As rich and diverse as Scottish political blogging is, I was hoping I would get to avoid the usual bunfights in this week’s edition of the Roundup particularly as I’ve managed to get through a particularly busy week without having the faintest clue what was going on. I only heard about Johann Lamont’s attack on “something for nothing” culture yesterday morning, around the same time as I was alerted to Jeff’s Better Nation post which raises some interesting points, well-argued. Certain of the universal benefits in contention, he says, “are not giveaways, they are a value-for-money price of a healthy, educated populace that will power the economy”.
I also missed the satirical “BBC Scotlandshire” site, which Talk of the Hebrides claims caused a bit of a stir. But I feel a little less ashamed about having not noticed the secret horror of Lyle’s Golden Syrup tins, which vintage lover Shortbread and Ginger has blogged about.
St Mary’s Cathedral Provost Kelvin Holdsworth is on a, um, mission to get rid of “a peculiar modern ugliness“, at least in church circles (be warned, the site comes complete with annoying pop-up asking you to subscribe – as surely a pet hate of mine as the word in question is one of Kelvin’s).
A little bit behind on this one, but there are some things worthy of repeating whatever the date: to mark World Suicide Prevention Day earlier this month, Beauty From Pain covers the five basic steps of mental health first aid. As the writer says, the steps are ones that should be remembered all year round. There’s a very effective NHS Scotland poster campaign I’ve spotted on buses around Glasgow recently that carries the same message; and as a long-term sufferer of mental illness who has lost friends to suicide, I find increasing awareness of the warning signs to be incredibly heartening.
A beautifully-written new blog that is well worth your time is From a Jack to a King, in which journalist Jane Hamilton is trying to use the her devastation at the loss of her stepfather to cancer a little over a year ago as a way of raising awareness, fund-raising, and that unique catharsis that effective blogging can bring.
On the books front, as librarian Anabel Marsh tells us, next week is a big one: it’s Children’s Book Week, Banned Books Week (in the US) and National Poetry Day shows up in there too. Kerry Dexter writes about the Tobar an Dualchais Kist of Riches, a project based in Skye which intends to catalogue “stories, songs, and tales from Scotlandâ€™s history, tales of traditions, poetry, folklore, stories of how places got their names, songs that might be at the edge of memory, songs with different stories passed down….”
Given I call myself a music journalist in one of my many guises, I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t let you know about the upcoming release of Whatever Gets You Through the Night, the soundtrack to an ambitious multi-media project you may have caught in play form at the Arches earlier this year. The album – featuring fifteen new compositions by some of Scotland’s best contemporary acts including Meursault, Withered Hand and Rachel Sermanni – will be released via Edinburgh’s Biphonic Records on 5th November, but you can take a listen and download a free track by Swimmer One at Soundcloud.
I’m also going to plug some shows this week by folk-punk musician Dave Hughes – particularly a free-entry full-band show on Friday night at The Old Bank Bar, Greenock, at which I may or may not be … assisting? That’ll do. Anyway, you can also hear a preview of some of the material that will make up his imminent album in Dundee and Edinburgh; or purchase his recent EP if you are so inclined.
My own blogging, you say? Well, as was ever the case on my turn to edit the Roundup, I got little more than a historical review of an afternoon tea at the National Museums of Scotland, as part of my ongoing quest to Eat All of the Cakes. But I did get to interview Tori Freaking Amos in one of my many guises, so it hasn’t all been bad.