Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Road to Dunfermline

(The Dixie Chicks are blaring out in the background as I write this.)

Today was a milestone in my life. I delivered the last Scottish Curler magazine of the season to the office in Dunfermline, above. For the past seven years, I've set out several times each month during the curling season via Moffat, the Devil's Beeftub, Broughton, Romanno Bridge, La Mancha, Penicuik, the Edinburgh bypass and over the Forth Bridge to Pitreavie Industrial Estate where the publishers of the magazine have their home. If you are already a blogally of Skip Cottage you will know that as from today I am the former Editor of the magazine.

(Why the Dixie Chicks? You may well ask. My musical tastes are wide, but I've always had a bit of a soft spot for country, country rock, and 'alternative country'. I encountered the Dixie Chicks eleven years ago when I was working abroad, the Wide Open Spaces album - liked the sound, and have been a fan ever since.)

I confess that the last week or two have been a bit odd, writing my last editorial, and putting the magazine together for the last time. Last night, trying to fit the last pieces into place, I was (almost) sad! Today, proofing the final printout, and still finding errors and typos that hadn't been picked up in the multiple times the 24 pages had been gone over before, it was like saying goodbye to an old friend.

(The Chicks comprise Martie Maguire, Emily Robison and lead singer Natalie Maines. It was Natalie who voiced criticism of George Bush during a London concert ten days before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, saying, "We don't want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas" (the Dixie Chicks' home state). There were some Americans who thought this unpatriotic, un-American, and they received hate mail, death threats, and many boycotted their music and concerts. Natalie's sentiments have been proved correct, of course, and the group have since had a further tour, very popular here and in other countries but not the sellout in some venues in the US. Still, they won five Grammy Awards in 2007, including the one for Album of the Year for Taking The Long Way. I love people who are not afraid to speak their minds, and I love the Dixie Chicks music. See here for a flavour if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

Where was I? Yes, we all know now that the Scottish Curler has a future, and is not going to disappear as we feared. The job of publishing it will now be in the hands of the Ayrshire Division of Clyde and Forth Press, which is based in Ardrossan. Here they publish the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, amongst other titles, as well as some magazines, so the Scottish Curler will no longer be a loner, as it was at Dunfermline. I met the CEO of that branch of the company today, Helena Morrow, and was impressed with her tenacity and ideas to breath new life into the publication which, if I'm blunt, has stagnated somewhat over the past couple of years on the marketing side in particular. I look forward to helping Helena during this handover period. Who knows, there may even be opportunity for me, and the existing team, to contribute content for the magazine of the future!

(Who's my favourite Dixie Chick, I hear you ask? I love Natalie's voice - it really is distinctive and strong. Emily Robison is so talented, on backing vocals, and she plays the banjo, dobro (just brilliantly), guitar, bass, mandolin, accordion, and sitar. Martie McGuire is Emily's sister, and I'm completely blown away by her mastery of the fiddle, although she also plays the mandolin, viola, acoustic bass, and guitar. And she is an attractive blond. So no contest then!)

When I get more information about the 'new' Scottish Curler I'll be letting everyone know, either here or on the Scottish Curling Forum. Suffice to say at the moment that the subscriptions for next season stay the same as at present!

(What's my favourite Dixie Chicks' track? Their discography is here. Travelling Soldier, Landslide, Cowboy Take Me Away (Martie's fiddle solo on this would make my hair curl, if I had any) are songs I never seem to tire of. They are probably best known for Goodbye Earl. But my number one is Voice Inside My Head, track 10 from their last album, Taking the Long Way. The Dixie Chicks website is here, but it has been a bit quiet recently. I would love to think they might tour again.)

The May Scottish Curler will be printed over the next few days and, if all goes well, will be in the post to subscribers next week. Where have the last seven years gone? Tomorrow beckons.

(Here's a treat for you)


  1. Interesting new venue for the Curler - the office will be about 2 miles from the most unknown Curling rink in Scotland!

  2. One might wish you a "Happy Retirement", Bob, but since you appear already to have planned a continuing career, just try to leave a little more time for roaming the hills with the camera.