The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

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Archive for the tag “Scotland”

Letter from America / World Watch Out

I’ll say one thing about that Donald Trump. He’s going to be good for artistic creation. As you may have read in my last post I had the germ of an idea for a Twilight Zone type story which had elements of Back to the Future and Brigadoon (I admit, a bit of an obsession for me!) Well, here’s the finished article.

Hopefully people will find it humorous and a little chilling but I felt incredibly sad when writing it (and not for the obvious reasons of looking ahead to the next four years!). The whole idea of people having to leave a land they love for whatever reason – to make money, chase a dream or perhaps because their own land isn’t fit to live in anymore. So it is anti – Trump but it’s also an early valentine to immigrants, the LGBT community, all those who stand up to bullies – in the past and in the future… and of course the beautiful Western Isles.

Apologies to The Proclaimers for pinching their title – although they pinched it from Alistair Cooke first! (I’ll square it with them if I bump into Charlie or Craig down in Colinton Woods anytime soon!)

Talking of Scottish music legends. Rev Mulvey from Lone Head Records tempted me out of musical retirement to collaborate on this track. Could be a creative four years – if we survive, that is!



Back to the (No) Future



You have to hand it to The Donald – he has succeeded in uniting the world. The show of solidarity across nations is impressive. Particularly with women. Particularly with people who won’t be taken in by grubby, rabble-rousing politics delivered by a rebooted Mussolini brought back to life as a Simpsons character. Particularly in Scotland – but then we’ve always been united in our disgust for the big bully who Trump-trampled his way over large areas of our bonnie land.

Everybody knows the story regarding the Scottish connection now. The young Scots lass leaving the Western Isles to seek her fortune in the U.S. Which got me thinking – surely a new version of Back to the Future is on the cards? In this one the main character would travel back to make sure sweet and gentle Lachlan from the local croft ends up with the young Mary and not the big American blow-hard visiting businessman*. Get it wrong – history is changed and the world is doomed.

There are lots of other Twilight Zone style twists in the real tale. The grandfather settling in America only because he got kicked out of Germany. For the full – and chilling – story check out Matt Frei‘s excellent documentary on Channel 4.

Back to the real world though so I guess we just have to get on with it. That doesn’t mean sticking your head under the duvet and self-medicating with your drug of choice  – however tempting that may be. Get up, stand up and don’t let the big bully win!

*Biff was based on Trump – spooky!




Marriage Made in Hell Leads to Divorce Shocker!

Marriage liesHappy now? Everyone in the UK outside of Scotland, London, Northern Ireland, Liverpool and Manchester? I say the UK but it’s hardly going to be a united kingdom for much longer now – that’s for sure.

In the last day so many quotes and images have come crashing into my head. I’ve tried to expel the very unpleasant ones: Farage‘s valedictory speech with his mouth spouting offensive crap (‘no bullet fired…’) and his eyes showing a mixture of astonishment that a majority people believed the crap and fear that the mob may just turn when they realise there wasn’t a scrap of truth in any of it. There was also the press conference with the three stooges of Johnson, Gove and Stuart with Clown Master Johnson trying unconvincingly to appear Prime Ministerial while wearing that general Brexit look of stunned ‘oh fuck, what do we do now… ?’ Images from fiction include the final scene in The Planet of the Apes (‘You finally really did it! You maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you! God damn you to hell!) and any film where the main protagonist finds him or herself mistakenly locked up in a lunatic asylum and the only person who can save them has been murdered in the first reel.

Trying to explain the whole sorry mess to non-British chooms is interesting. You can  break it down like this: vast areas of the country are working class and they used to have the Labour party. But the Labour party are now either the metropolitan political elite or the loony left – neither of whom have a clue how to relate to the traditional voter. Just as vast is the area of the country peopled by those who enjoy a more comfortable way of life – traditional Conservative voters who don’t trust the ‘new’ more liberal Conservatives (quite similar to Labour’s elite – see above). You would think these two massive groups would never get it together. But they had two major things in common: fear of immigration and an idea that Britain could be ‘great’ again (like in the 1970s LOL). And lo and behold there came a unifying force called UKIP who joined them together with Nigel Farage presiding as a wild-eyed slavering preacher-man. The union being gleefully announced in the couple’s respective newspapers (or xenophobic small-minded brain-washing bog roll) The Sun and The Daily Mail.

So what’s ahead? For me personally – and as someone who voted to stay with the UK marriage back in September 2014 – I am willing to reconsider the Scottish proposal. Look at it this way: we have lots in common: we both love travelling in Europe, are uber committed to  LGBT rights and we’re living together already anyway. Plus Nicola Sturgeon looks like she could conduct a better ceremony. But before we draw up the contract – can I see the ring first… ?




From Maw Broon to Nippy Sweeties

Maw BroonApart from the obvious benefits of spending time with friends in Italy, it’s pretty good being away from the whole sorry farce that is the British general election. In particular the tartan spin part which is like the school wallflower who’s had a makeover and suddenly can exert an unholy influence over the cool-set who never looked at her twice in the past. Trouble is there’s those dodgy neds who want to do her bidding but they’re neds who want a punch-up and not political debate. She should tell them to bugger off but it’s difficult, eh?

I was on the Frascati to Rome train on Sunday night and what should have been a relaxing half hour journey after a blissful day with friends turned into something quite different. A hundred or so Germans boarded the train and proceeded to carouse, stamp and sing for every second of the journey. They spanned a large age range and there were women in their number but they were all fired up by being in a group, a lot of beer – of course – and being German? That’s a bit unkind – I like Germany, I like German people – but there was something slightly threatening about the whole mob mentality bound together by a national identity. They stopped short of singing ‘Deutschland Uber Alles’ but the whole idea was the same. Funny then – but maybe not – when I heard the news from my homeland the very next day about nationalistic meat-heads storming a democratic meeting. The chill that ran down my spine was bigger than the one experienced on the train from Frascati.

Proud to be Scottish? Of course! Proud to be a Scottish woman? A thousand times yes. That didn’t start with Nicola Sturgeon though – from Annabel Goldie to wee Jimmie Krankie – we’re strong women who don’t take ourselves too seriously. Most importantly we’re tough and we know how to knock heads together. I’m sure Nicola knows how but it’s the when that’s a bit of an issue right now. Meat-heads have a vote – but for all their bluster they only have one vote each. Unless the marching and the singing and the shouting can convince good people to join their mob. I think – I hope – Scottish people, particularly women, are better than that…

Game of thrown-ups!

salmond thumbsupWhat should Alex Salmond get for Christmas? I would say a large reality check with a good measure of humility on the side. In his mind, however, he already has the second-best present on his list ticked off. As well as polishing up a brass neck that can be seen from outer space, he’s buffing up the brass crown he was hoping to be wearing come this festive season. It won’t go to waste, though – as he’s already indicated he’s quite willing to plonk it on someone else’s head – probably Ed Miliband’s – come the new year. So, from would-be-king to kingmaker – we knew it all along, didn’t we?

Without sounding too Russell Brand about it all – it would seem that the vast majority of politicians are egomaniacs and can’t be trusted. With people like Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage particular examples, with their never-ending gall and talent (of a sort) to wring out every last ounce of self-promotion from a situation, however negative. It was particularly jaw-drop-inducing that big Eck should hold court on the day that crashing oil prices were heralding the scrapping of jobs in the Aberdeen area, once known as Trump-town. Not such a safe bet for funding a new nation then, eh?

That shouldn’t mean we should give up and not engage though. It was great that so many people got involved during the referendum debate, however a sad aspect was friends and families being torn apart and in many cases still not speaking to each other. The key is knowing that politics is a dirty old business and that people who were at each others’ throats one day will be doing deals the next, leaving us lot looking like a bunch of muppets if we continue to trade insults and wage war on each other.

But back to some other items on Alex Salmond’s Christmas list – perhaps the Game of Thrones box-set and a copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince? Some chance! He could act as adviser on both of those. I’ve heard he’s actually (gasp!) going to be taking some time off (we’ll see… ) to rest a repetitive strain injury on his wrist. I’ll resist making any cheap comments but merely say it must have been all that rubbing!

Who is the Enemy Within?

ImageI suppose you can’t blame Boston residents taking to the streets to celebrate the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (the sense of relief that the culprits weren’t white supremacists/anti-govt patriots after all was palpable) what is less than edifying however are the triumphal chants of ‘USA! USA!’ Surely that’s what causes awful scenes of carnage in the first place – nationalism, partisanship, sectarianism – call it what you like, it’s all hatred and a case of ‘well, they started it…’ It doesn’t really matter what it’s done in the name of either, whether it’s national boundaries, ethnic determination, religion – ah yes, religion – that old excuse. Look what’s happening in Burma for example: Buddhism – the ultimate laissez faire religion of choice for those who don’t do guilt – advocating the burning of fellow human beings (Muslims in this case). Vile… especially when spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, can’t actually bring himself to utter a few words of condemnation… However I’m getting sidetracked again with the whole religion thing which I should know by now is just a fig-leaf for human greed, expansionism and subsequent retaliation.

So what’s the answer? As the song says: ‘Imagine no… etc’ or the gospel: ‘Turn the other cheek’ – well maybe when everyone’s had a couple bottles of wine and are in ‘I love you man’ mode, but I’m too much of a realist to believe that’s an option. I have an idea though – just when you start thinking in terms of ‘them’ and ‘us’, or national boundaries or that raising a flag might be a good idea – look at the people you share a country or a nationality with, even people in your own family, do you necessarily feel more connected to them than – say – someone you’ve been communicating with on the other side of the world? It ain’t necessarily so – because there are good people and there are dicks of every nationality and in every walk of life, and it would seem unlikely that all the good people are in your own backyard. That’s why I’m uneasy about the whole independent Scotland thing – at best, I refuse to believe that we can confine all our woes to one side of a land border and live in a Brigadoon-type idyll – and at worst, buy into a ‘them and us’ mentality. Vive la difference!

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