Sunday, 14 December 2008

Letter to the Sunday Herald

Sir, Joanna Blythman falls into the trap of talking down a good pitch for Scotland, our self-esteem and economic potential all in one breath. [More famous men and battles … I’m well over it -SH 7.12.08] OK, escapism is her bag. Alas Scotland can't escape the poverty of investment in home grown TV or tourism and related promotions in our current constitutional condition.

I'm clear that visitors who come for golf, hill walking, distilleries or castles may also eat local, hear stirring contemporary traditional music and ponder the history they see before their eyes. So Homecoming Scotland can open eyes, but not Joanna's, it appears.

Last weekend I was delighted to attend the sixth Hands Up For Trad Awards, the first to be televised, thanks to BBC Alba. The vibrancy of the contemporary tradition was on display. So it riles me as a singer and enthusiast to read lines like Joanna's 'Homecoming, like A History Of Scotland, is cheesy and self-pleased with its TV advert fronted by celebs singing the mawkish Caledonia'.

Strangely enough Iain MacWhirter took a similar line to Homecoming in the Herald, the previous week, namely 'A rather dreary advert with the usual suspects droning Caledonia…'

Might I suggest to both that Dougie MacLean's induction in the Trad Hall of Fame has more validity than their down-the-nose pontificating. Strong sentiments about the place we call home goes with iconic symbols recognised round the globe. Please understand Joanna, folk like to sing and reminisce, and traditional music covers all aspects of life including home sickness.

For those struggling to feed their families or find a decent roof over their heads in various continents there is little time for sentiment. But Scotland's story has often denied our own people 'breid, barley bree and painted room' in the words of Hamish Henderson, or is that just droning on and mawkish too?

Rob Gibson SNP MSP
4 Grant St., Wick

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