Posts Tagged ‘Scottish society’
Remembering childhood holidays in Scotland and my first venture into politics
July 20th 2016
Everybody’s first experiences of summer holidays are always likely to be special – tinged with evocative memories and memorable moments.
My earliest recollection of a summer holiday was the sojourn from Dundee to Girvan in 1969, just before I went to primary school. This trip involved my dad’s light green coloured Volkswagen Beetle; the experience of which left me with a deep-seated affection for such cars.
It was the only family holiday on which my maternal granny, Flo (who my mum never got on with all her adult life) also came along. I was too young to pick up any antagonisms between the two, such were the diversions of the Girvan beach and making sandcastles. But it was also my first ever experience of staying in a hotel, and one which overlooked the sea, and the mightily impressive Ailsa Craig.
I cannot remember anything else about the accommodation bar the view, but I do recall clearly two moments of the break. One was going to Souter Johnnie’s cottage in Kirkoswald, Ayrshire, and being trapped in the garden with the statues when the place closed for the day. My parents, like David Cameron once, took a few minutes to realise they were missing a child, even though they only had one, and in that short time, I was petrified that the statues were going to come alive. Read the rest of this entry »
The Herald and Rangers FC:
Noise annoys and listening for the Sounds of Silence
Scottish Review, February 3rd 2016
A series of illuminating conflicts in the last week – the Graham Spiers sacking from ‘The Herald’ and the J.K. Rowling/Natalie McGarry argument on twitter – show something revealing about modern Scotland.
Spiers sacking from the paper, along with Angela Haggerty’s from the ‘Sunday Herald’, brought up numerous issues. One immediate issue was where power lay in the newspaper group – with open disagreement emerging between ‘The Herald’ and ‘Sunday Herald’ editors. More fundamentally it touched upon the legacy of ‘The Herald’ as one of the traditional bastions of unionist establishment Scotland, and the continued toxic issue of Rangers FC.
The Rowling/McGarry case saw the SNP MP challenge Rowling to condemn the anonymous twitter account of ‘Brian Spanner’ (who has a track record of online abuse) who the author had called a ‘good man’ for donating to her charity. Rowling stood her ground and asked McGarry to show where she had ever colluded or condoned any misogynist or hateful tweet. No answer came from McGarry who went silent and then apologised. Read the rest of this entry »
The Last Days of the Old BBC Scotland
Scottish Review, January 20th 2016
These are turbulent times for the BBC. The patrician age of benign liberal paternalism and enlightened elites knowing what is best for us, unquestioned and unchallenged, have long since passed.
We have now swung to the other end of the spectrum. Not a day seems to go by without the BBC being criticised from somewhere. The ‘Daily Mail’, ‘Daily Telegraph’ and Murdoch press conduct a never-ending war undermining the Beeb’s status – questioning the legitimacy of the licence fee and what they see as its dominant market position.
The toxic right want to destroy the BBC, but the left stopped being enamoured decades ago, and in Scotland all of this is added to by the experience of the indyref. Many respected voices feel that the BBC is shortchanging Scotland, and offering up an inferior service.
BBC Scotland’s problems have historical and cultural roots. The origins of a specific Scottish service were found in an age long disappeared. When the BBC high heid yins decided to allow a Broadcasting Council for Scotland in 1953 it was stacked with the great and good and chaired by the Lord Clydesmuir, formerly John Colville, unionist Secretary of State for Scotland from 1938-40. Read the rest of this entry »
Whatever happened to the Scottish Tut?
Scottish Review, January 13th 2016
Once upon a time there was a thing called the Scottish Tut.
It defined many of our exchanges, stalked our land and policed the boundaries of permissible behaviour. It gave and took away acceptance; and once it was seemingly everywhere and now seems nowhere. Whatever happened to the once powerful tut, can we live without it, and should we lament its apparent demise?
The Scottish Tut involves many different motivations, styles and gradations. It could be used to indicate someone seen as ‘getting above their station’ or pronouncing a view viewed as gauche or inappropriate. Being judged as high-faluting and having an inappropriate attitude could bring forth the tut. But so could wearing a rather loud shirt or trousers, or trying too obviously to look different or alternative.
The tut embodied a passive aggressiveness: the use of pursed lips, staring, glaring, looking shocked, silence and a whole host of body language signals. This had power in a society that had all kinds of hang-ups, no-go areas and numerous unwritten rules. People often associate this with authority and officialdom – from councillors and faceless bureaucrats to the revenge of the local minister or priest. But it had its roots in a deep well of culture, history and traditions. Read the rest of this entry »
There is a Light That Never Goes Out: Ian Bell, Willie McIlvanney and the Power of the Word
Scottish Review, January 6th 2016
Scotland values words. It has always had a place in its heart for wordsmiths and for those who powerfully combine language with a sense of some higher calling – from religion, to morality, to various causes for a better world.
In the weeks running up to Christmas, within a matter of days of each other, we lost two of our most celebrated public figures who expertly used words – William McIlvanney and Ian Bell.
Sometimes, words – written or spoken – just don’t convey the full feeling of something. That’s true of so much, but with McIlvanney and Bell there is a sense in different, but complimentary ways, that they contributed significantly to how Scotland saw itself in recent decades and how it has changed, and were influencers and interpreters in the work in progress that is modern Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »