Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a GLENCOE product named after the glacial trough in the west highlands of Scotland, which is itself the product of evolution, which is in turn, as far as I believe, the product of God. In fact, I would also quite like to advertise my thinking as GLENCOE theology, a branch of GLENCOE Christianity, as practiced by the International Church of GLENCOE Jesus.
Sane readers may be wondering why I should indulge in this repetitive naming of a west of Scotland glen with a sad history, and the answer is, because I can. Because the glen in question is part of my native land, a known and named location on planet earth, I feel justified in using it as the name of this intellectual product, if I want. I recognise that others may do the same, but if I don’t complain about them , why should they complain about me? Yes, there might be arguments if I use the mountain names Fuji or Everest, but unless my product is competing with products marketed under those names, surely I cannot be stopped selling my theology as Fujiism or my paintings as Fuji images?
That would not be the view of the National Trust Of Scotland, which has threatened a small Scottish manufacturer of outdoor clothing with legal action for calling one of its jackets, “Glencoe” because as the legal owners of Glencoe, the NTS has registered its name as a trade mark. Over the years the NTS has done some strange things, but this is one of the strangest yet. As part of its mission of keeping this historic glen for the people of Scotland and the world, it has turned the very name of the place into a trade mark which can only be used to market NTS trash in its visitor centres. Of course I recognise that it has done so because it can. The registration of a commercial product under a name taken from nature can, it thinks, stop other people from doing the same. If this is the law, which I doubt, the law is an ass, and requires sorting out.
How could the act of registering a name which belongs to all the world somehow restrict that ownership to a body which happens to own a large number of stately homes, gardens and land, on behalf of the nation? I have a love/hate relationship,with the NTS, of which I have been a member for many years. I support its preservation of historic buildings and landscapes, while cringing in embarrassment at the biased narratives it has often peddled as history. Its care of the precious hills of Glencoe has been exemplary, but that does not entitle it to sole possession of its name.
Social critics have used the unlovely word, “commodification” to describe the process whereby elements of nature or of human invention from birds and bees to Winston Churchill and the Ode to Joy are capitalised as objects to be traded. Many people will see this as a crime against nature and humanity, but I see it also as an insult to the Creator.
The poetic theology of the book of Genesis, one of the subtlest of all theologies, insists that the earth belongs to humanity only as a gift from the Creator, and that with the gift comes the responsibility of looking after all its creatures. Great kings and Pharaohs are seen as laughable when they imagine themselves as outright owners of what belongs to God and God’s creatures. The NTS does care for land and creatures and should not be sidelined by a naff commercialism into commodifying the land it owns.
Public interest has already led to it adopting a more reasonable tone over the Glencoe jacket, but it should be aware of the number of Glencoe bandits who are ready to swamp their markets with Glencoe toothpicks, cookies, craft beers, umbrellas, sex toys, bicycles, triple glazing, pop ballads and ….. blogs.
I hope that the manufacturers of the Glencoe Jacket will not take me to court when I market my superannuated oilskins, the thing with holes, as a Glencoe Special Issue.