About Grouse Beater

‘Better a friendly Scotland self-reliant than an angry one coerced’ Grouse Beater

For updates of all facets of Scottish politics and the arts, tune into ‘Grouse Beater Twitter’ – breaking news, satire, commentary, and some humour.


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 secular humanist, and something of an anarchist. Essays are not always hard politics, they cover film reviews and the car industry, car companies one of the biggest lobbyists of government in the world, subjects chosen because they relate to Scotland in some way.

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. And they are legion. Scotland is too long a colonised country. My career spans theatre production, radio, television, film and journalism. At one time I wrote for US car magazines. Most recent books are published by the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Two more books are works in progress.

Raising finance for the arts in Scotland accrued over £5 million pounds, and work for talented individuals.

Chronologically: I am from what used to be called a ‘broken home’. I ran away a lot. Now I am described as a polymath and a ‘self-made man’. There’s a cliché for everybody and everything. My background is Edinburgh-born and educated, Catholic and Jewish. I am half-Sicilian, half-Irish. My vocation began as a student of theatre, (and philosophy), teacher in Glasgow and then lecturer in drama, (Distinction) in Edinburgh, broadcaster for BBC and commercial radio, to founder-artistic director of a national theatre still flourishing. I was a few years an unhappy BBC television executive producer, London, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Recently I devote myself to work as a producer-writer-doctor of filmed drama, and lately an obsessive essayist and polemicist. For relaxation I design gardens and help plant them, currently a Roman garden on Roman archaeological ground. I write essays. The essay form offers space to develop ideas.

House Rules – Okay

The site is open to comments and the exchange of ideas. Opposing arguments are welcome but not disputes. No trolling or libel. I allow access to those who I adjudge genuine. Keep in mind it’s my website. If you don’t like it create your own.

As a professional author, essays are copyrighted. Now and then I publish other people’s articles if relevant topically or worthy of note. I may draw attention to them in texts and on my Twitter site. I also like to promote good photographers. Feel free to quote passages but do not reprint entire essays for commercial gain without my expressed permission. I always sue!

Grouse Beater ©




48 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…


  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.

  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.

  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

  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!

  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.

    Kenny MacDonald

  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.

  33. Hey Grouse Beater,

    I just discovered your work when I was looking up about A.S.Neill and read an old post about him.

    Thank you for what you wrote.

    I just had my 70 year day but in my early 20s my sister, sister-in-law and a few other people all pulled their kids out of school and start their own home school, The Co-Op School, first in my sister’s basement, then in someone’s summer house, then in a former jailhouse on a former United States military air base in Newfoundland.

    We took the bars off the old jail cells and had a school based on Neill’s work. It was the happiest time of my life. The school ran for a number of years until we all (kids, parents and teachers) grew up and moved on with our lives in the best possible ways. I went to live in England with a small group of musicians and actor friends, and they came with me to visit Summerhill and hear Neill give a talk.

    I’ve now been an herbalist for the last 40 years. I live hand to mouth, have no savings and LOVE what I do… teaching herbal medicine and doing consultations to help people become healthy. (I’ve also had a son who’s now 40 plus raised two young relatives for the last 16 years who are Iroquois, the kids of my younger sister’s adopted daughter). Two years ago a taught a course on Plant Identification and Wild Edibles in my back yard (I’m now in Ontario after living for 30 years on a Nature Sanctuary in British Columbia) for a group of home schooled kids. It was like being back at The Co-Op School again, or like being at Summerhill! The kids had a great time, I had a great time and every week I taught them was like having a fantastic artistic meal and celebration!

    After telling the kids one week “Today we’re gonna do something REALLY DANGEROUS! We’re gonna eat Stinging Nettles!” The kids went from stunned shock to amazement and delight as I taught them how to handle Nettles without getting hurt, and steamed up Nettles and served them with a dressing of olive oil, tamari and fresh grated garlic. One little boy had three helpings! Most had at least two helpings.

    Neill is still a hero to me. The kids I taught in my 20’s have been successful, smart, excited adults … one is a university professor, one is a teaching photographer who goes across the country on his motorcycle every year or two, one does environmental work, one teaches golf … basically they follow their bliss!

    Thank you for the lovely article about Neill, I’m so glad I met him and will never forget that humane beautiful man!

  34. Grouse Beater says:

    Well, thank you for thanking me. 🙂

    AS Neill was my guiding light when I taught in secondary schools. And I enjoyed your anecdotes as will readers.

    I hope you return to my website and tell others about its existence … currently I’m researching more women candidates for the ‘Eminent Scots’ category, I’ve promoted only two so far.

  35. Is it permissible for the Clan Mackenzie Canada to reprint the link to your essay of March 21, 2018 about the Clearances on our website? If so, how would you best be identified as author?
    Sharie Argue, FSA Scot, President, Clan MacKenzie Society Canada & Lieutenant to Cabarfeidh

  36. Grouse Beater says:

    Go ahead. Grouse Beater is fine, but if you look on my ‘About’ page you can pick a skill from my biog you feel adds authenticity.

  37. I enjoyed your recent Tweets on comedy and the Edinburgh Fringe. Any chance this could be turned into an article?

  38. Grouse Beater says:

    Interesting idea. Will give it some thought.

    The ‘spat’ was about art versus commerce. Opponents in it were unable to tell the difference while crowing the Fringe is for ‘all comers’ and free. Aye, that’ll be right. The rot set in when Coutts took over the Assembly Rooms and turned them into well kitted professional venues. The Fringe ought to have said thanks but no thanks. This year we have the Festival marketed as a Union Jack British arts event yet not a penny has ever come from the UK Treasury. The power grab doesn’t stop at Holyrood.

  39. I am a very long in the tooth and can remember the Fringe in the 70’s being as you described. Hence your suggestion to turn the Fringe into the Edinburgh Comedy Festival has a lot of logic to my ears.

    There could then be scope for a new “amateur/unknown hopeful” event where those who were committed to performing new work could try and engage audiences committed to seeing new work (and not just in comedy) which is how I interpret the Fringe as it was.

    The Fringe is not unique in developing into a corporate event from initially much less materialistic goals. In the US, the SXSW Music festival In Austin, Texas started as a minor event in the early 1990’s where undiscovered bands had the chance to play to a few die-hard indy music fans. Now it is completely taken over by entertainment and tech companies.

    I am hoping that someone somewhere will be having the same thoughts as you and might start something, hopefully in Scotland again if not in Edinburgh.

  40. Grouse Beater says:

    Didn’t know that about the Austin festival, interesting.

    My beef with comedians at the Fringe is they dominate to such an extent they demand a separate Edinburgh Festival of their own. And it’s disingenuous to argue the professionals encourage visitors to see the new and untested. It doesn’t work like that. Too many to see, ticket money is kept for the guaranteed ‘entertainment’!

  41. Glad To Be Grey says:

    I am exactly with you about the established comedians freezing out the novices, even unintentionally. It needs a town somewhere with some unused facilities at a particular time of year to take a risk.

    That is why SXSW, which I am fairly certain borrowed heavily from the Fringe concept, takes place in Feb because Austin is dead at that time of year.

    I have droned on too long. But thanks for posting that Tweet. It made me really think and you can’t ask more than that.

  42. Grouse Beater says:

    I really appreciate the time you’ve taken top leave comment, GTG.

    I see a few new tweets on the subject appeared on my Twitter timeline again this afternoon. Alas, most thought I demand stand-ups ‘banned’ from the Fringe rather than what I suggest, they be given their own distinctive Edinburgh festival> Who would have thought comedians so reactionary, their ire a severe loss of good humour?

  43. Moray Nicol says:

    Where is your donate button ? This whole #SNPCivilWar makes me want to contribute to a fight..

  44. Grouse Beater says:

    Hello, Moray. I write without fees, and never been offered any, the time involved for it and attendant research admittedly at some cost to my monthly income. I hope I echo what others feel and think, and hope for better.

  45. Skye Croft says:

    Hi Grouse Beater.
    Been following you on Twitter for a while but only just started digging into your blog stuff.
    I get it.
    Cheers Col

  46. Jacqueline McMillan says:

    Don’t know if you will get this post. Just wanted to say how very much we all love you and appreciate all your hard work. So sorry you are now going to leave us.
    We will continue your excellent and loyal work. You will be sorely missed. Spend time with your family and know how much you are appreciated and loved by us, many of whom have never met you. God Bless my friend.
    Jacqueline McMillan (Impreza lover 😉 ) xxxx

  47. Grouse Beater says:

    Hello Jacqueline. Thank you for the kind things that you have had to say. I aim to be around a bit longer. Onward! 🙂

  48. lckywhththr says:

    Hello GB, just to thank you for everything you have done for the cause, I have personally really enjoyed reading your work and of course your tweets. I second exactly what Jacqueline McMillan says and wish you all the very best, you are in my thoughts every day. I hesitate to suggest this, but, maybe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiGVsUtCZwI

    It has worked well for some. Wishing you much strength and peace in the days to some.

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