About Grouse Beater

Generally, people do not know what is happening. And they do not know that they do not know.”

Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics, philosopher, and political agitator.

gareth-malibu

Me outside my Malibu pad, pensive and melancholy as ever, but I perk up in good company

This is a personal essay site on Scotland present, past, and future.

The opinion, observations, polemic, satire, and topics chosen are those of a social democrat, and something of an anarchist, although essays are not always hard politics. Essays not a diary blog give space to develop ideas. They  assume readers are intelligent.

An extensive experience in the arts in Scotland, England, and abroad, particularly the USA, has given me a perspective of Scotland’s political and social deficiencies. Back home, forced to deal head-on with the inadequacies of an essentially subservient nation, I am too often frustrated in ambition to bring work, wealth, and kudos to my homeland these days.

With theatre production, television and film to my credit, books published – most recently for the Royal Academy of Arts in London –  and articles on film and drama, those pursuits raised finance for arts projects in Scotland, millions more when it came to making films.

Chronologically my vocation has moved from student of theatre, (and philosophy) to teacher and lecturer of drama, broadcaster for BBC and commercial radio, to founder-artistic director of a national theatre still flourishing, and a few years an unhappy BBC television executive, but most recently producer-writer-director of filmed drama, winning international awards. I also write for various US magazines on the automobile industry (a hobby) and iScot in Scotland In between times I had a couple of fine daughters. Since Scotland lost its sovereignty a second time I curse a lot, and don’t suffer fools gladly.

In one sense, it doesn’t matter who I am so long as what I write has honesty and truth as its guide. Most can spot integrity. Telling people you have status has a way of adding false weight to an opinion. ‘Grouse Beater,’ as much sobriquet as pseudonym, protects family each known publically, independent thinkers that they are who often disagree with me.

These essays remain an expression of  determined resistance against those denying constitutional reform to the people of Scotland, the very same who say they admire us yet do all they can to block progressive democracy and individual happiness.

Talks and visits

I accept invitations to give a talk, or a question and answer session. You can contact me by posting on ‘Grouse Beater Talks’, or drop me a line using Direct Mail on Twitter.

My house rules: The site is open to comments and exchanging ideas. Opposing arguments are welcome but not disputes. No trolling, slander or libel. I allow access to those who I adjudge genuine. That said, remember it’s my website, so play nice.

As a professional author, essays are copyrighted. I don’t reprise other people’s articles though I may draw attention to those relevant to a topic. Borrow passages or quotations, but don’t reprint entire essays for commercial gain without my expressed permission.

Grouse Beater ©

THIS SITE REFUSES ADVERTISING, AND GOVERNMENT AND CORPORATE FUNDING

 

 

32 Responses to About Grouse Beater

  1. Seanair says:

    GB Thank you for guiding me to your blog. I am working my way through your backlist and wondering how I managed to miss such good articles. The problem has been rectified!

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    You’re welcome! Spread the word and light shall follow. Thank you, Seanair.

  3. lumilumi says:

    Hi Grouse Beater!

    Having read your comments and insights, especially re: the BBC, on the Wings comments over the past couple of days I’m really looking forward to reading your backlist.

    I’ve been trying to educate some old uni friends who now work for the Finnish public broadcaster YLE about how the BBC isn’t as wonderful as it has always told the world it is. These friends aren’t in positions of power in YLE (two regularly present morning telly, one’s on the airwaves of national radio, two in local radio, one in the producing side of news/current affairs) but maybe they could start some cracks in the international reputation of the BBC… I’ve provided them with plenty of evidence, including the prof. Robertson report and links to NNS, Bella, NC, and of course Wings. Here’s to hoping!

    The problem is that YLE leadership might not be so amenable to the idea because they’re defending tax-payer funded public broadcasting in general, i.e. YLE and similar outfits in all of the world, against the neolib privatisation frenzy.

    I’m a huge advocate of tax-payer funded public broadcasting. I’ve lived in countries that don’t have it, and the result is dire (lowest common denominator brainless telly and rich media barons dictating the “news and current affairs” agenda for their own benefit (political influence and ever more money in ever less hands)). So, no, I don’t want that.

    Countries with tax-payer funded public broadcasters have an opportunity to make more daring, groundbreaking, risky, and also “niche” programmes that probably wouldn’t be made on commercial networks because they’d not attract some crucial percentage of the viewing public and hence advartising revenue.

    For example, YLE and its Swedish and Norwegian counterparts collaborate to produce Sami language TV news every night, and other programmes, shown on the main networks (with subtitles) in all three countries. More importantly, they collaborate on daily Sami radio output. No commercial channel would do that. (The Sami are indiginous peoples in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and far northwestern Russia – the area commonly called Lapland.)

    Think of BBC Alba. They’re tax-payer funded and do some amazing stuff within their meager resources. No celebrities on high pay but people with a passion for what they’re doing in their own language. Their Domhair (help! spelling! I don’t know Gaelic) documentary with English subtitles from a few years back was excellent. Proper investigative journalism, good cinematography, etc. Of course it wasn’t aired on the main BBC network because a) the English speakers supposedly can’t read subtitles; or b) it was all a bit too Scottish, even “nationalistic”; or c) it got too close to the truth.

    Anyway, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    I think indy Scotland should have a non-commercial tax-payer-funded public broadcaster. That could see a surge in Scottish creativity. Music, dance, drama, comedy, whatever, but a national broadcaster could give platform to all the Scottish creativity and even sell it abroad.

    YLE already buys programmes and snippets from a huge number of European countries. I can see a hunger for Scottish programmes and snippets once Scotland becomes independent. We’ll want to know who and what Scotland is in the modern world. And see the other side of the union they just left. 😉

    The important thing is how the national broadcaster is set up. The “SBC” should not become the impregnable fortress that the BBC is, nor a mouthpiece for the present government’s propaganda.

    Broadcasting is just one of the opportunities why Scotland should go independent and do things differently and in a better and modern way.

    Right, my first comment here and I’ve gone off on another long rant.
    Apologies. At least this is in the “About” tab so not derailing comments otherwhere. 😀

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    Good evening, Lumilumi

    “Following my blogs” – you’re the sort of stalker a writer likes.

    BBC Scotland, believing their territory a province of the United Kingdom, has found itself utterly unprepared for the Referendum debate. Now scrambling for some sort of cohesive approach they stumble in search of staff and departments decimated or demoted over the last decade and more.

    When they withdrew from their promise to build a new HQ in Edinburgh to serve our Parliament and a new Scotland they assumed devolution was the end of the road, devalued as time went by.

    Your remarks about Finish Broadcasting are fascinating. I have visited Finland, was impressed with its duality, Sweden one side, a dash of Norway, Russia (old USSR) the other, a salad mixture of architecture from each culture, and lakes everywhere else. Inter-dependency together with their independence – sharing a degree of sovereignty – works well for Finland, that and a great national composer, Sibelius, an example to Scotland and England for the future! And their tram system is just dandy!

    The recipe for a Scottish broadcasting service you recount sounds like commonsense, an ideal not difficult to attain so long as our elected representatives do not try to have some hold over it.

    Warm regards
    Grouse Beater

  5. De Valera says:

    You have summed up perfectly the Jeremy Clarkson, David Starkey and Daily Mail worldview that seems so prevalent among many of our southern neighbours.

  6. bjsalba says:

    English people don’t need a new national party that will be co-opted by Westminster. What they need is an alliance of regional parties with a common agenda but no way to parachute in career politicians. Check out Scot goes pop! for a list of the possibilities.

  7. carjamtic says:

    Happy New Year GB

    Massive fan, (get that out of the way) I have an idea for a story? (true story) for a skilled/experienced writer, such as yourself.

    I am a mechanical/electrical ‘fixer’ by trade, by no stretch of anybody’s imagination a writer or even a blogger (know your limitations).

    A few years ago I was sent to a ‘fix’ something in London, unusually, for my employer at the time I got a week’s notice, time enough to make arrangement’s.

    On a whim, I called into a neighbour, a Mrs McGill in the east end of Glasgow….I had the bright idea that I might visit her son, my friend (domiciled there for at least 5 years) in the big smoke and surprise him along with a ‘red cross’ box from his mother.

    The next part I would like to discuss with you in private correspondence….as I say,I am a huge fan and was struck by a comment you made a while ago about minimising the main characters to only one or two being a pragmatist myself, I got it.

    Anyways,I would happily give you all of the details of what happened next…

    Slainte

  8. Grouse Beater says:

    A safe, good New Year to you too, Carjamtic.
    Your moniker remind me it’s time for a new automobile essay! I’m on the move next few days, so maybe we can discuss your idea next week. I tried to add an e-mail address to my site but somehow seem to have screwed up! I’ll be enlisting experienced help soon.
    GB

  9. Joe Duggan says:

    Hi Grouse Beater. I’m a journalist based in Gibraltar. Would it be possible to drop me an email on joe@theolivepress.es? We were hoping to use your excellent blog from the Literary Festival in next week’s Olive Press. All the best, Joe.

  10. Grouse Beater says:

    Hi Joe
    You’re on the Spanish side, correct? At least, I recognise the Olive Press as servicing expats on the Spanish side.
    Do you mean you would like to quote from the Gibraltar essay, lift paragraphs out to place in an opinion column, or an article about Gibraltar? I have no objection in principle, but how are they to be used, that’s the question. Let me know before I okay copyright.
    GB

  11. Joe Duggan says:

    Hello Grouse Beater! We have a Gibraltar and a Spain paper. This would be the
    Gibraltar paper. We were hoping to run the article in its entirety if that is ok? It’s really great and I think our readers would love it. All the best. Joe

  12. Grouse Beater says:

    You mean, without paying me a cent?!

  13. Joe Duggan says:

    We don’t have much money, I’m afraid but the paper could offer you £25. I know it’s not much, but obviously we would promote the blog in the article and tweet it out etc. Apologies that we can’t offer more than that.

  14. Grouse Beater says:

    I’m thinking about it…

  15. Joe duggan says:

    Thanks. We need to lay the page out in the morning, if you’re ok with it.

  16. Joe Duggan says:

    Hi there. We’re on deadling today, so would be great if you could let us know so we can lay the page out. All the best. I can give you a call if you’d like a chat?

  17. Grouse Beater says:

    You shouldn’t lay out anything until I’ve given approval. Everything on this site is copyright, some essays already published in magazines and other outlets.

    There’s something troubling me about a newspaper lifting a complete essay from another source and not interviewing citizens itself. You are entitled to refer your readers to the essay, and to quote sections of it, but I am unhappy with the laziness of a straight reprint.

    That isn’t what you want to hear, I know, but I think Gibraltarians are pretty well of a single mind over the British government’s betrayal and don’t need their own words read back to them.

    My essay is aimed at British nationalists of the Nigel Farage variety, people who find simplistic solutions to complicated social issues. He has supporters all for resurrecting the British empire who forget extreme actions have extreme consequences, namely middle-England has jettisoned Scotland and Gibraltar and Northern Ireland.

    So, in short, my answer is no to a reprint.

  18. Joe Duggan says:

    Hi. My editor is asking if he can give you a call about the fee? Would you be able to drop me an email on joe@theolivepress.es

  19. Grouse Beater says:

    Joe, it won’t do any good. The answer is no.

    Had you written asking me to refine the essay for a (say) 1,000 word article for your paper I might have considered it. Mind you, editors tend to dislike pseudonyms on political pieces, on any opinion piece, although that essay is almost all the opinion of others.

  20. Edward Freeman says:

    Hi, Grouse Beater – fact check – the Jefferson quote is, I think, spurious. Do feel free to take this comment down, it doesn’t form part of any discussion. http://tinyurl.com/jz4ftwz (Monticello dot org). Oh, and I’m sure you mean Gove, not Gore! I can’t see either Gore Vidal (is he still going?) or Al Gore kissing King Donald’s boots!

  21. Grouse Beater says:

    ‘Gore’ was corrected on the final draft but clearly not saved. The Jefferson quotation stays. It’s related to Scotland’s situation, but I’ll check if it is genuine.

  22. Edward Freeman says:

    Well, if he didn’t say it, he oughter have! It is indeed related to Scotland’s situation. I am particularly outraged and incensed by the Home Office’s behaviour towards our new Scottish citizens – we need to do far more to protect them from Home Office malfeasance and abuse.

  23. Grouse Beater says:

    Blue blooded unionists are ramping up the anti, as they say, fearful of the inevitability of another referendum on self-determination. Boy, how they hate people exercising free will.

  24. Dr Jack G Shaheen says:

    Thanks so much for citing my Reel Bad Arabs book…enjoy reading your essays…best, Dr Jack

  25. Grouse Beater says:

    You’re most welcome, Jack. I first discovered them some years back when working most of the year in Los Angeles, and bought a couple. I hope folk this side of the pond do likewise. And any reader seeing can’t buy a book for any reason, I suggest the Google your name and watch any of your interviews.
    In respect
    GB

  26. Cellar Shark says:

    Hello Grouse Beater!
    I finally joined Twitter yesterday to see for myself whether JKR had actually said what had been quoted in the press. On that score I was disappointed, albeit I saw a glimmer of hope that she maybe isn’t as raving Britnat as she has been painted. Time will tell.
    My disappointment has been more than counterbalanced by discovering your blog. I will enjoy following it with the same appreciation I have for Mr Bateman. Intelligent, eloquent, and polite; this is what Angry Salmond could achieve after a few years in finishing school.
    Thank you!
    CS

  27. Grouse Beater says:

    A warm welcome.

    I am pleased you perceive a degree of civilised discourse in my literary style, but I must warn that occasionally you will detect barely supressed fury. I hope it is justified when it appears. There are times I fight with myself not to insult an opponent – though they have insulted me or my nation’s humanity – but I try to make absolutely evident that my opinion is diametrically opposed to theirs, and I would never wish to be associated with their point of view.

    Feel free to join in discussions, or dissuade me from a notion you think erroneous or extreme. But don’t overlook Scotland is undergoing another renaissance, and in any such revolution some people should expect their settled sensibilities to be outraged.

    That aside, have you seen both essays on JK? ‘Dear JK and JK Monstre Sacre.

  28. Cellar Shark says:

    Thanks for the response. I have no objection to a bit of measured fury. Mr Bell is another commentator I follow regularly and I’m sure he would make Churchill blush at times. I can also be somewhat intolerant of stupidity – a double-edge sword when it’s displayed by those whose interests you are passionately trying to protect.

    I look forward to engaging in future discussions, if I have any contribution worth adding. I agree we are experiencing a second enlightenment in Scotland. Like the first, it has been catalysed by our southern neighbours. However, this time it’s political rather than cultural.

    I’ve not seen the essays on JK but I’ll remedy that now.

  29. Hello,

    Can you please contact me ASAP, I am manager of The Proclaimers.
    Thanks,

    Kenny MacDonald
    kennybraw@googlemail.com

  30. Grouse Beater says:

    Post your phone number and I’ll consider responding.

  31. I’d just like to get your blog regularly where do I sign up?

  32. Grouse Beater says:

    I think the best way is to “Follow” me, the box is on the top of the page. Just click on it and you’ll receive regular updates.

    I’m also on Twitter, same name, and that too alerts readers, but also gives them snippets of wisdom, jokes, and links to other articles I think of interest.

    Hope that helps, and welcome.

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