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People marching across the Tay BridgeOn Saturday, YES North East Fife organised a march across the Tay Bridge from Fife to Dundee followed by a rally in the City Square. It was well-attended for a local event – by hundreds, according to the precision journalism of the Courier. The weather was fine, and many motorists seemed to approve of the display, judging by the proportion of them sounding supportive horns – though in the interests of balanced reporting, I must admit that there was one car that went by shouting something incoherent and waving the Vs.

Once arrived in Dundee there were a few stalls, including one selling books by the speakers that had them to sell, a Scottish Green Party stall (with Maggie Chapman in attendance), and a stall for English Scots for Yes. English Scots for Yes seemed to emerge quite late in the last independence campaign, but I think what they’re doing is important. Although many English-born residents of Scotland voted Yes – and there are plenty English people in the SNP – they are out-numbered by their compatriots who voted No. I don’t think English Scots have anything to fear – if I did, I would be siding with them – but it’s clear that as supporters of independence we haven’t done a good enough job of convincing them that there is no beef between us. English Scots for Yes may help to change that impression.

Change of that sort is sorely needed when there’s nonsense going on like the news story that finally made it to the top of the BBC's Scotland page today of suspect chemical packages being sent to at least three Scottish locations. It’s been an emerging story since Tuesday, but has taken two days to get any profile. Stuff like this is happening because of people whipping up resentment against independence supporters – unionists so “obsessed” with their fear of a democratically driven readjustment at a national level that it’s all they can talk about in their council election leaflets, and a poisonous press. No-one could claim that independence supporters are all saints, but I honestly don’t think they’re the dangerous side in this.

There were talks from a variety of speakers, not all of which I was able to stay and attend, but I caught and enjoyed listening to Robin McAlpine, Billy Kay, Paul Kavanagh (The Wee Ginger Dug) and Lesley Riddoch. Three of the talks can be watched below, and if you’ve got the time I recommend doing that. I was a bit disappointed Maggie Chapman wasn’t among those speaking, since she was present, but I presume she had her reasons.

ggreig: (Default)

This evening I’ve become a reluctant mover to Dreamwidth. I’ve been with LiveJournal since 2004, have had a permanent account for most of that time, and have not previously set up an account with Dreamwidth; but the effect of the recent LiveJournal licence changes on LGBT users is not something I can support. I’m still in the process of configuring stuff, and my LJ entries haven’t even been imported into DW yet, so I’m not sure precisely how things are going to work out and whether my LiveJournal will stay and be cross-posted to. The logic of “taking a stand” suggests that it should go, but I’ll have to wait and see what the practicalities are before making a final decision. This post itself is a bit of a test to see how things work.

I don’t seem to be alone in taking this decision now.

My new account is at http://ggreig.dreamwidth.org/. In the short term I intend that content will be cross-posted to LiveJournal, but that may end at some point.

20 Years

Oct. 14th, 2016 07:35 pm
ggreig: (Dark Wizard)

Blocks signifying 20 years at InsightsOn the first of October, it was 20 years since I started work at Insights, and today I got my fourth block signifying a period of 5 years service.

When I started at Insights, I was the first developer through the door (I was joined by a colleague the next day) and the total number of direct employees of the business was smaller than the number of people in the department I’m in now. Now we’re a medium-sized international business, working with some very large businesses indeed, and all still heavily reliant on the software I’m involved in building.

Not counting founders (one of whom currently sits across the desk from me) there are a couple of people who’ve been with the business longer than me. In one case, 26 years! Still, 20 years seems like a long-ish time.

Yesterday I had lunch with other members of my team, and I have a couple of lunches with more senior people coming up in the next couple of months. I also have to decide what form I want to receive a gift in. (Thinks: I have a handy list of 28mm models I’d like…)

Whatever happens, what with having spent a relatively long time in further education, that’s more than half my working life spent at Insights – if I stay here until I retire, I’ll only earn another 3 blocks.

ggreig: (Dark Wizard)

I’ve taken a bit of an interest in Dad’s Army ever since I ran a short-lived roleplaying game in the 1990s in which the player characters were members of the Home Guard, dealing with mysterious happenings which turned out to be due to a burrow of Wombles rather than fifth-columnists – although one of the Wombles was blessed with the name Berlin…

This evening I went to the Byre Theatre to watch the St Andrews Play Club present their rendition of Dad’s Army. This was the opening night, and if you’re one of the local readers of this blog and fancy catching it, it’s on until Saturday. It has a running time of two hours, including the interval.

The St Andrews Play Club have put on a previous production of Dad’s Army in 2011, but I was unaware of it at the time. That consisted of a couple of TV episodes, “Mum’s Army” and “The Deadly Detachment”. The second episode there is the one you probably expect, with the U-boat crew as prisoners of war, and the oft-repeated line referring to Private Pike which I won’t spoil here just in case there’s anyone in the universe who hasn’t heard it.

So it sounds like this evening’s production was more ambitious, stretching to two TV episodes (“The Godiva Affair” and “The Deadly Attachment” again), an “episode” which was only ever performed on stage by the original cast (“The Floral Dance”) and an original piece to close by one of the society members, called “All Together Now”.

Alan Tricker as Captain Mainwaring (in the 2011 production)

The main characters were all recognisable, despite the rather odd experience of watching an unmistakably Scottish Sergeant Wilson. They were probably spoilt for choice for people to play Fraser! Captain Mainwaring and Lance Corporal Jones are probably the most demanding roles to play, as they involve not just acting but a lot of comic timing, and I’m pleased to say they carried it off admirably. Alan Tricker as Captain Mainwaring wasn’t a new Arthur Lowe, but that would be a tall order (for a short man); he didn’t have quite the level of frustrated self-importance of the original but nevertheless did a good job in the role. David Lee as Lance Corporal Jones did a great job – it was almost like watching Clive Dunn in action.

There’s a warm comfort to be had from watching something so familiar yet slightly new. The TV episodes were very familiar, of course – so much so that I was completely unfazed when rather endearingly in a moment of meta-character “”Pike” fluffed the punch line to “The Godiva Affair”, naming Mrs Fox instead of Mrs Mainwaring. For anyone previously unfamiliar with the story, I think the business probably sold what was actually meant to have been said. “The Deadly Detachment” strayed somewhat from the original in having an all-female U-boat crew, but that was cool (and played completely straight). Apart from that line, it’s not actually a favourite of mine, but I enjoyed seeing it on stage.

The two sections I was unfamiliar with both had a musical bent. “The Floral Dance” saw the platoon and other residents of Walmington-on-Sea, engaged in choir practice before an event in aid of wounded soldiers, and building up to a performance of the song named. Despite having a slightly different pedigree, it felt right. If you’re not able to see it in St. Andrews, and want an idea of what it was like, YouTube comes to the rescue – here’s audio of the original cast performing it on stage:

The final section, “All Together Now”, was a celebration of the end of the war (probably VE-day, but that wasn’t quite clear and I didn’t recognise the clip of Churchill on the radio announcement). Featuring a selection of songs culminating in White Cliffs of Dover and a tableau in which the cast were starkly lit and sprinkled with poppies. I didn’t feel it quite gelled as the scripts by Jimmy Perry and David Croft did, but again that’s a tall order, and apparently it was written at quite short notice, so good on the script writer all the same. It was more sentimental than amusing, but that’s OK – one of the strengths of Dad’s Army was that it would occasionally make it clear that, for all their ridiculousness, the characters were utterly sincere and serious about being prepared to lay down their lives to make the smallest of differences.

Worth checking out, if you can.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Also from about a month ago, as usual I went round the annual model railway exhibition in St. Andrews (attended by StARLink this time, please “Like” if, unlike me, you’re on Facebook).

I usually take photos of the layouts, as I admire a good model, but I hadn’t taken a 3D camera before. I pointed it at a few layouts but wasn’t expecting great results as it’s pretty point-and-click and I thought it might struggle with scale models. And there were focus problems, and motion blur – but a few came out as the most effective 3D pictures I’ve taken so far, so I thought I’d share the best:

Scale model of the Forth Rail Bridge (3D)

A model railway layout in St. Andrews

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

I recently bought a 3D camera second hand from [livejournal.com profile] ffutures. Here are a first few shots:

West Port, St. Andrews - from the west

West Port, St. Andrews - from the east

Blackfriars Chapel, St. Andrews

The Scottish Cabinet in Cupar, 6th July 2015 

Interesting to see what works and what doesn’t. There seems to be a greater sense of 3D if there’s something distinctive in the foreground, which is why I actually chose pictures with cars in shot when I had examples without. Things further away tend to flatten out a bit, even if there’s something in the foreground to emphasise the difference – but even in the middle distance, a significant difference in depth can make things stand out. I didn’t notice the pedestrian crossing the West Port in the second photograph when I took it, but she becomes an interesting feature when viewed in 3D. As usual, click through for full size – it’s probably worth it for that second one at least, as the figure is a bit lost in the smaller version.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)
I've only seen reports of this in Scotland so far, but it could potentially apply anywhere in the UK.

The method of registering to vote has changed since the Independence referendum last year, and although people who were already registered to vote were supposed to be carried over into the new system, there seems to be some doubt as to whether that has occurred.

Two MSPs have had to re-register and supply documentation within a week proving they are who they say they are, despite being registered at their respective addresses for about 30 years each. I went through the registration process this morning and was told that I was not on the register, despite having been registered at my current address and voting in every election for over 20 years.

There seems to be some doubt as to whether its a genuine issue with registration or poorly designed systems that are causing a degree of false alarm. However, either way, I figure better safe than sorry - make the effort to make sure you're registered.

You can register online, and read the UK government's information about the change.
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Edit: I didn't know when I posted this earlier, but today would have been Roger Delgado's 97th birthday: #HappyBirthdayRogerDelgado.


I’m not a costumier. My skills stretch to sewing on the occasional button so, when attending Gallifrey One in Los Angeles, Roger Delgado’s Master was an easy choice for me. Although he does occasionally appear in extra-terrestrial garb, he’s mostly associated with smart dark suits, and as I mentioned last time, I’ve always fancied having something with a Nehru collar. The creative bit for me was constructing the Tissue Compression Eliminator, and [livejournal.com profile] msinvisfem helped me by applying black and white hair dyes from Manic Panic. Apart from that, everything was purchased.

I tend towards dressing in black anyway, so enjoyed putting together an ensemble that unashamedly emphasised it. The suit was by Alvin Amario, and ordered from eBay. Although the Nehru collar went through a bit of a revival in the UK fifteen or twenty years ago, it’s a bit tricky to find on the High Street these days, particularly when your High Street is in St. Andrews or Dundee. The suit’s light and comfortable, and although I had to settle for an oversize waist on the trousers, they were OK with a belt. Underneath, I wore a matching shirt from Bargear in case it showed (but I don’t think it did). I should probably have worn a shirt with long sleeves, but I’m not a long sleeve person – I’m just not comfortable with them.

For footwear, I wore my usual brogues, but with black jacquard spats from Gentleman’s Emporium which I’ve had for a while. Spats are disappointingly hard to get hold of, but they’re an ace item of clothing. They look smart, they can be unobtrusive (I’ve worn dark spats in public and at work without comment, although the day I don the silver ones I expect people will notice) and they’re remarkably comfortable, snuggled cosily around your ankles.

I covered my hands with military dress gloves from Southcombe in black cotton. Delgado’s gloves seem to be leather and I could probably have worn the leather gloves I already have, but I thought cotton would be less bulky and warm, while still looking smart.

Was it successful? Judge for yourself:

You? The Master? I'll be The Judge! )
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Wear It PinkFriday was Wear It Pink day, in aid of the fight against breast cancer. Usually my contribution to these things when they pop up at work is limited to that – a contribution – but this time I was marginally more organised than usual. I don’t possess any pink clothing but it occurred to me there was something else I could “wear pink”.

There has to be a benefit to going white…

A while back I decided that occasionally it might relieve the boredom to try a different beard colour; a few people have seen me in blue, but Friday was a bit more high profile. Don’t expect it to be a regular thing, and even less so at work, but if I feel like it…

A bit of research turned up Manic Panic’s Dye Hard as a respected brand that washes out easily. For the pink, as a paler colour than the blue I’d tried before, I actually applied white first (to cover the darker patch remaining on one side of my beard) before applying the pink on top.

The colour combs in easily, and the odd over-enthusiastic application will mostly just wipe off, though it is possible to apply it a bit heavily and wind up with colour on the skin behind the beard. It dries quickly and is good for the rest of the day.

You do have to be a bit careful with a moustache, which should be well-trimmed – otherwise you run the risk of having the colour wash off in drinks, for example. Depending on what you want, you may be best not colouring the moustache. While I went for complete coverage in pink, the contrast between a blue beard and white moustache is quite effective.

The colour also helps with hold once it’s dried, so it’s fairly easy to stay tidy-looking. When the time comes to wash it off, it is really easy to get rid of – a couple of splashes and a bit of a scrub and it’s gone. In fact, it’s so easy to remove I was a bit concerned about being caught in the rain, but I didn’t have any problems in practice. I took the tube and a comb along in case touching up was required, but they weren’t called upon.

Work posted the picture above to the company account on Instagram and I received an e-mail today saying it had got their “best ever response to a picture” – defeating the previous champion, a picture featuring a cute puppy, by a respectable margin.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

On Friday, I left work a bit early to attend the final date on Florrie’s lightning acoustic tour for Coffee House Sessions, which I mentioned when I discovered it a couple of weeks ago. I’m not a great gig-goer – in fact the sum total of my previous gig attendance is seeing Runrig in 1989 and Big Country round about 1990. On the other hand, if you’re one of the select acts that play St. Andrews Student Union, as they did*, and I like your music, there’s a reasonable chance I’ll turn up…


Call 911 (Fred Falke Remix)

I like Florrie’s music, so I went along. I’m not quite sure when I first discovered her, but I think I heard Call 911 on Last.FM a few years ago and it stood out. When I followed up a bit and realised that there wasn’t a duff track on the whole Introduction EP, I started to pay attention.


The Introduction EP

Having been drumming since the age of 6, Florrie started work as a session drummer in 2008 before quickly starting to establish herself as a solo artist, now describing herself as drummer, singer and songwriter. Having seen her on Friday, she’s actually selling herself a bit short, as she plays the guitar too, with a nice crisp confidence. Her recorded style is light, but intelligent, anthemic pop, with strong rhythm and high production values.

Given the very produced studio sound, it was intriguing to see that the Coffee House Sessions tour was to be acoustic; just Florrie and a guitar. Although it’s become more of a “thing” to perform unplugged over the last 20 years, not everyone can do it.

Florrie can. The session was quite short; I just sat and enjoyed it so I didn’t keep a note of which tracks were played or how many, but it must have something like six or eight. Definitely included were Left Too Late (a favourite of mine), Live A Little and Radioactive (a cover of Imagine Dragons), another cover I didn’t recognise but worked out later (Budapest, George Ezra) and the more current tracks Little White Lies and Galaxies. The delivery was sharp, confident and above all musical, emotionally complex and expressive. The studio  production may add to Florrie’s music, but she has impeccable foundations and doesn’t need it – with one small exception.


Coffee House Sessions

The envelope of her vocal range is pushed a bit in Little White Lies just before going into the chorus, and it's the one time she sounds a bit weak; the lyric is "My breathing shallows/I can't pretend", rising at the end to the point where her voice cracks. It's an effective musical portrayal of a rising emotional tension when it works, but it doesn't always work live, which is a shame. It's a great studio track, with the blend of a thundering locomotive drum beat and a touch of melancholy that's a bit of a Florrie signature:


Little White Lies

It’s good though, that she’s trying things that test her, and that she continues to be original. The Sirens EP on which a first version of Little White Lies was included is notably a bit experimental, with something just a bit unusual about each track. An acoustic tour is a bit of variety too. Not everything is a hit with me, but the percentage is really high; the only talent I can think of with a similar success rate for my tastes is Marina and the Diamonds. I’m really looking forward to the release of Florrie’s first album in the first couple of months of next year.

And finally – not that this matters musically, but she’s just a really nice person. At the end of the set, with a little time to spare before I had to be somewhere else, I asked for an autograph on a Florrie beermat and we chatted for a couple of minutes. I said the honest but unimaginative sorts of things people say on these occasions (You’re really good! When’s the album out?), and she, who must hear them all the time, was not only charming but offered me a hug before I left – something I didn’t expect at all, being slightly over twice the age of most other folk in the room and probably looking older than that. Particularly impressive after an intensive ten day tour, and three performances that day (the Universities of Stirling. Strathclyde, and St. Andrews, in that order, all in under 6 hours).

I’ve included quite a number of videos in this post, but couldn’t possibly include everything I like. If you enjoyed any of these, check out the rest of Florrie’s back catalogue while it’s still relatively small! The easiest place to do that is on YouTube as florriemusic. Florrie’s also on Twitter and Facebook. Wikipedia is good for track details, and you can buy on iTunes. Finally, check out the adverts:

* For what it’s worth Runrig were ace, particularly listening to them play their version of The Times They Are A Changin’ a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Big Country were OK, but a bit samey to listen to for a whole gig, even after the Peace In Our Time album had marked a change in their sound.

Florrie

Oct. 9th, 2014 12:52 am
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

As the final date on her acoustic UK University Coffee House Sessions Tour, Florrie is playing the Rector’s Café at St Andrews University on Friday 17th at 5:30pm. You don't have to be a student, and entry is free.

Playing live, yesterday.
The studio version of the same song.

She's been releasing EPs since 2010, but now apparently an album is in the offing. I think it'll be worth checking out. I like most of what she's released so far (and kudos to anyone who can release a song called "Experimenting with Rugs").

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Oh Scotland. I think you’ve made a big mistake.

But you made it clearly, on a fantastic turn out. And while 45% isn’t enough for the change I wanted to see, that’s an enormous percentage that voted not just for a bit of change but for actual independence. It wasn’t half the population, but it’s close. The percentage who want to see significant change short of that is greater still.

And you’ve been promised that change, albeit in vague terms by politicians you don’t think much of, who don’t currently seem to have much of a clue of how to deliver it. The next step is to make sure they deliver, and don’t take your No vote as a blind acceptance of the status quo.

Alex Salmond’s concession speech was a great example of how to continue the positive attitude to change that’s brought us this far.

On a more personal note, I expect the political content of this blog will now go down. You may be relieved to hear that! For me, independence was a project for improving my country that was worth breaking my political silence for. Having got here, I won’t be giving up on that, but it’s now a change that won’t be coming soon. Now, whatever side we were on yesterday, let’s work for a better Scotland within the United Kingdom.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Any vote is a choice between two or more futures. The referendum on Scottish independence is a choice between two (or more) futures.

Two, because the choice on the paper is a simple Yes or No. More, because each choice is supported by multiple parties who have different views of what should occur after a Yes or a No.

But today we focus on making our choice of one of two futures; by saying Yes or No to whether Scotland should be an independent country.

You wouldn’t know it from the campaigns though. Despite two and a half years in which to prepare and make a case, only one campaign has had anything much to say about building a future that’s better for Scotland; for the people who vote today. Only one campaign actually deserves to win.

It may not turn out that way, of course. The flawed AV referendum was lost to a campaign that didn’t deserve to win. (Unfortunately Alternative Voting, the version of proportional representation on offer, probably didn’t deserve to win either – it was a tough decision for me to vote for the proposal on that occasion.)

I don’t have children, but I want to leave the planet a little better than I found it when I go, and giving Scotland a better go at running itself is probably the biggest, most positive project I can contribute to in my lifetime, even if that contribution boils down to a single X on a bit of paper. And this may be my only chance to do that.

It’s taken an extraordinary set of circumstances to bring us to this point. There’s majority support for independence in a parliament that was designed to prevent it. Those circumstances that may not be repeated in the next twenty years, or ever; and in twenty years I’ll be approaching 70 and perhaps the end of my life (though I hope for a bit more!).

Yes campaigners don’t share a single vision for the future of Scotland, but at least they all have one, and almost all of them envisage a more egalitarian Scotland that deals more kindly with the less fortunate and makes sure that the citizens of the future can benefit from a high quality education with less debt. We can probably get some sort of blend of those proposals through coalition our proportionally elected parliament.

The No campaign have little in common but their opposition to change. The three main parties couldn’t come together to make an alternate positive proposal for Scotland’s future. If they had, they could have put it on the ballot paper and almost certainly won – the SNP left the door open on that for a long time, while making it clear it wasn’t their responsibility to come up with a proposal they didn’t support*. The Scottish electorate has waited even longer for them to come up with something worthwhile, but it’s become clear they have nothing, and large swings to Yes show patience is running out. In the case of a No, what we get depends on who gets in at Westminster, and it’s likely to be just one party’s version that gets enacted. Not to mention they’re all pretty rubbish. Take a look at this graphic to see how significant the proposed changes are:

Click through for source and more information

Click through for the source and more information. The Westminster parties are offering S1 through to S5. Polling suggests most of the Scottish population wanted S9; independence is S10. Which of those looks closest to S9?

“No” may win, but frankly I think that would be a bit of a disaster for democracy and Scotland, and deeper entrench the cynicism and disgust many people already feel for politics and politicians. I won’t be helping them, as I’m voting “Yes”. If you’re reading this and have a vote, I hope you’ll consider it too.

My friend who prefers not to be linked closed his “Yes” post with this video. I recommend it too:

 

* This may not be how you’ve seen it reported, with delusional commenters suggesting that the party of independence somehow didn’t want what it’s always campaigned for, and that Cameron had manoeuvred Salmond into a corner. Really? It was a win-win for the SNP – if the Unionist parties came up with a credible third option for the ballot paper, it would have romped home with a safe, large majority that independence-minded voters could have accepted as a significant step in the right direction. As it was, they made it clear there was nothing much on offer and forced waverers to consider whether independence was really the only game in town. The Unionist behaviour was, sadly, predictable. It’s a gamble for the SNP, and not guaranteed to win, but it was always likely to push more people into supporting independence.

Decade

Feb. 14th, 2014 11:52 pm
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Mugshots a decade apartToday marks my (first?) decade on LiveJournal. Quite a few of the people who may read this will have been here a bit longer than that, but I thought it was worth marking anyway. It’s over two decades now since I set up my first web presence – a links site for Doctor Who, also called the Temporal Nexus. (There was a gap of several years in between.) The web’s been around so long now that people have grown up with it, and kids who weren’t around when I started this blog are now learning to code!

I originally set this blog up with the intention of writing more about software development, as we were starting on a significant project at the time. As it turned out, there wasn’t as much to write about on that front as I’d hoped, so I’ve touched on a variety of other things over the years. Hopefully they’ve mostly been of some interest!

LiveJournal’s popularity has dropped over the years, but I’m still here for two main reasons. I like to read blog entries of a decent size; and my friends are here. I don’t do Twitter much (though I am there @ggreig) because how much can you really say that’s worth saying in 140 characters? And I don’t do Facebook at all because I disapprove of their utter lack of concern for personal privacy; not so much for my own sake as for the way I feel they’re exploiting people’s ignorance. I’m sure my personal boycott’ll be bringing them to their knees any day now! LiveJournal has its limitations, but it’s good enough for me.

So if you’ve read me for all ten years, or for nearly as long – as I think most of you have – thank you. And if we’ve not been friends for quite that long, thanks to you too, for making me think I might have the occasional thing to say worth hearing!

Look forward to hearing you all from time to time, and hope you still enjoy hearing from me.

Cheers,
Gavin.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)
Must-watch official prequel to The Day of the Doctor, the 50th anniversary episode:

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Logo of the "Yes Scotland" campaign in favour of Scottish independence.Next weekend (21st September), I'll be in Edinburgh, taking part in the second of three annual marches in support of Scottish independence.

If you read my account of last year's march, you'll know that as, generally speaking, a non-activist, I found it quite enjoyable. If you fancy coming along this time, it would be good to see you there, and good numbers will help to sway public opinion. As far as I can tell, support for a "Yes" is higher than most of the media would have you believe, but still trails a "No". However, about a third of people are still in the “Don’t Know” camp, so visible public support does matter. Poll reporting is often phrased in a way that may encourage you to assume the “Don’t Know”s support a “No”; make sure you check the actual numbers. If you support Scottish independence, don’t let the Catalans put you to shame!

This year's march begins at noon next Saturday, and is from the High Street to Calton Hill. More information on places, times and travel at the official web site.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Tomorrow (Saturday 29th March) I'll be protesting against the Bedroom Tax in Edinburgh. In my opinion it’s worse than the Poll Tax. If the Poll Tax could be characterised as thoughtless with regard to those on low incomes, the Bedroom Tax by comparison would be vindictive, as it’s targeted on them, and is likely to have a cumulative effect with other benefit cuts.

There are many other locations throughout the UK where something’s happening tomorrow, listed onscreen at the end of this video. You can skip to 2:55 if the song isn't your thing. I hope you enjoy it, and consider coming along:

If you don't know the original version of the song, here it is:

ggreig: (Western gentleman)
The UK's first military airbase, Montrose Air Station, is a hundred years old:

BBC article
Brief video report

No longer active, but there's a museum.
ggreig: (Default)

A proud-looking small dog wearing a Lion Rampant coat

Yesterday I attended the first of three annual March/Rallies that are to be held in the lead up to the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014. The last (and only previous) time that I was part of a public expression of opinion would have been towards the end of the Thatcher government in the 1980s, when I was part of a protest against Michael Forsyth opening the East Sands Leisure Centre in St. Andrews. I’ve nothing against the fine institution that is the East Sands Leisure Centre, I should hasten to add; just the company it kept at the time.

That was an angry protest; very civilised, because it was St. Andrews, and quite small scale, but angry at the things that the government of the time was doing. Although it was also very civilised, yesterday was otherwise a different kettle of fish.

It was a bit bigger, for a start. 9,500 according to the organisers; 5,000 according to a police estimate, but that was apparently made before the march started and certainly not at peak attendance, which would have been at the start of the rally in Princes Street Gardens.

Independence Marchers walking down The Mound in Edinburgh

The main difference, though, was atmosphere. This wasn’t a protest against something, it was a statement of support for something, and the overwhelming mood was positive. At the rally, I listened to about two and a half hours of people giving speeches (interspersed with musical interludes, of which see a couple below), and it was only towards the end of that that we started to get some angry speeches – from trade unionists railing against the current Westminster government. While I could sympathise with their reasons, I’m glad that the majority of speakers were not in that mould. That’s not to say that other speakers didn’t have an occasional dig, but it would be as an aside in a more forward-looking speech.

Another good thing its that it clearly wasn’t about one party. Obviously there is one party which has an enormous presence in this debate, but after a speech from the First Eck there were speakers from other parties and none. Margo McDonald was first up, followed in an order I can’t recall by Dennis Canavan and speakers from Labour for Independence, the Greens and the SSP. Conspicuous by their official absence were the current parties of Westminster government – which is a shame, as there must be some who have an interest in Scottish independence. I hope someone in those parties has the guts to take the sort of stand against their leadership that the Labour for Independence guy has. One journalist came out in support – the chronologically gifted (her words!) and more-than-usually-worth-reading Ruth Wishart.

Anyway, I just wanted to write about the experience of being there, not to change your minds. Having said that, if you want to accompany me next year, that’d be great.

 

Dougie MacLean sang Caledonia for us, which was well received:

 

Rock bagpipes have been done before, but Gleadhraich were rather good at it and moreover come from Carnoustie. Shame I didn't capture their rendition of “My Generation”, which was also highly enjoyable:

If you want to hear "My Generation", Gleadhraich themselves have an earlier performance on YouTube.

ggreig: (Default)

I usually like my posts to be about something, but I’m aware I haven’t posted anything in longer-than-usual and with another week dawning where I know I’m not going to have the time to post (never mind the inclination), I thought a general catch-up might be a good idea.

Much of July was spent in California visiting [livejournal.com profile] msinvisfem. Since my return, I've been to Claymore in Edinburgh and spent a fair bit of my time at weekends painting stuff I picked up, particularly La Maison Rouge, a model building in 28mm scale that really looks good. Since painting enthusiasm is to be valued, I've not got on with any other things, like the Windows Phone app I started months ago, or the electronics projects I started months ago, or, well, anything else I probably started months ago. If not longer in the past! And that’s before I even think about the possibilities of T Scale*, which I’d never heard of before the St Andrews Model Railway Exhibition a couple of weeks ago.

Some of this stuff is definitely post-worthy, so might still crop up later. But for now, I’m fine, I’ve been doing stuff, and hope to resume normal, occasional service in the not-too-distant future. Just not right now.

* The smallest model railway scale in the world, and more affordable looking than other quite small scales. Shame it’s all modern and no steam at the moment.

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