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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

Volume 11 Issue 3 - Editorial

EVEN today, when we are blessed with an avalanche of history books, many Scots remain painfully ignorant of their nation’s past. This is not a problem for which there is an instant panacea. For too long, influential Caledonian cringers and whingers have argued that if children in school are force-fed stories about their ancestors they will grow to become narrow-minded and parochial adults. That this is not the experience elsewhere appears not to trouble these sages. From their point of view it is ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

Sutherland’s Law - John MacLeod

NOTHING in all of Scotland’s history – the weepy career of Mary, Queen of Scots; the ’45 and its appalling aftermath; the hammer-blow of the Great War on communities and industry; Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, or the high drama of the late independence referendum – is as emotive a topic as the Highland Clearances. They are still bitterly recalled in assorted Hebrides and little-visited glens of Lochaber; still raised rhetorically, at a new given threat to local interests, as a sort of pet ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

Growing Up with Glasgow - Harry McGrath

MY grandmother, Mary McGrath (née Dunn), lived much of her life on Saracen Street in Possilpark, Glasgow. She was married to John McGrath, a biscuit salesman, and they had a daughter and two sons. John’s parents were wed in the Catholic Chapel in Moy, County Tyrone and the marriage certificate describes him as a riveter living in Govan. His wife, Minnie Ferguson, was the daughter of a farmer in Dungannon. Thomas Dunn, Mary McGrath’s father, took shares in ‘Celtic Football and Athletic Company’ when it ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

Panama Hell - Rosemary Goring

WHEN rumours leaked out that the Scots were considering setting up a trading colony in Panama, the Prince of Orange, William III, denounced them as ‘raging madmen’. Even the Pope waded into the growing chorus of disapproval, condemning a venture that threatened to undermine the Catholic believers in the region, who would be at risk of moral corruption by the incoming horde of Presbyterians.   In the face of opposition from such elevated figures, quite apart from the more reasoned reservations of ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

The SRB Interview: Jackie Kay

Opening one of Jackie Kay’s books is like walking into a busy metropolitan bar that has accommodated within its walls the deep past, character and charm of a country pub. You know you will encounter stories comic and sad, that you will never leave thirsty, and that the mind will feel renewed with the spirit, musicality and colour of life. Kay was born in Edinburgh in 1961 to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother. She was adopted at birth by Helen and John Kay, who lived, and still live, in ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

Rebel Inc. - Brian Morton

If you were planning to run a revolution from a post office now, you’d have to take a number and wait in line. The nodes of cultural communication as well as of social power have shifted since 1916, more democratic in some aspects, infinitely more entrenched and imperial in others. The editors’ timely purpose in this General Post Office of a book is to offer a one-stop-shop of Scottish perspectives on the Easter Rising, exploring not just forgotten dimensions of the Irish struggle and the ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

Oor Willie - Zoë Strachan

WILLIAM McIlvanney chose ‘Growing Up in the West’ as the title of his contribution to Karl Miller’s 1970 collection of essays, Memoirs of a Modern Scotland. ‘It is perhaps not too fanciful to suppose,’ he writes, ‘that special contour lines of experience invisibly demarcate certain regions from others or that the West of Scotland, where nature and industry contend along the seaboard, is one such region. Certainly, the towns there have always seemed to me to form a loose fraternity, to sport ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

We’re All Doomed - Dani Garavelli

ON April 20, 1535, a strange cosmic sight appeared above the city of Stockholm in Sweden. For several hours, three suns seemed to shine out of the same sky, with haloes of light radiating out from each of them. It was a time of great religious upheaval, so it was natural the crowds that bore witness to this celestial display should regard it as a message from their maker. Twelve years earlier the country had gained its independence from Denmark in the Swedish War of Liberation and the leader of ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

The Moor’s Last Sigh - Michael Fry

THERE is a good argument for saying that the capture of Quebec in 1759, and the subsequent absorption of Canada into the British Empire, was owed first and foremost not to the English hero, James Wolfe, who fell in the moment of victory, but to one of his officers, Captain Donald MacDonald of Clanranald. MacDonald was in command of the ‘forlorn hope’, the twenty-four volunteers who landed before dawn on 14 September from the St Lawrence River and first scaled the Heights of Abraham above ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

Still ‘Yes’? - Jamie Maxwell

IN case you hadn’t noticed, Scots are struggling to find consensus on the origins of modern Scottish nationalism. Supporters of independence see the roots of their movement as essentially civic: a political response to the alienating effects of Westminster ‘misrule’. Unionists, meanwhile, advance a different narrative. They view separatism as an expression of provincial grievance or, worse, deep-seated anti-English bigotry. To be fair, this disagreement is not helped by the fact that Scottish ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

Crowd Power - Colin Waters

FEW things are likely to leave me feeling less festive than a festival. Which is unfortunate: I live in Edinburgh, home of the world’s largest annual arts festival. Each year, the same, but worse. Ticket prices that could bring tears to a sultan’s eyes; egos observable from outer space; unpromising one-man shows, the one man referring here to the audience, not the cast; each journey taxed a full thirty minutes extra walking time because the pavements are costive with tourists and juggling ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

SRB Diary: In the Rhine Valley - Iain Bamforth

Auf dem Grunde des Rheines. The figures in the principal fountain of the little village of Goldscheuer, just across the Rhine from Strasbourg, are a reminder that, for more than two millennia, gold which had been washed down with other ores from the mountains of the Aar region of Switzerland was extracted from the river, as suggested by the title of Wagner’s opera cycle: das Rheingold. It was won by the old practice of shovelling and sifting masses of sand and gravel, ‘gescheuern’ being the old ...
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SRB VOL 11 ISS 3

SRB at the Theatre - Joseph Farrell

IN this case, there are two faces, two attitudes to life, two plays, both one-act, one-woman pieces, written by Peter Arnott, featuring identical twins, Isobel and Morag, played by the one actor, Janette Foggo, staged in successive weeks at Oran Mor, but begging for some imaginative producer to bring them together in the one bill. Maybe the pair are actually two sides of the one character, but overtly they are twins, as inward-looking as twins often are, linked by an intensity of exclusive ...
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