Today’s Saturday Saunter is being written on Wednesday night since I will be on the way to work when this is posted. It is cold, dark and windy outside, very, very windy in fact with flooding and train lines shut. Hopefully it will be nicer on Saturday morning.
Anyway, earlier on Wednesday it was announced that Harry Leslie Smith died at the age of 95. Harry Leslie Smith came to prominence in recent years for speaking out against austerity and some of the cruel policies inflicted on humanity by some of its leaders. He said that he lived through the Depression and didn’t think this generation should do the same. He was on Twitter regularly and when he died, he was in Canada on a tour. I don’t normally get sad when I hear of eminent people dying but this was a notable exception. We won’t see one like him again.
I was going to go on a big rant about why Christmas is shite but I’m not in the mood for that kind of writing tonight. Instead let’s talk books. I’ve been reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography this week, delving into different chapters rather than reading it in an linear way. It is a decent book and Michelle Obama manages to make the White House and the campaigning experience sound more human than the press stories make it appear. What pervades the book right through is love for her family and passion for issues and helping people.
Last Saturday I was working through Going To The Match by Duncan Hamilton, a series of essays about football linked around various games the writer attended over a year. I’ve still got about 25% left so as soon as I’ve finished writing this, I might just get back to it.
I have a considerable to-read pile at the best of times and that includes print and digital tomes. This has been worsened by my work stocking the complete works of Muriel Spark, donated to all libraries in Scotland to mark the centenary of her birth. There are still quite a few of them I haven’t read yet but I might bring a bundle home over Christmas. I also have a selection of mountain writing by Hamish Brown and The Silver Darlings by Neil Gunn sitting beside my bed as I write this.
Crossing the Liffey, Dublin, Ireland
This week’s podcasts have been a bit more Irish than normal. Whenever I am in Ireland, I like listening to RTE Radio 1, which can be quite like Radio 4. The documentaries on there, archived and new, are generally good and over the last couple of days I’ve listened to programmes about the train between Dublin and Belfast, bras, 19th century singer Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore and the Republic of Ireland Act. The Republic of Ireland Act was suitably dull for my tastes, talking about the political moves which led to Ireland declaring itself a republic and extricating itself from the Commonwealth. Apparently it all began when the Taoiseach was in Canada and the Governor General displayed a symbol to do with the Battle of the Boyne. The train between Dublin and Belfast programme delved into those who use that service, crossing the border for work, interest or to collect a bed to save on postage.
I use Twitter as a mixture of news source, inspiration and place of insight into the human race, good and bad. I read a Tweet from the Associated Press which read:
‘Breaking: NASA says it has landed a spacecraft on Mars to explore the planet’s interior’.
I didn’t see much of it on the news. Inspiration definitely comes from that Tweet, new insights into Mars and the solar system will hopefully be possible as a result. In a world that grows ever darker it is good to see there is still room for wonder.
So, that’s us for today. Tomorrow here will be the November digest. There will be another Streets of Glasgow post here on Wednesday. As ever, thanks very much to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a good weekend.