Arran has sometimes seemed like a rare oasis of calm amidst all the events of the past month or two, in Westminster, Turkey, Nice and elsewhere. To say that the world has gone mad has seemed an understatement at times. But islands are not immune to world events and may indeed have their own problems. In this issue we review The Outrun, Amy Liptrot’s account of growing up in Orkney and her subsequent alcoholism, and we look at where attempts to limit carbon emissions after the UN conference on climate change in Paris have got to. Islands are of course particularly vulnerable to sea level rise as a result of climate change. We also have our usual coverage of the arts on Arran, be it poetry, music, theatre, film, the visual arts, and even the gastronomic art. We hope you enjoy the August Voice for Arran (and if you do, please spread the word!).
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It's that time of year again ! Amazing how quickly it comes round, always catching us a bit by surprise.
This year's McLellan Festival is packed with events lasting over a month beginning with a small exhibition in the Tourist Office of paintings and poetry called The Taster Exhibition to kick off Arran Open Studios. This year several of the participating artists have teamed up with practising island poets who have responded to specific art works. The results of this cross fertilisation will give a flavour of the highly skilled makers and wordsmiths at large on Arran. Visitors are invited to absorb this collaboration which runs from 8th – 16th August and of course visit as many studios as possible!
Here is Jason Watt's poem:
You are at a threshold
In the interior no depth
Whiteness Shapes rise like they
present on a foggy moor
From its mast
my body is a flag that streams out feet anchored
fingertips flutter and invisibly
their gestures gather in a bag
Try to summarise a symbol?
something like a material opening where
all the narrative is always present
wholeness has no
background – white that does not light –
plane of markers not co-ordinates
there are curtains
drawn into what’s knowable
Grit of questions of questing fingers poking
the whiteness’s volume
the whiteness’s volume
On the moor a peaty pool
skims its dimensions
has no one-to-one correspondence
The successful Open Studios weekend begins on Friday 12th and runs to Monday 15th August. Look out for the brochure or download it here.
Music is never in short supply at McLellan and we are lucky to have an extra event to start us off this year. On Tuesday 16th August the talented internationally acclaimed Cape Breton Fiddler, Wendy MacIsaac, will play in Whiting Bay Hall. This is followed on Friday 19th by wonderful latin American rhythms from Ricardo Curbelo in the Community Theatre.
The Community Theatre will be buzzing as the next night sees a production of The Tempest and excerpts from A Midsummer Night's Dream performed by the Durham Shakespeare Company.
The following weekend beginning on Friday 26th August comes the poetry extravaganza. This year David Constantine is the judge of the McLellan Poetry Competition and will on that night adjudicate the poems, present the awards and, of course, give us some of his own wonderful poetry. Music that evening with Arran Dawn. David Constantine will also be running a poetry workshop on Saturday in Corrie Hall (which must be booked – see brochure) and on Sunday afternoon run a discussion on translation with local translators in Brodick Library.
Even then we are not letting him go as he will introduce the film 45 Years, based on one of his short stories, starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay in Corrie Hall on Monday evening 29th August.
Meanwhile other treats this weekend include The Famous Festival Ceilidh, this year in Whiting Bay Hall with The Dram Busters, Tim Pomeroy, Angus Adamson and The Buchaneers (aka Biff and Tom!) and a service of sacred music with the talented summer school students in Corrie Church.
On Wednesday evening 31st August at Altachorvie, popular local raconteur and passionate Arran man, John Sillars, will talk about his island life supported by music from interesting and talented duo from Edinburgh, guitarist and singer compoer, Colin Donati and Cellist, Robin Mason.
Friday 2nd September sees the , now celebrated, opera gala in the Community Theatre, not to be missed, whilst on Saturday 3rd September in Corrie Hall, young talented students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will perform their own work based on Watership Down and The Little Prince.
The oratorio this year’s Rossini's delightful Petite Messe Solennelle which will be performed on Sunday 4th September in the Community Theatre. We are still looking for singers for the chorus for this. If you would like to take part (always a stunning experience) contact Margaret Wright (01770700 384) who also has scores.
The festival finishes two weeks later on Saturday 17th September with a concert in Brodick Hall in the company of the fabulous Classic Buskers.
Surely something for everyone and don't forget the bargain Festival Ticket at £40 which gets you into everything except the poetry workshop.
Tickets available online at arranevents.com and from Saturday 13th August at the Book and Card, Brodick or always at the door of all events.
This year as part of the McLellan Arts Festival, some Arran singers will be joining the wonderful young opera students from the Royal Northern College Manchester in a joyous oratorio – Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle. And we need more Arran singers!
For the last 5 years a community choir from Arran, which has been named the McLellan Festival Chorus, has sung with the students from Peter Wilson's Summer School. Those of us who have done it have loved it and there is no need to be nervous if you have not done it before or don't know the Rossini – it is all made possible somehow and the results are amazing. Singing with the students and being conducted by Alec Crowe make you feel like a professional!
All are welcome to take part. There will be 4 rehearsals before the event ( Saturday 20th August from 2-4pm, Thursday 25th August from 7.30 – 9.30 pm both in Lamlash Church Hall and then Tuesday 30th August and Thursday 1st September from 7.30 – 9.30 at Altachorvie, Lamlash) with a dress rehearsal on Sunday morning before the performance.
Scores can be obtained from Margaret Wright (01770 700384) and you can swot your part by going to www.cyberbass.com
Please join us and have the sing of your life.
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, Canongate, 2016.
Amy Liptrot was born in Orkney to English parents who had gone north to find a farm they could afford and to live ‘the good life’. In her late teens she went to London looking for the bright lights of the big city. She found them, but they led to grotty bedsits in Hackney, addiction to drugs and alcohol, and increasingly self-destructive behaviour. Eventually she got herself into rehab, and then returned to Orkney to try to stabilise her life, renting a cottage from the RSPB on the tiny island of Papa Westray. This book intercuts her increasingly desperate life in London with her earlier experiences of island life and then her retreat back to Orkney. It paints a vivid picture of her life in both places, and of her inner world throughout this time.
Will Self in the Guardian said “It’s this aptitude Liptrot has for marrying her inner-space with wild outer-spaces that makes her such a compelling writer – and one to watch. I may be biased, since I’m familiar with both the topography of Orkney and know the badlands of addiction like the back of my track-marked hand – but I enjoyed this book enormously, even as I worried about its brave but vulnerable author, struggling to reach the good life for which her parents once went in search.”
The Scotsman summed up The Outrun thus: “This is a bold-hearted and brave-minded book. It is both terribly sad and awfully affecting. That Liptrot wrote it in Orkney, where “the Orkney Disease” was once used on the Mainland of Scotland to refer to sottishness and melancholy, and that she both captured that sense and proved it could be transformational as well, is no small achievement. I look forward to its presence on some prize lists.”
It must be August. Suddenly Arran is even fuller than usual with people, residents and visitors alike, doing interesting things and the island’s creative vibe very much to the fore.
For anyone into writing, whether as a reader or a practitioner, the absolute highlight this year has to be the visit by David Constantine over the last weekend of August. A multi-award winning poet, translator, novelist and short story writer, his visit to take part in this year’s McLellan Festival is a major coup for the organisers.
This won’t be David’s first time on Arran although he admits his last visit was ‘decades ago’. He recalls how he ‘climbed Goat Fell in an icy moonlight’. It is an image that has clearly stayed with him and re-visiting Arran’s hills (hopefully in sunshine this time) will certainly be on his agenda in any spare time there may be in what will be a busy schedule spread over five days.
Born in Salford on the west side of Manchester, David Constantine worked for thirty years as a university teacher of German language and literature. As well as ten collections of poems (the most recent, ‘Elder’ in 2014), he has written two novels (the second, ‘The Life Writer’ in 2015) and four volumes of short stories (‘Tea at the Midland and Other Stories’ won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the world’s richest prize for short fiction). earlier this year he attracted headlines when Charlotte Rampling won an Oscar nomination for her performance in the film ‘45 Years’ based on his story ‘Another Country’. You can see the film, also starring Tom Courtenay, at a special showing in Corrie Hall on Monday 29th August introduced by David.
Another side of Constantine’s career has been as an editor and translator specialising in Hõlderlin, Goethe, Kleist and Brecht. With his wife Helen he edited the journal ‘Modern Poetry in Translation’ for many years and he and Helen will lead a panel discussion with four local professional translators at Brodick Library on the afternoon of Sunday 28th August.
David’s immediate reason for returning to Arran is to present the £1000 prize for this year’s McLellan Poetry Competition. An increasingly international affair, this year’s competition attracted entries from twenty different countries across all five continents. The evening which will feature David reading from his own work, is at Brodick’s Little Rock Café, a venue that will be transformed for the night with music from harp and whistle duo Arran Dawn, and a pop-up book shop. Reserve a ticket online or at the Brodick Book and Card. And there are still a few places left for the writing workshop at Corrie Hall on Saturday the 27th.
Selected by David Underdown who also writes the commentary.
Told one of the goldfish wouldn’t last the night …
Told one of the goldfish wouldn’t last the night
He hid his eyes under a fierce scowl
And went outside on the flags and rode his bike
Round and round, round and round
But it did no good and he brought the fact back in
Heading for his bedroom and his secret stash of chocolate
But his mother got under his scowl and halted him
Till he showed her his eyes and that was that.
So much sorrow there is in a not-quite-five-year-old
They know so much already and suspect the rest
Already they are beyond being consoled
They watch, they have seen it signed and witnessed
That all living creatures have one thing in common:
They die. Creatures as intricate and various
As a worm, a swallow, a cat, a water-scorpion
Baby and grown-up, all of them, all of us
Die. So when in her arms her child became a well
And the waters of sorrow that are under the earth broke through
For a golden fish she was inconsolable
Grieving that his grief was right, just, true.
This poem by David Constantine is from his latest collection ‘Elder’ (published by Bloodaxe 2014). Born in Salford in 1944, Constantine lectured in German at Durham University before becoming a Fellow of Queens College Oxford. As well as a distinguished career as a translator, he has published several novels and the acclaimed 2015 film ‘45 Years’ was based on one of his short stories, ‘Another Country’. He will be visiting Arran shortly as judge of this year’s McLellan Poetry Competition. You can hear him read at the Little Rock Café on Friday 26th August or participate in his writing workshop in Corrie Hall on the following day.
New Prime Minister Theresa May wasted no time in enacting Machiavellian-style regime change at Number 10, resulting in a Cabinet almost unidentifiable from David Cameron’s. Prominent Brexiteers were awarded top jobs and unquestionably, people worry that Boris Johnson and Liam Fox are now responsible for taking forward UK foreign policy.
It’s almost impossible to square Mrs May’s Downing Street speech about social justice and inclusivity with the Cabinet she has assembled. For example, new Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green, has voted consistently against paying higher benefits to those unable to work due to illness or disability. People who rely on these payments will understandably be concerned. Indeed, only hours after the initial pronouncements, Cabinet members had begun setting out their stalls.
New Chancellor Philip Hammond looks set to continue with austerity, despite plans to spend billions on Trident renewal. It is early days; however this new UK Government already signals a sharp turn to the right.
Further threats to Scotland’s Budget loom. Nevertheless, the SNP Government, under the strong leadership of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, remains resolute in fighting for Scotland during these uncertain times.
The film for August 14th at 8.00pm in Corrie and Sannox Village Hall is The Salt of the Earth, directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.
This is a striking film following the career of photographer and ethnologist Sebastiao Sagaldo, who travelled the world capturing humanity in all its guises.
The Salt of the Earth received largely positive reviews from critics. The consensus was that: "While the work it honors may pose thorny ethical questions that The Salt of the Earth neglects to answer, it remains a shattering, thought-provoking testament to Sebastião Salgado's career."
New research shows that a “controlled implosion” of the fossil fuel industry and a technological explosion of renewable energy are needed to meet targets on restricting global warming, according to Tim Radford of the Climate News Network. National promises made late last year to contain carbon dioxide emissions will not be nearly enough to meet the global warming target agreed last December by 195 nations, according to a new assessment.
The signatories to the historic agreement at the UN conference on climate change in Paris pledged to limit global warming to below 2°C and to aim for no more than 1.5°C rise above pre-industrial levels.
The planet has already warmed by 1°C in the last century. But, climate scientists say, the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) submitted before the meeting imply global warming of between 2.6°C and 3.1°C. So more needs to be done, they report in Nature journal.
“The Paris Agreement was a historical achievement for the world’s response to climate change, aiming at limiting warming to below 1.5°C and 2°C,” says Joeri Rogelj, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) research scholar who led the study. “It puts in place a flexible framework for a long-term transformation towards a low-carbon society. But our analysis shows that these measures need to be strengthened in order to have a good chance of keeping warming to well below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C.”
The researchers argue in their study that to limit warming to any level implies that the total amount of CO2 that can ever be emitted into the atmosphere is finite.
“About two-thirds of the available budget for keeping warming to below 2°C have already been emitted,” they write. “Global emissions urgently need to start to decline.”
That it can be done, and that the Paris target is realistic and achievable, is confirmed by a second group of researchers in Nature Climate Change journal. They reason that the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C is substantial, in terms of sea level rise, the loss of the glaciers and damage to the rainforests. However, the process of containing global average temperature rise demands a “controlled implosion” of the fossil fuel industry, and a technological explosion of renewable energy systems.
“The Paris agreement is a historic achievement and a genuine triumph of reason,” says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who led the study. “Now the pressure is on to implement that consensus in time, in order to avoid the looming humanitarian tragedy for good.”
Meanwhile, as much as $7 trillion will need to be spent building new infrastructure around the world that will make it possible to cut carbon emissions over the next 15 to 20 years, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned this month, according to Reuters.
Carney, speaking with Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna at an event in Toronto, said measures to finance green initiatives would form a major part of this year's G20 summit in China in September, and encouraged investors to back them.
"In terms of what is the magnitude of clean energy or lower- carbon energy infrastructure and cleaner water sanitation, etc., that will be put in place over the next 15 to 20 years … it's somewhere in the order of $5 to $7 trillion," Carney said. "The question is how much of that is going to be financed through capital markets."
China, one of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, is eager to be seen taking a leadership role in global action to combat climate change and has said it will push for efforts to encourage green investment while leading the G20 group of developed and emerging market countries.
Carney said the Bank of England had been working with the People's Bank of China over the past 18 months to develop a "green" bond market that could finance environmentally friendly projects, part of a broader set of initiatives.
Isle of Arran Music Society has an extra concert this year, on Friday, 19th August, in the Community Theatre at Arran High School. Ricardo Curbelo, who gave two greatly appreciated performances last year, is bringing his Latin American rhythms back to Arran. Ricardo is a harpist, but also sings and plays the cuatro and the maracas. And not only is he a brilliant performer, he is in addition a composer and a poet. He makes his own harps, too! His performances include vibrant, energetic and even jazzy pieces, contrasting with captivating melodies and romantic vocals. The audience can look forward to an evening of enchanting, magical and beautiful music from this master of the Latin American harp. Those who heard Ricardo Curbelo last year will certainly want to hear him again, and those who missed him should grab this second chance. The concert starts at 7.30, and tickets are available on the door on the night, in advance from Inspirations of Arran in Brodick, or online from www.arranevents.com.
Don’t miss it.
The Drift Inn in Lamlash is so well known to folk on Arran that it scarcely needs a write-up here. Still, it was our destination of choice for a family reunion recently and it worth seeing how a favourite pub copes in the midst of the summer season. Of course it was busy and of course we had to wait for a table, despite having arrived early. And yet, the welcome was really friendly, with reassurance that the wait would be brief, which it was. We felt happy to wait, ensconced in one of the sofa corners, each with a favourite drink.
Since this was a reunion, tales of mountain, jungle and high seas were being told and it was a long while before we got our act together enough to put an order together. Yet we were treated with infinite patience, and made to feel as though this was our evening, to be spent as we chose, with the staff ready to make this work for us. Rather than the feeling you get in different settings that you, the customer, are there to make life go well for the waiter.
Finally almost everyone went for fresh sardines as starter; each plate holding a nice plump pair of tasty – if bony, but that’s sardines for you – fishes, accompanied by a tomato and caper salad which really nailed the right level of piquancy. The baked Arran Brie was sweet and molten, with a tomato salsa, and demonstrated well the Drift’s policy of using local produce whenever possible.
So thumbs up to the local Glenkiln lamb – is there anywhere in Britain serving more local lamb? And appreciation for a chef who was willing to cook it perhaps just a touch longer than normal on request, but knew how to stop short of overcooking. It was superbly tender. Spicy chicken and barbecued pork together might challenge the fainthearted but not our crew. It was deemed very good, hot and spicy – the chicken on the dry side? – but oh yes, possibly in the end ‘too much of a pile of meat’. Others went for the lasagne of wild mushroom and spinach with a red pepper sauce. This was delicious with truly flavoursome wild mushrooms, though the portion was small and it may have been kept waiting a while, with signs of a skin forming at the edges. The seared cod fillet perched on a potato and parsnip mash was succulent and flaky. Perhaps the mash needed more parsnip, but the accompanying kale with red wine jus was ‘not bad’ – admitted by a confirmed kale hater.
Somehow, some people managed a pud. There was a huge traditional ice cream sundae with berries and blackcurrants, which hit the right spot. And there was a small strawberry cheesecake and ice cream, a rather delicate flavour, perhaps not best suited to cheesecake? The usual sticky toffee pudding also made an appearance. Still, desserts are not really what the Drift is renowned for, but rather for really fresh local fish and sharp imaginative accompaniments, like the Arran lobster on the menu, or the hand dived local scallops. And a lovely relaxed atmosphere.
If so, are you interested in joining a local lipreading group? Learn in a fun way, in a friendly way and along with other people with a hearing loss. I am a qualified lipreading tutor taking names for new classes in Irvine starting September 2016.
I intend to run 2 classes: an evening class and a Saturday morning class (day, times and venue still to be confirmed). If you are interested, please contact:
Christopher Quinn, mobile: 07788 241022, email: Quinn4710@hotmail.co.uk.
This month's Action on Hearing Loss drop-in clinic will be in the Arran War Memorial hospital on Tuesday 23rd August from 11am to 1pm.
The full brochure of all the clinics throughout Ayrshire and Arran from July – September 2016 can be found here.
Some images from the Corrie Woodworking Fair, taken by Marion Logan:
South to make one no-trump. West leads the ♣Q.
South wins with the ♣K and leads the ♥J, North dropping the ♥9. East does best to win and return a diamond to North's ♦A. North cashes the ♠A.
A If East plays low, North leads the ♥3. East plays high and South wins. South exits on a spade to East's ♠K, North discarding the ♥8. South's ♥7 wins the next trick, squeezing West in the minor suits.
B If East drops the ♠K, North leads the ♥8. Because South thus wins the third heart however East plays, West is triple squeezed.
7 Centre is GO! Else confusion arises from making charge (14)
9 Dress races in air with energy (6)
10 Damaged nine journalist repeated (8)
11 A supporter in man's sirenians (8)
13 Utopian name I cede in error (6)
14 Festival that Destiny spoke of (4)
15 Rooms use it wisely (5)
16 Cathay attache case packs returning nursemaid (4)
17 Ester a mate left in reaction (6)
19 Obtuse slits nor openings (8)
21 Neighbourhood gin cave I stir (8)
23 Rules the sound of downfalls (6)
24 Vacillation of vessel following divine scene I change (14)
1 A tree pausing an awkward pensioner (14)
2 Mad rave. Lite marriage (8)
3 Sturdy events move where East trumps North (6)
4 Rising logic often accepts points (4)
5 Gee! Keeping Seven-Up is Swiss (8)
6 Turned clay into buzzer (6)
8 Nae visible nets around certitude (14)
12 Issue of damaged icons (5)
15 Outline of twelve are upset (8)
16 High flyer breaks in rail before queen (8)
18 Sarien is lost in heaven (6)
20 Sir, see performance sequence (6)
22 Correct Canute's failing (4)
Answers for the July puzzle:
1 Thaws, 5 Crevice, 9 Acari, 10 Axons, 11 Cortege, 12 Scena, 13 Sci-fi, 14 Tresses, 17 Maharishi, 21 Begin, 22 Belah,
23 Sceneries, 27 Allonge, 31 Trams, 32 Nisei, 33 Enamels, 34 Raise, 35 Elite, 36 sestets, 37 Seeds.
1 Transom, 2 Abolish, 3 Sassier, 4 Caber, 5 Cicatrice, 6 Eerie, 7 Ideas, 8 Ewers, 15 Spear, 16 Elide, 18 Areal, 19 Alamo,
20 Suspenses, 24 Entires, 25 Imagine, 26 Sisters, 27 Axels, 28 Loans, 29 Niece, 30 Asdic.
The running average of global temperatures during 2016.
The monthly numbers from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts the planet on track to surpass 2015 as the hottest on record.
“2016 has really blown that out of the water,” Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said.
While 2016 has gotten a boost from an exceptionally strong El Niño, the record temps are mostly the result of the excess heat that has built up in Earth’s atmosphere due to accumulating greenhouse gases. That heat is raising global sea levels, disrupting ecosystems and leading to more extreme weather events.
Every month this year has been record warm globally. Several months early in the year were among the first ever recorded to exceed 1°C (1.8°F) above average according to both NASA and NOAA. All six months of the year so far exceeded that remarkable benchmark when compared to preindustrial temperatures.
“It's amazing how many otherwise decent and intelligent people still do not get that climate change changes everything. It is the biggest issue of our lifetimes and trumps all other causes, no matter how pressing they might be for particular individuals and groups”