Magnus Linklater

Magnus Linklater

Donald's possible dream

IT IS nine years, almost to the day, since I began writing for Scotland on Sunday - nine years of inflicting my opinions on you, dear reader. I think you have earned some respite. From today I venture into new territory, and this will be my last column for a newspaper to which it has been a pleasure and a privilege to contribute.

Focus on a culture of silence

I FEEL the weight of two pieces of unfinished business as I sign off this column.

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Proof that Gutenberg still has the edge on Bill Gates

WHAT an irony that in the week that Bill Gates came to Edinburgh and announced the death of text - killed off, he predicted, by the march of new technology - queues were forming at libraries across Edinburgh to snap up copies of a 19th century novel, while in Glasgow a superstore chain was marketing books written in the Scots dialect, and seeing them flying off the shelves.

When culture gets down to business

THE time has come to take a deep breath and admit something fairly radical about the arts. Culture is big business. It brings in millions of pounds to our economy. It shapes our cities, enhances their profile, encourages investment and creates jobs.

The more we learn about ourselves, the more we find we have in common

FROM the stage of the Pitlochry Festival Theatre on Friday night, Joan Bakewell was talking about being English.

Every time the BBC pleads poverty, it should remember who pays the bills

ART Buchwald, the great American humorist who died last week, was pessimistic about television. "Every time you think [it] has hit its lowest ebb," he observed, "a new programme comes along to make you wonder where the ebb was." He would have had to put another peg in the sand for Celebrity Big Brother, but being essentially an upbeat character he might have mused as he walked back up the beach: "There's always the BBC."

It's a crying shame

'BEWARE of men who cry," says a character in Nora Ephron's novel, Heartburn. "Men who cry are sensitive, but the only feelings they are in touch with are their own."

Concept of a glass ceiling for women not as clear as it first appears

WHAT is all this talk about a glass ceiling - or even, as the new woman speaker of the US House of Representatives called it last week, a "marble ceiling?" It has been splintered so often now I am beginning to wonder whether it exists at all. Perhaps it is like the emperor's new clothes - more real in the imagination than in fact. We look around Scotland and see women running our cities, our councils, our legal profession and our education authorities; we find them on boardrooms and in banks.

A cultural force to be reckoned with

THIS is to be the Year of the Highlands. From next Friday, if you find yourself anywhere between the Great Glen and the island of Unst, or the Moray coast and the Butt of Lewis, you will find yourself colliding with culture. And not just any culture. This is multi-culture, wide-ranging, unpredictable, occasionally wacky, reflecting the many faces of the Highlands as they are today, rather than the Celtic fringe as we like to remember it - gloomy, introspective, with a bit of a moan to it.

There's no place called home for a rootless prime minister

I DON'T envy Tony Blair or his family the latest of their luxury holidays.

Why being back in our own home is the best present of all

OUR status as refugees came to an end last week, when we moved back into our Edinburgh home, and slept, for the first time in a year, in our own bed.

Darwin's letters prove a natural selection... even at £33m

'MY Dear Sir, I have heard with interest from Sir C Lyell that you are inclined to publish my work on the Origin of Species; but that before deciding & offering any terms you require to see my MS - My work is divided into 12 chapters..."

Twisted logic of rural post office closures is an affront to community

HUGH Mackintosh was serving behind the counter of Birnam post office yesterday, much as he has for the last 56 years.

It's time for the Diana conspiracies to be laid to rest

CONSPIRACY theories are always seductive, and they are always wrong.

The stone of our kings deserves a better destiny than this

THE day that the Stone of Destiny came back to Scotland, 10 years ago this week, was the oddest of occasions.

Blair's legacy shining through a layer of lies

THE two leaders entered the House of Lords from opposite ends. One, perfectly coiffured and resplendent in her robes, advanced cautiously, as befits a lady of a certain age, past the twin thrones at the east end, towards her seat. A few elderly peers rose to their feet, bowing slightly, as she took her place. She gave them a gracious smile and took her place on the front bench. Baroness Thatcher had arrived.

We must get to know the faceless ones who decide our future

FOR all the brave pledges made by ministers about the future of Scotland's fishing industry, one thing is certain: it will not be decided at Holyrood or at Westminster, but in Brussels. The future of North Sea cod is to be the subject of an EU fisheries summit next month, where after years of discussion the fate of Scottish fishing fleets will be determined.

Mettle needed to forge the future at Ravenscraig

LAST month the Scottish Executive published a bold report on architecture.

It does us no harm to hear voices from both sides of the front line

IN SEPTEMBER 1854, The Times of London began running a series of reports on the Crimea from its most famous war correspondent, William Howard Russell.

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