Rock opera


I went to see my one and only Edinburgh Festival show tonight. LuckilyI avoided reading the reviews or I’d have had to call off with a hairwashing appointment.

It was Orpheus X by some national USA Opera Co.

My pal George invited me and I was frank with him. (Actually he was frank with me.)

“That was shite” he said. And George doesn’t swear.

In truth it was poor. But it had its highlights.

The main female protagonist had got her kit off in the first minute, albeit on video.

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(That’s her in the picture.)

Actually that was it. The one and only highlight.

So, Tommy is officialy still the only Rock opera worth writing about.

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But the question remains. Why?

Dragon’s Den (junior school)


Tom (12) made a presentation to Jeana and I about investing my hard earned cash into a dotcom venture.  He believes he can take £10 a month off me.  Give me £15 back and make a profit by buying and selling on ebay.

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I’m all for entrepreneurialism.

He did a post-den interview into the grip of his putter (a surrogate microphone) claiming he had been to hell and back facing the hardline dragons.

I shall keep you posted of course.

Collosal


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Young Marble Giants’ Collosal Youth is a monumental album and has just been re-released on CD after 37 years.

My vinyl version is virtually unplayable now.

It comes a three CD box set with all the singles, their Peel session and more. It is full of lengthy and fawning sleeve notes. The lyrics are abysmal but this is an all time classic album that MUST be in everybodies collection and, you know what, despite it’s low-fi production values, student pretentiousness (although they weren’t students) and fayness par excellence. It remains what it was when it came out.

A stonewall classic.

That was them then…

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And this is them now…

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Happy Birthday Grandad.


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Seems it’s the time of much celebration. My Grandad (him with the baldie – runs in the family) was born on August 23rd 1907 which, had he not passed away 30 years ago, would have made him a centenarian today.

Not to worry about the small matter of him not being with us, we had a family party in his honour anyway.

The party was held in a church hall in Winchburgh and this was where I stumbled upon a very interesting fact.

Winchburgh, Broxburn and, of all places, Addiwell were the world’s first oil industry boom towns.

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The orange coloured shale bings which dot around the local landscape were the byproduct (well waste to be more accurate) of the parafin industry in that area.

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Parafin was extracted from the shalebeds and was the world’s biggest oil supply for many years from mid 19th century until it ran out in the 1960’s.

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“Bugger me.” I thought. ” I never knew that”.

And yes, before any smarty farty Jambo points it out.  Correct, even my Grandad never saw Hibs lift the Scottish Cup.  There; that’s spoilt your fun eh!

Factory Records, Tony Wilson RIP


Kenneth Fowler wrote a brilliant tribute to Tony Wilson on his blog which I do not intend to attempt to upstage.

I was a huge fan of Factory records boasting recordings by Joy Division, New Order, The Wake, Crispy Ambulance, Happy Mondays, Cabaret Voltaire, The Durutti Column, OMD, and A Certain Ratio on this venerable label.

Just being on Factory Records was a thing of greatness and everything about the label was stylish.

But this is my favourite thing which I spotted as a callow youth.

The catalogue numbers were clearly an important part of the whole shtick.

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To demonstrate have a look at this list

FAC 25 – Closer by Joy Division – their second album

FAC 50 – Movement by New Order – Their first album

FAC 75 – Power Corruption and lies by New Order – also an album

FAC 100 – Low life by New Order – Their third album

FAC 150 – Brotheerhood by New Order – Their fourth Album

FAC 200 – Substance by New Order – Their best of album

FAC 250 – Substance by Joy Division- Their best of album

FAC 275 – Technique by New Order – Their fifth album

FAC 300 – An untiltled New Order Album released on Cassette only (only 5 copies were ever made)

FAC 350 – Not allocated

How cool is that? No Joy Division or New Order singles ever got a catalogue number ending in 25, 50, 75 or 00. Only albums. And, God knows, there were plenty of singles to be afforded that accolade.
I’ll pick my anorak up now shall I?

Steve Wright, Sunday Love songs


Every week Jeana and I listen to the guff that folk spout on the soporama show.

But this morning Jeana shrieked.

“I hate that song. I HATE THAT SONG”; making me think that “I’m not in love” by 10cc was part of some jilting exercise she hadn’t told me about. But no, she just HATES THAT SONG.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the letter I’ve been planning to write to him for some time and I’m sure some of you must have had the same idea (If you’ve heard his toe curling two hours.)

It goes something like this

Dear Steve

It would make me so happy if you’d read out this letter on the air. My wife Jeana and I are such big fans of your wonderful show. In fact we record it and lissten to it time and again through the week in anticipation of you coming on air again. So, you can imagine how we would feel if you actually read out our letter.

Jeana and I met in 1943 in a military hospital in Belgium. I was having an ovary removed as the field doctor had just found out that I was a hermaphrodite. But it’s OK now, I am all man, even if I am getting on in years.

Jeana had no prejudice whatsoever towards my hermaphrodism, unlike some of my other, rather ungentalmenly, fellow patients who used to taunt me with cries of “There he/she goes” every time I went to the WC.

Jeana was a tower of strength at this time, and remains so to this day. So, as soon as I recovered I asked her to wed me. She accepted with good grace and we have been together ever since.

63 adoring years.

Steve, I can’t begin to put into words how much this lady means to me. She has often bitten off more than she could chew. (And believe me that was painful.)

We have 7 lovely children and 42 adoring grandchildren. Even 2 great grand children with, believe it or not, a great, great grandchild on the way courtesy of our delightful 8 year old great grandson, Ranolph.

Jeana hasn’t been feeling so well recently because of the CJD and Pleuracy she got on holiday in Iraq. And I fear she may have to have her other leg amputated too. But she still has the tine for a smile and a cuddle. Although that’s not so easy in her straightjacket.

She means so much to me and I hope her prison sentence for that mugging will be repealed because the women was due it.

She’s my lover, my best friend, my soul mate.  We’ve had our ups and downs but she’s always there for me.  Could you play ‘True’ by Spandau Ballet just for us? *

She’d love to hear her name read out on the radio, so I hope you will.

All the best Steve.

Mark

* Thanks Ian (see comments)

 

Or something like that.

The name game by Shirley Ellis


Mark Lamaar (standing in for Jonathon Ross) opened his radio show this morning with this sublime song. It is unique. So I tried to buy it on itunes and Amazon.

Impossible.

It’s out of print and only available at £50 as a collector’s item.

I don’t suppose any of you out there in WordPress land have it do you?

Or know where I might get it?

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BBQ


It’s not been a good summer for barbies and Amy, who is sweet 16 tomorrow, (Friday 17th) wants one on Saturday. What’s more, I’ve bought all the stuff.

Good stuff too.

So, like a good dad, I checked the weather on the best and most predictable weather site I’ve found so far.

It’s called Metcheck and you’ll find it here.

In doing so I discovered they have a Barbie-ometer.

How good is that.

Here’s Amy’s prospects.

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“Hello. Is that McDonalds?”

1984


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OK.

The time has came.

My dirty secret is out. BB2007 is actually quite interesting.

The freaks are gone and it’s back to normalish folk.

Liam, the Geordie soft lad, spoke words of great widom tonight.

“You can’t not upset some’dy ‘cos they’re gonna, like, put water oot their eyes.”

Nice. That’s philosophical.

And, to the point.

He then put water oot of Carol’s eyes.

Independence for Scotland?


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I am not a particularly political animal, (in fact I consider myself politically naive) but I spent a great deal of today reflecting on Scottishness and its values.

For a start, I played golf at Kilspindie in the pouring rain (but beat an Englishman).

He refused to accept defeat as we walked off after 12 holes, completely drenched, because “golf is a game of 18 holes”.

He lost.

Then I happened to watch the Lochaber v Fort William Shinty match on TV, commentated on in Gaelic.

And then, most importantly, I watched Newsnight Scotland and the in-depth coverage of the SNP’s renewed and vigorous bid for Scottish Independence ; a mere 3 months into their, highly creative but minority, governance of Scotland.

I am a great supporter of the Scottish identity, but should it be tied to the Union?

This is a very big question.

For many (modern) years we have debated this in Scotland, but never, in my view, from a standpoint where a further erosion of the stickiness of the Union might actually benefit our nation.

All of a sudden, we have a statesman that, love him or hate him, has a true Presidential charisma and purpose about him.

I have never, including in the last Scottish Parliamentary election, voted SNP (but I nearly did).

But, you know what, Alex Salmond might just be the man that Scotland, as a nation, needs right now. Maybe he has the chutzpah, the gallousness, the balls to lead us out of serfdom and a sense of inadequacy.

Maybe he is just charismatic enough to make us stand up as a nation again and stand against him.

Against who ?

Ourselves!

(Our lack of vision, purpose and confidence.)

Maybe.

Just maybe.

Whatever? I cannot ever remember seeing a “local” Scottish politician stand up and make a credible case for independence. Until today. At least we should think about it.

Slave labour


One of the abiding memories of my childhood is staying in a house like this.

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A three storey terraced house in Edinburgh.

Actually our house was a little different because the third storey Dormer window was some 6 – 8 feet removed from the guttering below it. This is an important distinction as will be revealed in due course.

Once in a while the third storey guttering needed cleaned.

My father had two options.

a) Hire a bunch of men with scaffolding/VERY long ladders to do it for him.

b) Hang one’s young son (i.e. me) out of the window by a rope attached to the ankles and get him to attack the leaves/moss etc with a broom handle.

Needless to say my dad was of the option b school.

So, dutifully, I hung out of my bedroom window, head first, 30 feet above the ground below, and carried out my task.

I have to say,  it wasn’t my favourite chore.

So, when we were recently having our house exterior painted by the option a method Tom and I took advantage of the scaffolding to clean the conservatory roof.

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Unlike me , Tom took to it with relish as I stood below and , for once, I felt marginally nervous about the possibility of a negative outcome and a thick ear from the current Mrs G.

Thankfully he took to it like a Victorian scally to a chimney pipe and tunelessly whistled his way through the task from start to finish.

MIA New Album Kala


I’ve only heard this once so far but Jeez; it’s an aural assualt.  She’s toured the world to get different sounds from different continents and there’s a lot of “found” sounds used to create amazing, and I mean AMAZING, rythms.

On first hearing it’s the most exciting percussion based album I’ve heard in years.

A BIG progression from the very good debut, Arular.

Here’s a taster.

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Candie Payne


Going to see this top Scouser tonight at Cabaret Voltaire.

Should be a cracker. For those of you who can’t make it, here’s something to keep you going.

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UPDATE

In the end I went with my Mum! 

A first. 

Both of us loved the gig.  Candie Payne kicks ass and her band are really good too.  I’d liked to have seen them open up a bit more.  Anyway, if you can get to see her on her current tour move heaven and earth to do so. 

Spot on. 

Oh, and it’s fair to say she has certainly avoideda beating with the ugly stick, which is a nice bonus.

Just another day at the office


I was in a cab on the way to a meeting this morning when this guy wandered across the road in front of us.

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I thought nothing of it until the cabbie commented “That’ll be the festival on then.”

Could you imagine him out in the street in most other UK cities?

He’d be locked up.

Aye, right enough, Edinburgh during the Festival. There is nowt quite like it.

A note from my mum


My mum’s not a blogger, but she wanted to say thank you to everyone who has written to her in the last few weeks, and written comments on this site. So, over to you Mum…

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I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have responded to Mark’s blog about Dad. He was obviously very much loved and respected by so many people.

He had a great talent with youngsters and this showed in the way they responded year after year in FCT’s wonderful productions.

I know FCT will continue for many years , left as it is in the hands of young people with as much talent, and with the help of the adults in the background who care so much for them.

I love and miss him very much, but his spirit will live on in the children who will continue to perform over the years.

What a wonderful legacy he has left.

With love and thanks to everyone.

Mum

Current Listening


This is a weird one.  Bat For Lashes is fronted by Jemima Khan and the album has, from nowhere really, been nominated for the Mercury Award.  I think it has an outside chance.  A strange mix of dancey beats and experimental stuff.  I think this great video will give you a taste of what you are in for.

The opening track on the album, Horse and I,  features something like a treated harpsichord.  For me it’s the standout.

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