The Early Days of a Better Nation

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

News from Ne'erday

It's raining and I have a cold, but not a hangover. The Scottish commercial television channel STV did its bit for Scottish independence last night by devoting all of ten minutes before midnight and ten minutes after to Hogmanay. Almost all of it consisted of Michelle Watt and Grant Stott prattling away on a roof, while what they described but barely showed as the greatest Hogmanay party in the world filled the streets below and a hugely successful concert rocked Princes St Gardens. They committed the cardinal sin of Hogmanay broadcasting: no countdown to midnight. No indication, beyond a pan to fireworks, that the New Year had begun. As Mrs Early put it: 'STV's Hogmanay forgot - Grant and Stott, that's your lot.' BBC1 did a better job - an indoor party in Glasgow with a good line-up of musical talent - but we wanted to see Princes St (as we couldn't be there).

My resolutions are to write faster and blog more.

Happy New Year!


Write faster if it doesn't mean writing worse. "The Execution Channel" was excellent (if dispiriting to a USAian expat at times). Although I like the more-nearly-pure-SF settings of some of your earlier work better, EC was by far your best writing. It's not worth it to crank it out faster if you cannot maintain this quality. Though a man's gotta eat.

Happy New Year etc. And wish me luck! 2008 is the year I try to write something to sell.

Jonathan - good luck, indeed! And thanks.

It's not a question of cranking it out faster, more a matter of not letting myself get bogged down. And, um, not cat vacuuming.

What did you find 'dispiriting to a USian expat'?

The STV coverage was dire, wasn't it? I stuck with Jools Holland (although that's rather like his usual show with a pipe band bursting in halfway through) and News 24.

Happy New Year Ken!

Yes, the Hogmany telly was atrocious.

Not so sure writing faster and blogging more are compatible. I find the Internet is a great thief of time. Still, I have resolved to give more attention to my blogs and website, to develop my creative projects and to do more recreational reading. I expect to give up sleep soon!

Belated new year's wishes....

I was at the street party in Princes St as a punter for the first time since 2002/3. While it was quite crowded getting in, or anywhere near the portaloos - which seemed to be a bigger attraction than either the stages or the bars (presumably a quid pro quo for Scottish and Newcastle's taking up the RBoS baton) - it did seem to be a lower-key event than either of the two years I stewarded that weren't cancelled. I reckon that the Beeb were, if not gambling on the whole shebang being called off again, at least assuming that the odds of cancellation were high enough that the event would be undersubscribed and anticlimactic.

In short, you didn't really miss much....

I understand the Princes St Gdn concert was good, though. Part of the reason why I don't miss the street party much is that I'll always remember how good it felt at the turn of the millenium (both turns, 2000 and 2001, since I'm a bit of a pedant). Firework residue and sprayed beer falling on my face, and thinking 'Wahey! We got out of the Twentieth Century alive! Free at last!'

Hah hah.


Sorry, never checked back on this thread. The "dispiriting" part of The Execution Channel stems at least as much from my own dismay at the direction the US has taken as anything in the book. But the book and its darker alternate-present reinforced that because of the continuing revelations from the "real" US.

I think I'm under relatively few delusions as to how the US has historically applied its power. I certainly wouldn't say the Bush administration is different in kind, rather than degree, in its approach to torture, etc. But quantity, quality . . .

The thing that I keep coming back to is the absence of shame. In my 40 years, the US government has usually had the decency to try and hide from me what it was doing. But now they're actually proud of it. And the lies! There is no craftsmanship there at all.

The symbolic value of a new world, an American ideal has probably always been bullshit. But it was bullshit that had uses. Even value That's gone now. Something James Travis says puts me in mind of this but I cannot remember it. But the effect on me is to realise that it's no longer possible to pretend that America will ever be anything but what it actually is. The experiment is a failure.

This has not been as well thought out as I'd like. I should re-read The Execution Channel and see if I still feel the same way.


Belatedly - thanks, Jonathan. Do please drop me a line or place a comment further up.

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