Today at the march


Today was "Scotland's Climate March" and I was there for a change. In fact, that line would have been one of the witty aspects of the day. It was a tough gig. Especially for someone who worries about apostrophes. And spelling. 'Parisites', 'pollucion' ? Really?

But pedantry to one side, it was a truly rainbow affair for the estimated 5000 souls who braved the grey wet Edinburgh  afternoon. There were socialists of many hue, religious groups from Quaker to Humanist, people who loved trees, polar bears and wildlife in general. Everyone dressed sensibly for the weather and the only drug use was mild painkiller usage to counter dodgy hips from all that walking.  The stewards said 'please' and 'thank you' and were largely the grandparents of the accompanying police.

And then there were the Greens. Probably the most recognised campaigning political party around the whole 'it's global warming and we've got to do something' cadre. And here's the dilemma from the outside. Just when the eye would welcome the sight of a large rank of Green Party activists marching along in well oiled practiced procession; you get the Green Party version. There may well be a single brand ; 'Scottish Greens"; but each branch reserves the right to produce its own unique banner and logoed priority. Perth wanted to bring home the message of economic inequality implicit in climate change and their banner almost said just that. Dundee just wanted to be cool and multi coloured and say 'look at us'.  Stirling, I think , just opted for no banner and matching socks for their men but free choice for every other gender group represented. If, as Alex Salmond is wont to remark; "divided parties don't win elections", there may be difficult times ahead. 

The good book also reminds us, if salt loses its flavour; what use is it? With so many other groups proceeding down the track of salinity; what are the Greens for? One activist remarked to me, "it's great when people copy your ideas". True, but it's not just copy but they are slapping their barcode over yours. 

The Greens also have this deeply pleasant view of opposition as being 'constructive opposing'; "not opposing for the sake of it". I am tending towards the view there aren't too many lawyers in the party. In the Scotland of the SNP, an opposition party which did just want to play bump and run with the government's record could be an attractive electoral prospect for voters.  

But who knows, I walked in the rain from the Meadows to Princess St Gardens, had a number of jolly chats and got wet. Political activism at its toughest for me right now.

Long form catching up.

Between feeding Twitter for @nordichorizons, recording the weekly Lesley Riddoch podcast and scheduling a variety of filmed artefacts; there seems to be little time to come and update this blog. But here goes.

Nordic Horizons is a think tank which brings Nordic subject matter experts  to Scotland to meet and interact with a variety of academics, civil servants, politicians and those interested members of the general public. Its' meetings are held either in Edinburgh University or the Scottish Parliament. My role is to live tweet the events as they happen, curate the presentations, edit an audio recording of the events and post both on line. I also filmed, edit and post an interview with the keynote speaker(s). The website , , acts as a repository for the keynote slide sets,  a Soundcloud channel for the audio and Vimeo channel for the video interviews. I do curate these artefacts. Having seen some archives where material is 'copied and pasted' with no editing; I still believe conscious choices have to be taken when you are attempting to put serious content in front of communities of interest.

On the podcasting front, the Lesley Riddoch pod has a healthy audience, a growing Facebook group and some lively interactions. I have been standing in a cinema queue and someone has leaned over and said "I love the podcast." At many of the public events over the Referendum Campaign, people have come up and been very appreciative. It's true, the radio seems to allow ideas to flourish and develop.

Finally, in this segment, a lot of the multimedia work I have been doing has been around 'blending'. In the case of the travel series; "The Rap Series", the photos and audio work together well and are timeless. Equally, working with Fintry Development Trust, together we created media packs for a variety of topics for 'knowledge exchange' purposes; ten topic areas in total. These media packs allowed different communities to share Fintry's experience by watching short narrated Powerpoint slideshows which explained, for example, how to run an insulation workshop or set up a car club. The trick is working with smart people who can explain complex things in a simple way.

The Commonwealth Games Podcast

Thanks to @billysangster

In this week’s @lesleyriddoch Podcast, we turn the Commonwealth Games upside down and give them a good shake. Lesley devoted her Scotsman column this week to the very topic. Men’s emotions, fab crowds, rugby support, the strength of TV pictures, the ‘new’ Glasgow kiss, amongst other things, get a good airing. We also talk cycling and badges.

We also touched briefly on the topic of Gaza and here is the link to the Jon Snow video. Please be aware his report is graphic and some viewers may find it distressing.

And, because we get asked on Twitter at least once a week about getting hold of the podcast; please check out the ways of accessing the podcast; there is a ‘Lesley Riddoch Podcast’ page over at Facebook . You can get the Lesley Riddoch Podcast on a free subscription on iTunes here.  You can download it here. And, if Android is your platform of choice, we hear good things about ‘Pocketcasts’  - here is a direct link to the Feisty Podcasts and there are some other  resources here as well.   Please enjoy this podcast responsibly; use sun screen appropriately !


The referendum will not be colour co-ordinated

I love these badges. My wife got them after a chance encounter with Ian Black of ‘Tartan Army’ fame.  They are cheerful, vernacular and authentic.

Imagine my surprise when I got my first negative comment whilst wearing one of them; “How No?”.

“It’s not an official badge. It’s not clear what the message is. Are you voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”, said the man with the official lapel badge.

I smiled . “Fair enough.” And walked away from the inevitable discussion.

It seemed churlish to point out I had given away 3 “How No?’ badges at the very swally we were at.

Got a feeling that the mavericks and wild eyed dreamers will not be consulting the style guide as they design their badges, work their words or scribble their art on web or woad. I may be wrong but this referendum thing seems to have ignited some community energy and , to quote the Good Book out of context,

“your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:”

Love it.

Belfast and Portsoy - this week's podcast

Lesley spent a few days in Belfast with academics and then wrote about how a commentator said  “Whatever the result, Scotland has already won.” Here she explains a bit more detail behind the headlines.

We also manage to squeeze in references to Farr, Newtonmore, Mark Cousins and the forthcoming ‘Words from the Wild ‘ Book Festival on Knoydart. There is also a quick review of ‘A Dangerous Game’ , Anthony Baxter’s follow up to ‘You’ve Been Trumped’.

We also will be releasing a wee treat mid week; a short interview Chris did in Portsoy with some skiffers. Watch out for that.

The Geiteberg Folk Festival


Just back from an exciting few days at the Geitebrg Folk Festival outside Oslo. I came across to carry the bags for Lesley who was speaking with Øivind Bratberg on the topic of topic of independence.  The first night was conversation between a healthy number of Scottish musicians and Norwegian fans. A couple of stand out points; we don't know much about our own country and Norwegians speak better English in the main. Well, that's my verdict after the cultural 'pub quiz', chaired by a Norwegian and won by a mixed team...which included a Norwegian librarian. Cabin-view

Our humble cabin, along with the members of the band 'As the Crow Flies' was idyllic. Cabins in woods with water, wildlife and unseen neighbours are a staple of Norway's way of living. Second homes like this carry none of the stigma which we might feel. I spent some time walking around the lake and met a young couple laying roof tiles, a cyclist hauling his recycling down to the bins, a lady who giving the garden a goodly hosing down...all had a long history with the area and could remember the huts without electricity and water. Some still had outside toilets. Said with affection in their eyes.


The musical Friday and Saturday were terrific as you would expect. The whole Geiteberg venue is situated on an old farm. The loft acted as storage and stage. The atmosphere was open and rural. In these sorts of settings, the traditional music seems to hang in the air in crisp clear haze. You can read the programme and get the band's names but nothing will prepare you for the experience of hearing a reel across the heat shimmer of a field as you plod up the dusty path to the big barn. Or the shiver of hearing a Gaelic love song in the still warmth of the Norwegian twilight. Or the wry smile of the Ostfolk group as they wind their audience up. In a language you can't understand but a feeling you can share. Moonscape

It was the weekend of the 'super moon', once every 50 years it comes this close. "We'll never see it again' said a lady on the trampoline. Best photograph it, I thought. While the music swirled about midnight, I stood in the field and snapped away. The bows and breath propelled the notes into the light we'll not see again for 50 years.

The next morning we recorded a podcast with Brian O'hEadhra . It was a gentle affair, trying to relate big notions of musicians and music across borders and boundaries. But then again, we had been at it all weekend, really.



Bank Holiday Special Podcast

Whilst the rest of the country enjoys the May Bank Holiday, we are hard at work tackling the issues. Lesley thinks David Cameron should try a ‘zero hours’ contract.

The whole issue of land reform bubbles up again with news about the Coop sale  and a hard hitting Scotsman column from Lesley.  We discuss the question; land reform and a referendum campaign – how do they fit together?

We also discuss Fintry’s FRESh community awards and the Big Ref Debate… ideas and lessons from both, it would seem. As ever, to watch for updates and breaking news on the topics in this podcast please follow @lesleyriddoch on Twitter - it's very enjoyable and informative.