Today in Scotland a street campaign was launched warning the public of a highly toxic and dangerous man who is currently visiting the country. The public are advised not to approach this man under any circumstance or listen to any of the shite that spouts out of his mouth. The man is wanted for inciting racial hatred and very bad hair.
In other news, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has arrived in Scotland.
Iron Virgin, a Scottish glam rock band formed in 1972.
Back in 1973, riding high on his work with Thin Lizzy, Decca records sent out producer Nick Tauber off in search of a hot act to help them promote their other label called Deram Records (which put out David Bowie’s first self-titled album a year after it was established in 1967). Tauber ended up in Scotland and happened to catch a gig from Edinburgh-area band, Iron Virgin. Tauber signed the band to Deram and got them into the studio to record.
Iron Virgin was making a pretty good name for themselves before Tauber found them by playing Slade and Bowie covers, as well as their own original music all around Scotland. They dressed like their idols - decked out in sky-high platform boots and makeup. The band’s vocalist, Stuart Harper (now a high-end tie designer, pictured with the nifty “NO ENTRY” chastity belt codpiece above), made most of their stage clothes which consisted of embellished leotards, tights, and jumpsuits. Because it isn’t really “glam rock” unless your genitals are being strangled to death by something shiny and tight. 1973 was shaping up to be a pretty great year for Iron Virgin, who had only been around for about a year before Tauber “discovered” them.
Iron Virgin posing for their lives in their homemade “American Football” uniforms, as well as glammed-up Scottish tartan duds made by their vocalist Stuart Harper, early 1973/1974.
The single for the super-catchy Iron Virgin track, ‘Rebels Rule.’
According to an interview from 2014 with Iron Virgin guitarist Gordon Nicol, when they went into the studio with Tauber, they were “told” that they would be recording a cover of “Jet” originally recorded in 1973 by Paul McCartney and Wings for the album, Band on the Run. In addition to “Jet,” Iron Virgin also recorded a version of Rick Derringer’s “Teenage Love Affair” (from Derringer’s 1973 album, All American Boy), and a cover of the 1972 song “Shake that Fat” by Jo Jo Gunne (a band comprised of former members of Spirit), as well as three original songs, “Ain’t No Clown,” “Midnight Hitcher,” and the fist-pumping, T. Rex-y anthem, “Rebel Rules.”
Although the band enjoyed some success with their cover of “Jet” (which Deram released as a single in February of 1974), it was eclipsed by McCartney’s version that was released as a single that very same month - effectively delivering a death-blow to the up-and-coming band who would disband without ever recording again. Speaking of recordings, any physical copies of Iron Virgin vinyl are extremely rare and when they turn up, are pricey and highly-sought-after by collectors. In 2007, Rave Up Records reissued all six Iron Virgin singles on 12” vinyl, which swiftly sold out. The track “Rebel Rules” can be found on the great 2003 compilation of obscure glam released between the years 1973 and 1975, Velvet Tinmine. I’ve posted audio of all the Iron Virgin recordings I could dig up, which I coincidentally think you will really dig, below.
As I am more gourmand than gourmet, and more human garbage disposal than either of those things, I refuse to turn up my nose at any dish I’ve never eaten. Texture doesn’t throw me off (I love escargot and gelatinous Chinese mushrooms) nor does appearance (paneer saag—looks unholy, tastes of the heavens). But I have a mental block over the traditional Scottish dish, haggis. It’s not the idea of a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs boiled with fat and oatmeal inside its own stomach—I’ve no aversion to organ meat. For me, it’s the trypophobia—fear of a dense collection of holes, or rather the revulsion I feel upon seeing the honeycomb pattern of something like tripe, which is the casing of haggis. (Trypophobia is not however, named for tripe—they’re false cognates.)
I was actually under the impression that there would be no way to make haggis seem more repellent to me, but then some culinary sadist went and produced them in hors d’oeuvre “pop” form. Yes, like a haggis lollipop. A tripe lollipop. A tripe fucking lollipop garnished with a little tartan bow. In an attempt to overcome my completely irrational phobia, I’ve been subjecting myself to the images from this tutorial for haggis pops over and over again, and if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to narrate my disgust.
Guts! No problem there! I can watch graphic surgeries or brutal Hollywood gore with no problem. I cook my own meat—guts mean nothing to me, man.
This is where I start to get uncomfortable. This is the stomach and while I can’t see the honeycomb holes, I spot a glimpse of the villi—tiny little wormy hairlike structures that aid in digestion by increasing surface area. I don’t like villi either.
That is a disgusting amount of villi and I am openly shuddering right now. The tiny residue of cavewoman survival instinct and my brain is screaming at me to find whoever this person is and save them from the poison they are about to eat.
Oh thank God, we’re back to guts.
Hey it’s starting to look like food!
Okay, it is food now.
What are you doing?!? What are you doing with that?!? Nothing should ever look like that!! You’re making something evil!!
There is no God. We live in a bleak amoral universe. When we die, we’re meat, just like these… pops.
[Vomits. Screams. Pours bleach in eyes. Self-immolates.]
I honestly hope that you don’t share my lizard-brained aversion to the tripe surface of haggis, and I hope you’ll check out the full tutorial below—Burns Night has come and gone, but it’s never to early to start planning your next haggis-based soirée! If you are a fellow trypophobic, I sincerely apologize, I and hope you understand that the people of Scotland are at least partially responsible for your current condition. Blame them!
Sunday was empty. Sunday in Scotland was always gray and cold and huddled at home over a two-bar electric fire—even in summer—watching its plastic coal-fire display, lit by orange bulbs.
Sunday was empty. The shops were shut, the sky rubbed out, the streets dead. The TV flickered black-and-white war films, Jack Hawkins in a duffle coat and binoculars, watching-out for German U-boats, mouthing orders as Édith Piaf sang “La vie en Rose.”
The best thing about Sunday was Édith Piaf. That was the day my father commandeered the gramophone, and played records by Johnny Cash, Tijuana Sound of Brass, and the “Little Sparrow.” Sunday was Édith Piaf.
Sunday was also church, and we always walked the two-miles there-and-back, my brother, my mother, my father and me. Past the prison, under the canal and railway bridge, the abattoir with its strange sweet smell and Judas donkey eating grass in the field outside its closed, spiked gates. The gray row of pre-fab houses along towards a 1950’s built primary school, where I sat Monday-to-Friday dreaming of being grown-up, breathing-in the smell of the brewery over-the-road, with its malting floors, where you could see through small hand-sized windows, men hunched spreading grain.
The church was fake Gothic, built by subscription at the turn of the century, framed by yellow privet, and a green-painted fence. Inside, a high-ceiling, soot-colored columns, and a beautiful stained glass window full of misery and suffering. The chairs were hardwood, wicker seats, hard lino-covered kneelers. I could never understand why anyone came to this cold, grim place to celebrate god. I thought at least god might have central heating or a few easy chairs, or maybe even a proper hi-fi with stereo speakers. I thought I understood why when I overheard people talking about something that had happened, something described as bad thing.
In the priest house, a man had shot and killed his wife, before shooting himself in the head. The priest had been offering marriage guidance counseling.
I thought about this, and thought about what it meant and when the priest talked about my immortal soul I pictured the white mushroom-shaped buttons on my mother’s white coat, ridged, and whorled like fingerprints.
Sunday was Édith Piaf, and walking home from church, wondering what my soul was like.
Slowing-down a classic Édith Piaf track doesn’t do much, other than to make me go and listen to the original songs that warmed my childhood.
...a house where proper precautions against disturbance can be taken; this being arranged, there is really nothing to do but to aspire with increasing fervor and concentration, for six months, towards the obtaining of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
Boleskine suited Crowley’s needs, and he later described the place in Confessions:
The house is a long low building. I set apart the south-western half for my work. The largest room has a bow window and here I made my door and constructed the terrace and lodge. Inside the room I set up my oratory proper. This was a wooden structure, lined in part with the big mirrors which I brought from London.
For Crowley, Boleskine House was a “Thelemic Kiblah”, a “Magical East”, where he could practice the Black Mass and summon demons. It is these demons which are believed by many to have caused the strange, monstrous disruption to the loch. Crowley later described the events in his later autobiography which basically go something like this:
...the spirits he summoned got out of hand, causing one housemaid to leave, and a workman to go mad. He also insinuates he was indirectly responsible for a local butcher accidentally severing an artery and bleeding to death. Crowley had written the names of some demons on a bill from the butcher’s shop.
Aleister Crowley and the Other Loch Ness Monster is an engaging short documentary, directed by Garry S. Grant. It contains fine interviews with Kenneth Anger, Colin Wilson, Neil Oram, Head of the UK OTO, John Bonner and Mogg Morgan. And the commentary is read by former Jesus of Nazareth, Robert Powell.
Back to my American friend. As we headed off into the night, in search of another bar, he said, “You ever think that monster was maybe Cthulhu?”
David McCallum has long been a much-loved actor and TV icon. From his early days as the pin-up secret agent, Illya Kuryakin, acting alongside Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., through to the excellent Colditz, the wonderfully, bizarre Sapphire and Steel, The Invisible Man and now “Ducky” Mallard in today’s NCIS.
But what is perhaps less known about this talented actor, is the fact McCallum is a classically trained musician of the highest caliber, and for a long time the blonde-haired Glaswegian seriously considered a making his career in music, as he explained to 16 magazine back in 1966:
The wonder was that David ever became an actor at all—for he was trained to be a musician from the age of four, playing the oboe with classic clarity. An appreciation of music ran deep in the McCallum family. David’s father, a famous violinist and leader of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, was taught classical music at his mother’s knee.
The McCallums came from a little Scottish mining village, Kilsyth in Stirlingshire, where David’s paternal grandfather was the village grocer. It was a deeply religious community, and David’s grandmother hoped her son would learn the harp. But no one there could play the instrument, so young David Fotheringham McCallum was taught violin instead. And his own son, David Keith McCallum—born on September 19, 1933, at 24 Kersland Street, Glasgow—inherited this musical tradition.
When the family moved to Bracknell Gardens, Hampstead, in London, David went to University College School, and musical evenings became a feature of this childhood. He was taught violin and piano, but it was the oboe that he mastered. However, David secretly harbored a longing to become an actor, so when one of his uncles needed an oboe, David offered his—cheap!—and started out on his acting career. Though he laughingly calls the oboe “...an ill wind nobody blows good,” David still admits, “I always knew that I could turn to music if I failed as an actor.”
McCallum was given a recording contract, and between 1966 and 1968, released four albums on Capitol Records: Music…A Part Of Me, Music…A Bit More Of Me, Music…It’s Happening Now!, and McCallum. However, rather than singing his way through these discs McCallum, together with producer David Axelrod, created a blend of oboe, French horn, and strings with guitar and drums, for musical interpretations of hits of the day. These included “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”, “Downtown”, “Louie, Louie”, “I Can’t Control Myself” and his own compositions, “Far Away Blue”, “Isn’t It Wonderful?” and “It Won’t Be Wrong”.
The best known McCallum tracks today are “The Edge,” which was sampled by Dr. Dre as the intro and riff to the track “The Next Episode,” and “House of Mirrors,” sampled by DJ Shadow for “Dark Days”.
“The Edge” - David McCallum
“House of Mirrors” - David McCallum
David McCallum introduces TnT Show with ‘Satisfaction, while Ron and Russell Mael (Sparks) watch from the audience
Bonus clips (with Nancy Sinatra) and tracks, after the jump!...
I don’t remember if we called them “hobos,” but I do recall occasionally seeing “hobo marks” made in chalk or charcoal on walls or the sides of houses, when I was a child growing-up in Scotland. The marks were mainly lines, circles, or arrows, and rarely anything elaborate.I thought there was something exciting, even romantic, about these simple marks, mainly because I knew here was a secret code that denoted some act of kindness or, gave a warning to others who followed.
These few men were itinerant workers, who chapped doors in search of odd-jobs, or offered to sharpen tools, mend fences, mow lawns. They passed through towns in summer and fall, moving on to farms, where they picked fruit. My grandmother told me of how she had made “jeely pieces” for such men, and had given them sweet tea and a “tanner” for their pocket. She said some were ex-military, who had lost their way after the War.
There was also Highland travelers (“Summer walkers”), who migrated south for work, and “onion Johnnies,” traders who cycled over from France to sell onions and garlic. All of these men seemed to have a nobility and were different from the “jakeys” or winos, who congregated around railway stations and town centers, mooching for change.
In America it was different, hobos first appeared at the end of the Civil War, and they moved across country in search of work with the arrival of the railroad. By 1911, it was estimated there were 700,000 hobos in America. By the 1950s, this number had dramatically fallen—as Jack Kerouac, who was no stranger to the hobo-life, noted in Lonseome Traveler:
“The American hobo has a hard time hoboing nowadays due to the increase in police surveillance of highways, railorad yards, sea shores, river bottoms, embankments and the thousand-and-one hiding holes of industrial night. - In California, the rat pack, the original old type who goes walking from town to town with supplies and bedding on his back, the “Homeless Brother”, has practically vanished, along with the ancient gold-panning desert rat who used to walk with hope in his heart through struggling Western tons that are now so prosperous they dont want old bums any more. - ‘Man dont want no pack rats here even though they founded California’ said an old man hiding with a can of beans and an Indian fire in a river bottom outside Riverside California in 1955.”
Today, the hobo life continues, and every second weekend in August, a Hobo Convention is held, with races, carnivals and the crowning of the Hobo King and Queen.
Over the past 5 decades more than fifty dogs have jumped to their deaths from Overtoun Bridge, near Dumbarton, in Scotland. An incredible statistic, but one made more impressive by the detail, which gives this tale substance: all of the deaths occurred at the same spot, on the right-hand side of the bridge; the dogs were all long muzzle breeds: Collie, Labrador, Greyhound; their deaths all took place on clear days.
The frequency and inexplicable nature of the deaths has lead to this scenic location, to be called the “Dog’s Suicide Bridge.” Over 6 months in 2005, 5 dogs leapt to their deaths. One bereaved owner, Donna Cooper was out walking with her family when her dog, Ben leapt over the parapet and fell fifty feet onto the rocks below.
‘His paw was broken, his jaw was broken and his back was broken and badly twisted. The vet decided it wasn’t worth putting him through the pain, so we had to let him go,’ recalls Donna.
Such tragedies led to claims the bridge was haunted by an evil spirit. In 1994, thirty-two-year-old Kevin Moy threw his baby off the bridge after claiming he was the Anti-Christ, and his son was Satan. Shortly after he tried to end his own life with an unsuccessful suicide attempt from the same bridge. Moy was remanded to Carstairs State Hospital, a maximum-security psychiatric facility.
This being Scotland, there has also been a claim that the bridge is situated in, what we Celts call, a “thin place” - a meeting of two worlds. Cue mist, howl of wolf, and craggy featured old Scotsman saying, “Ye dinnae want tae go doun yon road, naw.” Indeed, B-movies have been made with flimsier plots.
In recent years, a more persistent but equally unlikely theory has emerged, which suggested dogs were committing suicide. But as leading Animal Behaviorist, Dr David Sands, who investigated the story has pointed out, “it is impossible for a dog to premeditate its own death”.
Sands uncovered the most likely explanation to the dog deaths, the onset of mink farming in the area, which started fifty years ago:
Evidence of mink was confirmed in the area not only by a naturalist, who spotted droppings beneath the bridge, but also by [an angler], who explained that the top hill quarry had lakes that contained trout (perfect mink diet).
The intense scent of mink aroused each dog’s curiosity, leading to the fatal leap of faith.
Author Iain Banks announced today on his website that he has cancer of the gall bladder, and is unlikely to live more than a year.
Banks is recognized as one of the most talented and original writers of his generation. His work divides between novels—such as The Wasp Factory, The Crow Road, and The Bridge; and Science-Fiction (written under the name Iain M. Banks)—Consider Phlebus, Surface Detail and The Hydrogen Sonata.
I am officially very poorly. After a couple of surgical procedures, I am gradually recovering from jaundice caused by a blocked bile duct, but that – it turns out – is the least of my problems.
I first thought something might be wrong when I developed a sore back in late January, but put this down to the fact I’d started writing at the beginning of the month and so was crouched over a keyboard all day. When it hadn’t gone away by mid-February, I went to my GP, who spotted that I had jaundice. Blood tests, an ultrasound scan and then a CT scan revealed the full extent of the grisly truth by the start of March.
I have cancer. It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term.
The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for “several months” and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.
As a result, I’ve withdrawn from all planned public engagements and I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps). By the time this goes out we’ll be married and on a short honeymoon. We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing friends and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us. Meanwhile my heroic publishers are doing all they can to bring the publication date of my new novel forward by as much as four months, to give me a better chance of being around when it hits the shelves.
There is a possibility that it might be worth undergoing a course of chemotherapy to extend the amount of time available. However that is still something we’re balancing the pros and cons of, and anyway it is out of the question until my jaundice has further and significantly, reduced.
Lastly, I’d like to add that from my GP onwards, the professionalism of the medics involved – and the speed with which the resources of the NHS in Scotland have been deployed – has been exemplary, and the standard of care deeply impressive. We’re all just sorry the outcome hasn’t been more cheerful.
It was the author of Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie, who said it best:
‘There are few more impressive sights in the world than a Scotsman on the make.’
As a Scot, I believe this to be often the case, and am pleased, therefore, to report the premiere of a film at SXSW, which tells the story of 2 Scots on the make with their very own Jock ‘n’ Roll Swindle.
The Great Hip Hop Hoax tells the story of friends Billy Boyd and Gavin Bain, who duped ‘everyone from Sony Music to MTV into believing [they] were LA-born rappers Silibil N’ Brains, tipped for the top in the hip hop industry.’
As blog site Arbroath reports the would-be Hip Hop duo were:
‘Angered at the sneering from London record industry executives searching for the British Eminem, the duo set out to fool the music business into believing that they were brash Californian rappers. The deception began after a disastrous audition in London in 2001. Speaking in the documentary, Dundee-born Mr Bain, 31, aka Brains, describes how “the vibe just changed horribly” the minute they started “talking in a Scottish accent”.
Getting nowhere fast, Mr Boyd, aka Silibil, adopted an American accent as a joke, and the lie began. “Out of spite we decided to develop these characters and that’s when Silibil ‘N’ Brains were really born.” Taking their inspiration from MTV music videos, they prepared for “the biggest role that we’d ever play”. The Great Hip Hop Hoax, which has its world premiere at the South by South West (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, tells the story of their rise and fall. By 2003, the duo were back in London with a spot at a music industry showcase. A management deal followed and they soon had a six-figure recording contract with Sony. Tipped as the “next big thing” by MTV, they played with Eminem’s D12 band at Brixton Academy, and partied with Madonna and Green Day.
Their plan was to make it before coming clean, to show that if you have talent, your nationality shouldn’t matter. But in the world of hip hop, which is all about “keeping it real”, they forgot who they really were. They lived in constant fear of being exposed. “We believed that if we got found out that we’d have to pay all the money back …. We didn’t know if we’d go to jail for fraud,” said Mr Bain. “We completely forgot that we were Scottish ... I was definitely going a little cuckoo.” They were trapped – never releasing a record in case their lies were exposed. “It drove us from being best friends to hating each other,” Mr Boyd recalls. Things came to a head in June 2005, when the pair had a furious fight. The next day Mr Boyd returned to Scotland. There was no big announcement and no outcry, as they had never released a record.
The resultant film The Great Hip Hop Hoax was made in conjunction with the BBC and Creative Scotland and is described as:
Californian hip-hop duo Silibil n’ Brains were going to be massive. What no-one knew was the pair were really students from Scotland, with fake American accents and made up identities.
The Great Hip Hop Hoax (92 minutes) is a film about truth, lies and the legacy of faking everything in the desperate pursuit of fame. The American dream, told by people who’d never even been to America.
An all too brief extract from Sean Connery’s Edinburgh, a promotional documentary for the ancient Scottish capital, directed by Murray Grigor and starring the city’s most famous milkman.
This wasn’t Connery’s first documentary, back in 1967 he presented, produced and directed a brilliant (and rarely seen) documentary called The Bowler and The Bunnet, which examined the political tensions between the workforce (“bunnets”) and the employers (“Bowler hats”) at Fairfield’s shipyard on Glasgow’s River Clyde. Scripted by Cliff Hanley, the film revealed Connery’s natural mastery of documentary film-making, and it is only a pity that he didn’t continue to make similar films on other social and political issues.
Perhaps, with the imminent referendum on Scottish independence, Connery may yet return to make a documentary on the future of Scotland?
When his debut album flopped in 1967, David Bowie thought his pop career was over. The years of practice and ambition had sadly delivered nothing but the indifference of the public (who preferred The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s) and the bewilderment of critics, who could not quite understand this young singer (who sounded like Anthony Newley) and delivered such diverse and original songs. Bowie had discovered the width of his talent, but not its depth. Understandably, disheartened, Bowie considered packing it all in and becoming a Buddhist monk at the Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland, but fate played a hand and he soon found himself under the influence of a charismatic fan - the brilliant dancer, performer and choreographer Lindsay Kemp.
Kemp loved Bowie’s first album, and used one its tracks “When I Live My Dream” for one of his shows. Kemp offered Bowie a new career - as dancer, actor and member of Kemp’s dance troupe
On 28 December 1967, David Bowie made his theatrical debut in Kemp’s mime Pierrot in Turquoise or, The Looking Glass Murders at the New Theater in Oxford. Bowie wrote and performed the music, and co-starred as Cloud, alongside Kemp’s Pierrot, Jack Birkett’s Harlequin, and Annie Stainer’s Columbine.
The production was still in rehearsal when it played for its one night at the New Theater, which perhaps explains why the Oxford Mail described the show as “something of a pot-pourri,” though it highlighted Bowie’s contribution for praise:
David Bowie has composed some haunting songs, which he sings in a superb, dreamlike voice. But beguilingly as he plays Cloud, and vigorously as Jack Birkett mimes Harlequin, the pantomime isn’t a completely satisfactory framework for some of the items from his repertoire that Mr Kemp, who plays Pierrot, chooses to present….
...No doubt these are shortcomings Mr. Kemp will attend to before he presents Pierrot in Turquoise at the Prague Festival at the invitation of Marceau and Fialka next summer. No mean honour for an English mime troupe.
The mime told the story of Pierrot and his attempts to win the love of his life, Columbine. Of course things are never simple, and Columbine falls for Harlequin, and is then killed by Pierrot.
After a few tweaks, Pierrot in Turquoise or The Looking Glass Murders opened at the Rosehill Theater, Whitehaven, before its proper run at the Mercury Theater, and Intimate Theater, both London, in March 1968….
More on Bowie & Kemp in ‘The Looking Glass Murders’, after the jump…
Today is Robert Burns’ birthday, and across the world traditional suppers are held to celebrate the life and poetry of Scotland’s national Bard.
I have never been one for those couthy ritualistic gatherings, where toasts are given to the lads and lassies, and where some elder with a tartan to match his face, gives an address to the haggis. For me these suppers have little to do with Burns the man and poet, who could write such beauty as:
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white - then melts
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm. -
Nae man can tether time or tide;
No, I prefer to see Robert Burns as great poet, a revolutionary, a socialist, an egalitarian, who believed ‘a man’s a man for a’ that’ and wrote to inspire a better world:
Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
That man to man, the world o’er,
Shall brithers be for a’ that.
Burns’ idealism was often compromised by the financial demands of his everyday life - and what a life. A poet, a ploughman, a lover, a drinker, a revolutionary, a government lackey, a hero, a destitute. As Andrew O’Hagan points out in this excellent documentary Robert Burns: The People’s Poet, Burns was the equivalent of a rock star in his day, a writer of songs (“Auld Lang Syne”, “Ae Fond Kiss”, “My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose”, “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye”) and poems (“Tam O’Shanter”, “Holy Wuillie’s Prayer”, “To A Mouse”, “Cock Up Your Beaver”) that enchanted a nation and the world.
It was his ability to touch the heart and mind of his readers and to make them empathize with his subject matter, whether this was love, revolution in France or simply a mouse:
That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley,
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!
He was idolized by the public, and was a hero and inspiration to the likes of Beethoven and Byron. At a time of great oppression he spoke out against slavery, inequality, and poverty. Burns wanted liberty and fairness for all. Yet he died in poverty, hounded by creditors, and near-broken as a man.
That Rabbie Burns is still read, performed and celebrated 200 years after his death, says all about his importance as a poet and the relevance of his belief for a better world, where all are equal and share the common wealth.
O’Hagan’s documentary Robert Burns: The People’s Poet is no hagiography, but controversially questions many of the assumptions made about this radical poet, and examines the incredible dramatic and often tragic circumstances of his life.
Maciej Winiarczyk’s beautiful time lapse photography of an aurora display on Sandigoe Beach in Caithness, Scotland, from January 17th, 2013.
Winiarczyk explains that ‘each frame was exposed for 8 sec. with ISO 3200 and lens aperture set to f/2.8. All frames were shot in RAW and later postprocessed in Adobe Lightroom 4.3 and LRTimelapse software.
‘Equipment used, Canon 7D with 10mm Sigma diagonal fisheye lens.’