Albie Sachs – lecture transcript

This a slightly abridged text of the lecture given by the ANC veteran and South African constitutional court judge Albie Sachs at the National Gallery of Scotland on June 25 2009 in Edinburgh, transcribed from my shorthand note.



The Hollow Drum

The Hollow Drum

‘SINCE THE WAR SCOTLAND HAS been profoundly altered. Its native tradition of entrepreneurial capitalism has disappeared. Its heavy industries have rapidly declined. It has become a branch economy soliciting international…



The Sentimental Tourist

The Sentimental Tourist

This book,subtitled ‘Time Travels in Scotland and England’, by journalist and editor Arnold Kemp is a personal rumination on Scottish history seen through the prism of his own family’s records….



Crossoword tribute Herald

I APPRECIATED the tribute to the late Arnold Kemp by John McKie (alias Myops) incorporated into the Wee Stinker crossword on September 23. It was, as usual, very clever yet…



Richard Nixon

IT is one of the odd characteristics of our political life that the little things may be more dangerous than the large.  Chancellor Norman Lamont may with impunity squander billions on the fruitless defence of sterling. This matters little in the public mind beside his inability to keep his Access bill inside its credit limit.

Perhaps there is some validity in this way of assessing the real person. A character in a Jane Austen novel — one of her succession of charming men who turn out to be scoundrels — was found to be of light and careless disposition because he went to London to get his haircut.

And in London this week another victim of the treacherous turns of political life was making a triumphant return. They used to call him Tricky Dick but, thin as a cheroot, he received a standing ovation from a highly discriminating audience after a speech to a private dinner. Delivered with passion and fluency, without notes of any kind, it could only be described as a tour de force.



Is Tam Baillie the right man to be Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner?

From the Daily Telegraph Jan 4 2011 – by Jackie Kemp

Despite budget cuts of almost £1 billion next year, Holyrood is about to pick a Children’s Commissioner, and give them a multi-million-pound budget, for six years. Tam Baillie, the incumbent, is the clear front-runner, but Jackie Kemp asks whether he is the right man for the £70,000-a-year post and if MSPs are bothering to find out.



A good egg

Mail on Sunday magazine Hens adore mushroom risotto. They are also keen on asparagus stems and the tops of strawberries. They are more curious than the cat and make a…



Scottish designer’s art for windows

As a child, Sarah Campbell spent her summer holidays on the Isle of Lismore. On walks, she and her artist mother would pick tufts of sheep’s wool from the barbed wire fences and take it home. There they would wash, card and spin it, turn it into fabric on a loom and dye it.

Now working as a designer, Sarah has woven those childhood lessons into the one-off “textile paintings” doubling as window blinds that she creates in her workshop on the tiny island which sits under the mountains of Morvern in the Firth of Lorne for her company Mogwaii Design.



Pressure mounts on Scots

Media Guardian

Scotland’s national newspapers are in crisis as readership falls, jobs are cut and London-based titles muscle in.

Scots, once the biggest consumers of newsprint in the world, are losing the habit, with the slump hitting home-grown titles the hardest. The writing could now be on the wall for one or all of the three daily Scotland-wide titles, the Scotsman, the Herald and the Daily Record.



Kitchen Nightmare on Lismore

Education Guardian

What children put into their mouths at lunchtime has become one of the touchstone political issues of our age and a money-saving plan by Argyll council in Scotland to shut six Hebridean island school kitchens was recently shot down by parental anger.



In praise of wild camping

In praise of wild camping

The Herald Magazine. Hiking off into the purple yonder with nothing but a sleeping bag and a loo roll – that is camping as it once was and, for some, what it is becoming again. There’s a resurgence in so-calledwild camping in Scotland as the countryside access laws bed in. Forget the designer floral tent with matching curtains, the elegant plastic wine goblets and the pre-cooked lasagne – leave them at home where they belong and head for the horizon with just a toothbrush in your pocket.



A new system for reading music

Every Good Boy Deserves Failure.   And All Cows End Gorily – or is it Eat Grass? Generations of children have struggled over mnemonics designed to help them translate five black lines and a series of dots into music. Some accomplish this feat; some – like me – remember little except these disjointed sentences. But that could soon be history, according to a charity that’s introducing a music notation system to the UK from Finland that is accessible enough for the youngest children to understand. “A revolution in music education is under way,” says Brian Cope, of Drake Music Scotland.



School-age drinkers with adult problems

A prominent Scottish professor will denounce the use of education cash to fund “mumbo jumbo” in a public lecture tomorrow.

Professor Sergio Della Sala, Professor of Human Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, will use part of a prize-winning public lecture to voice his concern that Scottish schools are paying thousands of pounds to train teachers in controversial techniques such as “brain gym” and “neuro-physiological psychology”. The professor – the first winner of a prize for science communication, named in honour of Tam Dalyell, which will be awarded by the former MP tomorrow – is angry public money is being paid to those he called “pranksters”. Prof Sala says he is “outraged”



A nativity play for our times

All the fairytale-land characters have come together to put on a nativity show. Little Red Riding Hood is playing the part of Mary, Goldilocks is Gabriel, the Three Little Pigs are the wise men and watch out for the innkeeper – it’s the big bad wolf!”



Tartan and home truths

Oh, the swing of the kilt and the skirl of the bagpipes! The tens of thousands who gather annually to try their strength at tossing Scottish cabers around … in Leipzig.

A mania for “the heedrum-hodrum Celtic twilight”, which is afflicting parts of northern Europe, is one of the topics to be researched at a new centre for the study of the Scottish diaspora at Edinburgh University.

But since its launch at the end of last month, the new centre, funded by a £1m donation from a Scottish financier, has been caught up in controversy. Its founder, perhaps Scotland’s foremost historian, Professor Tom Devine, announced in the opening lecture that he intended to challenge the “Burns supper” school of Scottish history. As a result, he has been subject to attacks by nationalists accusing him of “unionist revisionism”.