Thursday, January 19

The Edinburgh Iranian Festival: A Window on Iran

Be honest – when you think of Iran, what comes to mind first? We’d love it if you said “its incredible food”, or “I hear it has an amazing cinema scene”. But let’s face it: the first thing most of you will think about is negative news headlines about the country’s politics.

And that’s where we come in.

You might be surprised to hear that Edinburgh and Glasgow have thriving Iranian communities – it’s estimated that there are 5,000 Iranians living in Scotland.

And every two years, a small team of volunteers come together to put on a festival celebrating Iran’s world-class culture – with the aim of better integrating Iranian and Scottish communities. 

The Edinburgh Iranian Festival hopes to address misconceptions about Iran by introducing Scotland to the heart and soul of the country – from its film and music, through to its food and photography.

This year's festival line-up includes:

  • Music concert at the Assembly Hall with the renowned Iranian soprano Darya Dadvar, who will be accompanied by musicians from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The orchestral arrangements have been composed specifically for this event by Glasgow-based conductor, Amin Keshmiri. 
  • Persian cookery demonstration at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School, with Chef Zohreh Shahrabi. Zohreh is part of the London-based Mazi Mas cooking collective. 
  • Iranian film season organised in collaboration with the Filmhouse Cinema Edinburgh Many of the films are Scottish, if not UK, premieres.
  • Talk and guided show and tell of the National Museum of Scotland’s Iranian collection. 
  • Photography exhibition on the theme of “A window on my Iran”, which will feature contemporary Iranian photographers, at the Filmhouse Cinema Cafe. 
  • Performance in collaboration with Burns for Beginners that pits the Scottish bard’s works against those of Persian poet Hafez 
  • Showing of award-winning play, Mimi’s Suitcase, on the theme of identity and homeland 
  • A day of tourism-related talks at Nomad’s Tent courtesy of Persian Pursuits and PersiaPort

So what are you waiting for? Broaden your horizons this February, and check out the festival! With so many events, many of them free, there’s something to suit everyone.

Wednesday, November 23

10 Things I’ve Learnt About Living on an Island with The Static Gypsy

I moved to the Isle of Skye in 2010 from a village just north of London. In the last few years I’ve learnt a lot about living in such a remote part of the world, and most of it is exactly what you might expect of a quiet island life. So here are ten things I’ve learnt about living on a Scottish island.
  1. It can and will snow pretty much any month in the year.
  2. Most people are known solely by nicknames.
  3. It’s socially acceptable to live in a caravan.
  4. There’s no rat race.
  5. The views!
  6. Everyone says hello when they pass you on the street.
  7. Finding work is incredibly competitive.
  8. The local supermarket is the hub of life!
  9. It’s safe enough to leave your doors unlocked.
  10. No one bats an eye to driving two hours through mountains and snow for a days’ shopping.

There’s so much more I could say about living on an island, but then I’d be going on for days and days! There are bad things, obviously, but for the most part, life on Skye is pretty idyllic. And given that it recently topped the Daily Records list of ‘Most Desirable Places To Live In The UK’, I’d say most of the UK is pretty clued up on how lucky I am to live where I do!

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Friday, November 18

Bloggy Pages: Before Blogcess, Foreplay with Lee Goldground

A big and slightly nervous, spotty, teenage handshake to you, Scotblogger reader. Two lies straight away that come with the turf:

1. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, so we have to pretend we’re saying hello for real. I hope you’re good at it, it’s all we’ve got.

2. The big and slightly nervous, spotty, teenage handshake is metaphor – I was born in the 70s.


You might remember it, you might be in the middle of it, you might be terrified of it, but it’s there as the only universal truth Buddha left out: foreplay. 

Without it, nothing comes. I’ve spent 9 years writing the debut – can you call a 9 year novel a debut? Sounds a bit artsy. A bit of me just calls it a miracle. It’s a miracle the bloody thing got finished with the rips life decided to spring along the way. Maybe, when we know each other better, I’ll fill you in on the rips. But not yet. I don’t trust you. No hard feelings. 

But blogging. It’s the most exciting, fumbling, bound-to-get-it-wrong-I’ve-gone-in-too-quick-I-think-it’s-over pulse-quaking terrorbuzz there is, but we have no choice – unless we try, we’re never going to learn what each other likes. Maybe even loves. 

It’s my first ‘guestblog’ since completing the fiction. It’s a weird name, guestblog; far too formal for what is, in reality, an up-close, knuckly-gut, skin on skin first snog-with-words experience. I like it so far. But I have no idea what to do. I’m doing what I do when I write – one word at a time, feel the feelings, go with it, hoping you’re enjoying it and loving every minute. 

It’s a faith-fumble. 

Making a mess in the knowledge we’re both going to get a lot better. 

We all want great cess. Success for our lives, blogcess for our blogs, whether we’re reading or writing them.We’ll get there. We’re getting there. Many of you already are there, I’m sure. It’s about not being scared to come away with a few bloggy pages in your hand now and then. 

Writing’s weird, eh? And reading? Don’t get me started. I don’t think any writer wants a ‘reader, or a reader a 'writer'. At least, I don’t think I do. We want people, you, me, contact, a banter, the mini-contract of two ‘Alright?’s in the staff-room or pub or cafe or bus stop or tube. The introducey stuff. Then, when we’re ready, the meaningful mindy stuff that never leaves your head, that burns and concerns and inspires and confuses and incites and falls away and grows again. 

Do you think we should stop? Before the hear us in the next room? I was supposed to be writing a couple of sentences to lead into the blog, but it turns out the first sentences, the first faith-fumbles, are the complete experience. And what's the rush? The book can wait – maybe next time. As we said, the truth – foreplay – has to be conquered first. So you might not want to click on this yet. I don’t blame you, take your time. Don’t give your clicks out to just anyone.

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