To begin with I have to admit to a few thoughts I had when I learned that between them Scottish Book Trust and the Scottish Government have put money into a scheme to try and teach people about the trouble with sectarianism.
My mind immediately went to Islam versus some other religious group (whereas the book in question – Walk the Walk – is about Catholics and Protestants). And then I thought that I don’t believe in artificial stories or fiction that is brought to us to teach us how to behave. To top it all, when I began reading Walk the Walk (downloadable as a pdf here), I was unable to tell the Catholics from the Protestants. My first guess was – probably – the wrong one, so I turned the situation on its head.
That in itself should prove that either I’m exceptionally dim, or that it’s not actually terribly obvious. Take away skin colour and religious uniform and we tend to look surprisingly similar. Set in Glasgow, the only black character is from Edinburgh. And with my Swedish hat on, I have to admit that this kind of official attempt to make life better and to have people love one another, sometimes might work, a little. So I’m pleased to live in a country where they at least try.
Launched yesterday by Scottish Book Trust and Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, the book will be distributed to literacy tutors across Scotland. It was written in dramatised form by Gowan Calder and illustrated in comic book style by Jill Calder.
And for a story born in this way, it’s pretty good. At least the first half which I’ve had time to read. I think we should all give it a go. It might make us feel that those others aren’t so strange, after all. Whoever ‘those others’ are, which will vary depending on who you are and where.