For a few all-too-short months, the Natural History Museum’s Diplodocus carnegii was hosted by Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery. Today, it’s on its way to Newcastle to see the tiddlypeeps of Northern England. There wasn’t a ceremony or send off: just a team quietly packing the bits away in boxes after the museum closed. I’d meant to have a post up long before this, but I kept agonising over it, because that Diplodocus means a great deal to me.
Since we’re talking history, Mr Corbyn, there’s a reason I won’t be voting for your party at any point in the foreseeable future. It isn’t just because of your party’s anathema to Scottish independence, or its schizophrenia over nuclear weapons. It’s because your party refuses to come to terms with its crimes.
On International Women’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to honour some of the notable women of Gourock.
It’s the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’s birth. As Scotland rightly comes to grips with its part in this terrible chapter of humanity’s collective history, it is important to remember that even in a time where slavery was legal and state-supported, there was defiance against inequity and compassion for our fellow humans.
Wheesht, wheesht, my foolish hert,
For weel ye ken
I widna ha’e ye stert
Auld ploys again.
It’s guid to see her lie
Sae snod an’ cool,
A’lust o’ lovin’ by –
Wheesht, wheesht, ye fule!
– Hugh MacDiarmid
Valentine’s Day has a bad rap. Too often, it’s an excuse to engage in cynical commercialism – and even if not, the celebration of love is too often the genteel, shallow, milequetoast sentiment that’s barely worth the tree that died to make ten thousand greeting cards. The original story of St. Valentine was full of defiant relationships, clandestine passions, and daring commitments, with the bittersweet tragedy and triumph of any Shakespeare romance. Love can so strongly be associated with other strong emotions – fear, anger, hate, sorrow, joy – that you wonder how it became so diluted and saccharine in the public consciousness.
A bit like Scotland, really.
One of the blessings of friends in international places is being their guide to Scotland. A while back, a group of friends I knew from my Howard Days were visiting, and naturally enquired as to where are the best places to go and see in my homeland. Since they were literary folk, one of the must-visit locations was Burns Country.
Scotland wouldn’t be what it is today without England. That much is obvious: England is our neighbour on the largest of these islands; we’re more or less the same age; a northern branch of their ancestors, the Angles, are among the four peoples who founded Scotland.
It’s nigh impossible to live in Scotland and not have some sort of regular encounter with England. Our public broadcaster is primarily focused on England, with English opinions and interests and accents on the main news, the continuity announcements, all the way to the soap operas and property shows; we elect MPs to a Parliament in Westminster which controls a great number of our laws, frequently against our own representatives’ wishes; the vast majority of newspapers are owned outside Scotland, and regularly headquartered in England. While most folk in England can live their lives largely untroubled by Scottish opinions and interests and accents, we in Scotland cannot avoid England and the English even if we wanted to.
That’s our lot as part of a United Kingdom of England Plus Three.