Issue 203
May/June 2018

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May 24, 2018
The Ultimate Travel Guide
Scotland's Stations - Northern Books

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    ArtWork Newspaper Issue 203
    May/June 2018 (6.2MB)

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    Editorial Comment

    Artwork PO Box 3 Ellon AB41 ::

    Battlefield battles must be joined

    FIFTY YEARS ago, a visitor to Scotland would have found the country little different from what it was before the Second World War, its towns and cities marked by clearly defined boundaries, its roads single track (except for one in the Highlands), its swathes of arable land in the south and east unscarred by power lines or wireless masts, and the Highlands vast areas of unspoilt moorlands and mountains enlivened by the occasional hunting lodge or castle.

    Today, this vision is what brings many people to the country – but it is one that is vanishing fast as urban sprawl destroys the clear distinction between town and country, dual carriageways encourage housing and industrial developments to grow along their edges, and the arrival of power lines, wireless masts and wind turbines intrudes into even the furthest wildernesses.

    Included in the features that bring visitors are Scotland’s battlefields and now even the most famous are losing their identity. Though the precise location of Bannockburn remains in doubt – a recent visitor’s centre makes a stab at its location – the area in which the battle took place is steadily being encroached upon by developments surrounding Stirling.

    Farther north, the planned widening of the A9 north of Killiecrankie threatens to spoil the environment around the battlefield and is being opposed by Historic Environment Scotland.

    But perhaps most damaging of all, the wild remoteness of Culloden is under threat from both a housing estate that would encroach on the site and a proposal to build fourteen lodges, a 100-seat restaurant and leisure facilities on the old Treetops Stables at Faebuie on Culloden Moor.

    The plans to build houses have already been opposed, gone through several planning stages and will probably go ahead. Those for the holiday park are being opposed by the National Trust for Scotland, owners of the core battlefield site and its visitor centre, which ArtWork reviewed back in 2008.

    What is clear is that there is a severe disjuncture between encouraging Scotland’s tourist industry, which is increasingly advocated by the Scottish Government, and preserving the ancient character of the country, which is the principal attraction. Since tourism is such a priority, it must guide how Scotland continues to develop in the 21st century. Otherwise, more and more people are going to be disappointed as the image of what the country is like fails to live up to what is actually on the ground.

    Spinning ever downwards

    THESE ARE not happy times for the media, particularly print, and those behemoths of the internet – Google, Facebook, Twitter et al – cannot be blamed for all the woes.

    When the fiasco of Britain’s departure from the European Union finally reaches its sorry conclusion (if it ever does) the part played in particular by the red top press will not emerge as a particularly happy one.

    The near hysterical refusal to apply any sort of dispassionate analysis to the situation or to offer any sort of balanced judgement reflects abysmally on the direction of these sheets.

    Little surprise that their sales are dropping relentlessly.

    It is a situation in which the BBC bears more than usual responsibility for taking a cool hard look and having the courage to stand up particularly to the fanatics in the Leave campaign.

    Most of the writing appearing now on the wall is frankly terrifying and yet the BBC seems terrified of probing as it should to see just what the threat to the country is.

    When clickbait journalism rules, it becomes ever more difficult to justify the effort and expenditure needed to get through the spin and the pr pressure to tell the situation as it really is.

    No room for Scottish books?

    A LITTLE BIT of special pleading. (Well, we don't do it very often.)

    Alert readers may have noticed that, besides this modest sheet, we also publish the odd book or two.

    A recent addition to the stable has been a new edition of Scotland’s Stations. Some critics have been kind enough to suggest that it is not totally without merit.

    Where better to offer such a tome for sale to the public than on the concourse of Scotland's finest stations? Places like the magnificent Waverley, redolent with literary connections in its romantic name (despite attempts to drop the Scott connection in favour of simple ‘Edinburgh.’)

    But, alas, the bookstall at Waverley, recently squeezed into tighter premises in favour of fast(ish) food, no longer, apparently, has space on it is shelves for Scottish books.

    The situation is little happier over on the West, but at least right outside the main entrance to Glasgow Central an enterprising small convenience store doing a roaring trade with the book.

    Thank you, News 24, for keeping choice alive and stocking the book.

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