Inheritance Taxes

When the University of Edinburgh commissioned Nathan Coley to create a new artwork for display in its main library, the artist was invited to give a presentation to the committee overseeing the university’s collections. Coley’s brief was to design a piece to occupy a display wall in the library’s main concourse, which had long beenContinue reading “Inheritance Taxes”

Shakespeare as Currency

John Dover Wilson’s Correspondence John Dover Wilson was one of the best known, and most influential, Shakespearean scholars of the 20th century. His greatest achievement was the complete edition of the works that he edited and oversaw for Cambridge University Press between 1921 and 1966; yet he is perhaps best known to generations of readersContinue reading “Shakespeare as Currency”

What is to be Done?

The answer, when it came, was insultingly brief – perhaps deliberately so. Contrary to some speculation at the weekend, Johnson’s letter to the First Minister showed no signs of careful thought or legal briefing or even a sense that these were weighty matters. A quick reference to the ‘once in a generation’ canard, some falseContinue reading “What is to be Done?”

Uncanny Britannia

What on earth is up with British unionism? Although not especially reflective at the best of times, this ideology has recently been thrust into explicitness in disturbing ways. It’s often said that Brexit is in part driven by an upsurge of English nationalism, but I don’t buy that – if only because there’s no suchContinue reading “Uncanny Britannia”

Ruth Davidson, Mental Health and Tory Policy

Co-authored with ‘Irene Sutcliffe’ On 16 September, the Sunday Times published an interview with the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson. The piece was both about Davidson’s private and public lives (the two can’t really be separated, not in her line of work): her pregnancy and the importance to her and her partner ofContinue reading “Ruth Davidson, Mental Health and Tory Policy”

On Being Weak

[Content note: mental illness, suicidal thoughts, self-harm] Can I make a confession? It’s not exactly an original one, and the experiences it concerns are anything other than unique. Perhaps it isn’t much of a confession, given how many people – although I’m thinking primarily of men here – have said something similar before me. IContinue reading “On Being Weak”

Exploring Edinburgh’s Literary Cityscape

At last – definitive proof that there is such a thing as a free lunch! To mark the release of the new LitLong app for both Android and iOS we’re holding a couple of events about which I’m quite frankly unable to contain my excitement. LitLong is a unique digital resource that allows users toContinue reading “Exploring Edinburgh’s Literary Cityscape”

The Politics of ‘Us and Them’

In its death agonies, the vestigial remnant of Scottish Labour is convulsing in some entirely predictable ways. One of them, particularly evident recently, has been an even more ferocious assault on the independence movement in Scotland, which they corral – not, a lot of the time, unfairly, but not always entirely accurately – under the labelContinue reading “The Politics of ‘Us and Them’”

The Rhetoric of Scottish Independence

As the ill wind of Brexit swirls all around, we find ourselves skirmishing again over the issue of Scottish independence. The Unionist ultras, at least, seem to be in a state of high anxiety, while those who were still holding out for the messianic advent of British federalism are looking more forlorn and friendless than ever.Continue reading “The Rhetoric of Scottish Independence”

Discovering the World

Early one morning, any morning, we can set out, with the least possible baggage, and discover the world. So begins the brilliant ‘In Praise of Walking’, by Thomas A. Clark, a poem I’d heartily recommend to anyone. But what kind of world can we discover? That’s a writer’s question, to some extent – the suspicionContinue reading “Discovering the World”