Caged again

Mandela Bust by the Royal Festival Hall

There seem to be quite extensive renovations going on outside the Royal Festival Hall at present. In past days, the Mandela sculpture had disappeared from its plinth on the South Bank.

It has now been reinstated, albeit behind a wire fence for the moment.

An Idle Sunday With The Papers


Ah, Edinburgh! This Athens of the North, this home of the Enlightenment. What perfect Sundays you provide for its denizens. Snuggled beneath a warm blanket of idleness, a shroud of irresponsibility, I am free to sit in the re-vamped Cameo Cinema Bar and take advantage of their gratis wireless, and complimentary newspapers.

And for a blogger, a 21st Century gentleman-pamphleteer, what could be a more perfect afternoon than this? I scythe through The Observer, and the myriad possibilities for unsolicited opinion leap out at me. I am spoilt for choice. I could muse on Scottish Independence, perhaps? Or comment on the USA’s relentless march towards totalitarianism? It is, in a way, surprising that Blogistan becomes so quiet at weekends. Isn’t everyone else making electronic notations on the Sunday papers?

Jasper Gerard caught my eye, with a short piece on the Countryside Alliance:

And while I opposed banning hunting as I oppose banning anything without overwhelming reason, I also suspected those who enjoyed killing for its own sake were tossers. Like deposed dictators, perhaps foxes need to be killed, but huntsmen seem to snuff out life with all the tearful regret of the Iraqi prison service.

This precisely captures my feeling. I don’t care particularly for the fox, which is a pest. But killing things for fun seems an affront to nature, and if one is going to do it then you should have the decency to eat what you have killed. This is possible when you shoot game birds, deer, or when you go fishing. But since the hounds rip up the prey beyond what is edible, I do think “hunting with dogs” is a sensible distinction to make.

Should we have banned it though? Reconciling this “illiberal liberalism” (as Gerard has it) will no doubt occupy my thoughts for the rest of the afternoon (I suspect my answer would have something to do with our laws on animal cruelty and bear-baiting). With my back to the window and the outside world, I sink deeper into this leather armchair, and philosophize.

Doncaster Sunrise

Sunrise over the cooling towers, near doncaster

8:31 am, just north of Doncaster. I’m afraid my phone-camera does not do justice to the deep pink of the sun. Nor do the grotty windows on this GNER train help matters. But I think the cooling towers rising out of the haze are reason enough to post this.

Fifteen minutes later, and the sun is already golden. But it has yet to burn off the morning fog.

Ritual egg-laying: Scotland 15 – 44 Australia


Scotland win this particular line-out, but were outclassed overall by the Aussies.

I don’t know what other residents of Edinburgh think of rugby weekends, but I’ve always enjoyed the flash floods of kilts and colour down Corstophine Road and Dalry Road. I the atmosphere which surrounds rugby matches is of course more festive and friendlier than football. This is probably because the football matches in Edinburgh are usually at club level, where the rivalries art local and more acute. Rugby matches, on the other hand, are internationals, meaning the visiting fans treat the match as an excuse for a holiday. Inside the ground, home and away supporters are not segregated, and we saw Australian flags waving alongside the Saltire.
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Turbans and Tam o'shanters

A few days ago, a fifteen-year old Sikh boy was assaulted by a gang in Pilrig Park, Edinburgh. During the attack, the gang took a knife, and cut off the boy’s hair. Sikhs, of course, believe that hair (“Kes” or “Kesh”) is a gift from God and a source of spiritual power and faith. So the crime was a violation not only of the body, but of the soul too. It was in effect an attack upon all Sikhs, an entire section of our Edinburgh community. I am ashamed it happened.

Tam O' Shanters and Turbans, standing firm against racism

This is a photo of a vigil held this afternoon, Sunday 19th November, at the site of the attack. Plenty of tam o’ shanters and turbans in attendance. You can also see Labour MP Mark Lazarowicz at the centre of the picture.


Sikh teen lied about hair attack

Lothian and Borders Police confirmed the attack had not taken place and said the boy had expressed remorse. They said no further action would be taken.

The teenager is believed to have had personal problems and was also having cultural identity issues brought about by differences between his Sikh upbringing and Western society.

This is one of the overlooked aspects of multiculturalism. The different and conflicting identities that exist within an individual are as important as the different groups that exist within the country.

Crime on Colonsay

Beach on Colonsay

I was on the Isle of Colonsay last weekend. The dunes were unspoilt and beautiful. This picture shows a south-west view over to Oronsay in the foreground. That’s a ‘pap’ of Jura in the background, on the left.

The sky was clear on Bonfire Night, so we had a good opportunity to look through a telescope at another “magnificent desolation“, the Sea of Tranquility.

How odd, then, to hear that four days later, the peace of the islanders has been disturbed. There has been a crime on Colonsay! Apparently someone stole a couple of cars and went for a joyride.

I heard the news on the radio late last night, but can find no mention of it online this morning. I do not imagine that the perpetrators have escaped… so perhaps there’s been a cover-up on Colonsay too. Some friends of mine return from the Island today, so I will glean some more information from them over the weekend (unless, of course, they have been detained at Oban Police Station).

Update: I think I may have misheard. Armin Crewe’s Islay Blog has found some more details about housebreaking on the Island. The car thefts were a few years ago.

Meanwhile, my friends are stranded on the island. Poor weather meant their ferry never managed to leave Oban.

WOMAD moves

Another photo from the summer festivals. That’s my self portrait in the reflection.


I hear today that WOMAD will not be at the Reading Rivermead Centre in 2007:

we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the festival has now outgrown the available land at the Rivermead site … WOMAD implemented substantial changes to the festival site in 2006. However, despite these improvements, a perception of overcrowding remains.

Persoanlly, I did not find it too crowded, and always found a place to sit or stand to watch the acts. But in any case, isn’t a bit of bustle part of the fun of festivals? The alternative is a lengthy trek between music tents… which would at least be consistent with the nomadic theme which characterises this particular event.