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Pat Kane
Glasgow
Author of The Play Ethic, one half of Hue And Cry, father, partner
Interests: The future, love, sex, funkiness, great technology, classic life-changing songs, the multitude, longevity, Scottish culture/independence/prospects
Recent Activity
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By Pat Kane. First published on JULY 14TH, 2018 THE other day I watched John Cleese – the head of the comedy institution known as Monty Python – announce on Newsnight that he was leaving Britain, because of the “awfulness” of Brexit and the British press. Cleese harrumphed away about “friendly races” and “I only lived here two weeks last year”, sounding sadly like one of the bumptious blimps he used to satirise. The backdrop on Newsnight was a tidily animated tumble of various Pythonesque symbols: random legs, flying fish, antique pointing hands, coconuts, an old TV. All too comfortable.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on AUGUST 21ST, 2018 THE pelters from above were, indeed, near cosmic. “Back from holiday to find that science fiction still dominates one half of Scottish politics”, harrumphed Tory MSP Adam Tomkins in a tweet 12 months ago. The image he’d attached was a front cover from this very publication, which had mocked up an orbiting Space Shuttle with a saltire on its hull. The picture floated above this headline: “Independence and Beyond: new report outlines how an indy Scottish Space Agency and spaceport could be set up to give huge boost to our economy”.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on JULY 28TH, 2018 IF he wasn’t acting in everything already, you might imagine a pensive Benedict Cumberbatch, chewed ballpoint hovering over his list of suspects, murmuring to himself in a shabby, dust-moted office: “Sheridan, Militant … Jones, Plaid … ah yes, McTavish, Scots Nat ...” Such is the bad spy drama evoked by this week’s disclosure from the National Archives: that during the 80s, MI5 maintained a list of 1420 civil service employees identified as “subversive”, who were closely monitored and kept away from certain jobs and roles. Among the Trots, communists (the majority),... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on AUGUST 4TH, 2018 THE dramatist Peter Arnott is famous for his definition of Scotland as “not a country, but an argument”. Our major Scottish news story this week is, to some degree, about how we can even have that argument – if what is argued over suddenly disappears into a digital and legal void. The BBC’s triggering of YouTube’s takedown of two indy-supporting bloggers and their video archives – Stuart Campbell (aka Wings Over Scotland) and Peter Curran (aka Moridura) – has been a stramash for connoisseurs of the form. But like most decent... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on AUGUST 11TH, 2018 IT’S been fun reading the snash around Chris McEleny’s case against the MoD. He’s pursuing them for their poor and punitive treatment of him as an employee when he announced his candidacy for the SNP depute leader position in 2016. A Glasgow employment tribunal, presided over by Judge Frances Eccles, ruled this week that he could make a case under the Equality Act 2010. This allows certain “philosophical and religious beliefs” to be understood as “protected characteristics”. That is, they can’t be taken into consideration as grounds for dismissal or harsh... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on AUGUST 18TH, 2018 AS the Queen of Soul, she would expect nothing less than candour. So, on the passing of one of my lifetime inspirations, the elemental Aretha Franklin, I will try to appreciate her as honestly as I can. Like Sinatra’s, or McCartney’s, or Bowie’s, Franklin’s voice makes possible what any singer afterwards even imagines they could produce. It clears original ground. She fused together the best of the gospel tradition, and the timing of jazz and blues, to perfection. Might this be because few children ever had a musical upbringing like hers?... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on AUGUST 25TH, 2018 "THIS is going to be the most amazing ride of your life". The wee man with the piercing blue eyes leaned towards me, with some urgency. His offer was, to be specific, the position of associate editor (culture and books) at the Sunday Herald, eight months before its launch-date on February 7, 1999. Andrew Jaspan had already been the editor who’d turned around Scotland on Sunday’s fortunes in the 90s, and then left for stints at the Observer and the Big Issue. His mysterious middle-distance stares, and jack-knife conversational turns, were... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2018 FOR long-term America-watchers like me – often stranded between love of, and frustration with, the whole inferno – it is a strange thrill to see the US grapple with the idea of an “American socialism”. What could possibly have triggered such a weird, indeed un-American activity? Well, perhaps the election of some out-and-out American socialists. The long-time “independent democratic socialist senator from Vermont” Bernie Sanders blasted the s-word into the centre of American political discourse through his explosive run for the Democrats’ presidential ticket against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Bernie’s “Revolution... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2018 THERE’S no doubting the power, symbolic or otherwise, of a mighty bridge. Earlier this week, we saw the initial sketches of a proposal to link up Scotland and Northern Ireland. The shorter option is between the Mull of Kintyre and Torr Head; the longer, between Portpatrick and Larne. The pencilled impression of the “Celtic Bridge” suggests a design that’s like a copy-and-paste of the Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Like that bridge, many “cable stays” peak and trough their way across the Irish Sea. But the artist puts it all in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on SEPTEMBER 15TH, 2018 WE’RE in the middle of a great and substantive debate about play in Scotland (if we can suspend the party-political tribalism for a moment). On one side are those who want to bring formal tests in a school setting to five-year-olds (P1), in order to best monitor their progress. On the other are those who believe play-based kindergarten, from three to seven, would be the best developmental start for future learners. I’m on the latter side (being on the board of Upstart Scotland, the campaign group behind #playnottests), and I could... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on JUNE 8TH, 2019 IT’S a storm in a cortado cup, admittedly. But the demise of the paper edition of the Scottish Review of Books, as a consequence of Creative Scotland rejecting their grant application, is a dark and concentrated swirl of contemporary Scottish issues all on its own. Adjust your vintage tortoiseshell specs, re-roll your black poloneck, and read on. For one thing, such language! Creative Scotland is “metamorphosing into a manifesto-waving, policy-driven arm of an increasingly authoritarian state”, wrote the co-editor of the SRB, Rosemary Goring. The nub of this charge seems to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on SEPTEMBER 22ND, 2018 YOU don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. The last few times I’ve ventured into Glasgow, head lost in a podcast, I’ve absently let my feet take their usual route: Off at Charing Cross, a nod to the Mitchell Library, and then head up the Street of Dreams ... Except I forget: the upheaval of the roadworks; the weird, permanently Sunday calm of the deserted pavements; and of course, the charred hulks of the ABC and the GSA. And then the dull and dusty front of the CCA. You can... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on SEPTEMBER 29TH, 2018 In these highly polarised times, we should note when there seems to be unity across the parties. The effects of online abuse on female participation in politics appears to be one of those overlaps. In the last seven days, both Theresa May and UK Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, have highlighted how much social media, and its hordes of screen-jabbing misogynists, dishearten and discourage women politicians – both actual and aspiring. A few months ago, Nicola Sturgeon announced a fund of £500,000 to promote political engagement among young women. Sturgeon... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on OCTOBER 6TH, 2018 THE advance tremors are already rattling the tea-cups. The seismic event, this coming Monday, is the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Which, if it was an Arctic survey boat (to change metaphors), would be at the bottom of the sea, so leaky has it become. According to the latest PDF to slip out from the biggest scientific peer-review exercise ever conducted, the message is stark. We must aim to keep global warming below 1.5% (that’s the percentage above pre-industrial eras) by 2050. We’re already at 1% above. Unamended, current behaviour... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on OCTOBER 13TH, 2018 THE tweets went round, a little less desultory than usual: “I suppose this seems like a BBC Question Time (#bbcqt) I might watch this week.” And indeed, Thursday’s show – its cast-list scattered all over the HolyroodParliament chamber – looked as if it might rub cliches together vigorously enough to catch some flame. A strangulated editor of the Spectator, a Duracell-powered young Scots Tory, the near-papal Michael Russell, a Celebrity Who’s Clearly Getting Out Of Here, and Val McDermid (representing literature and humans). Plus a “diverse” audience which we now know... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on OCTOBER 20TH, 2018 YOU think you’re looking into the heart of darkness – and then, over there, something even worse distracts you. If you’ve come upon the barbaric details of the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, then no need to repeat them here. Your soul deserves some respite. But suffice to say, and combined with his valiant final column for the Washington Post, Khashoggi’s death might well have you running up the “free speech” flag above any other this week. “What the Arab world needs most... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on OCTOBER 27TH, 2018 O MIGHTY American huntress, in your pseudo-Gulf-War combats, bearing your sniper-level high-tech rifle, picking unsuspecting goats off the cliffs of Islay, taking selfies with your bro-friend, grinning over your grotesquely glass-eyed spoils. The modern Artemis, you ain’t. But what are you, exactly? The immediate answer is that Larysa Switlyk, whose Twitter celebrations of her killing spree on the lovely island have triggered pearl-clutching on an epidemic scale, was legitimately hiring a sporting service provided by a local Islay landowner. This is something we do (or let happen) in Caledonia. That is,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on NOVEMBER 3RD, 2018 IT’S beginning to feel stuffy and constricted in here. The two leading African acts (from Mali and Senegal) who have pulled out of this year’s Celtic Connections music festival, due to the “hassle and stress” of trying to secure permission to enter the UK, are only the latest in a recent and disheartening wave. This August’s Edinburgh International Book Festival – a global republic of letters, if ever there was one – had 12 authors with visas refused, from predominantly African and Middle Eastern countries. And in the same festival period,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on NOVEMBER 10TH, 2018 OUR news-cycle always seems to find plenty of time for errant celebrities, literary award winners or ratings-topping reality-TV formats. So it’s extraordinary to note how poorly covered the launch of the computer game Red Dead Redemption 2 has been. It has literally marked up the biggest single opening weekend in entertainment history. The game has grossed $725 million, with 17 million units sold in 10 days (as much as the first game sold in total). And the pace is hardly slowing. The result of four years of work, involving two thousand... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on NOVEMBER 17TH, 2018 I HAD to check a few times on Netflix, but yes it’s there. In its opening credits, David Mackenzie’s fascinating film about the degradation and redemption of Robert the Bruce spells its title precisely this way: Outlaw/King. To my mind, that slash (and yes, there are many other forms of slashing in this gorefest) makes intellectually explicit what is the movie’s implicit theme. If you are a national community residing within a bigger polity, to what extent should its leaders seek progress (or even maintenance) within the rules – or by... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on JUNE 1ST, 2019 NOSTALGIA is a feeling that lingers inside you, like a cloud of smoke you can’t dispel. It’s an interesting question to ask yourself: what do you feel nostalgic about? Spontaneously, my own response is: radical bookshops. As a GlasgowUniversity student in the 80s, I used to drift between about six of them, studding the town centre and the West End. Pre-internet, the whole, wide, struggling world poured into these places, where the booksellers sat like wispy-bearded magi. When I was music-touring, I even established an informal map of them: they turned... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on NOVEMBER 24TH, 2018 I DON’T have much connection to the Scottish fishing industry, but I do have this. My late ex-father-in-law, Jim McAlpine – a quiet but fiercely proud father of three fiercely unquiet daughters – was a seaman engineer. Firstly in the Merchant Navy, then on the Greenock shipyards and, in his final years, on his own wee boat, moored at a marina on the Firth of Clyde. The highlight of every Christmas was when Jim was just smeeked enough to start clearing his throat, signalling the arrival of his party piece: Ewan... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on DECEMBER 1ST, 2018 THE future bears down upon us... in the form of a single-decker passenger bus, sedately proceeding along the old Forth Road Bridge. That’s the means whereby self-driving vehicles will introduce themselves to Scottish roads in 2021. Five driverless buses will run a 14-mile route between Fife and Edinburgh – 10,000 journeys a week across the bridge, 40 passengers a bus. And eventually, one assumes, not a grumpy, taciturn human driver in sight. But not immediately. The capacity for autonomous vehicles to freak people out, on a number of levels, means that... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on DECEMBER 8TH, 2018 I’M one of those non-engaged observers who has been slowly turning his attention to transgender issues. And it’s mostly because of the sound of previously equable colleagues, exploding all over their own columns in outrage. Rather than launch into theory and policy, let me begin from a personal angle. On all matters of human diversity, I tend to proceed from our long-standing family axiom, “it takes all kinds to make a world”. Working-class Scottish life, in my 50-something experience, has always had skeins of the non-normative running through it. The florid... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on MAY 25TH, 2019 FOR those of a certain vintage, the news that the comedian Craig Ferguson has abandoned the TV studios of Los Angeles, for the sandstone-and-trimmed-bush bourgeois of the West End of Glasgow, is strangely comforting. From Bing Hitler bouncing off the walls of the Sub Club, to this silver fox ambling down Byres Road, with the vintage microphones and starlet parades of late-night US TV in between, is one of those Scottish journeys to take some pleasure in. However, we also live in a global village. And Ferguson must surely have known... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2019 at Thoughtland