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Archive for August, 2012

In the last few days I have started my quest to understand more of the debate about Scottish independence. With the referendum scheduled for the autumn of 2014, I have plenty of time, but I am growing increasingly uncomfortable at not yet holding a concrete position.

The things I know at the moment –

1) I am no fan of Alex Salmond’s – but that is no reason to vote No.

2) I am far less of a fan of the Tories – but that is no (t enough of a) reason to vote Yes. Politically I am decidedly left-leaning, but have yet to find a party which reflects my views. The days of right = Tory, left = Labour are gone, I think.

3) The exact formulation of the referendum question is still up for debate. It could be a Yes/No or it could be Yes/No/Devo Max (which is an extension of what we have just now, with full fiscal responsibility including tax-raising powers and responsibility for the majority of spending decisions).

4) There is a push by the SNP to include 16- and 17-year olds in the voting population.

5) It is very hard to find unbiased information on the issues surrounding proposed independence.

With most information and websites comes an agenda, so I will be attempting to sift the facts, figures, and the outright propaganda in order to decide my own opinion on whether Scotland should be an independent country.

 

Any resources, research, or opinions outside of the obvious sites (bettertogether, SNP etc) will be gratefully received, via comments here, email, FB, Twitter, or even good old-fashioned conversation.

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The Lighthouse

The review below is of The Lighthouse by Alison Moore – one of the novels long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. It is published by small independent Salt Publishing. I reviewed it on Goodreads on 2nd August.

The LighthouseThe Lighthouse by Alison Moore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a tale Alison Moore has woven. The Lighthouse is written economically, but no less beautifully for it.

Futh is an almost entirely unsympathetic character, and yet I felt for him in this world he didn’t quite fit into or understand. He has a real affinity for smells; the memories they create for him provide a link to a world which doesn’t have a place for him.

The Lighthouse, and the journey Futh undertakes, is bleakly pessimistic – and yet I loved it. Moore has such a way with words.

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Press perverse

David Dinsmore, managing editor of the Sun, today claimed that it would have been “perverse” not to have printed the naked pictures of Prince Harry, taken by camera phone while he was on holiday in Las Vegas. The argument is that the pictures are available on the internet and across the world, and it was therefore in the public interest that they be printed in the tabloid.

Leaving aside the needlessness of printing a picture which is indeed widely available online, its appearance in the paper is a huge two-fingered salute to the Leveson inquiry, and everything it stands for and was established to do. There is no public interest which could possibly be served by publishing near-naked pictures of anyone, no matter their rank, position, or who their granny is. However, for the pictures to feature a member of the Royal family is a front-page advertisement of the Murdoch empire’s belief that they are above the law – that they can print what they like in the pursuit of greater profits.

I am no monarchist, and I couldn’t give two tiny hoots what a single guy in his late 20s does on holiday – he does at least work to earn his own money as well as living off the country – but no-one should have to see their own body in the media unless they willingly agree to it.

Freedom of the press is a good thing. Free speech is vital to a healthy democratic society – but this is not free speech, this is voyeurism.

What is perverse in this situation? I don’t think it’s Harry, and I don’t think it’s a decision not to print.

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Things I thought I knew

Thanks to a friend’s generosity, three of us and our assorted offspring went for a trip on the City Sightseeing tour today. TWM loved his trip on the red bus with no lid – “it’s like a rollercoaster, Mummy!” and we saw a few of Glasgow’s sights from a different angle.

Kibble Palace

However, I was disconcerted to find myself disabused of ‘truths’ upon which my childhood knowledge of Glasgow was built. I refer, of course, to the construction of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

The story goes that the museum was built back to front, with the grander front entrance mistakenly positioned at the rear. The architect, so distraught at his error, committed suicide by throwing himself from the top of one of the towers.

Today I heard via the live commentary that in fact the building reflects precisely the original design – the museum faces off across the Kelvin to the stunning University of Glasgow. This explanation rings far truer to my Glaswegian ears; few of my city’s grand old buildings are haphazard in either concept or construction, and certainly not the architecture of the late 19th and early 20th century. I looked for sources online to back up today’s revelations, and came across mainly re-tellings of the old legend. Snopes, however, seems to be of the same opinion as the lady from the big red bus.

The experience of long-held knowledge becoming myth has bothered me for the rest of the day. What else do I hold as accepted truth which is in fact product of word-of-mouth and urban legend? Have you had a similar experience?

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Holidays again

Remember last year when we went strawberry picking? (If not, find it here) Warning – large photo dump below.

Holiday destination of choice was Gullane this year (anyone local who could tell me whether it’s Gull-ahn or Gull-ayne? We  heard both during the week). Located on the Firth of Forth, it’s a beautiful wee town with amazing ice cream. We rented a house through North Berwick Holiday Homes. Well, to be accurate, my parents did, as we are broke due to new baby and maternity pay. The house was basic, but perfectly fine for what we needed. Ten minute walk to the beach:

 

Stephen, Stephen, Lynn and TWM

 

Ask my Dad about the Rangers players who used to run up and down these…

No, I don’t know either.

Bundle!

 

There was a trip to visit friends, but with two sleeping children in the car I didn’t want to take them out of  the car and wake them (NEVER wake a sleeping baby!). So Mr Dr L turned butler and brought us tea in the carpark.

 

That was exciting when TWM woke up – but not as exciting as accessing Mrs Dr L’s sweetpeas by climbing out the window!

We’re still talking about this.

 

On Friday we reprised last year’s strawberry picking trip. This time the venue was Belhaven Fruit Farm, about 3 miles south-west of Dunbar. The farm has several poly-tunnels for PYO fruit, a play-park, and a cafe with all attendant facilities.

 

 

Is this one ready, Mummy?

 

 

The cafe had a good range of snacks and meals and was very reasonably priced. Mum and Dad sampled the local speciality:

 

The play-park is well-designed and with tables and chairs arranged around one end TWM could come and go while we rested.

Meanwhile I purchased another local speciality for later consumption, having tried a taster from the cafe counter –

 

Gold stars to the staff who were friendly and helpful to a man (and woman).

Teeny spent a lot of time like this –

 

but occasionally was awake. Isn’t she getting big?

 

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Well, one of the many reasons.

On the 11th July, the ‘newspaper’ ran this story. A perfect example of the Mail’s faintly sneering style, the term ‘plastic Brits’ is judgemental and superior (who wouldn’t want to be British?) Heaven forfend that a furrener should compete as a representative of our sceptred isle. The phrasing that 11% of our “542-strong” team was born overseas smacks of that 11% being the weaker element of our strong Team GB.

And so to this morning’s coverage of yesterday’s triumphs. Not only does Mo’s name make it into a pun in the headline, but he is adopted without question into Our Great Race (TM) – did you know it’s “the first time a British man has won in the Olympic 10,000m race”? Well, colour me astonished. No plasticity mentioned at all. The article does mention that he is Somali-born, but he’s certainly British these days.

It might seem a petty gripe, but it’s just another grubby page in the Mail’s misogynistic, racist, and judgementally right-wing history. The danger, as far as I’m concerned, is in the way the distasteful opinions are stated as self-evident fact. Palatable fascism for the easily outraged.

As a nice counterpoint, have you seen this lovely article in the Guardian? A celebration of the good bits of the Olympics, Britishness, and what’s making us proud.

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Look what I made

 

 

Ailsa Hope McDerment (aka Teeny)

8th June 2012

6lb 12

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