A couple of things have come up for me this week as the Scottish election campaign builds towards another seemingly inevitable SNP triumph.
Firstly, a friend, a committed ‘Yes’ voter and an SNP member said he was going to have to stay home on polling day. He could not bring himself to vote SNP this time, he said, because he is so appalled by the SNP’s inaction over MSP Sandra White’s behaviour.
The SNP MSP apologised for re-tweeting a grossly offensive anti-semitic cartoon posted by a Neo-Nazi she follows online and whose tweets she has reposted before. She said she posted the image “in error” and no disciplinary action has been taken against her. The implication for my friend was that a degree of anti-semitism is tolerable within the Scottish National Party.
Drinking, Feasting, Fighting, Wearing Bling - the Celts Come to Town
Detail from the Gundestrup Cauldron, circa 100BC, Denmark.
Images courtesy of the British Museum and the NMS
Celts could be weird and scary. They were mad for the drink and when they had it, you had to watch out for them: they saw things and became aggressive. They were radge fighters, absolutely mental, they dressed up to go into battle and they played great big war horns that made a sound that would scare the living daylights out of you. And they liked bling, loved it actually: gold, bronze, iron, glass, precious stones. They wore chunky jewellery decorated with abstract patterns and symbols. They were skilled at metalwork, leatherwork, pottery and weaving and if something precious was broken, they would mend it - a bronze flagon with a broken handle would get a different handle, or a hole would be fixed with a decorated patch, and made as good as new - better in fact. Oh and they loved parties and feasting; the women were great hosts and they were buried with their special pots and flagons, probably so they could use them for a big after-party on the other side.
Five Reasons Boris Johnson is the Donald Trump of UK Politics.
Fat and flamboyant, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are alike well known for their blond locks which are of the type that used to be described in shampoo adverts as ‘unmanageable’. Just like both of them.
Creativity and Courage: An Exhibition of Women's Art
Catterline in Winter. Joan Eardley. Images Courtesy of the National Galleries of Scotland
There are many powerful pieces in the current exhibition of Modern Scottish Women’s Art from the late Victorian era to the early 60s and the show casts light on the challenges that women artist faced.
They had to contend with barriers such as the bar on married women’s employment and the misogyny which meant they were not admitted to bodies like the RSA. There was prejudice from families which made it harder to train and caring responsibilities which absorbed their time and emotional energy.
But these were strong women all of whom earned at least a partial living from their endeavours as artists and this exhibition is a rare opportunity to see their often unfairly neglected work.
"The path of truth is a lonely road" Cairngorms: A cyclist emerging from a cloud inversion. Photo Rob Bruce 2015
2015 has been the year I really started blogging. It was a big step for someone who has worked as a professional journalist and freelance to start putting their work out there onto the web without it being commissioned and paid for. Why would you write something when you are not getting a fee? Once this kind of writing was known as 'vanity publishing'. David Torrance quoted the great and much-missed Ian Bell in his Herald column this week “There is no such thing as free in journalism. Free is just another word for hobby.” Maybe so. I believe in the value of newspapers and professional journalism.