Mar

23

Scottish Cinema

Hugh MacLeod is a Scots-born cartoonist and former adman. He became famous for drawing sarcastic pictures on the backs of business cards during boring meetings on Madison Avenue. One of his drawings shows two students bickering. “No, I’m more annoying,” says the art student. “No, I’m more annoying,” says the film student. To students of […]

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Mar

23

Geez a Job, Creative Scotland

The trouble with getting older is that life starts to hold fewer and fewer surprises for you. Even if you’ve got all your own teeth, hair and marbles, you can’t keep the same joy of new discovery – the zest of fresh revelation – you enjoyed when you were young. Unless you’re forgetful as a […]

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Feb

21

The Sandwich Trap

When Scots songsmiths Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan wrote the 70s chart smash Stuck in the Middle, they must have hoped the song would live on and on. They simply couldn’t have foreseen how their pop hit would become forever fixed in the popular imagination with a gruesome scene of drawn-out torture. After all, who […]

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Feb

05

Sellebrity

When he first appeared on TV in the mid-70s, he was a skinny, spotty, sneery youth with spiky ginger hair. He was a last-minute stand-in on the bland topical tea-time show, presented by Bill Grundy. Asked his opinion of Mozart and Beethoven, the young man mumbled ‘a rude word’. Goaded by Grundy, he repeated the […]

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Oct

14

“Facts are chiels that wanna ding”

‘Facts are chiels that winna ding.’ That’s a lovely, well-worn phrase, isn’t it? Unlikely bedfellows, Alex Salmond and Michael Gove have both wielded those famous words – ‘dinging’ their political foes with the seeming solidity of Burns’ 18th century Scots aphorism as well as its actual impenetrability. I would be tempted to use this ancient […]

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Jun

24

“So, going anywhere nice this summer?”

“Are you going out tonight?” Why do hairdressers assume a new hair-do suddenly makes you one of the party people? Young crimpers appear especially disappointed to discover that both you and this line of questioning are going nowhere. Silence falls around you like hair trimmings till your salonist can stand it no more. Then they […]

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Apr

15

Are you what you wear?

I’ve been watching too much Sherlock Holmes lately. In the BBC’s faithful modern makeover, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the latest denizen of 221B Baker Street. He can reel off your entire biography and what you had for breakfast just by glancing at the egg-stain on your old Etonian tie. My own efforts at deduction have been […]

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Apr

15

Nice work, if you can get it

When you were a kid, and people asked you what you wanted to be, what did you say?  I said I wanted to be a computer programmer, since my most conspicuously successful cousin Jonny was a computer programmer. Or a cowboy. Anyway, I never wanted to be a professional footballer. It’s not hard to see […]

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Mar

27

Goodbye Mr Mackenzie

The note in his hand simply said “I’m sorry”. He was found, in the garden shed at his father’s house, wrapped in a blanket with a family photograph album in his arms. That year, Billy Mackenzie was just one of 655 men to kill themselves in Scotland. Today would have been his birthday. But it’s […]

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Feb

11

Why jailing is failing in Scotland

Many years ago, my mum was in and out of prison frequently. She used to volunteer for a charity and visited inmates whose nearest and dearest didn’t come to see them. Once she was visiting a young man in jail in Perth. He was due for release and told her he was worried about finding […]

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