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Satellite 4 (Eastercon)

This year’s Eastercon – the annual British Science Fiction Convention – is being held under the name Satellite 4 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow from 18th to 21st April.

It’s a while since the event has been in Scotland so I’ve not attended for a few years. I’ll be going this year though.

In fact I’m even going to be on two panels. My schedule is below.

Eastercon is a great way to meet people whom you haven’t seen since last the last Eastercon you graced with your presence, and others you’ve not met before. It has always served to enthuse me about SF again.

Good practice in editing and reviewing
Sunday 18:00 – 19:00

Has steampunk gone off the boil?
Monday 13:00 – 14:00

Lucius Shepard and Margo MacDonald

Due to my house move I missed commemorating at the times the demise of both Margo MacDonald, former SNP MP and independent MSP, and writer Lucius Shepard.

It says a lot for the esteem in which MacDonald was held by the wider public that she was able to gain a seat in the Scottish Parliament on the list system as an independent.

In recent years her campaign for the right to assisted dying (she was suffering from Parkinson’s disease) was carried out with a dignity which ensured that her views and comments commanded respect.

Luius Shepard’s fiction is elusive to pigeonhole, morphing from Science Fiction to fantasy and bordering on magic realism. He was always readable, though, and intelligent.

Margo MacDonald, 19/4/1943 – 4/4/2014, Lucius Shepard, 21/8/1943 – 18/3/2014. So it goes.

Hello Son of the Rock Acres!

Belated acknowledgement of our house move. 5 days ago now.

This is the view of the back garden from the side gate:-

As you can see the garden is mostly grass at the moment. The good lady will have plants in there in no time.

And here is the garden round the other side of the house (complete with bins and shed.)

It’s all a bit different from Son of the Rock Towers.


The move went okay but I can’t say we’re settled in to our new home yet. Too many boxes, too many books, not the same space.

Goodbye Son of the Rock Towers

All being well we should have moved house today.

This is Son of the Rock Towers – no more.

Side view showing part of gable end and side gate:-


Posts may be a bit sparse around here for a while.

I’m moving house at the end of the week and things are a bit hectic.

Between us the good lady and I have far too many books (we even added nine to the total on Saturday afternoon in Edinburgh) and the number of boxes strewn around is unbelievable.

Tony Benn

Two in two days. First Bob Crow, then Tony Benn. Are there any prominent left wingers left in the UK?

I must say it has been faintly sickening to hear those who had nothing good to say about them in their lifetimes come out with all sorts of praise now they are safely dead. I did think it was unwise of David Cameron to say of Tony Benn, “There was never a dull moment listening to or reading him, even if you disagreed with him,” as it invites invidious comparisons.

Anthony Wedgwood Benn, as Viscount Stansgate, was the first person in the UK to renounce a peerage. This was in order to retain his seat as an MP which as a peer eligible to sit in the House of Lords he could not under the law as it stood. Had his elder brother not been killed on active service in the Second World War his campaign to be allowed this would not have been necessary and that law might still be in place. Ironically Benn’s success in getting the law changed afforded Alec Douglas Home the opportunity to do just the same with his peerage and so become Prime Minister – an office Benn himself never achieved.

Benn has been represented in today’s news coverage as somehow unwilling to come to terms with politics as it unfolded. Another way of saying this would be to say he was not a trimmer. Instead he stuck to the principles of fairness he had long espoused. I note here that a certain other conviction politician broadly contemporaneous with Benn was lauded for not being a trimmer. Funny old world, eh?

Mind you, if you’re anti-establishment in the UK you seldom receive a good press. (Unless you are recenty deceased, obviously.)

Robert (Bob) Crow : 13/06/1961 – 11/3/2014.
Anthony Neil Wedgwood (Tony) Benn : 3/4/1925 – 14/3-2014.
So it goes.

Two Losses

Many declarations have been made of the influence The Everly Brothers had on the development of popular music in the second half of the twentieth century. Their harmonies were certainly distinct. I was sad to hear of Phil’s death.

Also a bit of blow was the news about Eusébio; not only a great footballer who almost single-handedly and with what seemed like force of will brought Portugal through to the semi-final of the 1966 World Cup after being 3-0 down in the quarters, but also a gentleman.

The world feels a smaller place now.

The Everly Brothers: When Will I Be Loved (from 1959)

Eusébio da Silva Ferreira: 25/1/1942 – 5/1/2014.

Phillip ‘Phil’ Everly: 9/1/1939-3/1/2014.

So it goes.

Nelson Mandela

There’s not much you can say.

Perhaps the greatest person to come to prominence in my lifetime, almost the only one who set an example of forgiveness.

He was 95 and it was too much to expect he could linger for much longer.

He will be missed in South Africa.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: 18/7/1918 – 5/12/2013. So it goes.

Minute’s Silence

Before Saturday’s game at Shielfield there was a minute’s silence to mark the helicopter crash in Glasgow. The photo below was taken immediately prior to that minute.

While the events at the Clutha Vaults were tragic I can’t help feeling that there was something mawkish about this rush to commemorate it while the rescue efforts were still in train.

I can remember the time when the only such silences took place on the death of a former player, manager or director of either of the clubs concerned; I don’t think they even took place on the Saturay before Remembrance Sunday.

This looks to me to be a symptom of the creeping sentimalisation of the culture which began on the death of Diana, former Princess of Wales.

The current prevalence of minute’s silences is in danger of minimising their impact.

Minute's Silence Shielfield Park 30/11/13

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