Roger Hutchinson Reads From New Book (AGM follows)

Our guest reader for Tuesday, April 25, will be Roger Hutchinson, who will be giving us a glimpse into his new book, The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker : The Story of Britain Through It’s Census Since 1801.

Brave Roger. To have taken on the quest to create a cohesive (and interesting) statement about Britain’s census with any number of pages suggests to me 700 milliliters of whisky at 43% and 100 grams of 84% chocolate. What was he smoking?

Thank goodness census records aren’t all numbers. Or at least the digits tell stories that we wouldn’t have without them. With the national census, people began to lose anonymity. We began to find out what the population was, who died and from what, and the numbers became the colour and texture of life–a self-portrait of the British Isles.

For example: Britain in 1801 still had its share of nomadic descendants and the enumerators had to follow them to their haunts: “The numbers living out of houses vary with the seasons; in winter they shrink into dwellings, and in summer they swarm again in the fields, which have irresistible charms for the vagabond race, as well as for their near relatives, the hop-pickers and haymakers. Mixed among them are found some of the victims as well as some of the outcasts of society.” *

In The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker, Roger Hutchinson looks at every census taken at the beginning of each decade for 200 years. All human life is here, from prime ministers to peasants and paupers, from Irish rebels to English patriots, from the last native speakers of Cornish to the first professional footballers, from communities of prostitutes to individuals called ‘abecedarians’, who made a living from teaching the alphabet.

Hutchinson is adept at producing books that talk about the people. He has over twenty publications, many of which you will see in every shop that sells books in Scotland, including Calum’s Road; St. Kilda: A People’s History; The Toon; Silent Weaver; and A Waxing Moon: The Modern Gaelic Revival. Because he is a journalist with the West Highland Free Press and a Raasay resident, he is also a local favorite author.

Following Roger’s presentation, we will have refreshments and then have a short AGM meeting to report on 2016, tell you about our programme for 2017-2018 and find out how you’d like to see the Reading Room develop in the future.

The event will be held at Edinbane Community Hall, starting at 7:30 p.m. The lighter evenings should make parking easier, and rumour has it that Edinbane Inn is open Tuesday nights again, for anyone wanting to make an evening it.

Admission is free to members and £5 for non-members. Everyone is welcome. Our reasonable membership is available at every meeting. Reading Room anthologies, Island Life and A Stillness of Mind, are for sale at £8.50 each, and we have a Good Read selection of literary works at prices that will make them jump into your hands.

For further information about the Reading Room, please email us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook, at The Reading Room-Skye.

This event is sponsored in part by Scottish Book Trust.

* Great Britain Historical GIS Project 2004-17. The GBH GIS is a network of collaborating academic researchers. For details please contact Humphrey Southall (Humphrey.Southall@gbhgis.org).

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Storybones, Storyskin with Margot Henderson

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Margot’s work requires creativity, resourcefulness and the ability to be with people where and how they are.

The Reading Room presents an evening of poetry and stories by Margot Henderson, who will perform some of her work and share stories of her engaged practice as a Community Artist. She will also hold an afternoon workshop called ‘Words for Well-Being’.

This Scots-Irish poet and storyteller is one of those ‘list people’. You know the type–the ones who make us flush green and cringe and throw half-empty teacups and whisky glasses at walls…the ones who have accomplished such an incredible amount of creative work, it requires much space and headings to organize it all and we are loath to believe a word of it.

With over 30 years of experience in leading Community Arts projects and workshops, Margot was Reader in Residence for Inverness, Storytelling Fellow for Aberdeen and Writer in Residence for the Cromarty Arts Trust. She has led Expressive Writing groups for Maggies Highlands, CLAN and the Highland Hospice  She is a regular workshop leader with LAPIDUS and the WEA in Wellbeing. She also leads Mindfulness workshops and retreats.

The central themes of Margot’s work, which takes place in a huge range of venues, are: encouraging creative self-expression; exploring roots and heritage; deepening connection to self, community and place; and generating a sense of belonging. She has a deep love of nature and a keen sense of our interconnectedness.

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Margot as a Garden Pea in a Pod, ‘Connecting with the Intelligence of Nature’, at a 2008 celebration of Findhorn Community co-founder, Dorothy Maclean.

She has taken part in cross-arts collaborations and has been commissioned by a range of organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Findhorn Foundation, Ballet Rambert, the Barbican Centre and the Tate, to create and perform her work.

Everyone is welcome to join us at Edinbane Community Hall, on Tuesday, February 28, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free for members and our reasonably priced memberships are available at the door. Non-members: £5. Refreshments will be served.

Write Here

Margot’s Afternoon Workshop will be mainly aimed at carers and people who work in the caring profession. She says, ‘Sometimes we are so busy caring for others that we don’t find it easy to take space for ourselves. This workshop is a chance to take some time to relax and reflect, create and express.

‘We will share some playful and practical writing prompts that can support our own happiness and well-being. These tools can also be helpful in working with others.

‘Writing can be a wonderful way of becoming more present helping us get in touch with and express our feelings. We can resource ourselves through writing in groups, sharing concerns and inspirations, responses and reflections as a way of finding greater meaning and well-being in our lives. It can also be a way of developing empathy and creative imagination. Sharing our writing together can be satisfying and fun.’

The workshop will be held on February 28, 2:30-4:30 p.m., at the Caledonian Hotel, downtown Portree (upstairs from street). Admission is free of charge but please register with us, as space is limited. Message us on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye or email us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk.

 

Jennifer Morag Henderson Gives Us Josephine Tey

jennifer-m-henderson-picFinally! Josephine Tey fans have been agog since the first biography of the great Golden Age mystery writer was published last year. ‘A book,’ writes Scottish Review’s Andrew Hook,  ‘which, by foregrounding the life and work of a writer who should never have been neglected, deserves the widest readership.’

Jennifer Morag Henderson will present “Talks on the Art of Biography” at the Reading Room’s next meeting, Tuesday, October 25, at Edinbane Community Hall. Henderson, the first biographer of Josephine Tey (Josephine Tey: A Life. Sandstone Press, 2015), has lectured and written extensively about Tey’s life and writing.

“Josephine Tey” was a pen-name of Elizabeth MacKintosh (1896 – 1952). Born in josephine-tey-coverInverness, MacKintosh lived several “lives”. Best known as Golden Age Crime Fiction writer, Josephine Tey, she was also successful novelist and playwright “Gordon Daviot”. Tey’s novels include The Franchise Affair, Brat Farrar, and the unique Richard III mystery The Daughter of Time (once voted the best crime novel of all time). Her work was adapted for radio, TV and film, most notably by Alfred Hitchcock.

Meanwhile, as Gordon Daviot, she wrote smash-hit play Richard of Bordeaux, making a star out of her leading man, John Gielgud. She worked with Laurence Olivier and was friends with many of the stars of London’s 1930s Theatreland. She even wrote for Hollywood – all from her home in the north of Scotland. Tey was a fascinating woman who led a life full of contrasts. Genuinely modest, the magnitude of her achievements, and her significance to Scottish fiction, has not been recognised until now.

Jennifer Morag Henderson has received accolades for her meticulous research of the notoriously private Tey. The sense of the book being a sympathetic labour of love has endeared her to readers, who suggest she might take the neglect of Tey’s achievements personally, as a fellow Invernesian.

Josephine Tey: A life was listed in the Observer’s Best Biographies of 2015; the Independent’s Best Crime (biography) Books of 2015; and The Telegraph’s list of Best Books of 2016. Henderson’s articles, short stories and poems have been published in magazines and anthologies, including Riptide (Two Ravens Press), Northwords Now, The Dalhousie Review, Causeway/Cabhsair, Gutter and by the BBC.

As a playwright, her work has been performed for the National Theatre of Scotland’s Five Minute Theatre project. She edited literary magazine Random Acts of Writing, from 2008 – 2011.

Our evening on October 25 begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free to members and £5 non-members. Refreshments will be served.

If you would like to make a night of it, the Edinbane Inn serves dinner in the dining room (reservations needed) and in the pub.

For more info, please contact the Reading Room at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us at The Reading Room – Skye on Facebook.