Showing posts with label scotia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scotia. Show all posts

Sunday 31 December 2023

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..

Saturday 30 September 2023

Images Scotia from Enlightenment to Kailyard

Journalists, historians and fake historians novelists have written of Scotland’s victimhood and of the false romantic myth-making of the Kailyard school of writing.Tom Devine is highly critical of the John Prebble books ( Glencoe, Culloden,  Highland Clearances) which are often on display by the National Trust for Scotland at key historical sites such as Culloden, Burns Alloway cottage, Edinburgh castle and more.

Journalist Lesley Riddoch writes, “Scots ignore what’s truly distinctive and successful about their culture, hero worship the very long dead (Wallace and Bruce) skip the interviewing period and despair about the future.”


Visit Scotland, who are set up to promote Scottish tourism, recently displayed on its website neon images by artist Professor Ross Sinclair, which were shown at the Glasgow gallery of modern art (GoMA) 2015 and 2016. The one sign objected to stated, “We love the highland clearances” We love Bonnie Prince Charlie”

Charles Edward Stuart

All the romantic myth-making, famously by Walter Scott, was to portray a Scotland that is gone and lost forever1800s. According to political theorist 
Tom Nairn, while the rest of Europe was pursuing nationalism 1800s, as a way for the bourgeoisie to encourage the workers of their nation to rise up against the “Uneven nature of capitalism.” Only Scotland was left behind and totally missed this upsurge, as Scotland after union had already transformed early 1700s after union. From a backward feudal nation to a progressive enlightenment (the Scottish enlightenment late 1700s). I paraphrase here Nairn’s highly readable academic work The Break up of Britain.


There is this split personality of Scotland’s that shows today in the 50/50 spilt over Scotland independent future. The Sinclair images are shocking and continue to promote this backward risk adverse Scotland and this false cringe and victimhood. 


Where is the pride?

Where is the real authentic Scotland? Where is the Scotland we have all forgotten?

The heart often rules the head when we decide who to support. 


The controversial painting Monarch of the Glen, a majestic stag surrounded by en empty glen, devoid of people and trees, provoked debate on what Scotland’s lands became, after Queen Victoria set up her holiday home at Balmoral estate. The Tory Scotland or the Jacobite myths and Jacobin reformers. The founding father of democracy and equal rights. 


Or the scientific achievements; the Scottish enlightenment; Robert Burns songs of shared humanity or Walter Scott’s myth-making Scotland; Scotland as traders and seafarers. 

Thursday 22 April 2021

Scotia’s Ties to Europe: Top Scots writers support Scots indy


Nicola Sturgoen & Val McDermid Edinburgh

Brexit, is an act of deep political folly.

Writers keep a light on hoping Scotland will return to EU.


TOP WRITERS speak out!

Some of Scotland’s top writers wrote of their deep sense of regret and loss at leaving the European union – an equal partnerships of sovereign nations – imposed on us by England. Brexit was take back control, is about London taking back control of the devolved nations of the UK.


All three pre-eminent Scots writers are supporters of Scottish indy. 


Professor Tom Devine, “ I am hopeful that our ancient country will once again be united with out European friends before too long. The Brexit battle is over, the struggle to return to the EU has just begun. For over 600 years between the 12th and early 18th century Scotland most intimate external relations were with Europe. That can be so again. It will be a black Friday for me, a sad and utterly irrational farewell to the EU, a decision which is fundamentally opposed by a very large majority of this ancient nation.’

Val McDermid - "Today is a day of deep mourning. Membership of the EU has improved our quality of life in so many areas form human rights to the vastly higher standards fo roads in the highlands and islands." 


Al Kennedy - "Brexit is being revealed ever more clearly as an English project, with an increasingly laser focused definition of what is permitted to be English. The idea that countries would unite on equal terms in any kind of collegiate organisation is incomprehensible. There are only colonies and the colonised. This betrays England and Englishness and leaves only the worst fo any nation - the freakish, the frightened, the racist and bigoted." 

The way ahead for Scotland will be difficult as it will be for all areas of the UK. Breaking away form a government with a desperately colonial mind-set will be complex and no doubt fraught with setbacks and betrayal. But Brexit has turned Scottish Indy within the EU into both a necessity and a real possibility.”


Glasgow university

Professor Tom Devine is Scotland’s premier historian and author of major books on Scottish history. He is the recipient of 3 national prizes for research on Scottish history. The senior Hume Brown prize,  Saltire society prize (1985), Henry Duncan prize Royal Society of Edinburgh (1993). Honorary membership of Scottish PEN (2020). Devine is considered one of the top academic and influencers.  “ The nations pre-eminent historian ,a towering and fearless intellect.” The Herald Scottish power 100. Professor Tom Devine, retired in 2015 as the chair of Scottish history and Palaeography university of Edinburgh. He continues his lectures in the UK and abroad. 

I’ve attended 3 of Devine’s lecture, which I enjoyed and benefited from. He is a supporter of Scottish indy.


Val McDermid, Scottish crime writer best known for a series of novels featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony hill in a grim sub-genre that McDermid and others have identified as tartan noir. She sings with the band Fun Loving Crime Writers.


AL Kennedy is a Scottish writer, academic and stand-up comedian. She writes novels, short stories and non-fiction and is known for her dark tone, blending of realism and fantasy and for her serious approaches. She contributes columns and reviews to European newspapers.



Other writers who support Scottish indy include – 

William Mcllvanney, Alasdair Gray, Ian bell, Irvine Welsh, Iain Macwhirter, Alan Riach, Irvine Welsh,

Alan Bisset, Stuart Cosgrove Liz Lochhead, Lesley Riddoch, Ruth WIshart, Gerry Hassan,

Musicians who support Scottish Indy  - Aly Bain, Dick Gaughan, Annie Lennox, Proclaimers,


Scots actors who support Scots indy – Alan Cumming, Sean Connery, Sam Heughan, Brain Cox, David Tennent, Elaine C Smith. 

I’m amazed by the Scots history I’ve been totally unaware of until now – even though I studied education at Edinburgh university and took history higher at school. We were taught only English history. Yet Scots history is so incredibly interesting! 


Scottish Enlightenment - 

English historian Peter Gay argues that the Scottish Enlightenment "was a small and cohesive group of friends – David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and others – who knew one another intimately and talked to one another incessantly.’ 

Education was a priority in Scotland, both at the local level and especially in four universities that had stronger reputations than any in England. The Enlightenment culture was based on close readings of new books, and intense discussions that took place daily at such intellectual gathering places in Edinburgh as The Select Society and, later The Poker Club as well as within Scotland's ancient universities (St Andrew’s, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen). Sharing the humanist and rationalist outlook of the European Enlightenment of the same time period, the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment asserted the importance of human reason combined with a rejection of any authority that could not be justified by reason. In Scotland, the Enlightenment was characterised by a thorough going empiricism and practicality where the chief values were improvement, virtue, and practical benefit for the individual and society as a whole. Among the fields that rapidly advanced were philosophy, economics, history architecture, and medicine. Leaders included Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, Thomas Reid, William Robertson, Henry Home, Lord Kames, Adam Ferguson, John Playfair, Joseph Black and James Hutton. 

The Scottish Enlightenment influenced England and the American colonies, and to a lesser extent continental Europe.

Tuesday 31 December 2019

Scotla's Cultural Renewals

The Sunday Times has been running debates on whether Scots culture has declined in recent years, with an article by Hugh Andrew: criticising the quality of Scots culture today and claiming it is only about clichés and worn-out tat.  (Andrew is Director Birlinn publishers). David Keenan asks if Scots are the only nation that consume cheap tat – well this is certainly not true! Go to any major city worldwide then and find even cheaper .

While historian Tom Devine wondered Scots are too keen on ‘celebrities of limited talent’ over great writers, scientists, artists and scholars. The article also wondered, why has there not been more celebration of the 700 years of  the Declaration of Arbroath: the world’s greatest documents of nationhood, liberty, and freedom – well that is next April 2020 and we’ll celebrate then! 

I find all this astonishing and not my experience at all. The unionist press likes to run articles demeaning the Scots and Scotland - because don’t we need our Etonian masters in London making decisions for us? Well Hello magazine and the Daily Mail are not Scottish publications! Celebrity culture has reached us from America.  

However author Denise Mina, wisely writes that talent often develops from a rich cultural soil, rather than any controlled executive

SCOTS TRADITIONS: The School of Scottish Studies archives  was set up in 1951, by Calum Maclean (brother of poet Sorley Maclean) and by folklorist and poet Hamish Henderson. They collaborated with American folklorist Alan Lomax. Folklorist Margaret Bennet also worked at the school: they worked to keep Gaelic, Scots and traditional ballads alive. A degree course was established in 1986, and is now known as Celtic and Scottish Studies. Bennet’s son, Martyn mixed traditional voices, Bothy ballads, and pipes with contemporary dance grooves. At Celtic Connections 2014, Greg Lawson's innovative Grit orchestra performed Bennet's album to great acclaim .

In 1994 Aly Bain and other musicians began a small Glasgow winter festival, Celtic Connections, which has now evolved into the world biggest folk, roots and world music festival and takes place in 32 venues over 18 days and with artists coming worldwide. Many artists perform Robert Burns and other traditional songs, as well as singing in Gaelic. Glasgow is ideal for the folk festival with its many diverse and much loved venues – Barrowlands, King Tuts, Oran Mor, Old Fruitmarket  concert hall and more. -

Edinburgh also is the perfect historic city for its major arts festival each August – begun in 1947, it attracts visitors worldwide and is one of the world’s oldest and most significant cultural events. Edinburgh International festival -
Aly Bain
Dougie MacLean

SCOTS ARTS. Glasgow also boasts the work of the Glasgow Boys Colourists, 1890s to 1910. 
Glasgow’s Rennie Mackintosh Art School may have been destroyed by fire, but more people than ever appreciate and enjoy Macintosh’s work at the Home for an Art Lover and at the LIghthouse. In Glasgow there is also the impressive Kelvingrove and the Burrell collection. While Edinburgh boasts the Scottish Portrait gallery and National Galleries. In the 90s the head of Scottish Arts wanted to close the portrait galleries, claiming no significant Scottish art! 

SCOTS MEDIA. We’re poorly served by media and by Creative Scotland though, with a struggle to build Scotland a film studio (amazingly considering Wales, Northern Ireland, Birmingham have studios). Even though we have some of the world’s greatest scenery. And no Scottish TV channels: when even the poorest European country, Moldova, has its own tv channel.  However the global success of Outlander has seen a film studio built. While the new BBC Scotland channel is mostly playing it safe. 

What has been a problem is Scots institutions being run by outsiders who don’t value or understand Scot’s traditions or history. I studied art, history at school in Edinburgh, in the 70s, but learned nothing of Scots culture, history or heritage. I’m now teaching myself and learning of our great enlightenment, art and song.  For decades, no centuries, there has been deliberate policies to suppress Scots culture.  

SCOTS MUSIC. Scots music has enjoyed a renaissance since the 70s –  Average White band, Simple Minds, Deacon Blue, Franz Ferdinand, Lulu, Texas, Snow Patrol, Gerry Rafferty, Annie Lennox, Del Amitri – to name a few. With some of the most innovative and creative talent. Scots artists have achieved great success in 2019 – a particular shout out to the newcomer Lewis Capaldi. Plus Calvin Harris, Mogwai, Emeli Sande, Chvrches, Tom Walker, Kathryn Joseph, Young Fathers, C Duncan, Be Charlotte, Frightened Rabbit,... Scotland definitely punches above its size.

On the folk Trad scene there is outstanding talent both young and old – Karine Polwart, Braebach, Rura, Blazin Fiddles, Dick Gaughan, Rab Noakes, Blue Rose Code, Dougie MacLean, Skerryvore, Julie Fowlis, many more

Alexander MacColl Smith
I attend Edinburgh Book festival each year, which was begun in 1983 and is the UKs oldest book festival. Scots literature is not only thriving, but producing some of the worlds best known writers – Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Iain Banks, Christopher Brookmyre, Alexander MacColl Smith, Ali Smith, Alasdair Gray, more …Dundee games industry is a world leader and now also boasts the iconic Dundee V & A designed by Kengo Kuma.-

What has been a problem is Scots institutions being run by outsiders who don’t value or understand Scot’s traditions or history. I studied art, history at school in Edinburgh, in the 70s, but learned nothing of Scots culture, history or heritage. I’m now teaching myself and learning of our great enlightenment, art and song.  For decades, no centuries, there has been deliberate policies to suppress Scots culture.  

II  Since the Scottish Parliament opened in 1999 twenty years ago, there has been renewed confidence to believe in and understand our rich Scots traditions and heritage. Artists are now proud to sing in their Scots accent. Gaelic is more popular than ever. My local folk club is flourishing. We also have many highly respected academics such as the distinguished historian Tom Devine, along with 4 fo the world's top universities. 

Scotland is creative and bold, but we allow other places (such as London) to make money out of our creativity. Big London outfits are profiting from turning Edinburgh into a Scottish Disneyland of the North. More money must be kept in Scotland to improve roads and infrastructure. We must teach more business in Schools and how to protect and keep the money here in Scotland: and build our own infrastructures.

For our size our cultural contributions are outstanding. They are also grassroots, rather than top down by some Big Label machine – and in my opinion much healthier and creative for it. 

**Special mention to artist and writer Alasdair Gray 1934 – 2019. We have just lost one of Scotland’s great artists and innovators. I took photos of him Edinburgh a few years back – what a great character! 

Friday 11 August 2017

Myths and Lies of Unionism

James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor

It is not only that Scottish culture has been suppressed, it has also been distorted by those career unionists, those Anglized Scots who view themselves as English first, Scots second and see their careers as a seat in the House of Lords. 

I attended a Lecture by the respected Scottish historian Tom Devine.
Where he spoke of a mass deluded country, and of (Caledonia’ by Breton) – he said that there were moves to put out the delusion that Scotland is a ‘small, poor, inadequate country’.

When in fact, before union, Scotland was a flourishing and trading nation, with a population a third of the UKs! After the Jacobites '45 challenge – the Highland dress was forbidden (the punished was imprisonment or deportation). Then in 1822 George IV visited Edinburgh in a short kilt and pink stockings! – and the Scots were ‘allowed’ to wear kilts.

He spoke of ‘The Unionist Myth” that was put about –

that says “Scotland is a land of darkness, faction, poverty and religious rigidity.”
The writer Prebble, put forward our ‘victimhood’ – with stories of Glencoe, Clearances, Darien Project and more.

After the failed Darien project, early 17th century, there was distortion of the facts and Myths were put forward by Unionists. The Darien financial disaster was over stated – it was common at that time for ventures such as these not to succeed. England refused to do trade with the Scots.

Our history becomes myths – what we want to believe – and the stories we pass on.

One interesting fact here is that the city of Glasgow voted against the Treaty of Union - that is those who were allowed to vote then.
Bonnie Dundee 
Prince James Francis Edward
The Scottish enlightenment
It also comes to light that Bonnie Prince Charlie was a reformer, that he wanted to bring more parliamentary scrutiny and that he was no fool either. The Hanoverian regime was corrupt. The Jacobites were defeated though by George I’s son, Duke of Cumberland who had been fighting in France.

 In our recent times we had a mountain of unionist lies - we were told in 2014 that voting for the union would mean "Devolution Max" (not happened), "Staying in Europe" (Brexit vote means leaving), "Better pensions" (??), improved funding (??)

We must now excavate below the Myths and falsehoods

In June 1385, the Parliament of Scotland decreed that Scottish soldiers serving in France

would wear a white Saint Andrew's Cross, both in front and behind, for identification.