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Onward to more fun, controversy, and people in 2014!
1) Becoming an England international football player
On the 30th of March I was interviewed as England international and Sunderland legend Michael Gray on Radio 5 live. It even led to The Sun using the pun ‘Shades of Gray‘.
2) Organising a referendum on Scottish independence
The ‘GUindyref’ at Glasgow University was quite an experience. Over 2,500 students voted and it was a small taste of what is yet to come in 2014. Even though people voted No by 63% to 37%, it demonstrated the capacity of volunteers and communities to create their own democracies; and it was pretty good fun too.
After a long 17 years of education I was given a scroll in a red tube. I’ve been told that this is useful in life. Confirmation on that is pending.
4) Getting a job and a flat
My graduate crisis was averted by finding a job I want to do and finding somewhere I want to live.
5) Interviewing the Prime Minister of Iceland
Sigmundur Davíð became the first head of government in the world (to my knowledge) to confirm that he would recognise an independent Scotland and welcome us “with a new, thriving relationship”. Although this went unreported in the Scottish press, it was exceptionally good fun arranging and conducting the interview. (there’s a long story involving whisky, running vests and soup) If Obama’s reading, I’m free anytime.
6) Meeting fantastic people
I’ve been fortunate and privileged to have met some inspirational people from Scotland and beyond. Some I’ve met by accident, some I’ve met socially, some I’ve met because we share hopes for the future of Scotland. There’s been love and loss, but it’s always been fun. Thanks!
7) Liz Lochhead performing at National Collective Glasgow
A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into organising this gig at Mono in Glasgow. It was a great night, but nothing quite compared to the national Makar of Scotland turning up for a drink before doing a turn on the mic.
In March Glasgow University Union was engulfed in a misogyny scandal across the national press. It prompted a lot of action, anger and introspection. It made me think about the mistakes I and others had made in the past, whether institutions can change and cultural attitudes towards gender and feminism. In hindsight, it was horrible but important.
On a more light-hearted level, the people of Glasgow came together to save the GOMA traffic cone after threats from Glasgow City Conecil. Almost 100,000 people liked a facebook page. I somehow ended up protesting. The photo of me in a traffic cone hat will probably live on long after my death.
On the 10th of April I was threatened with legal action by the biggest oil-trading company in the world, Vitol Plc, and Ian Taylor their CEO. Taylor, a figure close to Cameron and the Tories, is bankrolling the campaign against Scottish independence.
I highlighted links between Taylor and Arkan – a Serbian war criminal – as well as a host of other questionable deals, including Vitol’s conviction for ‘Grand Larceny’ in US courts.
After considerable help from personal and legal friends, we came back fighting. Vitol backed down. Some folk made it into a wee film. It was surreal. Yet it demonstrated a few key facts:
Never forget people who show solidarity with you when things are at their most difficult. Never forget how important it is to take risks, speak your mind and stand for principles far greater than yourself. Never forget that you have the power – and the pleasure – to question authority.
Yesterday the cocky cave received a splash in The Herald newspaper with its cavernous walls prominently featured. The piece revealed that the cave also has supporting structures, someone leaning against a pole and pictures of a man playing a tuba. This is believed to be the first cave of its kind in Leith.
Online commentators were shocked when the cave spoke on social media, saying ‘Hello world‘.
This has caused widespread speculation. Some claim that this statement was in reference to Beyonce’s up and coming visit to Scotland. Beyonce of course asked the question ‘Who run the world?‘ to which she answered ‘Girls’.
The cave remains non-gender specific, but is believed to be a fan of the American music star.
DJ Johnston-Smith compared the cave to batman’s secret layer. Batman was unavailable for comment.
It’s unclear what the cave will say next. However, a source close to the cave said “Yesterday it set up its own version of COBRA [UK crisis team] and I think it’s planning on taking over Leith one pub at a time.”
The cave has already amassed 146 followers on twitter on the handle @TheArtCave.
This makes the cave one of the most popular online talking caves in Scotland.
Interview with Sigmundur Davíð, Prime Minister of Iceland by Michael Gray, National Collective.
Althing, Reykjavik, Iceland.
6th of June, 2013.
Arranged by Jóhannes Þór, Political Advisor to the Prime Minister
1) Do you think Scotland and Iceland have great opportunities to cooperate with each other?
“Without a doubt. My government is very focused on increasing regional cooperation. In addition to that I think Scotland & Iceland have a lot in common. We often feel a kinship. Icelanders are very keen on going to Scotland. We are to some extent related. Icelanders are partly Celtic. In many ways the nature is similar. We’d be very happy to see increased cooperation happen.”
2) What is your view on an independent Scotland?
“Icelanders have usually been very supportive of nations seeking independence. We have not taken a position when it comes to Scottish independence. We feel that the people of Scotland should do what is in their best interests. Whatever the will of the people is, that is something that we would support.”
3) In the event Scotland votes for independence would Iceland recognise Scotland as a nation and welcome Scotland into the world?
“If Scotland became independent through accepted legal measures we would of course recognise the country and welcome Scotland with a new, thriving relationship.”
4) Do you think that small is beautiful?
“Being such a small nation has certainly presented us with its challenges, but it has also given us advantages. We have a lot of land and resources. We have enough to maintain an independent state and welfare for all. If we govern wisely we should be able to provide for everyone.”
5) Presented with ‘Arguing For Independence’ by Stephen Maxwell and photographs.
6) Iceland is planning to set up a national oil fund. What do you think of this opportunity?
“It is in preparation for possible oil production. It is similar to the Norway example. It is in preparation so that the resources are not extracted in haste.”