Articles about Scotland

The Big Music — Kirsty Gunn

The Big MusicAn old man kidnaps his housekeeper’s granddaughter and takes her for a walk in the hills. He needs to write her into a piece of music he is composing. This is the start of this novel, and as it continues we learn more about the history of his family, which has lived for many generations in a remote house in the Scottish highlands. The house and family have become famous in the world of classical bagpipe music, the “big music” of the title.

I have never seen a book put together like this one before. It’s presented as a documentary, with the story built up from fragments of letters, recordings and papers found during the author’s research into the family and house. Supporting the story are many many footnotes, including frequent cross-references to other parts of the story and to the numerous appendices including plans of the house, maps of the area, family history, proceedings of musical societies, academic papers and more. At first I found the footnotes intrusive and fussy, but eventually I realised that this was all an essential part of the book.

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Scotland — A Tour in Words

A number of things struck me about this fair land during the first month I was here. Maybe they’ll strike you too. They’re in rough chronological order.

Edinburgh buildings

Most buildings in the Old Town near our flat are very old.

Our flat was built in 1595. They all look old and weathered but very cool.


This means ale here. I started asking for lager (Staropramen, from Prague, is delicious), though I’ve developed a taste for beer now


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