Monthly Archives: October 2012

‘YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED’

I have followed this project since coming across it during its ‘crowdfunding’ phase when director Anthony Baxter was seeking to ensure that successive knock-backs from more traditional funding sources wouldn’t prevent him making the film. Everything about the intention to document the impact of such a vast and overbearing project on a Special Site Of Scientific Interest, and one of the last truly wild places in Scotland, just seemed so right.

I have watched via regular updates as the film was completed and steadily gained much positive critical acclaim as it managed to get featured in a range of film festivals around the world.

I have to admit that the bullying and blustering behaviour demonstrated by Donald Trump came as no surprise. What did come as a surprise (even for a cynic like me) was the ease with which The Scottish Government capitulated to the bully, calling in the planning application refusal and reversing it to allow the environmental vandalism to proceed. Coming as another surprise was the regularity with which Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, always claimed to be too busy to attend screenings of the film – even when one was brought to his doorstep and delivered in The Scottish Parliament Building. This is all the more remarkable given that the controversy had taken place in his own constituency.

One of two golf courses has now been completed and opened but the rest of the overly ambitious project has been put on hold as ‘The Donald’ waits to see if he can again force a change if Scottish Government behaviour regarding the siting of a proposed offshore wind farm which he claims would spoil the view from his course.

The documentary was screened last night on BBC2 and certainly caused a bit of a Twitter storm with #trumped trending highly throughout and after the broadcast. Some critics claim that the documentary was very one-sided; it needn’t have been if the Trump organisation, Grampian Police, Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Government had accepted invitations to provide their points of view.

As the full disgusting, shameful horror of the maltreatment of the dignified local residents who refused to be bullied unfolded, I was enraged. I also noted a few rather ironic things:

people who don’t want to have to suffer the sight of a working farm should buy a neighbouring plot of land – on the other hand I saw no signs of any pigs on Michael Forbes’ property, and certainly couldn’t see anything remotely resembling a slum (aesthetics can all be a bit relative anyway, I personally feel that the proposed Trump buildings would have been eyesores and far prefer properties with individual character);

Mr. Trump stated that when he wished to be able to look out from his golf course and see the ocean should perhaps have bought a site from where that was actually possible as the nearest ocean is on the other side of Scotland (although he later underscored his utter ignorance of Scottish geography by stating that his development was on the west coast of Scotland).

It would appear that some SNP stalwarts have been outraged by the decision to screen the film on the closing day of their conference – ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ springs to mind. Perhaps Mr. Salmond should have had the common decency to accept one of the invitations to view the film and comment on it in advance, it certainly couldn’t have been the case that they didn’t know about the existence of the film. I can only imagine that such complaints actually emphasise how badly their leader has behaved. Then again the SNP do seem to have a penchant for dictating timetables. It seemed to be a different story when the First Minister managed to travel to the USA to participate in the premier of a cartoon telling a fictional story (‘Brave’), no doubt at the expense of the taxpayer.

In the aftermath of the national screening of this truly brave film, and it’s availability on i-player, I would really like to see people taking a closer interest in the actual operation of our politicians and be more determined to challenge abuses of power. I also rather look forward to mother nature gradually reclaiming the landscape and returning it to those locals who had learned to live in harmony with the dynamic landscape. Karine Polwart’s haunting song ‘Cover Your Eyes’, which featured at the end of the movie, was certainly an excellent choice.

Yet again, this documentary has helped to reinforce my conviction that politicians frequently change their positions, and continually fail to deliver on pre-election promises. As for those who seem to believe that having some cash to spread around, gives them the right to impose their delusions on others – it is true that money can buy lots of ‘things’, but ‘the best things in life aren’t things’!

My greatest respect and admiration goes out to director Anthony Baxter and all the residents who refused to be intimidated by the big bully from across the pond.

 


PAUSE FOR THOUGHT

Today I took a photograph from a very significant spot, NT 849 401 (UK map, OS locator if my grid references are accurate).

What does it show?

  • a snapshot of a tiny part of a tiny planet in an infinite universe;
  • the photograph was taken when the planet was billions of years old;
  • countless atoms of H2O that have been circulating the planet for eternity thanks to convection currents that take moisture from the surface of the planet up into the atmosphere so that it may be deposited again via precipitation (otherwise known locally as The River Tweed);
  • unseen are the countless elements that comprise the atmosphere – some of which are recycled thanks to the system which enables plants to convert CO2 into oxygen so that animals may sustain their lives by inhaling oxygen and expiring CO2 ; like the H2O molecules, these elements will have been circulating the planet as a result of the complex weather systems;
  • there are plants and trees visible that will mainly have grown thanks to a variety of natural seed distribution processes, the seeds may have originated quite a distance from the site of the actual plant;
  • for a very brief instant during the life of the planet, humans have played a part in modifying the landscape, resulting in the construction of the town of Coldstream as visible in the distance;
  • also in the atmosphere are numerous sources of telecommunications data – invisible unless decoded by appropriate equipment;
  • in the grand scheme of the life of the universe, the view represents so little, but if I focus a bit, I can describe the scene in less significant terms;
  • it is a view of a part of the surface of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth;
  • it is a view of part of Europe, but not quite continental Europe;
  • when the photograph was taken, everything that can be seen is considered to be a part of the European Union;
  • others may see the scene as simply a part of The United Kingdom;
  • it is also a view of tiny parts of two separate countries, England to the left and Scotland to the right, with the border being the centre of the River Tweed;
  • another way of looking at it might be to note that the land on the left hand bank of the river is part of the county of Northumberland, whilst the land on the right is part of the Scottish Borders Council administrative area (others might wish to note that previously the land on the right would have been part of the County of Berwickshire, whilst at present Berwickshire is simply an administrative division of a larger area;
  • I will not begin to attempt to research just how many elected representatives are paid from the public purse to seek to govern the people who live within the area pictured – I will, however note that there are local councillors, a constituency MSP, list MSPs, MPs and MEPs;
  • in around two years time those living on the right hand side of the river (as long as they are old enough) will be given a vote to record their opinion as to whether or not a more defined division will be constructed between the two communities, none of those living on the left hand side of the river will be able to formally register their opinions;
  • I find the whole situation rather depressing, arguments about Scottish independence have been conducted for as long as I can remember and will certainly increase during the coming two years;
  • I very much doubt that the outcome will make the slightest bit of difference to the way in which the river continues to flow, the air continues to circulate, or the wild plant life continues to germinate. One thing is very clear, however, if mother nature decides – the river will flood, the wind will blow as a gale, and the plants may contract some disease that might either kill them off of cause them to grow excessively with very little that humans might be able to do to try to control;
  • as the debate rages about the pros and cons of Scottish Independence I keep thinking about a wide range of issues; one of the possible outcomes is that an independent Scotland may have to apply to join the EU as an accession state (although how this squares with true independence I have no idea) – one consequence of a successful application might mean that Scotland would have to become part of the ‘Shengen’ border agreement, which in turn could mean an end to my present ability to freely walk backwards and forwards across this bridge without being subject to border controls. Now some politicians claim that this would never happen, although others seem fairly clear that it won’t – I have a natural tendency to disbelieve any promises made by politicians who are seeking my vote. Whilst they might not be deliberately lying (they may simply be choosing to selectively ignore particular legal advice), one thing is sure, they can’t both be telling the truth, but could both be wrong;
  • one thing that is abundantly clear to me – look at a map of this location and the current border between Scotland and England will be visible, but there is absolutely no sign of it in reality – just a river with similar vegetation growing on either side of it;
  • as far as I am concerned many of the world’s problems (both past and present) have been caused by the existence of such invisible lines

HIGHS AND LOWS

Between 10am on Friday 28th September and 10am on Saturday 29th September I had the pleasure and privilege to present a second continuous 24 hour show on Generate Radio CIC (Community Interest Company). I had done one last year to mark the first anniversary of the radio station’s continuous on-line broadcasting presence; it just seemed the natural thing to do the same again for the second anniversary, particularly as this year saw the station having narrowly missed out, by three votes, in the Scottish New Music Awards ‘Radio Station of the Year’ category. They had also been nominated for the award last year, such an excellent accolade for a new project. This year I aimed to highlight and showcase the growing range of talent and content that exists among the team of volunteers. Many of the presenters called into the studio and joined me on air, in addition others helped behind the scenes to provide moral support and much needed sustenance. I had also been privileged to schedule a number of calls from around the world with some of the amazing artists that I have featured during my time with the station. I was also able to feature a number of world exclusives:

  • SNMA ‘Pop Recording of the Year’ award winner Scosha, had been in the studio in Glasgow on Friday, she e-mailed a copy of her new song ‘Let Go’ and I had the privilege of giving it its first ever radio airplay after chatting to her;
  • Melbourne band Stirling had sent me a song they had recorded the previous week, ‘Here’s To You’, and had told me that they were going to hold fire on posting it anywhere until after the show, allowing me to claim another radio debut;
  • local band Easter Street came into the studio for a live session and performed three songs, one of which, ‘Lifeboat’ had never been played in public before;
  • two ex-students of mine, Toby Young and Kirsty Ellison, had recorded a song earlier in the studio specially for the show, ‘Dance of the Glade’ was yet another song to get a radio debut during the show;
  • a group from Borders Youth Theatre came in and performed a short live piece that they had prepared specially for the show;
  • fellow presenter Rycharde Perry brought in a record deck to enable me to play some tracks from good old fashioned vinyl, I wonder how many other radio stations around the world were playing vinyl that day.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who helped in some way to make the show such a success, I feel so honoured to have been able to be involved. I won’t begin to try to name every person that either came in and joined me on air, visited the studio bearing supplies, messaged via social media, spoke to me on-air or donated; to do so would always leave me feeling that I had missed somebody out. I will, however, mention three: Kyle and Oscar, the young station directors without whose vision and determination the project would never have got as far as it has; and our daughter-in-law Emma who messaged to say that ‘the bump’ (our expected first grandchild) had been listening, reading that message just as I was about to play the final song certainly helped to release the built-up nervous tension.

On Monday night I went into a local takeaway that has been very supportive of the station and got a bit of a ‘kick in the teeth’. On returning home I called the Police and then posted the following on FaceBook.

‘REWARD – a clear conscience for anybody who reports the identity of the low-life who stole a Generate Radio CIC collection can from Duns Golden Fish on Saturday night. If you can help please contact Lothian & Borders Police on 01361 882222, if you do know who is responsible but are one of these warped people who believe that it is not acceptable to ‘grass’ people up to the police then please feel free to come and discuss your stance live on-air with me anytime. We have a priceless amount of support from numerous volunteers but sadly no way to offer a monetary reward. The collection can was one of a number that had been put out to help collect money for our local community radio station ahead of a marathon 24 hour show that I was presenting from 10am on Friday to 10am on Saturday. Thanks to so many wonderfully generous people from around the world the show was a great success and we did manage to raise a healthy sum as a result of the whole team pulling selflessly together. To discover the theft of what could well have been the fullest of our cans has certainly taken a bit of an edge of the feeling of satisfaction that I shared with many others after the show had ended. It will NOT however deter me from continuing to give my time and energy to this extremely worthwhile cause – it has also given me a clear focus for tomorrow evening’s ‘Drive Time’ show, please feel free to call in or message me with your comments. The proprietor has offered to make up an amount equivalent to what might have been in the can – BUT WHY SHOULD HE? Like others, he was good enough to allow us to place a collection can in his premises to enable DECENT AND HONEST people to put a little spare change in to help us. It was in fact his insistence that led me to pursue the option of distributing the cans in the first place as he was so keen to be able to support our station.
Please also feel free to share this post – it may not actually help identify the culprit, or replace the stolen money, but every share will at least help to show how many people out there are disgusted by the actions of those who feel that it is acceptable to steal from those who give generously to charitable causes. Generate Radio may not be a registered charity but we are a Community Interest Company – let’s show low lifes such as this person just how much interest there is amongst the global community in showing solidarity with people who actually care about our fellow human beings!’

The response was amazing, many people quickly expressed their disgust and offered support. The status was rapidly shared thereby passing the news to many people. One person quickly insisted that they would hand in a generous donation despite my insistence that my intention when posting was not to use emotional blackmail to elicit more donations. A few hours after this discovery I am still rather emotional but now feel that it wouldn’t do any harm to mention that a Crowdfunder pitch set up specially for the show has 3 days left to run and is currently sitting at 44% of target. If anybody does feel that they wish to offer financial support, donations, however small, will certainly be very gratefully received. If we could put a cash value on the many hours that all our volunteers ‘donate’ we would be quite well off, sadly this counts as little when faced with utility bills – for these only cold hard cash will do.

 

Crowdfunder:

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/investment/generate-radio-24-hour-showcase-1198

 

After the crowdfunder pitch has ended there is always an option to donate via www.generateradio.com

 

For anybody who might be interested, the complete playlist for each of the twenty four hours can be viewed here:

http://dstrachan.tumblr.com/post/32659011018/24-hour-showcase-28th-29th-september-2012