THE ONLY WORD to describe how I feel about the new UK passport design is scunnered. Not one Scot is among the seven faces that are to be plastered across it. It is to have an embossed face of Shakespeare on every page as a security feature. But what about the other globally recognised poet these Isles have produced, our beloved Rabbie Burns?
I struggle to understand the motives behind the redesign. At the time of the referendum on Scottish independence last year, I wrote that a big part of my decision to vote ‘No’ was that I was not ready to give up my right to a British passport for what I thought was the potential mess of pottage offered by the Nats. Commentator Allan Massie quoted me in his Scotsman column on the eve of the poll.
JK Rowling, the Tartan Tebbit Test, Scotland's Rugby World Cup Exit
Photo: Rob Bruce. Click 'read more' to see the whole article.
LIKE JK ROWLING, it seems, I am an “80 minute patriot”. This is what she was called on Twitter for being a No’ voter who supported the Scottish rugby team in the World Cup.
Personally, I feel that when it comes to full-throated, flag-waving ostentatious declarations of love for one’s country, 80 minutes is probably enough. Again, for me, I don’t know about JKR, I am quite happy to stick the Jimmy hat and saltire in a bag when I leave the ground.
“Story is in our DNA”; A successful book on failure by Brené Brown.
If there is one thing that Americans do a lot better than Europeans, it is failure. An example is 'Rising Strong', an incredibly successful book on the subject of failure and its aftermath. Now a UK best-seller, I picked it up from Edinburgh airport bookstore, drawn by the sub heading "If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about getting back up."
Arts news: Mairi Campbell's new show 'Pulse' to premier at Showcase at Celtic Connections
'Mairi Campbell reacted angrily when she was downgraded for playing her own composition in her final exams and left Guildhall College of Music and Drama for her bolthole on the Isle of Lismore. Supportive tutor Peter Renshaw found the phone number of the family’s cottage there and called her, a moment which features in the show. “I said 'you can get tae fuck' and got on the train home to Edinburgh. I never went back. The next thing was Peter's call to Lismore where I was recuperating. He said that they'd keep up the fight.” ‘
PULSE to showcase at Celtic Connections, Jan 2016
Not many musicians could hope to fill a theatre with a one-woman experimental musical about their own lives. But Mairi Campbell’s new show 'Pulse' in which she acts, sings, plays the fiddle and dances the story of her own musical coming of age has been selected to represent the best of Scottish musical culture at the prestigious Showcase event at Celtic Connections in January 2016.
Glastonbury for Geeks, San Francisco Dreamforce ‘15
SAN FRANCISCO gave itself over to ‘Dreamforce’ for a few days in September. Now in its 12th year the event was bigger than ever. Usually busy roads were closed to traffic and rolled over with fake grass, inflatable arm chairs, stages, huge screens and food and drink stops. A 1,000 berth cruiseliner moored near Fisherman’s Wharf to provide extra accommodation. Airbnb apartments were available for $1,000 a night. Stevie, Wonder, the Foo Fighters and Japanese artist Yoshiki played. But this was not a music festival - it was a software conference.
Road Trip Part Two: Utah. Zion and A Bottle of Water That was the Answer to a Prayer
Road Trip 2. (Find more in this series under 'Travel' on the right hand menu).
First light is the best time to take pictures, and on our road trip stop off at Zion National Park, a chilly dawn found us at Overlook Point, Rob and his tripod hovering on the edge of a 1,000 foot drop.
The landscape stirs echoes of cowboy B movies, Star Trek scenes and prehistoric epics. You could almost believe the rocks were polystyrene and peering down into the deep valley, I half-expected to hear a dinosaur roar. This area has been the backdrop for many movies, the most famous being Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.