Tag Archives: Scotland

Some beautiful music by Innes Watson

I’ve listened to Innes Watson performing (on his own or supporting others) several times at the Islay Sessions. Here’s some beautiful music to wake you up this Saturday morning:

For more from him try:

Step 1 of another journey complete

When I applied for a job 22.5 years ago after graduating from the Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg in Germany I don’t think I would have imagined in my wildest dreams something I’m doing now. And with that I’m not talking about recovering from heart valve surgery. Said job turned out to be in Swindon in England while I had been born in Germany and had lived most of the next 26 years in Germany (apart from almost a year in the US for an internship).

In early 1995 I boarded a ferry to Harwich to start what at that point I probably thought was going to be just an episode in my life. I don’t know for sure but I think most if not all of the other foreign hires hired at the same time have long since returned to their countries of origin. But 22 years later I’m still here (with one short interruption 1998-2000 where my then employer sent me to Munich in Bavaria. Which as a northerner born in Bremen is a foreign country as far as I’m concerned). I’ve changed employer and I’ve moved home from Swindon to Aldermaston Wharf, but otherwise I’m still here.

Having been in the UK for so long I had started to think about it a few years ago: Naturalisation. Applying for citizenship. I feel the UK is my home now. Germany feels more and more like a foreign country (especially as I only go back to Germany a few days every year, if that. There have been years where I didn’t go at all). I find myself defending my chosen home against unjustified (and sometimes even justified) criticism. I find it more natural to speak, write, think and dream in English than in German. But apart from reading up on it a bit on the internet I hadn’t done a lot about it just yet, it was just on the radar. Then the Brexit vote came along.

The Brexit vote changed a lot. For a number of people I know it means they don’t feel welcome here any more. Some are making plans to move back to their country of origin (or elsewhere), others I think have even already done so. For me the plans I’ve had in the back of my mind have become more urgent. I’ve decided to stay and sit it out, make the best of it. I might regret it if the UK really goes down the drain as is entirely possible. I’m strongly against Brexit (as are millions of others, which is often forgotten) and think it’s one of the dumbest ideas ever. But I don’t feel it’s right to run away from the place which has become my home, with all its faults. I don’t feel it’s right to run away from all my friends which have given me enormous support and mean a lot to me. So I’ve decided to push ahead with naturalisation.

Picture of a UK residence documentation card
My Permanent Residence Card

The first step of that was to apply for a Permanent Residence Card. After a few weeks of gathering all the required evidence that I had legally and lawfully lived in the UK while exercising EU treaty rights (or something along those lines) I sent off my application in very early October, just before I left for the hospital for my operation. Then the nervous big wait began. I had read that processing an application could take up to six months (especially since the Brexit vote as the Home Office has been inundated with applications) and that in some cases applications were rejected for formalities. Today the both dreaded and anxiously awaited large A4 envelope (because of all the documentation to be returned) was sitting in my letterbox when I arrived home. When I ripped it open as soon as I was up in my flat one of the first things I saw was what you see in the picture. Relief, everything was fine. Step 1 of the journey is complete, I’ve obtained my Permanent Residence Card.

Now on to the next steps. I’ve got to pass a language test (I’m fairly confident about that, I know the differences between their/they’re/there, you’re/your,  it’s/its and should have/should of) and I’ve got to pass the Life in the UK test (which apparently teaches you such important things like when and where the first curry house was opened, but not which telephone number to dial in an emergency. But then I know the latter anyway). So the next few weeks, may be even months, will be spent studying this:

Some of my musical favourites of 2016

Some of the mostly new (but also some slightly older) music I enjoyed in 2016:

Obviously have to start with Teenage Fanclub. While I haven’t got a fixed ranking they will always be in my top 3 favourite bands. Here’s their offering from this year’s album Here:

The Pixies have been among my favourites for a long time as well, from this year’s Head Carrier I’ve picked the Tenement Song:

Slightly older (released in 2014 to be precise) but I only discovered it this year. Some great noise and energy in this Scottish/Australian/American collaboration:

Another slightly older one from 2015, but I mainly listened to it in 2016. The Welsh contingent with the Stereophonics:

Didn’t really have them on my radar before, but Teleman’s song named after a town in Germany caught my ears this year:

I prefer his work with The Gaslight Anthem, but Brian Fallon’s solo album is also very good:

Another older one but on very heavy rotation this year, from the aforementioned Gaslight Anthem:

By quite some distance the oldest song in this collection, but I keep returning to it. I just love the simplicity of it.

He’s been around forever, his new album with Joshua Homme is rather good:

I thought their last couple of albums were slightly weaker than their early ones, until 2016s Walls, which I think is a fantastic return to form:

What will 2017 bring musically?

The Bennie Railplane of Milngavie near Glasgow, Scotland

The things you find when browsing the interweb on a Sunday morning. Via a post on vowe dot net about the Google Arts & Culture app I found the Google Arts & Culture site, where in turn I came across this picture of a Railplane trial line near Glasgow. I was intrigued.

A quick search helped me to find out this was the Bennie Railplane. It of course reminds a bit of the famous Wuppertal Schwebebahn. While sadly it wasn’t a success and almost nothing physical remains of it today there are at least three videos of it in action, first from the National Library of Scotland:

Second a short video on British Pathé:

Third a longer documentary also on British Pathé:

A few links to further information:

Certainly a very interesting invention, must have looked very futuristic back in the 1930s. Well, it wasn’t meant to be.