Two letters from Investigatory Powers Tribunal/ ITS at SIS-Secret Service, to our FOI

Dear Gavin and Sam Khan-McIntyre,

Under section 1 of the Freedom of

Dear Gavin and Sam Khan-McIntyre ,

Under section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, a person is entitled to request information of a public authority. Section 3 of the Act defines a “public authority” as anybody which, any person who, or the holder of any office which :–


i) is listed in Schedule 1, or


ii) is designated by order under Section 5.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal is neither listed in Schedule 1 nor designated under section 5 of the Act. Consequently the Tribunal is not covered by the definition of a Public Authority under the Act and therefore is not required to action requests for information under this Act.

Yours sincerely

Assistant Tribunal Secretary

Investigatory Powers Tribunal

P.O.Box 33220





Public line: 02070353711




From: Gavin and Sam Khan-McIntyre []

Sent: 12 October 2018 15:32


Subject: Re: FOI request:why R police nazis ss STALKING targeting attacking abusing raping me+FAMILY since 90s,mcintyrea bribe them to w nhs special masonic

On Wed, 10 Oct 2018, 5:25 p.m. Gavin and Sam Khan-McIntyre, <> wrote:


Act 2000, a person is entitled to request information of a public authority. Section 3 of the Act defines a “public authority” as anybody which, any person who, or the holder of any office which :–

i) is listed in Schedule 1, or

ii) is designated by order under Section 5.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal is neither listed in Schedule 1 nor designated under section 5 of the Act. Consequently the Tribunal is not covered by the definition of a Public Authority under the Act and therefore is not required to action requests for information under this Act.

Yours sincerely

Assistant Tribunal Secretary

Investigatory Powers Tribunal

P.O.Box 33220



Public line: 02070353711



From: Gavin and Sam Khan-McIntyre []
Sent: 12 October 2018 15:32
Subject: Re: FOI request:why R police nazis ss STALKING targeting attacking abusing raping me+FAMILY since 90s,mcintyrea bribe them to w nhs special masonic

On Wed, 10 Oct 2018, 5:25 p.m. Gavin and Sam Khan-McIntyre, <> wrote:

Dear Sirs,

Under section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, a person is entitled to request information of a public authority. Section 3 of the Act defines a “public authority” as anybody which, any person who, or the holder of any office which :–

i) is listed in Schedule 1, or

ii) is designated by order under Section 5.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal is neither listed in Schedule 1 nor designated under section 5 of the Act. Consequently the Tribunal is not covered by the definition of a Public Authority under the Act and therefore is not required to action requests for information under this Act.

Yours sincerely

Assistant Tribunal Secretary

Investigatory Powers Tribunal

P.O.Box 33220



Public line: 02070353711



From: entreprises d’édition arc-en-ciel Gavinandsamrpe []
Sent: 12 October 2018 15:36
Subject: Re: Foi:sis m15inv police, we & evenbeen accused of terrorism by nazi UK police! Father was in intel signals war two Sorn Castle and estate +rechy +Charles Eachwick hall-are these bribing police +nhs to hurt me+husband-OI to mI5+gov uk-why are police w th

On Fri, 12 Oct 2018, 3:21 p.m. entreprises d’édition arc-en-ciel Gavinandsamrpe, <> wrote:

Two letters from Investigatory Powers Tribunal/ ITS at SIS-Secret Service to our FOI


To GMC 6 Sep 2018, 5:33 p.m. complaints 5medics including Gavin’s abuser Keith Strang at Gosforth NHS, abusing me as his wife also as are his nurses prostitutes, leave MY lovely husband alone nhs scum

To GMC 6 Sep 2018, 5:33 p.m.

On Thu, 6 Sep 2018 at 17:32, Gavin and Sam Khan-McIntyre <> wrote:

1,2) R p kulshresta and s kulshrestathey Not on gp register, (donot sure if actually have any qualifications s kulshresta whore bully )child molester paedophile me since 10! disgustnig asked for referral 16 97 they said no abusing me and family-and his ‘partner s kulshrests also-not even on gp registers! Rascists Indian hindu thieving scum these ‘gps’ dirty whores sluts-lowlife poo ppl abusing us-and his disgustingpartnet also frauds- chauvinsts rascists child abuses and elderly abuse of old ppe in family years for money only-abusing us since 80s

Hurting ‘patients’ -rascists abusive treatment treatment for no reasons-for familys money making them ill-yrs abuse of mrs I m khan also and  threats-they criminals fraud shouting abusive …..unfit to practice- and dementia in 70s they go to old peoples home jail lock them uo dope thEm up w medicinces ‘treatments’ nazi abusive criminals- owe us our money thieves return asap wreking ppl lives for no reason -pay us up gmc scum +ignoring our compalints bout rascist nazi scum:

3) Daniel Richard Chandler and yrs of harassmnEts him and state bc he owes us money, and lost his jod- white filthy whores like his sort abuse females and pateints so nazi rascists ignoring ur compliants and revalid that lowlife scum-bc he and gmc and state nhs and plc attackers bc of his haraamrts owe me and my family money dirty lowlife thieves – we are not sick u white trash are so not worth it u sickos are dead treturn what is ours we don’t like that sort

mr chandler abusing us-U AT GMC LIKE THAT KIND OF THING SO KEEP YOUR CHAVINIST THIEVING RASCIST TRASH TRASH JEWCHRISTO SCUMBAG – he has to pay return us compensation gmc cannot protect such scl and rascists harrassers, stop asking us to send complaints rascists timewaster shits u do as we ask bc you beneath us we are not your servans nor slaves- you pay up for these letters of comlaints like to ignore w your white lies and excuses- u dirty white trash abusive lowlife nazi theiving scum and your filthy whore nurses too- made complaints as my HUSBAND U CRIMINAL ILLEGAL NAZI DISG WTRASH IMMORAL SCUMMY DRUGGIE STUPID IDIOTS GOOD FOR NOTHING- THEIVES! at Gosforth NHS want him home locked for no reason by your fithly white whores state prostitutes thieving chav lowlife sluts , your state police perverts and your disgusting nazi scum w trash medics only after money and exploiting welfare state and abusing meds-as ignorart rascist lowlife w trash thieving timewaster shit your Scottish demons of Christ as


5) ‘Dr’ owen- 1996 Birmingham, psotherapist rascist nazi abuses scl racial haraasment owes me+my family funds and compensation for his abuses stop taking andvantage of us white trash nazi medico witcheswhores-he go to jail u white trash up his whiterascist  arse in your masonic lodges eh-competion how rascist nazis you are how white you are how filthy dirthy scum lowlife trash you are!

DANIEL RCHANDLER GMC COMPLAINTS REPORTS -THEY LIKE HARRAING FEMAEL as usual-Even get special treatment to do so!! Reported to GMC, Glasgow University Courts, they prefer whites males,lecturers staff themselves seem to see it as some sort of duty to treat girls like objects to be scualy abused-usu whites sluts- then cause me probs w their scummy lives- dont think s! NOT my job to help THEIR whores lasses! eg Kisty:dumped by clacssics lecturer Gla-’98-then dont rub your probs on me, ask the medics who locked HER up,nothingt o do w me, dont want to be friends +used abused w their dumbo discards rejects who cant look after themselves then their parents take them away leaving me in pain, same w Mcintyres w gavin and I married 10 yrs- dont think these Nazis can wreck Our lives for that Rechy’s filthy moolah, trash allowed to incestuosly abuse MY husband secretly/ steal wgat she can lay her Disg. White paws on, to get away w crimes bc white?! whites scum always get pref treatment even primary school-aged 4, my friend moved school they got white in two yrs after we beall beenat school for staff treating me like dirt in favoutr of their dumb blonde thats how they make them rascist then NOT my job to chase their scum, nor hwlp their whores as Fran Watspnin RCP, then that disgusting Daniel and chandler harassed receiving special treatment for it, he total idiote chav at Glasgow!! GAVIN BEING MY lovely husband-not this time-am not four, close to 40 and ddont want to be targeted this december by kerb crawling plce scum, not chrstian not ill-(just bc that frans whores f buddy 10 aged 21whn she 16-dialegedly died on MY 17th bday ‘party’AT HER HOUSE- IHE IN IRELAND CAR ACCIDENT-PROB STONED KNOWING THM, NONE OF MY CONCERN,NENER MET HET HER PIMP-HE OUHHT TO PAY HER, DONT AKE MY MONEY IN rcp- THEN ABUSE ME YRS EVEN HER SCUMMY PARENTS THEY PAY FOR HER OK AND RETURNMY ND FAMILYS FUNDS AND LOCK THEIR STINKY WHORE OF A JUNKIE FAILURE KID DONT EXPECT ME TO CHASE WHAT IS MONE FROM HER MY MONEY FRIENDS LIFE THEN ABUSE ATTACK ME FOR IT CONTIOUS ABUSES BY THEIR STATE SINCE rECHY ALL WHIR=TES SAME STAEL WHAT IS MONE THEN ATTACK ME- TRY TO GET ME PHISYSIACCLY TO THEIR HOUSE TO ABUSE ME AND THREATEN W AUTHORITIE LIE FRAN, FRAN WAS 18-RECHY NR 80 TOIAL THEIVING WHORES ALL THEIR LIVES W THEUR SCUMMY THEIVING CHARLIES JUNKIES TO ‘PROTECT THEM’/ THEIR DISG says nazi PIGS+ NHS:ALL SECRETS DONT THINK SO! THEY WANT TO HE WHOLE WOT TO KNOW WHAT SCUMMY ARESELHELS THEY ARE- WOULD’T EVEMN LIKE TO GO DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL TO WRITE ABOUT THESE SCUMS-THEY READ SUM MIRROR MAIL, MCINTYRES RECHY, TOTAL DUMBOS-CANT BELIEVE IT- SEEMS THEIR FNY TALK EH-AND THAT’S IT OH AND STOP CHASING Me! Disg. RECHY LESBO TO MAKE IT SEEM Like Nothing ANYTHING FROM THAT GROTBAG-UGH RETURN WHAT IS MINE AND GAVINS -WE -am no reason then finally got me in Ayrshire on behalf on their whilte male disgusing usless chav for my money+abuse bodies-white state pervs, wrecking gavin + I marriage since bc we happy, on bhalf of their medics, Julia foster woodruff cadogan McIntyre Tory PR+that Ruth Davidson disgusting Nazi schav whore forcing me and non-whites friends to help’help’ her and her while males for a blonder/ fairer white amnesty international, getting ‘spedcial treatment’ demeaning others for r money,they looking to berascsit nazi practioners at Amnesty international Glasgow?!and since Holyrood/scotgov, while My lovely husband Gavin locked up four yrs we not even allowed to talk with plce +nhs staff threats attacks abuses ongoing when we get in touch or try to mcintyresabusing our marriage steaing from flat funds-all to force us ,abuse us to ‘believe’ in their stuuuupid ‘medicine’ lies! don’t think so- they don’t let ppl out until theuir take meds, ‘believe’ in meds, become dirty whore sluts through staff abuse in those places and tell staff where tyhey going for lifetime of stalkkig purposes! don’t think so-not this time, thety though 4 yrs aghosince I graduated MA in journalism and at work, they thought they coulsget into andwreck my life for their PR purposes-we don’t believe in treamtn nor meds- never mind what the pigs and nhs sent to the papers with maybe 100 media stories +illegal stolen id photos-house rannasaked many times illegal trespass alos illegal for them to publish our address and hand it over to plc so they can harass us-even london jan black medics worst lowlife disgusting scum-do anyhing to get ‘status’w whites-esp thta dr Ayriku Gavins prev black medic in ayrshire nadhis colleauge julius, totally wrecking our lives insults + they up Rechy’s arse Fergus monger menzies Campbell son, he’s even in Victoria Wood show, the ‘who me never guy’ eugh!yep exactement-Rechy total liar bribing them, prob took them to her bed knowing that slut-bc she cruel hates MY LOVELY husband-we cxant eaist until she dead meat but we have to be quick as we plannig children for yrs- peace when she gone-if spot her call sorn kirt for their excorcist, serioiusly,she evenlook like a dirty old haggis with that black + purple visage-in terms of health LIES-bc our rascists nazis whites media scumbag colleages +employers don’t want to pay what is owed+they dead inferior write about loos?! Riiight. They frauds don’t even deserve pay -up nhs+plce frauds ases-see the Herald Glasgow-oages of NHS adverts-refuse to pay ME for work commissioned/ even published! total propaganda time+money studies waster s’ from their Own Ancients Scots univs! Nazis-recycled ‘news’ bribed to put pieces in ‘news’ on how much they up the nhs + plc ‘behinds’-right! Total chavs, no decent person would want to work with these lowlives anyway-only one token female usu. in these white workplace-for their perverted scl harassment purposes-end of – OH+AS ILLITERTE SCUM CAN’T READ THE OLD ANGLAIS GET OED+GAVINS PROPER SALARY +STAFF INCL SUB.

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Results of search on: 22 Aug 2018 at 13:57:53. The details shown are valid at the date and time of the search only.
• GMC Reference Number
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Daniel Richard
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MB ChB 2005 University of Glasgow

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31 Jul 2005
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01 Aug 2006
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Public health medicine From 22 Feb 2013
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Results of search on: 22 Aug 2018 at 14:12:04. The details shown are valid at the date and time of the search only.

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Daniel Richard
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MB ChB 2005 University of Glasgow

Registration and licensing history since 20 October 2005

16 Nov 2009

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16 Nov 2009
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Photos-Gavin-MY LOVELY HUSBAND @Gosforth, Newcastle-Nhs-)secretly from Morningside Royal Jan2017)w abusive staff+their plc networks-threats-dont think nhs staff filthy USERS ought to be chasing+ threatening+exploiting us like this-esp so called ‘patients’ family-ME! plc at our hs in jan bc phoned MY husband at hsptl-as is their wont :Gavin+I frightened of them after all these yrs of abuses + atacks-ME!+ journalist! SCARY CHAVS theives+frauds nazi scum/plc threats:Typical disg-chrstian whres teaching-forcing immorality! w abusing lives, funds+marriage since teens-State targets-NO reason:random; stalkers-attacks since teens-4 money, time, at work, while at univ-home, airport, bus stop…..take ANYTHING from us, esp valuables+personal items-even cat! We not safe in uk/eu/our children not safe from them either(bet they’d like them from us- to continue their abusive target lies eh?!Don’t think so)-Trtment LIES as their justification!?!+Trouble,brutality 4 opposing these abuses+stupid LIES+(wed be dead by now if we+(R ppl) hadn’t defended ourselves since teens+(Gavin + !haven’t got the strength anymore it seems, they take everything esp energy) they cant blame ‘suicides’ on ‘mental illness’ nonsense+lies!-More like forced murder!)McIntyre frauds buying protection from state w our lives+funds esp Julia Tory Holyrood pr, racsist bully+useless-but white+wealthy Cadogan+govt jobs for such nazi informer type scum+ w that idiote Rechy-if anyone takes issue with rules of journalism, obviously Gavin+I highly trained in how to report from white Nazi perspective-Don’t think SO – GET IT! AM NOT HELPING THEM-Stop asking forcing me to! THEY get in trouble no reason to go after me-Nazi uneducated white scum refuse to listen to me+Gavin either-Only int in OUR money so prefer dumbo whites’opinions’ only! ?! Total Neanderthals-they not even bothered if we starve-while they- see nhs staff above-get obese-As do Macintyres Mays, get high+fat-you should see them! Ugh

In search of more ‘curious tradionary facts’ about Hogg

quill 3Published in ArtworkMagazine

Sept 2013 issue:
By Sam & Gavin Khan-McIntyre



DEEP in the heart of the rural Scottish Borders lies the Ettrick Valley, an area with little internet or mobile connection. Over the summer the old primary school at the top of the valley has been playing host to the James Hogg Exhibition in its hall.

This seemed completely empty until the poet Robert Wilson suddenly appeared from the small office next to the front door with the words “I’m just finishing a poem.”

Looking casual in a T-shirt, he began to show me around. Although no visitors were present, Wilson said there had been a trickle every day. He pointed out that six people a day here is equivalent to a footfall of something like 600 in Edinburgh.

Hogg had lived a few metres from the school between 1770 and 1835, and was a major literary figure and farmer. Wilson feels he ought to be commemorated as part of Scots culture and history and is building on this aspect of the area.

As we chatted about Hogg – his unconventional love life, his debt problems and his extraordinary mask – visitors started appearing. As they cornered Wilson, I slipped away to examine the exhibits.

These included the sinister-looking mask moulded from his face, a spectacle case, a replica of his desk and dog, a first edition novel, and a beautiful sculpture based on a Hogg poem. The exhibition impressed Marlene Wyley from London, who commented that it was “very well curated.”

As the exhibition closed for the day, Wilson and I sat on the steps outside while the last of the visitors drifted away. It transpired that Wilson knows little about sheep but a lot about Hogg.

He had been totally immersed in Hogg’s writings during the first two weeks of the six week residency, which was due to last until the end of September. Funding, he told me, came from The Big Lottery Fund, the Leader programme and the Buccleuch Estate. Wilson is receiving a small salary.

Hogg was, said Wilson, the classic “lad o’ pairts” .”He was a kind of self-educated guy who had to struggle through poverty and he had an innate talent to do that.” For that, and for having written inScots, Wilson felt some identification with him.

Wilson discussed the importance of Hogg’s legacy and his own role fitting into this, he said: “Thehuman condition doesn’t change much. The same challenges face people as they did 200 years ago. “It’s a struggle for the local people to survive economically and it’s one of the challenges of isolation here. The valley depopulated because of people moving away for jobs, and that’s the same today as in Hogg’s time.”

This depopulation occurred he said, when local sheep farms were taken over by trees, by contractors and big companies, and the commercially run forestry ventures sucked the life out of the community: “They didn’t bring anything in, they were just interested in taking out.”

Influenced by his experiences, Wilson’s poems so far have been based on wildlife, topography and place names. He also aims to incorporate locals’ stories and their aspirations for the valley in ameaningful way.

Wardlaw Jackson, 58, a farmer in the Cross Keys pub farther down the valley, also talked about the forestry, and said that incomers to the area tended to be retirees. He said that the farmers, himselfincluded, had capitalised on the situation by selling land to the contractors at something like double its market value.

The contractors, he said, hadpromised jobs to the locals, but these had failed to materialise. Wilson admits to knowing nothing about sheep farming: “I’m not a shepherd, but I can appreciate the tough life that they have.” In fact, many farmers left the area as result of the difficult life.

The aim to revitalise Ettrick could result in drastic changes to its character and landscape. The danger is that this might cause loss of the uniqueness which so influences Wilson’s poetry and the very solitude which helps concentrate his mind in the writing of it.


Jen and the Gents-Fringe Review-Sam & Gavin Khan-Mcintyre,Edinburgh Reporter

SAM_0300Up and coming young Edinburgh band, Jen and the Gents, formed in 2010, and have constantly been gigging around the city since, their big break may finally be on the horizon with a performance at the opening of the Fringe at the BBC Potterrow venue. The concert is due to be televised at the end of the month.

The band comprises of Jennifer Ewan who sings and plays guitar, her partner Stuart Crout, otherwise known as Pockets, who plays the drums and sings harmony, Martin Beer, who plays bass guitar and double bass, and Lewis Diamond who also plays guitar.

The concert at the Spiegeltent earlier on the 19th of August, found Jen with her strong voice in excellent form, which she said was the result of a lot of practice. Beer was playing double bass, as the venue had wanted an acoustic set. Jen, a petite brunette with long wavy hair was centre stage, with the toes of her shiny red heels peeping out from under her trousers. Pockets’ long blonde hair stood out as he sat behind the drums, occasionally looking towards the audience. Diamond in his top hat preferred to stand back and focus on his guitar. The venue was packed out, with all sorts of people enjoying a drink while watching the band.

The upbeat and melodically mesmerising songs, sung with a convincing aplomb and described as indie pop, are insightful on varied topics such as life events, relationships, and places, for instance Portobello and its beach, and Suzie’s diner. Otherwise they may be reflections on the way conventional life is lived, such as in relation to owning a new car or Sky TV. from the point of view of an unconventional lifestyle. Jen has a varied taste in music, but folk influences can also be detected. This led to a recent interview with Celtic Music Radio.

The Edinburgh reporter caught up with them after the gig, as they divided their spoils from album sales, before heading off to lunch in a Sushi bar. Happy with the way the gig had gone, they talked about their distinctly un-rock and roll lifestyle, with the preferred drink of choice being tea. They also discussed their aims and ambitions for the future.

This looks promising, as Jen, who also manages the band, said she received an email from the BBC with an invitation to play at their Fringe venue. The BBC had been scouting for local talent and discovered their website.

Although the band harbours modest aims for success, Jen said: – “I don’t want to be famous”. Their ideal gig would be busking at Glastonbury, and they are aspiring to tour some of “nice” Scottish festivals. They have previously performed at Kelburn, and loved its pretty grounds, which were she said: – “a change from other festivals”.

They have played various venues in Edinburgh, with The Bowery being their favourite, and also the Forest Cafe.  Their favourite Festival venue is the Meercat Stage on the Royal Mile, due to the crowds and atmosphere. They most enjoy performing on the street, in the open air.

Her lyrics she said are based on life experiences and an outlet  to express her emotions, such as happiness or otherwise. She said: -“It’s like looking back in a diary”. Within each song, though written in the past, she often finds new meaning as she sings, these are she said: “relevant to my life in new ways”.  It seems like a cathartic process. Jen is currently working on a couple of new songs, for which the melodies have been written. She said: -”I need to write the lyrics, which I am looking forward to”.

Due to Jen’s role as manager it is difficult to find the time to write, because she said: -“I’ve been busy booking the gigs…I need new songs”. She has been she said: – “doing a lot of media promotion and making contacts with industry people about gigs…It would be lovely to have a manager who did it all for us”. For the band making enough money from it to be able to afford to tour and make a living from would be ideal.

During the writing process, Jen usually writes the music first, which can often just come to her. She then works on the lyrics, after which she takes it to the band, who through jamming sessions find their own parts and vocal harmonies. This part of the process is the most enjoyable for all, and when the song comes together.

Jen and the Gents formed in 2010 out of a band called  The Tuberians, a Cajun outfit, which she joined  in 2008,  and played in together with Pockets. They met and played at the now defunct Suzie’s Diner. This had been a venue for local bands, and where they were also fed and watered for free. Originally from Ayrshire, Jen began her performance career in youth theatre, before finding her voice.

The band has a performers’ pass for the festival, paying a license fee of £30. This enables them to attend talks and workshops. So far Pockets, also a music producer, has briefly attended only one event, a talk on circus acts. He said he had the idea of playing the Ukulele and juggling at the same time. Let’s hope the hard work pays off, and they acheive their ambitions

For more information on upcoming gigs, visit their website at,

or their Facebook page

Edinburgh Festival Fringe-The Hard Man-A Preview *****Sam & Gavin Khan-McIntyre, Edinburgh Reporter


Edinburgh Festival Fringe – The Hard Man – a preview
July 6, 2013 by Sam Khan-McIntyre

hardman 09

Category Theatre
Genres contemporary, event
Group In Your Face Theatre
Venue The Wee Red Bar
Times 19:00
Suitability 18+
Duration 2 hours

This dramatically dark play about the 1960s criminal Glaswegian underworld takes us on an emotional rollercoaster right into the heart of the Gorbals. Here, we witness intimately the convicted murderer Jimmy Boyle’s life and the gangsters who will do whatever it takes, including murder.

A preview of the upcoming Fringe show was put on last week by In Your face Theatre and directed by Craig Boyle, who took the place of the original director Christopher Rybank, at the last minute, with Rybank taking the lead role of Johnny Byrne. The venue The Wee Red Bar perfectly suits its rough charm.

Based on the life story of notorious criminal Jimmy Boyle, it was co-written by Boyle alongside playwright Tom McGrath and performed at the Traverse in 1977, while he was serving time in Barlinnie Prison following a conviction for murder. The prison’s rehabilitation program helped him find his creativity and turn his life around. Boyle has become a successful novelist and artist since his release. The play raises wider issues concerning atonement, reform of prisoners, their rehabilitation and redemption, and of justice. These are considered to be important themes because rehabilitation programs remain controversial.

The intimate atmosphere comes from the set at The Wee Red Bar, whose artfully dingy decor with red painted walls with theatre flyers pasted all over them, and the industrial, exposed ceiling, enables you to relate to a grotty and seedy Glasgow.

The lack of a raised stage and low lighting emphasises informality and intimacy, with the closeness of the audience to the young performers whose energy and heat envelope you, and which it seems, you can reach out to touch. Their passionate performances in the centre of the floor, with the audience of about 60 gathered around its edges, and the use of the audience’s entrances and exits to the room create a believable two hours, where you feel yourself a part of the performance. Here you are present with them in the Gorbals, feeling what they feel and getting inside their minds. This intimacy lends to a sympathy for their actions, as their circumstances and motivations unfold.

hardman pic 01

The strong Glasgow accents and costumes of the young cast, clearly pointed to the rough lower-class of the characters, and the clothes placed them in the recent past. Johny’s girlfriend Carole (Jessica Innes) in a white top, a high blonde ponytail and pastel pink lipstick was contrasted by the dowdy whitish Mac worn by Didi, the local gossip.

The play begins with Johnny living with his mother (Heather Hardcastle) in Glasgow’s rough Gorbals. We see him from the age of 14 as, over the next few years he gets involved in criminal activities escalating in their seriousness. We learn that this started at the age of 5 when he stole chocolate and broke into bubblegum machines.

Johnny and his gang get involved with Big Danny (Gavin McQueen) and his gang into selling masses of stolen goods, and also get involved in violence, when Didi (Christie Brown) enters with news of a murdered Spanish man. Johnny barks at her:- ‘You saw nothing, we’re in this together.’ When he asks his mother for money for the cinema, she tells him she doesn’t want the police at the door in the morning. She ends with typical motherly affection:- ‘He’s a good boy, it’s the company he keeps.’

The extent of the violence is shown throughout the play, as all sorts of props which were used in these violent acts, batons, a screwdriver, beer bottles, a huge machete are brought forth.

The second act consists of Johnny in prison, locked in a wooden cage, as he tries to get at his captors. He is suffering, and is being beaten and bullied by the police, with Paisley (Sam Lennox) as the ringleader. Johnny ends up with his face covered in red blood and is restrained by a straightjacket for days; a ghastly sight. Paisley spits into his food. This scene of injustice makes Johnny even more determined that he will not break, despite what they try to do to him.

Compared to the second act, the first was overwhelming, with its strong characters, flashing lights and extreme behaviour, but not claustrophobically so. It was essential to concentrate fully so as not to lose the thread, as the scenes changed fast and in the low lights the male characters were initially difficult to define, perhaps due to the lack of variety in their costumes. The second scene was the opposite of the first; this was pared down with fewer characters involved. This resulted in Johnny’s brutal treatment by the police being accentuated in the audience’s mind.

In this brutality, we see the system, and its injustices, embodied by the authority of policeman Paisley, and we realise that more than cheap thrills, we’ve come to grips with the characters in a more sensitive and human way, and we have come to understand Johnny’s fragility and powerlessness.
This points to the underlying causes of the extreme behaviour, and adds dimension to his character. There is also some indication of his struggle to survive outside the law, which was just not on his side. This led to him becoming the Hard man, to the dead-end of murder, and of prison.
Writer Jimmy Boyle was given another chance with the help of the renowned Barlinnie rehabilitation programme and his dead end cast aside as he began to live in a new way.

This all provides a very positive message for today’s society which often demonises prisoners as causes and scapegoats for its ills.

Moving on From a Lifetime of Bach

Paxton Music Festival 2008


Almost 40 years of playing Bach has led to cellist David Watkin performing nothing but Bach this year.  He is to perform the composer’s work at the  annual Chamber music festival held at Paxton House between the 19-28th of July. The festival is set to host a number of successful musicians. Watkin who is also working on an album, is principle cello of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Edinburgh-based Watkin, 42, studied music at Cambridge before going on to become principal in many leading ensembles all over the world. He is due to perform three of the six suites for Unnacomapanied Cello on the 24th of July at 7.30pm. The Beautiful setting and grandeur of Paxton House, in the borders, should provide and appropriate backdrop. He explains his musical journey, the importance of music in communication, his affinity with Bach, and why he is moving on from playing.

Speaking on the phone from the local pool, whilst with his two children and  accompanied by their shrieking, Watkin said he is “excited” about playing the festival.  He is also looking forward to meeting new people at the event for which he was first approached two years ago. He said:- “I’m recording all six of the Bach suites this year […] they will be released early next year. I’ve been on a journey with these pieces for 38 years. It’s a life’s journey to record them; it feels like a summation of all that work.”

Watkin is drawn to Bach for many reasons: “I definitely feel a connection with him” he says. He admires Bach’s vast output of composition and quotes from the master: “anybody can do what I did with hard work and the grace of God”. This has been inspirational during his work as a musician. However Watkin feels he is far removed from Bach in terms of belief and lifestyle, for Bach was a Lutheran Christian chamber musician, dedicated to the church, and not well travelled, although he said: “his dedication to communicating with people is something I would aspire to”.

Ultimately, his  aim with regards to the Bach performances is communication, and because the experience of playing solo Bach he said:- “can be very lonely; you’ve won if you can draw the audience in”.

Music, he feels communicates through narrative, one which tells a different story to each listener. He view is, he said:- “you have to persuade the listener, you have to engage in it, you’re telling the story, you can stop and pause for dramatic effect.” He presents the example of playing  a piece at his son’s primary school . Here all the children rushed to point out what it meant to them as a narrative, and that onechild’s idea of a waterfall “was perfect for that piece”. The audience he said:- “is drawn into the world you’re creating” because “there’s a powerful communication going on.” He equates music with the traditional Shakespearean recitals, and how these communicate ideas and character.

He explains that life experiences are important to tap into during musical performance, the same technique that actors use, in order to create meaningful representation. An experience that has stayed with him whenever he plays one of the suites, are the emotions felt while playing the piece at his grandmother’s funeral. In this respect, he said:- “the birth of a child can also be very touching, and in terms of music, it becomes very powerful because of it.”

As Baroque revivalist Watkin believes it is important to rediscover what music meant to people and how it was played. This is fundamental he suggests, as traditions change, which have led to the current  period of Modernism. For instance he explains that WWI had an important impact on culture due to its cavalry and killings.

Watkin’s announcement that he would be playing nothing but Bach this year demonstrates his passion for the composer, and the project was, he says, met with a gratifyingly favourable response. He said:- ”I announced I was playing only Bach this year and I found lots of opportunities.”

Among these are conducting  a Bach concert at Guildhall, London as well as playing and talking about the composer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

As for the future, Watkin having decided he needs to move on from the lifetime of playing, and from which he needs a break, has moved into conducting. “It’s a natural development for me”.

A Classic Italian Taste at Colstoun House

East Lothian Courier

Sam Khan-McIntyre

Italian cooking skills were taken to a new level at the course ‘Italian Classics’’ at Colstoun House in Haddington, south of Haddington, on Saturday 6 April.

The course was led by Fiona Misselbrook, an experienced chef and cheerful blonde in her 50s. Fiona, having completed a year at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu cook school, now has a business in Edinburgh providing corporate as well as private functions.

She imparted her knowledge and obvious enjoyment of cookery with an infectious enthusiasm, peppering her demonstrations and tutorials with top tips on practical techniques, useful gadgets, places to source the best ingredients, and food-related vignettes from her personal life.

The day began at 10 am in the comfortable and rustic rustic sitting room of a cottage on the Colstoun estate. Here we were offered  coffee and homemade flapjacks, and us four students got to know each other and Fiona.

We then donned our aprons and name tags then went into the adjacent kitchen where the morning’s demonstration had been set up.

This  comprised of penne with slow-cooked sausage; risotto with mushroom;  and polenta, almond and lemon cake. There was lively discussion and we were able to ask questions as Fiona talked us through the preparation and cooking of each recipe in detail. Some of the techniques she demonstrated included the professional way to chop an onion and crush garlic.

Fiona (pictured) highlighted the importance of fresh ingredients, saying:”I got a lovely fresh rosemary sprig from the gardener today”.

She also demonstrated time-saving gadgets, such as the lemon squeezer which catches the pips as you squeeze out  juice. The value of a perfectly textured risotto was underlined, as she said: “I don’t like risotto crunchy, in Harvey Nichols I had to send it back”.

After a taste of her excellent cooking, we were ushered into the kitchen to try it all out for ourselves.  This proved not to be as effortless as it had seemed, but luckily everything we needed was laid out in preparation.

Fiona was attentive to everyone, offering advice and encouragement. However, the lemon squeezer turned out not to be as simple as it had appeared to be,, as we students discovered when we all compared notes over a hearty lunch. This comprised of the morning’s efforts, along with a refreshing glass of white wine. Thankfully it turned out everyone had been paying close attention to Fiona’s demonstration, as the food turned out to be impeccable.

The afternoon comprised of Fiona demonstrating tiramisu, explaining it meant  ‘hangover cure’  or  hair of the dog  in Italian.

The other dish was pumpkin ravioli with sage butter. We enjoyed rolling out the egg dough thinly on the pasta machine and cutting it up with an olive cutter which created wavy edges. We went home laden with a delicious meal for the evening.

At the end of the day, Fiona said: “it went very well. It’s great fun, everybody feels like chums by the end. I love teaching- passing on my inspiration of food”

Colstoun offer a variety of  day courses. These include bread making and ‘smart kitchen suppers’. Menus from around the world include Thai and Indian classes, with Japanese soon to be added. The venue also offers a week long residential foundation course, with comfortable accommodation in two cottages. The day courses are all taught by Fiona, except the Thai and Indian lessons. The day courses cost £119 and the week foundation courses £695.

For more information visit: http://www.colstoncookery school.

Edinburgh musician will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mendelssohn on Mull

June 14, 2013 by Sam Khan-McIntyre in Edinburgh Reporter.


Jessica Hall, Mendellssohn on Mull


The Mendelssohn on Mull Festival will be celebrating 25 years of   musical performance this year. This free festival of chamber music takes place between 1-6  July 2013 on the island of Mull and offers an opportunity for the young musicians taking part and music lovers alike.

The musicians are invited by artistic director Levon Chilingiran, a professor at the Royal College of Music, in London. They perform in various venues, such as the tiny Creich Church seating 50 or the grandeur of Duart Castle’s Great Hall. For the young professionals, who this year will include some from Edinburgh, it is an important way to gain performance experience and hone skills with the mentorship of experienced chamber musicians, in a beautiful setting.

Participant and freelance musician, Jessica Hall, 23, from Edinburgh who plays violin, viola, clarinet and piano said: – “Living in Edinburgh was a fantastic place to enter the music profession. I was lucky enough to attend St Mary’s Music School. The city was inspiring for me musically due to its festivals. Edinburgh also hosts an international festival of the arts every Easter where people will come from all over to compete. This was a very motivating thing to look forward to and work towards.” She also cites the witnessing of music from all over the world, in all types of venues, including bars and street performances during the Edinburgh International Festival as important to her.

Jessica has won numerous awards and prizes in her home city, such as the Winifred Gavine Medal for solo violin playing, the Edinburgh Quartet Prize, in the Advanced Duet Class and was finalist in the Edinburgh Concerto Competition.

The idea of the Mull festival is to bring a new generation of musicians into contact with seasoned professional mentors in relaxed and stunning surroundings, away from the treadmill and stresses of the professional music circuit. In this regard, Jessica said :-”The festival is my number one commitment giving me the opportunity to play chamber music with wonderful mentors in such a peaceful place.”

Of the relevance these days of such a festival, she said: – “Classical music is sadly something that a lot of young people aren’t interested in – it is viewed as dated and ‘un-cool’. I hope that the festival reaches people of a younger age and shows them how varied the world of classical music can be.”

She added:-”We did get a fair amount of younger audience last year and I think the fact that the   musicians are made up of young people who are obviously passionate about music and having a fantastic time performing shows them a different side to classical music that they wouldn’t have previously experienced.”

As to who might enjoy attending the festival, Jessica said: – “I couldn’t recommend this festival enough. There is something for everyone. I strongly believe that even if you are not passionate about classical music witnessing such enjoyable concerts from such young players is an experience in itself. The location of the festival is incredible. The festival grows in size every year as people come and love it and recommend it to everyone they know.”

In conclusion she said: – ”If you want a fantastic introduction to the world of classical music it’s perfect, and if you are somebody who already loves classical music then it’s the ideal venue to come and enjoy some performances of the highest quality.”

The festival is based on the island because the young composer Felix Mendelssohn made a life changing trip through Scotland to Mull, which inspired him to write ‘The Hebrides Overture, Fingal’s Cave’- one of his most famous pieces.

The young professionals are divided into three groups which workshop repertoire with experienced mentors. Jessica is in group 2.
This year’s mentors are Levon Chilingirian, Gaby Lester, Susie Mészáros, Marcia Crayford, and Stephen Orton.

Due to the popularity of some venues, start times have been staggered to allow travel to another venue if capacity is reached. Concert goers at Glengorm and Duart Castles should arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the performances. All concerts are free of charge but an entrance fee is charged for access to Iona Abbey.
For further information about the festival, the venues and the participating musicians, visit:



Workshop and Concert Diary 2013
Monday 1st July 2013 19.30 TOBERMORY PARISH CHURCH – All Groups
Tuesday 2nd July 2013 14.00 DERVAIG HALL – Group 3

19.30 SALEN CHURCH – Group 1

20.00 CRAIGNURE HALL – Group 2
Wednesday 3rd July 2013 19.30 SALEN CHURCH – Group 2

19.30 GLENGORM CASTLE – Group 1

20.15 MULL THEATRE – Group 3

Thursday 4th July 2013 11.30 IONA ABBEY – All Groups (This concert will include a performance of the Barber Adagio for Strings. Please note visitors must purchase a ticket to the Abbey.  Entrance to the concert is free.) 19.00 CREICH CHURCH – Group 1 19.00 BUNESSAN BAPTIST CHURCH – Group 3 20.00 DUART CASTLE – Group 2
Friday 5th July 2013 15.00 AROS HALL – Mendelssohn on Mull Music Makers 19.30 SALEN CHURCH – Classical Ceillidh – This concert will include a performance of the Mendelssohn Octet, to celebrate the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival’s 25th anniversary.   Saturday 6th July 2013 19.30 ST JOHN’S CATHEDRAL, OBAN – This concert will include performances from all groups.

2013 Repertoire

Group 1 – Mentor: Levon Chilingirian  Haydn Op55 No2;  Shostakovich 8; Mendelssohn Op18
Group 2 – Mentors: Gaby Lester and Susie Mészáros Schubert  Quartettsatz in c minor ( D7030); Mozart  K593; Brahms  Op111
Group 3 – Marcia Crayford and Stephen Orton Mozart K575; Boccherini a cello quintet; Brahms Op18

Tradfest: Songs of Peace and Protest: Hope’s Beautiful Daughters

May 9, 2013 by Sam Khan-McIntyre for Edinburgh Reporter



Tradfest, the festival of traditional arts which finished at the weekend, put on a day of musical events based on campaigning and social justice as part of its programme which incorporated ‘Songs of Peace and Protest’, a singing workshop. They also staged a concert entitled ‘Hope’s Beautiful Daughters’ which celebrated music relating tales of struggle and peace.

Donald Smith, organiser of Tradfest, spoke to The Edinburgh Reporter about the festival’s sucess and its significance. We met him at Teviot Row House, part of Edinburgh University, in the imposing wood -panelled debating chamber.

Penny Stone, a singing tutor, ran the workshop. The two and a half hour long evening concert consisted of 6 sets of performers: Karine Polwart, Isla Ratcliffe, Katarina Juvancic with guitarist Dejan Lapanga, Brian Miller and Charlie Sloane and Star Band. The show was curated by Karine Polwart and Arthur Johnstone.

The singing workshop Songs of Peace and Protest was intimate and informal. Seven of us gathered round in a circle with Penny, who had picked the huge high-ceilinged chamber as the venue due to its excellent acoustics,  and soon it was filled with beautiful music. After the introductions, Penny started off with some stretching exercises to loosen the muscles, followed by much humming. She then got the group to warm up their vocals by joining in with a song, the different parts singing responses to her part. This she said represented a call and answer. The type of song was excellent during protests because you can get an answer out of people without them even knowing the lyrics. She then proceeded to teach the well-known song ‘We Shall Overcome.’ The anthem for the American civil rights movement in the 1960s, she explained, is still used today by different protest groups.  Penny taught the technique of harmonising through this piece, with different sections of the group taking the melody and the harmony. The group harmonising began with singing the harmony in one note, and then changing to another note.

Hopes Beautiful Daughters included songs of social and political intent. An audience of around 35 attended  the event in the Debating Hall at Teviot Row. Polwart explained that the intention was to make it feel like someone’s front room. Her beautiful voice with a strong Scots lilt took over the chamber with the first song ‘It’s Not What You’re Born With’.

This song expressed on the idea of making a difference to society through one’s talents. Her next song called ‘Better Things’ was written for a CND event, and discusses how the money that went to the Trident nuclear base could have been used for better things.

Most of the audience would not be described as young. Polwart explained that young people tend not to be actively political as the current generation is not as politicised as people once were.

However, the next musician on stage was 16- year old Isla Ratcliffe from Edinburgh Music School with her song ‘Death Row’. Isla, who wore a black T-shirt emblazoned with the words Troy Davis, has just won a national Amnesty International competition with the song. It is a moving account of death row inmate Troy Davis, who vehemently protested his innocence until the very last. The piece represents miscarriages within the justice system.

Third under the stage lights was Katarina Juvancic, a young alternative and folk artiste from Slovenia. With pixie-like looks, and a long black and white figure-hugging dress, she made an impact with her strong voice and powerful themes to her songs. These drew on various aspects of herself as well as on anthropology and collecting people’s stories.

She discussed the protest movement she is a part of in Slovenia, and how the artistic community rose to meet the challenge of the problems caused by economic crisis and injustices which resulted from it.  Juvancic performed five songs, some in Slovenian and others in English. Many of these were based on strong women’s voices.

She said: – “They are not heard enough and I want to empower these women, as well as myself, and I want the world to see them as empowered, because they’re struggling with hardships. Society sees them as victims but they’re not, they are survivors and I want to pay tribute to their courage.” She feels the role of activists is to ‘transform the pain of society into something beautiful’.

The festival was organised by Donald Smith who is also a director of the Storytelling Centre. When asked about the success of the festival, he said: – “I think it’s a good time because the weather is beginning to improve, and the old idea of Mayday and Beltane fits in with the performances in the open air. It’s not just a music festival. The idea was to involve all the arts inspired by tradition. The timing and variety of arts were the crucial difference from the festival’s predecessors, the Edinburgh Folk Festival and Ceilidhculture. People really like the variety and mix of things.”

On the festival’s significance, he said:- ”This is marvellous. It is all about the artistic values of being a community and supporting each other, and we need that now more than ever, the way the world is now. In traditional culture people celebrate community, humanity, and the wisdom in that. It is also politically important and we stand up as a community for the most victimised people.”

Smith concluded:- “Traditional arts aspire so that people are more fulfilled when they work together in a community, despite class divisions. They make everybody feel a part, and traditional culture celebrates song/society, and that is shared. There is a great sense of joy in the traditional arts, a celebration of life, the world and nature, compassion and friendliness. And we’re celebrating the beginning of spring.”

Tradfest: The Story of Scotland’s Creation

Cailleach's house. credit Catriona MurrayThe audience at this Tradfest event learned how Scotland came to be formed in the new telling of the 3,000 year old myth of the Cailleach, or old hag,  who, it is believed, created Scotland.  The storytellers brought the tale to life through wonderful narration, bright costumes and traditional music.

Taking place at the Storytelling Centre, the myth was narrated by Janis McKay and David Campbell. The hour-long performance was accompanied by renowned traditional Scottish musician Allan MacDonald.   The performers’ aim is for the story to become part of the ‘yes’ campaign on Scottish Independence. Their inspiration came from the Finnish Creation Myth, Kalevala, which helped Finland’s  independence from  Russia .

Janis McKay took centre stage looking dramatic in a flowing floor length turquoise gown, embroidered with Celtic designs. After an introduction to the evening, she explained how the story was put together through research and with guidance from Campbell. He was fittingly resplendent in traditional highland costume, complete with a bright yellow shirt and red necktie, costumes which set the atmosphere for the night’s theme. Campbell narrated the story alongside Mackay, also taking the part of the male role of the young prince.

She then introduced MacDonald, describing him as a “wonderful musician”, to which he replied “And she’s an awful woman!” to roars of laughter from the audience made up of people of all ages and cultures, and with the theatre full to capacity.

The stage was now set for a light-hearted and entertaining evening, as the audience settled down in expectation, and the lights dimmed. In fact, MacDonald, from his place at the side of the stage, did indeed transpire to be a wonderful musician, evoking a sense of Scotland’s natural beauty. Painting a picture of the mist over the mountains and scenic lochs through several traditional instruments. These included the smallpipes, Jew’s harp and malodoan, with Campbell weaving music into the storytelling with an obvious talent and skill.

MacKay began the narration of the tale by explaining how the story of the hag Cailleach unfolded. We learned how she had been living and working in Finland, when she came across the work of Elias Lonnrot, who had gathered and wrote a creation myth for the country in the 19th Century. She said:- ”While I was there I asked what is the Scottish original myth?” She then started to do research into  this, and explained:-  “I was guided by David Campbell, and we found this Earth Cailleach figure. What you will hear has been rescued from many tales, but the words are our own.”

She also completed the story’s setting for us, about a place called Glen Lyon in Perthshire, which is very isolated from anywhere. Here , she said: – “The Cailleach’s little house, about four feet tall, still stands”. Campbell explained that this was where the shrine to the Caillieach (meaning old woman in Gaelic) is maintained. This has been taken outside the house and left to stand in the air for the summer until the arrival of winter, or Samhain.

She said this is  a “tribute to the goddess,” and the “longest continuing ritual in Europe” from ancient times. Until very recently, it was carried out by a shepherd, and is now carried out by the local historical society.

We were then transported into another world  as the story progressed over the next forty- five minutes, with a genuinely infectious  sincerity and passion. This enabled the suspension of disbelief and a childlike entry into the magical world of gods and goddesses, princes, hags and strange creatures and beautiful beings.

The theme, as in the billed title, was creation. The tale of how Scotland emerged from a wasteland where there was once nothing, when the Callieach, described as “the mother goddess and creation of this land” came into being. She made “the first and ancient rock of her beloved Caledonia” which was claimed to be Iona. The story documents how she created each aspect of the country, the islands when “she gathered peats and carried them on a creel on her back. She fell, and the clods scattered, creating the islands”, mountains, the lakes and streams, were also made.

Described as “the hag of winter”, she was not ready to lose her grip on the land, when one night her alter ego, Bride, the goddess of spring, came into existence, through a dreamlike vision.  Bride threatened to uproot the Cailleach’s cold supremacy her with her youthful beauty.

For Bride, flowers and grass grow everywhere she walks.  The Cailleach becomes inflamed, and therefore dresses her in rags, enslaves, then imprisons her, “but her beauty never fades”. Angus Og, the prince of the eternally youthful and green land of Tir Na Nog, sees what is happening in a dream and sets off towards Bride.

The Cailleach then washed her plaid, and to dry it out, threw it over the mountaintops, coating the land in ice and darkness.  She sees a beautiful young face in her well, perhaps a younger version of herself. The prince soon arrives, and a battle ensues. He tells her:- “Begone, begone, your time has come”, portraying the eternal struggle between life and death.

The Cailleach had no intention of growing old gracefully, but is finally defeated and driven away to her isle in the west.  She eventually comes to realise what she has become, when she speaks to the tide about “how she is no longer mighty.”

The story ends when Bride then “took the outstretched hand of Angus and walked into the living Earth”, and flowers grew behind their footsteps.

With regard to the ‘yes’ campaign,  Campbell spoke to The Edinburgh Reporter explaining the nationalist aim for the story.  He explained:-  “The Finnish story was part of the thing which galvanised the sense of belonging, that traditional independence lives in the heart and spirit of the people.”

He continued:- “We aim to support the ‘yes’ campaign where we can through performances for example at the Edinburgh Fringe. The tale spreads a sense of the legend and story of people, and if people get that strong feeling, then that belongs to our destiny.”

“You can gather people’s support in elections or “win by poetry” as its beautiful sense speaks to the heart, spirit and imagination, but once the support is there, you rule by prose.”

For more information, visit:

Photos courtesy of Mike Wilkinson and Catriona Murray

Hassan Blassim in Edinurgh at the Iraqi Reel Festival

March 27, 2013 by Sam & Gavin Khan-McIntyre for the Edinburgh Reporter·

Blassim pic

Iraqi writer Hassan Blassim read from his second book The Iraqi Christ, which was followed by a lively discussion, at Summerhall last night. Blassim is known as ‘The Iraqi Kafka’ in his adopted country Finland, and has been called the ‘Best writer of Iraqi fiction’ by the Guardian.

The venue at the former Royal (Dick) Veterinary College was full to capacity, and Middle Eastern food was provided at the free event. Blassim himself spent some time outside for fresh air, and chatted about his taste for bright colours and painting his shoes bright green in a moment of boredom. At the end of the evening he signed copies of his book, which is also available on the Internet.

Blassim read from the title story of his short story collection of fiction, reading in Arabic, with an English translation on screen for the audience. He then answered questions in an English which was advanced, considering he has only been learning it for the past two years. A translator was present but rarely used.


The controversial story about a suicide bomber in Iraq known as Christ, ties together his aim of storytelling as expressing the human angle with his experiences of violence. He said: – “I am interested in what happened to people, and how the war affects people.”

The story was a dark and troubling expression of humanity through the interplay between a bomber, the tenderness of a son towards his mother and the universal identification which makes the unimaginable real.

His writing he said is inspired by the war, as well as literature, film and music. He has been influenced by Tarantino and the violence which he witnessed in his homeland. South American literature and its “similar problems with dictators” is also important to him.

He explained:- ”The writing is important because the war affected people in a way which is not portrayed by the media. The Iraqi people want to know. We don’t know anything, only from Western media, no music or literature. I believe culture is a way for people to understand what happened, and to understand Iraq’s problems. Violence is one of them, but also religion mixed in with money and oil and corruption.”

Blassim said that people were not happy with Saddam’s regime, nor the invasion, and that the people themselves were powerless ”to change things because of power from outside”. At the moment, he said: – “All the TV are controlled by the militia and the political parties make people think they are free, but many people die every day. They say it’s al Qaeda, they use it to blame all the problems on.”

It has been a long journey for Blassim, to be able to express himself creatively since he walked from Iraq into Eastern Europe. Blassim had to flee Iraq due to controversial views in his work, and is currently living in Finland. He said he has been advised by friends not to return to Iraq. He said:- “I left Iraq for safety reasons. Returning to my homeland would be a real threat as my friend Hadiel Mahdi, a radio presenter, whose views were seen as controversial was shot at his house by Iraqi security forces. Hadiel had wanted discussion for our country, he talked about government corruption, he asked normal questions about Iraqi people, like where does the oil money go? To the militia and mafia.”

Blassim has won numerous awards in Iraq for his films, and his current book has so far been translated into five languages. However he is modest about his achievements, and doesn’t feel the praise. He said: – “When you write you feel scared, it’s like the first time and you learn everything again. As a result of the positive reviews, I am able to access funding in Finland to continue my work. I want to continue making films for now.”

Blassim concluded by saying: – “The Iraq War destroyed many things, but culture never dies because you can’t kill hope. We have wonderful culture in Iraq, we never have a chance to show this beautiful face, but we people think it is great. We want to share our thoughts, our humanity.”

The event was part of the Iraqi Reel Festival which took place in Edinburgh between 16 and 25 March and across Britain. For more information visit the website.

Out Under the Stars for Bethany


By Sam & Gavin Khan-McIntyre, pubblished in The Edinburgh Reporter, 13 March 2012

The Big Sleepout means exactly that, sleeping out under the stars for a night, It is  organised by Bethany Christian Trust, a homelessness charity. It aims to raise the profile of homelessness, as well as raise funds, through the sponsorship of participants’ friends and family.

The event will be taking place on The Royal Mile, inside the walls of Edinburgh City Chambers. Hannah Biddulph, organiser at the trust explained that around 175 participants are expected in Edinburgh. The event has been running in Edinburgh for the past 12 years, beginning at a small churchyard, and has since increased in size many times. In addition to the Edinburgh venue, 50 participants are expected at the other venues in Aberdeen, Dundee, Fife, which have been added this year.


Biddulph said:- “The Sleepout is an important event because having a real experience of sleeping outside is an eye-opener.” She added “We do have a great night, but there is a serious element in that the fundraiser can go home, but the homeless person would be having a hard day trying to keep warm and find shelter from the elements. For that person there is no such thing as sleep…you’re too cold and vulnerable.” This event, then, aims to show people how it can be the most horrendous of experiences.

Jenni Willis, a surveyor who has taken part four times, explained what it felt like:-”You knew you were going to get home, and were with friends. There are stewards and security and we were sheltered from the real world of homelessness,  but it does give an indication of what it must be like. There was a sense of vulnerability, and one side of me was numb when I woke up. This makes you think about how it is for them.”

People from all sections of society have taken part on previous occasions. Biddulph said:-”We have had people in their 70s, youth groups, Scouts, and everyone in between.” She added that 20 staff and volunteers will be participating to ensure everything goes smoothly. The event complies with health and safety, with security, and is supported by the council and  by Lothian and Borders Police.

The issue of homelessness is very relevant to today’s society as Biddulph explained that over 45,000 people in Scotland alone registered as homeless last year. She expects this situation to worsen, due to the new bedroom tax legislation,  “Bethany helps all sorts of people who find themselves in that situation, such as young people, men and women, families with young children and the elderly.  Lots of our service users suffer from problems in their lives.”

Jenni also spoke of how the issue is relevant today:-”It could happen to anyone, but some people think it couldn’t happen to them.” She cited family breakdowns, the economy and the loss of jobs as the reasons. Jenni herself has known friends who have experienced homelessness and she takes part for them.

Bethany makes an immense contribution to the lives of the homeless, each year giving aid to a staggering around 4000 homeless and vulnerable people, according to Biddulph. She estimates they have 3000 volunteers, and 200 members of staff.

To those taking part, Jenni’s advice is to wrap up warm, and make sure you’ve got food and something comfortable to lie on. She is full if praise for Bethany, ‘I think the support that they give is unique’.

To register and download a sponsorship form, go to  the webpage here.

This will also give you some information in case you are thinking about joining in:-