Tag Archives: island

Stereotypes and cliches

Stereotypes and cliches

Over the last couple of days I read “The Lewis Man” by Peter May. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t bother. It is marginally better than his first book in the trilogy, but so full of minor errors, one-dimensional characters, and annoying cliches that it is distracting! It got me thinking (again) about how the Highlands and Islands are portrayed in popular (?) fiction. It appears to be acceptable, fashionable even, to denigrate rural places and rural cultures as brooding, wind-swept, backwards (add your own favourite prejudice) while cities are, by default, sparkling, exciting, etc etc. It seems to me that the UHI is well-placed to lead a counter-position that lays an emphasis on the positive sides of our communities – the beauties, the freshness, the contemplative, the innovative, and the delight in the community of good people. I finished work for the year today, and 2014 promises to be roller-coaster ride of wonderful new challenges, including how we make this distributed, high-tech university step up to make its mark.



Frustration with the dynamics of a network where some people seem to think that important things can (should) only happen at a centre. How can an integrated network have a centre? I firmly believe that we can dissociate a centralised function from a centralised geographical location. In the UHI, the huge videoconferencing network is co-ordinated from Shetland – which I am sure most people would agree is not a “central” location (apart from those people who live in Shetland!) I thoroughly approve of this, and I wish other “centrallised” functions would be geographically de-centrallised. I think it would benefit the entire network to ‘walk-the-talk’ and commit to the fact that Inverness is not the automatic choice of university functions that are established to benefit the whole network. With decentrallised communications and an efficient transport system (ten flights a day from Stornoway – I can leave home at breakfast and be in London/Paris/Brussels by lunch-time) – why do we cling to this comfort-blanket of co-location in an over-priced urban office?