Librarians create the readers of the Future; save our libraries (Chris Riddell – who should be Googled by every parent or grandparent who reads this blog)

And so dear listener, if you don’t like it when I do reflective blogs, look away now. But various things that have happened, including Donald Trump’s election, have prompted this.

Y’see I was brought up to read. The first ‘serious’ book I can remember (age of 5) was an unabridged version of Treasure Island and it was some form of school prize. Of course, those were simpler times – two black and white channels on TV and the rumour that if you stuck a knitting needle down the back of your TV you could get BBC 2. 😀

Our parents encouraged us to read and I think my sister was a wee bit more of a bookworm than me and she went on to be a part-time library assistant after school before going to university in Glasgow – which, from Peterhead, was revolutionary. Indeed, I have known four women who are, or have been, library assistants and all have been incredibly influential in my life. 🙂

We did watch TV and I listened to the radio a lot – Hilversum, the Light Programme and Radio Luxemburg, thus giving away my age. 🙂 And there were external influences – an English teacher called McLeod who took a wee bit of a shine to me (and that was all) and who turned up on our doorstep one Hogmanay (UTI) and invited me and my dad around to his the next day where he played Irish Republican records, introduced me to independence and gave me a copy of Ring of Bright Water.

But he wasn’t the only teacher to encourage debate and indeed we had a debating society which did just that – listening to other people’s points of views and, when there was a vote, accepting the result. 😦

(However, as many people know, I have remained shy and reticent all my life)

And this continued all the way, up to about fifteen years ago, all the way through my growing up life and I am still growing up. I say and do and write stupid and naïve things but can be told off without taking a huff that lasts more than ten seconds.

At one stage in my life I produced daily discussion programmes on BBC Radio Scotland, presented by Colin Bell, and our standing joke was that we needed someone for, someone against and someone who had studied the subject. All the issues, all the opinions were examined. And we did a lot of background reading and researching.

Ah, yes, people who had studied the subject. What, once upon a time, might have been known as ‘experts’ or, at the very least, people who had studied the subject and knew what they were talking about, although another ‘expert’ might disagree with them but there would be general respect for their right to disagree.

Now we live in times where a (then) leading Government minister and leading Brexiter (Michael Gove) said that “people in this country have had enough of experts.”  This was echoed by Ian Duncan Smith, who is a man in whom I have little trust because of his ways of dealing with the truth and his ignorance of an organisation called Alcoholics’ Anonymous but I do accept his right to be a total cretin.

But it was during the Brexit Referendum and IndyRef that I became aware of something which my journalistic (boo, hiss and I worked for the BBC, so even more boo hiss!) background found difficult to accept.  Somebody on your side would make an unsubstantiated claim and you would accept it without question; someone on the other side would make a claim and it would immediately have scorn poured upon it. On social media, things are accepted, in many cases, without being challenged. And therein lies the problem; we have greater access to the media (no bad thing) but we seem not to accept that there are responsibilities which go with that. 😦


At the time of IndyRef someone re-posted a music website which claimed that the BBC had banned saltires at T in the Park and everyone who read this went ‘boo, hiss’. I actually went into the site and found a tremendous number of comments, saying ‘NO, this had not happened.’….but the people who spread this lie about the BBC did not bother reading the original piece; after all it might disagreed with their viewpoint of life.

Donald Trump, at one point making some weird economic claims, said he’d read them ‘in a report this week….. a very good report.’ And to this day I have no idea what that report was. There is no way of checking what he claimed.

My head cleared ten years ago and we are but four weeks away from Saturday, 10th December and I’m maybe getting a wee bit jittery about the celebrations (see me, with two orange juices inside me), but my most recent time at a university (the wonderful UWS in Paisley and I do enjoy going back for all sorts of reasons) showed me the importance of evidence for any claim because I was questioned by my supervisor about it. And it’s the same for my SVQ3. Evidence for any claim!

And it’s the same when I read/edit any piece of work academically – telling students that there are other points of view and that you need evidence for any claim.

Freedom of speech doesn’t just mean you being allowed to speak, but more importantly, the person, with whom you disagree, getting a chance to speak. Even Katie Hopkins.

And, yes, there are a few children for whom I buy presents at this time of year (in at least one case, for a group of grandkids) but they will be bookily related but, worry not dear (grand)parents, they will not contain sheets of paper saying, ‘but where did the Gruffalo get evidence for this?’


Cya, wearing a poppy this week and still keeping it simple – with respect.

Iaint850, who enjoyed an evening in Tennent’s this week with the Blogmeister, where I started to explore some of these thoughts. Soberly.

And in other news this week, Donald Trump got elected and America will just have to get used to it; I’ve not heard back about my foot x-ray yet altho’ I have phoned; I bought a Christmas Tree and a shredder (No. No connection); my annual donation has gone to the Hospice so that’s defo Christmas started; and a BBC TV journalist annoyed me when talking about units of alcohol over a week, when he said the Government’s recommended amount was fourteen units. Eh, no. That’s the recommended maximum amount.

So, is Armageddon about to hit us? Well, reports are coming in of disturbances around the world. This is Half Man, Half Biscuit reporting on the riots in Trumpton.



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