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Issue 45 - October 2014
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Referendum leaves a job to be done

By a narrow margin, Arran & Ardrossan ward voted “Yes” for an independent Scotland, so there was a wave of grief and disappointment at the result, for the “Yes” side, at least. However, it does not mean the question is closed. We are newly aware now of how Scotland divides, and on what basis. With the effective death of the Labour Party after Blair stripped it of socialism, we are a country without a political structure that represents public opinion. Something new needs to take its place; a constructive grouping of people who care for each other regardless of wealth and class status. The referendum result made it painfully plain that there are areas in the country where status is not merely important but vital, and this brings us very close to the Scotland of old, with its landowners on one side and impoverished tenants on the other. It is surely time for this divide to lessen, if we are to function as a self-aware, effective nation. Our differences must be accepted and our varying strengths welcomed. Alex Salmond, who did a phenomenal job in bringing people together, also leaves Scotland’s vast natural energy resources as a powerful chance for the future, and this, surely, must be built on. With vision and determination, we still have everything to gain.

The full breakdown of the results for North Ayrshire can be seen by clicking here.

 
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The Scottish Tango Ensemble

!Tango must be the one musical form that is so varied, and so globally universal, that a whole evening can be devoted to it with no trace of ‘sameness’. Emotionally, it encompasses a vast range, from seductiveness to anger, nostalgia to sheer fun. It has wonderful old tunes and astonishing new ones. Astor Piazzolla’s famous Tango Nuevo is a world of its own, lamenting the cruel days of the junta when people vanished with no explanation and became numbered among those ‘que no son’ - who are no longer.

Gemma O‘Keefe, violin, Paul Chamberlain, accordion, Gregor Blamey, piano and Tom Berry, double bass, moved from mood to mood and from one sound texture to another, keeping their audience spell-bound. On this occasion, the Music Society had set out the hall cafe-style, with people grouped round tables and bringing their own bottles, and this seemed a very popular arrangement. There was space for dancing, but nobody did, because they were listening so intently. It was, people agreed, a wonderful evening.

 

A funny man at the piano

!The Music Society concert on Saturday October 18th is at the High School Community Theatre, because it features the lovely Kawai grand piano, in the capable and very funny hands of David Scheel. If anyone remembers the straight-faced musical comedian, Victor Borge, then you know what is in store. David is a brilliant classical pianist, but he is also an entertainer who can have any audience in fits of laughter. If you want an evening of fabulous playing, combined with a stream of comedy that will have you falling off your seat, this is for you. Tickets £10 from Inspirations in Brodick, online at www.arranevents.com or else at the door. The concert starts at 7:30 pm.

 

Further Music Society concerts

The winter season continues as follows:

Saturday November 15th at 1:30 pm - Total Brass, in Brodick Hall. This brilliant young brass quintet won the coveted Tunnell Award.

Saturday January 17th at 1:30 pm - Ceol Alba, in the High School Theatre for the grand piano. Ceol Alba is Gaelic for ‘Scotland’s Music’, and consists of 5 players on flute, violin, harp, bass and piano. Lovely music, both classic and traditional.

Saturday February 21st at 1:30 pm - Trio Ecossaise, again in the Theatre, as this is a wonderfully talented piano trio, Claire Haslin on piano, Jennifer Brown on clarinet and Harriet Davidson on cello. All of them are fabulous in the own right - not to be missed!

Saturday March 21st at 3:00 pm (note the different time) - we are delighted to welcome back the Kammer Philharmonie Europa, who will play in Brodick Hall. This big orchestral group came to Arran during the Big Freeze of 2013 when all the hill roads were blocked, and played to a rapturous but tiny audience in Whiting Bay Hall, which was then functioning as a soup kitchen. They are absolutely phenomenal, and people are still talking about what they heard on that snow-bound day. More about them nearer the time, but note the date in your diary.

 

Jan’s new paintings

Her collection of new work shown in Corrie Hall in mid-September showed Jan Inglis moving towards a very new, exploratory take on her theme of the sea and its increasingly significant nearby landscapes. She is working with a new boldness, and though much of her work is still based on analysis of the many moods of the ocean, she has ventured into new territory, almost literally, with a look inwards at the patternings and moods of land.

The transfer of focus in this show was fascinating to witness. The first appearance of an interest in land-shapes (as opposed to landscape) was in a painting called Evening Light; 2014, where a row of trees made an almost nervous mark on a spit of land, but at the same time a technical impatience was making itself felt in a variety of ways. Some of the weather-based pictures had been rendered in near-geometric terms, with an analysis of the contrasting directions of wind and falling rain that were close to abstract - but at the other end of the scale, there was a new freedom of technique that embodied a passionate interest in the way nature expresses itself. The vigorous impasto of Heavy Weather, Storm Approaching spoke of an interest in texture that has been developing for some time, and it came to full fruition in an entirely new painting called The Hottest Day in August. Here, the painter looks inward from the sea, at landscape in its own right. The result is magical. A bold blue outlining of hills and foreground cottages is overlaid by a complex scumbling of of textured warm colours, building up to to a topping of almost tangible sunshine, a pale, vibrant yellow, so heavily textured that it seemed as though heat and light were a substance that could be touched as well as seen.

This painting is a very real break-through. Its multi-layers of colour and texture are curiously evocative of the physical ‘feel’ of a hot day, and it has immediate impact. Somebody should buy it, quickly, before it finds its way into the big league. It’s a beautiful thing, and may well herald the beginning of new phase in the work of this most interesting artist.

 

Corrie Film club shows The Secret In Their Eyes (El Secreto De Sus Ojos)

This stylish Argentinian thriller was made in 2009 by Juan Jose Campanella, who came into the business through making American TV shows, but that doesn’t restrict his style. El Secreto begins with a sweeping longshot that begins over over a football stadium during an evening match then swoops down into the stands without a break to follow a suspected man in the crowded stands.

!Suspicion is the name of the game. A retired Buenos Aires prosecutor called Esposito, broodingly played by Ricardo Darín, is well named, with a mixture between esposa, a husband, and esposado, which means handcuffed. Still haunted by an unsolved crime from the 70s in which a young woman was raped and murdered, he sets out to write a novel about it. This leads him to call on Irene, the woman who had in those days been his boss and with whom he is still hopelessly in love. She is intrigued, and the story then unfolds in mingled flash-back and the present day. It looks back at the terrifying era of the junta and los desaparecidos - the “disappeared” whom nobody dared to ask about. Irene, however, is from Argentina’s upper class, and Esposito is merely an ordinary lawman. A better friend is his colleague, the alcoholic, depressed Sandoval, touchingly played by Guillermo Francella, but he is essentially alone.

The skill of the film is to lead the audience towards a predictable ending and yet to twist at the last moment with a bizarre disclosure just before the credits. Nothing has changed, but we see just why Esposito was so wedded to the case, as an escape from a hopelessly painful state of being in love. The mingling of romance and despair is very Argentinian, but done with a panache that never for a moment allows it to be mawkish.

The showing starts at 8:00pm in Corrie Hall and all are welcome. There is no charge, but contributions towards expenses are gratefully received. This month, a new season begins, so it is the ideal time to join the club. For a mere £15 a year, you get an illustrated three-fold programme with details of the showings until October 2015.

 

Poem of the month

selected by David Underdown, who supplies the comment

Dew Light

by W.S. Merwin

Now in the blessed days of more and less
when the news about time is that each day
there is less of it I know none of that
as I walk out through the early garden
only the day and I are here with no
before or after and the dew looks up
without a number or a present age

W. S. Merwin was born in New Jersey in 1927 and, as well as being an acclaimed poet, is an accomplished translator. He was the United States Poet Laureate in 2010-11 and now lives on the Pacific island of Maui. This poem is taken from his latest collection ‘The Moon Before Morning’ (Bloodaxe, 2014). In a few brief lines he captures not only how in old age ‘the news about time is that there is less of it’ but how the possibility remains of life ‘with no before or after’.

 

Embro at the Ploy

The Edinburgh Festival and Fringe remains as exciting for me now as it was when I was a little girl growing up in Edinburgh in the fifties when it was all very new. In those days I might expect to go to a puppet show, perhaps the ballet, the Tattoo and, as I got older, to the main event in the Assembly Hall at the mound, most notably in my memory Ane Satire of the Three Estaites and The Trojan Women (with Jane Asher so that really dates it!)

!Now the International Festival is much bigger, busier and blousier and the Fringe is a bewilderingly (ridiculously) huge cornucopia of events. Not for the faint hearted. This year, circumstance dictated that I would have very little time to attend between rehearsals and obligations on Arran. The only advantage in this was that choice was severely limited.

So on one Wednesday in August, Stuart and I set off for the ploy with the intention of seeing two of our young Arran actors in different shows on the fringe. The first was to see Christopher Jenks, now already started at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, in a play which he and Katharine O’Donnelly had both helped to create the previous year as part of the Scottish Youth Theatre’s writing festival with writer, Christopher Patrick.

Called The Constant Soldier it is an interesting play about what happens to soldiers after war. Ben, broken and psychotic has lost his memory not only because of what he has seen but of what he has done. This central(and huge) part was played by Chris and he performed so well, illustrating, convincingly, with a depth beyond his years the internal struggle of a man who has gone where no man should. Impressive stuff.

!Then what a treat to go with Chris and his parents to see Paul Tinto perform in a play called Claustrophobia by Jason Hewitt. This was an intense and foreboding play about a man and a woman stuck in a lift, the two actors performing in a chalked out area the size of a small lift, the man hiding his distress behind a show of control, brought about by army discipline. He appears blank and cold. She is panicky, hysterical, frightened.

As the play unfolds their past lives emerge and madness takes hold as their control of the situation disappears. Paul’s performance was incredibly assured, utterly convincing and moving.

What a privilege to see two such talented young people from Arran give such commendable peformances.

 

Last Days in Sydney

Our final week in Australia was filled – as our whole holiday had been – with new experiences, conflicting emotions and cultural delights.

Back in Sydney we determined to use our weekly, travel anywhere, any time, ticket on bus, train and ferry to see as much as we could before that enervating 23 hour flight back to the UK.

Our visit coincided with the Sydney Biennale – an amazing art exhibition of installation and kinetic art all mounted in disused industrial premises on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour. Cockatoo Island was an infamous convict settlement, prison to some of the toughest criminals the nineteenth century British justice system chose to transport for the length of their natural lives. The grim evidence has been left in all its stark and chilling brutality alongside the other history of the island which is the conserved but unrestored industrial archaeology of once thriving ship-

yards and engineering works of various sorts, including a tunnel cut through the sheer rock housing a small train with wagons for transporting goods from one side of the island to another. Had this been hewn by convicts? Shudder. The strange landscape of the island, a decaying, uninhabited, almost parallel universe, had become the temporary home of some stunning contemporary art including projected moving shadows of figures in pain, a huge virtual waterfall roaring infinitely in its deserted warehouse building and a collection of giant house structures resembling the witch's cottage in Hansel and Gretel. The whole effect was rather surreal and alienating altogether adding to the experience.

Far more tame was the visit to the Gallery of Modern Art, interesting though it was with a most spectacular cafe, glass walled, high up overlooking Sydney Harbour. And it was at Sydney Harbour that we spent our last night in Australia at a performance of Madame Butterfly. It will be impossible to forget the sinking sun behind the opera house as the huge set came to life with Pinkerton arriving on a real launch across the harbour and a huge stage moon setting on a silver sea amidst the beauty of these tragic Puccini arias.

Our journey across the world had been once in a lifetime with all its contradictions, wonders, conflicts and joys.

 

!An evening of photography

Alex Boyd, who is North Ayrshire’s Artist in Residence, gave an intriguing talk at the Ormidale Pavilion last Wednesday. He is a landscape photographer, but of an unusual kind, experimenting with the use of silvered plates as happened in the first days of the craft, and getting himself to some very odd places. Climbing mountains with a huge clutter of cameras and tripods comes as natural, it seems, and there were one or two dizzying shots of Alex perched on impossible peaks.

 

Art in Mind has a birthday

For ten years, Art in Mind has been running workshops for people who are lonely or depressed, and the results have been wonderful. Lots of people have found friendship and shared interest, and a body of work has been produced that is quite startling in its range and expressiveness. All this was celebrated at a tenth birthday party in the upstairs floor of Bilslands last week. It was a very convivial occasion with drinks on offer (and birthday cake, of course), plus a small exhibition of recent work. Felicity Walker, the tutor responsible for ten years of inspired work, spoke modestly of what has been achieved, saying it had been constantly amazing - and always ‘great fun’. May it long continue! Arran Visual Arts, headed by the hard-working Jan McGregor, has done a great job in starting Art in Mind as well as its constant range of workshops and exhibitions, and is greatly to be congratulated.

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An extraordinarily perceptive
drawing at the Art in Mind
birthday celebration.
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Felicity Walker, the Art In Mind tutor.
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This decorative drawing
of seed heads was a notable
contribution to the
Art in Mind exhibition.
 

Lamlash Splash - from the swimmer’s perspective

by Pauline Creegan

During the summer of 2014 I started to take an interest in Triathlons - actually I was ‘forced’ into it but that’s a different story! This further developed an interest in open water swimming although over the years I had dabbled a bit - as a child I learned to swim in a fresh water lake. I had wanted (more a notion and a comment I had made for several years) to swim the Lamlash Splash. My in-laws live on Arran and I have always loved visiting. So on a whim I decided to enter this year.

I trained hard, practiced some open water but living inland makes this difficult. Nevertheless, on the 19th September myself and my husband made our way to the Arran, a five hour drive followed by an hours crossing on the ferry. Then on the morning of the 20th we headed over to Lamlash. As a visitor, Lamlash is beautiful, usually quite tranquil anytime I visited and it was just this on the morning of the Splash. Holy Isle sits just off the coast, a mere 1.3 miles away and the distance of the Lamlash Splash swim. I felt welcomed and one of the co-ordinators chatted with me about what to ‘sight for’ while swimming back in. Once everyone had assembled and all the boats/Coastguards/RNLI and volunteer kayakers were in place, our safety briefing done and dusted we were boated out to Holy Isle. We didn’t have long to wait at Holy Isle before we got into the water right off the end of the Pontoon. The water was cold but not freezing and didn’t feel uncomfortable after a minute or two. The fastest swimmers went out to the front of the pack. One of the nicest things about this swim once you are in the water is that because the numbers are small (only 40 swimmers altogether) there was none of the horrible bashing about you get when you swim big tri events. It was a little choppy for the first quarter or so of the swim but I really started to enjoy it about half way across. I had previously worried that I would spend the whole time just trying to get my breathing sorted but once I settled in it was wonderful, exhilarating and liberating. As I approached the anchored boats back on the Lamlash side and I knew I was nearly there I felt really excited and the local welcoming committee were just wonderful. It felt awesome to be cheered back onto the pier.

The Lamlash Splash was wonderful - it encompassed everything that makes a good event great- great organisation, great support, welcoming, beautiful location, plenty of cheering and clapping at the end which for me, a participant, made me feel very happy and proud to have completed it.

And to cap it all, a nice hot soup and roll was provided for all at the end of the event - I’ll definitely be back next year!

 

!A little green man is our newest resident.

by Barbara I’Anson

Earlier in the year a little green man appeared on the island and it looks like he is going to stay. Eco Savvy is his name and he is here to help us live a more sustainable life.

In April a growing group of like minded people from all around the island fledged the project by opening a community shop opening in Whiting Bay. The shop is a direct response to an aspiration of zero waste on the island. It sells unwanted donated items, second chance items from islanders and inspirational upcycled items.

!Eco Savvy welcomes members to join him completely free and your membership entitles you to a voice within the project. The aim is to bring all these voices together into a choral response to the challenges we present in the 21st century as we strive to live a greener and cleaner life. Low impact on our beautiful planet lies at the heart of the little green man.

Since opening the shop has gone from strength to strength and membership is approaching the 300 mark. This natural momentum has spurred this growing community forward and on Sunday 21st September Eco Savvy hosted his first skills sharing day. He is keen to provide islanders and visitors a chance to learn new skills and on this day Whiting Bay hall was a hive of activity. From learning bike maintenance to crochet to painting a community mural – it was all happening and so much more! It was a truly unique day on the island and the first of many more to come. Eco Savvy is already deep in planning mode for a Christmas Crafts day in December.

Please note the community shop will be closed from Monday 6th – Sunday 12th October for a small shop refurbishment.

!Not one to rest for too long Eco Savvy is planning his first major fundraiser for the project on Friday 24th October. He will be hosting a fashion show and auction at a social night at the village hall in Whiting Bay. Rumour has it he was being fitted for a very special outfit and he is really quite excited. Invitations to members will be going out very soon via e-mail and posters will also soon start appearing. Full details will be in the Banner newspaper in due course.

So, our little green man has been a welcomed new resident to the island and his growing community of supporters are an impressive bunch of people. His favourite thing is to sign up new members and he stands outside the shop to welcome each and every one of them. Do pop into the shop next time you are passing and one of his wonderful volunteers will tell you all about his plans for the future.

 

National Poetry Day at the Brodick Bar

Thursday 2nd October is National Poetry Day - a good excuse for a cheery evening in the Brodick Bar. Various Arran poets will be reading their work, but it’s also an opportunity for anyone to recite or read a poem they particularly like. Just turn up if you’re happy to take pot luck, but if you want to book yourself a spot, contact Colin Guthrie on 302262.

 

TTIP gets worse …

!The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is a dangerous trade deal being pushed on the EU by American and English (let us not call it British) interests. The idea is to allow corporations to sue governments for any action that they feel might harm their profits - and it’s happening already. Egypt is being sued for nearly £50 million for the crime of raising the minimum wage. After the Arab uprisings, there was a well-justified demand for an increase in workers’ salaries, and the Egyptian government agreed to it. You would think that was purely Egypt’s business - but no. A multinational company called Veolia, which employs Egyptian workers, is suing the government under a TTIP agreement for the cost of raising the workers’ wages. If TTIP (strongly backed by the Westminster government) becomes law, it will be a blueprint for corporate controlled trade to hold down workers’ wages and deny basic human rights. The World Development Movement has been exposing this intention, and if you want to know more, simply click here.

 

… and so does fracking

Despite more than 40,000 objections to the proposal to let fracking companies drill below people’s houses, the Westminster government is pressing on with its plans to allow drilling of the land on which homes stand. If you don’t like it, tough. In the next 30 years, fracking looks like being very profitable, and that’s all that matters.

 

Bridge Challenge

South to make one spade. West cashes the ♥A then leads the ♠J.

 
 

Worldwide march against climate change.

Months ago, the Avaaz community decided on a crazy goal - the largest mobilisation on climate change in history. On Sunday 21st September, they exceeded their wildest expectations, with a climate march 6 times the size of anything before it! This was 80 city blocks of New York:

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Over 675,000 people marched around the world. Click here to see more pictures from the day.

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London, Berlin, Bogota, Paris, Delhi, and Melbourne.
 

Print CrosswordCrossword

by Dave Payn

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Across

 1, 19ac Somehow trod length of Shire in epic novel (3, 4, 2, 3, 5)

 8 Lots to buy here! (7)

 9 Odd northern beer in European city (5)

10 I don't take part in diatribe about deal (5)

11 Nearest move for firm (7)

12 Ms Cogan, for instance, travels to the outskirts of Torquay to get to Central Asian city (6)

14 Shower sprinkle (6)

17 Tatty music? (7)

19 See 1ac

21 Mostly grieve for bird (5)

22 Catalogue dome I have arrived at (7)

23 Creature forn of wrecking race (4, 2, 6)

Down

 1 Plot of Theodore Roosevelt Show (5)

 2 State former interest (7)

 3 Think 'Composition in E' (5)

 4 Noisiest meal of the day? (6)

 5 Iffy free bag from jewellers (7)

 6 Laugh at the destruction of communist gang (5)

 7 Bully boy? (7)

12 Allowed article on excess (6)

13 Giggle on social network (7)

15 Payment for study on endless din returning (7)

16 Iron-Man is a woman! (6)

18 Love to boast about upcoming actress! (5)

19 Persist with some obscure curricular activity (5)

20 Steven, for instance, returns, for example, with badger (5)

 

Answers for the September crossword

Across
1 Disgusting, 8 Clavier, 9 Maria, 10 Fall, 11 Literati, 12 Aisle, 15 Seedy, 17 Careless, 18 Coat, 22 Swear,
23 Amateur, 24 Degenerate.

Down
1 Decaf, 2 Snail, 3 Unit, 4 Turpin, 5 Numbers, 6 Beatify, 7 Urbane, 12 Accuser, 13 Streep, 14 Enlarge, 16 Escape,
19 Opera, 20 Torte, 21 Daze.

 

A different perspective on the referendum, an anonymous contribution.

The polls leading up to the 18th suggested a close call, which indicated whatever campaign won on the day, 49% of the electorate were going to be disappointed. On the day the NO campaign won by a positive 10%, giving a majority of almost 400,000.

There have been many reasons given by politicians why the referendum failed for the Yes camp or success of the No camp.

The YES campaign was lost, but the political scene not only in Scotland but the UK has changed. The grass roots appetite for change keenly expressed by the electorate, demonstrated by the record turnout at the polling booths.

During the 2-year campaign, neither camp has ever investigated nor considered a very important issue that historically; the majority of Scots have never supported independence. Regardless of one’s opinion the maths do not stand up to scrutiny, or clarifies the claims that Scotland is a rich country. Financially, Scotland may be considered wealthy, but the Scottish population is a low number with only 2/5ths gainfully employed.

The writer is a proud Scot, often being uncomfortable at declaring their nationality as British, because most government forms do not give you the option to register your nationality as SCOTTISH. It is another bugbear that businesses in England will not honour the Scottish bank note.

The writer, like many other patriotic Scots, has never voted for the SNP party, has never supported independence and despite having tuned into all of the debates and attended local meetings, has never heard one argument or fact substantiated to encourage any change to their thought process.

The YES campaign deserves congratulations for gaining 45% of the vote and since the referendum increasing the SNP membership. However, it was quite remarkable that the SNP constituencies did not support the YES campaign, including the First Minister’s back door.

Was it all worth the exercise, which cost overall £13.3m sterling? Probably YES as the referendum polls created record figures of an 85% turnout, with an average of 64% voting NO in the polls excluding Glasgow and Dundee; unprecedented in modern times. Communities throughout Scotland joined in the campaign and also had many families debating in their lounges, with open questions and opinions from both sides.

4,175,200 were eligible to vote with the SNP giving a one of vote to 16-year olds and 3,619,915 legitimate votes were counted with 3,429 declared invalid.

The bottom line, which the YES campaign failed on, was not the intervention of the heavy mob from Down South or their promise of additional devolution. It was 3 simple yet extremely important points.

  1. The Scots were given no positive direction what alternative currency, might have to be set-up after March 2016.
  2. The major banks and insurance companies contingency plans to relocate head offices to England in the event of a YES majority. This would have led to a relocation of top people in their field and complete loss of tax revenue.
  3. The spin given on the membership of Europe?

Now for the Maths?

For those retired, aged 60 and over, claiming the basic rate of pension at £122.50 per week relates to an annual provision for Scotland of over 602 Million Pounds? [Remember there is no magical pension pot, all state pensions are collected and paid from those in gainful employment contributing to the system. The workers of today paying the pensions of tomorrow.] Just one reason why Scottish independence is questionable? And why Scotland needs the better together support from a population of 61,000,000 in England, 3,063,456 in Wales and 1,900,863 in Northern Ireland. Collectively over 65 Million with over 70 Million including Scotland. A rather sobering statistic.

All statistics quoted, government figures available by freedom of information.