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Victoria Wood: exceptional

Victoria Wood: exceptional

She was probably Britain’s finest observer and writer of character comedy across the last 40 years. Some have said the finest since Dickens. She had an ear for the ridiculous and unwittingly funny dialogue which trips daily from ordinary souls, and an eye for visual comedy that often touched genius. I have surprised myself by how sad I […]

Don't let them burst your balloon

Don’t let them burst your balloon

I had to smile the other day when I read a magazine column in which the writer said she had plucked up the courage in middle age to do in public what she had always done only in private: singing. She had been pressured into doing a turn at a charity event, but as the […]

All in the delivery

All in the delivery

I was chatting with an accomplished reciter of poetry last weekend. Frank is the go-to man if you need a poem delivered by a pro, but we had a minor difference of opinion on the performance of one of my favourite Doric poems: Bennachie, by Charles Murray. Frank subscribes to the view that it’s a stirring […]

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 […]

Farewell, December. Hello, 2015.

Farewell, December. Hello, 2015.

Some of you might be wondering about the dearth of posts here throughout December. The usual Monday and Friday dispatches have not been dispatched. I apologise. December has been a month I don’t care to repeat. As it began, I had an elderly aunt in convalescent care and had to liaise with various agencies about getting care for […]

Wrong idea about Doric

Wrong idea about Doric

Every morning, the website people send me a digest of the search terms that Internet users have typed into Google or other search engines and which have brought them ultimately to this site. This daily list can be interesting, and sometimes a little alarming. Shortly after I appeared recently on BBC TV, someone went to Google […]

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 […]

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