Over the Years, a poem about ageing and Alzheimer’s, stirs a sad, sweet memory but also hope. Dementia is part of family life – and loss – for so many of us now and I remember how it silenced my once sociable father. Yet Paula Jennings’ poetry, drawing on her work in a nursing home, invites a new way of talking and listening.
No fuss, no fanfare. Without a tweet or a peep from the press, an invisible shift in the Scottish landscape took place in the early hours of this morning.
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
He wasn’t literally poor, of course. William Butler Yeats was born into an Anglo-Irish Protestant family at a time when the landed gentry were still in the last phase of their ascendancy. With that came the big houses, expensive schooling and freedom to move in elevated social circles of London and Dublin. Yet the ardent nationalist, poet and politician would surely be spinning merrily at the result of the Irish referendum. Continue reading
Gift Horse by Hans Haake on the Fourth Plinth: could Scotland risk such public art?
I looked a Gift Horse in the mouth. Or, to be more accurate, I joined the tourists in Trafalgar Square snapping pictures of the latest sculpture occupying the Fourth Plinth. After a day in the Houses of Parliament the Tory ‘long term economic plan’ sprang to mind as I admired the skeleton; bronze bones stark and bold against a cold spring sky.
This first appeared in Sceptical Scot, a new online magazine asking awkward questions about life in Scotland.
Retreat or attack? Welcome to Little Sparta
I loiter in the garden and find myself longing for this election campaign to end. And I’m not alone. Over the last few days I’ve been meeting people – politicians, academics and ordinary voters like me – desperate to see the end of #GE2015, as the Twitter hashtags identify this unseemly mess. Continue reading
“Many of the smaller ones perched on my hat, and when I carried my gun on my shoulder would sit on the muzzle. During my stay I killed forty-five all of which I skinned carefully.”
I really wish I hadn’t read that extract from David Douglas’s diary describing the birds he killed during his few days on the Galapagos Islands in 1824. Douglas happens to be a bit of a hero of mine. I get a powerful kick looking up into the huge trees he brought back from his travels in what was then the wild woods of the Pacific North West. He went to such trouble to collect seed without destroying the forest it is sad to discover he was blasting eagles and owls and other grand feathered things off the face of the mountain. But I guess no-one is perfect. Continue reading
Is the NHS equipped to deal with floods, gales and heatwaves of extreme weather? A deadly serious question is posed in a quiet corner of the Houses of Parliament. While the media fulminates in a flash storm conjured by David Cameron during Prime Ministers Questions, the Environmental Audit Select Committee contemplates a more fearful threat than Ed Milliband ‘crawling to power on Alex Salmond’s coat tails’. Continue reading
Malcolm Rifkind sits on the sofa facing me. In his crisp shirt sleeves, he is the picture of casual composure, a study in carefully controlled ease nicely captured by the cameraman. And not a word out of place on the tape recording. Continue reading
Welcome to the year of the Goat. What will it bring? With Chinese New Year celebrations underway I find myself thinking of Alex Salmond and how a skilful politician can turn almost any date to good advantage. Continue reading
Stay still sparrows, I’m trying to count you.
Cup of coffee on the table, notepad and pencil in hand and I’m set for a happy hour looking out the window. Make it two hours. Settling down for the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch I wondered if it would be cheating to do the count over the whole day. Continue reading