Wha’s like us?

Rural cycle paths and even the busy tourist harbour town of Hornbaek are noticeably litter-free

As a long-term immigrant in someone else’s country there are things that you become accustomed to. In Denmark, one of those things is the absence of litter. It does exist, but on the whole, city streets and rural areas are remarkably free of garbage. 

Visiting friends and family always comment about how clean everything is, and they’re right. 

Cycling a lot, as you do, in a country with dedicated bike paths everywhere, you get the chance to observe hedgerows, verges, and city infrastructure close up. Yes, you’ll see the odd beer can, coffee-to-go cup, and even (worst of all) McDonald’s takeaway bags bursting with plastic cups and paper waste strewn by the roadside. However, on the whole, these are few and far between. And they’re never there for long. If not removed by council workers, concerned citizens will pick them up and bin them. 

Last time I was home in Scotland I took my teenage kids around the country. We were based in Ayr – in a nice flat overlooking the beach and Firth of Clyde. Spectacular. It was an attempt to share an ‘exotic’ childhood holiday location wi ma ain bairns who are ‘Danish’ first, European second, and Scottish a distant third. 

They saw with their own eyes the seafront and beach every evening. An ocean of litter by the sea. They were bemused that such a beautiful location could be turned into a tip. The local council does what it can to treat the symptoms but it cannot cure the disease. Littering is an anti-social virus and it’s endemic to Scotland. 

Another childhood haunt on the nostalgia tour was Millport. A lot better than Ayr, litter wise, on the sea front, but the harbour area is a magnet for sea-born rubbish. Perhaps it’s the result of currents or tidal changes, but for a tourist destination to have this amount of concentrated litter on the rocks and beach is just awful. Is it beyond the wit of man or woman to create a capture net that can be lifted at low-tide and emptied? Were we Scots not once great innovators and inventors? 

Probably the most unexpected discovery was on a wee sandy beach north of Luss, by the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond – a song son my loves. Wild campers or day-trippers had attempted to tidy up by digging a hole and burying their non-biodegradable rubbish. It was all visible and sticking out. Those tin cans and plastic objects (including a broken camping chair) will still be there in fifty years time if my kids ever visit the same spot. You could weep. 

We made an early Sunday trip to Glasgow. A braw breakfast at the wonderful Coia’s Cafe followed by a wee visit to my late maw’s church on Whitevale Street. Early morning is still the best time of the day in Dennistoun. The city is benign. Even the hideous football pub on Duke Street looks harmless.

A walk past the still derelict remains of Whitevale Baths was followed by a visit to Celtic Park and the impressive Velodrome. But, once again, you don’t have to look very far before you discover years-old litter stacked up behind greenery and bushes. 

Aye, the dear green place, like so much of Scotland, is an open litter bin. It’s enormously sad. The impression given is that people don’t care about their local or national environment.

Foreign tourists are generally polite, but they do notice. They talk about it. They wonder about us. Where is Scotland’s civic pride? 

The nation that could not bring itself to vote for its own national self-determination appears not even to care about its own self-image in the eyes of the world. Wha’s like us?

IndyScotNews Videocast #3: Interview with Denise Findlay

Denise Findlay is a Scottish independence activist and women’s rights campaigner. In this interview she discusses SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon’s failure to inspire and lead the #Yes movement, and also her apparent reticence to agitate for an end to the political union between Scotland and England.

IndyScotNews Videocast #2: Interview with Paddy Cullivan on Michael Collins

This interview deals mainly with the recently-released two-part documentary on Michael Collins, but touches on present day politics in both Ireland and Scotland.

“Paddy has performed his sold-out historical entertainments all over Ireland and beyond. His latest projects are online documentaries on Wolfe Tone and Michael Collins.

“Paddy is a multi-platform entertainer, MC, Speaker and versatile comic raconteur. Online or onstage his bespoke services are uniquely tailored to the client.”

Check paddycullivan.com for more.

Interview with ‘Lukewarm Dave’

Satirical collage artist Dave describes himself as an ‘immature irritant to the powerful with a pirate copy of Photoshop and no social filter’. You’ll find him on Twitter at @DaveLukewarm

New Day Dawning

Glasgow horse and cart winter 1955. Photo by Partick Camera Club

Five o'clock in the morning, the world is asleep
A milkman is yawning, it's quiet on the street.
Baker's making rolls, with the flour that he kneads,
Gaslighter turns down the flame we don't see.

Postman's on the round, letters from far and near.
Church bells sound, the sky begins to clear.
Priest kneels in prayer, to the cross that he believes,
Will bring some comfort, as he holds on to his beads.

A new day's dawning on the rest of our lives.
Bluevale horseshoes, down Good Luck Drive.

A new day's dawning (refrain)

At Paddy's Market, there's someone drinking beer.
His clothes are old, he wipes a winter tear.
I've seen his face before, marked by the years
Of gangs and graffiti, and living life in fear. 

A new day's dawning, on the rest of our lives.
Horseshoes and good luck, down Bluevale ride.

A new day's dawning (refrain)

Horses on the street, policemen on the beat,
The city's at our feet,
The world is yawning,
A new day's dawning.

Words and music by Peter Young