Rev James Dey

A man who could make chocolate cakes!

I first posted this piece about High Corrie in 2015.  It was linked to the article I’d written about that unusual coterie of men and women for whom High Corrie was a special place. Just last week the last of that group, my father, Rev James Dey, passed away. In many ways it’s the end of an era. They were all men and women who had experienced the reality of war, of poverty, of suffering and hardship. Yet they were all men and women who looked to the future with courage and determination.

They helped make their world a better place for all, not just for a few. Something I’ve tried to do in my life, and see reflected in the words and actions of my own children. Life is never static. Change is always with us. I hope we always try and make those changes good ones. Just as my father did.


Burnbank Cottage, High Corrie

If someone asks you to name your favourite book, or song, or food, or place, it’s not always easy to come up with an answer, even though the question itself seems perfectly straightforward.  Somehow it all depends on a host of factors, and in the end, for most of us, it isn’t really possible to come up with a once-and-for-all favourite.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t books, or songs, or places that are special to us – and  some that are more special than others.  For me, a very special place is High Corrie on Arran.

Sunshine on Burnbank 1973

It’s special because of the island it’s on, special because of its wonderful setting and special because of all the happy associations and memories it brings with it. Wonderful carefree family holidays, when the sun always shone (well, most of the time!) and we were free to roam the hills and shore and cycle safely wherever we chose (there were far fewer cars back then!).  Each year we stayed in Burnbank, one of the small cottages in High Corrie, a clachan designated by Historic Scotland as being of ‘outstanding historical interest’.

High Corrie United FC 1969

There was the High Corrie Burn to explore, Goatfell to climb, and a flat-ish area where we held our own ‘olympic games’ and football matches, along with a home-made two-hole golf course set on a steep slope with the sea far below.  Not far away was Corrie, and then Brodick,  so there was also putting and crazy golf and rowing boats and sandy beaches to enjoy. Adventure beckoned at every turn!

1973: My father Rev James Dey of the BBC (left) and playwright Robert McLellan relax during a break in filming in High Corrie

It was also a place where summer-holiday stories were written and where there was time to slow down and talk and think and unwind.  But it was also a place where adults could stop and unwind too.  For my parents it was a break from their challenging jobs at the BBC and in a tough Glasgow secondary school respectively. The cottage opposite Burnbank was the home of the playwright and poet Robert McLellan and his wife Kathleen. Nearby, the summer homes of the editor of the Guardian, later the Controller of BBC Scotland, the Director of the Royal Scottish Museum and many artists.  A small place but one alive with thoughts and ideas.

It’s a place I’ve been back to on many occasions and I’ve written about some of the things that made this place special not just to me and my family, but to many others. It’s good to have places like this, places that played their part in our young lives and continue to hold such a store of fond memories. Whilst I’d still find it impossible to name a favourite place, High Corrie comes pretty close!


“Border Crossings” now available as an eBook

“Go, Trabi, Go!” – right through the Berlin Wall!

As November 2014 saw the 25th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I thought it would be a good time to publish “Border Crossings” as an eBook and I’m pleased to say it is now available to download through Amazon Kindle:

Border Crossings eBook

Many of you will have seen the excellent films “Good Bye, Lenin!” and “The Lives of Others”, both of which gave insights into the lives of the East German people during and just after the fall of communism. Two very different films, but both showing that even in the face of an oppressive regime people are still living, breathing and caring human beings.  And that for every person prepared to betray their fellows, there were others prepared to stand by those they loved and cared for – whatever the cost.  It was this humanity that won through in the end and that is truly something worth celebrating and remembering. Looking back over 36 years of a Scottish-German friendship that began in East Berlin in 1978, this book tries to do just that!

Ordinary people can change history!

Click HERE for Reviews of Border Crossings by Martin Dey, David Pattie, Kerstin Jorna and others

Amazon Bestseller Religious Studies ratings 20th December 2014:

“Even if we lose our Lives” – Amnesty International and the struggle for women’s rights in Afghanistan

Imagine not being able to read or write.  Not because you are unintelligent or too stupid to learn, but because in your country it is forbidden.  Not forbidden for all, though – but only forbidden for women.  Imagine having no rights, having no say in your own life.  No say in who you marry.  No say in your health.  Imagine facing violence and brutality on a daily basis – not just from strangers but also from the people you should be able to trust to care for you, the people who should be there to protect you, not to harm you. Fathers, brothers, uncles, even some of the other women around you: who in an istant can turn on you and inflict pain and humiliation.  And there’s nothing you can do about it.  No safe place to go.  No-one to turn to.  No authorities there to help.

That’s still the fate of far too many women in far too many countries of the world today.  But none more so than in present-day Afghanistan, regarded as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman.

From the word go life is harsh: denied education, 87 percent of Afghan women are  illiterate.  Nearly 80 percent are forced into marriage, with over half of all girls married before they are 19 and very many to much older men.  Giving birth without medical help has led to a maternal mortality rate of 400 in every 100,000 – while here in the UK the ratio is only 8. Domestic violence is almost the norm and redress in the courts virtually non-existent.

Under circumstances such as these, you would expect that any women in a position to leave this horrendous situation would do so.  Yet surprisingly there are women who choose to stay and choose to work and fight towards bettering the lives of Afghan women.

Through the play “Even if we Lose our Lives” Amnesty International tells the stories of three such women. It’s challenging and horrific and moving and shocking and wonderful in turn.  The bravery of these women – and the husbands and children who support them – is at times beyond our understanding.  But they fight on.  This play offers insights into into their lives and actions, told through their own words.

St Marks Amnesty Group in Edinburgh recently staged this work and by doing so transformed the all-too-often faceless and nameless people of Afghanistan into real people, suffering and struggling to make their world even a little bit better.  Their humanity and courage is incredible.  Staged by Alison Martin, Hollie Ruddick and Emily Ingram, this is a play to look out for.

Follow this link to see what you can do to support women in Afghanistan:  Women’s rights in Afghanistan: Amnesty International

And for details of the content of the play see the St Marks Group play website: Even if we lose our Lives