Loose Ends: Billy Connolly mural

Or at least one of the three murals featuring Sir Billy Connolly around Glasgow city centre. I chose my favourite of them, the Jack Vettriano one, which sits above a beer garden, simply because it is around the corner from the La Pasionaria statue. Billy Connolly is a comedian and actor and he’s from Glasgow, very probably the funniest man Scotland has produced. The BBC commissioned the murals to mark Connolly’s 75th birthday and the Vettriano mural shows a scene from Billy Connolly’s World Tour of Scotland, at a time when Connolly was sans beard, being blown about by the wind up north near Wick. It is probably the most natural of the three murals around the city centre. The others, by John Byrne and Rachel Maclean, are both great but I have a soft spot for this one.

I had a connection in mind for the next one anyway and again it wasn’t far away. I changed plan en route but it worked even better.

Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends post follows next week. The Loose Ends page features the whole set from this series.

Saturday Saunter: Trains, Burns and by the silvery Tay

Good morning,

This is an early Saturday Saunter today as I’m working this Saturday. It’s a Monday night start this week and I’ve got Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys on in the background. He’s in Cornwall at the moment. He’s wearing a suitably garish blue jaiket this time. He might be a Tory but he’s tolerable.

Not a clue what I’m going to write here this time. Sometimes I do that and go by the Norman MacCaig principle. Often when he sat down to write a poem, he had no idea and just waited for something to come to him. Norman MacCaig is one of my favourite poets and I think of his words every so often. He referred to himself as a Zen Calvinist and I subscribe wholeheartedly to that. Those are two almost entirely contradictory outlooks on life but I suppose they would bring a good balance!

Last weekend I was in Dundee for the football. Less said about that the better. We go again on Tuesday. Before the game I decided to do the last two instalments of the current Loose Ends round. I’m quite a few weeks ahead of what’s appearing on the blog. The La Pasionaria statue was on the blog on Wednesday and six connections separate it and the last two I did over the weekend. I ended looking over the silvery Tay. I usually try to conclude with a synoptic view and the perspective down to the sea and up towards hills gives plenty of scope for when I decide to resume, probably later in the year.

Michael Portillo is still in Cornwall, now in a red jaiket and purple breeks. He’s in a beautiful village that had a harbour that looked like something in the East Neuk of Fife. Probably warmer there than it would be on the Fife Riviera right enough.

Tuesday night now. Hit a bit of a brick wall last night so starting again. On in the background is a Geoff Marshall video from YouTube going around all the stations of the Docklands Light Railway in London. I have been on the DLR a couple of times heading out to Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum. The National Maritime Museum is excellent. The first time I went there was a very fine exhibition of photographs by Ansel Adams of Californian redwood trees. Most recently I remember liking a display about lighthouses. Greenwich is handsome, home to the Cutty Sark built not so far from here in Dumbarton. The Prime Meridian passes through Greenwich and I particularly like to go up the hill to the Royal Observatory. Outside the Observatory is an excellent view back into London, particularly to the Thames, Canary Wharf and the O2 Arena. When I’m in London in February, I might need to take a wee trip out.

V and A Dundee: Image description: a view through a triangular arch towards a bridge and a town at the other side of the river.

Thinking back to Sunday in Dundee, I really like the view from the V and A. There are two balconies at either side of the museum and due to the angles of the building it is possible to see from one to the other, the hills visible through the glass. Broughty Castle could be seen downriver and eventually the North Sea. The other way there were hills and generally with one sweep of the head I could see so much of what makes Scotland interesting. The V and A is a very fine museum but as a building it is incredibly cleverly designed. It is designed to look like the prow of a ship and there are porthole windows at foyer level and up the stairs. Plus the walkway between the two parts of the building, which gives a great view to the Tay Road Bridge.

It is of course Robert Burns’s birthday today. My week at work has had a bit of Burns going on though today I won’t be dining on haggis, neeps and tatties, especially because I don’t like two of those three. Our national poet is lauded for his fine words though of course his story is far more complicated than the ‘heaven-taught ploughman’ stuff he is famous for. The writer Sara Sheridan, who wrote the excellent Where Are The Women?, Tweeted a thread the other day about the many women around him or who have written about him. What I didn’t know was that Catherine Carswell, herself an eminent writer who wrote Open The Doors, got death threats for writing a particularly honest biography of Burns published in 1930.

Where Are The Women? is excellent, incidentally. I read it over Christmas. It’s hard to describe. It is a semi-fictional travel guide to Scotland, if it recognised more women in its museums and public spaces.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 25th January 2020. Thanks for reading. Loose Ends returns on Wednesday and it is still in Glasgow, with some street art. Have a very nice weekend, whatever you end up doing. Cheers for now.

Loose Ends: La Pasionaria statue

The last instalment of Loose Ends led to the Donald Dewar statue at the top of Buchanan Street. As I walked along the side of the Clyde one Sunday in December, I thought about the next connection. It would be a statue. I had considered going to the Isabella Elder statue in Govan but as I walked, I realised that the La Pasionaria statue, one of the four of women in Glasgow, connected even better. The statue was put up at the behest of the Labour Party, of which Donald Dewar was a member, plus of course it is another statue in Glasgow. It commemorates those who went to fight Franco and fascism in the Spanish Civil War. At the base of the Dolores Ibarruri statue are her words: ‘Better to die on your feet than live for ever on your knees’. 65 Glaswegians died in the conflict. The statue, unveiled in 1974, sits on Clyde Street right by the river, facing south. Beneath it sat flowers including a fairly new bouquet of red roses, in memory of a lost friend. There was another story there.

I read later that the statue’s inception was controversial. Apparently, according to the Discover Glasgow website, Conservative councillors weren’t too happy with the statue and their opposition led to it being underfunded and unveiled without fanfare.

To the connections, then, and I decided that my walk would take me to the next connection, a piece of street art. Luckily there’s not a shortage of that around Glasgow.

Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows next week. The entirety of the Loose Ends series can be found on the Loose Ends page.

Saturday Saunter: Kelpies, the weekend and the Doomsday Clock

Good Saturday to you,

This edition of the Saturday Saunter is being started on Wednesday, at lunchtime and into the pages of my notebook. This Saturday is a very rare one when I have no football or work so as you read this I’ll be having a lie-in before going out to the cinema at night. I’m going to see 1917, which I’m told is quite sad in places so I’ll have the hankies at the ready. Tomorrow I’m off to Dundee to watch the Hibs play Dundee United in the Scottish Cup. United are running away with the Championship so despite being a league below us at the moment, they are currently favourites for an upset. We’ll see.

Since I last wrote here, I’ve been all over the shop. On Friday I was at the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies, which were great. I hadn’t been up close to the Kelpies before and they’re far better up close. I had been at the Dunbar Bear, also sculpted by Andy Scott, the previous weekend and noticed a fair few design similarities. Sunday took me past the Bear on the way to Newcastle, where my dad and I visited the Baltic art gallery across the Tyne in Gateshead. The Baltic used to be a flour mill and is now home to many ever-varied, ever-changing exhibitions. They also had a kid’s birthday party on in one of the temporary exhibitions, which was set up like soft play. There were three other exhibitions on, Judy Chicago, Joy Labinjo ‘Our histories cling to us’ and Animalesque. Judy Chicago was interesting, featuring tapestries, photographs and installations about feminism, climate change, the process of giving birth and the Holocaust. Joy Labinjo’s paintings were all right. I liked the way the people were depicted but it almost seemed like the backgrounds bore no relation to how the people were placed. Fine all the same. Animalesque was especially random with a sculpture of a hippo placed in the middle of the floor and a German-dubbed version of The Jungle Book playing in the background.

It’s now Thursday morning as I continue on with this, home with Runrig on in the background. I also went to see Jojo Rabbit at the cinema on Tuesday night. It was the Access Film Club show at the Glasgow Film Theatre, so the usual laid-back affair with the noise turned down and no trailers. I really liked it. I was with a friend who loves the director of the film, Taika Waititi, so I had been briefed on his past work beforehand. It was on different levels darkly, brilliantly funny and also poignant and sobering. We were united that our favourite character was Yorki, played by Archie Yates, Jojo’s friend who ends up a soldier despite only being 10. He had the best lines.

I read an article this morning about weekend loneliness, whereby people can be actively busy during the week and seriously lonely at the weekend. I’ve written here before about loneliness and it is one of the worst things to live with. Recently I’ve had a lot of people around me and some new connections, which have been amazing. It doesn’t make me complacent, though, or forget how it feels to be lonely. Sometimes I actively crave solitude – it helps me recharge – and other times it’s the last thing I want or need. I get the concept of weekend loneliness, though. It also strikes during the festive period, in my experience.

On Wednesday Scottish CND put out a statement about the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ assessment of how close we are as a society to nuclear or climate disaster. Last year, they announced that the time was now two minutes to midnight, which the scientists called ‘the new abnormal’. Next week the Clock gets set again so we may well edge ever closer. Without getting too political, stepping away a little from the CND’s statement, we live in dark times between the conflict with the United States and Iran, the fires in Australia, climate change and the rise of the right politically. The new abnormal is probably about right.

Anyway, on that rather dark note, it’s time to end this Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 18th January 2020. Thank you very much for reading. Loose Ends returns on Wednesday and it’s still in Glasgow, down by the river. Have a good week. Cheery bye.

Loose Ends: Donald Dewar statue

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The previous Loose Ends connection was in George Square, scene of protest, celebration and much else. It was perhaps only natural that I came next the short distance to the statue of Donald Dewar, which stands at the top of Buchanan Street. There too people gather to protest, busk or eat their lunch. It was night and I only had a few minutes. I stood long enough to get a couple of photos, never easy with a phone to avoid streetlight glare. The scene was quite quiet for an early evening, folk heading home or further down towards the town and the shops. I looked up at Donald Dewar and left.

Donald Dewar was a politician. He was the first First Minister of Scotland and did a lot of work to set up the Scottish Parliament. He gave a very powerful speech at its opening on 1st July 1999, his words warm and passionate on that summer’s day two decades ago. The first words of the Scotland Act 1998 are carved on the base of his statue:

‘There shall be a Scottish Parliament’. 

Donald Dewar was particularly tickled by that concise statement which begat so much. I remember not only the Concorde flying over my primary school when the Scottish Parliament opened but about a year later watching his funeral on television. He had collapsed in the street, dying of a brain haemorrhage aged 63. I can only wonder what he would make of Scotland today, of the Labour Party and of the Scottish Parliament he helped to hansel.

To the connections and they are many from this statue. Donald Dewar represented Anniesland so a trip up Great Western Road might work. Or the Scottish Parliament, even the Royal High School up on Calton Hill that might have been its home at one time. The place of Dewar’s funeral, Glasgow Cathedral, has featured in this series already but not where he was educated, Glasgow University. I have the feeling it might be another Glaswegian one next…

Thank you for reading. This is part of the Loose Ends series here on Walking Talking. Other links in the series can be found on the Loose Ends page.

 

Saturday Saunter: Photos, woods and getting lost

Good Saturday to you,

This is one of those Saturdays when I’m working hence the post is coming early. I am actually writing it on Monday night, listening to Tide Lines.

Since I last posted here, I’ve been fairly busy. I wrote the last Saunter on Friday and on Saturday I went to do some Loose Ends business in Glasgow city centre then off to Kelvingrove. I had the idea of going to Rottenrow, now part of the Strathclyde University campus but once the city’s main maternity hospital. The site of the hospital is marked by part of the old building’s edifice and a garden with a sculpture of a nappy pin. That Loose Ends post will be a good few weeks away. I just liked that particular one. I finally got to the Linda McCartney exhibition at Kelvingrove, which closes tomorrow (Sunday). It was excellent. I wasn’t so bothered by the many photos of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and other musicians, more interested by the more arty ones. I think my favourite featured the model Twiggy, with a plait in her hair, thoughtful and staring down. Another cracking one was a group of old guys talking on a street in Campbeltown. It looked like it could have been anywhere. A picture of a London street scene was also cool, a nice sunset on a wintry day like this one, showing the car mirror with a pair of male eyes. I’m going by memory rather than notes hence it’s a wee bit vague.

This might be one of those posts when I rant less and talk more about adventures. On Sunday, the last day of my festive break, I went to Dunbar. While there I did some more Loose Ends stuff, the last of it something I was meaning to do anyway and which connects neatly, always a bonus. I walked from Belhaven to the new Dunbar Bear sculpture, taking the most direct route which took me through Lochend Woods, a place I know very well from my younger days. Despite not having been there for well over a decade, I still knew most of the paths without thinking about it. The woods are surrounded by new houses but there are still familiar places, including the glade where I hurt my ankle cross-country running in PE. It was a great blast from my past. The poems and creative thoughts that used to come walking those familiar paths.

After the Bear, which I liked far more than I thought I would (and which also features in Loose Ends soon so I won’t dwell on it here), I decided to take a path which led under a railway bridge. I thought it might come out at a hamlet called Broxburn but it turned out that it was a bit closer to Dunbar, at a farm steading called Newtonlees. Like much of Dunbar, however, even that is now houses and I soon came into a very unfamiliar row of houses. I actually had to look on Google Maps to find my way back to the road, which is very strange in the place where I grew up. I managed, though, and was soon on the East Beach, a place I also know very well. The sky was beautiful, a brighter pink on the horizon, oranges and yellows as the sun set behind.

This weekend, then. Yesterday, Friday, I was due to have a day trip to Falkirk and the Kelpies. More on that soon, I’m sure. Tomorrow I’m on the way to Newcastle, probably for some museums and culture. Over the weekend I’m hoping to finish Harriet the Spy and probably try and do some OU reading.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 11th January 2020. Thanks for reading. Nothing scheduled for tomorrow though Loose Ends will be back on Wednesday with a statue, once more in Glasgow. For the next few weeks Loose Ends gets very Glaswegian. Never a bad thing. Have a good weekend.

Loose Ends: George Square

On the way home from Edinburgh one Sunday evening, I decided to kill some time and have a wander around George Square. George Square is where the City Chambers is. The City Chambers is home to Glasgow City Council, who own the Kibble Palace and Glasgow Botanic Gardens. It was late November and Christmas lights were up but I forgot that there was also a big wheel, shows and stalls in the square. I did a circuit, actually liking the subtlety and class of the lights, even if the Christmas muzak was a bit grating. That I could hear someone belting out ‘Man, I Feel Like A Woman’ by Shania Twain in one of the tents cheered the miserable Scrooge in me up no end. The City Chambers was lit up, the square full of people enjoying the festivities. I looked and listened, turned around the square and headed for the train home.

George Square is very easy to link to. There is a George Square in Edinburgh, part of the University. There are other City Chambers about the country too, other places which have a Wetherspoons or a Greggs or a train station backing onto them. George Square has seen some incredible events in its time and has been the setting of numerous paintings and poems, including one of my favourites, ‘The Starlings of George Square’ by Edwin Morgan. Perhaps a place linked to Edwin Morgan might work, like the University of Glasgow or the Scottish Poetry Library. It won’t be hard to find somewhere to go from George Square, that’s for sure.

Thanks for reading. This is part of the Loose Ends series here on Walking Talking. Another instalment will follow next week. For the other parts of the series, please see the Loose Ends page.

Digest: December 2019

The last digest of the Old Year, the Old Decade, even, and December 2019 was busy with work and getting ready for Christmas. Now Christmas is over and there is just a great sigh of relief. I was in Morrison’s on Boxing Day and the music was normal, cheesy pop, not Slade or Wizzard or Mariah Carey or anyone else. Bliss.

On Saturday 7th December I went to see Hibs play Aberdeen. Jack Ross’s green and white army won 3-0. Braw.

The following day I spent the day around Glasgow with my dad. The Santa Dash was on as I headed to meet him at Queen Street and my spirited march was captured for posterity by the BBC Scotland cameras filming Inside Central Station at Christmas. We went to Kelvingrove and there was a pop-up orchestra on the go, which was glorious, making excellent use of that fine building and its acoustics. We also went to Street Level Photoworks and its excellent exhibition of Glasgow photographs by Oscar Marzaroli, featuring parts of the city which are no longer there.

On Tuesday 10th December I went to see Gremlins at the Glasgow Film Theatre, which was the monthly autism friendly Access Film Club film.

Friday 13th December saw me doing a bit of shopping. In between times I managed a look at the view from the flagpole at Queen’s Park, as well as a rather fine mural on Drury Street.

Sunday 15th December was a busy one, football then a Christmas night out. The football was at Celtic Park and it was as nauseating as ever. Celtic are very cringey and the combination of Christmas songs, Celtic songs and Celtic Christmas songs nearly put me over the edge. My meal out was nice, though.

I managed a trip out to Aberlady Bay on Friday 20th December, getting a wee while walking along the beach as the light faded. The football later was dreadful.

Sunday 21st December involved running a couple of errands in the town. Between the errands I managed a walk along the riverside, a wee bit of street art spotting and a turn around the Necropolis.

On Saturday 28th December I went to Durham, via Carlisle and Newcastle. Durham Cathedral was glorious as ever, just right for my mood that particular day.

This month also saw the annual Best of 2019 and Books of 2019 posts so have a read at them.

On Sunday 29th December I went to Livingston to watch Hibs. They got beat. It was awful.

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Tuesday 31st December is usually a day I like to go somewhere. I don’t really do New Year yet it feels right to see the last light of the year while out and about. I went on the bus to St. Andrews. It was bright, cold and utterly glorious walking by the sea there.

December’s Scots word of the month is ‘thon’. As in, ‘aye, thon ‘hing’, or yes, that thing. I’ve also encountered it in Derry Girls recently so there may be an influence from over the water too.

January will be busy with getting back to work, a couple of planned trips to Newcastle and Dundee, plus life in general. I’m looking forward to it, strangely.

Thanks as ever for reading this December digest. Loose Ends returns on Wednesday and the Saturday Saunter will return on Saturday, naturally enough. Until then, have an excellent month. Toodle pip.

Posts this month –

Digest: November 2019

Loose Ends: Espedair Street

Saturday Saunter: Hate will never win

Ruling passions

Loose Ends: Glasgow Central Station

Saturday Saunter: Normality, podcasts, women’s football and boys in high heels

Statues

Loose Ends: Kibble Palace

Saturday Saunter: Radio, being an OU student and books

Short on time

Best of 2019

Books of 2019

 

Saturday Saunter: VAR, rain and vivid light

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to the first Saturday Saunter of 2020. I am writing this on Friday morning. I am off until Monday so I am still a person of leisure. It’s one of those days when it is bright outside but when I went out to the bin a few minutes ago, it was raining. Glasgow is like that quite often. As this is posted, I have a couple of bits and bobs to do in Paisley then might try and catch a lower league football match since the Premiership is on its annual winter shutdown. Then again I might not. On Sunday, I might go to the art gallery in Kirkcaldy, one of my favourite places.

I try not to write much about football here. I appreciate that a fair few readers here really don’t care. If you’re in that group please scroll down to the next paragraph. I’ve been thinking a fair bit about football and unfortunately about the off-the-field stuff more than the actual game itself. Then again Hibs getting beat by Livingston last Sunday isn’t worth dwelling on. Sunday also saw the Old Firm match. Either way humanity lost. Anyway, the following day a statement was dispatched from Ibrox calling for Video Assistant Referees (VAR) to be introduced in the Scottish game, specifically citing three incidents which went against The Rangers. This was set against a backdrop of English football where VAR has been widely criticised for its impact on the game, taking the spontaneity and vivacity out of it. I am firmly against it. Referees aren’t great but decisions are made in the spur of the moment. It is an interpretation, a subjective decision following supposedly objective rules. They can go wrong. That’s part of life. The joy of football is flowing football, good play, sometimes a dicey tackle. Plus I can’t seriously see the point in Ross County, Hamilton, Livingston, St. Mirren or anyone else spending money on screens and technology that might realistically be employed three times a year, i.e. when the Gruesomes come to town. It would make the game sterile and I would probably find something else to do with my Saturday.

One thing might be walking in the rain. On Thursday I went east for my first foray out into the world in the new decade. I decided to walk along the coast from Portobello as far as Prestongrange, about 4.5 miles. It was cloudy as I got to Edinburgh, though by the time I got off the bus in Porty, there were some spots of rain. Despite that the Prom in Porty was busy with walkers, cyclists, even swimmers in the Forth. Better them than me. I was soon alone walking by Joppa with the Forth opening out before me. The rain got heavier and I gave myself until Fisherrow Harbour before I made the decision. I ended up walking on, managing an impromptu Loose Ends mission along the way. I was there, I might not get there soon so I walked on. I reached Prestongrange after first walking across Morrison’s Haven, standing looking back towards Edinburgh, Porty distant across the bay. I didn’t realise how wet I was until I got off the bus on Princes Street about an hour later and I was still ringin’.

Tuesday was brighter but colder as I went across the country to St. Andrews. I like a run to St. Andrews and the bus ride is 2.5 hours, long enough to read, lunch, listen to music and otherwise chill as the bus rolls forward. I got off then headed towards the sea, through the Cathedral kirkyard. The sky was cloudless, the sky and sea a bright, sharp blue. I walked to the end of the pier then back up by the Cathedral and Castle. Being by the sea was all I needed. I didn’t care that it was cold. It was just the right light, at a time of year when there isn’t enough of it. It was dark by Kincardine on the way home, a low ring of orange on the horizon the last light of the year as the bus moved steadily back to Glasgow.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 4th January 2020. Thanks as ever for reading. Tomorrow will be the December digest. Wednesday will be the return of Loose Ends and it will be right at the heart of Glasgow. Have a good week. Peace.

New Year Natter

Good morning,

And Happy New Year! Or if you don’t follow the Gregorian calendar, it’s Wednesday. Woo. Lang may your lum reek and all that. A lot of people care a lot about New Year and there will be a lot of sore heads this morning, as well as sore faces and feet and the rest. It is also a new decade, the beginning of the Roaring Twenties. What the world will be like in ten years, who can say? Whether Scotland will be independent, whether we or any part of the UK will be in the European Union, whether the Conservatives will still be in government, we can only but speculate at this stage. On 1st January 2030 I will not long have turned 40, which is another frightening prospect.

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. They are all too easily broken and so I have stopped making them. My only aspiration this year is to be less cautious. Nebulous I know but that’s why it’s an aspiration, not a resolution.

I still have a few days to go before I go back to work. My plan for today is probably to go for a walk, maybe to Pollok Park, which I haven’t been to in ages. There are no buses or trains running in Glasgow today, indeed precious few in Scotland at all. On Christmas Day there were only a couple of freight trains running along the line by my house which normally sees trains every few moments throughout the day. I haven’t been to Pollok Park in yonks. I usually like to walk there in autumn but alas, it hasn’t happened in the last couple of years.

On Saturday I went to Durham. I had originally planned to go the previous week but I got back from Edinburgh late the night before and I was really knackered. On Boxing Day I ended up booking train tickets going to Durham via Carlisle. The train from Carlisle to Newcastle was absolutely stowed out and I stood next to a gaggle of lads heading to the football. They weren’t too bad, just a wee bit coarse. I looked out the window and read my book, a book of essays by Mary Beard on that occasion.

Durham is best approached by train and I was happy to step off the train to the view across to the Castle and Cathedral, a familiar sight from many visits over the years. I headed straight to the Cathedral and wandered around that magnificent building, sitting for a while on a pew thinking big thoughts. I hadn’t been to the Cathedral in about two years and it was brilliant to have an hour or so just being there. Since I was last there, the Cathedral have allowed people to take photographs within its walls so I took a few snaps, one of which graces my iPad screensaver as I write this. Despite being a devout heathen, I adore Durham Cathedral, not least because of its history and architecture, with every detail carefully worked.

Since I last went to the Cathedral, a new window had been unveiled, the Illumination Window, marking the life of Sara Pilkington, a Durham University student who died in 2012 of a cardiac condition. The window is glorious, full of colours, reflecting perhaps the seasons and how they affect Durham, also the diversity of humanity, I think.

The early part of 2020 will see me in England a couple more times. I am going to Newcastle in a couple of weeks time for the day then to London for a few days in February. In deference to that impending Newcastle trip, I didn’t linger when I was passing through on Saturday. I’ve always liked Newcastle, particularly being by the riverside and its fine museums and galleries. The London trip will include a visit to the Harry Potter Studios, which should be cool. The creator of Harry Potter has of course been in the news recently for expressing some controversial views, which I happen to disagree with. As ever the world is complicated and I have come to the conclusion that there are authors and artists I disagree with who have created some wonderful things.

The other day the artist and author Alasdair Gray died. Amidst the many tributes were words from writers, politicians and many others who were influenced by his work. For me, I cannot claim much of an influence. His finest work, for me at least, is the mural in Hillhead Subway Station. I find a lot of his work a bit hard to approach, full of symbolism which I don’t always get. As ever, that’s more of an issue with me than the art itself. Alasdair Gray was immensely talented and as a Scottish cultural figure, he will undoubtedly be missed. Plus he declined a knighthood, which can only be a mark of the man.

For those who might have missed them, I have written my list of the Best of 2019 and the Books of 2019. It might not be as resonant as Barack Obama’s lists but it might be worth a read.

Anyway, that’s this special New Year Natter for today, Wednesday 1st January 2020. Crikey, that’s a strange one to write. A Saturday Saunter will be here on Saturday while on Sunday will be the December digest. Have a good week. A very Happy New Year to all.