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Bubbly in both senses

Bubbly in both senses

I was taken by the recent news of a minor celebrity throwing his weight about when stopped by the police and uttering the line that nobody with sense should even think, let alone say: “Don’t you know who I am?” (You can insert the old joke now.) It brought to mind so many examples of rampant […]

Trials of buying a £1 book

Trials of buying a £1 book

I found myself in a North-east coastal town recently with a couple of hours to kill on a sunny Saturday morning. I had better not say which town. I went into one of those Johnnie Aa-thing shops which usually yields something of interest and discovered a brand-new paperback by American writer Robert Crais for £1. […]

Minister's advice to young husband

Minister’s advice to young husband

Some time ago, I mentioned “The Nor’ East”, a 1919 book of humorous anecdotes by the Rev. W.S. Bruce, a Church of Scotland minister who travelled Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Kincardine in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Mr Bruce decided to set down some of the amusing tales and sayings he came across in his time ministering […]

Peering back almost a century

Peering back almost a century

Some of you might be familiar with a book called The Nor’ East, by W.S. Bruce. It was a 240-page hardback published first in 1919 by James G. Bisset, booksellers, of Aberdeen (latterly in Upperkirkgate). Mr Bruce was a Church of Scotland minister who decided he had better record some of the wit and wisdom of late-Victorian and […]

Toulmin winner chosen for 2014

Toulmin winner chosen for 2014

This year’s winner in the annual Toulmin short-story competition is Eleanor Fordyce, a retired teacher from Forfar. It was the choice of the quartet of judges: Dr Colin Milton and Professor Paul Dukes, of Aberdeen University; editor of Leopard Magazine Judy Mackie, and me. Eleanor’s story, A Quine Like You, tells of a girl who has lost […]

When a book becomes a collector's item

When a book becomes a collector’s item

I’m indebted to reader Maggie Wylie for this one. She was trawling through Amazon to see what books she might fancy and came upon this listing for one of my back catalogue, Spik o the Place, a primer in 1,000 Doric words and definitions. She was astonished at the price and, I must confess, so […]

Toulmin winner for 2013

Toulmin winner for 2013

Six years ago, Graham Reid, a businessman in Aberdeen, decided to sponsor a competition in memory of his late father, John. John was a farm worker by trade, but a writer by instinct. His pen-name, David Toulmin, was familiar to many Scottish readers from the 1970s onwards. It seemed obvious to Graham that a writing […]

Christmas literature and carols on Deeside

Christmas literature and carols on Deeside

The computer went ping and told me another e-mail had arrived. “Would you consider,” it asked, “doing a reading at Crathie Kirk to raise funds for an arts centre at Braemar?” Normally, I have to decline speaking invitations quickly and graciously just because of workload, but this was from Vicky Dawson, who runs Aberdeenshire’s best […]

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