Arts

A Science Professor Pens a Patriotic Song

March, 2015
I first heard the song "Call it Alba" at an African evening at my children's primary school. The choir sang it to visitors from a school in Tanzania and I wasn't the only one blinking back the tears as they belted out the chorus: "I belong to the land I live in, and the land is in the deepest part of me."

The song allowed the children to express love for their country of Scotland but in a simple style, free from the hubris these things often contain. It seemed inclusive too, offering a sense of belonging to everyone who lives here. I couldn't think of another patriotic song that would have worked in that context and which would have made me feel so proud.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0LIWz3AgMk

 "Flower of Scotland" is fine for a sporting arena but the lyrics are very focused on Scotland's sometimes conflicted relationship with England. I for one was glad when the Scottish Parliament recently rejected a petition to make it an official anthem.  (http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/wilting-blossom-flower-of-scotland-national-anthem-bid-rejected-by-msps.120916231)  

The others I could think of like Scots Wha Hae, Caledonia, or Highland Cathedral are too martial, too adult or too grandiose.

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Top Gear, RIP.

 

I enjoyed Top Gear. You would think from the reaction I get to this statement from some of my friends that I was voicing support for Islamic State or something. But when my kids were younger it was one of the best family viewing experiences that we had. I will remember it fondly for that reason.

 

Read more: Top Gear, RIP.

On #KingsmanTheSecretService and the Porno Society.

A friend of mine was kind enough to say recently that she had found the piece I wrote below about the movie Kingsman The Secret Service really helpful. Her 15-year-old daughter had been to the movie with friends and because my friend had read my blog, she was able to raise with her daughter the fact that there is a graphic image of  anal penetration in the closing minutes of the movie. Her daughter said “Oh Mum, it’s all right, the woman wanted that done to her.” My friend responded that this scene represented a male fantasy. My friend then went on to say that she felt sorry for all the young women who might be thinking: ‘What’s wrong with me, that I don’t enjoy this?”

The scene is a glimpse into the porno world which I generally manage to avoid. But taking place as it does in a mainstream movie now heavily advertised on TV as a DVD or download - it’s another example of how mainstream that current has become.

Read more: On #KingsmanTheSecretService and the Porno Society.

Is the Southbank Centre right to exclude Scotland from its flagship exhibition on British history?

The big new exhibition at the Southbank Centre in London “History is Now” is meant to address British postwar history. It does not do so. As a Scot who voted ‘No’ in the referendum I found the experience of visiting this show profoundly depressing. I left with an increased sense that a ‘British’ identity has become problematic, dislocated and fragile, and that the ties that bind the countries that make up the Union are fraying.

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Vettriano not for the snobbish

 
 

Though ridiculed by critics, artist’s work is honest, with an authentic, working-class sensibility, writes Jackie Kemp

 From The Scotsman, October 25.

WHAT on earth is happening at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow? It is mid-morning on a weekday but the car parks are overflowing. Cars are jinking about, competing for any vacated space. The art gallery itself is hotching. There are actual traffic jams in front of certain pictures and there is a queue at the till in the exhibition shop. The postcard rack is half empty and the limited edition prints are flying off the shelves.

The public response to Jack Vettriano’s first major retrospective is a marked contrast to the funereal atmosphere of the big empty rooms at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival exhibition of the recent work of Peter Doig, a commercially successful painter whose massive and anodyne, though slapdash, landscapes would be a safe bet for decorating the foyer of any corporate headquarters in Zurich.

 

Read more: Vettriano not for the snobbish