Standing in the way of control

Freedom. Control. The ability to define yourself and the world around you. These, no less, are the themes of this week’s Scottish Roundup.

You might not think so, when you see that we’re starting with Vonnie at Blotted Copybook’s paean to some of her favourite tunes. You might, in fact, think that it’s just a sequence of YouTube clips.  But read a little closer and Vonnie’s love for these tunes is all about the context she experiences them in – running a tough part of a 10k, for example, or keeping her alert during a pottery session. She defines the meaning of these songs in ways that their composers could never have imagined.

And that’s what I kept thinking about as I read this week’s nominations – how we define ourselves, our past and our future. Caron at Caron’s Musings is wearily scathing about Telegraph journalist Andrew M Brown’s attempts to define female Judo Olympians in ways that he finds less threatening, worried as he is about their “soft skin being battered with bruises”. Poor lamb. It’s difficult to avoid defining him as a patronising ill-informed twit.

While Lucy at the Heritage Hub writes engagingly about her volunteer work, cataloguing letters from long-dead people that nonetheless conjure up instantly recognisable emotions. She is diligently capturing all of this data so that historians can use it to understand the past, and therefore shape the future. Which is something that is preoccupying quite a few people this week. Kelvin Holdsworth at What’s in Kelvin’s Head has been to Number 10 to hear David Cameron pledge to introduce equal marriage in England, and is struck not only by the shift in attitudes over the last few years but also by the impressive campaigning community that has fought so hard for this change.

Seeking to bring about change of a more localised sort is Nicer Than George Square, which is a blog that I am involved with, so you may well want to define me as a crass self-publicising git. Nonetheless, it’s a genuine attempt to seize the opportunity offered by the upcoming redesign of Glasgow’s George Square. We’re asking people to send in photos of city squares around the world which are Nicer Than George Square, so we can inspire the council to do something wonderful. Currently, we’re posting pictures of Olympic cities.

Which leads me to our final blog of the week, posted by Jeff at Better Nation. He writes about the current wrangle over how we should define the Olympics. Do they mark the resurgence of a new and victorious United Kingdom, gleefully hammering cycle spokes and oars into the coffin of Scottish independence? Will Danny Boyle’s extraordinary opening ceremony convince us all that our shared history is too precious to tear asunder? Or will Jeff’s argument, that you can change the future without abandoning the past, win the day?

In the end, it’s hard to disagree with his conclusion, that there is nothing wrong with supporting everyone and just enjoying the show. This remarkable week has seen people from across the globe defining themselves as champions, competitors and above all Olympians. Bravo, to each and every one.

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