Monday, 22 December 2014

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old rocker and son of Sheffield called Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker, the singer best known in the 1960's for his gritty voice, idiosyncratic arm movements and cover versions of popular songs, has died at the age of 70. Although he lived on 'The Mad Dog' ranch in Colorado, he was always, at heart, a Sheffield lad and son of Britain who last year said "I’ve been living in the States so long that I thought about becoming a U.S. citizen, but I’d have to renounce my allegiance to the Queen. As a proud Englishman, I don’t think I could do that."
Things you possibly didn't know about Joe, that he :

* was born in 1944, the last year of the Second World War, in Sheffield, England, the youngest son of Madge and Harold, a civil servant and had his first experience of singing in public at the age of  12, when his elder brother invited him on stage to sing during a gig of his skiffle group and in 1960.

* left school and worked as a gas fitter for the East Midlands Gas Board and at 16, formed his first group, 'The Cavaliers' then, in 1961, with 'Vance Arnold and the Avengers', played in pubs performing covers of Chuck Berry and Ray Charles and in 1963 supported 'The Rolling Stones' at their Sheffield City Hall gig.

* in 1964, released his first single, a cover of the Beatles' 'I'll Cry Instead' with Jimmy Page playing backup guitar, which was a flop, then recorded 
'Marjorine' , moved to London, got a residency, formed a new band and entered the big time with a groundbreaking rearrangement of 'With a Little Help from My Friends' :

* toured Britain with 'The Who' in 1968 and in the U.S.A., where he played at Woodstock, , the Newport Rock and the Denver Pop Festival, then released his second album, 'Joe Cocker' and impressed by his cover of 'With A Little Help From my Friends', was allowed by Paul McCartney and George Harrison to use their songs, 'She Came in Through the Bathroom Window' and 'Something' for the album.

* saw his album, recorded during a break in touring in the spring and summer, reach number 11 in the US charts and garnered a second UK hit with the Leon Russell song, 'Delta Lady' :

* since the 1970's, continued to tour, battled with addictions and depression and had success with a cover of Billy Preston's 'You Are So Beautiful' :  and recorded the duet 'Up Where We Belong' with Jennifer Warnes for the soundtrack of the 1982 film, 'An Officer and a Gentleman' :

* performed for President George H. W. Bush at an inauguration concert and was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list for services to music.

My favourite song, written by John B. Sebastian : 'Darling Be Home Soon' :

And talk of all the things we did today.
And laugh about our funny little ways.
While we have a few minutes to breathe.
Then I know that it's time you must leave.

But darling be home soon,
I couldn't bear to wait an extra minute if you dawdled.
My darling be home soon,
It's not just these few hours, but I've been waiting since I toddled,
For the great relief of having you to talk to.

A wonderful song using the words "dawdle" and "toddle" and a line like "for the great relief of having you to talk to" with 'dawdle' being a 1650–60 variant of 'daddle' to 'toddle'.

I wonder if  Joe knew that ? Sadly, no way to ask him now.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Britain is no longer a country for and laments the loss of an old paleobiologist called Martin Brasier

Martin, who has died as the result of a motor accident at the age of 67, did more than any other scientist alive to increase our understanding of the beginnings of life on Earth.

What you possibly didn't know about Martin, that he : 

* was born in 1947 in Wimbledon, London and remembered that at primary school, at the age of 7 in 1954, listened to a BBC radio programme for children in which a reporter went back in a time machine and later recalled: “We did the Cambrian through to the Silurian, then the Devonian and early Carboniferous and earliest land animals and then dinosaurs and hominids. It was an extraordinary thing to do, back at that time” and, even at that young age, noticed that the Precambrian period wasn't mentioned, which piqued his interest.
* at the age of 13 in 1961, on the discovery by his elder brother Clive, who would go on to become one of the World's leading mycologists specialising in tree diseases, that a tree in the garden of their house in Lexden Road just outside Colchester, had died because there were Roman remains beneath it and recalled that they : "found a rubbish tip full of treasure and how wonderful for a thirteen year old boy to discover. And all my friends would dig and we would report it."

* over the next four years, religiously itemised the finds : Roman samian ware, Celtic pottery, wine amphorae, a military buckle and tunic items and said : "the whole thing ended with a burnt layer, so it was the Boudiccan burnt layer, so we can date these by their style as exactly between about 40 AD and 60 AD in the Claudian-Neronian period".

* found that, although his description of the dig was not published until 2005, he was smitten by the process of excavation and although he admitted : "It's not one of my highly cited papers, but it influenced me greatly and as a boy growing up in Colchester, there were always coins being dug up here, Roman coins and my earliest notes and identification of Roman coins."
* left school and in 1965, at the age of 18, began his undergraduate studies at Chelsea College of Science and Technology attached to the University of London on the King's Road, studying geology because “It combined biology and archaeology; stuff in the ground and life itself” and fell “head over heels in love with igneous rocks" and graduated with a first class BSc degree in 1968.
* knew he now wanted to look at the earliest time periods and in 1969 started his doctorate at the University of London and in 1970 at the age 23, was taken on as 'Ship's Naturalist' on HMS Fawn, working in the Royal Navy's Hydrographic Department on a year's cruise around the Caribbean.

* recalled at one point that : "We were sent out for a month to stop pirate raids on the coast of Cuba. What a thing to happen in the middle of you doctoral thesis" because the Royal Navy Frigates, Sirius and Jupiter (right), were 'unable to cope with the increasing trouble in the Caribbean and, horror of horrors, the Survey Navy has been called out to show the flag and fire the odd broadside.'
* found his doctoral work in the Caribbean, focussed on modern organisms, 'Foraminifera from the lagoons and surrounding waters of Barbuda' had "an enormous impact on my thinking and forced me to really get to grips with microfossils."
* having gained his doctorate in 1972, worked for a year as a micropalaeontologist, in the Palaeontology Department at the Institute of Geological Sciences, followed by a year as a temporary lecturer in the Geology Department, University of Reading, which allowed him to "spend a year on the survey mapping the Continental Shelf. but I had a yearn to get back to the earliest possible rocks and had the chance to look at Ediacaran and Cambrian fossils for the first time and this is something which really drew me in and I pushed further and further back in time."

* in 1974 started his thirteen year tenure as lecturer at Reading University in the Geology Department, in a time when the Cold War affected his research which "wasn’t that surprising. I knew that the best rocks tended to lie behind the Iron Curtain and they were therefore playing that for all they could get” and also found that trumping of Russian discoveries by the Chinese, 'didn’t go down well' and also remembered the worst meal he ever ate in Outer Mongolia, a ‘fricassee of lamb’s anal sphincter’, which  put him off eating lamb for two years.

* in his research, concentrated on fossils used to "calibrate and measure the Cambrian Explosion, trace fossils, small shelly fossils, beautiful fossils like the Burgess shale fossils and trilobites" and in 1978, at the age of 31, helped to organise for the Systematics Association, the first international symposium on the Explosion, bringing biologists, geologists and palaeontologists together for the first time.

* in 1988 started as Tutorial Fellow, St Edmund Hall and a ten year tenure as Lecturer in Geology, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford where he liked "the freedom to think outside the box, the strong intellectual atmosphere, the philosophical atmosphere and the traditions of scholarship and exploration at the frontiers” and in 1996 at the age of 49, was appointed Reader in Earth Sciences University of Oxford and in 2004 Professor of Palaeobiology.

* courted controversy in 2002 when, with colleagues, in an article in 'Nature' entitled : 'Questioning the evidence for the Earth's oldest fossils', dismissed the claims of the august American palaeontologist, J.William Schopf and in April at the NASA Astrobiology Conference in the antique dirigible hangar at Moffet Field, California, debated with Schopf , listened to him angrily provide data to back his claim to have found the earliest fossils, then began his rebuttal with : "Well, thank you Bill, for a truly hydrothermal performance. More heat than light, Perhaps ?"and proceeded to deliver salvo after salvo, while Bill paced up and down on the stage and won on a  'points decision' from the judges in the audience.

* in 2009, published his first popular science book, 'Darwin's Lost World' as a celebration of Darwin's 200th birthday and in answer to Darwin’s dilemma: 'Why, for 90% of Earth's history before the Cambrian trilobites and other animal fossils, there none at all ?, explained that the Precambrian fossils were there all along and paradoxically, the further back in time “the preservational quality gets better” and "it’s not that they weren’t seen before, it’s just that they weren’t recognised.”

* proceeded to take his detective story successively back in time, with his work in Mongolia, China, Newfoundland and Scotland, with amusing tales of scientific rivalry according to the 'MOFAOTYOF Principle' or 'My Oldest Fossils Are Older Than Your Oldest Fossils' along the way and in his own words explained :

* in 2011, working with a team led by David Wacey looking at fossils, found in a remote part of Western Australia, preserved between the quartz sand grains of the oldest shoreline known on Earth, announced that : 'At last we have solid evidence for life over 3.4 billion years ago. It confirms there were bacteria at this time, living without oxygen'.

* in 2012 published 'Secret Chambers : The inside story of cells and complex life' because
'each and every cell is like a secret chamber surrounded by a protective wall, but also because its existence was entirely unknown until the invention of the microscope' and focussing on the period from 1 to 2 billion years ago, once dubbed 'the boring billion', demonstrated how it involved early potential with the formation of the complex, 'eukaryotic' cell, a fundamental turning point in the history of life on Earth, without which  there would be nothing today, except bacteria :

* in August this year, with Alexander Liu, announced that they had uncovered the fossil of a muscle-bearing organism which thrived, in what is now Newfoundland during the Ediacaran period, interpreted as a member of the cnidarian group containing modern animals such as corals, sea anemones and jellyfish and suggesting that animals had a much earlier origin than previously thought.

* in June this year received the prestigious 'Lyell Medal' from the Geological Society of London, for his key Contributions to 'Scientific Understanding of Biotic Events leading up to the Cambrian Explosion of Animal Life'.

* having retired from academic duties last year, in September this year, to mark his retirement, took centre stage in a symposium : 'Evolution and Early Life : A Celebration of the Career of Martin Brasier on his Retirement' as an educator, mentor, supporter, promoter, collaborator, critic and friend, enjoyed a  special celebratory dinner in St Edmund Hall, followed by piano recitals and finishing with, he himself, providing a short tutorial on early jazz piano technique.

* when asked by 'Oxford Today' in 2010 : "Palaeontology is an old discipline. Is it still important ?" Answered poetically :

Palaeontology has
The best questions.
It’s all about perspective.
How did life begin?
What does the future hold?

Palaeontology shows us how
Tenuously beautiful our existence is.

Most of what I have to say,
Is relevant to looking for life
On other planets.
So I would really call myself
an astrobiologist.

Looking at life in the universe
From a very large perspective.
When our lives are so short,
 It is quite nice to have this
Vicarious experience of
The hugeness of the system.

* in 2010 said : 'The Cambrian Explosion was a real and entirely natural event, as were the wave of extinctions that followed.
What a wonderful world !'

Monday, 15 December 2014

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to a scarce 'old' potter called Richard Godfrey

Richard, who was respected for his work in Britain and Europe, a guest demonstrator at international events and seminars and Council member on the Craft Potters Association, has died at the age of 64.

What you possibly didn't know about Richard, that he :

* born in 1950 and recalled his desire to express himself through art "started at an early age, messing about in clay in our garden in Harrow on the Hill" in affluent North West London and after the family move to Plymouth, from 1961 - 66, attended Devonport High School for Boys' where, in his early teens, he was taught to paint by teacher/artist Wyn George (right), who was 'a great influence and through his teaching, learnt to look for colour and form and use drawing as a tool to develop ideas.'

* in 1966, at the age of 16, left Britain with his family to spend two years in Gibraltar and attended the catholic Grammar Grammar School for Boys run by the Christian Brothers and studied 'A' Level Mathematics and Physics and Art in the lab and room above the arches, with a view to becoming an architect and incidentally, surrounded by 'the deep and vibrant colours of the Mediterranean', which had an immediate effect on his painting and 'just couldn't put the brushes down and painted every spare moment.'

* having taken his exams in the summer of 1967, was at a loose end and by chance found himself 'at an evening class in ceramics, touched the clay and, like so many others, was instantly hooked' and instead of returning to Britain to study architecture in York, went to Plymouth and on a year's foundation course at the College of Art, before his
undergraduate course at the Bristol College of Art, learnt much from his ceramics and sculpture teachers who gave him 'the self-belief and determination so vital to someone who spends their life working alone tying to create things out of clay.'

* at the age of 19, began his studies at Bristol where he benefited from small classes, excellent equipment and tuition from Gillian Lowndes and Ian Auld, from whom he learnt the basic techniques : hand building, throwing, kiln building and firing and fell in love with the whole process of throwing on the wheel and later reflected : "It's a very magical thing. That's what made me want to be a potter. It was the late 60s and things were changing and people were looking at different ways of earning a living, more interesting ways than just a job in the office and the idea of being a potter really appealed to me."

* developed a love of glaze making and experimentation with glaze chemistry, working with one colour at a time and brighter and brighter versions of that colour and inspired by some 17th century Toft dishes he had seen in a museum in York, spent his last year, 1971-72, "exploring earthenware glazes, trying to recreate that wonderful juicy brightness, that depth, because, for me, that encapsulated the feeling that I had about making things out of clay."

* cut his teeth as a secondary school teacher in a year in a tough comprehensive school in Plymouth and at the age of 23 in 1973 started teaching art at the Battisborough International Boarding School in Devon and at the same time, his career as a part-time potter, sharing a studio on Plymouth Barbican working with John Pollex, where he continued to expand his ideas about glaze, and trying to get a "juicy, rich, bright earthenware glaze, we had a happy accident one day and found a way of making the glaze even brighter."

* having become Head of Art and Deputy Head Teacher at the College, in 1981, at the age of 31, resigned to take up working full time as a potter at his workshop in Yealampton, Devon and went back to slab building for the first time since his college days because he was limited in his "use of form, by forms which were thrown on a wheel and wanted to make things which were not round but were constructed" and in 1989, made his final move to his studio overlooking Mothecombe Bay, Devon.

* only three minutes walk from the coast, said : "I love this landscape, the North Devon landscape with this wonderful coastline and I want to make work which reflects that and earthenware somehow, for me, seems quintessentially 'English'. I'm not really interested in aesthetics that come from different cultures, but looking at things around me which condense and express the joy  that I get from the landscape. For me, brightly coloured earthenware seems to that."

* explained his pursuit of colour : "It might be a leaf, a flower a butterfly wing, a shell, bits of flotsam and jetsam on the beach. Because of my need to find colour, I find it in unusual things, but it's there. There's a huge amount of colour, even in winter. I went out yesterday. It's february. There's gorse out at the cliffs. The yellow is absolutely stunning and when you take one flower and look at it closely, that's extraordinary. When you look at things at that level and when you look at things intently, when you get down on you hands and knees in a way that a child looks, you see things in an entirely different way."

* said of the inspiration behind the design on a teapot, that : "This originally came from a black and white feather that I found and was intrigued by the way it contrasted with the bight colours on my pots and realised that if I put black and white on the colour, it intensified the value of the colour."

* explained the process of inspiration to creation : "I am walking across the beach, a beach of millions and millions of pebbles and I'll pick one up, so the secret is : can you go back to the studio and work out why you picked up that one ? If you can do that. If you can isolate what it was that touched my button, I can use that to touch some one else's button and it might be something very simple."

* in 2004 received a bronze award at the 'European Ceramic Competition' in Athens held the celebrate the opening of the Olympic Games and in 2011 the 'studiopottery Award' (right) and in the same year gave an Online Ceramics interview : and created a bowl for his video blog : and threw a mug in 2009 :

* on being voted by fellow exhibitors as having, at the Valentine Clays Peers Award in 2013, 'Best Contribution to the Festival' said : "You go through life when you are creating pieces with a hope that you are doing something of value and worthwhile because sometimes it feels you are not really doing anything of any value and just messing about with mud. Someone once commented to me that the most important thing is that you are making people smile. I try to generate something in my work that does exactly that. The nicest thing for me is when my contemporaries commented on how much they like my work, it's always a surprise. It generates a warm feeling, it makes the whole thing special in a way that is hard to define."

Richard smiling and generating a smile with his 'Rocket Dogfish Teapot.'

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Scotland is no longer a country nor Perthshire a county for old ballad singer, Sheila Stewart, last speaker of its Cant, who has closed her winklers for the last time

Sheila, who has died at the age of 79 and in life sang for a President, a Queen and a Pope and became the blood sister of a Comanche Chief, never lost sight of who she was no where she came from and said "No one will ever change me because I was born a traveller and I will die a traveller and I'm a traveller to the end of time."

In 2006 when she was 71, took part, with her great granddaughter, Amy, in Dylan Drummond and Blair Scott's short film : 'Bridging the Gap : Lies I Last in the Line', a valediction for the old way of life in which she recorded that : "We ran wild when I was a child and the freedom was unbelievable. We knew we were different, we took pride in it. I would never have changed it for anything. I never ever thought, growing up all my life that my culture would die out."  :

What you possibly didn't know about Sheila, that she :

* born in the summer of 1935, in a stable which belonged to an hotel in Blairgowrie where "My Mother put up big curtains to shield herself and then gave birth to me while my Father waited outside" and grew up in a family of tinkers who "earned their living from hawking, besom making and seasonal farm-work. They still went up the glens and had a horse and cart and went hawking, but then they would go away and stay at farms, pulling the flax and cutting the corn."

* had as a Mother, Belle, a singer and songwriter and Father, Alec, a piper and storyteller, but learnt, songs from her Uncle Donald MacGregor, her mother's elder brother, who 'chose' her to carry on the families songs and stories and at regular family ceilidhs sang after song with the encouragement of ten-shilling note and recalled : "Ballads were always a part of my family's heritage - singing round the camp fires, just for their own pleasure."

* from the age of five, in 1940, started school at Rattray Primary, where she was bullied as a traveller and later reflected : "My parents, grandparents and forbearers were all travelling people. My people and my family have been victims of lies all their life. We have been persecuted, ridiculed and I got beat up everyday." Yet conceded, on another occasion, that : "I am glad for Blairgowrie for turning their backs on us. We wouldn't have kept our culture alive if it hadn't been for that."

* with her siblings, as well as helping to pull flax, picked berries and lifted potatoes and in her first fifteen years, through the Second World War and secondary school at  Blairgowrie High in 1946 though to 1950, commuted between home and her Uncle's house in nearby Rattray, where he had a lasting influence on her : "To me, the first love in my life is ballads. My Uncle Donald is on a pedestal as far as I'm concerned, because he taught me everything about how to sing the ballads."

* from Uncle Donald, learnt the importance of 'conyach' because he "was a brilliant man for making up things from the heart which suited the object or the subject better than the word itself. He couldnae say, ‘I'm putting the feeling intae it.’ He had to come up wi' a word that meant the same as the feeling of coming from the heart. Because you can have a feeling coming from your head and he thought that the word 'Conyach' was such a severe, heavy word that said everything of what he meant when he was singing a ballad. He made it up. It's not a cant word."

*  first met Hamish Henderson, the co-founder of the University of Edinburgh’s 'School of Scottish Studies', when she was 18 in 1953, when he visited the Stewart family and recorded her singing  'The Bonnie Woods o' Hatton', she having learned the lyrics from her brother-in-law and put them to an old tune in a song in which ploughman Sandy, laments his misfortune in love, having courted Molly for a year and been rejected :

* with the family under Hamish's stewardship, made her first public performance with the 'Stewarts of Blair' in an old church in Edinburgh when she was 19 in 1954 and was recorded by him at berry-picking time and as he later commented: "Collecting on the berry fields was like holding a tin can under the Niagara Falls. However….. it was clear that the really fabulous contribution had been made not so much by the nomadic travellers among whom we had camped as by the Stewart family."

* in 1956 at the age of 21, married Ian MacGregor and found that, although her husband was not a Traveller, he was accepted by the family and became a willing convert to the way of life, but prone to jealousy and with a fondness for drink, could on occasion, be violent, and she later reflected that he : 'was not husband material. Although he adored his kids, he wasn’t very family-oriented. But I loved him and I was his wife. I had made my bed and I would have to lie in it.‘

 * was not allowed to choose any of her children’s names and was expected to do her share of the work – even during potato lifting and worked with Ian, dividing the field up between them and keeping a fire at one end to boil kettles for tea and to cook and keep warm when it was cold and had one child walking about the field, one in a basket and another in a pram.

* spent time 'down south', where, on occasion, Ian worked on the Victoria Line and she had a spell in Sheffield as a 'traveller liaison worker' and relished most memories from the early 1960s, when she was in her late twenties, the family was working in Hatfield and she and her husband and sister Cathie's family bought trailers and camped on the big green at Colney Heath, where the police turned a blind eye, other Hertfordshire travellers joined them, followed by the Irish and : "We had wonderful ceilidhs roond the fire."

* in 1964, witnessed Ewan MacColl make the Stewart family home in Blairgowrie his Scottish base and the inspiration for his radio ballad : 'The Travelling People' : .

 * found that her child-bearing days were over when, acting without her consent, her mother and husband gave permission for her to be sterilised and recalled : ‘I had no say in the matter of my own body. I was used to my life’s decisions being made for me and so I just accepted it’ and though wanting to breast feed her newborn daughter, found, when she came home from hospital, the baby was already being bottle fed and was "so sad about that." 

* in 1974 had her best known performance of the tragic ballad ‘The Twa Brothers’, involving a wrestling match in which William gives John a fatal wound with his knife and uses his white Holland shirt to bind the wound : issued on the Tangent label's classic two-disc set : ‘The Muckle Sangs.'

 * with the family, performed extensively in Europe and the USA, where as heroes of the folk revival, they were given the red carpet treatment.

*in 1976, at the age of 41, chosen to represent Scotland, to sing in full highland dress in the White House for President Gerald Ford in Bicentennial Celebrations and met the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

* later recalled : "I met the Queen and she asks me : "Where do you come from?" And I says: Blairgowrie".  "Blairgowrie ?" says the Queen : "I know it well. I pass through it on my way to Balmoral." So I says: "And I know Balmoral well, we used to visit often." "Well," says the Queen, "the next time you're passing you must pop in for a cup of tea." And so I says to the Queen : "And, Your Majesty, the next time you're going through Blairgowrie, you must do the same." "

* while in the States, gave lectures on the oral culture of Tavellers' at the Universities of Princeton and Harvard and performed with the family at the Smithsonian Institute, where dining next the Chief of the Comanche Tribe she "started to explain that we were an ethnic group of people who belong to Scotland. We have our own culture of ballads, stories, and our secret language” and after he told her that Comanche also had a secret language was party to a blade cutting of their fingertips and she becoming his 'blood-sister'.

* recalled a conversation with her Father who said : "You were in America, met royalty, and were made the blood-sister of a Comanche Chief. Then you come home and go raking a midden, and give your blood to an auld traveller woman to glue her clay cutty [pipe] tegither. How do you feel about that?" To which she replied : "Daddy, I was born a traveller and I will die one, I prefer travellers any day, they are my folk. I will never change."

* saw travellers' lives change in the 1970s, when proscriptive new laws forced many into houses and children to school and witnessed the decline in the Cant language as travellers became more integrated into mainstream society and later lamented : "I brought my children up to speak the Cant and know the ballads. None of them speak it anymore. They just think it's too auld-fashioned, they've taught none of my grandchildren. I am the only one left still speaking it."

* found that despite obligations to her husband, Ian, led to conflict about her performing at home and abroad, his  reluctance to let her travel was usually overcome by the prospect of the money she would earn until 1977, when she became a widow at the age of 42, when he, with whom she a peculiar kind of love…very deep.  We couldn’t agree, yet we couldn’t stay away from each other’ died of a heart attack whilst angling.

* maintained her links with her family and three years later later, at the age of 45, sang 'Mill o'Tifty's Annie' in family house :

* in 1982, was chosen to represent the Travelling People on Pope John Paul's visit to Scotland and sang Ewan MacColl's 'Moving On' to acclaim from the Bellahouston Park crowd of 300,000.

* in 2000 appeared at the Barbican in London and the Glasgow 'Open Roads 2000' Festival and in 2003 at the age of 68, collaborated with 31 year-old composer and musician, Martyn Bennett, who incorporated snatches of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Segger's 'Moving On' :'The big twelve-wheeler shook my bed. The farmer said, The work's all done' into his 'Grit', as seen a third of the way into the clip and the 'Banks of the Lee' in the last third : two years before his death in 2005 and with the following result :

* for four years sat on the Secretary of State's 'Advisory Committee on Travellers' and later said that she : "got a lot of the designated sites for travelling people in Scotland. I had to go to the councils and fight them to give me a piece of land to put the travellers on legally. I involved the travellers – usually they build sites without consulting them about what they want. The land is owned by the council so travellers pay something like 50 per week to live there. They provide their own caravans, but pay for electricity and pay council tax."

* in 2006 received MBE for achievements in Scotland and in the same year had published 'Queen Among the Heather : The Life of Belle Stewart', was inducted into the 'Traditional Music Hall of Fame' in Scotland in 2007 and published in 2011, her autobiography, ' A Travellers Life.'

* in 2010 recorded the importance of the soul the 'conyach' : and in the same year published 'Pilgrims of the Mist. The Stories of Scotland's Travelling People.'

* has over a hundred of her songs archived for posterity with 'Tobar an Dualchais' :

* in 2011 was finally recognised by Blairgowrie with its 'Citizen of the Year Award' and said : “This means more to me than receiving the MBE. My mother would be so proud of me because this is recognition by Blairgowrie for the contribution my people have made to the town. I am accepting the award on behalf of my family and the travelling community. This is the icing on the cake to a wonderful career.”