The McCune Smith cafe

Hello, it’s Tom here. In today’s People Make Glasgow post I’d like to introduce the McCune Smith Cafe and Dr. James McCune Smith, the important 19th Century African-American abolitionist, physician, educator and intellectual, after whom the cafe is named. Glasgow’s remarkable nineteenth-century growth was due to imperial trade. That Glasgow was built on tobacco and…

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pink fish

Last year, energetic and inspiring Dorothy Widmann kindly invited me to attend a wonderful event she’d organised in her home town of Cordova, Alaska. Like Scotland, Alaska is one of those places where the activities of fishing and knitting are interestingly intertwined, and Dotty’s Cordova Gansey Project provided occasion for exploring those important connections. The…

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Þingvellir

About 30 miles North East of Reykjavik is Þingvellir National Park. Here there are many visible signs of volcanic activity within the past two millenia. The park crosses a rift valley separating the Continental plates of Europe and America. These tectonic plates are now steadily pulling apart, at a rate of about an inch a…

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Leningrad

On Friday evening, Tom and I went to see Neeme Järvi conducting the RSNO in Shostakovitch’s 7th. I don’t think I have ever seen the Usher Hall so full – there wasn’t a spare seat to be seen – with many emotional Russians among the audience. Personally, I think it is very hard not to…

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sprung

Surely one of the most satisfying things about any kind of journal keeping is the Gilbert White-like sense it can convey of seasonal continuity or change. At dusk yesterday, Jesus’s plum tree burst into bloom. I note that last year, after a particularly long and evil Winter, it had just started to flower on April…

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limbo

Now, I don’t want to moan, but this space is somewhere where I like to be honest about my experience of recovery, so, to be frank, things are a bit rubbish at the moment. 1. We’d planned a short break this week on Barra and Harris, but one of Calmac’s ferries broke down; they cancelled…

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join the dots!

(© Leeds Postcards) Just a little pre-election cheer for those of us who will not be voting for the old Etonian and his disastrous Do-It-Yourself plans for public services. Tomorrow will be the first election that I’ve not stayed up all night to watch the votes come in for. The fatigue means I generally have…

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me news

Some of you may be interested to know that I’ve a feature in the new Rowan Magazine (no.46), which is out today. The piece is about British industrial textile history, and the past and future of two important mills — Cold Harbour, and New Lanark.* I really enjoyed writing this feature, as I’m sure you…

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knitter 66

Those who’ve read it might remember that the plot of Jane Austen’s Persuasion turns on Mrs Smith: Anne Elliot’s former schoolmate who, widowed after an unfortunate marriage, has fallen on hard times. Mrs Smith’s difficulties are compounded by physical pain: Austen describes her as an “invalid,” who is clearly suffering from what today we’d call…

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walking into 2009

Grainger St, Newcastle. January 26th. 5.5 miles I am feeling rather sombre this week. I think this may be partly to do with the dark. Though my feet have covered the equivalent of a marathon in the past few days, and though I am really enjoying both the walking and the thinking about the walking,…

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out with the old

You may remember that a year ago I decided to stop buying clothes for the duration of 2008. My decision to do this was sparked by a couple of things. I had been reading a bit about darning and mending and wanted to think about what repairing and caring for one’s clothes meant. Also, since…

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