Bummer


So, you invest in some smart shirts, double cuffed and all that, and think you’ll be smart and presentable, a real swell.

And you decide to wear the aforementioned doublecuffery at a business event.  An event with an audience of 60 that you are chairing.

The SMA, to be precise.

So, that’s what happened.  I was hosting a Question Time (esque) event playing the David Bimbledy role when, about an hour in, I looked torso-ward, then quickly audience-ward, my old mucker Jon Stevenson caught my eye and smirked in sympathy.

The shirt may have been smart and lovely but my  belly had been fully and wholly unattractively exposed as the button at the point of most pressure (the belly button) had popped.

Class. (Thanks TM Lewin for your lack of button protection.)

Aside from Jon’s smirk, I may have got away with it.

Not mine, but you get the idea.

Not mine, but you get the idea.

The look


This is the look that reflects the feeling you have when your advertising has been nominated for an award. The look that reflects the fact that despite being the only nomination in the category the judges decide not to give it an award; but to highly commend it.

It is not a gracious look.

It is not a grown up look but, frankly, it is not a look that should have to happen.

My opinion? If a category has no work deemed good enough for an award then don’t nominate the best of the worst. No nominations. No bitter dissapointment. No griping.

I have been told I look unhappy in this photo. I was, but not as unhappy as my creative colleagues, Pete and Iain would have been had they attended the event.

Ross and Brand


The furore over the childish prank fashioned by Jonathon Ross as guest presenter on the Russel Brand show is appropriate.

As it happens, I am currently reading Brand’s autobiography and in it (early days so far) he comes across as not far short of mentally ill. He has conquered drink and drug addiction but his sex addiction is far from cured.


And, actually, it’s not funny.

It seems to stem from a childlife immersed in porn and the overseeing of his father’s sexual proclivity. In this paragraph, recounting an experience from a holiday at Pontins as a seven year old where he spies his father about to ‘have it off’ with the mother of the girl Brand is hanging about with you can see the complexity of Brand’s relationship with sex. It’s great material because the metaphor that forms the basis of this tale is sad, but outstanding…

“…at that point the woman walked out of the bathroom naked and shrieked. She tried to cover herself up – all knockers and skin everywhere almost independently trying to escape her – like she was a vet’s assistant bungling her way through her first day, mishandling a litter of recalcitrant piglets…Intriguing I thought.”

I think my point is that Brand almost can’t help himself. He has a problem that perhaps needs to be understood as opposed to vilified. It’s the basis of much of his humour, but we all know how many comedians are tortured souls (no question Brand is).

Ross, on the other hand, is a trumped up chance-taker. He revels in titillation of a homo or hetero style. He flirts outrageously with every single guest on his much overrated TV show whilst declaring undying love to his long suffering wife. (His radio programme is far superior.)

It was Ross that initiated the badness, in my view spiced up by the frisson of danger that hosting Brand’s, The BBC’s enfent terrible, show might have afforded him. It was him that told poor old Andrew Sachs that Brand had had sexual relations with his granddaughter. I believe Brand just went with the flow, (not that I’m endorsing his behaviour I have to say).

It’s all rather sad. And I do think both of them need a bollocking. Brand for being stupid. But Ross in particular, the perhaps calculating ringleader and school bully.

But you just know, don’t you, that a bit of grovelling, a charity cheque or two will smooth the whole thing over.

Wassup 2008.


Thanks to Will Atkinson for providing me with this gem.

Not only is this very funny and a genius pastiche but it is a very true take on our current zeitgeist (yeah I know but it’s the right word.)

For those of you who don’t remember the vernacular hogging original it was truly the talk of the water cooler in 2000.

I don’t usually post gags but this one’s top notch


I am grateful to Pete Mill’s Brother in law for this wee gem.

An armed balaclava-clad robber bursts into the Royal Bank of Scotland and forces the tellers to load a sack full of cash.

On his way out the door with the loot one brave customer grabs the balaclava and pulls it off revealing the robber’s face. The robber shoots the guy in the head without hesitation! He then looks around the bank to see if anyone else has seen him.

One of the tellers is looking straight at him and the robber walks over and calmly shoots him in the head also.

Everyone by now is very scared and looking down at the floor.

‘Did anyone else see my face?’ calls the robber.

There is a few moments silence then one elderly Scottish gent, looking down, tentatively raises his hand and says,

‘I think my wife may have caught a glimpse ….’.

Progress?


Holywood studios are concerned about the effects of piracy and for some reason, I’m not up on the technical side of things, are pushing forward with the digitalisation of cinemas.  The cost of this is approximately £50k per screen and the multinationals (owned by the studios in reality) can afford to take it on the chin.

However if, like me, you prefer to buy your films in independent cinemas (in Edinburgh that means The Cameo, Filmhouse and Dominion) you may be in for a shock.  These types of cinemas simply do not have £50k a pop to do this.

The result.

Out of business.

Predictions are that 300 of the UK’s 400 independent screens will go bust.  Surely this is a one off case for government intervention.  400 x £50k is a mere £2 million pounds.

If they can sink 500 squillion into the banking network it must be worth a mere £2 million to save a way of life.

Should we start a petition?  I’m up for it.

Some of our runners are missing


Although thankfully everyone has now been found (and safe) I thought it was a little amusing to hear that the runners of a Cumbrian Fell race had ‘lost’ 1700 hundred runners at dawn today.

What’s more, the police had told them not to be silly. The organisers claimed it was just a bit of rain and that’s quite normal in fell races.

This video may or may not persuade you otherwise.

Me?

Wouldnae fancy it much.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “BBC NEWS | England | Cumbria | Police…“, posted with vodpod

If you knew Don and Carol like I knew DOn and Carol…


…this would reduce you to tears as it did to me.

Don and Carol are two of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet and to work with.

I have had the privelege of both.

I first met both of them in the early 90’s at George Studios where they performed miracles with artwork. Carol the queen of Scotland’s typographers, Don, the king of cardboard box making. At 1576 we used them as our external studio before they approached us at the perfect point in time to set up a JV , an in-house artwork studio which we branded independently as Whitespace.

It grew and grew and in the late 90’s we agreed an MBO with them so that they could set off to pastures new to create what is now one of Scotland’s leading web and design studios.

When I left 1576 in 2002 I worked with them for a year in a non-exec/exec capacity and helped them plan an exit strategy for Don and Carol which came to fruition last month.

At their party Whitespace played this tribute to them.

You can see the love, and I mean that, that they engendered among their team.

They are both very special people and this is a very special tribute.

Enjoy.

Mary Rose by The Royal Lyceum Theatre Company


OK, I have to start by declaring an interest here. I have recently been appointed as a Director of The Lyceum, which is a huge honour for me and something that I suspect would have found favour with the old man. With this comes the privelege of attending all of the press nights which means a couple of tickets, a glass or three of wine and the best seats in the house. Row A of the Grand Circle to be precise.

It does also, of course, run the risk of watching shows that I don’t actually enjoy.

However, that was certainly not the case tonight; or at either Macbeth or Something Wicked This way Comes, as all three have been outstanding in different ways.

Mary Rose is a ghost story, set over a twenty five year period between the wars and written by Peter Pan creator, JM Barrie. It’s rumoured to be Alfred Hitchcock’s favourite play and one can certainly see why in that it plays with suspense in much the way Hitch did. Hitch claimed that his secret was in winding an audience up through suspense for 15 minutes at a time reasoning that this was more effective than short sharp shocks and this production unquestionably achieves that. For a ghost story there are precious few shocks in it but it’s psychologically chilling (in the same way as The Others – one of my favourite ever horror movies.)

It’s very rarely performed, but did hit London in 1972 with Mia Farrow in the lead and eponymous role. Kim Gerard had the job to do tonight, heading up a very strong cast with stand out performances by Michael Mackenzie, Perri Snowdon and John Ramage.

It’s very much a period piece with the language very evocative of a bygone, highly mannered, era, but it cracks along with no shortage of humour which certainly had the audience tittering.

At its heart it’s a really spooky tale, not unlike Peter Pan in that it deals with the process of ageing in a quite unique way. (Funnily enough, so did Something Wicked…). It deals principally with loss, love and change.

The production is superbly eerie with great use of sound design, set flying and lighting and Tony Cownie’s brilliant direction succeeds in creating a mood of unearthliness. As several of the audience commented to me at the interval, the good thing about this play is that nobody knows it and you simply do not know what’s going to happen next, or how the tale will unravel, so I’ll not say too much for fear of spoiling it for you.

Overall, this is what theatre is all about; involving, engrossing, funny and, unusually, spooky. I’d strongly recommend it.

My biggest surprise of the night was Una McLean’s delightful cameo role as the Caretaker. Una won’t remember me but I worked with her at The MacRobert Centre in 1983 (or so) on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. She was great fun and one of my fondest memories of the theatre was the night we mooned each other in the wings.

Lordy, lordy. Good old Una.

scotland’s finest eatery?


Travellers of the A9 will be familiar with this magnificent treasure.  It’s not likely to be picking up any AA rosettes in the near future; nevertheless it is exquisite.

The staff are solid gold,  friendly, efficient and determinedly local (even if half of them are Polish these days).

The food is strictly of the greasy spoon variety, but grease-free.

Situated just north of Dunkeld it is the ideal spot to break a tr ip between Edinburgh and Inverness, indeed I would almost go as far as to say it should be a destination in its own right.

I had breakfast there on Tuesday.  Scrambled egg on toast and a mug of tea.

Simply the best

true colours


We watched ‘”Save The last Dance” tonight, me and the gals, and this song got us talking.  I thought it was by the Spice Girls, but of course it was the one and only Cyndi Lauper.

Not a bad song and being used well by Sky to sell their HD.

]

Mental. RADIOS BILL MAY SCUPPER RNLI




What follows is an extract from a press release sent out by the RNLI. In it they demonstrtae the innate madness of government. How on earth anyone could allow OfCom to scupper the work of the RNLI is beyond me, but read on…

Lifeboat crews fear being scuppered by crippling new charges for using their radios from Ofcom, the communications regulator. The RNLI could see the price of using its VHF emergency frequencies rise to £250,000 under plans to charge the full commercial rate.

The charity, which saves hundreds of lives every year currently pays an annual £48,000 at a discounted rate of 50 per cent. It relies on donations and fears the move will have a disastrous impact on fundraising. Peter Bradley, RNLI operations staff officer, said: “It’s a lot of money when you think in terms of lifeboat days and little old ladies collecting pound coins.”

“We could buy several inshore lifeboats for the same amount.”

“The Government rely on us to provide this search-and-rescue service, at a cost of £124 million a year, but they want to charge us for doing it!”

Ofcom has set out plans to bring “market forces” into maritime and civil aviation communications in a policy it calls Administered Incentive Pricing.

£250,000 represents an awful lot of charity collections, even more so in the current economic climate so, if like me you feel strongly enough about this, please sign the petition.


Ging Gang Gooleys


So, the Scouting movement is being allowed to teach sexual health “stuff”.

It seems strange that this much maligned movement should;

a) have to do this

b) want to

c) be open to ridicule for it.

I was in the Scouts. For many years.

I enjoyed my time there. I was proud of it and, what’s more, went on, in my pre-married days, to lead Scout groups. At no point did I encounter…you know what.

As a Scout leader I was not unaware of the cheap jibes and sexual connotation that went with the territory.

Thankfully for my young charges I was in it for the right reasons; to give back some of the amazing experiences that being a ‘scout’ gave me. (I should add that none of them were particularly ‘titifilarious’ (as Ken Dodd would put it).

But two post-Scouting moment stand out.

Standing in the queue at Edinburgh’s finest Deli my oft-fellow camper, Victor Contini, was giving me a bit of verbal so I cheekily quipped that I had often slept with Victor in my youth. This was not the thing to do in a busy Saturday morning deli where he was ‘King of the Hill’.

I left with my tail between my legs

The other was when my mate Mark and I went to London for a week (as 17 year olds) desperate to see what was going on in the big city.

Trouble is, the accomodation was too expensive, until we hit on a plan. We could stay in the London Scout Camp in Chingford (OK miles from the centre, but London nonetheless.)

We got there with rucksacks full of stuff but no camping type stuff.

We had miscalculated. We were unaware that Baden Powell’s thought police would nail us.

After two days drinking,  smoking dope and watching crazy movies in crazy cinemas (The Roxy rings a bell, where we saw Bad Timing and Performance in a double bill, both of us under age) and going to strip shows. I particularly remember being in a strip joint in The Elephant and Castle (in 1979 or so) and not thinking twice about it.

Sorry, I digressed.

So, we went back to ‘camp’ each night. And largely we got away with it until the fatal mistake.

We went to the camp shop and bought two Pot Noodles.

“YOU VILL NOT EAT POT NOODLE CRAP” said the scout-uniformed SS officer on the till.

“Well” slyly, said Mark . “Why then D’ya sell it?”

We won.

All that said, it seems sad to me that the Scouts have to take on board the sort of claptrap that goes with political correctness, that we can’t trust our kids with anyone unless they’ve signed a disclosure form.

I must be getting old.

(I must write a really outrageous blog to make up for this.)

the Brown Bounce


It’s really quite an extraordinary phenomenon this. Abject fiscal failure has placed Gordon Brown not in the political knacker’s yard but has driven something approaching the greatest comeback since Lazarus. And, unless you failed to register my paradox, I’ll repeat it.

It is failure that has been the catalyst for his success.

Any government that can double the national debt in six months to the highest level since 1946 when, let’s face it, we had a nation to rebuild, literally, and GROW their share of the popular vote must have some form of godlike genius about it. Some form of shamen on the frontline. A Ronaldo in attack.

Is this the Labour government you know?

Nope.

Or, is this a government in free fall, facing the weakest opposition in political history.

Yes.

Yes.

And thrice, yes.

That is exactly what we are talking about here.

Come on folks, could you honestly imagine an announcement at the Whitehouse press conference welcoming the Prime Minister of England (sorry Great Britain), as Mr David Cameron and not imagine, off camera, a bunch of snickering aids texting each other saying. “Who is he exactly? Is he, like, important?”

Gobstoppersooker, or whatever it is he does in that oral cavity, at least has the presence of ‘Brownism’. His shock haired apprentice must think “Poor old Davy C, if the poor sap ever gets in I know how he’ll feel.”

Salmond preens. Aloof. Concocting his latest ascerbism.

It is indeed rich political times in which we live.

Colin Powell Backs Barrack Obama


Is this the end in sight for McCain?

For one of the Republicans’ most respected figures to publicly put his faith in the opposition raises a great deal of doubt about the credibility of McCain’s challenge and the fact that he says it’s because McCain chose Palin as his running mate says it all.

What’s more he feels Obama could be a transformational world figure.

Ouch.

Recession? What Recession?


If ever proof was needed that recessions do not necessarily dampen creativity take a look at this new spot for HSBC by JWT London. Now, the banking sector is not an area one might expect great creativity from at this moment in time. But this epic mini-movie with a soundtrack by the imperious Joanna Newsom takes some beating. In fact I voted it ahead of Hovis in this month’s Thinkbox poll.

It is truly wonderful. And nicely subversive.

And this is Newsom performing the song, in full, on Jools Holland. (Clam, Crab, Cockie Cowrie it’s called and can be found on The Milk Eyed Mender LP.)

In Bruges


I think we saw the movie of the year tonight.

Brilliantly written, brilliantly acted. Screamingly, and I mean endlessly, laugh out loud funny. Achingly so. But dark, twisted, moralistic, beautiful.

Poor old Bruges. A beautiful place that is at the heart of a movie-long slagging. (I think the city got away with it though.)

(Full of Belgians though.)

This is a remarkable film. Colin Farrel is the best I’ve ever seen him. Certainly better than when he was trying to knock off his Mammy in ancient Rome.

Five star.

And of course. It’s all in the writing.

Something wicked this way comes by The national Theatre of Scotland and Catherine Wheels Theatre Company


I took my 14 year old daughter Ria to see this production at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh tonight and was hugely impressed.

It’s a highly complex story that lends itself more easily to celluloid than the stage but director Gill Robertson and designer Karen Tennent have done a quite remarkable job of staging the (possibly) unstageable.

The show involves incredible feats of lighting and video art (by Jonathan Charles – who I think I know as an ex FCT kid), great and atmospheric music, creepily accompanied by a pianist/accordionist – played in a most unusual manner – and Cellist (Robin Mason and David Paul Jones) and the highly unusual Aerial design as the dust witch flies across the stage .

The tale is interestingly morally and the performances are convincing across the boards; from a hard working and only eight strong cast. Although I have to say in a perfect world I’d much rather Will and Jim had actually been 14. Andrew Clark, as Mr Dark, steals the show as this typically grotesque type of role can, and often does.

Ray Bradbury’s story is quite affecting and deals with issues such as vanity, good versus evil and how we all deal with the ageing process.

The mostly young audience gasped, screamed, heckled and laughed.

Is that not what makes great theatre.

My daughter loved it. Result.

The Krays


Tom and Ria, aged two, took no nonsense from no-one..

I was scared of them man, but I never once grassed on 'em.  I mean they were tough dudes man.  You didn't mess wiv the twins man. Not for nobody man.

I was scared of them man, but I never once grassed on em. They was like tough. they needed treated wiv like respec’ man. I ain’t no disrespecter man.

Judging from comments to date on this particular post my irony has been lost on some people.

Undaunted, I shall try to elucidate upon my thinking.

The perspective of the shot, the looking in different directions and the ‘no messing’ stance of my dearly beloved children reminded me of this classic image (subconsciously)

I stand unrepentent.