Orkney in September 3

Another Angle of Vision

The last days of September in Orkney: weather fine and sunlit mirrors in Scapa Flow and Hoy Sound. The sky in flux after a day of high wind, creating fantastic cloud shapes. White horses prance on the waves and the ocean at Yesnaby is a frothing mass. I come away from such experience with a…

The Pinning Stones

The Pinning Stones

Portraits from The Pinning Stones by Ray Smith On Thursday, the residents of Scotland decide whether to leave the United Kingdom and establish their own state. Whatever your view of the possible outcomes, we should be thankful that negotiations are not being conducted with arms as they are now in Ukraine. Democracy has its failings, as elected demagogues…

Sarajevo, 2014 2

Human diversity is

I have seen the future, brother, it is murder. Leonard Cohen, The Future, (1993) From the street corner where Gavrilo Princip shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie – precipitating not only the First World War but a calamitous century – a few steps might have taken him to an Orthodox church, a mosque,…

Wrangle 2

Below the radar

There’s a lot of interest at the moment in the value of culture and cultural value (not the same thing), both in academic and policy terms, and I’ve touched on it before. Research programmes, initiatives like the Arts Council’s Creative People and Places and political speeches can all enrich the debate about how we understand…

Renaud

Joining the canon

As tribute records go, La Bande à Renaud, is not bad, but it is a little sad. There is a valedictory air to these restrained, polite versions of songs by one of the dominant figures of French popular music since the 1970s, Renaud Séchan – which is ironic since Renaud himself was neither. In scores…

Civilisation

In search of gravitas

Gravitas, the heavy tread of moral earnestness, becomes a bore if it is not accompanied by the light step of intelligence.   (Kenneth Clark, Civilisation, Ch. 4) In 1969, the same year that a NASA programme named after a Classical Greek god put man on the moon, the BBC broadcast a series of programmes under the…