The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
Despite a bad start, Celtic Connections festival is delivering its usual dynamic programme, says DANIEL JAMIESON.
Surprisingly, after 12 years of almost flawless organisation, the 13th Celtic Connections Festival got off to a disastrous starts with the organisers being forced to cancel the festival's opening concert with less than 24 hours notice.
The following day, they then were forced to admit to promoting a performance by one of Scotland's most popular bands, Deacon Blue, in the official festival programme, without the group having agreed to perform.
Celtic Connections, Glasgow's annual festival of traditional music, runs from January 11 until January 29.
The festival is a collaboration of artists from all over the world who visit the city to perform alongside the very best of Scottish talent, young and old, new and established.
Visitors to this year's festival are being offered more than 1,000 artists performing at over 400 events across the city during the 19 days of the festival.
Over the last few years, it has become customary for Celtic Connections to open with a spectacular event featuring a prestigious international artist.
This year's highlight was intended to be an imaginative collaboration featuring the renowned Galician piper Carlos Nunez performing alongside the Catalan theatre group La Fura dels Baus, famous for producing the breathtaking opening ceremony at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Technical difficulties were given as the reason why La Fura decided to pull out of the performance with less than a week's notice, leaving the organisers with no time to find a suitable alternative.
With over 1,400 tickets sold for the opening event, this was particularly disappointing for the many visitors who had arrived in Glasgow, as it is the only evening when no other acts perform throughout the festival.
As a result of these technical difficulties, the honour of opening the 13th Celtic Connections fell the following evening to the seven winning acts of last year's Open Stage competition.
Over the last few years, the Open Stage sessions have become one of the highlights of Celtic Connections.
Every evening during the festival, unknown artists are given the chance to perform in the aptly named Exhibition Hall of the Royal Concert Hall.
These sessions have proved to be highly popular as they give audiences an opportunity to enjoy the very best of up-and-coming musical talent free of charge.
The Open Stage sessions reflects Celtic Connections deep-rooted commitment to supporting the development of traditional Celtic music as artists strive to win a coveted spot on the final Open Stage of the festival.
Following the disappointing coverage that the opening night cancellation received, there was no better way to kick-start this year's programme than with the breathtaking vocals of 17-year-old Jillian Isbister from Shetland.
He performed alongside Cold Night Songs and Newroz, three young asylum seekers now living in Glasgow and four more traditional acts Troy McGillivray from Canada, Breabach, Cushtie and Lori Watson 3.
This opening performance summed up all that is good about Celtic Connections. Exceptional music from talented performers who were as dynamic as they were diverse.
Since its troublesome opening, this year's festival has gone from strength to strength, despite a fire alarm emptying the newly refurbished Old Fruitmarket on Friday 13, during a performance of the Irish quintet Lunasa.
Among many outstanding performances, credit must go to The Levellers for their performance at the Arches on January 12, the excellent Fairport Convention playing to a full house at the Garage the following evening and to Scotland's own Eddi Reader, performing to a packed Royal Concert Hall on January 16.
Reader's performance was a clever mix of her own work along with a well-chosen selection of Burn's verses adapted to music, proving, once again, that she is unquestionably one of today's finest singer-songwriters.
It is now more than three years ago since she released the superb album Eddi Reader Sings the Songs of Robert Burns, a release that is widely credited with converting more adults to appreciate and enjoy the genius of Burns than any text book, school teacher or, dare I say it, Burns Supper ever achieved.
And so, with tomorrow being Burns Night, if you are unfortunate enough not to be in the land of Burns to enjoy an authentic Burns Supper, then may I suggest that you either buy or download Reader and enjoy as she sings the words of the great bard.
And, in a quieter moment, think of Rose Gentle and other parents so wickedly and wrongfully bereaved over the last three years as she laments: "What makes heroic strife famed afar, famed afar? What makes heroic strife famed afar?
"What makes heroic strife, to whet the assassin's knife?
"Or haunt a parent's life wi' bloody war, wi' bloody war? Or haunt a parent's life wi' bloody war."
â¢ Celtic Connections festival continues until January 29. Coming highlights include Capercaillie at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall tomorrow, priced Â£16-Â£18. Also, Maria McKee at The Garage on Friday, priced Â£15 and The Waterboys at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday, priced Â£21-Â£23.