire his face was badly injured.

He travelled to Bordeaux, where he was hailed as a 'Hero of the French Republic' and then on to Paris.
Muir's confidant 1798 was Dr Robert Watson of Elgin, emissary to France on behalf of the United Englishmen and he learned of the United Scotsman, the new revolutionary association which replaced the Friends of the People.
In November 1798, Muir moved secretly to Ille-de-France, village of Chantilly, to await the arrival of Scots compatriots. There on 26 January 1799 he died, suddenly and alone. 
Shortly before his death, he said: We have achieved a great duty in these critical times. After the destruction of so many years, we have been the first to revive the spirit of our country and give it a National Existence. 
Martyrs monument Calton hill Edinburgh

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Peace maker John Hume 1937 - 2020



 Hume died August 2020
‘Until you agree on the problem you can’t agree the solution.’ 

 ‘This piece of earth, our divided people.’
‘He made hope and history rhyme, ‘Seamus Heaney.

He was instrumental in the Irish peace process, and won 3 peace awards – The Nobel Peace prize, the Martin Luther king peace prize and the Ghandi peace award. He will be remembered with other peace makers.
He paved the foundations for the peace and the Good Friday agreement, signed in April 1998 and agreed on by two referendums in May1998, which ended the 30 years of the Troubles (1960s – 1990s) Issues relating to sovereignty, civil, and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, demilitarisation, justice and policing were central to the agreement.
There are some visionaries who can see the bigger picture, join up the dots and offer new stories and hopes. John Hume was one. 
My parents were Ulster unionists and I remember well the despair and dreadful violence and indiscriminate killings every day on the news during the troubles. It was a scary time. I remember visiting my family in northern Ireland as a child and returning when I was older when there were army roadblocks and helicopters circling over head. And each day there were more killings. 

Hume saw past all that – past the old sectarian hatreds and divides. 
In the 1980s Hume gave speeches at universities around northern Ireland: at Queens university students union when he would say – 
‘I’m here to make the single transferrable speech.’
The place was packed, and Hume was heckled by both nationalists and unionists. He always had an answer though  ‘This is not a history lesson,' he’d say.’

‘Foxes and hedgehogs know one big thing, we are all different. Diversity is to be celebrated. How does that threaten anyone?’ 
You can’t eat a flag.’
On human dignity – ‘An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.’
‘Spill sweat not blood.’
 ‘It not our land, its our people.’

He played better outside than inside the inward-looking, insular Northern Ireland and he knew it was more important to get the message out abroad. He spoke with US President Bill Clinton, about the political process rather than the military one. 

He got both Paisley and Thatcher to agree, he changed minds - and to see Northern Ireland not as an occupied territory, but as one day liberated. 
He asked the UK government, for civil rights and equality, how could they refuse?

It was his peace solution based on the European Union – The European Parliament, the European Commission and European Council. 
John Hume’s speech at the EU Parliament Strasburg – He speaks of the EU’s philosophy of peace and to respect difference. He asks that the EU should send not arms but their philosophy of peace to places of conflict. All conflicts is about seeing conflict, because difference is only an accident of birth. We should respect difference. 

He never held high office but he moved mountains. 
His endless persuasion worked. 
‘This piece of earth, our divided people.’

‘He made hope and history rhyme, ‘ poet Seamus Heaney. 


John Hume (1937 – 2020) was an Irish nationalist politician Irish nationalist politician from Northern Ireland, widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the recent political history of Ireland, as one of the architects of  The Northern Ireland Peace process - with the Good Friday Agreement signed April 1998. 
A native of Derry, he was a founding member of the Social Democratic and Labour party (SDLP) and served as its second leader from 1979 to 2001. He also served as a Member of the European Parliament, and a Member of the UK Parliament, as well as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. He was named "Ireland's Greatest" in a 2010 public poll by Irish national broadcaster RTE to find the greatest person in Ireland's history. 
Gerry Adams, John Hume, Bill Clinton, David Trimble

Gerry Adams, Albert Reynolds & John Hume
The Good Friday Agreement (GFA), or Belfast Agreement (Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or Comhaontú Bhéal Feirste; Ulster-Scots Guid Friday Greeance or Bilfawst Greeance), is a pair of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that ended most of the violence of the Troubles: a political conflict in Northern Ireland that had been on going since the 1960s. It served as a major development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s Northern Ireland present devolved system of government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. 
The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, voters were asked in the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum whether they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and allow necessary constitutional changes to facilitate it. The people of both jurisdictions needed to approve   agreement in order to give effect to it.The British–Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999. 
Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with David Trimble, and also a received both the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award. He is the only person to receive the three major peace awards. He was named "Ireland's Greatest" in a 2010 public poll by Irish national broadcaster RTE to find the greatest person in Ireland's history.[5]

Edinburgh 2020, MY LIGHT SHINES ON!






August means Edinburgh festivals and in particular its international book festival. I grew up in this northern capital, dominated by its castle, Arthur seat and historic Royal mile. The Edinburgh festival has been taking place each August since 1947. After the devastation of war Austrian Rudolf Bing, decided Europe could be brought together to heal by a large scale cultural festival. He decided on Edina, as it reminded him of Salzburg, and it became the worlds biggest cultural arts event. This is the first year for 72 years since 1947 the Edinburgh festival has not been held.

There is the main international festival, the fringe, the comedy, dance, opera, musicals, drama, concerts, mime, art, debates and of course the performers in the high street..

Edinburgh is a great cultural city, with a rich past and present, and hosts the world’s biggest multi national major festival, that celebrates not only comedy, theatre, music, dance and the arts – but the intersections and connections between and the significance of the arts for all of us. Glasgow has a wealth of iconic music venues – King Tuts, Barrowlands, Oran Mor and celebrates all the genres as well as its links via shipping to America and beyond. It was the once world’s shipbuilder.

The Edinburgh International book festival EIBF, the first of its kind is where Charlotte square Edinburgh comes alive with the written and spoken word.
welcomes many well kent faces – celebrities, scientists, academics, historians, illustrators, children’s authors, politicians, economists and more. Its such an adrenalin buzz of coming together, informed debates and renewal, a chance to recharge and be inspired by other creatives..

Instead this year the EIBF will host 140 events online program  - https://www.facebook.com/edbookfest/
 
Charlotte Square gardens
Of course many Edina locals have been finding the surge of crowds overwhelming the city as the festival got bigger and bigger every year. While many others enjoy and attend events. Another issue has been that the global companies involved which has meant money going off to London and elsewhere. More money needs to be kept back to be spent on Edinburgh infrastructure and roads. 

 MY LIGHT SHINES ON .....
took a trip over the Edinburgh - it was strange to see the quiet streets and I hope these times of reflection will bring us all deeper appreciation of what the ARTS mean for our lives. 





 **Strange and Challenged Times
Art is crucial
Art is how we move forward, broaden horizons, question and exchange ideas, culture and heritage ultimately matters more – more than any political rhetoric. 
We had lockdown from March for three long months until easing began. Its been a worrying, disconcerting experience. There have been plus sides too - less pollution noise, clear air, no crime!

Prices will be low this year, perhaps I might go over and just walk about – down the Dean village, the water of Leith, the forth estuary harbour front of Newhaven (where I went to secondary school) or Cramond walks or the famous Royal mile. Will anything be open though? 

“Creative families want to be back together felt quite emotional – its a vocation, we love it – to feel it coming back.  So much talent in Scotland. “

I have been taking photos at the Edinburgh Festival since 2007. Perhaps this is a year to step back, and renew our attitudes and ideas or make a change of direction. Perhaps this is much needed reflections and contemplations.

So this year is very strange for me, August is Edinburgh! EIF is a great melting pot. 




There will be online performances from the SCO, RSNO
Aiden O’Rourke, Rachel Sermanni, Allan Cumming, and many more.
For details BBC Scotland
Festival facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/edfringe/







WHY EDINBURGH?  “Certain preconditions were obviously required of such a centre. It should be a town of reasonable size, capable of absorbing and entertaining anything between 50,000 and 150,000 visitors over a period of three weeks to a month. It should, like Salzburg, have considerable scenic and picturesque appeal and it should be set in a country likely to be attractive to tourists and foreign visitors. It should have sufficient number of theatres, concert halls and open spaces for the adequate staging of a programme of an ambitious and varied character. Above all it should be a city likely to embrace the opportunity and willing to make the festival a major preoccupation not only in the City Chambers but in the heart and home of every citizen, however modest. Greatly daring but not without confidence I recommended Edinburgh as the centre and promised to make preliminary investigations.

Art is how I imagine and visualise my references.
Music is my main point of wonder, escape and emotional release. 
Poetry is how I make sense of the turmoil, confusion and troubles. 
And the stories we tell ourselves. 

Monday, 17 August 2020

Edinburgh Book festival 2020



Events this year are ONLINE and you can buy signed copies of the authors books. Certainly not the same as actually being there.....I'VE COVERED THE WORLD'S MAJOR BOOK FESTIVAL SINCE 2007, very strange not to be there.. 

 

 As we can't put on our usual 900+ event Festival this year in our lovely tented village in Charlotte Square Gardens, we've curated a special online edition. From 15-31 August, enjoy events for adults and children for free. Through the magic of technology, we’ll be crossing continents and time zones to beam events from more than 30 countries straight into your home. What’s more, you’ll be able chat with fellow Festival goers via digital chatrooms and take part in Q&A sessions, and you'll even be able to meet the author and get your books signed (selected events).

 





All events are free and available to watch here on our website. See events below. 'Save your place' on the event page and we'll email you a reminder just before it starts.

 

https://www.edbookfest.co.uk








Friday, 31 July 2020

We’ve lost our Truths



Richard Halloway
The facts are no longer presented by the journalists – but rather on social media platforms. 
I heard an interesting journalist from the Philippines on Hard talk  BBC – Maria Ressa

She claims the role of technology and social media that many spend so much time on, produces a manufactured consensus and manipulation of the public on a massive scale and are buoyed by a propaganda machine. Democracy is dead and social media killed it. 
  
In his book Stories we tell ourselves – Richard Halloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh, writer, broadcaster and cleric, writes that we should use self examination of ourselves and our structures, and challenge ourselves. 
There should be power to artists: artist interpret rather than force ideas. 

For instance Tony Blair’s belief and decisions tell us about a person’s psychological state rather than the external world around us. We are very hypnotisable by false prophets, look at how cultured Germany was led astray. He advises that we be compassionate to others stories.
Maria Resso
Ressa claims that these media platforms are behaviour modification platforms. This eco system allows lies and hate to spread faster than facts. Then there isn’t integrity of facts or elections. We are seeing a return to fascism because liberal democracy hasn’t delivered. People were angry. The trickle down effect hasn’t worked and caused a perfect storm. 

It used to be the journalists were the gatekeepers and agreed on the facts. Now instead of the journalists as the gatekeepers, we have the tech companies.  

Ressa states there has now been the growth of a kind of fascism - its okay to kill and when we see our human rights being pushed back. She feels she must do the right thing for democracy and truth. Has democracy failed us and if so, what can we do about it? Ignore social media ads (!), ignore tabloids news, ignore the debt marketed at us. 

Rather we must listen to the artists!

I see the only answer as small indy nations who have any chance of fighting back to all this. Hope I’m not deluded! To protect us from global threats and global companies.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Famous Gig Images






Snowpatrol


Now I attend and take photos at Celtic Connections festival each January. I’ve been so fortunate to take photos at some awesome gigs – from the intimate folk clubs, the open air festivals, the packed concert halls, the iconic Glasgow music venues. 

There is challenges at all, being unobtrusive at the small venues and dealing with lighting and other pit challenges at the bigger events. One of my first big outdoor event was the band Snowpatrol at Bellahouston Glasgow. It was a perfect sunny day and there is that adrenalin rush being at the front of the huge pumped crowd. 

At the SECC Glasgow we were lined up by the security and after a wait, we were led to the pit at the front of the stage. We stood there looking at the angles, the lighting, the stage and the audience. Photography is often about a lot of waiting, re-checking camera settings and being ready for the star's entrance. Suddenly Elton John appeared waving at the side of the stage. 

Oh i miss those live gigs, folk clubs and festivals! ... and hope they will return again one day very soon. 

Elton




Paul McCartney


Stevie Nicks



Laura Marling at the Old fruitmarket

Mogwai