Fay Young trained as a newspaper journalist with EMAP in Spalding, Lincolnshire and worked for the Oxford Mail and Times before coming to Scotland with her husband Ray Perman in 1975. Since then – 47 years, 3 sons and four grandchildren later – her work has evolved through newspapers, magazines and books, to new media publishing.
My career as a journalist helped me to discover that so-called ordinary people are always doing extraordinary things. The cult of celebrity (swallowed so eagerly by much of our media – new and old) ignores the rich abnormality of normal people, demeans the unrecognised triumphs that all of us achieve in our everyday lives.
In recent years my work has taken new directions. I still enjoy editing (and occasionally writing for) printed publications, but there is also the creative challenge of digital communication. Since 2011, I have had the great pleasure of working with an innovative young company Walking Heads using spoken word with moving images to bring storytelling to a wider audience. Whenever possible, we bring the best of old and new knowhow together: digital reach combined with real life immediacy.
Scotland’s political landscape also opens challenges and opportunities. As co-editor of Sceptical Scot, launched in 2015, I’ve been on a seven-year roller-coaster ride with my colleague David Gow, exploring what kind of Scotland we are and might become.
Before that, five years as a director of former Edinburgh City Centre Management Company opened my eyes to the often underused or misused potential of public space. That led to a place on the steering group of Poetry in St Andrew Square. The Poetry Garden is now coming back to life with the help of Edinburgh Makars.
In spare time I have learned a great deal through co-ordinating the multicultural voluntary group Leith Open Space, and an informal shadow scheme, Opening Doors. In 2009 I helped to found a multicultural community group, World Kitchen in Leith (still going) and I am proud to be a non-executive director of the bold and imaginative Leith-based activist community theatre company, ACTive Inquiry.
Somehow it all fits together. Our manmade and and wild worlds are always entangled. My interest in gardens and gardeners goes with a concern that we need to spend less time and money on consuming goods and learn how to get more fun out of making and sharing things. (See the new twist that life in lockdown has brought with the first Pond Cottage venture into Scotland’s Garden Scheme in 2021.)
And that is all part of a belief that if we look after our environment more sensitively we will help to create a healthier society where natural resources are more fairly shared. Apart from anything else, in the words of Crispin Tickell, the gentlemanly eco-warrior who persuaded Margaret Thatcher that climate change was something to worry about: “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.”
It seems more urgent than ever in the age of constant crisis: pandemic, Putin, war and colliding realities of Climate Change.
With the closure of Sceptical Scot, I return to the website my sons created for me as a birthday present way back in what now seems the very different era of 2005. I hope you will enjoy exploring a world of such ideas with me.