Volume 10 Issue 3

The SRB Interview: Andrew Greig

September 15, 2014

Andrew Greig was born in Stirling in 1951. He spent his adolescence in Fife, before gaining a degree in Philosophy at Edinburgh University in 1975. Growing up in the late 1960s, he played guitar, wrote songs and encountered the Incredible String Band. When he was seventeen he first met Norman MacCaig....

Volume 10 Issue 3 – Editorial

September 13, 2013

A FEW days from now Scotland will go to the polls and make a decision which, whatever its outcome, will define a generation and have far-reaching and as yet unimaginable consequences. It has been suggested that the turnout may be as high as eighty per cent. That is as it should be. Ideally, it would...

SRB Diary

September 15, 2014
by Harry Reid

Tuesday, 5 August Our Italian friends arrive, just in time to see the first Darling-Salmond clash on STV. I say Italian, but Margaret is actually Scottish, though she has lived and worked in Italy for over forty years. Her husband Antonio is quintessentially Italian, a retired Rome businessman. He speaks...

SRB Diary II

September 15, 2014
by Chris Dolan

There’s a story David Hayman tells audiences. He and I talked after an independence conference at the end of last year and he suggested that I write a piece for him on the subject of independence. Then he says he hears nothing from me for several months, gives me a nudge and over a weekend I write...


September 15, 2014
by Kevin McKenna

THE INDEPENDENCE referendum, it seems, has divided my family yet, despite the hysterical noises coming from the No camp about all the beastliness that’s around, I won’t be calling in the social services just yet. My oldest son Brendan has become a fervent No man and has been moved occasionally to...

Then and Now: A View From the Fourth Estate

September 15, 2014
by Alan Taylor

The old Scotsman headquarters, which occupied the entire west side of Edinburgh’s North Bridge, managed simultaneously to exude squalor and splendour. At the time I first became acquainted with it, in the late 1980s, it was home to three newspapers, the Scotsman, the Edinburgh Evening News and Scotland...

Guilty Pleasure

September 15, 2014
by Jennie Renton

THE lighting in Accident & Emergency is never less than brutal in its after-midnight reveal of stricken humanity. By way of introduction, Alan Warner catches Douglas Cunningham in its glare. For the off-the-rails young Scot in London, A & E waiting rooms meet his need for overnight refuge. They...

A Highland Life: Remembering Neil Gunn

September 15, 2014
by James Robertson

LET us not waste time speculating on how Neil Gunn would have voted. He would have voted Yes. He was all his life a committed Scottish Nationalist. He defended nationalism against the idea that it was intrinsically bad, that it was anti-internationalist and the fundamental source of evils such as Nazism....

Everything is Collapsed

September 15, 2014
by Brian Morton

It was only relatively recently and with great delight that I learned the V in DVD referred not to ‘video’, as I’d assumed, but to ‘versatile’. We use it to mean adaptable, or merely useful, but it has the appealing and suggestive original sense of having the quality of turning easily. There...

Say Not Soft Things

September 15, 2014
by Rosemary Goring

IN their garden in East Lothian, my parents sat in the sun a few weeks ago, watching a plane leave a trail of vapour, like an e-cigarette, across the sky. Instantly, my mother was back in wartime London, recalling the sickening sound bombers made as they began to dive before dropping their load. Whenever...

Quintessentially British?

September 15, 2014
by Harry McGrath

Born Under a Union Flag is an interesting title. It may derive from the song ‘I was born under a Union Jack’ which was adapted by Rangers fans from Lee Marvin’s hit record ‘Wanderin’ Star’. The words of the adaptation, according to Rangers historian Graham Walker in one of thirteen essays...

Rock of Ages

September 15, 2014
by Stuart Kelly

THAT the name of the protagonist of Michel Faber’s spellbinding, heartbreaking and mind-bending new novel, The Book Of Strange New Things, is Peter is hardly coincidental. The book opens with Peter and his wife, Beatrice, having impassioned but melancholic sex in the back of their car before Peter...

The ‘Tragedy’ of Gordon Brown

September 15, 2014
by Ian Bell

FEW profiles of Gordon Brown omit the word tragedy. The choice of language is odd, even in the devalued currency of magazine headlines. He might not have won every prize he sought, but the member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath could surely claim to have done a bit better than most.  Until hell sent...

For Peat’s Sake

September 15, 2014
by Brian McCabe

IAN Stephen was born and brought up on Lewis and still lives there. He worked for many years as a coastguard and from his previous books it is evident that he is a skilled fisherman and sailor; his passion for and knowledge of the sea, tides, winds, fish and boats are manifest in his writing. Though...

Mr Finlay’s Casebook

September 15, 2014
by Julian Spalding

WHEN eventually you put down this exchange of letters you feel not only that you’ve got to know Ian Hamilton Finlay personally, but that you’ve actually slipped inside his mind, watched him think, and got as close as any outsider could to the deeply troubled personality out of which his creativity...

Talent Spotting

September 15, 2014
by Colin Waters

MY favourite part of anthologies of new writing is often the author biographies. That’s not necessarily a criticism of the contents. And it’s not because I’m nosey – although I am. Parked at the rear of the book, the biographies let slip hints of the writers’ hopes and vanities. I’ve often...

The James Trilogy

September 15, 2014
by Joseph Farrell

THE cry ‘Whaur’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?’ first uttered at the 1756 premiere of John Home’s play, Douglas, has echoed down the years in the legends associated with Scottish theatre. It is not sober to reissue it now, not even after watching Rona Munro’s magnificent trilogy, and not only...

The Case for Culture

September 15, 2014
by Cairns Craig

It has long been a commonplace that the protection of Scotland’s key institutions – religion, law, education – was the cause of the nation’s survival after 1707. Scotland, however, did not simply acquiesce in its new subsidiary status: it took the opportunity of the British Empire to create...