"He was a man you don't meet every day." Literary journalist Alan Taylor remembers Arnold Kemp in a review of the forthcoming anthology 'Confusion to our Enemies'. From the Scottish Review of Books, August 11, 2012. (Note by JK at the end)
‘Like my fellow countrymen,’ he wrote in The Hollow Drum, the only book he published in his lifetime, ‘I am a confused traveller, but I travel hopefully.’ Kemp was writing in 1993 when devolution, let alone independence, seemed a distant prospect. Separatism, as he surmised, was ‘theoretically remote’, not least because of the attitude of Scottish business community who, then as now, were fearful of any change to the status quo. With uncommon prescience, he noted the power of ‘foreign exchange dealers’ and ‘major industrial and commercial enterprises’ and the inﬂuence which they exerted over national governments.
“Twice before in my life I have seen Europe go dark and watched the doves of peace having their necks wrung. …”
Robert Kemp on the 21st Edinburgh Festival, from the Scottish Field 1967
Festivals are not like people. They never “grow up”. So perhaps it would be a mistake to make too much of the 21st Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama (to bestow upon it the full title which leaves out a lot of what happens), except that to say that its continuance for all of those years proves that the original idea was a durable one.
All those years…I , who happen to have seen something of them all, find it difficult to believe that among this years’ audience there will be those who were not born when the early Festivals took place. For them it may seem a venerable institution this Edinburgh Festival Society which some at first predicted would not last for more than a few years.
Arnold Kemp's companion to post-war Scottish politics, 'The Hollow Drum', is now available as a Kindle edition from Amazon.The book has been described by Magnus Linklater as "an indispensable guide for students of Scottish politics".
Holidays in Scotland and France
From a Scottish Review special on memorable Scottish holidays.
Perhaps the most memorable Scottish holiday I know of was not mine but someone else's. Once, I took a taxi in Coatbridge driven by a man with a fund of stories. A couple have stuck in my mind. Once he was booked to take an elderly resident to Asda. He waited for her in the car park on a sunny day and when she emerged, hot and laden with bags, she said to him: 'Take me to Largs, son, take me to Largs'.
This brilliant and informative column appeared in Le Monde on the weekend of June 23/24. Translated by Tiffany Reed and Jackie Kemp
A few days before the European Council of June 28 and 29, the Franco-German discussion is becoming a dialogue of the deaf. The French want to strengthen economic union, the Germans want progress on political union. Neither can hear the other.
The Germans understand the French proposals as a new version of the slogan "Germany will pay", which reverberated through French politics after the First World War; the French see political integration with Germany as handing over the right to inspect their welfare system.
The lack of mutual understanding is actually a symptom of the underlying problem. The euro is rudderless, a currency union adrift.
Creative Scotland, and its 'crude ethic of sado-competition'
This piece appeared in the Scottish Review on May 31, 2012. For legal reasons, the last 2 pars were removed. They are reinstated here. Below is a photo of Creative Scotland execs in Cannes the same week they announced the end of flexible funding.
Joyce McMillan knows what she is talking about when it comes to judging performances. The Scotsman’s theatre critic has spent a few years of her life rattling across Scotland on night trains from small towns – the proverbial ‘Shotts in the dark’ - writing reviews.
The fact that she knows most of Scotland’s theatre people pretty well and in general is held in respect by them does not interfere with her ability to do her job. She can give a bad review if it’s required.