curiosity about the ways of the world


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.

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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.  


  1. Marie Hernandez

    Could I get a copy of your book about the history of Broughton Primary

  2. Tilda Coleman

    Hi Fay! I hope you are well and doing OK in these stressful times. I am an MA journalism student at City, University of London and am currently working on my final project, an in- depth article about how small communities are coping with the virus.

    I plan to write about how places that are already isolated in some way are adapting, and what their inhabitants might be able to teach people about how to manage in these new circumstances.

    I came across your blog while searching for ways to contact Ann Cholawo. I was wondering if you still have her email and if you’d be able to pass it on? Or, failing that, if you’d be able to put me in touch with anyone else living in small isolated communities who might be willing to talk?

    Thanks a lot, and all your work looks fantastic!

  3. Don Chapman

    Dear Fay, I hope you and Ray are well as Sue and I are. We last met in 1979 when you came to Opinan to interview my father-in-law, Gwyn Macfarlane, about his biography of Florey, I think for the Scotsman. Since I retired from the Oxford Mail and Times in 1994 I’ve written a couple of books: a history of Oxford Playhouse and much more fun, Wearing the Trousers: Fashion, Freedom and the Rise of the Modern Woman, which appeared in 2017. You can access it via my Facebook page, Don Chapman Wearing the Trousers. I am now writing my memoirs for the family, the reason for this email. Was it your article or a review of Florey in the Glasgow Herald that prompted an angry academic to accuse my father-in-law of traducing the memory of Sir Alexander Fleming? You may not remember but it prompted Gwyn to embark on another biography debunking Fleming, though in fact he ended up rather liking him. Maddeningly, he never finished his own memoirs, but the story is worth telling if I can pin it down. With best wishes – Don

  4. alastair jackson

    Hi Fay,

    I’m a photographer, originally from Skye, currently working on my new book project, which is looking at the islands of Skye, and speaking to people with interesting connections to these landfalls. I would like to take a trip out to Soay (sometime), and I wondered if it would be possible for you to put me in touch with Anne? It would be great to take a trip out there – when you grow up in the islands you end up not travelling to other islands very much!!
    Many thanks


  5. fay

    I do indeed have Anne’s address and have forwarded Malcolm’s message to her. Anne remembers his visit well and I’m now looking forward to following the magician’s trail across inhabited islands of Scotland. Time permitting, I’ll report back on my blog. Such chance encounters are rare in cyberspace these days.

  6. Malcolm Russell

    Hello Fay!
    My name is Malcolm Russell. I’m a magician currently living in Calgary, Canada, but I previously lived in Orkney. In 2004 I travelled across Scotland in an attempt to become the first magician ever to perform on every inhabited island in Scotland, which included a visit to Soay, where I met Anne Cholawo. I’ve been going through photos and I have a bunch of my visit with Anne that I’d like to send her but I can’t find an email address for her. Would you happen to have it?
    if you’d like to read a little about my tour, there’s a page on my website at
    Thanks so much!

  7. Donald Dickie

    Hello Fay
    I found your name in Anne Cholawo’s acknowledgements to her book on Soay.
    I have visited the island and have met Anne a couple times.
    My father organised the evacuation of the island in 1953. I have used his reports (Register House archives) and other material including photos to compile an account


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