Showing posts with label disease. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disease. Show all posts

Tuesday 30 March 2021

First Lockdown anniversary Day of Reflection

We are alone with our thoughts and also not alone. We are all in this together.  The world has closed in on us.  Its been hard to comprehend the scale of this deadly virus, or where it all will lead us.  

Its been an opportunity too, to reassess what really matters in our lives. The daily walks have helped a great deal and reconnecting and appreciating nature in a new way, as we never did before. There’s been the pain of missing family and the distance between us, and wondering when we can meet again. If there will be a day we can hug again.


There’s been the zoom chats to keep contact alive. There’s been anger at the stupidity and incompetence of leaders, who pretend they are following the science.

And we are not alone we know the entire world is suffering and fighting this virus too. We must figure it together.

Richard Holloway speech to Scottish Parliament

He quoted Albert Camus -There are more things to admire than despair over. He expressed his gratitude for all the healers – the Doctors and nurses and scientists and care workers, who refused to bow to Covid. Gratitude for those who have guided us through the darkest days.

Another virus is political authoritarianism, which is spreading across the world and has killed the life of freedom (Isaac Berlin) Disagreements are vital – they are rival versions of good, allowing disagreements to keep us free. Democracy is hard, he said and he expressed gratitude to the Scottish parliament for allowing disagreements to flourish. 



There are many people we need to thank – Nicola Sturgeon and her hard work and consistent messaging that kept us going every day. The health adviser, particularly Jason Leith and Linda Bauld

Those who kept vital services going, particularly the health workers who were often stretched beyond their very limits. 

The scientists who strove so hard to develop safe vaccines. And particularly the children and young people who’ve had their lives disrupted. 

Empty Princes street Edinburgh

Some of us have suffered more than others. And we must remember all who have lost loved ones and not be numb to the dreadful death totals – with the UK the highest number.


We have become numb to certain feelings, not in a good way: because we must learn lessons for the future. At times we may feel in a time loop! We must understand its now essential to reduce pollution, reduce dairy and meat intake, reduce unnecessary travel, and buy local. And understand economic growth is not all its made up to be. There are other routes to leading productive and healthy lives. We must be prepared for any future pandemic (and there will be one) – and next time take swift action which protect lives and economies - and shut borders. 

People put rainbows and other messages in their front windows. 

One of the best memories from the first Lockdown last year was the wonderful clear air, the quiet skies, less noise pollution and the perfect blossom. I thought, this was what the world was like once, before all the pollution, the unnecessary air travel, the dirty chemicals and pesticides spewed into our rivers, the fumes that kill in our air. Instead we were able to hear the enriching bird song.



Thursday 29 June 2017

Thomas Annan: Photographer of Glasgow

What Happened to the Glasgow Saltmarket slums?

“It is a revolting State of Filth and Squalor”
Photographer Thomas Annan photographed the filthy Glasgow slums in the Saltmarket. 
He also shot images of the Glasgow cathedral and the building of the Loch Katrine reservoir.

And today near the Saltmarket Glasgow is the upmarket area of the yuppie Merchant City. How times have changed!

In the mid 18th century (1750) – the Saltmarket had the Glasgow college and it was the place to be, the Dear Green Place was like Bond street or Saint-Germain.
The Saltmarket was originally home to the fullers – scourers of woollen cloth.

After the Union of 1707, from 1750 – 1850, the Saltmarket changed utterly - and the population rose from 30,000 to 400,000.
Displaced people from the Highlands and Ireland flooded here and the Salmarket turned into overcrowded, filthy slums. Their closes were dark and damp  Disease was rife. The only time there as running water was when it rained, and mortality rates were the highest in Scotland.

Alan Taylor writes of these disturbing photos in the Herald. “People with nothing to do and nowhere to go’” Overwhelming impression was one of hopelessness and decay. “There is none of the colour of a Neapolitan back street or the chaos of a Mumbai Shanty town. There is no movement or energy."
 A Police superintendent wrote at the time –
In 1842, a government report spelled out the scale of the problem as ever more people flooded in from the Highlands and Ireland:
“In the very centre of the city there is an accumulated mass of squalid wretchedness, which is probably unequalled in any other town in the British dominions. In the interior part of the square, bounded on the east side by the Saltmarket, on the west by Stockwell-street, on the north by Trongate, and on the south by the river, and also in certain parts of the east side of High-street ... there is concentrated everything that is wretched, dissolute, loathsome, and pestilential. These places are filled by a population of many thousands of miserable creatures. The houses in which they live are unfit even for sties, and every apartment is filled with a promiscuous crowd of men, women and children, all in the most revolting state of filth and squalor.”

The Highland Clearances and De-population of the Highlands took place twice, in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Landowners forced the existing people from the land they had farmed for generations, to make way for sheep grazing. The smoke from burning roofs filled the skies, to prevent reoccupation. All the homes would burn for 6 days….We drive still through areas with burnt out shells of cottages. People fled to the coast and to Glasgow or emigrated.

Annan was commissioned to produce a series of photos from 1868 – 1871 of the centre of Glasgow. He made 31 images that show how appalling the conditions were for many poor Glaswegians.

The Glasgow college was demolished and moved to the Glasgow Westend.

As an example of ... "clearing" ... the Duchess of Sutherland will suffice here. This person, well instructed in economy, resolved ... to turn the whole country ... into a sheep-walk. From 1814 to 1820 ... 15,000 inhabitants, [or] about 3,000 families, were systematically ... rooted out. All their villages were destroyed and burnt, all their fields turned into pasturage. British soldiers enforced this eviction, and came to blows with the inhabitants. One old woman was burnt to death in the flames of the hut which she refused to leave. Thus [the Duchess of Sutherland] appropriated 794,000 acres [321,320 hectares] of land that had ... belonged to the clan. She assigned to the expelled inhabitants about 6,000 acres [2,428 ha] on the sea-shore – two acres per family. The 6,000 acres had until this time lain waste, and brought in no income to their owners. The Duchess ... actually went so far as to let these at an average rent of 2s. 6d. per acre... The whole of the stolen clanland she divided into 29 great sheep farms, each inhabited by a single family, [and] for the most part imported English farm servants. [By] ... 1835, the 15,000 Gaels were already replaced by 131,000 sheep. The remnant ... flung on the sea-shore tried to live by catching fish. They ... lived ... half on land and half on water, and withal only half on both.
–Karl Marx, 1867, Capital, Volume 1.