I canna hink A wis muckle mair nor fower or five year auld the verra first time A clappit ma een on a deider. Noo ye maun hink yon’s a gey queer-like wey tae open a bookie siccan this een, an hink tae yersel, by, whit’s this lad hinkin aboot? But A says to youse, that gin a bookie’s tae be an honest bookie, an no jist a pile o havers, then we maun set aff on the recht fit, an be honest wi wirsels fae the aff. An sae it is; fan A hink on ma childheid, death aye seems affy close. But this parteecular deider, A’ll hae tae explain mair aboot.
If you like this writing in genuine Scots from Angus, you’ll just love Poaching the River, available in paperback and as an e-book!
I took most of these pictures at Ethie Woods near Arbroath in Angus Scotland in 2001. Some were taken in our home in Arbroath. The camera was a Russian ‘Horizont’. this was a panoramic camera that used a swinging 28mm lens on 35mm film. The images were interesting but not really sharp. This was partly because the 28mm lens was not that sharp anyway, but also because the film had to be held in a curve so that it registered with the focal plane of the rotating lens. This was somewhat beyond the Russian technology of the day and since the lens could not be stopped down to reduce the consequences of this, the images suffered.
I sold the camera after a short while, but looking back, the somewhat soft-focus effect was really attractive in its own right.
Arbroath January 1972 . I was living in the house at 9 East Grimsby. My Dad had died the previous year and I was still struggling with it. But I had a few things going for me: music, a camera and my books. It wasn’t a lot but it helped.
Russ Black, the art teacher at school encouraged me to use its darkroom. I had lost my own a couple of years before when we moved house. This is one of the earliest rolls I still have from then.
The camera was a Leica Model III fitted with a Ross Xtralux 50mm f2, an excellent lens. I used the name ‘Xtralux’ for a band some years later, in Exeter. Film was Ilford FP3.
This was a crazy trip in which the weather did all but defeat us. But we still had fun.
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Maryhill, the poor part of Glasgow’s West End, in 1974, was a different world. Looking back on these pictures, 45 years later, I am still moved. When I came to the Philippines first, a kind but unaware French friend told me that I would see poverty such as I had never seen before. I had not the heart to tell him; I had seen worse.
Yet on the other hand I have so many memories of Maryhill and most of them are good. I was never robbed, beaten up or threatened there. Nobody ever asked if I was a Catholic or a Protestant — a question I would get used to later. People were poor, yes, many had no shoes; but they had community and mutual respect. I see that today in the Philippines. We lost a great deal when we lost that.
Once you have the grip of the instrument under the chin sorted out, the next thing to address is the right hand’s grip on the bow. This can cause a great deal of trouble though in my opinion is not as tricky as the left hand. Again, the secret is to avoid tension; the hand must be relaxed. To do this, all four fingers and the thumb must be in contact with the stick, and all must be curved. This is hugely important. The most common grip errors are for the little or pinkie finger to lock and become straight and rigid. Do not allow this to happen. Another is for the pinkie to lift off the stick, which is also wrong. More subtle and harder to see but just as damaging is for the thumb to become stiff.
My my my, wonders will never cease. The devastatingly lacklustre leader of ‘Scottish’ Labour, Johann Lamont – she of the genetic ‘lack of programming’ to make important decisions – has resigned.
Not before time, one might well respond, and that would seem, on the face of it, fair. Yet it appears from her resignation statement that some of her lack of visibility during Independence Referendum One (oh, there will be more, do not fret) was not due to incompetence but to the fact that she was being told what to say by London and resented it. That she waited this long to act on her resentment makes her parting words seem rather like crocodile tears; but those are the only ones that will be shed over her doffing the Poisoned Crown, so we ought not to be too harsh.
A long time ago, when I was a young lad, I had the acquaintance of a dog called Seumus.
Now Seumus was of, shall we say, indeterminate lineage. There seemed to be a fair bit of black Labrador in there, but it was mixed with some distinctly non-pedigree characteristics, including a tail that curled over his back. When Seumus was feeling full of himself, he carried this high and showed to the world his anal sphincter. I’m sure that’s not in the Labrador breed book.