That was 2008, that was. (the year of Barack Obama)


obama

As I head off to enjoy the Hogmanay celebrations it’s time to bring the 2008 blog to an end.

Looking back on the year it was a good one overall. No-one got hurt. Nobody died. We had several achievements as a family. I continued to pay the bills. Barrack Obama got into power.

My blog has hit 340,000 views in the year. Considering I only had 31,000 in 2007 that represents reasonable progress. I hope you enjoy it. And those of you who read but never comment, come on, open up a bit in 2009.

The Hibees were a joke in 2008. Very dissapointing in many ways, in fact Scottish football, full stop, came crashing back to earth after the heady highs of season 2007/8. Our clubs in Europe were pitiful and they became unrequired viewing the more the season progressed. Celtic are unbelievably bad and yet they are easily the best team in this country. God help us.

As The Hibees set off in pusuit of the Scottish cup for the 106th time since we last succeeded we face Hearts in Round 3. That could be a momentous occassion and who’s to say we won’t do it, after all we only EVER play good football when we are up against it. Last week against Kilmarnock totally summed Hibs’ season up… 2 – 2 at half time at home against only 10 men and we lose 4 – 2. That’s unprofessional.

Work was very rewarding and I enjoyed helping out Pete and Iain at 60 Watt in particular, in tough times it has to be said. I also won fabulous projects from PoppyScotland and The Black Watch. My work with the SMA was challenging but I’m pleased with the way it has developed. I suppose the event I led at Parliament in March has to be a professional highlight, but working on behalf on the industry can be soul destroying when people back off. I also did a lot of work with Golley Slater for which I am very grateful and ended the year with a hatrick of new commissions for stv, Ampersand (a stable of Advocates – yes indeed) and Whitespace. During the year I also enjoyed projects with Corporation Pop, as a mentoring programme for nmp, and have been asked to do more work with them in 2009. Story, Spider Online and Graphic Partners also gave me work in 2008 for which I am extremely grateful

I was delighted to be made a board director of The Lyceum in September and have taken on a fundraising role for FCT as well as taking part in the FAT Christmas show and rehearsing the 2009 Easter Show which is a ‘Best of FCT’ over their first 30 years. It promises to be simply stunning. I’m also chair of the Ferry Fringe but it is proving difficult to really get this rolling for 2009 despite the commitment of a small core of volunteers. Watch this space.

However, on a sad note, the demise of 1576, the company I co-founded, in February was a real shock and a truly sad moment. I’m glad to report that all who sailed in her appear to be in gainful employment and moving on; including both David and Adrian.

I’ve already crowed about my golf in 2008 which was my best ever and I really enjoyed it. I threw far fewer clubs about but still had my moments.

Amy’s Highers Grade results were very good and she was unlucky to miss out on her English which is focussing her mind as we go into 2009. We’re all desperately hoping she’ll get into Duncan of Jordanstone to study Art and she’s taking a Portfolio Course at Telford to help in that ambition. Here’s hoping.

Tom’s golf continued to improve and his handicap overtook mine during the year as he went from 21 to 15. He also got a hole in one in August, something I’ve never done, and won quite a few medals – but none of Ratho’s ‘majors’. I’m hoping that when he gets to 14, as he surely will, he will play against me in the men’s medals at Dundas Park. That’ll be really exciting

If he is not an Olympic Champion at X Box 360 by now he ought to be as he has put in unstinting effort. Shame we can’t say the same about his homework.

Ria continued to improve in her gymnastics but the elusive merit continued to evade her, still, she did master the bridge kick over at last and she was brilliant in Perth in November when her first vault was amazing (we’ll overlook the second one shall we?) She works really hard does Ria and that is showing up in really great results and a huge bunch of really nice friends. She deserves them because she is such a genuine young person.

Jeana won yet another award for South Queensferry in the Summer’s Britain in bloom competition with a Highly Recommended award. The village continues to progress under the Greenferry team’s amazing dedication. She also started her own blog which you can find here and whooped with joy about two weeks ago when she got her first ever comment. She’s not far short of her 1,000th view so get reading.

I had a sloppy evening at Cath’s 80th that constituted the Bad Hair Day of the year.

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In books Cormac McCarthy’s The Road simply blew me away and was my favourite read.

In music it had to be Dig Lazarus Dig by Nick Cave but I am growing increasingly interested in African Music and Amadou and Mariam’s new album, Welcome to Mali, is lovely. But check out Je Pense a Toi and Dimanche A Bamacko too (the latter is stunning and their best to date).

And my movie of the year? Not my busiest ever year at the movies so it’s hard to choose a best but I guess it was going to be No Country For Old Men (also based on a Cormac McCarthy book) until Hunger (by Steve McQueen) came along. A really outstanding and breathtaking movie.

TV show of the year? I loved Gavin and Stacey, but my most anticipated show each week was Later with Jools Holland which seemed to find a much more interesting mix this year than of late.

Best theatrical experience, amongst many, was my cousin Susan’s show at The Traverse; Nobody Will ever Forgive Us, which was a stunner.

My gadget of the year was unquestionably the sublime Canon G9, what a wonderful wee camera this is. I also got myself a much more muscular beast – a Canon EOS 400D which is fab too and this has been reflected in my continued devotion to Flickr. I love Flickr. Undoubtedly my find of the year on Flickr was Snailbooty. I mean, look what he just posted today. How good is that?

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My man of 2008, was unquestionably Barrack Obama.

Best day out was Alton Towers in the pissing rain in July. It rocked.

Result of the year? Terry got the all clear from his cancer and joined me at the School BBQ in June.

Wife of the year? Jeana Gorman. Again.

Put it this way. I couldn’t live with me. Still.

And so to 2009.

My hopes?

Hibees win the Scottish Cup. (LOL. That is so stupid.)

Tom gets down to a 10 handicap.

Tiger Woods comes back and kicks ass. It wasn’t the same without him.

I win something, anything, at Dundas Park

Amy gets into D of J. (And enjoys it.)

I am healthy throughout.

The FCT 30th Anniversary show is as good as I hope it will be.

The credit crunch doesn’t ruin everything for everyone.

you wouldn’t believe it


Add a t shirt and that's me that is.

Add a t shirt and that’s me that is.

So, it’s Hogmanay.  I’m slobbed out in bed at 9.45 when the phone rings.  It’s my verticallty challenged chum, Derrick Reid; “Fancy a game of badminton at the David Lloyd Centre Mark?” He asks.

“No”.  I thought.

“Yes, that would be lovely.”  I reply.

I haven’t played badders for 15 years and it was a killer then and Wee Deek is like a walking fitness studio.  So I’m knackered.  My end of year sporting prowess (on the golf course) all for naught as I’m certain to end the year on a losing note.

So I take Derrick to the David Lloyd Centre.

“I’ll bring the racquets.” he chirps.

He’s got a whole box of shuttlecocks and professional racquets.  I am a gonner.

So off we go.

He wins the first 5 points in about a nanosecond and I’m feeling despondent, but I knuckle down and gradually ease into the game finally winning a point and then going on a bit of a run until I find myself 10 -8 in front.  My heart is in palpitations but I press on and close out the first game 15 – 10.  Result!

The second game doesn’t go according to plan.  Despite my taking an 8 – 5 lead Derrick steps up a gear and wins 15 – 10.  By now I’m reaching for my moby to call 999.  But he’s showing signs of tiring too.

The last game is nip and tuck throughout.  Eventually I get to match point, 14 – 13, only to lose the crucial point and slip to 15 – 14; match point to Derrick.  However one final push and I draw level and close out the match with a 17 – 15 win.

Unbelievable!

Bring on 2009.

A grand end to my golfing year


Like a Farquar to the slaughter.

Fat chance you thought I'd do so well this year....

Today I had my last competitive match of the year and won it.  My Arran chums (plus Tom) met at Wee Boab’s course, Ravelston, and I shot 35 stableford points and as a result shared the spoils with Derek.  Tom had a mare.

So, my year looked like this…Runner up in our Arran Tourney in May, for the second year in a row; my best ever finish with my SQ chums at St Andrews, despite a crippled back; an 83 on the Queens Course at Gleneagles in November; a number of top 20 medal finishes in the summer (including my three best ever medal scores – one of which saw my handicap cut for the first time ever) and a 10 -1 record against Tom this year.  Undoubtedly my best year ever.

OK, It’s not Major winning form, but it was a considerable step in the right direction.  And whatever you think I’m well chuffed.

Mum and dad


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You sometimes wonder what commissioning editors are thinking of. This stinking movie was released simultaneously in cinema, on DVD and on Sky Box office today and I thought it might be a wry take on the genre of bad taste horror.

Nope.

It was just bad taste and very badly conceived. Supposedly it was a “take” on the life of the Wests. It was a “take” we could manage without quite frankly because it gave no insight whatsoever into the criminal mind.

The fact that the BBC commissioned it, but gave it to Sky to air it, says everything. I very much doubt it will ever be seen on a BBC channel.

It’s shit. It’s nasty and if its makers claim that it is ironic or post modern; or something…they’re wrong; it’s not. It’s just substandard claptrap taking the Hostel/Saw genre (which used to be called video nasties) and adding nothing to it.

The Daily Mail would probably call it pornography.

For once I might agree with them.

My theatricalness


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I never got back to you about the show we did on Saturday night did I?

Well, the first and most amazing thing was, come the time, I was quite calm. However, as the hall filled and the tension mounted we realised that the thermostat was set at 30 degrees and over 100 people were in a small space. Consequently it was hot. Really hot. Really, really hot. Sweaty hot.

Nonetheless, I managed all of my duties, including the rendition of a newly composed Trinity ghost story. I’m pleased to report that the jump at the end was carefully orchestrated so that the older members of the audience failed to have heart failure and the youngers succeeded in emptying their bowels.

Result.

Santa Clause


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Great programme on the telly last night  which followed the exploits of a self confessed mega geek who had, despite his relative youth, clocked up ten years as Santa at House of Fraser in Glasgow.  The prime Scottish Santa gig.

The best part of the programme was when he recalled a young kid asking for a pager AND a mobile phone for Christmas and Santa enquiring if the brat in question was actually the Chairman of ICI.

Snailbooty’s female ventriloquists


Snailbooty is one of my favourite photographers on Flickr and this is something he found in an old book. It’s a page of way too freaky female ventriloquists. To view them properly, and I promise you it’s worth it, you ‘ll have to click through to the shot on Flickr and then on the link below it you’ll get a better and larger view.

It’s wild man… You could then lose yourself in Snailbooty’s site for hours. It’s the most original I have ever seen.

Girl Vent Press Shots

Originally uploaded by snailbooty.

my christmas is complete


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My mate Ian just sent me the most stunning, Christmas gift.  It’s a DVD of What a Carve Up.  A 60’s film starring Sid James and Kenneth Connor.  I’ve never seen it.  It may be shite.  But the point is, it’s the centre of Jonathan Coe’s astounding novel of the same name.

I am reeling with amazement.

My next appearance…


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I will be performing on Saturday night at 7.30 in the Forth Adults Theatre Christmas fundraising show which promises to be a right good Christmas heart warmer.  It’s at Holy Cross Church Hall in Bangholm Loan, but if you want tickets best make contact before the night as it will sell out.

My fellow uber-talents will be singing a range of Christmas crackers, but singing solo scares me too much so, perhaps appropriately I’ve decided to scare the audience in a different way. So I shall be debuting a freaky ghost story that is a real chiller.

I’m shitting myself just thinking about it.

The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe at The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh


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I took the whole family to see this on Saturaday. A rare occurance that we were all engaged in the same activity for any more than five minutes. I wasn’t entirely expecting willing compliance but was surprisingly proved wrong as we all set out with an open mind and eager anticipation.

It’s a major challenge to mount a stage adaptation of a well known (and loved; although I never read it) book that has just been through the Holywood special effects machine. On the one hand it can never reach the pyrotechnics of movieland and on the other it’s a big ask to reach the heights of children’s imagination that reading inspires. I am glad to say it rose to the not inconsiderable challenge. Director Mark Thomson refers, in his programme notes, to the central theme of good versus evil being eternally relevant and, of course, this is true.

The show is a visual spectacle. The flyman has had a bit of work to do in recent Lyceum shows, but not that much. I think he’ll have lost a couple of stones by the end of this run because the magical world of Narnia is revealed and hidden regularly by way of flown in scenery and quite a few trucks too (that’s theatre techy speak. If you don’t understand it try Google.)

I’m constantly amazed by the Lyceum’s sound/music man, Philip Pinsky, who is an ex member of Finitribe, and who brings a huge amount to this production, not least the electric opening scene that reminded me in some way of the Atonement soundtrack. It’s absolutely brilliant.

The acting is universally good although there are two undoubted standouts, the White Witch, played by Meg Fraser who is quite astounding. Her mix of evilness, oddness, weirdness and clowning is a rare thing indeed, and Owain Rhys Davies as the Dwarf is hilarious.

If I have one criticism it sagged a little in the second act but overall this is a really wonderful Christmas treat that you might be lucky enough to get a ticket for. But you better get a move on.

Gilmore Girls


Is there anyone else out there who is as obsessed by this programme as me. We have it on series link and I can’t wait to see what has happened next.

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If you’ve missed this programme, now in it’s final season, it’s about single mother, Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory. They live in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Conneticut. The series explores family, friendship, generational divides and social class.

The show has won an Emmy and was nominated for a Golden Globe.

I don’t know how I will cope when it finally finishes

I should just point out that Jeana wrote this post, In no way do I endorse its contents. Indeed I hate this programme. Mark

It was a post for the ladies really, but there might be some men out there who like it.


Latest reading


Just finished a couple of non-fiction books which isn’t my usual poison.  I’m more a fiction man.  Both have had their merits.

The first is this.

nudge

A book about choice architecture and how to help people make  reasoned decisions by influencing them at a high level (government, management etc) without prejudice.  It focuses on a political leaning called libertarian paternalism.  I felt very grown up reading, and finishing,  it.  But truth be told although I gained a few intellectual insights I can’t really recommend it.  I understand it is taking the political world by storm.

I repeat, I can’t recommend it.

The second features Britain’s best loved attention deficit disorder sufferer.  Poor old Russel Brand.  Oh how we can’t work him out.

yes.  I know...

yes. I know...

This autobiography is actually a most enjoyable and interesting insight into a form of fame driven madness.

Do I like him any more having read it?  No.

Do I pity him?  No.

Have I gained any respect for him.  Actually, yes.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan live


Saw them live at a new venue in Edinburgh, The Picture House, which has excellent acoustics and is very like the ABC in Glasgow. Trouble is the band’s sound guy wasn’t up to the task. Frequently the bass was overpowering to the point that you couldn’t hear Isobel sing. Her presence in the mix was often poor.

The ‘show’ was a non starter. Mark Lanegan uttered a total of three words – “Thanks very much” as he prepared to exit stage pre-encore.

The finale only merited a slight wave.

Campbell wasn’t much better and what she did say was trite crap frankly.

The lighting was shit. Dark (like the mood) and not a single fade all night.

This was the best I could capture on the old G9 and the pose says it all.

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The chemistry between Campbell and Lanegan, so electric on vinyl, was non-existant. “Do you think they’ve fallen out?” questioned Ian after the first song.

But, despite all that they were rather good. Their band was excellent and a few new numbers (to me at least) were aired. Don’t know the names of them becuase they never introduced a single sodding song all night. And we got good value as they played for well over an hour.

Their best song on the last album is this one, which the band relished as it allowed them to get a bit rock’n’roll.

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So, a mixed bag. Frankly I thought they treated the audience with disdain and I hate bands that do that. Give me a Richard Hawley any day of the week.

The support were good though. (The Pictish Trail with King Creosote.)

X factor Alexandra acquitted on murder charge


In an amazing turn up for the books last night Alexandra Burke carried off the performance of Halleluia by Leonard Cohen – but made most famous and poignant by Jeff Buckley.

She did not murder it after all.  Unlike JVC who sent it to hell and back.

It was a smart move to largely echo Buckley’s acoustic guitar treatment of this fine song and only resort to the old Whitney’s at the very end.

Well done Alexandra.  You are free to go with only a suspended sentance.

Good bit of greeting going on here as a result of her win…

Going racing


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Going to the races at Musselburgh this eftie and these are my predictions. Will be interesting to see how well they do in retrospect.

12.20 Ella woodcock  (came 9th of 14)

12.50 Leoplold  (4th of 10)

1.20 Skylancer (4th of 13)

1.50 Castletown Boy (7th of 10)

2.20 Viper (nap)  (and THE WINNER at 3 to 1)

2.50 Silver Steel (E/W) (5th of 10)

3.20 Vincent Pipe (E/W) (3rd of 12 at 7 to 1).

T’was a grand day out and my winnings on Viper made it.  Shame it came in from 12 to 1 when I wrote my post to start at 3 to 1.

Another Boruc Howler


I have so many mixed feelings about the Hibees that I wouldn’t know where to start listing them.

They beat Celtic today, fair and square. They must be a good team then. So how come they lost to Inverness, and drew with Aberdeen, St Mirren and Falkirk. It’s ridiculous and neverending. It shows a total sign of lack of commitment because clearly the squad has the ability, but not the focus.

It totally hacks me off.

So we beat Celtic, so what?

However ,we did score a quite extraordinary goal which got the commentators all frothy at the mouth.

It was more goalkeeping cock up than striking brilliance, but here it is anyway.

John Rankin, enjoy your moment in the sun.

Oh, and if you think that’s bad. Try this…

Same comment applies.

We beat Celtic (last year), lose to all the fodder around us and finish nowhere. Helped along the way by a Boruc calamity.

We’ll probably sign him one day.

silk cut



I took this yesterday and kind of like it. The good people of Flickr seem to like it too. I called it Silk Cut because the sky reminded me of those old Silk Cut ads with the swathes of purple silk.

It looks much better on Flickr.  Click on the pic to see how much better.

The dignity of labour


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I have to say that I have found Roy Keane’s departure from Sunderland FC one of the most dignified and charming moments in recent football history.

Keane is clearly a deeply principled and thoughtful man. He knows how to prioritise life. It goes like this…family, dogs, football, football management, football PR, corporate arselicking.

His description of the corporate sideshow at Man Utd as The Prawn Sandwich Brigade was hilarious. And mostly true.

In Niall Quinn he was blessed to have a real man running a football club. A human being. That may have saved his soul because there are dark murmurings in this story that are astonishingly redolent of David Peace’s Cloughie book, The Damned United. OK there’s much less aggro and bitterness here, but there are demons. Lots of them.

Let’s hope Keane finds some peace from those demons and comes back to grace us with his greatness.

A sad loss for the Premiership. A very sad loss.

But we are meat not metal


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Dave Trott writes some great things in his blog.

But the context in which I read the title of this blogpost really blew me away. He was talking about how human beings can be hypocritical (They dis speeding, then speed; they decry Maradonna’s hand of God but celebrate England’s equally dubious 1966 World Cup winning goal.)

And he sums it all up by saying “But we are meat, not metal.”

(We make mistakes.  We are not automatons; machines)

How brilliant an observation is that?

Very.

Go Dave go…

The attack of the killer onions


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Ria has been near-hospitalised by an onion that fell off the kitchen worktop and landed on her big toe.

As I left the house yesterday morning with her screams ringing in my ears I have to admit I found it a little amusing and not one of the biggest worries in my life.

But tonight her toe is black and blue.

An’ it’s only an ingin an’ a’.