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featured photo story: August 2001

Alan: "This was shot at the Highland Games which take place every summer at Balloch Castle, Loch Lomond, Scotland, and is a homage to the Celtic connection which prevails at this time of year in Donegal, when our Glasgow cousins come to visit their roots.

"Consider the role of the judge, seated imperiously before the twirling dancers. In her youth, she may well have trod the same stage, with the same mixture of emotions. In my musical youth I entered a constant stream of competitions, auditions, instrumental exams and the like (no, I never took up Highland Dancing). Most of my childhood efforts were entirely self-motivated, and actively supported by my parents, but along the way I was always bumping into some poor kid who had been, shall we say, eased into a competitive arena against their better nature. A good judge is a bit like a (good) fortune-teller: they never let you know the bad bits (unless you want to know for the purposes of self-improvement).

My point is this: for those kids who are pumping with adrenalin and riddled with anxiety because they didn't want to be there in the first place, it is a fatal mistake to assume that they want a breakdown of their failure. They probably just want off home as fast as possible. So judge, go easy on them (I'm sure you will), remember when it was you up there - life's about the losers as well as the winners."