We at the Voice tend to take a non-commercial view of the annual spendfest - possibly because we all work for nothing. However, it brings us comfort and joy to see increasing numbers of people using the Voice to spread news, advertise an event or write about whatever interests them. The widening spread of take-up from people in other parts of the world is particularly rewarding, and this month we welcome Adnan Tam, who writes to us from the city he prefers to call Bombay, though it is Mumbai on departure boards.
For traditionalists, Christmas on Arran is activity-packed. See highlights listed below - and if we’ve missed anyone out, sorry. (But did you tell us? We’re easy to contact, just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Chipperfield’s Circus is giving performances today, if you are reading this on December 1st, and the immense Lamlash tree will be lit upon the green in all its glory, with ongoing fireworks and merriment. Check online at www.visitarran.com for all details.
Roots of Arran is holding a festive fund-raiser on Wednesday 4th December from 10 am until noon at the Ormidale Pavilion. There will be eco-decorations for sale (no, we don’t know what they are, either, but they’ll be green and pretty), together with delicious baking, teas, coffees and warming home-made soup.
Pinocchio, this year’s fabulous panto, will be at the Community Theatre from Thursday 5th December to Saturday 7th, and Lamlash Primary School has its Christmas Show on Tuesday 10th December.
Arran High School concert is on Wednesday, 11th December.
Arran Brass Band
Monday 2nd December - 7.30pm, Lamlash Carol Concert
Saturday 7th December - 1pm, Whiting Bay Christmas Markets, Whiting Bay Hall
Sunday 8th December - 12 noon, Brodick Castle Victorian Christmas
Sunday 8th December - 3pm, Brodick Christmas event, Brodick Hall
Saturday 14th December - 12 noon, Corrie Chistmas Fayre - Corrie Hall
Sunday 15th December - 2pm, Rowan Singers Christmas Concert, Lamlash Community Theatre
Saturday 21st December - 8.20am + 9.45am, Arran Brass on the ferry
by Carol Burge
The Rowan Singers will give their final performance as an individual choir at the CommunityTheatre, Arran High School, on Sunday 15th December. From January 2014 on, the choir will be amalgamating with Lochranza Choir to form a new all-island choir, much as we had in the days of the Arran Chorus.
The Rowan Singers started life as a ladies’ choir in 1979, giving concerts, performing regularly in Music Festivals and entertaining clubs and church groups on the island. They made an appearance on STV, in a programme filmed on Arran. In 1997, the choir began to sing in 4-part harmony with the introduction of male voices, performing their first concert abroad, visiting Italy, Austria and Germany. The choir last performed “abroad” on a visit to Wales in 2006.
The choir continued to present 2 concerts every year on the island, one at Christmas and one in the summer season. All this happened under the direction of its conductor, Maureen Oakes, who retired in 2009, passing the baton to Diana Hamilton, who will lead the new all-island choir.
We at the Rowan Singers are looking forward to performing and hope that the many loyal supporters will come along, not only to our last concert as The Rowan Singers, but also to support the new venture, either as singers or audience. The programme has an eclectic mix, with sacred songs, Christmas songs and popular songs from the shows ~ something for everyone!
As always at Christmas, the club offers a light-hearted double bill, starting in Corrie Hall at the earlier time of 6.00 pm, with a pause for refreshments between the two films. The first one, running for just 18 minutes, is Dinner for One, also known as The 90th Birthday. It’s a two-hander written in the 1920s that became the most frequently repeated TV programme ever. Filmed in black and white, it features British comedians Freddie Frinton and May Warden as the ninetieth birthday boy and a gloomy butler, and a smile is never cracked despite the increasing lunacy.
After the festive break, there’s everyone’s favourite musical, directed by its star, Gene Kelly. It features the title song, of course, Kelly hoofing with an umbrella in a downpour, but there is much else, including Debbie Reynolds and the young Donald O’Connor. Great fun, and brilliantly done.
As always, Corrie Film Club makes no charge, though donations towards the hall heating (and provision of a great Corrie supper) would be much appreciated. Everybody welcome - you don’t have to be a member.
Brodick Castle, though a traditional and vaguely romantic venue, is not the best place for a serious look at art. Its narrow corridors and furniture-filled rooms tend to be dimly lit and there is little space for large-scale works, which perhaps explains why there seem to be fewer of the island’s professional artists showing there now. Perhaps it is time to split the exhibition into two sections, keeping the usually smaller-sized works produced by amateurs in the Castle and offering a fresh venue for the display of professional work. Corrie Hall might do well.
Before a storm of indignation breaks loose, I will say the current show, running from November 13th - 17th, contained some very interesting work. John Knox always produces thoughtful studies, and his dark combination of heads drawn in charcoal and called Change & Fate, was deeply intriguing. Gus Smith has been on a voyage of discovery for some time, and his progression of geometric shapes had a very real sense of exploring relationships in terms of colour and tone. Henry Murdo uses natural materials, from elm, yew, oak and cherry woods to buffalo horn, in a way that stimulates a sense of the possibilities that lie all round us, while Tim Pomeroy’s two paintings, done when an injury had prevented him from working with stone, had all the quality of discovered poetry that we have come to expect.
Alannah Bailey is a fresh young talent, full of ferocity and vigour, working in acrylics to produce arresting, quite alarming images. She handles paint with rapid freedom and manages to stop short of the impulse to fiddle and improve that can be so disastrous. Her work lies on the violent fringe of observed society, at the extreme opposite to Masako Ritchie, whose control and beautifully judged refinement make every one of her pictures a collector’s piece to look at again and again.
Few people, I guess, had any idea that the roped-off area outside the café door was an art-work. A leaflet in the catalogue explained that Karen Rann, an artist in residence with the NTS on Arran, was using the site as a model for a large-scale work on the ‘island’ theme, where stone rises from water as if growing there. You can see Karen’s blog on natureofchange.wordpress.com, but it seems a missed opportunity that she did not feature as a major element in the exhibition. It would have been interesting to see sketches and photos. Let’s hope an opportunity for this can be found later.
Carol Burge of the Rowan Singers reviews the final concert of the Lochranza Choir before the two groups join to form a single large choir.
We were promised a highly enjoyable concert, with a mixture of composers and styles that should have something for everyone - and this was exactly what we received on Sunday 17th Nov. in Lochranza Hall. The variety in the programme ensured that all tastes were catered for and the dynamics within the performance of the songs ensured a most enjoyable experience.
The programme began with chorales dedicated to the Life of Christ, demonstrating that the choir has great lyrical ability. In this section, we were treated to a solo performance by Ian Buchanan in his clear, pure tenor voice. Following this was British Choral music, which began with a new setting of Burns’ poem, My Love is like a Red, Red Rose, which was such a beautiful, haunting piece that I did not want it to come to an end. This section ended with Aileen Wright’s rendition of Jerusalem, the combination of singer and song providing a deeply emotional experience. The first part of the concert finished with rousing choruses from opera, with many of the audience wishing they could participate.
Fortified with mulled wine, shortbread and mince pies during the interval, we returned to a Swing Medley and were invited to Come Follow the Bands, which had the audience tapping their feet. We then marvelled at the speed at which the choir sang the tongue-twisting Rhythm of Life! Aileen Wright again proved herself the consummate professional, keeping a straight face while the audience laughed at her version of The Rowan Tree. After three choral classics by Schubert, Mozart and Bruckner, the choir gave a superb version of Hymn to Freedom, and the concert concluded with some audience participation in the rousing American classics, Battle Hymn of the Republic and Oh, When the Saints.
The singers and the conductor and pianist Diana and Douglas Hamilton should be very proud of their final performance as Lochranza Choir. Thank you, Lochranza Choir, for all the pleasure you have given audiences over the last 12 years! We wish you well with the venture of the new all-island choir.
On Saturday 19th November, the Fell Clarinet Quartet delighted a big audience with a brilliant programme of just about everything, from Mozart to jazz, with a glorious mixture in between. The quartet was unusual in that everyone played everything, so there was a Musical Chairs shift-round between numbers, where someone new took the top line and a fresh player picked up the hefty bass clarinet, with its seductive, smoky tone.
Colin Blainey, Marianne Rawles, Lenny Syers and Helen Bywater met when they were students at the Royal Northern College of Music, and since then have combined their fabulous individual technique with a collective interest in music of every conceivable kind. Their playing is formidably accomplished, yet great fun. Eddie McGuire’s delicious Celtic Knotwork, which they played last time they were on Arran, with the composer present, had lost none of its magical charm. His new piece, too, based on a railway journey from Glasgow to London and back, was both funny and evocative, while the ever-delectable Piazzolla found a new sound quality in these lovely instruments, arguably the closest possible sound to the human voice. The whole evening was a huge pleasure, and we must not leave it as long as nine years before the Fell Quartet come again.
As a result of intense international pressure, most of the protesters jailed in Russia for suggestion that we should cherish the great polar wilderness and its creatures have been released on bail. Have a look at this video, made available by Greenpeace. Makes you weep, but comfort and joy don’t come much better.
Publicly-owned banks In Costa Rica have worked very well for the last 64 years, said Scott Bidstrup on the US website, Truthout. First started in 1949, they have remained in public hands ever since, despite of enormous pressure by the I.M.F. [International Monetary Fund] and the U.S. to privatise them. Some of the smaller ones caved in, but the four state banks, competing fiercely between each other, are so stable that 80% of Costa Ricans use them.
The Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago are all state-owned, though the Banco Popular belongs in principle to all Costa Rican workers.
At the end of the civil war of 1948, Costa Rica was the poorest nation in the hemisphere, as it had been since the Spanish Conquest. Its winning leader, José “Pepe” Figueres, set up a state banking system that financed dozens of major infrastructure projects. More than 240 state-owned corporations produced so much money that Costa Rica could finance new infrastructure building largely with cash. Yet it had the lowest taxes in the region, and spent 30% of its national income on health and education.
Foreign business interests hated it. They tried to assassinate Figueres, then finally brought the state system down through economic warfare. They raised the cost of its external debt from 3% to 27%. Costa Rica was facing default - to the delight of the IMF and the World Bank, who insisted that they must privatize everything.
Indebted to the IMF, the Costa Rican government had to sell off its state-owned enterprises, depriving it of most of its revenue. And yet, the four state banks still soldier on, because people trust them. . They’re trusted. So Costa Rica survived the credit freeze of 2009 pretty well. Because its economy is known to be stable, it has no great difficulty in attracting direct foreign investment. The US, meanwhile, is seeing more and more of its citizens keeping their cash under the bed, faith in banks being at an all-time low.
So hang on in there, Co-operators. All is not lost. At least, not quite. And don’t forget the Credit Unions, which belong totally to their members and use their money co-operatively. Can’t keep a good system down.
by Linda Hartley
I used to buy my cats Christmas presents - toys and such like - and then realised they haven’t a clue what I am talking about and just want to know, ‘is that some nice turkey meat for me?’ So what does Christmas mean for a cat? Whilst I do not want to be a Bah humbug! sort of person (I LOVE Christmas time!) I hope you will see why there could need for this reminder in the festive season.
Cats are very much creatures of habit and routine. The daily check of territory, expected times for sleep, eat and play. When Christmas comes all that goes by the board. The home is noisier, visitors are coming and going, children are more excitable, lots of new food smells are coming from the kitchen. There’s a Christmas tree to explore; tinsel and baubles to knock down and play with - and probably get scolded about. Turkey bones … m’mmm, tempting … but a no-no. Many cats find it all too much, and spend more time outdoors in the cold or find a place to hide indoors, usually somewhere totally unexpected. All pets, dogs included, can get stressed and anxious, and may get hurt as a result.
Here are some of tips to help make Christmas and Hogmanay go more smoothly for all of you!
As usual, we will not be moving any cats or kittens into new homes during the period from 18th December to 4th January, as it is not fair to them to be put in a new environment at a celebratory time that they will find very alarming. We will however, still be searching for new homes, and can reserve a cat to be placed with you after that time.
We liked this dressing up of city places that could be thoroughly dismal, specially the block-of-flats-sized letters that say, THINK! It ought to be in Parliament Square, outside the House of Commons.
Jan Inglis sends us a cheering recipe for a Christmas nibble.
Spiced Mixed Nuts
2 tablesp / 30 ml. Sunflower seed oil
1 lb. / 450g, Mixed shelled nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds and Sunflower Seeds.)
1 Garlic clove, crushed.
½ teasp. / 2.5 ml. Chilli powder
½ teasp. / 2.5 ml. Paprika
2 tablesp. Soy sauce
Heat oil in frying pan.
Add nuts and stir over low heat 5-6 mins, until a pale golden colour.
Add garlic, chilli and paprika, stir for 2 mins.
Add soy sauce, stir to coat the nuts.
Fry until all the sauce is used up.
Remove pan from heat.
When cold store the spicy nuts in an airtight jar.
Anyone with hearing problems might like to know that an audio clinic will be held on the second Tuesday of every month between now and the spring, from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm in the Outpatients department of Lamlash Memorial Hospital.
Do you have family tales of what happened in Arran during this terrible conflict? How did it affect your ancestors? The Arran Heritage Museum has been asked by NA Museum Forum to mount an exhibition next year for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of this war, and we need the help of Arran people to give this an island dimension. We would love to hear the stories handed down in your family about this time, to see the photographs and papers, if any, of the men who went to war, whether they were lucky enough to return or not.
Any documents, letters or pictures will be treated with care and respect, scanned and returned. We also want to hear stories about those who stayed at home and endured the war and the hardships it brought to the home front. How did farmers manage when most of the able-bodied men were away, what changes did this bring to the lives of women and children? Was your grandmother one of those brave women who went off to work in munitions, or on the buses and trams in Glasgow, or to other work previously considered to be “men’s work”?
How did farmers manage without horses? Was there a return to the more primitive methods of farming, or did the lack of them kick start an agricultural leap into mechanisation? What about the fishing community? Lack of men, increased sea traffic around Arran, and difficulties of transporting catches to fish auctions and buyers must all have taken their toll.
We’d also like to feature Arran Auxiliary Hospital run by Lady Mary Graham (later the Duchess of Montrose) in what later became the Village Hall in Lamlash. Did your grandfather recuperate there and later return to live and marry on Arran?
Arran War Memorial Hospital was a positive thing that came out of the troubles and tragedies the war brought. Any tales of building and setting it up will add to the dry bones of official documents and bring to life the people who worked hard to establish it.
Please bring your stories and papers along to the Museum on Wednesdays, or contact any of the Museum’s volunteers. We have limited display space available, and may not be able to feature your contribution, but, with your help, we can mount an interesting exhibition and create for future generations an archive which will document this seminal time for our beloved Arran.
Adnan Tan spent a year at Strathclyde University, studying for a doctorate in architecture. He writes from Mumbai on the contrast with life in the UK.
Living in Scotland for a year was such an eye-opening experience. One of the memories that lingers is how polite people are, whether it’s something as simple as holding a door open or receiving directions from a stranger. The driving discipline on the street was amazing, as well. In Mumbai, I cannot imagine a car waiting at a red signal on an empty street at 4 A.M. People would think you had a screw loose; why waste time waiting if there’s no other car in sight? Living the student life also made me appreciate how much fun an unstructured life can be, and how liberating. In Mumbai, astronomical property prices coupled with sentimental traditions prevent the younger lot from moving out, and it’s hard to have the same life when you’re living with your parents.
Living in the UK affords certain freedoms, but India is steeped in culture and tradition. Very few festivals worldwide can compare to the festive madness and tumultuous exuberance of India’s annual Ganesh festival and Diwali. Imagine Guy Fawkes Night, but continuing every night for nearly a week - that’s Diwali for you! Culturally, India is in a bit of an odd state of flux, because it’s so diverse. It’s modern and traditional at the same time, and like a pushmi-pullyu, it can be a struggle to move in any particular direction. Having said that, the diversity is what makes living here interesting. It’s totally normal to see cows blocking the street outside the Bombay Stock Exchange building, or anywhere else for that matter. Health and safety is unheard of, but construction is booming and we get on just fine. There’s never a dull moment here because the city is alive and bustling well into the wee hours of the morning. Processes and procedures in the UK have a fairly standardized and sterilized way of functioning, while India, on the other hand, works in a more ad-hoc manner; but despite the odds, we flourish. We are ready to adapt and modify to tackle adverse situations. I think therein lies our strength; a desire to push forward towards the promise of something better, all the while revelling in our food, festivals and family.
by Malcolm Kerr
In the month when the Scottish Government published the White Paper giving full details of Independence proposals, Yes Scotland Arran has not been idle. On 9th November, and to mark Polish National Day (on the 11th) we hosted a ‘drop-in cafe’ for the Arran Polish community, featuring the patisserie of local chef Lucasz Switek, along with an exchange of information on the referendum and voter registration. On the fund-raising front, the ‘Big Picture’ Prize Draw, with wall-ready Arran photographs donated by Len Hartley, Anna Downard, Jim Macrae, Jim Gourlay and other photographers, has proved popular and was drawn at the Yes Scotland Arran St Andrews Night dinner at the Douglas Hotel on 30th November.
Volunteers have been hand-delivering a leaflet on the opportunities for Scotland in the field of renewal energy. And now, with less than 300 days now until September 18th 2014, plans are underway to enhance the flow of referendum information to Arran voters early in the New Year. Exciting times! For more information, visit ‘Yes Scotland Arran’ on Facebook, or phone Anne Bruce on 810601.
by John Inglis, Chair, Arran Community Council
Whitebeam Homes is the name of an affordable housing charity set up under the auspices of Scottish Churches Housing Action whose purpose is to meet housing need on Arran by purchasing or leasing already existing local houses for let to tenants at affordable rents. On Monday 25th of November there was an inaugural meeting at Brodick Pavilion to celebrate the first house purchase by the charity. The meeting was attended by representatives of local groups, Churches Housing Action, Sannox Christian Centre and the Community Council. The house will shortly be tenanted and undergo some interior refurbishment.
The value of Whitebeam’s policy at a time when there are a large number of houses for sale on the island is that tenants will reside in already existing communities, a more inclusive experience than moving into a new urban housing estate. An additional benefit is that in some cases, holiday homes may be converted into permanent residences. These are early days in the charity’s development and it is hoped that they may be able to buy or factor many more of Arran’s empty houses. This requires funds at a time when money is in short supply. However, as a reliable borrower, the charity may make further purchases with low interest loans which could be repaid through rental.
Arran Community Council has always advocated the purchase of already existing homes for local people and fully supports Whitebeam. Though the Community Council has no funds of its own, it will support further fund raising by the charity through advocacy and representation on NAC’s rural housing sub-committee. The charity’s purpose is one well worth supporting.
South has to make six clubs and West leads ♦6. Can you see how?
South overtakes North's ♦J and leads ♣Q, covered by West. North draws trumps, East throwing a Diamond, and cashes the ♦A. South comes to hand on a trump, East discarding a Heart and West a Diamond.
The ♠J is covered by ♠Q, ♠K & ♠A; and East returns a Diamond, ruffed by North. The ♠8 is covered by East and ruffed by South, who then scores his penultimate trump, North discarding the ♥J. East and West are both squeezed in the major suits.
If they both unguard Hearts, North makes his top Hearts and South is high; if East throws a Spade, North has two entries to set up his ♠7; if West throws a Spade, North can set up his ♠3, by leading the ♠7 and pinning West's ♠6.
Now that Arran’s bid for the Creative Places award of £100,000 for arts on the island has been short-listed, there are more hoops to jump through. We are required to make a short film showing the scope of all arty things happening on the island, and Edward O’Donnelly is working hard on this. Another stipulation is that we suggest ways in which the award, if granted, could help to enrich artistic experience on the island, and here, opinions from the public would be warmly welcomed. Could it buy in workshops from professional musicians and actors to perform on the island? Could it help to expand existing provision of tuition for children and adults? Could it make a major production possible? Positive suggestions are required, so we could not simply tuck it away as a ‘rainy day’ fund for whatever may crop up. If you have any bright ideas, please phone Heather Gough on 302 670, or drop us an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not just an admiring question put to a mover-and-shaker. In view of the scandalous profits being made by the energy companies, the question of which supplier to use becomes more urgent. The notorious Npower is about to shift its operation to India, depriving 1,400 British workers of their jobs.
One reader suggests that Good Energy is the most acceptable alternative. It is the only company guaranteeing that all its power comes from 100% renewable sources, and they promise that there will be no price rise this winter. Their clear and cheerful website is worth a look.
Bearing in mind the summer hose-pipe bans and those photos of cracked mud in dried-out reservoirs, it is not greatly surprising that the Environment Agency has warned that many parts of England simply cannot support a fracking industry. The process depends on forcing huge quantities of chemical-dosed water into underground rock layers, thus hopefully releasing methane gas and/or oil.
Water UK and the UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG) have various mind-bending ideas about how to tackle this little problem. They could tanker water from elsewhere, they suggest. Or - hey, how about the sea? Injecting vast doses of salt water into the underlying strata of the southern counties could raise a few worries. What happens to the polluted, chemical-heavy discharge water that has to be collected at the terminal end of the process? It is too toxic to be allowed in contact with the land, and let us not even imagine that it can be dumped back in the ocean.
Meanwhile, plans for a £4bn windfarm in the Bristol Channel have been shelved. It gets madder.
by Dave Payn
1 1 Santa gets trashed in London area for instance, with former Romanian racketeer (7)
5 City trendy in the past (7)
9 We turn up for a quiet Indian fish dish (5)
10 Pull up tummy (3)
11 Where seaman writes poetry? (5)
12 Old are confusing - replace! (6)
13 I react angrily after graduate shows germs (8)
15 Spare item replaced in church with work of art (11)
17 Alternatively, sprout reveals weed (3)
18 ...which the Scottish are out to reverse again (3)
19 Mindful of Tory's steadier spin (11)
21 A race on Scottish island (not Killegray) for fixer (8)
22 Tommy gun is an unimportant matter (6)
25 It's not applicable for church to love snack (5)
26 Swallowed Greek character up (3)
27 Wet graduate's article (5)
28 Unhinge when destroying Garden of Eden initially (7)
29 Man travels south, east west, and then takes a right (7)
1 Medicine - 'Don't play guitar here' (7)
2 Plant is returning to South Africa with novice (5)
3 Wile E Coyote a star of these - as a deranged maniac detonator? (8, 7)
4 Lead line (4)
5 House dish? (7, 3)
6 Tsar would rather be evil nit, perhaps? (4,3,8)
7 Oh... a crappy revision of texts of dubious authorship (9)
8 Ham it up when finished with Bill (7)
14 Sense a poem rewritten with magical words (4, 6)
16 Exhibit wound in fast motor (6, 3)
18 After Tuesday it was wet - subsequently improved (7)
20 Girl to remain at peak (7)
23 Decree note, for Scottish pair (5)
24 Cat sounds like a street of apartments (4)
Answers for the November crossword
1 Clarinet, 5 Guy, 9 Crumpet, 10 Amuse, 11 Entry, 12 Art Deco, 13 Fence, 16 Klein, 17 Repress, 19 Penny, 22 House,
23 Ocarina, 24 E'en, 25 Indecent.
1 Cache, 2 Adult, 3 Imply, 4 Extra, 8 Ukulele, 7 Bartok, 8 Zero in, 13 for the, 14 Neptune, 15 Eleven, 18 Scorn, 19 Plane,
20 Naive, 21 Yeast.
Arran’s JCB, as if is affectionately known, has put together another CD, called Midnight in Machrie. The stunning cover was designed by Christian Pomeroy, who plays an inspired trumpet with the band when not studying art in Glasgow, and the numbers include old favourites, plus a voluptuous rendering by Samantha Payn of the old Russian tune, Midnight in Moscow. (Hence the title, duh.)The stunningly talented Biff Simpson again delivers numbers that hit the audience plumb in the middle of their wee souls, and the instrumentalists keep up a varied stream of jazz and blues, with the occasional oddity. In shops for Christmas, at £10.
The Arran Music & Drama Club's show next year will be "Whisky Galore". If you would like to take part in the show, either on stage or backstage please click on the picture below.