Review of November Book Week Scotland Event: Alastair Jackson

By Simon Clayton

The Spirit Is Willing…

The Reading Room were pleased to welcome photographer and author, Alastair Jackson, to a ‘Book Week Scotland’ event at Edinbane on Tuesday 19th November. A pleasing number of fifteen members and guests braved the drizzly night, to hear the former Skye resident talk about his collaborative work with poet Kenneth Steven.

The ‘Spirit of the Hebrides’ is a homage to legendary poet Sorley MacLean and skillfully combines the poetry of Kenneth and the photography of Alastair. In spite of his doubts surrounding the publisher’s imposed title, Mr Jackson went through the evocative and haunting images in the book, on slides, each accompanied by an appropriate poem.

Mostly seascapes and all monochrome, the photographs brought to life the wonderful boundaries of Skye and Raasay and made many of us want to visit some of the vantage points Alastair used. Many were subsequently put off when learning of the difficulties of access, and the (up to) 5-hour walks involved!

The topics brought to life by the photos and poems were very much the stuff of Skye’s history and a wider Scottish context. Depopulation was well demonstrated and one brooding picture of Storr Lochs – entitled ‘After Culloden’ – clearly told a wider story. Each image seemed to bring the ever-changeable Skye weather into play, to great effect.

After the presentation and questions, we all enjoyed the usual delicious home baking and hot drinks which helped the group have a good ‘blether’ – which is, after all, this year’s concept for Book Week Scotland. The icing on the cake was to learn subsequently that ‘Spirit of the Hebrides’ has been listed for the next Highland Book Award. We wish Alastair well in the judging of that competition.

Max Scratchmann: Be Ready For Anything

Event: Tuesday, September 24, Edinbane Community Hall.

Illustrator, writer, performer, poet Max Scratchmann very likely will have you talking about this evening for a long time. We are pleased to give you the opportunity to meet this engaging artist at our next meeting in the intimate Edinbane Community Hall, Tuesday, 24 September, 7:30 p.m.

Max is a prolific illustrator, with work appearing on over forty book covers, various CD sleeves and T-shirts and literally hundreds of magazines in Britain, America and Japan. He is the author of over eighteen books, including the award-winning autobiography about Scottish jute workers in India, The Last Burrah Sahibs, and the unintentionally controversial account of downshifting in the Scottish islands, Chucking It All.

 The Last Burrah Sahibs is a humorous and compelling memoir of the lost life of luxury in 1960s Bangladesh, through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy.

His book on living in the Orkneys gave him short-lived and undeserved infamy. Chucking It All: How Downshifting to a Windswept Scottish Island Did Absolutely Nothing to Improve My Life was called “one of the most hilarious books you will read this year” by The Scottish Review of Books. The author’s irreverent, but grudgingly affectionate portrait of his failed attempt at living among Orkney’s denizens especially enraged locals who recognized themselves being characterized. What was light-hearted grousing apparently led to his manuscript being binned by the original publisher. We want to hear the story.

 Max’s poems and short stories have appeared in many anthologies and magazines, and he runs the Edinburgh performance poetry company, Poetry Circus. An additional tidbit is that he also works as a model and has a remarkable portfolio.

He has led seminars on self-promotion for artists at the Centre for Arts Development in Liverpool and taught both collage and digital art throughout the country. He also exhibits his work The evening should include a sprinkling of his talents.

Everyone is welcome to join the group for this special event. Non-members, £5. Refreshments are served and we always have our Good Reads table open for browsing.

If anyone would like to join committee members for pre-event drinks or dinner, just pop into the Edinbane Inn around 6 p.m.

For information about this event or questions regarding the Reading Room, please contact us at:  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Marcello Tully to Share Snapshot of His Life

The Reading Room is fortunate that the Scottish Book Trust helps us put on a good party once a year for Book Week Scotland. We could only wish that our special guest for our November celebration were providing the refreshments.

Brazilian-born Marcello Tully represents the literal interpretation of the 2017 Book Week Scotland theme, “Nourish”. It is what he does, it is what he loves.

He will be reading from the first book he has written, The Key Ingredient, which he says is more than just a collection of recipes, it’s about the making of Marcello. A reflective snapshot of the life experiences that have defined him.

His passion for food developed while in his teens, when he worked part-time in London as a commis-chef in a local French restaurant. While reflecting his cooking style, The Key Ingredient recipes also weave in Marcello’s Brazilian heritage, his classical Roux- brothers training and his passion for the Highlands of Scotland, with their great bounty of local produce.

After Marcello relocated his family to the north-western isles in 2007 to take his place as Chef Director of Skye’s Kinloch Lodge, he was awarded a Michelin star for seven consecutive years.

Marcello represents Kinloch and Scotland around the world, as an ambassador and spokesman for the industry, and he has appeared frequently on TV, radio and in the press. He provides food demonstrations throughout the year to hotel guests, across the Uk and beyond. He recently has launched a series of workshops and classes at Kinloch Lodge, where he teaches a range of chef skills; he also shows how a professional kitchen operates and inspires guests with new ideas for entertaining at home.

Also on the menu for the evening is a Cookbook Frenzy – swap, buy, auction and browse a range of cookbooks. Bring your own, bring your friends’, bring your grandmothers’ or any other cookbooks you would like to share or show and tell to others.

Please join us for Marcello Tully and Scottish Book Week on Tuesday, November 28, 7:30 p.m., at Edinbane Community Hall. Everyone is welcome and there is no admission fee. Parking at the hall is limited, but there is street parking.  Refreshments will be served.

For more information about this event or about the Reading Room, contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

~ Book Week Scotland is aBook Week Scotland week-long celebration of books and reading that takes place every November.

During Book Week, people of all ages and walks of life will come together in libraries, schools, community venues and workplaces to share and enjoy books and reading. They will be joined in this celebration by Scotland’s authors, poets, playwrights, storytellers and illustrators to bring a packed programme of events and projects to life.

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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).

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.