Good Saturday to you,
Hope everyone reading this is okay. I am writing this Friday teatime and unusually, very unusually for me, I actually have a plan of what I want to write about. It’s history time.
This week minds have been turned to the horrific events in the United States. Black lives matter. All lives matter.
As a consequence, I’ve been thinking about Glasgow. Our city has thousands of years of history. Some of it is very visible, some isn’t. The links Glasgow had with slavery are talked about more now than they ever have been. Some of our city centre streets bear the names of people who benefited from the work of slaves, their buildings built from the proceeds. History is about taking the long view. All too often we celebrate the successes and minimise failures, reducing events and people to what is easily digested. Groups who don’t look like the writers in many cases often get ignored. People of colour, certainly, as with women, LGBTQIA+ people and those with disabilities and differences. Glasgow has a long history though there are many parts of it which are difficult and shameful by today’s standards. We need to know about it to be able to function as a community, to be honest with people. I’m going to sit this weekend and read a book I bought a few years ago and have delved into from time to time, which is It Wisnae Us: The Truth About Glasgow and Slavery by Stephen Mullen, and possibly The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay, which I bought last year and haven’t read yet.
In a similar vein, I’ve also been thinking about women in Scottish history. Yesterday I watched a documentary called Noteworthy, about Scottish banknotes, presented by writer Chris McQueer. It featured discussions about the folk on Scottish banknotes, including Sorley Maclean, Nan Shepherd and Mary Slessor, as well as those living Scots who McQueer feels should be on our banknotes, Makar Jackie Kay, World Cup winning footballer Rose Reilly and musician KT Tunstall. It’s on the BBC iPlayer for those able to access that. As I’ve ranted about before, women are vastly under represented in our museums, statues and galleries. Thankfully the RBS and Clydesdale in particular are making sure some women appear on our money.
Keeping with history, Historic Environment Scotland posted the other day asking its followers about five historic spots within five miles of where they live. At the moment our movements for leisure in Scotland are limited to roughly five miles. Anabel Marsh posted about interesting places in her locale the other day – read that if you can – and I’ve been thinking about that too. I am lucky that I have some very interesting places within five miles of me and in the next few weeks I am going to post about them. There might be some street art, a castle, trees, flowers and whatever I come up with.
I’m nearly 500 words in already and I’m not quite done yet. At the moment I cannot go to Edinburgh. I normally spend a lot of time in our nation’s capital but I haven’t been in over three months at this point. The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group have encouraged residents of the capital to act like tourists and visit attractions and restaurants when they’re back open to help stimulate their city’s economy. I have no arguments on that score. Edinburgh becoming more focused on its residents than tourists may well be a good thing.
To return to the news for a moment, I was particularly struck by some words from the Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo the other day. She quoted American performer Amanda Seales, ‘You can’t enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues’. I think that’s about right.
To conclude, I rarely talk politics here and I certainly don’t talk about my core beliefs. I am an humanist, despite everything. As people we need compassion for each other regardless our differences. At this time, with uncertainty and fear about everything, we need compassion more than ever. We need to listen to those whose voices aren’t heard, those voices which are lost in the wails and shouts of the loudest. Thanks as ever for reading, commenting and following. The blog will return on Wednesday with Loose Ends Redux, possibly before. Until then, a very good morning.