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Whar's the picture?


Two worlds clashed this week, language and paintings. The latter was actually the first but I like to be a bit topsy turvy.

I chaired an event for the Society of Authors, another first. I can add virtual Chair (please note that is virtual Chairperson and not me referring to myself as virtually a chair) to my ever growing skills.

In truth, the skill wasn’t mine but Anna from the SOA who did all the technical stuff like pressing the right buttons. Sorry, I suppose that should be clicking the right icon. Even our guest, biographer, travel writer and amongst other things an expert on Dickens, Lucinda Hawksley’s; fluency in Zoom shamed my merge grasp of technology.

I learnt to work the chat box though, so I’m sure sharing pictures while in a virtual set up will be my next skill step.

Speaking of pictures or more correctly paintings that was the theme of the talk; The Lost Portrait. If you ever have a chance to attend this event grab it. Before I knew where I was it was over, done. It was both interesting and enlightening. What certainly surprised me was finding out about a Scottish artist who although well known in her lifetime, I had heard almost nothing about. Margaret Gillies, why don’t we know about this remarkable lady?

That revelation was followed up by an article in City Life Dundee where they highlighted another women, Mary Brooksbanks. Who blended traditional and contemporary Scots songs. In her own way keeping alive a great musical singing tradition.

Dundee has always had its fair share of strong females. How many other places have their own name for men, Kettle-bilers that stayed at home while the women went out to work? I love that clever witty use of words.

However, language evolves as life itself does. I hope we do not lose much more of its rich tapestry. As our world changes and what were once every day things disappear so will the language connected with that fade.

Our language and accents are even now slowing disappearing as we are all beginning to sound the same. Is it social media or expectations that drive this?

Not that I can complain of change especially as a woman. It is hard to comprehend how females lost their rights if they married. How they couldn’t vote for so long. How much of their history even today is lost. The creative works never signed, the stories never published, the discoveries hidden behind other more acceptable names in generations gone by.

Thankfully I can’t imagine most women in the western world today, accepting any of this. We have come so far but still have a long way to go. Just think how many wonders, stories and achievements, there are out there. Like a treasure trove waiting to be unearthed. It is quite exciting.

Thankfully, at least today we can look around and see for themselves many national and world figures who are women, setting strong examples for our girls to follow.

I hope though that we manage to keep that diversity of character, artistic creativeness and language. It will be a sad loss if we all end up looking and sounding the same, much like many powerful men do today.

So a plea to the next generation, use the languages of this great nation whatever this is; English, Scots in its many forms or Gaelic. Splash the colour, create the art, music, song and dance for today. Mix and match it all up with tradition and spray it out in the world. But make sure you sign it or at least get credited for it.


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