Tag Archives: Uncategorized

A Cup of Kindness

Tessa Ransford, distinguished Scottish poet and founder of the Scottish Poetry Library, sent me this in response to Friday’s post about Syria. She says: “I wrote this poem about three weeks ago after hearing Canon White from Iraq speaking on … Continue reading

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Chinook secrets

In June 1994 an RAF Chinook helicopter, travelling from Northern Ireland, flew into a hillside on the Mull of Kintyre, killing everyone on board. Alongside the four crew, the 25 passengers included almost all the UK’s most senior Northern Ireland … Continue reading

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Tall trees

A twenty-minute walk from my house there’s an eighteenth century pinetum, enfolded in a bend of the River Braan. The Hermitage, as it’s known, was created for the Dukes of Atholl as an extension of the gardens of their second … Continue reading

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The bridge

Two weeks ago I learnt that my former next-door neighbour, Ian, had committed suicide. He was 50 and he had fought alcohol all his adult life. Yesterday I went to his funeral. During the seven years we shared a garden … Continue reading

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Gone dancing

Last Tuesday I went along on an Imagination Club outing. The club was set up three years ago by Barclay Price, director of Arts & Business Scotland, on the Heineken principle: that it would refresh the parts – well, one … Continue reading

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A noble cause

By this time next week I have to have written a very short piece about an object in the British Galleries at the V&A. It’s another project organised by the indefatigable ideas wallahs at 26, the national organisation that champions … Continue reading

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Oral history

How did we get here? How did we reach the point where we have one language for work and another for the rest of our lives? In one we tend to engage with all the unique characteristics and faculties that … Continue reading

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Flying blind

Yesterday afternoon I ran a two-hour online training session with nine HR managers from a multinational corporation. I sat in my office in my garden in Birnam. They sat in their offices in various locations in seven different countries, from … Continue reading

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‘Sir, you have agitated my heart.’

For the last nine years I’ve sat on the board of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the world’s largest literary festival. It has been one of the most enriching experiences of my working life, and every year as August comes … Continue reading

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