Long form

cal in salopettes

Since I went freelance I have been concentrating on expanding my repertoire of ‘long form’ features, reportage, memoir and narrative non-fiction. I enjoy having the time to immerse myself in a subject, read everything I can get my hands on, ring up experts and people with personal experience, and ask them as many stupid questions as they’ll allow.

I am always looking for more opportunities in this area. (Have a suggestion? Get in touch.)

I write across all subjects, but have particular interest in:

  • indigenous peoples, and their struggle for self-governance
  • Scottish independence, and all cultural aspects including Gaelic
  • colonialism, especially the legacy of the British Empire
  • writing about landscape and nature, in my native Highlands and abroad
  • psychology and neuroscience (my undergraduate degree was in experimental psychology – and I continue to be fascinated by all aspects of brain and behaviour)
  • animals and animal behaviour, particularly: wildness vs. domestication

I tend to post my cuttings online as I go along (the features will be gathered here automatically), but find a few of my favourites below:

· Granta, February 2018
Stalking hinds through the hills of the north west Highlands, while reflecting upon the necessity and controversies of the annual deer cull

Abstract Art
· New Humanist, July 2017
Culture essay on the appreciation of ‘beautiful’ mathematical equations

The Last Duchess
· Avaunt, March 2017
An essay on the Slate Islands, off the coast of Argyll, and on finding beauty in post-industrial and other ‘anthropogenic’ landscapes.

Country Diaries
· The Guardian, Dec 2015 to present
I contribute irregularly to this lovely regular feature of short seasonal postcards from around rural Britain. I write from the Highlands and islands, and my dispatches include accounts of sighting otter pups, seals, puffins and ravens.

Who wants to live forever?
· New Humanist, July 2016
Once the preserve of eccentrics and cranks, cryonics is entering the mainstream. Is eternal life possible – or even desirable?

The Tree Farm
· Granta, January 2016
Hiking through the Flow Country of Sutherland, in search of the plantation forests created considered one of the most reckless environmental experiments in UK history.

My left leg
· The Sunday Times Magazine, 14 September 2014
I was born with one leg shorter than the other. My only option was years of radical orthopaedic surgery. Here, I recounts a childhood spent in wheelchairs and hospital wards.

Springtime for Gaelic
New Statesman, 28 February 2014
A burst of enthusiasm for Gaelic-medium education looks set to halt the language’s centuries-old decline – and my two-year-old nephew is amongst the new intake.

The last supper
· Aeon, 24 December 2013
Wild mushrooms are for culinary daredevils. Care to play Russian roulette with your dinner?

The call of the wild
· Telegraph Magazine cover story, 21 December 2013
A diary of my winter spent working on a husky farm in the Arctic Circle.

Contemporary Scottish Friction
· The New Inquiry, 10 December 2013
The coming Scottish independence referendum has given new energy to the would-be national literary scene.

The Bot Wars: how the computer whizzkids are beating you to everything 
New Statesman, 6 August 2013
Enterprising programmers are creating bots to snap up everything from restaurant tables to eBay goods before humans can even get a look in.

Land of the never rising sun
· Prospect, 5 February 2013
Nothing can prepare you for living through a polar night


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