This is the By The Way podcast: true stories, unsolicited opinion and extra information from around Scotland. The By The Way podcast is a sound-rich blend of documentary radio that reflects the way Scotland sees the world and how the world sees us. John Boyd is grasping the thistle – eh, the microphone.
That phrase, “… by the way” has particular significance in the vernacular of Glasgow and the west of Scotland, where John spent his youth. In certain groups it often serves as an expressed full stop – sometimes with the perception of a rigid index finger jabbing the space below your clavicle.
I’m proud to claim Don Roberto among my relations. Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham founded the Scottish National Party. He was a passionate advocate of independence for Scotland. His memorial at Gartmore is carved with the words “Famous author, traveller and horseman. Patriotic Scot and citizen of the world. He was a master of life – a king among men.” I really wish I’d met him.
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Don Roberto, a dapper gentleman. This is the inspirational tale of R.B. Cunninghame Graham’s life and principles. It entwines with four of my own family and ends with my call to action:Put Scottish independence to the touch. We can win it all.
The Four Fathers at Malling West, Port of Mentieth c.1908. My grandfather, Hugh, is the boy sitting in front. His father, David, is on the left; his father, Owen is standing on the right and his father, another David, is seated.
I’ve never had a journey to Yes. I’ve always been there. I’ve always resented the rapacious behaviour of Scotland’s southern neighbour, both historical and current.
They say the pictures are better on radio. That’s why I’m making noises for sound effects. I’m putting more sounds into By The Way stories. It’s all about helping to create the environment where the dialogue takes place and to immerse my listener in the story. I know it’s an indulgence, but here’s how I put together 14 seconds of audio to convey the horror of a gas attack during the Great War. The attack recounted took place at Reningelst on 18 April 1918.
Here’s a bit of Extra Information about Hill 60 on the Western Front near Ypres. Hugh, the 20 year old Gunner Graham, was a Scottish soldier in the Royal Garrison Artillery who was awarded the Military Medal in 1918. This bit of his story is too good to bin. I’ve been able to include more of the fascinating research than would have fitted in the original script, which is why I dropped the scene. Here it is as an Extra Information short.
Gunner Graham was an extraordinary Scottish soldier in the Royal Garrison Artillery during WW1. He had just turned 20 years old when he was decorated for gallantry in 1918 with the Military Medal. The Medal represents a level of valour in combat only surpassed by that for the Victoria Cross. As an enlisted man Gunner Graham didn’t qualify for the Military Cross, which was reserved for officers at the time. Listen to the story of his medal and how he overcame the endemic discrimination of the establishment.
Angus Adamson is an Arranach. He was born and brought-up on Arran. We recorded a conversation the last week I lived there and it was a delight to hear the story of his connection to the island, its people and how he’s served the community in one way or another all his working days. Angus has been a mechanic, a fire-fighter and a Church of Scotland Minister. There are only two characters in this story. You’ll hear only two voices – Angus and the island of Arran. Angus and I spoke in his front room, but the island speaks through the sounds of wild-track I’ve recorded in the environment over the years.
Over 80 thousand people endured a downpour of biblical proportions when they attended the AUOB (All Under One Banner) procession in Glasgow on Saturday, 11 January (Please remember that date. It’s important at the end of the piece). It’s testament to their strength of feeling that so many walked happily from Kelvingrove to Glasgow Green to show their support for Scotland’s right to choose its own destiny. This is a soundscape of the day with a completely partisan collection of soundbites (well, they would be).
It was a bleak day when I sought shelter in Dunkeld Cathedral only to come across the Dunkeld Handbell Ringers. The team play there every other Thursday afternoon during the summer season. I met some of the group before a practice session just across the river Tay in Birnam.
Not only did Torylinn Creamery make outstanding cheese it also used milk from Arran’s dairy cows. Now the creamery is closed the jobs of those who worked there are gone, jobs have gone on farms, the very milk production of the island is collapsing and a great cheese is lost. Angus Adamson sees the effects first hand.
Over the years since my old mum and her cronies used to get half price chips I’ve known the modern Crofters’ Music Bar Bistro through different incarnations and proprietors. Today’s custodians are father and daughter team Dónal and Ealána Boyle. As Crofters’ Music Bar Bistro has evolved they’ve embraced modern principles caring for their staff, sourcing local and sustainable produce and presenting musicians with personality. They believe they’ve got a winning formula.