Tag Archives: Scottish

My Band of 2009…

As part of my work for the Under the Radar blog on the Scotsman website, I was asked to submit an article selecting my band of the year…

When the dark, mysterious powers behind UtR first suggested that each of us hacks pick a band of the year, I decided to let my iTunes play count decide it for me. So, Withered Hand it is then. Except, as phenomenal as Dan Willson is, it seemed too obvious.

So I looked to see who was second and found Meursault. Dear Lord, I am such an Edinburgh cliché. So I scrapped the preposterous iTunes notion and went back to searching around the disused back rooms of my mind.

After a mentally and sometimes physically painful deliberation, I decided the band who have given me the most enjoyment this year has been Glasgow’s How to Swim.

One key reason for this is that I hate being late to the party. I sometimes get there so late that the place is scattered with empty bottles and everyone has either gone home or crashed out.

With How to Swim, I was fairly punctual in my arrival at the metaphorical party. Not early exactly (the band have been playing in various forms since 2000), but early enough to make small talk in the hall about my job whilst glancing nervously towards the door to see if anyone else was going to turn up. How to Swim turned up and their live act is certainly something to treasure.

My affinity for the band is partly because I regard the 2005 It Stings When I EP as one of my finest ever random purchases. Then I lost my copy. But 2009 was the year a copy re-emerged to gift me joy in the form of Gregor Barclay’s haunting voice and the sinister imagery he creates. ‘There’s a Building There’ has to be my all time favourite stalker song.

The new material has also lived up to previous acclaim. Perhaps with the release of the album Retina, iTunes may well be able to pick my band of 2010. So, thanks to a combination of discovery and rediscovery, How to Swim have made me happier than any other band this year.

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Israeli ambassador given rough reception at Edinburgh University

Ron Prosor, Israeli Ambassador to the UK

Human rights groups have protested at the arrival of an Israeli ambassador due to make a speech at Edinburgh University.

Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, was met by a crowd of over 100 protesters, who had gathered outside the lecture venue on the city’s Teviot Place.

The demonstration was organised by the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) and featured representatives from various other human rights groups.  The SPSC felt that an Isreali Ambassador should not be given such a platform at the university, which they claimed gave Mr Prossor the opportunity to, “justify Israel’s crimes”.

The lecture, entitled ‘The Middle-East Today: Regional Challenges, Global Implications’, went ahead at the University’s McEwan Hall to an audience of Three Hundred and Fifty people.

Mr Prosor had been due to speak at the university earlier this year but the talk was cancelled.  Edinburgh University stated that the cancellation was due to logistical reasons, but the SPSC claimed it was due to pressure they had exerted.

Organiser Mick Napier described Mr Prosor as, “the ambassador of the apartheid state of Israel”, and said the protest emphasised the opposition held in the capital to the ongoing conflict in the Middle-East.

Mr Napier dismissed the talk as, “a shameful PR Israeli exercise”, saying it should not have taken place, “while Israeli bulldozers continue to destroy Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem”.

Mr Prosor was appointed Israel’s Ambassador to the UK in November 2007 and previously held the positions of Senior Deputy Director General of the Ministry and Chief of Policy Staff to the Foreign Minister.

Nobody from Edinburgh University was available for comment.

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