The Strathaven Weaver

The Boo-backit brig near the centre of Strathaven

James “Purlie” Wilson, the Strathaven Weaver, was a local leader of the Radical Movement seeking social reform in early 19th century Scotland. He was tried on trumped-up charges of treason and executed on Glasgow Green on 30 August, 1820. His ghost returns 40 years later to confront a doctor with his own demons.

The watercolour above is of the Boo-backit Brig, which features in The Strathaven Weaver. The watercolour was painted in the 1960s by local teacher and artist, Stewart Frame.

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The Selkie.

A Selkie holding her sea-skin.

The Selkie is a mythical sea creature of Scottish folklore. In the sea a Selkie is a seal, but when they occasionally come onshore they take the form of a beautiful woman. Men should be wary in case they are beguiled and end broken-hearted when a Selkie they’ve met returns to the sea. What surprise awaits my Selkie when she falls for a special man she meets on land?

It’s a challenge to record audio with other contributors in these plague straightened times. I hung my story on the Selkie legend and produced a solo drama combining faerie tale and love story.

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Galore!

Galore Audio Drama

I collaborated with Jill Korn to produce Galore! an audio drama inspired by the events in Compton Mackenzie’s 1947 book, “Whisky Galore” and the film made two years later.

Galore! is an audio drama. Jill Korn wrote and performed the words, which is challenge enough. I am her “partner in crime” and provided the sound design. It’s been a sustained project to build immersive soundscapes that transport our listener to the hotels, shores and hillsides of the Isle of Donan.

Socially distanced working has been a challenge. Even so we’ve achieved an audio drama that just works. I’ve had such a great time making this audio drama there will be more.

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Sparrows in the Buddleia

Buddleia bush by the River Ericht

The delight of hearing hundreds of wee speugs feasting, squabbling, socialising or whatever it was they were doing in the middle of a buddleia bush at the side of the River Ericht lifted my heart. I hope yours too.

Don Roberto and the Four Fathers.

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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Making Noises for Sound Effects.

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.

The image is of a Gas Rattle similar to the one used to warn soldiers that a gas attack was underway. No one could blow a whistle while wearing a gas helmet.

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Hill 60 on the Western Front.

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.

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Gunner Graham

Gunner Graham in RGA uniform before he was mobilised

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.

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