Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Review’
The World We Knew: My Father and Frank Sinatra
Scottish Review, March 10th 2015
Dads matter. They give us many things, including many reference points – like what it is to be a man, potentially a love of a football or rugby team, perhaps even some political views.
I gained all of that from my father but one of the biggest, most evocative connections I have with him is through the music and voice of Frank Sinatra.
My dad, Edwin, was born in 1933 and was a young man in the late 1940s and early 1950s when he first became a Sinatra fan. This was the period of young Sinatra swooning the ‘bobby-soxers’ – the pubescent female fans who saw Frank as their idol. This was followed by his marriage to Nancy publically falling apart, his on-off romance and entanglement with Ava Gardner and his career commercially crashing.
In 1953, Sinatra, with his career in the doldrums, undertook a British tour. This was just before his rebirth began. The record label which had made him a star, Columbia, had released him; he had signed to Capitol but not yet made an impact, and his role as Angelo Maggio (for which he won an Oscar) in ‘From Here to Eternity’ was yet to hit cinema screens. Read the rest of this entry »
Glasgow is not Scotland so let’s stop pretending it is
Scottish Review, February 10th 2015
Someone observing Scotland from afar could easily fall under the apprehension that all there is to the nation is Glasgow.
A Martian, or alien from another world, who had the misfortune to only follow and comprehend our country through the transmissions of BBC Reporting Scotland or STV News at Six would think that we were a strange land. They would imagine that all there was to this country was a few streets, only inhabited by men, where football and crime were the only topics of conversation and that all of this was located in Glasgow.
Glasgow is a great city. It thinks of itself, whatever its population decline, as a big city, and as a place of attitude, imagination and swagger. And one which like all big cities sees itself as bigger than it actually is, and bigger than the nation it sits in. This is explicable, for it is the attitude of Big Cities the world over, from New York to Berlin to Moscow: we even could call it the Manhattan Syndrome. Read the rest of this entry »
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 kind of Scotland does Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP want?
Scottish Review, November 12th 2014
Scotland and Scottish politics are in unchartered waters. The post-indyref has shaken and rearranged the normal reference points: SNP membership has gone through the roof, while the Labour ‘winners’ have laid claim to putting on a paltry 1,000 members.
Amid all the noise and debate, there is in the confusion, an eerie lack of substantive discussion, as people try to find their way. In the Labour Party a clutch of left-wingers believe that their core problem is the party’s embrace north of the border of ‘Blairism’; in the SNP, Jim Sillars and Gordon Wilson have been making predictable sounds calling for a more defiant, traditionalist nationalist approach, mistakeningly believing this will somehow win more widespread support than that achieved by Alex Salmond.
In both Labour and SNP contests there has been a surprising lack of debate. The Labour contest at least has another month to run, and the possibility that a choice between Jim Murphy, Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack, will bring out some of the huge questions the party has to face if it is to turn its fortunes around. Read the rest of this entry »
Time Travel: the Parallel Universe of Post-ref Scotland and the Voice of Doubt
Twenty five years ago this coming Sunday an event occurred which changed our lives and is still shaping much of the modern world: the fall of the Berlin Wall.
This brought about the demise of the Soviet bloc, the end of the Yalta settlement which had divided Europe from 1945, the unification of Germany, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with it, its monolithic variant of Communism and any aspirations it had to making and being the future.
Much of the last 25 years flows from those tumultuous events in November 1989: the European integrationist project and the arrival of the euro, the certainty that Western political democracy had somehow defeated all other political alternatives which became hubris, and its subsequent decline and hollowing out at the hands of a self-interested crony corporate capitalism.
Scotland and Britain haven’t been immune from these potent political and economic tsunamis. Yet, there is a powerfully and noisily articulated feeling in parts of Scotland that we have somehow successfully resisted these forces, and can do so more in the future. This is seen in the pale version in the nostalgia for the British post-war settlement, and in more radical expressions, that Scotland can challenge neo-liberal orthodoxies and embark on a radically different progressive course, which no one else has yet succeeded at. Read the rest of this entry »