Sunday 31 December 2023



Kim Carnie
Blazin fiddles

21stst MG ALBA Scots Trad Music awards

Took place at the Dundee Caird hall this November and was presented by Alistair Heather and Mary Ann Kennedy – the awards reflect the success and Scotland’s rich cultural heritage. 

Along with grand performances by Joy Dunlop, Duncan Chisholm, Peatbog Fairies and Scottish Trad party starters Manran.

Duncan Chisholm


Ducan Chisholm – Album of the year

Peatbog Fairies – (Skye folk fusion)  - folk band of the year

Julie Fowlis – Musician of the year

Joy Dunlop – Gaelic singer

Eilidh Cormack - Gaelic Singer of the Year,

Iona Fyfe – Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year

Blazin Fiddles – Folk band of the year

The Shand- Up and coming artist of the year 

Trail West – live act of the year

**The Gatherin south sessions – club of the year

Julie Fowlis

2023 Year of Challenges


Its been a strange old year! Of scandals, inquiries, conflicts, of unexpected turbulence, global wars, right wing populism. Bob Dylan wrote once – “I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong.”We must speak up. Every voice matters – if one voice becomes a thousand ripples, like the little pebbles thrown into the murky waters. 


Its been a tough year physically for me, while I continue with my many projects. Then the day after news of an operation I’d require, I had my Facebook profile hacked and I’ve been unable to contact Facebook. Its been tough trying to reset up a new FB page – my previous online page had around 800 followers and 12 years of around 50 photo albums. Ah well… here’s to new beginnings! For 2024


“Those who see wrong, and know it is wrong, but say nothing…”

“I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. “ DYLAN,  I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many wars… You people over 21 should know better. The first way to answer these questions in the song is by asking them. But lots of people have to first find the wind.


*MUSIC 2023

Lana Del Rey – 

Christine and the Queens – 

Duncan Chisholm – Black Cullins

Bach Goldberg variations piano Vikingur


*YEAR in Scottish politics 

Has been very strange with many conflicting forces: I’m not sure how much I believe of the nonsense put out by the media and press coming out of London. London sucks in so much – in London they spend £75 per person on the arts, in the rest of the UK merely £10 per person:


And Gaza?

If a terrorist group from Ireland took UK citizens hostages – I would expect the British army to do something to retrieve the hostages ……… BUT I would not expect them to bomb children indiscriminately! Over 16,000 Palestinians have been murdered, half of these “people’ are children. 

I’d be wondering too why this group felt so angry they felt the need to behave in such a barbaric way. 


Nicola Sturgeon?  She was by miles the most popular politician in the UK. 

Humza Yousaf - The First Muslin leader in the western world. 

*I agree  with Gerry Hassan’s critical article on Labour’s failures to address any sort of vision for the British state.  What I don’t understand about these British/ English political parties is - what is there vision, or what country are they trying to emulate – America?  In Scotland with our aging population we desperately need young workers to come and live here.  How can they wend people back to France, when France and Germany are taking in far more refugees that the UK does. 

(Timothy Calumet will play the young Bob Dylan in a new film)

Stories of Scotia

James Clerk Maxwell

 What happened? What happened to the lost voices – of Father John Macdonald of the Hebrides (Barra), and of those forced on ships to Canada, many left, some came back. Those who travelled to the city lights of London; those who took to the seas of far away Eastern countries – to places of conflict.

Only in 1990s, thirty years ago, statues were erected to some great Scots – such as great physicist James Clerk Maxwell, Elsie Inglis, great economist Adam Smith, 


Its many travellers

The Scottish samurai, Thomas Clover

Elsie Inglis

George Buchanan

Robert Burns

Walter Scott

James Hogg

Rennie Mackintosh

Ossian poems James MacPherson

Adam Smith

Thomas Muir

James Clerk Maxwell


Before some signed an agreement to dissolve the Scottish parliament – but we kept our kirk and laws. For centuries Scots have looked and travelled far and wide, over its seas, taking scots song and stories with them. Some went to teach in French, German and American universities. 


I have been travelling the Scottish islands - First to Orkney, which was awesome, all the history. Orkney gently tells many stories, and its ancient sagas from its rich past. 

Second the outer Hebrides and the beauty of the shimmering soft blues of these landscapes is breath taking, the expanse of sands and surging seas..

Fan of Blue Rose Code


One of my favourite Scots musicians. I first heard his gig at Milngavie folk club back in 2016, when we enjoyed his dynamic soul-infused voice and songs. Many were long time fans and there was a great deal of love for Ross Wilson in the room that night. He sang classics from his  albums. A Restless Soul


Since then I’ve bought several BRC albums and been to several of his concerts – at the Old Fruitmarket during Celtic Connections 


My favourite BRC songs include Red Kites, Love a little, Grateful, Edina, Over the Fields, Give me Peace in my Heart, more..... 



Blue Rose Code Milngavie folk club

Thursday 30 November 2023

The Break up of Britain Conference in recognition Tom Nairn November 2023


Tom Nairn has been a guiding light. 

He took Scotland’s constitutional questions and nationalism onto the global stage. Nairn gave us secure political foundations on which to build. He was instrumental in changing Scotland’s nationalism from a parochial to a more international and wide ranging civic nationalism. 


After the failed 1978 Scottish assembly referendum – there was broad movements for democratic renewal. Nairn marched every step of the way. He was deeply humane. He was both a poet and philosopher: he was a revolutionary and son of European culture. He was Professor of politics Melbourne. 


Clive Lewis

The conference brought voices from around all the four nations together.

*Green MP Caroline Lucas

English people also feel without a voice. Some cling to delusions and divisions – Brexit has deepened the crisis: every English region voted to leave. Who are the English? has been hijacked by the right. England is also the land of Tom Paine, chartists, suffragettes and ancient multi-cultural heritage. Is there another England – its urgent and important we must rediscover a new England Free these histories.


*Plaid Cymru MP Leanne Woods

Brexit vote expressed the democratic crisis – with our unelected elite making our decisions. Labour are about continuity and only so such devolution: its never enough. She spoke of the devastation of the miners  strikes and disaster, didn’t matter. Our binary outcomes – with PR, won’t go beyond red tie/ blue tie. Welsh devolution not more than the Welsh assembly and of the preservation and control from the centre. 


*CLVE LEWIS labour MP for Norwich south.

Who defied his labour whip to attend. He also spoke of the stories we tell ourselves. We need a new story of Britain – not the Enoch Powell (1950) version of ‘plucky Britain’. He spoke of the international questions and crisis and of viewing the crisis in the international context of the global elites who hoard the wealth. He said collaboration stopped at Westminster. Unawareness in the rest of UK of conversation of Scotland. Yorkshire flag – says they don’t want to be part of the elites. Labour won’t let discussion happen. Clive spoke of Corbyn – he had some good ideas but wrong messenger. Labour should embrace conversations – but can it seriously be changed from within?


*Lesley Riddoch, journalist and activist – Time to Create a new state.

There’s another state waiting: different conception of what Britain might be. Exceptionalism is falling apart. Riddoch was proud – and said, we’ve wasted so much time. It was good to get all perspectives. She spoke of Denmark, which used to control an empire but lost all of them 1864 in a terrible war. Scandinavia learned to let go without fighting. The problem in archaic British state is the divine right of kings is held with the PM, who can do as he likes.

There were also several break out rooms that covered topics such as – Irish re-unification, the monarchy, what next, Scotland in Europe. 

Hilary Wainwright said we must tear down the barricades (as in 1968) for democratic change. 
Or should we join Labour to make changes!” is this truly possible?? Is it British nationalism that has a problem – of denial, exceptionalism, and divisiveness. Britain denies nationalism. Scottish identity is not so deep rooted and has been stripped so often by Brittishness and empire. 

Scotland lacks agency and that’s not how a modern state functions. People should be active citizens. But can we reform the British state?


Nairn wrote that Scotland was the only county to jump ahead early 1700s, from a backward country to a trading and enlightened one. As a result of Walter Scott’s mythical novels – of a Scotland lost forever – Scottish literature lost its way in the 1800s. Scotland was not part of the rise of nationalism across Europe over the 1800s. 


Irish times journalist Fintan O’Toole writes that “Ireland only became truly independent with inter-dependence in Europe.” This may be a hard concept for British unionists to understand, that is the shared, co-operative project trading partnership of the EU.

II  As I left the conference to walk east along George st – the Hanoverian project – the long view is of the ugliest and tallest statue to the tyrant Henry Dundas, behind which is now the ugliest modern statue of the new Edina shopping centre, known as the Turd. Do these e statues and symbols matter?


Henry Dundas statue and the Turd behind

Vote for a fairer voting system and for democratic conversations across the UK. In Britain people are not trusted by politicians. 

The summer of democracy of 2014.... when reality came close to the dream….! 

New Scottish Art Galleries BURNS excluded


Burns and other poets) wrote with Scots voices and language - why is Robert Burns not included here?

At a time when mainly English Tory unionist voices were being heard late 1700s. No other writer has done more than burns. I was taken back, at the new Scottish galleries that there is only one mention of DB, with regard his The Hunt poem and an Edinburgh tea room painting. 

Its wonderful to see the new galleries. I realise Scott lived in Edinburgh, but Burns was there for quite a few months over the late 1786 and into 1787, and he was greatly influenced by his time there – he visited the men’s clubs – the Crochallan Fencibles Anchor close; William Creech’s bookshop and publishing house, at the Luckenbooths near St Giles, where each day the great and the good met; and the literary parties that Burns was invited to, where he met the renowned scholars of the Scottish enlightenment. He also met the great love of his life late 1786, Agnes McLahose: (his Clarinda) who he wrote many love letters to and his famous song of parting Ae Fond Kiss.


Scott may have been read widely in 1800s – but to my mind (and most other Scots) Burns is our national hero and bard. We was painted by his good friend, the artist Alexander Nasmyth – on their walks to Rosslyn.

As i walked around the Scottish art I thought
  - which Scotland are we emboldening and remembering here? After the first section covering the romantic period – we enter the brighter more modern period, with the windows open to the east Princes st garden views. 

I felt that the Burns creative legacy was a deliberately forgetting – Question? does his writing influence Scottish art. Burns was himself influenced by art – the symbolism and spiritual connection between the natural world, the creative fires and the established church teachings from his father – where dance was frowned upon. These strong interconnections.

He was influenced by the Ossian poems –by James MacPherson as the first Scot’s bard and also by other great poets. Burns was writing and collecting song before Scott – in fact he met the young 16 year old Scott at an Edinburgh literary party and Scott wrote about Burns after this great meeting. 


Burns was influenced by art and the close ties between our emotional life and nature – when he wrote one of the best love songs ever written - "Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear/ And the rocks melt wi’ the sun/ I will luve thee still, my dear, While the sands o’ life shall run."

It is hard to believe that Burns didn’t influence Scottish art with all the myths, memorabilia, statues and more that surround the great poet. Even so, his songs and poems were not enough to prevent the forgetting that occurred across Scotland over the 1800s. Today, as Lesley Riddoch writes in her 2023 book Thrive, ‘Scots know of William Wallace and Robert Bruce but nothing in-between up to modern times. Only in the past few decades have Scots recognised other great Scots from the 1980s onwards – with statues to James Clerk Maxwell and Adam Smith.


*      *      *      *       *

novelist Walter Scott

Scots bard Robert Burns
II   The galleries hold 60,000 works of Scottish art – from David Willkie, Alexander Nasmyth, Andrew Geddes, The Glasgow boys impress, particularly James Guthrie, and grand displays of William McTaggarts work.  

BUT Which Scotland – the empty Scotland or militarised? The proud Scotland or the shot stag. Romance or reality; mountain or flood;Ttory or Jacobin?


At the start of the exhibition there is an emphasis on the influence of Walter Scott’s historical fiction – Waverly and Heart of Midlothian. Scott was the inventor of historical novel. There is the claim “Nobody did more to popularise Scotland than Scott.’ There are photos of the construction of the imposing Scott monument nearby. David Octavious Hill’s pioneering photography, (a photography department at RSA 1857). On display is the painter John Drummond, and David Allan’s’ paintings of everyday life, the Porteous Riots.

*But I was surprised and saddened no mention of our great bard Robert Burns.

Moving on into the bright lit galleries with windows looking out onto east Princes st gardens displaying more modern art – the Glasgow boys, William McTaggert – The Sailing of the Emigrant ship, who was influenced by Constable 1776 – 1837 and Turner (1775- 1857). The Impressionist and Japanese print influences – of James Guthrie, Arthur Melville, Edward Arthur Waltour.

James Guthrie

Symbolism and Celtic revival 1890s - the alternative world of dreams, myths and visions. 
With John Peploe, George Leslie Hunter. And good to see several wmen artists – Frances Campbell Cadell, Anne Redpath. Margaret Macdonald, 

There is so much to be impressed with here and both the particular Scottish influence of Scotland soft ever changing light. The weather beaten and mountainous landscapes – the Celtic Ossian, Gaelic poetry, alongside other great Scots scholars and poets 1700s - Dunbar, Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson, Robert Burns - who kept Scot’s voices alive. 

And of course Walter Scott’’s historical novels, which were popular worldwide. Political philosopher Tom Nairn criticised Scott - that he told of a ‘romanticised Scotland’ that was gone and lost forever’. This led to Scotland’s literacy voice being lost over the 1800s.



My Scotia ARTS BLOG from 2007- PKIMAGE musicfootnotes

My Scotia ARTS BLOG from 2007 PKIMAGE musicfootnotes - - which has had over a million hits and interest worldwide.

*PHOTOGRAPHY - I’ve been pursuing photography since 2008 and have had images published in various media including print media and tv. I cover major arts festival, such as Celtic Connections and Edinburgh book festival. My main interest is portraiture, street photography and music. I was using Canon MKIII, but I’m now using a smaller Sony a7 and enjoy my prime lens and a portrait lens


*IMAGINING SCOTIA I’m proud Scotland has leading universities and innovative scientists, I’m proud Scotland has major international festivals and a vibrant successful creative community of artists and musicians. I’m proud Scotland has a wealth of resources – whisky, quality food, and the potential to be a world leader in renewables. 

I grew up in Edinburgh, lived in America ten years and now live north of Glasgow, which I hope gives me unique perspectives. I never realised I should be a Proud Scot though until recently.


Scotland boasts historic universities - the 4 oldest UK universities. innovations,


I support self-determination for a socially democratic and greener Scotland.


Recent BLOGS -  Celtic Connections 2024 announced; Songs Make a Nation, Images Scotia from Enlightenment to Kailyard, Edinburgh festivals 2023, Tom Nairn, To set up Scotland’s very own Media,




 **PLEASE ADD my new Facebook page – 



To pursue my interest in Scottish arts, culture and history

An online page for my Photos, blogs, events and other ramblings – on all things Scottish – 

Hope the LINK works! Pauline 



Had over 800 followers, around 50 photo albums and over 12 years of posts! As I no longer have access to this page due to being hacked, I have set up a new Scottish arts page


SCOTS Booker Prize winners

Maggie O’Farrell

Alexander McColl Smith

Disgracefully as usual in a Time article there is no mention of Scotland’s recent Booker prize winners. The Scottish literary scene boasts several Booker prize winners – 2020 Douglas Stuart’s, Shuggie Bain, 1994 James Kelman’s, How Late It Was, How Late. 

Plus Booker shortlisted authors – Ali Smith, Andrew O’Hagan, AL Kennedy, Graham McCrea Burnett, Muriel Spark. World famous Scots novelists of modern times include –Iain Banks, Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Louise Welsh, Liz Lochhead, Alan Bisset, Chris Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Alexander McColl Smith, Alasdair Gray, Janice Galloway, William McIlcanney, Maggie O’Farrell, 


Famous Scots writers of the past – Arthur Conan Doyle, J M Barrie, John Buchan, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Boswell, John Barbour, Adam Smith, 

Irvine Welsh

Iain Banks

Ian Rankin

Hackett quotes Irish writer Magee, “The English may be too comfortable to write great novels.”  

At least six times in her article she labels ‘Britain/ England’ as one and the same, the England label can never include Scots or the Welsh and we’ll never regard Britain as England as our cultural or historic home, even though so many Scots remain in ignorance of Scotland’s rich histories of which we might be proud. Its time Londoners woke up to this reality. 

Our creative stories, arts and music are intrinsic to our shared voices and view of self.


Perhaps creative thinkers either can’t afford or don’t want to be in London. In ‘Britain/ England’ mind-set little exists outside of London. In the 80s London boasted a thriving literary scene around Soho. But today’s London is dominated in its skyline by foreign oligarchs empty high-rises, populist musicals, global chain outlets and over priced art. 

Photos copyright Pauline Keightley




Anthology of Scottish stories – Gerard Caruthers

Scottish literature, an introduction – Alan Riach.

The Fair Botanist – Sara Sheridan


Scottish Pastoral: Robert Burns and British Romanticism - 


Monday 30 October 2023

Has Robert Burns been neglected


The British establishment and media have neglected Robert Burns work in schools and elsewhere as worthy of study, and honoured Walter Scott instead. But who today reads Scott? It is Burns that people continue to sing and read all over the world. Burns wrote of equality and brotherhood, before these radical ideas were acceptable and in a way no other writer has quite managed to match. He was influence too by Philosophy writers, the radical Tomas Paine and the reformer Thomas Muir of those tumultuous times late1700s. At his Masonic meetings Burns mixed with all walks of life, from dukes, rich land owners, lawyers and famers.

One of the difficulties with any Burns study is to find the serious real Burns among the memorabilia industry that developed after his death in 1797. As stated by Professor Robert Crawford (The Bard) Burns was never any unionist though and he wrote songs such as – Parcel of Rogues, Liberty Tree, Scots Wa Hae). He did write other poems to try to keep the British establishment off his back and to secure subscribers for his poems. At one point he was scared he was being investigated as a possible radical and reformer. 

The poet Bob Dylan is a huge admirer of Burns, of his economy, tone, the colour of his words, and of the way he brought the old masters into his own composition. Burns was no ignorant farmer as has been portrayed – he read eagerly many of the great English writers, and a favourite was the English poet Alexander Pope. He also read Scottish philosophers such as Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Henry Mackenzie’s Man of Feeling.. He knew four languages – French, scots, English and Latin. 


To live in Radical Times

Rodney Forsyth writes that artists such as Shakespeare and Dylan don’t look back and that they are always moving forwards – yet their paths have sure foundations but they are also deeply immersed in what went before. This is also true of our great bard Robert Burns.


In his article entitle ‘Bob and the Bard’, Forsyth writes of how manic creativity was driven in both Bob Dylan and in Shakespeare, ‘by the intuition they lived in decisive historical junctures.’  But he forgets the poet Robert Burns, and his times were even more radical and tumultuous than any other great artist!  


I have wondered, as do academics, why the world’s best loved poet and song smith, Robert Burns has been neglected by academic literary research. In his time there was first the American Wars of Revolution (1775 – 1783), when Burns was only 15 and five years later the French Revolution in 1789 – 1799. Goodness the British state and Crown must have been running terrified at this time that revolution would happen here! And they were. They sent preachers out to the churches to preach against the French terror.  In 1797, the year after Burns died, there was the Irish Rebellion and also the Scots Rebels, who were fighting for votes for all men. 


Burns was conflicted between the creative fires of Old Spunkie and the more sober influence of his father and the church teachings.


Break up of Britain Conference


Confronting the UKs democratic crisis!

At the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh on 18th November 2023, we are convening a major event on the future of the United Kingdom, its nations, and the European Union, inspired by the work of Tom Nairn.


One of the speakers, Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, calls the event “incredibly timely and important.” Other speakers include The National columnist Lesley Riddoch, writer Neal Ascherson,  journalist Isabel Hilton, Clive Lewis MP, The Scotsman journalist Joyce McMillan, author James Robertson, Professor Richard Wyn Jones, former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and Radical Independence Campaign co-founder Jonathon Shafi – with many more speakers soon to be confirmed.


Tom Nairn on why Scotland missed the European national revival 1800s

Nationalism, Nairn argues is always both \good and bad.' And originated from that derived in – the impossibility of escape from the uneven development of capitalism.’ Nationalism is not a question of simple identity, but rather of something more – a catalyst.

Scotland’s greatest political theorist of the modern times.Tom Nairn’s brilliant Break Up of Britain (1977), is one of the best reads on how and why the archaic institutions of the British state and its pre-democracy of the constitution of 1688, before universal suffrage, are failing us.

One of the best books on the British state's constitutional crisis.  He writes on why Scottish nationalism is different to the rest of Europe. “All I’m arguing for is nations, minus the dratted “ism”; democratic natural, independent, diverse, ordinary, even boring rather than the museum pieces, or dictatorship or hustlers like Blair of Berlusconi.” Tom Nairn,   Free worlds End, opendemocracy, Dec 4th 2004. 


Intrinsically there is the dual nature of nationalism, captured in his image of it as a two–faced Janus, the Roman good of doorways, for both past and future, which repudiates concepts of either good or bad nationalism.

*TOM Nairn

“All I’m arguing for is nations, minus the dratted “ism”; democratic natural, independent, diverse, ordinary, even boring rather than the museum pieces, or dictatorship or hustlers like Blair of Berlusconi.” Tom Nairn, Free worlds End, opendemocracy, Dec 4th 2004. 

Misfit of the British state to the modern world and not from the express of romantic tartanry, which the author excoriates – and the centrality of nation in political change. Several commentators name Tom Nairn as one of the most influential Scottish political theorists of the 20th century.  “The most influential book on British politics to be published in the last half century”  Anthony Burnett writes in the 2021 Introduction to Nairn’s Break up of Britain.