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Issue 67 - October 2016
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An Icelandic Saga


Welcome to the October Voice for Arran. The autumn equinox has passed and the days are rapidly shortening. Leaves, and apples, are dropping from the trees and the potatoes are being lifted. The small boats in Port na Buidhe have been beached or towed home for the winter, and the seals have moved back round the bay as the holiday-makers have gone. With them have gone the summer breeding birds, replaced by winter visitors and migrants passing through, wigeon, black-throated diver, osprey and rook.

In this edition, as always, we review and preview the cultural life of the island, and bring you items of news and discussion from around Arran and further afield, that we hope you will agree are of interest and relevance.

Alan Bellamy

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Arran Open Studios collaboration between poets and makers

Nasturtium by Josephine Broekhuizen

As part of this year’s Arran Open Studios there was a taster exhibition in the Visit Scotland office which took the form of a cross-art form collaboration between poets and makers. This exhibition was very well-received and inspired many positive comments in the visitors’ book accompanying the show.

Seven artists/ makers took part with seven of our practising local poets. Each poet was asked to produce a poem to respond to one art work. The results were and are reflective and thought provoking. But for one poet, David Underdown of Corrie, one poem was not enough; he came at the painting Nasturtium by Josephine Broekhuizen of Lamlash, time and time again, each time entering and leaving the painting via fresh linguistic and musical avenues. His poem Fallen Leaves led to a whole pamphlet or Chapbook as they are known, of poems based on Josephine’s painting.

During the Arran Open Studios these chapbooks ( limited edition of 100),were distributed via donation of £2 at the Whiterock studio of Josephine and at Visit Scotland office where the exhibition was housed. There are still some 50 copies available from David (810640) or from The Book and Card Shop (Brodick) and the Rock Pool in Corrie. Josephine’s painting has since gone on to one of her several representing galleries, The McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas. David’s chapbooks remain on Arran and lovers of poetry who might still like a copy for their library can contact David or one of the outlets.

Seeing leaves by David Underdown

Hard to believe how all this has occurred:
spool back just a month or two, and this blank
canvas was stacked with all the rest
unprimed against the studio wall

though already there were strong shadows
in her mind’s eye, the multiplicity
of forms – serrate, lobed, lanceolate,
in all their imaginable versions

of greenness – seethed in a restless canopy,
a rustling multitude of leaves seen
and remembered. From their shifting dance
she plucked unlikely shapes,

paired stems, buds, bracts, blossoms. Her brush
stilled their flightiness like a lepidopterist’s pin.

David Underdown writes:

Nasturtium and Seeing leaves

It was Tim Pomeroy’s idea. The notion that this year’s Open Studios should be complemented by a ‘taster’ exhibition pairing Arran artists with Arran poets arose during a chance conversation back in April but, Tim being Tim, instead of remaining just an interesting possibility for speculation, it turned into something tangible.

In a sense it was a reprise of another ‘pairings’ project that some of you may remember from some years ago, the ‘Shutter and Mutter’ exhibition that twinned poets and photographers at the Burnside before going on to The Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine. This time the images were already there and the concept was for the poet to have an opportunity to live with the selected artwork – and see what happened.

So it was very exciting for me to take delivery of Josephine Broekhuizen’s (at that time untitled) painting. It’s big, nearly a metre square, and packed with strong shapes and vivid colours. It stood against the sofa in our sitting room for a week or so and then, over the course of the next couple of months, migrated to various other parts of the house.

I found myself going to sit with it at various times during the day and just jotting down whatever thoughts came into my head. First off, for me, was its similarity to the dramatic jungle paintings of Henri Rousseau. I found myself haunted by the phrase ‘there are no tigers’, and this became the title of the first completed poem. What struck me was the darkness and mystery of the painting, its disturbing lack of creatures, let alone humans, and the way the vegetation was rampant, almost at war with itself. Later a gentler side came to the fore (‘The Possibility of Paradise’) and, later still, a fascination with the process by which a work of art comes into being, the act of creation. It was this aspect that underpinned the poem, ‘Seeing Leaves’,that eventually appeared on the wall next to Josephine’s painting.

By the end of June I found myself with no fewer than nine poems, far more than was needed, so when Tim suggested putting them together as a sequence for a ‘chapbook’ to accompany the exhibition, this seemed an attractive idea. By that time Josephine had decided on a title, ‘Nasturtium’, and so the booklet came into being.

There are still some copies left, price £2. If you would like one just contact me, David Underdown, at and I’ll be happy to send you one.


!Corrie Film Club

The film to be shown on October 9th at 8.00pm in the Corrie and Sannox Village Hall will be that great classic, The Maltese Falcon, directed by John Huston in the USA in 1941.

!A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, plus a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

The screenplay was based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. The film stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade and Mary Astor as his femme fatale client. Gladys George, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet co-star, with Greenstreet appearing in his film debut. Greenstreet's characterization of the sinister "Fat Man" Kasper Gutman had such a strong cultural impact that the "Fat Man" atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II was named after him.

!Huston used much of the dialogue from the original novel but removed all references to sex that the Hays Office had deemed to be unacceptable. Huston was also warned not to show excessive drinking. The director fought the latter, on the grounds that Spade was a man who put away a half bottle of hard liquor a day and showing him completely abstaining from alcohol would mean seriously falsifying his character!

The "Maltese Falcon" itself is said to have been based on the "Kniphausen Hawk", a ceremonial pouring vessel made in 1697 for George William von Kniphausen, Count of the Holy Roman Empire. It is modeled after a hawk perched on a rock and is encrusted with red garnets, amethysts, emeralds and blue sapphires. The vessel is currently owned by the Cavendish family and is part of the collection at Chatsworth House.

In 1989, The Maltese Falcon was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The film has been named as one of the greatest films of all time by Roger Ebert, and was added to his list of The Great Movies.


International court to prosecute environmental crimes in major shift

The International Criminal Court is not known for prosecuting people responsible for huge oil slicks, chopping down protected rainforests or contaminating pristine land. But these people may now one day find themselves on trial in The Hague, writes Tara Smith Lecturer in Law, Bangor University, in The Conversation (

She goes on to explain “The move was announced by chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a recent policy document that contains a new and welcome focus on the prosecution of individuals for human atrocities that are committed by destroying the environment in which we live and on which we depend.”

“The document doesn’t change the law applied by the court. There is no new crime of ecocide for instance. Instead, it sets out the types of cases that the court will now select and prioritise for prosecution. These will include the illegal exploitation of natural resources, cases of environmental destruction, and “land grabbing”, where investors buy up vast areas of poor countries.”

Rainforest in Borneo is chopped down to make way for
an oil palm plantation. Rich Carey / Shutterstock

“A focus on these issues at the highest levels of international justice would make it clear that nobody can hide behind the corporate veil, operate with impunity in the fog of war or commit gross human rights abuses in the name of “development” and progress. The growth of crops for palm oil, for example, is frequently linked to gross and systematic human rights abuses that could breach international criminal law. Making someone criminally responsible under international law for these acts could act as a catalyst for the entire industry to clean up its act.”

“It’s great that environmental crimes are now being considered at the highest level of global justice. But the ICC alone isn’t enough. A thorough approach also requires individuals and corporate bodies to become financially liable for the consequences of environment-based atrocities.”

And to underline the urgency of this issue, Global Witness has reported that last year was the deadliest on record for environmental and land rights campaigners with more than three people killed each week in conflicts over territory with mining companies, loggers, hydro-electric dams or agribusiness firms.


!Brass tacks

A lively brass quintet is the next presentation by Isle of Arran Music Society, on 15th October in the Community Theatre at Arran High School. Brass Tacks consists of five highly experienced professional musicians dedicated to making music from throughout the ages from the Renaissance to the present day, and guaranteed to appeal to a wide audience, young and old, with tastes ranging from classical to jazz. Their programme for Lamlash includes music by Gabrieli, Beethoven, Paul Dukas (who composed the Sorcerer’s Apprentice music in Dismey’s “Fantasia”), and Gershwin, not to mention the traditional “Loch Lomond” and New Orleans jazz.

The line-up is led by Finlay Hetherington on trumpet, with John Sampson (trumpet), Fiona Lund (trombone), Robert Newt (french horn) and Roberts Fraser (tuba). Based in the central belt of Scotland, Brass Tacks have played for a great variety of audiences, including a concert at Glasgow Central Station, as well as the Edinburgh Fringe and Fife Sports Awards. They aim “to not only enthuse and excite, but also to entertain their listeners and release new life and theatre into music which has either been forgotten, played in different contexts, or never had a chance to have a life in the first place”. The concert starts at 7.30, and tickets are available on the door on the night, in advance from Inspirations of Arran in Brodick, or online from


Book Review

Tide by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, published by Viking (£18.99).

Most of us who live on Arran take the tide for granted, unless we have a boat or unless our trip to the mainland is delayed by “an unusually low tide at Brodick pier” as CalMac puts it. But what is this thing called the tide?

!Horatio Clare in the Guardian wrote that “The subtitle of this book gives pause. The greatest force on Earth? Typhoons, volcanos and earthquakes humbled by a few metres’ change in the level of seawater? There is little in the early chapters to enforce the claim. Hugh Aldersey-Williams begins with a trip to the shore near his Norfolk home, preparing the reader for “Nature’s greatest marine performance”. The action begins an hour or so after high water. The tide ebbs. Twelve hours and 30 minutes later it has returned and started to fall again. The author notes froth, gulls and vegetation. Subsequent journeys to Venice to observe work on the lagoon’s tidal barrage, and the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia to watch a tidal bore roll up the Shubenacadie River are not thrilling.”

“Aldersey-Williams is no travel writer, though his material is often arresting. The Bay of Fundy shifts 160bn cubic metres of water every tidal cycle, moving 4m cubic metres, each weighing a tonne, per second. The author makes little fuss, unconcerned to transmit delight, amazement or urgency as he unfolds the story of how humans have come to grips with the science of tides, from Aristotle to the researchers of today. But he is taken by his subject and as the book progresses it exposes new facts and ideas every other page.”

Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Indeed it does, and the further into this book the reader gets, the more fascinating it becomes. When Aldersey-Williams gets to the history of the making of tide-tables, we find that tidal height is a function of air pressure, windspeed, the uneven shape and density of the planet, topography, the sun and of course the elliptical orbit of the moon, amongst other variables. These harmonic variable components for any given place and time have to be calculated and combined in order to predict the tide. “The D-day landings,” Aldersey-Williams writes, “took into account 11 harmonic constituents; modern tide tables factor in anything from 60 to 100.” He describes how a Victorian machine built of brass and clockwork in 1872, and overhauled in 1942, was used to predict the tide on the invasion beaches.


The picture on the left shows the 10-component tide-predicting machine of 1872-3, conceived by Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), and designed by Thomson and collaborators, at the Science Museum, London.

This book is a delight and a treasure-trove of information and stories. With the daily evidence of the tides right outside our windows on Arran, we should all know a little more about “The greatest force on Earth”. Aldersey-Williams account of George Orwell’s near-fatal encounter with the Corryvreckan, just up the west coast from here, when he was staying on Jura and writing Nineteen Eighty-four, is a salutary reminder of its power.

Alan Bellamy


Holy Isle Wind Turbines Approved

!North Ayrshire Council have given approval for the erection of 5 (20.2m high to blade tip) turbines, comprising of 2 turbines at south end of Holy Isle and 3 at north end. A number of conditions have been imposed by NAC:

  1. To protect visual amenity and the landscape qualities of the wider area.
  2. To ensure that birds, bats, otters and other protected species are not adversely affected by the proposal.
  3. In recognition of the archaeological significance of the site.
  4. To protect the amenity of neighbours from noise.
  5. To protect the landscape qualities of the area.
  6. In the interest of the proper planning of the area.

The Voice has supported this application from the beginning but is also pleased to see the above conditions imposed. Unfortunately the tone of the discussions and objections to the planning application has been most disappointing, with far too many examples of prejudice and ignorance from residents both of Arran and elsewhere. The Voice also considers, however, that the Holy Isle community itself could have made much more effort to engage the wider Arran community in explanation and exploration of their plans.


CalMac ferry runs aground

From John Kinsman, station manager at Coastwatch St Monans

The MV Hebrides, well known to Arran folk, has hit rocks and run aground in the Western Isles.  She suffered engine problems when approaching the pier at Lochmaddy.on Sunday September 25th and hit the rocky shore near the yacht marina.

A CalMac spokesperson said "We can confirm there was an incident at Lochmaddy on North Uist. The incident happened at 11.05am as the MV Hebrides, travelling from Tarbet on Harris, was approaching Lochmaddy harbour. A technical problem led the ferry being unable to reduce speed enough for the routine docking and she struck both pontoons in Lochmaddy harbour and rocks. No one was hurt and the ferry's hull remained intact".

There were 76 passengers and crew on board and 13 cars, one lorry and a caravan.

A team of divers will make an underwater inspection of the hull and an inquiry into what happened has been launched.


An Artisan Baker on Arran - An Interview with George Grassie

By Sue Weaver

If you’ve tasted any of George Grassie’s breads, made in the old Bakery next to the Kinloch Hotel, you’ll understand why I wanted to hear from him how he learned these ancient artisan skills and why we’re so lucky that he came to be baking here on Arran.

That second question is easy to answer as George is an Arran man who grew up in Shiskine, although he travelled the world for twenty years before returning with a growing family. Always passionate about cooking – every aspect from street food to fine dining – he came to realise that there was a gaping hole in conventional tuition and thinking in Britain – and that was about bread. In Spain, he began to see how bread could be an intrinsic part of any simple meal, say of just oil and fish. In Bath, he learned with French baker Richard Bertinet, who inspired him with his understated approach and simple strict recipes. George recommends Bertinet’s book Crust: From Sourdough, Spelt and Rye Bread to Ciabatta, Bagels and Brioche, very warmly for anyone keen to learn, as he feels it is the only book to show the joy, and the techniques on its accompanying DVD.

George’s true baking career began in Norway, where he ran a small bakery, Lund Brod in a remote rural spot. He was attracted by the availability of special wheats and rare rye, and was involved in every part of the process, from sourcing the farms where the rare wheats were still grown, having the miller try new types of grinding and learning how to deal with extreme temperatures during fermentation. Then, as now, sourdough was his baseline and is superior, but he is not a stickler and can use added yeast in limited quantities.

Photo Best Western Kinloch Hotel

His flour is organic, as he goes for nutrition, flavour, life. Elements of wild grass and wild yeasts are vital here. The Scandinavian countries are world leaders in resuscitating our heritage stock of grains as they have preserved medieval strains of wheat, rye and barley, as in Orkney too. These old grains, each suited to its region and soil, are best both for farming and for real nutrition. They have had a consistent success rate over time and offer a resilient, local approach to sourcing our food – as opposed to the monocultures of industrial agriculture, where today’s standard bread flour has been bred to be of one type, grown thousands of miles away, imported in vast quantities and vulnerable to politics, disease, climate change…

Locked up in each grain (seed) of the ancient wheats or ryes is all the food we need, vitamins and minerals. These grains are not bred to withstand high speed industrial steel rolling mills but benefit from slow careful stone milling where the whole grain can, if wished, be kept together. Industrial milling necessarily separates and discards the germ and bran from the white kernel; vitamins and minerals have to be artificially added in later. And that’s before we consider the huge amount of artificial yeast used in the standard commercial loaf, to make it possible to cook within a few hours from start to finish, but leaving us with an under-developed, comparatively indigestible and over yeasted loaf.

This is where the sourdough method is, as George considers it, ‘superior’. Slow and complete fermentation is achieved using just the natural yeasts and beneficial bacteria to be found around us. Georges’ carefully developed, vigorous culture is a living thing and goes into everything he bakes that requires a raising agent; for sourdough, that is all he needs. He uses much more water than most home bakers would consider reasonable and this drenches the more absorbent whole grains to a higher degree, rendering the natural sugars in flour available for a lively fermentation. It's this extra (and time requiring) soak that contributes to a lacy, translucent crumb, and a complex range of caramelised tastes in a burnished crust, alongside the all-important gasses. The end result is that the wheat or other grain is fully hydrated, fully fermented, fully cooked and so much more easily digested. Basic dough is not at all digestible and it is the full fermentation process that transforms it.

Why should it be worth paying more for one of the Bakery’s sourdough loaves? Apart from digestibility, we might agree that the delicious taste, each air space filled with the fragrance of slow fermentation, is what makes it worthwhile. For others, the nutritional benefits are important, when the whole of the grain is used, with all its seed package of vitamins and minerals. We are buying food that has taken time, skill and experience to be, essentially, handmade. And using local grains that have not travelled the Atlantic from the American prairies keeps down our carbon footprint too.

Feeling hungry? George’s 1905 Bakery is next to the Kinloch Hotel in Blackwaterfoot, but his bread is also stocked by Bay Stores in Whiting Bay. It’s beginning to be used across Arran in thoughtful cafes and restaurants too.


Poem of the Month

Selected by David Underdown who also writes the commentary.

The Hedgehog

The hedgehog that you pointed out with your fierce
glowing eyes, ‘Look how all rolled-up he
waits.’ That I never saw,

like the dead in their deserted world he lives
outside of me. How else do you explain
now that it’s colder and he
asleep as far as a I know, that I hear him
rasping over the tiles, chirping and growling
behind the back door, every
restless night.

Eva Gerlach

This brief but unsettling poem is credited to Eva Gerlach (born 1948), a nom de plume chosen by a poet ‘who values anonymity and feels her work should speak for itself’. Like last month’s selection, it has been taken from ‘Centres of Cataclysm’, the new (and highly recommended) anthology of poetry in translation. Edited by Sasha Dugdale and David and Helen Constantine, it is published by Bloodaxe. This poem is translated from the Dutch by Virginie Kortekas.


National poetry day

By Cicely Gill

October 6th is National Poetry Day. Arran’s contribution to it will be held in Brodick Bar at 7:30 that evening.

The theme for 2016 is ‘Messages’ but poems on any theme are very welcome. We thought we would follow what seemed to be a very successful formula last year.

So again it will be an interactive evening and it will be everyone’s contributions that bring it alive. As usual some of our local poets will read their work and beside them we would like to hear from you. Please let me know if you wish to read one of your own poems to us all. And let us know, for timing purposes, if it is a long or short poem. You can have a couple in reserve as we don’t know how many people will want to read.

If you are a poetry lover but not a poet we would like very much if you would bring a favourite poem to read — or if you don’t want to face an audience yourself, someone will read it for you.

So that we can plan the evening, it would be helpful if you could let us know ahead if you want to read. Just send an e-mail to the above address. And you can also e-mail or phone Cicely (700464) if you have any queries about the evening.

Meanwhile please tell your friends and bring them along on the night. And of course, if you just want to come and listen, that is fine — we can’t do without an audience!

Please click here to see the poster.


Arran Natural History Society Photographic Competition 2016

A photography competition for young people – entries are invited now!

In memory of Audrey Walters who was passionate about Arran's natural history, the competition aim is to promote the interest young people have in their local environment and wildlife. There are two age categories (at closing date of competition) Under 18 years and Under 12 years.

Entrants can submit up to 3 images of any Arran flora or fauna, taken on the island between 1st December 2015 and 30th November 2016.


Image must be of flora (plants) or fauna (wildlife). Image must be taken on the Isle of Arran within the dates specified. Wildlife must not be disturbed, injured or distressed. No nesting birds, birds nests or eggs. No captive, domesticated, farm animals or birds. Flora must not be damaged or picked. No cultivated plants or flowers are permitted. Photographs must be entrants own work. Maximum of 3 images per entrant. Digital images only. ANHS reserves the right to use any images on their website, for social media and in publications. It is advised that you read the photography wildlife code.

Editing and Submission

Minimal editing is allowed (exposure, contrast, sharpness). No HDR or stacking is permitted. Images to be submitted as .jpeg files labelled with the entrants name and image number if more than one submitted :- e.g. yourname1.jpeg, yourname2.jpeg One image per email. Images to be emailed to: .

Your email must include: "Under 12" or "Under 18" in the subject bar. Your name, date of birth and home address together with a brief description of the image (max 10 words per image), the location where it was taken (specific area on the island) and the date it was taken must all be in the message body.

Closing Date

30th November 2016


A small panel from ANHS will judge the images and select the winners / runners up. No correspondence will be entered into. Efforts to influence the judging will disqualify any image. The judges decision is final.


1st prize both age groups - £50 + mounted print of image 2nd prize both age groups - £25 + mounted print of image Highly commended both age groups - mounted print

One photo of a bird or bird related subject, will also be selected to appear in the ANHS annual bird report and the entrant will receive a copy of the bird report. Results will be published by 31st January 2017 or sooner.


Emissions targets need all-electric cars

Cutting emissions to meet the internationally-agreed limits on global temperature rise will require an end soon to all fossil-fuelled cars, according to the Climate News Network.

A new study says that achieving limits on temperature rise agreed at last year’s Paris climate conference will require a massive switch to zero emissions electric-powered vehicles (EVs), coupled with the development of a completely decarbonised power sector.

A public charging point.

The transport sector – cars, trucks, planes and trains – accounts for about 14% of total climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. But the study by Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent scientific analysis organisation, focuses on the car sector.

“Without swift and extensive deployment of electric vehicles powered by clean electricity, reductions [in emissions] from the transport sector will not be enough to meet the more stringent long-term goals of the Paris Agreement – that is, limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C,” the report says. Its analysis shows that limiting the global average temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels would require a doubling in the fuel economy standards of new cars by 2030. That means that half the world’s cars would have to be powered by clean, completely decarbonised electricity by 2050.

To achieve the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C – seen by most scientists as vital to have any real hope of tackling climate change – CAT says these goals would have to be achieved 10 years earlier than under the 2°C target figure. And this would mean that, given the average 15-year lifetime of a vehicle, the last car powered by petrol or diesel would be sold in 2035.

Whether or not the vehicle manufacturers – and the public – are willing to put the brakes on the internal combustion engine as soon as that is the big question.


Scamming and its Effect on Vulnerable Individuals, and some thoughts about the State Pension Age

!Last week in the House of Commons, North Ayrshire & Arran MP, Patricia Gibson, sponsored a debate on Scamming and its Effect on Vulnerable Individuals. Said Patricia: “This is a huge and growing challenge in all of our communities, particularly as the population is ageing and more and more people are living with dementia.  Scams disproportionately, but do not exclusively, affect the elderly and vulnerable.

“Too many people are targeted and scammed, with their own homes often becoming the setting for this cynical and cruel criminal activity.  Whilst it is believed that only around 5% of scam victims report such crimes, Trading Standards understand that harm extends far beyond any financial losses incurred.  Scam victims may suffer emotional and psychological trauma with even an impact on the victim’s physical wellbeing.

"Pension frauds, bogus equity release schemes, fictitious prize draws, false investment opportunities, upfront payments to release lottery wins, upfront payment for building work that is either never started or never completed; the list of attempts to defraud people out of their cash goes on.

"I urge all constituents to never send or give money to anyone they don’t know and to contact the police by calling 101, in any doubt about someone who approaches them with an “opportunity”.  If anyone believes they have been a victim of a scam they should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040."

Patricia has joined the grass roots campaign to raise local awareness of scamming by becoming a SCAMbassador for North Ayrshire & Arran.

Patricia also sent us the following, about the State Pension Age:

“The principle behind the equalising the State Pension Age (SPA) is something that all parties support in the name of restoring parity between men and women. However, any levelling must be done honestly and responsibly, something absent from the UK Government’s strategy thus far. The State Pension is not a privilege, it is a contract, and in terms of women born in the 1950s, the UK Tory Government has categorically broken that contract.

The 2011 Pensions Act accelerated the timetable for increasing women’s State Pension Age. Women will see a rise in age from 63 to 65 between April 2016 and November 2018, and from 65 to 66 by October 2020. These changes impact on 240,000 Scottish women, 4,800 of whom reside in my North Ayrshire & Arran constituency. This means they will have to wait longer than anticipated before receiving the State Pension. What’s more, the UK Government has given these women next to no notice to prepare for these changes. In many cases, individuals have not received any notification, throwing thousands of retirement plans into chaos.

This injustice has inspired many to speak out against the Tories’ ill-advised plans. None have been more vocal than the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign group. Their strength and conviction contributed in no small part to the matter being debated at Westminster several times.

A Public Petition I am gathering signatures for will be presented to Parliament on 11 October urging the Government to make fair transitional arrangements for all women born in the 1950s (on or after 6 April 1951) who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase in SPA. Last week the SNP published independently commissioned research proving that Tory figures, supposedly illustrating the ‘unaffordable’ cost of such a transition, are entirely false.

The report by Landman Economics models five different reform options for compensating women who will lose out from accelerated increases in the SPA specified in the Pensions Act 2011. One option is a return to the original timetable set out in the 1995 Pensions Act, whereby women’s SPA rises from 63 in March 2016 to 65 by April 2020, with no further increase to 66 until the mid-2020s. This has been costed at £8 billion, a sum dwarfed by the £30 billion figure used by Tory politicians attempting to absolve themselves of responsibility.

The National Insurance Fund (NIF) is billions of pounds in surplus and can only be used to pay for contributory benefits such as the State Pension. Millions of pensioners, workers and their employers have no idea that the money they pay in National Insurance is not being used to pay higher pensions and benefits. The NIF had a £20.9 billion surplus at the end of March 2015 and projects a surplus of £30.7 billion next year.”


McLellan Arts Festival – What next?

By Heather Gough

Robert McLellan

The first McLellan Arts Festival happened in 2004. At that time it was to raise awareness of a Scottish writer who had been, and to an extent still is, neglected by and unknown to many Scots. Indeed, he is taught in more North American universities than in his native country and hardly at all in Scottish schools. It can be argued that without Robert McLellan we would not have a generation who think it is perfectly respectable to write in living Scots – Liz Lochhead and Irvine Welsh for example or a National Theatre of Scotland. He is simply one of the great makars who deserves to be recognised as such.

The desire to give such recognition and celebrate Scottish culture is what stirred Arran Theatre and Arts Trust to work towards celebrating McLellan's legacy by working towards a festival in 2007 which would celebrate the centenary of his birth. In order to pave the way for this event, 3 small festivals were held which lasted a few days and focussed on McLellan's short plays, stories and life. Then in 2007 the Centenary Festival saw a full length community production of McLellan's most famous play, Jamie the Saxt in collaboration with Borderline Theatre Company who supplied a professional director and actor for the main role whilst Arran provided all the other actors and a chorus of 40 (and a performance space in Auchrannie Games Hall!) . In addition the McLellan Poetry Competition was launched, judged by Kathleen Jamie, a play competition in living Scots established, a commission to John Maxwell Geddes, a major art exhibition, as well as various youth events including a documentary made by 3 Arran young people, Calum Johnston, Paul Tinto and Liam Turbett. As a permanent memorial, a stone was laid in Makar's court, designed by Tim Pomeroy and a centenary edition of The Linmill Stories was published by Luath Press. Plans were also made to publish the collected works of McLellan – a sad omission from the Scottish corpus – but now complete – Playing Scotland's Story.

That was to be the culmination of 4 years work but there seemed to be a demand for the continuation of such a festival and here we are in 2016 having just finished the longest and most diverse festival yet with work from Scotland and beyond, fiddle, choral, poetry and drama workshops as well as a most successful poetry competition and a wonderful new addition – students from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who gave us an evening of spellbinding theatre in Corrie Hall.

Thanks go to all who contributed, collaborated, supported and promoted the festival.

So what next? Arran Theatre and Arts Trust would like to know what you would like to see at a festival which celebrates Scottish culture and makes Arran an important part of the arts in Scotland.

Any contributions welcome!


COAST celebrates the 8th anniversary of the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone

COAST was the driving force behind the creation of Scotland’s first No Take Zone (NTZ) in 2008.

A NTZ is an area of sea and seabed from which no marine life can be removed by any method.  Scientific evidence has shown that NTZs are one of the most effective ways to ensure marine regeneration.

The Lamlash Bay NTZ is approximately a one square mile area at the north end of Lamlash Bay on the isle of Arran set up to protect Maerl beds and to promote natural regeneration of all marine life. Following 13 years of campaigning by COAST, it was designated by the Scottish Government on 20 September 2008.

!In 2013, COAST and the community of Arran and the Clyde celebrated five years of the NTZ being in place.  Surveys taken show that after five years, the seabed is now 40 per cent more complex and healthier than the area outside the NTZ.  There are higher densities of scallops, crabs and lobsters, both older and larger, being recorded and increased numbers of juvenile cod and haddock. The NTZ has benefited the local economy by attracting visitors and divers to Arran.  In time, commercial fishermen will gain with bigger and better catches in the neighbouring overspill areas.

On this 20th September a jolly bunch of COAST staff, volunteers, supporters and visiting researchers gathered in Creelers Restaurant for a celebration dinner to mark the 8th anniversary of the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone.



For some time the Voice has been following with concern the proposed TTIP plans, which would allow business corporations to challenge environmental safeguards, amongst other things, if they were thought to interfere with profit-making. But now Alyn Smith, Scottish MEP, reports that:

“This week there was even more confirmation that the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) really is at death's door. On Monday the Commission conceded that it had still to successfully negotiate even one of the proposed twenty four chapters of TTIP. This shows quite how little progress has been made on TTIP and confirms what I have been saying for a while: it is nearly over. It also shows how difficult trade negotiations can be, something the UK Government keeps forgetting. In further TTIP news French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl confirmed that since the talks were going nowhere France intended to request that the TTIP negotiations stop.”

So thank goodness for that.


Bridge Challenge

South to make 4♠. West leads the ♠J.


Print CrosswordCrossword

by Episteme



1 Poisoning me as a pair exploded (9)

9 Least thin cardinal hold copper back (6)

10 Capo is ill, takes it in vehicle and keeps charge (9)

11 Kudos maintains in dearth (6)

12 Dancing ban a share dances (9)

13 Boat puts setter on broken bier (6)

17 Twilight of the enemy (3)

19 Coagulates sea's gel without limit of time (7)

20 Sow in 17 has energy on the surface (7)

21 Get a view of the Vatican (3)

23 I bale a collapsed creeper (6)

27 Smash tile with cider in a small quantity (9)

28 Axe war blocker? (6)

29 Cleans a car. Gives manses (9)

30 Footer and totter (6)

31 Even legs breaking is close to Kent returning (9)


2 Tax in abstainers right image (6)

3 Lassos as split rate rides on (6)

4 Pair of journalists hold it corrected (6)

5 Maroon setter with nothing in tab (7)

6 The wonder of a slim rib I break (9)

7 Die in bed and retain zen of being overdressed (9)

8 Became more inclined to be marinated about a small space (9)

14 Hospital cured a latte or zebra's head (9)

15 Priest could be a star with right worker (9)

16 Rose up to attend vile action namelessly (9)

17 Sierra voiced headless head (3)

18 Previously a Scottish Swede with no root (3)

22 Twenty-four look up grabbing broken coal-pit (7)

24 Right vials destroyed paragons (6)

25 Double beat in reform (6)

26 Seven rebuilt with right for November did wind (6)


Answers for the September puzzle:

1 Anaerobe, 5 Corves, 9 Eyebrows, 10 Boiler, 11 Spectres, 12 Legato, 14 Colonially, 18 Private Eye, 22 Absorb,
23 Cenobite, 24 Isobar, 25 Loricate, 26 Eyelet, 27 Asperses.

1 Ageism, 2 Abeles, 3 Rarity, 4 Bowled Over, 6 Orogenic, 7 Valhalla, 8 Sardonyx, 13 Cotyledons, 15 Optative,
16 Tinstone, 17 Marriage, 19 Bodice, 20 Cigars, 21 Bedews.


Last word

We must not cease from our work in creating Scotland anew. We face ever greater challenges. It is not just Scotland we must recast. We have communities, cities, workplaces to change. We have the tools that can make that change, it is a matter of finding the opportunities to use those tools. By defining our identity as egalitarian, internationalist and committed to saving our planet we can claim back our souls from Thatcherism. The independence referendum was only the beginning. Its spirit lives on, and we can and will use that spirit to create the Scotland we all deserve in the world we all deserve.

The Scottish Greens Maggie Chapman, writing in Bella Caledonia.