Jeremy, Cyril, and a hovercraft

It’s Summer 1974 and during the university holidays I’m working as a car park attendant and deck chair boy on the sea front at the west Lancashire resort of Southport. My beat is on the Sea Wall – which is a dyke, as you might find in Holland, topped with a road and car parkingContinue reading “Jeremy, Cyril, and a hovercraft”

The old familiar places

Television Quiz show, University Challenge, first broadcast in 1962, has switched question master and channel and has reflected the changes in academic institutions and their students – but one thread has remained constant. Ask a question centred on the culture, history, or geography of Scotland, Wales or Ireland and, unless a team contains a studentContinue reading “The old familiar places”

Putting a name on it

Hello! My name is Seán – and I was a “named person” for nearly forty years. It shouldn’t feel like it, but some of the ill-informed reaction to the Scottish Government’s proposal for a “named person” to safeguard young people seems to suggest that anyone favouring the idea should admit to that position only apologetically.Continue reading “Putting a name on it”

A bar or two of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Just to the west of Dublin’s city centre, between Stoneybatter, Smithfield, and the green expanses of the Phoenix Park, is an area known as Arbour Hill. It is composed largely of narrow streets of terraced houses, and is separated from the Liffey quays to the south by the former Collins military Barracks, which is nowContinue reading “A bar or two of the Hallelujah Chorus.”

What a difference a day makes?

Today was intended to be Scottish Independence Day – though I have to confess, it was a tight timetable, given the negotiations independence would have entailed. I feel sorry that 55% of the population felt unable to take a leap of faith in their country, and sad that many obviously voted out of self interest.Continue reading “What a difference a day makes?”

It’s comin’ yet

I paid a visit to Hugh MacDiarmid’s last home, Brownsbank Cottage, near Biggar, this week. It’s a tiny, dark and very basic farmworker’s cottage. With a year gone since the Referendum, it seemed an appropriate time to visit and to think about the state of the nation. I recalled that, on MacDiarmid’s death, Norman McCaigContinue reading “It’s comin’ yet”

Feeling the way through the dark

When I was growing up, the “Blitz” in Liverpool was well known to me – which is odd, because I was born in Edinburgh, some 200 miles to the north, in 1952 – ten years after the last bombs fell. However, my mother was born and brought up in Albany Rd, Kensington, a residential areaContinue reading “Feeling the way through the dark”