By Alistair Heather
Five thousand year syne the human warld birlt about a different axis. Doun in Egypt the Pharos war biggin their muckle pyramidal kists, drawin their pouer fae the fertile launds abuin the Nile. The great Sphinx wis appearin out fae ashlars o sandstane the size o houses. Naebody speirt efter wha buir the gree in terms o humanity in thae days; it wis clear. The Egyptians, ane o the great cívilisations, haed taen their place as the heid o the species on earth. They kent wha the Gods war, whit their leid wis, an generally kent wha wis wha an whit wis whit brawly. The rest o us sprauchelt, heid doun, throu the dub an mire, up tae wir oxsters in ignorance.
Ye can think o Egypt as the epicentre o human development o the day, an aa ither human actívity bein ripples out fae thon source. The tottie wee wave o humanity that raxed owre the continent tae exhaust itsel on Scotland’s strands wis minor indeed. Than mair nor iver we war the pure ends o the earth.
Haud on readin . . . “The porage revolution: Hou porage cam tae mak Scotland habitable”
By James McDonald
Technology, an the mair by taiken digital technology, haes baith positive an negative eftercomes. Technology can hecht possibílities we wadnae itherwise hae. On the ae haund, technology in general can help us redd up problems: technology can allou us tae dae mony things fae the maist basic huntin gibbles tae space shuttles. On the ither haund, technology can cause hashery for the feck o humanity, whether it’s technology that’s uised for killin fowk (like nuclear wappens) or connachin wir environs (like fossil fuels), or connachin wir brain cells, like whit we’ll see efter in this airticle.
Digital technology is a fair guid ensaumple o the foresaid general description o technology: wi it, we can communicate wi fowk the ither side o the warld. An that’s braw; A wadnae can write this airticle itherwise. We can keep in touch wi fríends an faimily on the ither side o the warld. But, at the same time, digital technology can distract us fae actual real life human traffeck that we war born for. For wir psychological growthe, as weel as ither aspects o wir halth, digital communication micht get yer wirds throu tae the ither body, but it’s sae sib tae real life communication as Jackie Stuart is tae the heir o the Jacobites.
Haud on readin . . . “Surfeit Uiss o Digital Technology”
By Alistair Heather
Ma mither wis fae the North-East o Skye. A clachan cried Stenschol at Staffin. She aye mindit me o ae nicht in the 1930s, whan she wis a lass o mebbe 25. Her auld mither caad out tae her an the ither young fowk that war ben the hous that nicht: “’Mon owre an see this!” Her mither — ma grandmither — wis pyntin out the scullery windae.
The hous they bade intae leukit out owre the Trotternish ridge, a muckle formation o black craigs an braes o staney rickles that lours owre the north o Skye.
Doun the daurk face o Ben Edra, whaur naebody wad be in the nicht, wis a stream o lichts. Wee dottit ghaist lichts comin doun the side o the law. It wis like a fairy airmy wis on the mairch fae the glen tae the plains ablo.
Haud on readin . . . “The ghaist lichts”
By Thomas Clark
Gin ye grew up in a partícular pairt o Scotland at a partícular pynt in time — say the wast coast, say the Eighties — Billy Connolly wis the anely thing that maitered. Set by yer Sex Pistols, forget yer Clash — nane o that stuff iver got throu tae us. The C30s that we swapped around in cless warnae bootleg Bowie; they war taped fae dusty auld vinyls we found in our faither’s cupboard, clatterin sangs on banjo about wellies an jannies an mad wee dugs gaun loco. Like the jokes, we didnae ayeweys unnerstaund thaim — whit exactly wis ‘the broo’? — but we knew the warld they cam fae, kent the hairmless jakies an alcoholic dreamers that líved in it.
An we learned. As we listened, we learned. We learned hou tae tell our ain stories, ridículous anes, lingerin on the lip o credibility, interruptit aye an anon bi the wheezy lauchter o the teller. We learned hou tae haud aff an haud aff an keep haudin aff, tae pit aside the story’s endin like a last wee bite o cake. An we learned that the wey ye tell a story maiters, says somethin important about ye, an that if ye coudnae tell a story kindly, than it wis mebbe a story that wis better left untelt.
Tae tell a story kindly disnae juist mean bein nice. It means tellin the story in a wey that’s true tae the fowk that it’s about; respectin their chyces, respectin their mistaks. Tak a keek at the píous, pre-emptive eulogies for Billy Connolly that hiv been croppin up aw owre the shop, an tell me — are they kind? Are they nice? Or are they juist the kind o guff that Billy spent his hale career deflatin — or used tae, onygates, afore he went an broke our herts?
Haud on readin . . . “Billy Connolly broke ma hert”
By James McDonald
Whan fowk is discussin issues, the conversation whiles dwynes intae a wee stramash: ae side gies thair thochtie on the thing, the ither says “naw, A think this ither thing,” an thay juist rane thair stances. An this is the mair-be-taiken whan it’s polítical issues. Whiles ye’re chancey tae even see fowk argollin for thair posítion. An, whan this happens, fowk afttimes come awa fae it thinkin the same things thay did aforehaund. Whiles, it’s mair the waur: whiles, fowk juist caw ilk anither names, like “yese are juist dunderheids”. An thay end up thinkin thair ain posítion thay awready haed even mair. An that’s a waesome state o affairs.
Sae whit dae we actually want tae be daein? Dae we want tae redd up tuilyies? Or evitin bein naur thaim whan thay kythe? Or dae we juist want thaim no tae kythe?
Haud on readin . . . “Argie-bargie in politics”
By Alistair Heather
Patrick Sellar’s auld hous staunds on the toff’s estate doun the river Naver fae the clachan. The biggin itsel is cuttit intae twa; ae side is hame tae the ciobair — shepherd in the Gaelic — an the ithir side staunds tuim tae this day. It’s kent as ‘Patrick Sellar’s hous’, and naebody will bide intae it. A hunner year an mair syne he wis pit in the grund in the kirkyaird at Elgin, an still there isnae a body wha’ll gang near the place. He wis taen on as Factor for the Duke o Sutherland, tae turn the laund at Strathnaver an thereabout intae sheep ferms. Tae dae this he wis gied the richt tae evict the fowk wha bade there.
Mair nor a dozen brochs rise out the earth tae gie witness tae auncient life in the strath. Viking place names gar ye ken that thae northren raiders haed their time o ascendancy here an aa. The name Sutherland itsel is derived fae the Auld Norse for South-laund. But at the stert o the 19t century Patrick Seller tried tae pit a stap tae the muisic o life that haed played in the strath for millenia. He wis efter replacin it wi the fuilish bleatin o sheep an the cauld clink o siller in his pootch.
Haud on readin . . . “Lat the auld witch burn — A tale telt by Marsaili MacLeod, a native o Strathnaver, tae Alistair Heather”