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Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Carol Hogel is an American who has been living in Scotland for the past 25 years.    She has been a major sponsor of the arts in Scotland and the UK – to the tune of £20 million through the Dunard Fund which she set up.

She has contributed to the RSNO, most UK opera companies, the National Galleries of Scotland, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and lots more.    It is a big list, and adds up to a lot of money.

For Scotland, through her generosity, she has allowed us to be genuinely ambitious with artistic projects, like the building of the Playfair project at the National Gallery, like bringing Peter Stein’s Parsifal to Edinburgh, and so much more.      She helped rescue the Edinburgh International Festival from a financial black hole.   In short, she has made a major contribution to the UK arts, particularly in Scotland.

But now, faced with what she sees as a tax for bringing her wealth to the UK – the Brown/Darling  non dom tax of £30,000 pa, she has announced that she is moving to California, where philanthropists giving to the arts are appreciated.

Shamingly, it was not the tax itself which tipped the balance, but a chippy article written by Robert McNeil in The Scotsman which concluded by saying “The rich are leaving, and good ruddy riddance to them”.   Hogel wrote a letter back accusing McNeil of “taking ethnic cleansing to a whole new level” and calling him “destructive, spiteful and philistine”.    

A civilised country is measured in part by its artistic and cultural status and aspirations.     A vibrant arts sector contributes to the high quality of life we enjoy in Scotland.    It encourages others to visit, and it provides many jobs.

So, this is to say thank you so much to Carol Hogel for her generous contributions.      I am so sad it had to end like this.     NcNeil and The Scotsman should be hanging their heads in shame.

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Reading to Children

Both our children were read to every night at bedtime.

Being selfish about this, I have to admit really looking forward to this part of the day.    From early books like the Hungry Catepillar, through Dr Seuss, and eventually progressing on to Narnia (all 7 books), Little House books (7, I think), Moonimtroll (several books, which started off brilliantly but became rather too odd eventually – Memoirs of Moominpappa especially).    There were some surprises like Wind in the Willows, which went really well until the chapter called “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” which was simply uncomprehensible for a child.

Funny stories, frightening stories, and some tales which were so heartachingly beautiful, they were a real struggle to get through.

This was all before Harry Potter of course, and both children are now far too old to be read to, but they do both read.

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Harry Potter

What a publishing event! – stores and bookshops open at midnight with crowds of people buying the last Harry Potter book.    Quite unprecedented I think.

 It is easy to be cynical, but you have to hand it to JK Rowling that through these books she has changed the face of children’s literature (and big children’s literature).    Children who have tackled these big volumes on their own will have the confidence to try other books too.

I read the first three, and enjoyed the third book best, but never got round to going any further, although I have seen the first four films.   

We actually have all the books in the house now as boy b/d wandered into ASDA last night after seeing the latest Harry Potter film (takes a while to get going, he says) and bought a copy for £5.   He has read it completely, and girl b/d is now reading it.     It even beats the attractions of MSN and Facebook, which takes some doing, let me tell you.  

The ending has not been discussed yet.

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I like reading, and try to read a bit every night before I go to sleep.    It is quiet and peaceful and you get time to concentrate.

Which brings me to admire people who can seemingly read in all sorts of busy situations.    I saw people in a queue to a museum reading books the other day – if I am in a queue, then I really like to ‘people watch’.    There is actually too much going on round about to get your head down in a book.

I also discovered that I have difficulty reading a book on a plane – which is probably one of the most boring environments ever.    The thing is, I don’t like flying at the best of times, and actually avoided it for years until I got fed up of it being a problem, and just dealt with it.     I still find it an alarming way to travel, and am recovering from having been on three planes on Monday.     So, no to books on a plane – but a newspaper or magazine seems to fit the bill.

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Library sale time again.   February 17th.   Hooray!   

Once or twice a year, Perth Library has a sale of surplus books (plus a few cds etc.) which is well worth getting along to.     Books are displayed on tables by category and replenished from boxes throughout the day.

It can be a bit of a scrummage, but the books are really cheap.    £15 to £20 will buy you about two carrier bags full of hardback books.    Enough to keep you in reading material for a wee while.

It is interesting.   I come across books that I maybe saw first time round in the shops, or heard on the radio, but never got round to buying  for some reason.    But here they are again, only for £1 or £2.      Who could resist it?

The only problem is where to put them all when you get home.     And I do have a slight problem with throwing out books, so the result is that we have books all over the house.     I can tell you where most of them are, or at least which room a book is in.     Is that sad?

I rather think that this time I may not be allowed to go unless a clear out is promised.

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Old Peter’s Russian Tales

What a treat.   Old Peter’s Russian Tales on Radio 4.     These are great stories – fantastic and magical, happy and sad,  some are hauntingly beautiful, and some dark and frightening.      They are great to read to children.    Difficult to get a copy now, but perhaps the Radio 4 drama will kindle interest in a new edition.

So meanwhile, for fans of Baba Yaga, the Fool of the World and the Flying Ship and lots more, you can listen again for a while on the BBC website.

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