What kind of times are they, when
A talk about trees is almost a crime
Because it implies silence about so many horrors
A catalogue in the post. Not so very long ago that would have brought a promise of armchair gardening. Happy hours leafing through pages of plants I was unlikely to grow, winter evenings plotting summer crops; neat rows of common garden stuff in exotic colours: purple beans, black carrots, blue potatoes. I’d mark the pages diligently and forget to send my order until it was almost too late to sow the seeds. Continue reading
Have you heard the one about Miles Jupp at the Underbelly? Or Johnny Vegas at The Stand? Perhaps you picked up a word or two about Frankie Boyle challenging Jerry Sadowitz to a standup in the street (he wasn’t joking)? Continue reading
While the Chilcot report validates public outrage at the UK’s disastrous decision to invade Iraq thirteen years ago, the full consequences of Brexit have still to unfold. How will the future judge our self-inflicted constitutional crisis of 2016? Continue reading
On foot, squeezed into cars, standing in vans, riding pillion, pedalling on cycles, swarming citywards by every road and route, London came yesterday morning doggedly and cheerfully to work.
Plucky Londoners. It sounds very familiar. I can almost hear the voice of Boris undermining the effect of a public transport strike any 21st century day of the week. In fact it’s on the front page of The British Gazette, the government newspaper rustled up during the General Strike of 1926. 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
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
Perhaps I should be grateful to John Swinney. Since 2007 Scotland’s Finance Secretary has spent £500 million on freezing council taxes. “By the end of the current Parliamentary term, [Band D] households will have saved £1,200 since the freeze was introduced in 2007.” So says the SNP press release which conveniently skates over the cost of this ‘saving’ and the cuts it has imposed on all local authorities.