Celebrating Scotland: 10 Things I Love About My Country #4 – Writers

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Should Scotland remain part of the UK now that we have been removed from the EU despite voting against it?

When we had the vote for Scottish Independence I voted to remain part of the UK because I was happy being Scottish, part of the UK and part of the EU. Now that it has been decided for us/against us to leave the EU my thoughts about becoming an independent Scotland have changed.

I am so proud to say I live in Scotland when I think of all the great music this amazing country has produced. So #4 in this series is Writers.

When I put this list together perhaps I didn’t think it through clearly enough as this entry is proving slightly difficult since, well, I don’t really read. Not to worry, let’s get our literature on for #4 in this series Writers.

I’ll point out first that there are a lot of great Scottish writers but perhaps what we are lacking are great Scottish readers (guilty). Looking at the vast list of brilliantly talented, literary Scots I am once again proud of my country and their achievements. Here ends the intellectual part of this post…

I did actually read quite a lot when I was younger and I would often disappear off with an Enid Blyton book and escape into another world. As I got older I became far more interested in fantasy books and soon got caught up with Stephen King, Richard Laymon and most other horror writers.

The only time I really read now is when I am on holidays and I have an “author of choice” for those times…

Stuart MacBride

There are so many crime writers out there these days and I won’t say that Stuart is the best as I’m just as sure he wouldn’t either. However, he is my favourite because he writes about places I know, places I’ve been and people I can relate to (well, maybe not the bad guys). Most of his novels are based in Aberdeen just as he was for a large period of his life. Everyone knows someone that knows him etc etc. I used to work with a lady whose husband works in an abattoir who was asked by Stuart to help him with one of his books. You can’t beat the local touch!

If you like a gritty crime novel and want to learn more about Aberdeen then Stuart is your man!

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I should probably talk about Robert Louis Stevenson, Iain Banks or JM Barrie now but I’m not going to. Why? Well, every Sunday without fail or every year on Boxing Day did I read any of their work? No. What did I read at those times then?

Comics are a form of writing. If you didn’t have a writer for them then the speech bubbles would just be empty and that would be useless…

The Broons & Oor Wullie

These are my favourite two comic strips ever. Every Sunday in The Sunday Post newspaper these two comics would appear and I would patiently wait until my Dad had read the news and sport before getting to read them. In fact I can picture it now…the smell of bacon and eggs, re-runs of Little House On The Prairie or The Waltons on the television and me waiting to get my hands on the newspaper.

Not your usual comic strips – no superheroes, no talking animals – simply stories about either a typical Scottish family (The Broons) or a typical Scottish lad (Oor Wullie). Then, every Christmas there would be an extra treat as either The Broons book or The Oor Wullie book would be sitting waiting under the Christmas tree for me. I would usually have it finished by sometime between Boxing Day and Hogmanay. Simpler times…

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Thanks to both Robert Low and Dudley Watkins for creating these brilliant memories for me!

I could at this point talk about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who created one of the most famous detectives ever, Sherlock Holmes, but I won’t since, as you might guess I’ve never read any of his books. Let’s instead talk about someone that’s still very much alive…

Steven Moffat

Mr Moffat is credited with bringing Sir Arthur’s creation bang up to date in the television show Sherlock. That’s good and everything but as I didn’t read the books, why would I watch the television show? I’m sure it’s very good, Steven, however I am much more interested in your other character – The Doctor (but thanks ever so much for Press Gang too)…

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Steven Moffat took over writing for Doctor Who from Russell T Davies a few years ago and is still going strong. A very different style from Russell in the fact that he tends to enjoy having a stronger, running theme through the episodes but it works just as well (although I may have to re-watch episodes to keep up). To say I am excited about how he introduces the new Doctor next week is an understatement of galactic proportions! Sticking with everyone’s favourite Time Lord, it’s great to think that the most successful Doctor, David Tennant and the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi both hail from Scotland. Not only that but one of the co-creators of Doctor Who, Donald Wilson, was born just 9 miles from where I was born…

So, we’re almost at the end, I can’t pretend. Hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t realise it…ahem. Last but by no means least…

Robert Burns

A Poet by any other name would write just as brilliantly (in your face Shakespeare) hence he is also known as Robbie Burns, Rabbie Burns, Scotland’s favourite son, the Ploughman Poet, Robden of Solway Firth, the Bard of Ayrshire and in Scotland as The Bard.

I’m not going to try and pretend that I know all his poems, what they all mean or even that I know all the words to Auld Lang Syne because I don’t. However, I know who he is, where he is from and I know all about Tam O’Shanter. I analyzed every line of this amazing poem at school and even had to repeat it, recite it, write it word for word and to honest at some points I really did just want to find out if Rabbie “burns”.

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I am making a note to myself now that I must investigate Robert Burns so much more and make myself even more proud to be Scottish than I already am.

Also, Steven Moffat, if you are reading…Vincent & The Doctor is one of my favourite Doctor Who episodes so how about a Robert Burns episode soon? Just saying…

For anyone who watched the opening ceremony of The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games which started off with a lady who got somewhat criticised for her performance (no, not Susan Boyle, that sadly came later) I am going to try to redeem her at the same time as showing off one of Rabbie Burns best poems, Tam O’Shanter. Karen Dunbar performs this brilliantly…

There we have it. Perhaps not the literary showcase it could have been but it’s my Scotland and it’s my writers!

Are you proud of your country? Let me know about it in the comments below or tweet me @SteveSays2014 and don’t forget to take a look at other posts in this series.

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