Thursday 30 June 2022

Edinburgh Book Festival 2022!

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2022 returns

with 600 events, 550 authors, 50 countries – under the banner “All Together Now”.


EIBF returns with a full program this year and hopes to recreate that buzz, after the Lockdowns. To build on the hybrid format developed over two years of pandemic – with live, in-person events also available to steam online.


For the first time since 2019, nearly all events will be live on stage in Edinburgh and will add a new venue at Central Hall - a 700+ seat theatre space in the heart of the city and a 5 minute walk from the Festival Village at Edinburgh College of Art.

 EIBF has re-located from its Charlotte square site (since 1982) – to save the 120 trees, the festival has been hurting their roots with the amount of foot fall: this has been an ecological decision. The festival’s new home will be the Edinburgh University Future’s building which will offer both enough indoor and outdoor space and a village green space.

This year the festival takes place at the Edinburgh art college Lauriston place.


*EIBF director Nick Barley  - “We’ve learned a great deal since 2019 – the world has changed immeasurably with the pandemic and war in Europe – but we’re also beginning to imagine what a better future should look like. Exploring these issues in inspiring conversations with scientists, historians, poets and novelists is exactly where the book festival comes into its own.


Ruby Wax

Nile Rodgers & Irvine Welsh

AUTHORS for 2022 – Ali Smith, Alexander McCall Smith, Julian Barnes.

Nobel peace prize winner Maria Ressa, Outlander Diana Gabaldon, linguist Noam Chomsky, director Armando iannucci. Meg Mason and many more.

FM Nicola sturgeon in conversation with Louise Welsh and Brian Cox (of Succession fame)


The festival plans to be more inclusive with Stories and Scarm – for all to tell our own stories, such a Syrian refugees. The festival has been encouraging people from all backgrounds. 

PLUS Val McDermid with her new book 89, which charts Scotland history via a thriller;  Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet, her new book set in the Medici Renaissance. 

Douglas Stuart, author of Young Mungo, in conversation with Ian Rankin, 

Music – Martha Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, Vishti Bunyan, Ricky Ross, Stuart Cosgrove.

Alan Cummings

Also discussions on the role of Europe, impact of war with Ukrainian historian Sarhii Plokky.

**PLUS the large Children’s Book Festival with its

Baillie Gifford program – Julia Donaldson, Cressida Cowell, Michael Morpurgo. And new super heroes, Little Badman and Stunt Boy.


'Come together' for conversations with storytellers, musicians, politicians, actors, chefs, illustrators and more this August. Attend live in-person events in Edinburgh or watch events at home, 



John Byrne

Ian Rankin

Alexander MacColl Smith

Seamus Heaney

Rab Noakes at Milngavie folk club


Noakes performed SONGS: Branch, Gently Does It, Together Forever, Oh Me Oh My, Out of Sight Out of Mind. 


This evening at the Milngavie folk club was to celebrate Noakes 75th birthday and still going strong.


Rab spoke of all those significant people he has worked with over the years. Rod Clements, Gerry Rafferty, Brooke Williams, Jill Jackson, Barbara Dickson, And praised the women’s voices - and the all women in his band he had backing him at Celtic connections 2019.b


For his interview with 

He spoke of his respect for women’s voices - Helen Forrest, thanks for everything. The gorgeous voice, Jill Jackson, Jo Stafford, unforgettable, And of working with the young Scots singer Iona Fyfe and he spoke of her harassment and Equalities award. 


Rab spoke of his influences, such as the Everly brothers, his depth of interest in the song, and of Studio B Nashville, and his experiences travelling in the American south. He spoke of Bob Dylan’s 2021 album 'Rough and Rowdy' ways, a terrific place of work, and quoted from the song 'False Prophet' - I’m the enemy of treason, I’m the enemy of your meaningless life.”


He spoke of his style/ image he enjoyed Italian suits and aspired to be a teddy boy, winkle pickers, He likes to keep things smart. He said he was less political then he was, as it gets in the way, He was asked if he might write s book of his experiences, and replied that authors are very disciplined


He took some audience questions – How much was he influenced by Gerry Rafferty, back in1969 with the band Stealers Wheel? He responded that Rafferty had been a stimulus rather than inspiration. 


Noaeks was asked about the best song ever written - he dipped into his back catalogue for the song Westerin Home 1952. He talked of the great Michael Marra and his writing of his Fife connections, and said its good to write songs where you live, to write local. 


Rab’s been through some tough years with illness and loosing his wife Stephie last year from MSA illness. “When I had throat cancer, and Stephie got sick, He spoke of the pain but that “I don’t let myself get dragged into dark places, times getting short.” He spoke of writing songs with Stephie which influenced and channelled into his music, with the Treatment Tapes and Water is My Friend. 


He keeps his spirits up with music and friendships keeping him going – as do his long time supportive fans! Rab has often played house parties. I hope he keeps writing and being inspired by his musical heroes, such as the legend genius songwriter Bob Dylan! 


Noakes’s influences are broad from Americana, folk and blues. His songs express personal and memorable storytelling, matched to his intricate and melodic guitar style.

I will never forget singing in harmony his early songs on folk nights many years ago…



The Glories of the Scots Kings

James IV and Margaret Tudor

In film and TV, Scots Royalty is often portrayed wearing drab cloth is dingy castles, and as backward or out of touch heathens! These images are totally untrue! Recently Stirling castle has been renovated to reveal a highly colourful and richly decorated ceiling in the Great hall.

The Scots Crown jewels
 and the Stone of Destiny were hidden after the incursions of Edward Longshanks.

The Scots welcomed Charles II back and  he was crowned at scone, after he promised to protect the Scots Presbyterian religion. But he went back on his word. 

For centuries Scots had close trading routes to Flanders and were highly influenced by European materials, style and fashions.


The Reformation, while bringing enlightened thought and education, also meant much of Scots Art was destroyed. But one remained hidden in  abasement according to artist Lauchlin Goudie.


This suppression of another nation’s culture and language is a way of destroying that nation. Russia presently in the process of flattening Ukrainian buildings but its also about crushing Ukraine’s’ culture and language. 

James V

 James V wears a gown with sleeves of cloth of gold, a fabric woven with expensive gold thread. Such a material, which could be melted down to release the precious metal, was a conscious demonstration of wealth and kingship. The collar is encrusted with hundreds of pearls – a style of which the Scottish king appears to have been fond. His wardrobe inventory of 1539 describes a gown with a hood and collar ‘stitched with 49,500 pearls’. The large-scale undulating design seen on the sleeves falls into the category of motifs later classified as pomegranate. Pomegranate patterns for fashionable clothing were increasingly replaced by smaller-scale designs during the sixteenth century, although later artists such as Anthony van Dyck continued to use them as backdrops in their portraits.  #¥esScots

The Rise of Tik Tok


Kate Bush

The streaming of music changed the music charts 2009 to 2010, with new download charts and push back. Buying music CDs was once the only effect of music charts

Streamings started to count towards the charts

Tik Tok has introduced older music to a new generation. Download videos and short 15 seconds of music and dance moves.

YouTube has also been an important site for music, especially live music. 


Tik Tok – 

Harry Styles has been up against Kate Bush with her Running up that Hill’ by Kate Bush 1985, because of plays on the Netflix show Stranger Things


Early 2019 – a drumbeat $30, millions used it) artist shot to fame – old town road unpredictable.


Sam Ryder’s ‘Starman’ gained success through Tik Tok and the Eurovision song contest

Another song having Tik Tok success is ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac


Plus an impact of cover versions.

Traditionalists may not like it, but music fans are more in control

 Another add on having an affect on the music industry and charts. Its been organic and not over commercialised and more engineered.

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Niteworks with BBC SSO Celtic Connections 2022


This key concert of Niteworks with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (SSO) was rescheduled from January due to the Covid restrictions, as part of Celtic Connections 2022.

I first heard Niteworks from Skye supporting the Grit orchestra for their Bothy Culture concert at the Hydro, at Celtic Connections music festival in 2018 and was impressed with their music.


What a top class concert. 

Gaelic singers Sian sang perfect and engrossing vocal harmonies. The Gaelic voice offers such a unique experience, with lilting emotion, both soft and poignant. They were backed by Innes White on guitar. Sian means storm or the elements are - Caitlin Lilidh, Ellen MacDonald, Eilidh Cormack (singer year Scots Trad music) and they are supporters of Gaelic song composed by women. 

Kathleen MacInnes

Niteworks worked with composer John Logan and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBC SSO) to create a one off concert with orchestral versions of the Skye band’s genre-bending music, 


Niteworks performed with full on energy - and clearly enjoyed the treat of having the full orchestra, to enrich and complement their sound. The band were joined on stage by a line up of quality singers – Beth Maledin sang a moving interpretation of the English traditional song John Riley, followed by the renowned Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes.

At the front of the stage were a young, dancing and standing audience. An immersive, joyous and highly entertaining evening: 

I enjoyed incredible musicianship, beautiful singers and innovative new compositions!

This young band fuse their Skye influences with contemporary sounds. and draws comparison to innovative piper and composer Martyn Bennet. They mix the Hebridean song traditions and bagpipes with stirring electronic dance rhythms and driving drumbeats. The band have worked with several Gaelic singers and the Kinnaris Quintet and have headlined music festivals.

During the lockdowns the band collaborated on Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Farewell film reflecting  on the pandemic, with the orchestra. This then has had an impact on their music for their new 2022 album A’Ghrian (the sun) with a more expansive and cinematic sound. 



(**This concert was filmed so hoping it will be shown on BBC Scotland)


NEW album A’Ghrian (the sun) is available here



Drawbacks of first Past the Post

 With a Proportional Representation or PR voting system a party must have 50% of the votes – and they must work collaboratively. And crucially each vote has equal value.

With the UKS outdated First Past the Post or FPTP voting –

70% of votes are wasted

50% of votes go to loosing candidates.

Most voters haven’t voted for their MPs


Only a few thousand swing voters matter

Some seats haven’t changed for100 years.

Vote worth less in a safe seat.

Only marginal seats matter

And political diversity is suppressed with a minority rule.


In 2022-

Tories have 80 seat majority with 44% of the votes and 100% of the power

Lib Dems 17% of votes and 1 seat

Greens 18% of votes and 1 seat

Labour  (50K votes for each seat)

Tories (38K votes for each seat)



How can anyone who supports democracy support FPTP?