Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Men’
Reflections on Turning Fifty in the Scotland of 2014
Scottish Review, November 26th 2014
I knew from an early age I would turn 50 in 2014.
It was simple maths. At age eight, reading the ‘Tell Me Why’ encyclopedias of facts and figures, I became aware of a sense of time. Apparently the sun would explode in around five billion years wiping out all life on planet earth and any chance I had of immortality. And at around the same time, confronted with this reality, I worked out that I would be 36 in 2000, 50 in 2014 and 86 in 2050. Plenty time I thought for lots of plans and dreams.
Often the concerns of an over-bright boy or girl confronted with the mysteries of life and universe, are about trying to place yourself and idea of self in it. Whereas, in actual fact, these are deep, timeless and philosophical questions which have taken up the time and efforts of some of our greatest thinkers.
I grew up as an only child with a palpable self-consciousness, large amounts of time and space for reflection, and a constant curiosity and hunger to find out more about the world. It was, as a young boy a big positive, not to have siblings. I had no one I had to share a bedroom with, or be bullied by, or look out for and protect from bullying at school or in our neighbourhood. And I had both quiet and room for contemplation and my own private world when I wanted to retreat to it. Read the rest of this entry »
What does it take to be a good man in Scotland?
Scottish Review, August 6th 2014
This is the day after the first gladiatorial debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling – two respectable, rather conventional, men of similar age only divided by the constitutional question.
A large part of the independence debate like significant elements of Scottish public life is defined and shaped by gender and in particular, the behaviour, actions and views of some men.
For decades Scottish politics, at Westminster level, was a male-only zone; as recently as 1979 only one woman Scottish MP was elected. Similarly many of the positions of power in corporate life and boardrooms are male dominated, and by men of a certain narrow disposition in terms of social background, attitudes and interests.
During that period, the public and voluntary sectors in Scotland have more dramatically changed and in so doing in many places look more diverse and representative of society. Indeed, across Scotland in the last 20-30 years there has been an untold story of the increasing feminisation in work, society and of the attitudes and expectations of many men and women. Read the rest of this entry »
Scotland’s Historic Year and the Zeal of the Missionary Men
Scottish Review, February 12th 2014
This is Scotland’s great date with destiny. The biggest moment in 300 years of history. So how are we doing versus the hype and expectation?
There is an echo chamber in large parts of public life which so far most of the Yes/No debate has amplified. There is the trench warfare of various tribal positions and the numerous one-way conversations with people talking past one another. And just as problematically, in some of the radical shades of opinion and institutional Scotland, there is a potent disconnect from the realities of everyday life, as the former invokes an ‘abstract’ vision, and the latter peddles its latest fads and buzzwords.
There is the reach of conservative Scotland which covers many opinions which would baulk at such a description. This entity can be described as the belief in the status quo of public life, our institutions, arrangements and values. It is comfortable with the current state of professional Scotland – whether it is in law, medicine and health – as well as across the public, private and voluntary sectors. It is firmly of the opinion that we have stopped the market vandals at the border (Tories, outsourcers, consultants); it doesn’t believe that such a thing as professional self-interest and producer capture exists, and has chosen to buy the self-validating stories these groups present about their version of ‘the good society’. Read the rest of this entry »
Dreams of my Father and an Elegy for a Lost Scotland
Sunday Herald, January 5th 2014
Twenty years ago last October, my father, Edwin, died.
I was a young man at the time, in my late twenties, and my dad’s death was a major moment in my life, of maturing, of putting life in perspective, and of sadness.
In the months coming up to the anniversary of his death this year, his memory came more to the fore, as I reflected on his life and influence on myself. Truth be told, my father had in his last years not been an easy person to be in the same room with, and as well as loss I felt a sense of release when he passed away. As twenty years have passed, I am now more able to understand my father and the man who contributed to making me the person I am today. And I think that the values and ideas he represented can shed some light on where we are now and the choices we face next year in Scotland’s big debate.
My father was very political: a member of the Communist Party in Dundee in the 1970s and a NCR shop steward when that had a kind of status and power. He wasn’t a very active Communist; in fact, my mother, Jean, was the motivated one in our household, a community activist, organiser of rent strikes and protests and an editor of the local newsletter (where I began my first writing with a regular music column at the age of 14). Read the rest of this entry »
The missing stories and, for some, the pain of growing up
Scottish Review, August 8th 2013
On Saturday the Scottish football season opened in earnest with the first weekend programme of the new Scottish Premiership.
There has been little excitement amongst fans, followers and media, despite the final reincorporation of the league authorities into one body, the Scottish Professional Football League, and the ending of football as a closed shop with the agreement of play-offs in and out of the lower league. But it all seems to most the status quo by another name, aided by the continuation of the discredited Neil Doncaster-Stewart Regan MBA culture at the top of the game.
In all the words and talk expended, the psychologies of Scottish football are both fascinating and deeply entrenched, yet seldom explored. In this essay, I want to examine two dimensions: the historical dominance of Celtic and Rangers historically, and the recent implosion of Rangers.
Scottish football has, since its inception been shaped by the triumphs and tribulations of Celtic and Rangers. In the last 20 seasons, a mere eight other clubs have won a total of 12 trophies out of a potential 60. Yet, Scottish football hasn’t always been as lopsided as this. In post-war times, there were two very different periods and experiences, 1946-65 before the Stein era at Celtic, and the first decade of the Scottish Premier Division. These were highly competitive eras with a powerful Hearts and Hibs in the first, and Aberdeen and Dundee United in the second. Sadly, the Scottish Premier League has since the advent of the UEFA Champions League, been the joint most uncompetitive league in Europe, alongside Ukraine. Read the rest of this entry »