Monthly Archives: June 2012


Wow, I’m getting more and more bemused by the world we live in.

‘Arab Spring’ – communication via social media resulted in the mobilisation of the masses in various Middle Eastern / Arab countries. Egyptians achieved the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, yet recent election results there seem to belie the apparent desire for secular, democratic government separate from military and Islamic control.

Greek elections suggest that the country that appears to have ‘stretched’ the truth in order to satisfy specified criteria to enable it to join the Euro, wishes to remain a part of the ‘Eurozone’ but without accepting all the terms associated with the recent bail out.

Recent UK local government elections demonstrated a significant lack of engagement by the electorate. I could go on and list many other major issues that remain to be resolved – and then I start to think about weather systems – the world is very much in a state of flux.

What I will focus on in this post will revolve around #NeverSeconds.

A few weeks ago I hear an encouraging, but fairly low key news item about a young Scottish schoolgirl who wished to write a blog about her school meals in order to try to raise some money for the Mary’s Meals charity. Before doing this, she was given specific permission to use a digital camera to take photographs of her school lunches to illustrate her blog. All went well, and she built up a good following and began to raise money for the charity.

By now millions will have read about her and know something about the social media tsunami that was unleashed on Friday after her local Council banned her from taking any more photographs, following one newspaper article about her attendance at a seminar on school meals – she was photographed with a celebrity chef behind a flaming pan, with a headline playing on the flambé link suggesting that the ‘dinner ladies be fired’.

I understand that the school had been very supportive but could have helped defuse the situation had they supported the girl by pointing out that she wasn’t responsible for the newspaper headline and refusing to pass on the Council directive. As the storm developed the Council posted a defence of their position suggesting that the blog did not give a true representation of the full range of choices offered via the school’s menu. Around two hours later the Council leader made a live announcement on radio withdrawing the ban. It seems that the Council announcement was made without having first informed the girl or her family.

In a Radio Scotland phone-in discussion today, the situation was discussed and some great points in relation to ‘allowing’ young people to air their views were raised.

I have to say that I was unconvinced by those who suggested that ‘children’s’ ability to publish their views should be restricted.

A wonderful photograph had been circulating on FaceBook earlier that week of children holding a placard with the slogan “teachers should tecah children HOW to think, NOT WHAT to think.”

I found this coming back to me as I thought about the developing situation and implications. The blogger was in reality taking photographs of food that she had bought and paid for, during her lunch break – it was never her job to describe and promote the Council’s school meal policy, she was simply describing and commenting on her choice from the options available to her.

The worst thing that we, as adults, can do, is refuse to give credence to childrens’ opinions simply because they are young, and their opinions are uncomfortable. I believe that many of the current problems in society are a direct result of adults not listening to the thoughts and opinions of young people. They need to be listened to, not simply heard – if we refuse to listen to them, it should be no real surprise if they refuse to listen to us.

Certainly, the range of people who contributed to the media storm extended far beyond the local authority boundaries, but I still find it ironic that many more people became rapidly engaged in this issue than were persuaded to engage in the recent local authority elections in the UK.

I do appreciate that there are legitimate issues to be addressed regarding school students making inappropriate use of digital recording devices/mobile phones in schools, particularly when they use them in classrooms during lessons. The fact that some do abuse such devices should not be a valid reason to prevent others from using them responsibly during their own time to take pictures of food that they have chosen to buy and is in fact their own private property.

I’ve no doubt that a lot of lessons will be learned from this event. One very good thing to come out of it has been that the heightened international focus has resulted in her fundraising target having been massively overtaken and consequently many more young people in Africa will see practical benefits much sooner.


Generate Radio CIC has linked up with rising Glasgow singer/songwriter Toni Etherson to invite suggestions for the design of the cover graphics for her new EP. This opportunity offers developing graphic designers a chance to add to their folios with the possibility of having their design incorporated into the final EP package. In addition to possible final selection, a range of the best submissions will be featured on Generate Radio’s website and the designers will be given the opportunity to talk about their work with Donald Strachan on his weekly Tuesday Drive Time Show.


You are invited to submit graphic design suggestions for a CD/EP cover, for Toni Etherson’s planned release later this year. For an insight into her music, check out her SoundCloud stream at

and on YouTube



  • overcoming stereotypical misconceptions
  • universal aims in life – common needs and desires
  • being young and carefree
  • influences during the transition from teenage to adult life
  • different but the same
  • positivity / inspiration


‘For all the differences in lifestyles, upbringing and environment, people share many common needs and desires. From gritty urban areas of deprivation, to affluent country estate life, many problems are caused as a result of stereotyping when assumptions are made purely on the basis of appearance, racial heritage, where people come from, etc. Sometimes circumstances bring people together, who wouldn’t normally expect to get on together due their differing appearances and backgrounds – the outcome can often be a surprising meeting of minds and spirits when they realise that the superficial differences don’t actually mean that much – human beings tend to share many basic similarities with regard to emotions, comfort and needs. For example, backgrounds count for nothing when we get caught in torrential rain, and get so drenched that there is no longer any point in trying to stay ‘dry’, we can all feel the same release and basic wish to enjoy e moment, without caring about about later.’

Toni aims to produce an EP that presents a collection of songs that explore the above views of humanity. Current provisional EP title is ‘People & Places’ but this is not fixed.


Consider the points detailed above and suggest a design for the EP cover. Whilst the final design should be suitable for use as the cover for a physical copy, it should also have sufficient clarity to allow it to be used as a thumbnail on computer / mobile phone screens.

Initial submissions should be made electronically (scans / photos of manual art work, or screen shots of digital work are sufficient for initial consideration). Please send to

Final date/time for submissions 5pm Tuesday July 31st

Check out Generate Radio at:

Generate Radio CIC on FaceBook


Today is the day that the media spotlight will briefly pause on my home village. There have been a number of major events making headlines in the UK over the last few weeks, but the Olympic Torch Relay is the one that will cause national attention to pass through here today.

I have chosen ‘ambivalence’ for the title of this post as that seems to summarise my feelings regarding many of the big media events of late.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubliee Celebrations: I may have been happy enough, and proud, to swear allegiance to protect her, the country and all heirs and successors, when I was in the TA – but that was more to the concept rather than the person. I wouldn’t wish to have the life of a member of the senior royal family; I would rather not be dictated to as to how I should live my life, but I have no particular problem with them doing so – it just seems so remote from my everyday experiences that it might as well be happening on a different planet. In many ways they have so few real freedoms, for example could any of them ever get up in the morning and simply decide to go take the Tube to Camden for a walk around the Market and enjoy watching the world go by, without anybody fussing about them or their security?

Euro 2012: I have no real interest in watching a game of football, but the concerns about violence and racism seem to have grabbed my attention and watching scenes of crowd trouble makes me think that I’ve entered a ‘time warp’; add to this, the continually fluid situation at Ibrox, and football certainly seems to have a lot going on off the pitch just now. Who would ever have thought that a club with such a long proud tradition would have gone into liquidation and be faced with the real possibility of having to start as a ‘newco’ in the Third Division next season?

Then there is the Olympic Torch Relay: The Olympics may well be the London Olympics, but when I first heard about the Relay, I was impressed by the aim to provide a focus for the whole UK population to get together to support the ‘local heroes’ that would share the carrying of the torch. Seeing the photos of such people as they revel in their ‘once in a lifetime experience’ did a lot to reassure me, even if it does smack of the organisers being a bit condescending by ‘throwing scraps’ to the ‘little people’. The growing concerns about the oppressive presence of corporate sponsors, however, has caused me to have second thoughts. Too many negative stories have started to circulate about corporate control of images and logos etc. Then, the reality began to sink in; living on the route, I began to experience the heavy-handed way that the local authority rode roughshod over the local community as copious amounts of ‘No Parking’ signs suddenly appeared without any consultation or explanation. Massive piles of brand new crowd control barriers and no parking cones have magically appeared even while the local authority is supposed to be cutting costs – the Council are, however, in a ‘no win’ situation as they would certainly have been heavily criticised if they hadn’t taken sufficient precautions and many people did turn up to watch the torch being carried through the village. Local businesses who expect regular major deliveries on the day the torch passes through have been warned that delivery vehicles cannot stop after 11am (despite the torch not being expected until around 3pm), and the Council will be sending trading Standards Officers along the route to seek to identify anybody who may be seeking to ‘profiteer’ on the back of the torch coming (never mind that they had no say as to whether or not all the expected extra people would be turning up on their doorsteps).

In around six hours’ time, the torch will have completed its whirlwind tour of Scotland and be back in England heading for the Olympic Stadium at Stratford.

For the record, just in case anybody tries to accuse me of seeking to profiteer on the back of the Olympic Torch Relay when it passes through Greenlaw today – I am commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the liberation of The Falkland Islands in 1982, it’s just pure coincidence that the torch happened to arrive here on the same day!