“Nobody really knows when they first heard, or heard of, Jimmy Shand. Like the force of gravity or your mother’s maiden name, you cannot recall a time before your awareness of his existence.” On ceilidhs, prom dances and growing up in Scotland.
“What I did say, and had you been listening you’d have written it down as such, was that Scotland achieved effective home rule in 2020.” A frivolous musing on Gordon Brown, The Vow and Home Rule aka federalism.
The Olympics are not going to disappear anytime soon, but they risk becoming unsustainable in a world facing climate change, rising inequality, corporate corruption and growing anger among those left behind by globalisation. And until that day comes, we are perhaps best investing our legacy in smaller pots. Like Perth, the new wannabe city of culture.
Why anger among young people at the state of the world is never enough to prompt political activism. Thoughts on the 2016 referendum, the one before and where next.
Is this the shape of higher education to come? In Scotland we worry about widening access; in London about being able to afford it all. The sheer cost of student living must act as a deterrent – and turn the entire HE experience into a commoditised service.
Kirsty Gunn has warned of the dangers of “Scottification” in public support for the arts in Scotland. But the issue is far from new. We look back at the House with Green Shutters and George Orwell on ‘Englishness’ to probe further.
The monumental ordinariness of Aberdeen makes it a city that is faceless or even anonymous. But its buildings should make us pause, look again and think of urban living.
More and more churches in Scotland are being turned into casinos and boozers. It’s not just the effect of the decline in religious affiliation in our secular society. It reflects too the primacy of the private over the public and of commodity over value.
David Cameron’s ham-fisted plans to help mainly Muslim women learn English have rightly been condemned for stigmatising people – not least as government funding for teaching English as a second language has been cut. Here the United States rather than Europe may have a better, more liberal process of integration.
Is urban regeneration a new art form now that Assemble have won the Turner Prize? How far can art housed in ‘white cube-style’ galleries a la Whistler change people’s lives? We examine these and related issues in the run-up to the new V&A in Dundee.