Filed under: Uncategorized
So. Let me set the scene.
I’m at my pal’s birthday party (last night).
I meet a really interesting girl, in her 30′s maybe. Really good fun.
Next thing, she introduces me to her boyfriend. Great guy. Same age. We chat away.
Next up, another female joins the company. I slightly miss the intro, and the relationship, but get get chatting and fairly quickly establish that it’s the boyfriend’s mum, albeit she doesn’t really look that old.
We chat. She has some good stories. VERY interesting job actually.
Anyway, a little later an older lady enters stage left.
I notice that her surname is the same as the people I’m speaking to. (Yes, we are wearing name badges at this party.)
Turning to the boyfriend I say “Oh, this must be your Gran.”
“No, it’s my mum.” says he.
I look towards his sister.
She knows what I’m thinking.
I choke back a little bit of sick.
I want to go home.
I pretend it didn’t happen.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: bedsit disco queen, Ben watt, Cherry Red records, Everything but the girl, massive attack, Missing, Oh the Divorces, Protection, tracey thorn
Tracey Thorn has been with me all my life.
First, as the scratchy am-pop singer in The Marine Girls – glorious on their thrones as Cherry Red royalty.
Then, as plain old Tracey before her emergence with Ben Watt as Everything But the Girl (EBTG) where briefly they set the pop world alight with her Massive Attack collaboration on Protection and their subsequent EBTG smash hit ‘Missing’.
Post motherhood Tracey has reappeared in her own clothes again with a couple of excellent solo albums. In 2010 her song “Oh! The divorces” from the excellent “Love and its opposite” really moved me with its lament about the fact that all around her were seeing their marriages decay and crumble whilst she and Ben stood strong.
Always the ones the ones that you least expect
They seem so strong
It turned out she wanted more all along
And each time I hear who’s to part
I examine my heart
See how it stands
Wonder if it’s still in safe hands
And so, in this book she tells her story. A simple tale in many ways that chronologically unfolds, revealing her inner secrets (mostly demons and fears) drawn from her prodigious youthful diary-keeping.
We hear of her constant rebellion against things she seems not to fully grasp but feels she must rebel anyway.
But most poignantly we read of her love for lifelong partner, boyfriend and husband, Ben Watt. It’s the section of the book that deals with Ben’s almost life ending illness that grips you with the greatest strength and that primes the latter stages of Thorn’s career so far with her best and most compelling writing.
Throughout you hear “the voice” in the back of your head. She refers to it often. It’s alto strains being both its greatest strength and (to her, nobody else) its most limiting factor.
I don’t think you need to be an EBTG fan to enjoy this (but it certainly helps) because it’s an everyday tale of how ordinary people managed to carve out a close to 30 year moderately, and briefly spectacularly, successful recording career. She’s still at it is our Trace.
“Tracey we’ve been asked to support U2.” Ben tells her “Nah you’re all right.” is Tracey’s response (I paraphrase but it sums up her modesty.)
Bedsit Disco Queen will not win the Booker Prize, neither will it feature in Richard and Judy’s Book Club, but it’s a rare and delicious insight into the music industry unsullied by cynicism, not trying to put any “record straight.” It’s just a great story well told.
And it’s highly recommended.
Spotted in the Summerhall Bar, Gent’s loo.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: christianity, hinuism, preachings of St Francis of Assisi, religion, St FRancis of Assisi
Our new Pope opted for Frankie’s nom de plume and today at mass our priest – the wise old Western Islander, Fr Tony, gave us an interesting insight into his inspiration.
I was particularly taken by this quote from St Francis that he referenced in his Homily.
“Preach the Gospel at all times (and use words if necessary).”
Wise words indeed, particularly in these times where religion is used as a front for the most heinous of behaviours.
Ghandi made a particularly interesting observation (again my Source is Fr Tony) when he said “The trouble with you Christians is that you have great preachings but don’t live up to them.” (I paraphrase I’m sure). That observation would benefit not just Christians of course.
Filed under: business, Uncategorized | Tags: CN Tower, free climbing, glass floor, safety harness, Tower climbers, transmission tower
Recently I was in Toronto and took the super fast lift to the observation floor of the C N Tower. There’s a glass floor that enables you to look directly below you to ground level. Here’s a photo of it that I took in all it’s glory. The glass floor is at the base of that spaceship like protrusion near the top (at 1,000 feet above the ground).
I could not walk on the glass. The feeling it gave me actually turned my stomach. It was as if you were walking out to your death, so after 5 or 10 attempts I eventually officially “bottled it”.
Imagine then the feeling of climbing one of these babies. It’s a transmission tower that’s 1768 feet high and much of the climb is done without the aid of a safety harness.
Watching this made me feel ill and it’s only a video.
It is outstanding, so enjoy it, but look out your sick bag and stay with it to the end.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: A widow for One Year, Cider House Rukles, Frank Bascombe, independence day, John Irving, Owen Meaney, Richard Ford, The Sportswriter, US literature, Wally Lamb I know this much is true
This is not an easy book to read. It took me several months. The plot is relatively thin and it it wanders in and out of the structure throughout. But that doesn’t stop it taking its place at the top table of American 20th century fiction along with the likes of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections,and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and No country for Old men (even if they are 21st Century), John Irving’s Owen Meaney, Cider House Rukes and A Widow for one Year and Wally Lamb’s I know this much is true.. It felt a little like The Fight by Norman Mailer in that it is an intense study of one man, Sportswriter Frank Bascombe as his life gently unravels.
It’s great because it gets under the skin of being a man, not by creating hyperbolic scenarios, but by sensitively and meaningfully deconstructing a man’s views as things go (a bit) wrong. We deal in turns with love (and lust) the breakdown of marriage and the possibility that life can go on without it turning into a major trauma, homosexuality, the death of one’s child, writers block, companionship, the personal sense of place and worth, religion and suicide. It does all of this without ever appearing forced. In fact the prose is so stunningly well written, poetic in fact, that it takes ones breath away at times.
Often it can be dense and paragraphs need read over again but it’s worth the effort to consume these 350 or so pages of literary magic.
Independence Day (the second in a trilogy about the main protagonist) is apparently even better.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: David Bowie, new David Bowie song, Where are we now?
And probably his best since Ashes to Ashes.
Fab. Really beautiful. Haunting. Certainly raises expectations for the “surprise” new album.
Odd video mind.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, football, humour, life, Scotland, sports, stories, Uncategorized | Tags: arthur seat, celtic fc, Chips'n'cheese, easter Road stadium, Edinburgh, Edinburgh View, Edinburgh's Greatest Football Team, Hibees, Hibernian FC, Ian McAteer, Leith, Sunshine on Leith, The Bhouys, the hoops, the union
Advertising supremo, Iain McAteer, of The Union was climbing Arthur Seat on a chill but not Arctic New Year’s day.
The hike was an attempt to wash the bitter taste of the defeat (and too much red wine) of his beloved Chips’n'cheese-eating, potato picking, football team to the (ex) purveyors of the beautiful game, the mighty Hibernian FC from his mouth.
He turned to take in the glorious view and was rewarded with this stunning vision.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: aquaplaning, aquaplaning on a bike, cycling, Scottish Cycling, Sir Bradley Wiggins
I went out for my last “big run” of the year to unwelcoming grey skies. Eight of us made it up for the 9:01 ride from Dalmeny to Torphicen (in the hills above Linlithgow) All went well to our half way coffee and bacon roll stop but as we sat espousing the virtues of Sir Wiggo the rain started.
By the time we re-strode our carbon shafts to cries of “Oooohhh I really SHOULD have go that seat cover for Christmas” the downpour was becoming a deluge and the 17 miles home took on ferocious natural challenges. We’d already taken on a 20mph headwind so at least we were helped home but the puddles became deeper and deeper, browner and browner. I nearly missed a corner at the hump back bridge just outside Linlithgow and was chatting to Roddy about whether or not you could “aquaplane on a bike” when I aquaplaned on a bike.
Well, fuck me if that wasn’t scary.
I was belting it down a downwardish slope doing at least 25mph (that’s about 45kph for you cyclists out there) when I hit a brown puddle at the side of a field that covered 3/4 of the road and was at least 6″ deep. To say the bike veered as the change in speed coupled with 20mph gusts of side on wind impacted on my forward trajectory would be an underestimate. The wheel certainly lost contact with the road but I stayed on board and disaster was averted.
Bring on next week!
In 1971 an all American family from Santa Barbara in California were chosen, seemingly at random, to take part in a TV experiment. It was to become the world’s first reality TV show called “An American Family” and its stars, the Loud family – both by name and at times by nature, were to become national phenomena.
But to get to legendary status the show’s producer, Craig Gilbert, had a pretty hard sell to the board of TV company PBS who were reluctant, to say the least, to commit to the show and began to baulk at the cost of production as the film stock costs (in particular) began to mount.
Their concern was about the “view-ability” of the show and whether it would find an audience. They needn’t have worried because what gradually emerged was a tale of a swinging misogynist father (Tim Robbins), a hopeless and helpless (but sultry in Gilbert’s opinion) Mom played brilliantly by Diane Lane and a screamingly gay son, Lance, played gleefully by Thomas Dekker. Not to mention a looky-likey Rolling Stones band fronted by the other two boys.
But it’s what’s going on in the mind of Producer Gilbert (played masterfully by James Gandolfini with a very unlikely full beard and absolutely no gangster element whatsoever to draw on) that is the meat of the movie. Well, I say a movie but it’s actually a documentary set within a drama, about a reality TV documentary that turns out larger than life than any drama.
At points we see side by side comparisons between the “real” family and the 2011 actors. It’s uncanny.
Gandolfini manipulates all sides as he makes the “action” more and more interesting but in doing so contributes to the family meltdown and the confidence of his crew. It’s teriffic.
I don’t think this ever made it to cinema, it’s an HBO production, but it’s great and I saw it last night on Sky Atlantic so is likely to be repeated at some time. If it is tune in because it’s a little gem.
We’ve berated Starbucks et al. Now let’s hear it for the honest cheat. We applaud you senor.
A theatre (Quim Marce’s theater in the town of Bescano – north of Barcelona) in Spain was going bust because he Spanish government raised tax on theatre tickets to 21% with the result that punters were giving up on going out. It was a peseta too far.
But Quim Marce (the owner) spotted a loophole whilst on a trip to his local market.
The humble, grubby carrot; donkey food down the old Iberian peninsula has given the tax man a sidestep and comes in at a mere 4%.
So, cue a change in pricing strategy down the old Quim Marce Theatre. You no longer buy theatre tickets, you buy carrots (for the same price as before) and gain free entry to the theatre as a thank you.
His season next year will compose of
- Romeo and Julienne,
- The Importance of Being Par-boiled,
- Death of a Carrot Salesman,
- A Streetcar Named Desiree (potato and baby carrot salad),
- Glengarry Glenross variety,
- Speed the Plow,
- View from a Bridge by the Allotment,
My pal Tim played this 30 years ago. I heard it agin last night approaching midnight and it blew me awy.
This is utterly sublime.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Magic underpants, magic underpants don't work, magic underpants for sale, magic underpantsgate, Mitt romney magic underpants, the end of the magic underpants
Filed under: business, conservative, creativity, liberal, life, politics, Rants, Uncategorized | Tags: Barack Obama, democrats, ethnic vote, mitt romney, politics, republicans, The 2012 US presidential election
When Barack Obama rode into power in November 2008 on a wave of optimism, change, belief, creativity and downright sexiness the world gasped. American politics had not been so riveting since the 1960′s and certainly not as glamorous. This online ad encapsulated it all for me.
And then reality kicked. The mother of all recessions and hostile antipathy towards what’s now known as Obamacare.
One of Mitt Romney’s central strategies was, in creating 12million new jobs (really?), he would revoke Obamacare and return America to the most obviously polarised class structure in the Western world.
Obama meanwhile was criticised for continuing the Afghan war and for appearing remote; too much a thinker, not enough a baby-hugger.
He was doomed.
Five things saved him I believe. Catching, and killing, Bin Laden (in a brave and high risk operation), Hurricane Sandy, Clinton’s speech, his wife and a brilliantly single-minded and principled political agenda that reached out Liberally to the WHOLE of America.
While Romney seduced the white vote with constant appeals to their pockets “it’s the economy stupid.” Obama consistently ploughed his furrow of social justice.
The Democrats are painted as Socialists (albeit dressed in Blue) but they strike me, under Obama, as the world’s great Liberals, balancing vote winning (in the underpriveleged) social issues with strong foreign affairs and a balanced view on the economy; it’s not the economy at ALL costs.
This chart said it all when I saw it last week. It demonstrated what a danger Romney would be given the keys to the White House (we all saw his ineptitude abroad earlier this year in the UK)
The statistics are overwhelming and, guess what, the only country favouring Romney was Pakistan; default home of Al Quaeda. World, we got a close call here but escaped unharmed.
Obama’s return to power was anything but certain. He had to rely on a strong ethnic vote (and his ethnicity unquestionably helped there – were a white candidate standing against Romney the result would probably have been very different. Should Hilary Clinton choose to stand in 2016 her support amongst female voters may have a similiar effect). He had to scrap on the streets of the swing states for his life. He only performed moderately in the TV debates. He was saved in the end by his sticking to principles but his negative campaigning was far removed from the elegance of the Obey campaign.
This TV ad from last month though was a masterclass in Liberal balanced communication and I hope it made its mark. There were so many that one will never know and it seems it was the doorstep canvassing that really made the difference. Obama’s strategy in micro-marketing being better and more energetic.
A note on the TV coverage. I watched it here, in the UK, flipping between the BBC, Sky, CNBC and CNN. By a country mile the most interesting, insightful and challenging coverage came from CNN.
The BBC was plodding and boring.
So, America has made a brave, some might say, and reasoned, others might say, judgement call. At the end of an administration that has see the economy hit by its very own Hurricane Sandy and against a presentable and domestically credible conservative voice offering the promise of a return to “The American Dream” Obama has held on, scraped back into power and given the opportunity to carry on his work, Not only that but The Senate surprisingly remained in the hands of the Democrats.
One major blot on the horizon; the Republicans still hold power in the house and so the opportunity to quash social change policies remains real and present.
One word sums it up again though.
I’m Mark Gorman and I approved this message.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Cheetahs cheetah appeal Cheetah outreach
As some of you may know my Sister Emily has given up years of her life, literally, to hand rear wild Cheetah cubs in RSA.The charity for which she does this sterling work is called Cheetah Outreach and has, post 2012 rearing season suffered a cataclysm. I will let Emily’s partner, James, take over here by sharing the email he sent me earlier this week and I ask that you my dear reader and friend do what you can to help either financially or in kind. At the very least please share this message with your own social networks in the hope that it reaches caring eyes and hearts.
About a year ago, Emily regaled us with tales of the Kalahari and many kindly supported our fundraiser for Cheetah Outreach (CO), the charity that Emily has done the cub-rearing for these many years, as seen on TV !! It did well, raising nigh on SAR 50,000 for CO and £650 for Wildlife Heritage Foundation for which we thank you. Although this letter is rather long I plead with you to read it through as it asks a question of you at the end, well, three.
This year, Emily and I were together on the cub-project and ten cubs came to Eikendal, in four litters of differing ages. It was, as ever, exhausting and sublime and we’ll send pictures in an email soon, so as not to get spammed on this one! When we left the cubs, but a few weeks ago, Yell, Coll and Broch were back in Pretoria at de Wildt, Zingula and Ailsa were up at the main facility like big girls, and the wee five were still at the cubhouse amongst the vineyards. Emily has since been in constant contact aiding their nurture, so has not really stopped – she lives and breathes with cheetahs in mind! And talking of cheetahs, I need your help.
There has been a grave disaster. Four nights ago, at dark late o’clock, after electrical storms and much deluge, a dam broke on the vineyard hill above the cub complex and the earth moved. Ton upon ton upon ton of mud slid through the Anatolian shepherd dog enclosures, taking all with it. A goat drowned, but miraculously the dogs survived; several were found along the motorway some miles away, so very luckily unhurt. The wee wooden cottages abutting the main ops centre of kitchen and cubroom were smacked by a wall of mud, trapping folks inside whilst the waters lapped through to the very cubroom door; towels, fleeces, sand-bags and volunteers saved the day. The cubs were emergency evac-ed to the main facility some twenty minutes drive away in the darkness and everyone retreated from the assault.
The whole cub complex is now under a metre of mud and all ops switched to the CO main building at Paardevlei. Cubs and volunteers are squashed into whatever rooms they have, like London in the Blitz though fewer bombs, making do with the little they saved, higgledy-piggledy but, as ever, primarily succouring the cubs. The pictures that Emily has sent through all these years of cubs running in the garden, cubs sleeping in the cub room, cubs playing on the porch are now but artefacts, antediluvian memories of space that is no longer there.
All are pluckily braving it well, staff, volunteers and cubs – but cataclysms have aftershocks. From the surviving comes the immediate coping and then the rebuild. I have little ability from here to aid, save to contact past supporters and plead for help to meet the inevitable strain on already overstretched finances and manpower. Charities are closely related, as cheetahs, and so when an ailment strikes such as the credit crunch or other biscuits, it weakens the whole and makes epidemic the danger of crisis. There is so much less to go around. A sudden event can make that fatal difference. This is a call to arms. And alms.
As Dawn Glover at CO puts it, “Although insurance will cover part of the disaster, they do not cover the very expensive clean up or the very expensive private kennels we currently have the dogs in while insurance agents, assessors and structural engineers get to grips with the disaster and decide how much damage has been done”.
If you are in South Africa, I do so hope that you get a chance to visit CO and the cheetahs. The main op at the facility will still be open 10-5pm 7 days a week on the R44. Only you will know what is going on behind closed doors! Meeting a cheetah will convert and inspire you and then I won’t need to ask you for any help you can give, be it your skills, your time or your address book! You will be proffering it. If you are not in South Africa, then I ask you to help as you can. Do you know folk there who might spread the word? Do you have a spare wine estate with a modern cub-rearing facility on it in the area that you’re not using? Can you spare a dime?
Donations are being gathered through justgiving.com on the same page we used last year ( http://www.justgiving.com/cheetahoutreach-whf ) and even better for CO through direct international transfer to them. Donations can be thought of as how much they cost, or how much help they give :
Cheetah Outreach direct donation :
Bank Details :
First National Bank
Adderly Street, Cape Town
Branch Code: 201409
Account Number: 62030813241
Account Name: CCF – Cheetah Outreach Trust
First National Bank, 82-84 Adderley Street , Cape Town 8000.
Swift number: FIRNZAJJ
Bank Tel: + 27 (0)21 487 6000
On line donations : Please donate here
And PLEASE PLEASE Forward this email to folk who might care, or care to help
Filed under: cycling, humour, Scotland, sports, stories, Uncategorized | Tags: 801 Dalment cycle club, Cleish Hill, Scottish Cycling
It would seem I have failed to understand, pretty much fundamentally, the fashion code for serious cyclists as this excerpt from the very amusing 801 Dalmeny blog suggests
“Newbie Mark G compounded multiple violations of the rules (mountain bike, trainers, camelbak, raybans, mudguards, panniers, pants showing through lycra shorts…) with a milky coffee choice and boiled eggs with soldiers.”
OMG . How much did I love this band in the early 1980′s. Undoubtedly the best thing to come out of Germany after Can, Kraftwerk and David Bowie.
Anyway, my nephew has made my year and done his take on it. I give you, ladies and gentlemen Tron by Default and Picassio.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: david cameron, easy jet, house of lords, londo olympics, lothian and borders police, naples airport, olympics, omnishambles, Rangers, Rangers debacle, rangers fc, schoolkids, Sleasy Jet, transportation, travel, vacation
This word is trending right now.
It’s trending because of the Olympics because they’re threatening to go Pete Tong (but won’t) but really the word could apply to a lot of things and it has the potential to become a real favourite of mine.
It could apply to the Easyjet check in process that I experienced at Naples airport last week. Well, when I say process I mean complete lack of process. It truly was an omnishambles and could have been solved so simply with a bit of literal (not even lateral) thinking. Four flights checking in at around the same time (over about 40 minutes) and five check in desks one dedicated to fast pass check in that nobody was using because we ain’t falling for another way for SleasyJet to rip a tenner out of you) but anybody could check in to any desk. The result? As each flight became perilously close to gate closure all the remaining passengers were called to the front in a massive scrum – the worst case being 50 schoolkids headed to the front of the queue that we were in and held us up for half an hour. Truly, miraculously stupid. The solution. One desk per flight and if you arrive late you miss your flight. Simple.
It could apply to David Cameron and his House of Lords debacle. Frankly it could apply to David Cameron. Full Stop.
It could apply to Rangers FC and the entire farce that has attended the unraveling of their legacy of cheating.
It could apply to the mess that Lothian and Borders Police made of traffic managing the closure of the Edinburgh Bypass on Saturday when I nearly missed my dear Friend Kennny Harris’ funeral (as it happened I was 50 minutes late).
You see, omnishambles could become omnipresent in my vocabulary. Look forward to it.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: competitive dad, cycle scotland, cyclists, glasgow to edinburgh bike ride, holiday in italy, pedal for scotland, travel, vacation
Fresh from my holiday in Italy (more on that later folks) I’ve taken the plunge and decided to enter a cycle race! Well, it’s more of a huge crowd pleasing ride across Scotland from Glasgow to Edinburgh. It’s called Pedal for Scotland and you can read about it here http://ow.ly/c1Ssg.
It’s organised by Cycling Scotland and involves over 14,000 cyclists so I expect it to be quite a spectacle.
I’m really up for this because at around 50 miles I think it’s doable but still a challenge. I will, of course, be approaching the challenge with my usual “competitive Dad” spirit.
Money goes to Maggies Centre but don’t worry I won’t be asking you for more money; not now at least. Follow my training as we get closer to the event.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: bradley wiggins, cycling, mark cavendish, robert miller, Tour de france
This is very, very exciting.
Bradley Wiggins is the Favourite to win.
We have a points winner ( Mark Cavendish last year) and a King of the Mountains winner (memorably Robert Miller, a Scot) but no overall winner.
Come on Bradley.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: 2012 cup final, Edinburgh Cup, Edinburgh Cup Final, hibs v hearts, Joe Baker, Scottiosh Cup Final 2012, Scottish Cup final, willie Bauld
…I thought I’d share with you a couple of great images my old pal, Jimbo Downie, created.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: best ever performances on later with Jools Holland, Down by the Water, Down by the Water PJ Harvey, jools holland, mary j blige, mary j blige no more drama, mid air, no more drama, p j harvey, paul buchanan, paul buchanan mid air
On Friday night Paul Buchanan performed, IMHO, one of the greatest ever performances on Jools. Even my wife asked to see it again. Here it is.
Here are, also in IMHO, the other two performances that make up the top three.
PJ Harvey, Down by the Water.
Mary J Blige, No More Drama.
I would be interested to see what you all think and compile a poll of the best ever.
So, please comment below with your suggestions for the all time best Jools Holland performances and I’ll make up a shortlist and share it here.
Filed under: Uncategorized
An extra song to add to King Creosote and Jon Hopkins 2011 smash Diamond Mine.
Directed by Elliot Dear and produced by mate Jon Stevenson’s son in law, James Stevenson Bretton. Stunning,,.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: amnesiac, creep, kid a, king of limbs, radiohead
I confess. I really like King of Limbs.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: gorman, gorman california, hitchcock, janet leigh, population figures, psycho, u s census bureau
I was watching Psycho the other night on the TV and this scene caught my eye. I hadn’t noticed it before.
It’s in the first half hour as Janet Leigh makes off with the money, followed by the copper.
Look how quiet the Californian freeway is…
The U.S. Census Bureau does not break out separate population figures for this small place, but in 2005 Gorman had only 15 homes and approximately a dozen registered voters.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Filed under: Uncategorized
Photocillin takes some amazing pictures. He’s a friend of mine on Flickr but this particular one stopped me in my tracks because of its brilliant title