While wishing readers good fortune in the coming year, it seems only reasonable to regard 2015 with some caution. For many people, the Westminster government’s intention to deepen cuts in every form of support promises a year of intensifying hardship. Our neighbours across the border are increasingly cast loose from the wealth of London, and it is becoming very evident that the welfare of citizens comes a poor second to the goal of maximising profit by the privileged few.
Scotland, however, has had a momentous year and shows every sign of preserving a new and vigorous independence of mind. Young people are politically aware in a way that we have never seen before and the referendum campaigns provided a basis for strong expression of opinion, on both sides, that is still active. Whatever the outcome of the general election, we are unlikely to see an endorsement of the two-party system that has essentially morphed into a single power club. The SNP and the constantly growing Green Party will change all that.
Scotland’s sense of identity goes back beyond the Act of Union in 1707 to our earliest history, and within Scotland, Arran to a great extent is its own small world, finding its own ways to deal with difficulties. The helpfulness of one person to another, coupled with an ability to work together when circumstances demand it, constitute a great strength, miniature though it may be. As we go forward into this new year, let us cherish this mutual help and kindness. It is a value that money cannot buy.
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Following his successful Bond Street show, Tim spoke at the Douglas Hotel on December 3rd about his work and what it means to him. A rapt audience listened to a remarkably open and self-aware outline of how he came to be a sculptor and everyone realised just what intense work - both physical and mental - is involved. The stories of hauling marble from Carrara quarries that are little changed from the time of Michelangelo were riveting, as were the sheer technical difficulties. Tim’s well-loved font in Glasgow’s Catholic Cathedral seems utterly tranquil, yet functions through hidden vents that depend in turn on narrow, precisely-engineered drainage channels. These had to be calculated with absolute precision, allowing no room at all for error.
The mammoth technical problems of handling massive blocks of stone would daunt most people, yet Tim’s work always seems imbued with reflective stillness. As slide followed slide, we watched, fascinated to have some insight into the constant demands made by the creative life. The stringent disciplines that it imposes are a world away from the all too popular concept of the artist as a Bohemian dabbler. Though working with massive blocks of stone that have lain under the earth’s skin for countless centuries, Tim’s skill is as detailed as that of a surgeon, and runs a similar risk that one slip of hand or mind might ruin everything. He lives and works dangerously, and yet - necessarily, of course - with extraordinary calm.
Tim will be running a workshop for Arran Visual Arts on Saturday, 14th February, on the interesting craft of drypoint etching. It will be at the Rangers’ Centre, Brodick Castle, and bookings can be made through the AVA website.
Corrie Film Club is showing the Canadian film, The Sweet Hereafter, on Sunday January 11th. The title is ironic, as the plot centres round a disastrous accident when a school bus skids into a lake, killing several children. Their grieving parents are approached by a lawyer, Mitchell Stephens (Ian Holm), who persuades them to file an action against the bus company for negligence. Nicole Burnell, a 15-year-old now paralysed from the waist down, had been an aspiring songwriter before the accident, and she overhears an argument between two parents, one of whom distrusts Stephens and wants the case to be dropped. In the pretrial deposition, Nicole unexpectedly accuses the bus driver, Dolores Driscoll (Gabrielle Rose) of speeding,and this halts the lawsuit. Both Stephens and Nicole’s father know she is lying but can do nothing.
The showing is in Corrie Hall, beginning at 8.00pm. As always, there is no charge for admission, though donations towards the hall’s costs are welcome.
The National, published daily from Monday to Friday at 50p, has arrived with astonishing energy and expertise, born of the Yes campaign and continuing its robust pressure for Scottish independence. Its tabloid format is well designed and thoroughly professional, with good photographs and lively writing, and it found a ready readership at once. The four days of December gale prevented it (or anything) from reaching Arran, but no doubt its success is continuing on the mainland.
Lucy Cartledge sends us the final part of her astonishing story.
In Kollam and Varkala, ice-cream tricycles and horses paced the beach. We stopped at Hotel Suprabhatham for the usual vegetable curry, but the food, served on a banana leaf, was some of the best we had. The menu tickled me pink. It offered ‘Without Tea’ and ‘Without Coffee’ for the price of about 15 pence and also ‘Bru Coffee’ which sounded almost Scottish . I later learnt that it meant tea or coffee without milk. As we were not Hindu, we were debarred from entering the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram, but it was staggeringly beautiful, as was the Padmanabhapuram Palace.
We were now at the southern tip of the country, and the scenery soon became very rocky and mountainous . We arrived just in time to catch the last ferry to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Temple just off shore. The sea was wild and news had just arrived that a cyclone was on route. Matt was determined that we should still go and we were glad we did. There were great views back to the mainland and some tremendous elephant sculptures to see. The cyclone arrived, and hit Vishakhapatnam, very near the orphanage. We had planned to fly home from there, so plans became very uncertain. Communications were down, the Andhra Pradesh coast roads were flooded and damaged and the airport was closed.
We decided to head north along the East Tamil Nadu coast where we saw many wind and salt farms. We stopped at the Ramanathaswamy Temple, on Rameswaram Island from where we could look across the water to Sri Lanka, just a few miles away. This temple is famed for its magnificent corridors, 30 feet wide and 4000 feet long, each of them lined with colourful sculpted pillars depicting lions, horses and elephants. On departure, we were anointed with salts and blessed by an elephant. Puducherry was strangely French in character, and the temples there and onwards to Chennai were wonderfully ornate. Many of them were being renovated and were covered by scaffolding wrapped in straw for protection. The mix of religions was very obvious here, with Christians and Buddhists living in comfortable harmony with Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. The amazing Golden Sphere, Matrimandir, in Auroville, a little further north, took 37 years to build, not surprisingly. It is a geodesic dome covered in gold reflective discs, so it shines like the sun on the horizon. It is surrounded by beautiful peaceful gardens and amazing banyan trees. Once more it was like another world.
Getting closer to Chennai, we went through Mamallapuram a town famous for its caves and stunning carvings of elephants on rock faces, and eventually came to Chennai. Here, we had to say farewell to our good friends who could take their vehicle no further. We wanted to go to the orphanage at Tuni, and managed it by making a detour to Hyderabad, where we got a short flight to Rahjamundry. From there, a taxi for another 100 kilometres took us to the orphanage. We had another ‘marigold’ welcome and a very emotional meeting with the 450 children living there, and it wasn’t long before I found myself teaching them some craft work and serving the meals. I could have sworn that I had fed about a thousand of them and I was convinced that they had queued more than once! The new classrooms were attractively decorated and the school staff and pupils were clearly delighted with them. It was an honour to be able to see it.
Finally, we flew to Mumbai, built on a natural harbour and very British and organised. A final outing took us to Ghandi’s house the Elephanta caves, and briefly to the museum. And then it was time for the flight home.
Gordon Davidson, who lives part of the time in Corrie, has for many years been involved with supporting orphans in Nepal, and goes out there frequently to see them. Talking to the Voice before he flew out to rejoin the children in the orphanage, he spoke with great love and enthusiasm about Nepal and its people. Gordon sells his own paintings in order to raise money to help support the orphanage, and also teaches children the skills of developing their own drawing and painting. Asked if he could speak Nepali, he shook his head ruefully and fished out a piece of paper from his notebook. ‘This is as far as I’ve got,’ he said, showing the Nepali words for colours. A good start - and for the rest, art has its own language, and his communication with the children comes from mutual liking and willingness.
selected by David Underdown, who supplies the footnote
by Alice Oswald
Alice Oswald is a classicist who went on to train and work as a gardener. She won the Forward prize for Best First Collection for ‘The Thing in the Gap-Stone Style’ and the TS Eliot Prize for her second collection ‘Dart’. She now lives in Devon with her playwright husband and their three children. This sonnet taken from her third collection ‘Woods etc.‘ published by Faber in 2005, is a fine example of her ability to capture the mystery and complexity of the natural world in sparse yet sensuous language.
by Alison Prince
For everyone who knew her, Sheila Stewart, folk singer of the Travelling people, was a source of amazement and inspiration. I met her many years ago when recording the songs and stories of Travellers for a BBC radio programme. She was living then in a ferociously overheated flat above a betting shop in Arbroath, taking protective care of her increasingly frail mother, Belle, who was huddled in shawls and blankets in a deep armchair by the fire. When we had talked for a while Belle suddenly began to sing, and the moment was magical, for her voice was as clear and strong as that of a young woman.
Later on, Sheila came to talk to a mostly female group from the Scottish Society of Authors, and took charge of the proceedings with absolute authority. ‘Where do you think your soul resides?’ she demanded. Tentative fingers went to the head and a few to the mid-chest, at which she nodded. ‘We are not talking about thinking here, we are talking about being.’ To her, the difference was fundamental, and she defended it with ferocity. Travelling was a working philosophy, as deep and subtle as Hinduism or Buddhism, and she campaigned throughout her life for the rights of Travellers to go on with their traditional way of life.
Living on the fringes of orthodox society, Travellers have to evolve a particular kind of skill, and I came to understand that it was a deeper thing than a simple trusting to luck. Luck, in fact, is a fairly reliable system, based on an perceptive understanding of people. While disillusioned about house-dwellers, Sheila was never unkind or dismissive, for she recognised that the settled community has its needs and hardships despite its relative affluence. Her outlook, though laced with tough humour, was profoundly humane, and her sometimes disconcerting wisdom was deeply perceptive and compassionate. Added to her fluent, highly talented musicality, it made her one of the most impressive people I have ever met.
On the afternoon of Saturday 17th January 2015, the Isle of Arran Music Society presents Ceol Alba, which is Gaelic for Music of Scotland. Their concert will be in the High School Theatre, beginning at 1.30 pm. It features five players, and will be a delight to anyone with a taste for the mixture of folk music and the tuneful airs found in the classics.
This talented quintet features Louise Burnet on flute, Angus Anderson on violin, Rhona MacKay on harp and David Inglis on double bass, together with pianist Walter Blair - which is why the concert will be in the Theatre, to take advantage of the lovely Kawai grand piano. All the players are expert soloists in their own right, and between them they cover a range of musical styles from the sixteenth century to the present day.
Their programme is called The Auld Alliance, and contains a wonderful mixture of the traditional Scottish music, laced with lovely pieces from France, our historic ally. Bizet, Debussy and Poulenc blend happily with Scottish tunes and dances, and bring the historic connection between the two countries into fresh focus.
Admission at the door costs £10, inclusive of interval refreshments, or tickets can be bought from Inspirations of Arran or online from the Arran Events website. The intended programme appears below.
|Ancient Airs and Dances:|
|Air: John come kiss me noo!||Anon - Burns|
|Air: Mary Queen of Scots Lament||Anon - Burns|
|Dance: Galliard Court Dance||Anon|
|Arabesque No 1 ( flute and harp)||Debussy|
|Strathspey, Air, Jig, Reel ( fiddle)||Traditional|
|My love is like a red red rose||Burns arr Kenneth McKellar|
|I’ll aye ca in by yon toun|
|Novellette No 1 in C (piano)||Poulenc|
|Scottish Dances:||arr George MacIlwham|
|Jig: Dumfries House||Traditional|
|Slow Air: The Lady Louise Campbell||Charles Gore|
|Reel: The Inverary Wedding||Traditional|
|Suite from Carmen||Bizet|
|Seguidille – Entr’acte - Danse Boheme|
|Air and Dances (violin and harp)||Edward McGuire|
|Isle of Arran||arr David Inglis|
|The Swan LK 243||Catriona McKay|
|Reel: A Burns Scherzo||arr George MacIlwham|
|Air: Ye banks and braes||arr Claire Liddell|
|Jig: The Gaberlunzie Man||Traditional|
|Reel: Fairy Dance||Traditional|
Arran’s MSP Kenneth Gibson sends us news that the Scottish Government has decided to provide healthy school meals to all pupils in Primaries 1, 2 and 3, free of charge. This will save families at least £330 a year for each child. The £114 million package for young people will be in place for two years, beginning in January 2015, and on Arran, 129 children are eligible.
In August this year, the Scottish Government also introduced free childcare provision for every two year-old from a workless household in Scotland. As a result, around 8,400 children have benefited. In August 2015 free childcare provision will be extended further, reaching 15,400 children – 27% of all two-year-olds in families that receive benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Mr Gibson said:
‘I was pleased to vote for the rollout of healthy free school meals to all children in Primaries 1 to 3 and a significant expansion of childcare provision. It means that every Arran child in P1-P3 is guaranteed a nutritious, healthy meal. Not just that, it removes the perceived stigma from the 20% of children who are already entitled to free school meals.’
South to make four spades. West leads the ♦J.
North wins with the ♦A and leads a low heart. East wins with the nine and returns a heart (best) to North, who leads a club to East's nine and South's queen! West wins and returns a diamond to South's king. South leads the ♠J, which holds, then the ♠10 to queen and king, followed by the ♣A and another club, North discarding a heart. West leads a third trump, covered by North's seven, and East is caught in a see-saw-squeeze. If East comes down to one diamond and two hearts, South plays low, ruffs a diamond, and North makes a ruff and a long diamond; if Esast comes down to two diamonds and one herat, South overtakes the ♠7 with his ace, ruffs a heart and makes a ruff and the long heart.
We received the following enquiry from one of our readers. If you know of this artist then please contact us by email or through our contact form and we will pass on your message.
I am trying to find information on an artist who lived and painted in Whiting Bay. I bought an oil painting from her in 1977, the subject was Rosa Burn and Goat Fell.
She signed her paintings ‘De May’. I was wondering if anyone may have information about this lady. Thanks.
As many of you will know, the Valdete Trust was formed several years ago to help an Albanian girl have medical treatment in Scotland. They have now opened a centre in Albania and have sent us a Christmas newsletter.
Please click here to see it.
Highland musician Findlay Napier is launching his new album VIP: Very Interesting Persons at Celtic Connections this January with an all star cast including Boo Hewerdine, the album’s producer and co-writer, Hamish Napier, Findlay’s brother and an award winning musician in his own right, Gillian Frame, Findlay’s wife and also an award winning musician, Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott and Kevin Brolly and pedal steel maestro Alan Train.
There are many who find themselves described as stalwarts, some for the rugged determination to keep slogging away and others because they contribute so much to stay actively involved on a whole range of levels, keeping sharp artistically and selflessly championing others who deserve attention.
Findlay, from Grantown on Spey, is one of the most highly-regarded performers and creative forces on the Scottish music scene – thoroughly active and a truly energised with a heart-warming zing. He grew up in a musical family and attended local Feisan including Feis Spe and Feis Rois. In 1996 he moved to Glasgow and studied Traditional Music at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
He made his name touring and recording with multi-award winning traditional Scottish folk band Back of the Moon. In his more recent projects “Queen Anne’s Revenge” and “The Bar Room Mountaineers” his song-writing took centre stage and was described by The Sunday Herald as “Genuine songcraft and wit following in the Difford & Tilbrook tradition”. Findlay is also well known for hosting Glasgow’s premier open mic night at Bar Bloc, as the host of Celtic Connections’ Late Night Sessions and for his Hazy Recollections concert series which showcases the very best in new roots music.
His new album contains ten songs about real life characters that have led very interesting lives. The album was co-written and produced by Boo Hewerdine and features performances from Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott, Gillian Frame, Roy Dodds, Hamish Napier and incredible Danish multi instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren.
The VIP project came together when Findlay began a Creative Scotland’s Advanced Mentoring project with Boo Hewerdine. The first song they wrote together is the oft covered ‘After the Last Bell Rings’. It quickly became obvious that the pair worked well together and they decided a themed album was the way forward.
Hedy Lamaar, a song about the actress who invented Bluetooth and WiFi, was the second piece that came from the creative pairing - and inspired the tone that would follow to bring VIP about. The last song the pair completed was about Eddie Banjo a shellshock victim from Wick. The song should have been Teddy Banjo but Findlay misheard his father telling of the story. Other interesting individuals include Valentina the first woman in space; the master conman who sold the Brooklyn Bridge at least once a week for thirty years; the ghost of a pugilist; the stunt pilot who discovered Angel Falls, and the Japanese soldier who fought the Second World War well into the 1970s.
2015 will be an interesting year for Findlay. With the album coming out in January and a tour supporting Eddi Reader booked for March. He will also be making an appearance in an episode of Katy Morag as one of Katy’s Uncles and will be filming another season of the chaotic comedy quiz show ‘Fonn Fonn Fonn’ for BBC Alba.
He is playing on Saturday 17th January 2015 as part of Celtic Connections in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, (Strathclyde Suite) - ‘Very Interesting Persons Show’ 8pm £14 Tel. 0141 353 8000 or online at www.celticconnections.com. With an all star cast including Findlay’s wife Gillian Frame (also an award winning musician who is from Arran).
For more information and the latest tour dates, please visit www.findlaynapier.com.
Anyone on the train from Ardrossan to Glasgow recently may have noticed with mild interest that Ardrossan Town has morphed into Cambuslang. ‘This stop,’ the recorded announcement assures us, ‘is Cambuslang.’ This might provoke a pantomime chorus of ‘Oh, no, it isn’t,’ but in fact, it generally seems to be received in silence. Is surrealism becoming the norm? Discuss.
by Dave Payn
1 Rio map sure to confuse game character (5,5)
8 & 3D Best performance achieved in 2012, for instance, might make it onto CD? (7,6)
9 Evidence of some ultra-celebrity (5)
10 I am lost on the outskirts of Treorchy and I need some friendship! (5)
11 Most of clarinet needs repair after concert (7)
12 Hate West Indies cricket match (6)
14 Angel to rephrase (6)
17 Beginning northward climb (7)
19 Overcharge when selling Tosca LP excerpts? (5)
21 Get in touch when preacher dismisses agent (5)
22 Hit 'n' run with a hover? (3,4)
23 Mammal get richer soon, somehow (10)
1 Member of 70s soul band not in charge of hairdresser (7)
2 Move up very quietly to unknown youngster (5)
3 See 8 across
4 Prompter that snooker players may find useful? (4)
5 Mixed paint not suitable (5)
6 Drink contains chocolate extract (4)
7 Break the law to obtain riches (6)
13 Boy to tread on a chicken (7)/p>
15 Confused about deficit (2,1,4)
18 Holy man keeps quiet about a collection (5)
19 Drain designer (5)
20 Painters not included in the arts? It makes one ache! (4)
Answers for the December crossword
1 Mistletoe, 6 Sob, 8 Tar, 9 Newcastle, 10 Elastic, 12 Brew, 14 Demarara Sugar, 16 Noel, 18 Scrooge, 21 Mince Pies,
23 Gnu, 24 Chi, 25 Espionage.
1 Mitre, 2 Sarcasm, 3 Long Term, 4 Tow, 5 Elan, 6 Sitar, 7 Boer War, 13 Espresso, 14 Dynamic, 15 Georgia, 17 Ennui,
19 Etude, 22 Imp.