Book Week Scotland evening, Tuesday, November 20, 7:30 p.m.
At our November meeting, we will be saluting books and reading with a twist, honoring those writers and people who resisted the dictates of society and convention. This year, Scottish Book Trust’s annual Book Week Scotland celebrates that rebel in all of us, which allows us to find and express our individual voices and which inspires us to challenge convention and expectation.
We enthusiastically welcome author, journalist and rebel, Roger Hutchinson, who will help us revisit another rebel and the subject of his book, Calum’s Road (2006), which was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize.
Calum’s Road is the story of the lone struggle of Raasay crofter Calum MacLeod to preserve his island community by building a road with a pick, shovel and wheelbarrow. This unrelenting pursuit of his goal helped establish him as a passionate rebel and has inspired songs, theatre productions, radio plays and, of course, books and stories. The one and three-quarter-mile road between Brochel Castle and Arnish (along with the infamous wheelbarrow under the sign on the road) continues to spur visitors and locals to rant about government and other authorities in general.
Calum himself was a writer/historian of distinction and he also corresponded vociferously with local authorities and newspapers.
When you spend enough time on Skye, it is not surprising to discover more than the usual fare of rebellious natures. The weather is wild and unpredictable–so are many of its people. Roger Hutchinson is one of those citizens who has stood outside of the box for decades, though he claims he hasn’t been rebellious for forty years.
Roger founded and edited Sad Traffic in the 1960s, publishing five issues from a small office in Barnsley before it turned into Yorkshire’s alternative newspaper, Styng. He then moved to London to edit OZ, an underground magazine that was the “British Hippy incarnation of Australia’s counterculture magazine”. After obscenity charges, pleadings, trials and sentences, the magazine’s editors were acquitted on appeal.
He was also an editor for the leading underground paper, International Times, which moved in tune with the socio-cultural revolution spreading in the late 60s. It also had its tussles with police harassment. He then moved on to edit the tamer counter-culture Time Out, which spouted alternative viewpoints on gay rights, racial equality and police harassment.
After Roger moved to Skye in the 1970s, he continued to write. The author of fifteen non-fiction books still champions rebellious subjects, including Lord Leverhulme (The Soap Man); Glendale Crofter John MacPherson (Martyrs); Father Allan McDonald (Father Allan); Aleister Crowley (Aleister Crowley: The Beast Demystified); and New World immigrants (Walking to America). In addition to working on books, Roger now reviews other authors’ books for several newspapers and magazines, including a column in the West Highland Free Press.
Roger Hutchinson is a cherished friend of ours and he graciously remarked when asked to return for this annual literary occasion, “It’s always good to meet and chat with old friends at the Skye Reading Room. It feels like coming home. So thanks to the Scottish Book Trust for subsidizing our latest tryst!”
A colourful addition to the evening will be writer, artist and singer Morag Henriksen, who will perform her song lyrics “Calum’s Road” to Donald Shaw’s famous modern Scottish strathspey. Her words were inspired by what she already knew from local lore about Calum and also by Roger’s book about him and his endeavour. The lyrics are published in her own imaginative book of stories, Scenery of Dreams.
Be sure to get your free copy of Rebel, a collection of stories and poems written by the public and some of Scotland’s most talented authors. It is the culmination of a 3-month-long writing project run by the Scottish Book Trust, in 2018. We have some copies to give away at our celebration.
On Tuesday, November 20, 7:30 p.m., bring your own rebellious spirit to Edinbane Community Hall and share some refreshments and wild abandon with fellow book lovers. Admission is free, compliments of Book Week Scotland, Scottish Book Trust.
For information regarding this event or the Reading Room, we can be contacted at email@example.com or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.