Showing posts with label Robert Burns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Burns. Show all posts

Friday, 30 September 2022

Edinburgh festivals 2022






Its good to see tradition and history given due regard – with the new to challenge and move things forward. We need both. Freedom to move, to express. Its important to notice the ancient history we pass, under the gawdy and tacky. So many tourists walk past so fast – but it’s the auld stories, historic buildings, that give us the authentic character. and sense of our past stories.

 And no better place to do so than historic, cobbled Edinburgh, with its steep closes and wynds, atmospheric high street, around its Mercat Cross, Signet Library, Scottish Parliament, St Giles – publishing, Reformation, enlightenment, Stewarts, and Georgian new town. 

 

Sunday at Biblos after my high street walk. Good to see that the buzz has returned this year. Talk Fintan OToole at EIBF, who spoke of the known and the unknown, the Ireland he’s known since 1958. Later I entered the atmospheric musical realm of Sandy Bells. I used to be here in my twenties and enjoyed fun folk nights here. 


St Giles

High street trails were once again packed with several shows and tourists. 
**St Giles  There was a lovely choral choir singing which lent an ethereal and spiritual air. 

The Writers corner – Margaret Oliphant, Robert Fergusson, Robert Louis Stephenson,

Robert Lorimer, Elsie Inglis,

St Giles cathedral was cleaned up in the 1980s and is considered the home of the Scots Presbyterian religion, and its famous minister John Knox. They were against having the Bishops hierarchy and believed everyone had their right to access the Bible and God for themselves, which all led to the War of the Three Kingdoms and education for all.


Burns memorial window


Did our genius Scots bard
 Robert Burns talk to all of Scotland and also to the world, rather than his humble beginnings in Ayrshire. In Edinburgh, where his second edition was published and very much shaped him where he seems forgotten – the Fencibles club, his memorial to the poet Robert Fergusson, attending William Creech Publishing house. 

I later discover there is now a Burns Memorial window in St Giles. In 1985 it was felt there was no central memorial to our great national bard – the window illustrates the natural world Burns loved, the middle section human unity and with a vibrant red sun of love at the top. Its easy though to walk past the window, as I did without realising. With the service for the Queen taking place here September.





Sandy Bells


This year there were several challenging shows and talks.

**SHOWS

*Bloody Difficult Woman – about Theresa May and her clash with Gina Miller over her lack of consulting parliament over her hasty Brexit. Tim Walker’s debut drama which received good reviews and sold out performances in Edinburgh – but lacked attention in England as the extreme right seeks to suppress any Brexit negatives. Debut drama

Tim Walker - writes that in England people are starting to give up on national political discourse -  and even the idea of democracy itself. He feels regarded as an enemy of the people. He write show grateful he is for the positive recognition  of his play in Scotland. “ My gratitude to the people of Scotland is heartfelt. You still have something  very valuable – please don’t loose it.”


*BURN with Allan Cumming – on the darker more controversial side of our national bard with an emotional interpretation of the man behind the shortbread tin myths.

*Comedy- Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges

*Music - Edinburgh hosted several world class orchestras.

Scottish Sessions, Surgeons hall; Queens halls concerts, Princes street gardens gigs. 

 

*Edinburgh Art festival

A Taste of Impressionism at the National Galleries, explores the rich collections by Scots collectors

Michele Roberts Three women and the artist Matisse

Barbara Hepworth Exhibition

Edinburgh film festival

Children  festival – Sold out Peppa Pig orchestra, and much more.


Ocean Vuong

Omar Musa

Art college


**EIBF talks - Diana Gabaldon, Fintan Otoole, Brian Cox, Oliver Bullough, Lea Yi, Good Grief, Noam Chomsky, 

Music. PJ Harvey, Martha Wainwright, Stuart Cosgrove, 

Bigger names – Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Maggie O’Farrell

EIBF encourages us to debate, question, and look for truths, via a wide range of writers from to academics, novelists, historians, journalists, politicians, artists, poets and more. 

Some might claim Edinburgh festivals are not radical enough,

 

There are questions over whether Edinburgh festivals have become too big. Edinburgh festivals started in 1947 with 8 companies – by 1980 at 380, 1985 to 1,091 companies and  3,841 companies in 2019. Ticket sales down and it will be four or five year journey back

Edinburgh festivals have also suffered from overkill and overload of tourists, Sometimes quantity rather than quality. Perhaps the pandemic will mean a reset, and rethink. To streamline and reset. 


Sunshine at the Edinburgh art galleries
Edinburgh festival Shows

1973 – 184

1976 – 426

1985 – 1,091

2015 – 3,314

2019 – 3,841

 

Ticket sales

\1973 – 128,900

1985 – 523,000

2014 – 2,183,591

2019 – 3,012,490


Wednesday, 30 September 2020

BURNS Photos


May liberty meet wi success

May prudence protest her frae evil

May tyrants and tyranny tine i the mist

And wander their way to the deil! 

For the past years I have been following in Robert Burns footsteps and reading of the national Scots bard. As I live north of Glasgow I’ve been able to make several journeys down to Burns country in Ayrshire to find the real Burns behind the many myths. Here are some of my favourite Burns photos.

Burns wanted to be a Bard for all of Scotland, not only Ayrshire – and so in 1787 he embarked on travels by horseback across the Borders, the west highlands and further north. He collected songs and poems, to help keep Scots heritage alive. Its not widely recognised but he gained great inspiration from many English poets, such as Alexander Pope and other writers and his letters are written in English. But it was when he read Robert Fergusson’s poetry in Scots, he realised the power of his native tongue. So he combined the force of Scots and the imagery of English. He also knew Latin and French and had been tutored by his father and a young teacher John Murdoch. He was also a great reader. 





 

Burns pens

Ellisland farm beside the river Nith

Burns desk Ellisland looking over the orchard 



Burns was a unique mix of his mother's ballads and his fathers education. He worded hard, wrote and read constantly. Robert Burns 1759 - 1796

1786 

Burns first book of poems published

1787

 Oct. Again in Edinburgh and wrote songs for the Scots Musical Museum. Dec met Nancy.

1788. Left Edinburgh and married Jean in April and moved to build a farmhouse Ellisland north of Dumfries. Jean joined December at the farm. Trained to be an exciseman collecting taxes. 

1790 Feb. Third Volume of Scots Musical Museum with 40 songs published.

At Hallowe’en composed Tam O’Shanter. 

 

1791 Moved to Dumfries in October 

July his brother William died at 13. 

1792

Fourth volume of poems published with 47 of my poems. Nancy left for Jamaica in January 1792. Elizabeth Riddell born November.

April given the Dumfries first foot and walk, which paid more.

Reform was happening. John Taylor was arrested and accused by Robert Dundas as a ringleader – ‘of a mob, raged in a riotous and tumultuous manner.’  And brought before Creech. A witness was Robert Graham of Fintry and Alexander Nasmyth was on the jury. Burns asked him to design scenery for the new theatre. 

Sent Creech poems autumn 1792 and signed myself Ca ira, a wild flourish! 

 

1793

Creech published Second Edinburgh Edition, 2 volume edition of Burns Poems. 

The French king was executed. Burns suffered extreme mood swings and conflicts – hypochondria he called it. 'I often despaired, suffered low moods. The more I was in the position of authority the more I rebelled!'

May moved to a red brick 2 storey town house, Mill fennel, 

1794

James Glencairn born August. 

1795

Joined the Dumfries volunteers. Sept Elizabeth died. Burns fell ill. 

1796

December fifth volume of  Scots Music Museum published with 3 Burns songs – 

Dancing was independence. Burns died july 1796


Mauchline


Dumfries house



First Book Poems Chiefly in the Scotch Dialect

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. 

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Scots Top Ten!



According to the Sunday Times recently - 

Top Ten Films
Local Hero
Gregory’s girl
Whisky Galore
Prime o miss Jean Brodie
Trainspotting
Wicker Man
Braveheart
Shallow Grave
Geordie
Restless Heart
Del Amitri

Top Ten bands 
Proclaimers
Simple minds
Deacon Blue
The Blue Nile
Travis
The Waterboys
Runrig
Belle & Sebastian
Del Amitri
Iain Banks & Alex Salmond
William MclLivanney
Top Ten authors
Robert Louis Stevenson
JK Rowling
Walter Scott
Iain Banks
William MclLivanney
Muriel Sparks
Irvine Welsh
Alasdair Gray
John Buchan
Lewis Grassic Gibbons
Top Ten Artists
Charles Rennie Macintosh
Henry Raeburn
SJ Peploe
JD Fergusson
Joan Eardley
Jack Vitrianno
Eduardo Paolozzi
Alison Watt
Margaret Macdonald
John Lawrie Morrison

Top Ten Scots Songwriters
Robert Burns
Gerry Rafferty
Annie Lennox
Lewis Capaldi
Ricky Ross
Lulu
Fran Healy
Proclaimers

Who Would I Honour with a statue?



Who would I honour with  a statue?  This is a list of writer and others that I particularly admire.: The names that come to mind are – Robert Burns,  Thomas Paine, Orpah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Rembrant, Michelangelo, Mozart, Bob Dylan, Bach, Mary Somerville, Thomas Muir, Elsie Inglis, Constable.
Recently people threw the statue of slave trader Edward Calston, into the river. 

I’m glad to see a statue to James Clerk Maxwell, the great physicist in Edinburgh’s George St. 
I attend Edinburgh book festival each year and one of the great aspects of this festival is that merit it accorded to those who achieve rather than to any empty celebrity. 

Recently I watched a tv program about the mega rich and their massive yachts. I wondered about the French revolution – when they over threw a greedy aristocracy – but they simply escaped and instead of stately mansions set up massive yachts. 

Kevin Pringle argues we should have dynamic, on going debate on whether any statue in a civic space, continues to be relevant to todays world. That society is not static or unchanging. Also that the Edward Colston statue removed Bristol was no longer relevant. He suggested in 2003, that the Duke of Wellingtons statues in Edinburgh’s Princes St, should make way for one of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns.

In a recent survey Burns was voted as Scotland’s no 1 hero. I was surprised to realise his Edina statue is down the bottom of Leith walk, removed from the city centre. There are more statues to Burns in America than of any other writer and he is honoured and respected world wide from Russia to Canada. (Mind you maybe Burns would rather stare up from the coast!)

In Belgium, statues of the tyrant Leopold II are being removed. Pringle writes of the diplomat Roger Casement “who was knighted for exposing atrocities 1904 in the Congo and was later hanged by Britain for championing Irish insurrection. People are complicated, and no statues can ever capture that.”

                                  **Who Would I Honour with a statue?

Thomas Paine -  English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. He authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the patriots in 1776. 
  
Robert Burns  – Scotland National Bard
Yes he was a flawed man – but he also put his creativity and egalitarian views, and collecting Scotland’s tradition of song and ballads, as his main creative genius.  

Thomas Muir - Great reformer of the Friends of the People.,
Scots lawyer Muir defended many others until he found himself a wanted man. He was arrested on landing at Portparick. and taken in chains through Gatehouse of Fleet to Dumfries and on to Edinburgh, where he was tried for sedition. He was found guilty and sent to Botany Bay. Later he escaped and made it over to Vancouver island and Monterrey bay – then on to Mexico and got caught up with a naval fight in Cadiz harbour, where he ahd half his face blown off. He died near Paris, aged only 

Women of colours and women of today I most admire - 
Oprah Winfrey
Toni Morrison
Maya Angelou
Mary Somerville

Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Pen is Really Mightier than the Sword



ITom Paine’s pamphlets made the American Revolution. Without his words there would have been no victory – His ideas reflected Enlightenment ideals of transnational human rights.Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said: "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain". (Rights of Man 1791/ Common Sense 1776) 

WB Yeats – 
Yeats gave the Irish ‘who they were’ before the endless fighting. He elevated the old heroes and gave the political expression of the people.
Nations are not about lines. Every people need their myths. There is “no fine nation without literature and no fine literature without nationality.” 

Robert Burns
No one wrote poetry like Burns. After reading Tom Paine’s 'Rights of Man', he wrote the best loved poem that speaks of equality for all - "A  Mans A Man For A That." Burns was a radical who wrote about equal rights for all men regardless of rank.  He also wrote , the Liberty Tree, The Slaves Lament, Parcel of Rogues to the Nation. 

Poet Hugh MacDiarmid wanted to write of a Scottish voice – his best known poem is ‘The Drunk man talked to the Scottish Thistle.
George Buchannan, tutor to James VI, wrote thatall political power resides in the people, and it must reside in the people: and that it is lawful and necessary to resist kings (or queens, or we might say all rulers) if (or when) they become tyrants.

A short distance from my home there is a monument in the small town of KiIlearn to one of the most important writers on democracy, reformer George Buchanan. He was one of the most significant literary and political figures of the 16th century -  poet, playwright, historian, humanist scholar, and teacher to the great French essayist Michel de Montagne, Mary Queen of Scots and later to her son James VI of Scotland and I of England (United Kingdom.)Buchanan was a native Gaelic speaker from lower loch Lomond. He was deeply impressed that the Gael had held on to their language and culture for more than two thousand years. He was a Catholic, who was committed himself to the Reformation and he joined the Reformed Protestant church in 1560s and published several books.

Are we in danger of loosing cultural confidence. In todays world of turmoil we are  loosing sight of what really matters. We have false and shallow leaders who blow with whatever wind is blowing – they have no backbone, morals or compassion.

Pen Not Guns,  We need new stories. 


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

We Need New Stories


Through understanding our past stories: and as singer songwriter Rab Noakes says, "a future with no past has no future". New stories can emerge through the exchange of ideas, new stories may emerge.

Professor Tom Devine writes, in his latest book, The Scottish Clearance: A History of the Dispossessed, that until the 1960s, there were few academic studies on Scotland’s history after the Union of 1707.((there were more on Yorkshire)

Is democracy failing today, with the rise of populism, and as people seem to have lost all trust and faith in the system? Military expert now say its all about counterintelligence – Russia and China are experts in this field. Its no longer about huge warships and its about who controls information flows. With the rise of cyber warfare and online propaganda, how can we protect our freedoms and democracies. How can we regain trust?

We in Europe we must remember we do have the rule of law, some accountability measures of free press, vibrant arts and quality universities. Knowledge is central – reading stories, creativity, collaborations and understanding our past.  

Most Scots have pride in their Scottish culture: from our highland glens, ballads and poetry, Edinburgh enlightenment, border hills, western isles, imposing historic castles and ever changing skies. We’ve had turbulent histories: William Wallace, John Knox, Mary Queen of Scots, Bannockburn, Reformation, Jacobites. We are known for our whisky, Clyde ships, fish, oil, tweed, tartan, golf, poetry and song.

We’ve given the world the great songs of Robert Burns and other great writers. And innovations such as Penicillin, steam engines and more. The traditions are continued by powerful troubadours of folk music with popular live acoustic music and world scale festivals such as Celtic connections and Edinburgh festivals – the world’s biggest arts festival. 

I am encouraged that Scotland’s first minster is a keen reader. But equally dismayed to read that neither Trump or Corbyn are readers. In fact Trump has fake book covers lining his walls. Says it all really. 

Our national poet Robert Burns was a ferocious reader and read at the dinner table. He enjoyed his aunts stories, his mothers songs and his fathers reading and conversations. Famous fashion designer, Karl Lagerfield, valued his vast library of books above all else. Francoise Frenkel, fled the Nazis ( author of No Place to Rest my Head) - and it was her books and poems that kept her hope alive. When the Communist regime in Russia wanted to control arts and thought, they exiled any free thinkers, writers and artists on the Philosophy steamer. 

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Nations Apart: Turbulent times

Burns and Mozart both lived in times of huge turbulence - late 18th century. Burns 1759 - 1776. Mozart 1756 - 1791.
Robert Burns retold and recharged the great tales and songs of the Scottish nation in such unique ways. 
I visited Vienna last year where the genius musicians Strauss and Mozart told the tales of central Europe, Austria (population 8m) and of the great Danube river.

The poet Bob Dylan lived through the turbulent times of the Cold war and the civil rights marches. 
In Paris in the 18th century Impressionism painters expressed the great creative out pouring and flair, to see in new ways. 

Italy’s Renaissance (14th century to 17th) took two dimensional art not only to three dimensions but to stratospheric new heights and told of Italy’s great struggles and love of beauty.  

All these highly unique stories matter …

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Scottish heroes


Alexander Hamilton 

Admiral Cochrane – Named by Napoleon, "the sea wolf', he never lost a sea battle. After exclusion from the Royal Navy he assisted other country's to achieve their independence. 

John MacLean – Political hero

Alexander Hamilton – One of American founding father 

George Buchanan – Father of Democracy

Elsie Inglis -  Scottish doctor and medical reformer. 

Thomas Muir – Votes for all reformer.

Robert Burns – Kept Scots song alive

Charles Rennie MacIntosh – Architect for a simpler beauty of design


Margaret Macdonald -  Scottish artist and designer. 

The scale of contribution of physics and medicine. 

Notably James Clerk Maxwell –  important physicist. electromagnetic radiation

James Clerk Maxwell

Admiral Cochrane
George Buchanan

Lord Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775 – 1860), British naval Officer of the Royal Navymercenary and radical politician. He was a daring and successful captain of the Napoleonic Wars, leading Napoleon to nickname him Le Loup des Mers ('The Sea Wolf'). He was successful in virtually all his naval actions. He was dismissed from the Royal Navy 1814 following a controversial conviction for fraud on the Stock Excahnge. He helped organise and lead rebel navies of Chile and Brazil during their successful wars of independence1820s. While in charge of the Chilean Navy, Cochrane also contributed to Peruvianindependencethrough Freedom Expedition of Peru. He was also asked to help the Greek Navy but was prevented by events from having much impact.
In 1832, he was pardoned by the Crown and reinstated in the Royal Navy with the rank  of Rear Admiral of the Blue. His life and exploits inspired the naval fiction of 19th- and 20th-century novelists, particularly the figures of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O'Brien's protagonist Jack Aubrey. 
John Maclean (1879 – 1923) a Scottish schoolteacher, and revolutionary socialist, Red Clydeside. He was notable for his outspoken opposition to the First World War which caused his arrest under the Defence of the Realm act, and loss of his teaching post, after which he became a full-time Marxist lecturer and organiser. In April 1918 he was arrested for sedition, and his 75-minute speech from the dock became a celebrated text for Scottish left-wingers. He was sentenced to five years' penal servitude, but was released after the armistice. Maclean believed that Scottish workers were especially fitted to lead the revolution, and talked of "Celtic communism", inspired by clan spirit. In captivity, Maclean had been on hunger strike, and prolonged force-feeding had permanently affected his health. He collapsed during a speech and died of pneumonia, aged forty-four.
James Clerk Maxwell (1831 – 1879) Scottish scientist in mathematical physics, His most notable achievement was to formulate the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation. bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism and light as different manifestations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism have been called the "second great unification in physics"after the first one realised by Isaac Newton. With the publication of “A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field”
in 1865, Maxwell demonstrated that electric and magnetic fields travel through space as wavesmoving at the speed of light. Maxwell proposed that light is an undulation in the same medium that is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena. The unification of light and electrical phenomena led to the prediction of the existence of radio waves.