Saturday, 1 December 2012

God did it

Living somewhere like Shetland, surrounded by nature, weather and generally being attuned to changing seasons and life cycles, I feel that religion can oversimplify and obstruct an appreciation of the true beauty and complexity of the universe. ‘God made it all’ seems like a bit of a cop out.

I consider myself to be an atheist - a liberal one, not a militant Richard Dawkins-esque shouty one. Each to their own and all that. In my eager youth I perhaps used to have a tendency to self-righteously quibble with religious folk and point out the factual baselessness of most spirituality. But now, I think life’s too short for that. Folk can believe what they want, as long as it doesn’t have a negative impact on others. Many folk I know take great comfort from religion, and for that reason in particular I leave them to their beliefs.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Mareel. And we're off....

I’m delighted to be sitting in Mareel’s cafe bar as I write this month’s article. I’ve just finished work here for the day, which today mostly comprised delivering lectures to NC and HNC music students, working through some event bookings with a local promoter and helping organise an exchange visit with young bands from Aberdeen.

I’m now ensconced on a comfy sofa with my laptop taking full advantage of the free Wi-fi. To give further context, my fellow patrons include a young couple with their two kids - Dad’s having a pint and Mam a coffee, an elderly couple who look to be on the tea and homebakes and a group of teenagers supping Coke through straws. There’s just been a rush on of folk having pre-cinema refreshments and the staff are busy clearing tables and sweeping popcorn debris from the foyer.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Pedalling and the pedantry of multiples

When the editor let me know that there would be a bit of cycling theme this month, I thought that would be the push I needed to dust off my old bike and take her for a hurl. I had grand visions of my cycling companions and I effortlessly gliding to the summit of Mossy Hill and looking over St Ninian’s Isle on mid-summers night. From there I was to be inspired to wax lyrically in these pages about the joys of pushbikes, companionship and the glory of a Shetland summer.

However, it had been many years since I’d been on a velocipede and this didn’t turn out to be an inspirational return to form I had naively hoped. I trundled around for a couple of miles to test the old penny farthing, tired myself out within 10 minutes and gave myself 2-day spaegie. And back in the shed the bike went.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Tesco vs. 3 old men armed with ferrets careering downhill in a bathtub

My philosophy on using local shops is quite straightforward – using local retailers means cash slooshes around in the Shetland economy a bit longer rather than instantly disappearing off island via a supermarket till. And using rural shops means they’re more likely to survive and continue to provide a valuable and convenient service to their communities - use it or loose it.

However, it’s pretty tricky to avoid supermarkets altogether. Since I do have to spend £100s each month in them, I prefer to give my custom to a chain with which I see eye-to-eye. Therefore, I’ve always favoured the Co-op’s business practices and philosophy to Tesco’s oft-reported and criticised dealings. If you’re in any doubt about the negative consequences of Tesco’s business model have a look at the tescopoly.org website.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Politics of Waving (if in doot, wave and toot)

When I was a grasscutter we noted a suite of social phenomena we termed the “Politics of Waving”. It manifests itself in several ways - when driving in the van ‘round Lerwick, we noted a tension as to whether to wave and/or return waves to other motorists and pedestrians. Surely it’s quite simple - if you’re waved at, wave back. Obviously, a mutual wave between friends, family and acquaintances is customary, and a thumbs up to someone who lets you out at a junction is simple courtesy.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The really big and the really peerie

Since I can remember, I’ve always had a fascination for the science of very big things. However, I’ve got a terrible memory and my first childhood recollections are from when I was about 8 and being into cranes - an obsession I still harbour - which were the biggest things I could imagine at the time.

As I grew older I began to ponder standard philosophical nubs such as the meaning of life, the existence of god, where we came from and where we’re going, but drew blanks from the irresolute semi-religious spoon feedings of my childhood. I began to give science a bit more thought, particularly cosmology, as I later found it to be called, and to the origins of the constellations I saw overhead in the Shetland evening skies.