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Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

A la vora de l’Ebre

August 20th, 2018 No comments

Olost Catalonia

On 15 July 2018 it was a great honour and pleasure to be invited by my friend Fani Fortet to play a concert in her home town of Olost in Catalonia. Fani invited the fabulous violinist Simone Lambregts to join us and we had an hour or so to rehearse in the afternoon. As a special challenge for our set of songs, I suggested we adapt the Dick Gaughan song “Both Sides the Tweed” with a Catalan chorus as I felt that the sentiment in the song of friendship across borders was relevant to the Catalan situation.

With most of the “heavy wordsmith lifting” done by Simone, the three of us managed to create a Catalan chorus that worked with the melody and carried the sentiment. As a singer with very little knowledge of Catalan, it was quite daunting to attempt to sing this newborn chorus, but Simone did her best to write it out in a simplified form for me to give it my best shot. I think the result was quite a beautiful achievement.

A la vora de l’Ebre / Both Sides the Tweed

What’s the Spring, breathing jasmine and rose?
What’s the Summer, with all its gay train?
Or the splendour of Autumn to those,
Who’ve bartered their freedom for gain?

Abraceu l’amor de la terra
i també l’amor de la gent.
Que dignitat i amistat s’uneixin
i a la vora de l’Ebre floreixin.

No sweetness the senses can cheer
That corruption and bribery bind
No brightness that gloom can e’er clear
For honour’s the sum of the mind

Abraceu l’amor de la terra
i també l’amor de la gent.
Que dignitat i amistat s’uneixin
i a la vora de l’Ebre floreixin.

Let virtue distinguish the brave
Place riches in lowest degree
Call him poorest, who can be a slave
Him richest, who dares to be free

Abraceu l’amor de la terra
i també l’amor de la gent.
Que dignitat i amistat s’uneixin
i a la vora de l’Ebre floreixin.

Let the love of our land’s sacred rights
To the love of our people succeed.
Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish on both sides the Tweed.

Abraceu l’amor de la terra
i també l’amor de la gent.
Que dignitat i amistat s’uneixin
i a la vora de l’Ebre floreixin.

Original lyrics by Dick Gaughan
Catalan chorus by Simone Lambregts, Fani Fortet and Gerry Mulvenna

Scotland, like a life-long smoker contemplating quitting

February 22nd, 2014 No comments

It struck me, the other day, that the Independence Referendum debate in Scotland feels like the internal dialogue in the head of a life-long smoker. Plenty of information detailing the benefits of kicking the habit is calling out to you, but you blot it all out by convincing yourself “I like smoking”, “it helps me relax”, “I can’t really see me stopping”, “I’ve always done it”, “I like to hang with all the cool people in the smoking zone” and countless other delusions you use to avoid making that leap of faith in your own will power and taking responsibility for your future. Once upon a time you reckoned you were a smoker and you were going to stay a smoker, but now you’re not too sure. You’re swithering – your kids are nipping your head about it almost daily now and for the first time, you can actually see yourself in a smoke-free future.

Alternative visions for Scotland

Alternative visions for Scotland

 

Clearly this analogy is a product of my own pro-Independence position and the fact that I decided to stop smoking earlier this month. It certainly paints the No campaign in a tongue-in-cheek unhealthy light, but I think it resonates with the current state of the referendum campaign. I believe we’re approaching a 50-50 tilting point in voting intentions and the momentum is only going in one direction: towards YES. The lifelong smoker is actually swithering – he or she can do this. It’s only really the fear of change and the path of least resistance that is stopping you. Smoking isn’t offering any life-enhancing vision for the future. There are so many reasons to ring the changes. It won’t be easy and there might be the odd slip-up in the transition, but a confidence is growing that a change of lifestyle is within your grasp.

Should Scotland be a non-smoker? On 18th September 2014, I’m voting YES.

Scotland shows its progressive education credentials again?

August 20th, 2009 No comments

Maria enjoying her Kindergarten grounds for the last time, aged 7The approach the authorities in England are taking with regard to Home Education has received some column inches in UK newspapers in the last week. Families who have opted out of the school system in England are now in for a pretty rough ride it seems and are looking enviously across the northern border, where Scottish education continues to plot a more sensible course.

The new intake of 4-5 year olds started primary school today in Scotland and apparently there has been a subtle but impressive shift in the curriculum for early primary education. The Curriculum For Excellence will put the emphasis on learning through experience (e.g. play) rather than the sort of formal numeracy and literacy that education policy makers seem to be obsessed with in England. Read more…

Sucking sweets on a bus

December 10th, 2008 No comments

Recorded at Shay’s Studio, April 2005

Sucking sweets on a bus
No worries for us.
Sucking sweets on a bus
No reason to fuss
Because summertime is here.

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Speak my mind

December 10th, 2008 No comments

Recorded at Shay’s Studio, April 2005

I’m losing myself, I can’t find my mind,
I can’t seem to talk anymore.
There’s things inside me that I just cannot say
And it’s tearing me up, it’s tearing me up.

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Over the water

December 10th, 2008 No comments

Recorded at Shay’s Studio, April 2005

My brothers and sisters when they reached eighteen years
They caused my mammy to shed many tears.
Yes, my mammy cried when they had to decide
To go over the water.

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