Columns

A flyte on the neglect of Hugh MacDiarmid

By Arnold Kemp, the Herald, August 15, 1992

THIS week has seen the hundredth anniversary of the birth of C. M Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid). The highlight was a BBC Radio Scotland broadcast on Tuesday evening, mostly from the Queen Street studio in Edinburgh before an invited audience but partly from the snug in Milne's Bar.

There was original music, from Ronald Stevenson, Michael Marra and Hue and Cry. Some Day, a short play by MacDiarmid, was performed, together with a new work, Root to a Tree, by Donald Campbell, which explored some of the contradictions in the MacDiarmid tradition. Norman MacCaig and Adam McNaughtan read poetry, MacCaig including his famous recommendation that MacDiarmid's centenary should be marked by a minute's pandemonium.


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An inspector calls

Jackie Kemp gives a low mark to the people who adjudicate on schools. From the Scottish Review (www.scottishreview.net) http:/www.scottishreview.net October 5 2010.

There is a Chinese proverb which says: 'Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself'. Education therefore is about the pursuit of knowledge rather than, as George Bernard Shaw put it, 'knowledge in pursuit of children'. In recent times Scottish education has seemed more like the latter than the former with a surfeit of top-down state-led box-ticking initiatives aimed at having all children achieve this level or that level by certain ages.

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England wasn't built on babysitting bans

28 September 2009, guardian.co.uk

What would Orwell make of a nation in which mothers are investigated for looking after each other's children?

When did it happen? When did the English, described by George Orwell in his famous essays, as a byword for tolerance, eternally suspicious of "power worship" and the overweening authoritarian state, turn into people who report their neighbours to the authorities for babysitting each other's children without permission?

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The nanny state turns parents into kids

The Guardian - 19 September 2009.

Some people have been so infantilised by our authoritarian state that they can no longer perform basic parenting tasks.

"We only refuse what we notice." This slogan coined by an absent-minded 12-year-old of my acquaintance, in reference to people stealing his chips, seems an apt one to represent the gradual filching of our freedoms by the state. Absorbed in our own thoughts, when we glance back at our plates we may get a shock at how much has been taken.