New Irn Bru commercial

When this goes on youtube I’ll let you know, but in between times you’ll have to use the link.  Me?  I instantly liked it, especially with its nod back to the old US Coke spoofs.  The McHigh School Musical pastiche got me and my teenage kids’ votes.  (I hope Mark Davies did it.)

Actually, the more I watch it the more I like it.  It’s captured the essence of Scottishness, and let’s face it Scottishness is Irn Bruness, brilliantly.  And it brings gingerness to the fore.  Irn Bru IS ginger and in Weegieland they call carbonated soft drinks Ginger – AND we’re a ginger nation.

Is this a move towards a ginger strategy.  If so this execution is a bloody good start and the first step towards a full blooded celebration of gingerness –  and we love gingerness.

PS My wife’s Ginger. (Sorry, strawberry blonde.)

A long way down by Nick Hornby


I missed the ‘release’ of this, mainly because I thought Hornby’s early promise had run out of steam.  ( I loved Fever Pitch and liked Hi Fidelity.)  He seemed to be becoming a bit ‘four weddings and a funeral’ for my liking and the snob in me saw him selling out.

His “about a boy’ book was kind of pish really.

But I picked this up in a charity shop and it sat in the pile for a while before I decided to read it.

It’s overrated, I have to say that to start with.  It will win no literary prizes , but the critics seem to hold Hornby in some sort of thrall.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that actually if you ignore the startlingly unbelievable critical tosh it’s rather good on a simple storytelling level.

It has no great insights on life (or death) but it is a good read and Hornby creates four distinct characters; two of which work very well (the comedic ones ) Jess and Martin; one who nearly gets there but is underdeveloped (Maureen); and one that’s just a bit crap (JJ).

And yet, still, it works.  I liked it on the whole.  Quite a lot actually.

Maybe I liked it because it’s just a good story with an unpredictable ending, well told, and actually a very good mix of humour and pathos.

Oh, it’s  about four people and their take on suicide, and how they collectively fight it, in case you didn’t know.

The Specials


Just back from The Weegiestan after a most enjoyable night’s skanking.  The car windows were rather steamy on the return after Mike, Paul and I had thrown ourselves vigorously around the dancefloor of the Glasgow Academy for a couple of hours.

I was the world’s biggest Specials fan in the early 80’s but never saw them live.

This reunion tour was great then.

Extraordinarily tight, a big band, ten on stage and great commitment from all; even, surprisingly, Terry Hall.  Much has been made of Gerry Dammers absence but I wasn’t that bothered.  What did bother me was the padding.  The Specials have ten, maybe 15 songs to die for, but they did pad it out a bit and the gig lost focus after 45 minutes.  They came storming back in the encores, but that quite long (20-30 minutes) middle section left me a bit cold.

Overall though a sure fire four stars.


Great animation

My very good friend’s daughter’s boyfriend made this astonishing pop vid for Moray McLaren (isn’t it depressing when your pals’ kids are old enough to make noteworthy contributions to culture).

The song is nice.  Not life-changing I have to say but spend some time getting your head round the animation technique.  Very, very clever.

Why we listen to football

I love Radio Five.

I was cooking tonight listening to the Man Utd v Spurs match; Man U were  2 – 0 down at half time.  (Cursing I was.)

And then a dodgy penalty won them the league.

Five goals.

Unlimited controversy.

Conspiracy theories abounding.

Marvellous it was.  Marvellous.

Britain’s got Talent

Ok, the snob in you stops you wanting to like this programme.  The human on the other hand says it is utterly astounding.

It’s emotional.  It’s funny.  It gets you talking.  It’s just great.

Susan Boyle’s story is well documented over the past week but tonight was all about “Diversity”, an unlikely male dance group from Lundin made up of a wide age group of youngsters who choreographed the most stunning and original two minute sequence you could imagine.


This is them on YouTube at Lakeside Shopping Centre: 18,000 hits to date.  I suspect that a week from now that might be nearer a million.

Ria gets into FCT’s festival show

FCT’s next show is Ragtime (an adaptation of a book by E L Doctorow) and Ria got a chorus part after auditions on Monday to which 100 kids turned up for 45 places.  We’re all really pleased for her.


Last night was the after show party for the FCT cast which I kept 100% sober (I had to drive) but still managed two whooping full on rave renditions of We are the Children of the night (even sober it was a hoot!)  Ria didn’t know where to look though.  Poor lassie.

Easing on down the road

After the show finally came to its tumultuous conclusion on Saturday night amid standing ovations, tears, speeches, hugs and kisses etc the party started.  And what a party.  First at The Church Hill for a quick drink then down to the Trinity Rugby Club until 2 or so.  But the real fun started in the rehearsal rooms.  Between 50 and 100 of us Mums, Dads, juniors (but only if their parents were there) young and old alike.  Gradually the hard core emerged and this Youtube clip is of the song of the night.  At first I thought this FCT anthem was awful but after hearing it ten times, dancing on the chairs in the face of an incessant smoke machine and whooping and hollering it became a firm favourite.

Witnessing the kids screaming Lu-do-vic at poor old Vic as he danced on the chairs was a monumental laugh too.

As the sun split the sky at 9.30 am we headed away to Clairty’s to continue the party, dancing our way down Craighall Road singing “Ease on down the Road”  by now we were down to the last 20 or so.  Apparently we serenaded poor old Marcella and her man through her letterbox.

Then after another drink or two we staggered into Porto and Fi for breakfast before visiting Newhaven Harbour.

I was met by my sister’s fella at 2pm and taken to Corstorphine Hill where I became the subject of a bit of egg rolling…

Of course I fell asleep at Jane’s and was subjected to ritual humiliation.


Now, I know I have a party animal reputation but this way beyond my experience.  But a night of pure joy following a week of the same was, for me at least a valid reward.

And now… the verdict!

What, only five starts from the Evening News?  Now, I have to say I’m getting fed up of being called old.  First ‘pops’ then an advertising veteran and now an actor ‘no longer in the first flushes of youth.’  Is it a conspiracy?

Last night was an immense experience culminating in a standing ovation.  Really, you had to be there…  And you know what?  We’re sold out (apart from a few tickets left for Saturday afternoon).


FCT: Ya Beauty *****, Churchill Theatre

KIDS get short shrift these days. It’s almost as if the rest of society wants them to loiter in bus shelters, just so they are to able to say those immortal words, ‘I told you so’ whenever things go wrong.
If today’s teenagers are often singled out as being lazier, less educated and ruder than any generation that came before them, anyone sitting in the Churchill Theatre last night may beg to differ on the evidence presented by the Forth Children’s Theatre as they staged their 30th anniversary show.

For any criticism of modern youngsters would be to pay the hard work, tenacity and talent of the kids in the FCT a complete disservice, particularly when some of their choral numbers could only be described as West End worthy.

To celebrate three decades of song, dance and youthful enthusiasm, the FCT have brought together a 70-strong cast, made up of children and music from every generation of the company, to perform an assortment of their favourite show tunes.

While some of the original children, such as Mark Gorman, son of late FCT founder Peter Gorman, and Geraldine DePonio may no longer be in the first flush of youth, they certainly made up for their relative decrepitude with a host of nostalgic on stage antics.

Sadly, however, the age and experience of a misspent adulthood proved no match for youth and exuberance though, and the group’s teenage members left many of their elders in the dust.

While seasoned actors Greg Sinclair, as an adorably geeky Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors, and Kerry-Ann Rae, as Annie’s devious Miss Hannigan, showed the young upstarts how a few years of further education will help develop a gift; It was the 10 to 20 age group that really dazzled on the stage.

Displaying a worrying lack of first-night nerves, the cast launched into a diverse blend of big numbers only minutes into the first act.

Covering some of musical theatre’s most challenging and popular songs they deftly worked their way through Jekyll and Hyde’s Façade, The Boyfriend’s Never Too Late and Oh! What a Lovely War’s emotive and moving Keep The Home Fires Burning.

Ensemble piece, The Ballad of Sweeny Todd, showcased superbly the ability of the group to utilise the vocal and acting ability of adult cast members while enticing excellent performances from the younger players in the chorus.

With a large female cast, many of the set pieces were designed specifically for several outstanding young sopranos.

Not to be outdone, the boys surprised with mature and expressive performances, Matthew Smith and Ronan Radin standing out.

An honourable mention must also go to Andrew Dyer’s Lucio from Romeo and Juliet. His was a lesson in introducing Shakespeare that many English teachers might wish to take note of.

A directorial team, taking turns in directing and choreographing each sequence, kept the segments of the show flowing effortlessly into one and other, although an obvious lack of rehearsal time in the auditorium meant that the some of the opportunities to use the space more effectively were lost.

Let’s just hope that none of these kids get their big break too soon, thus depriving Edinburgh’s amateur theatre of some wonderful up and coming talent.

And so the time time has come and now i face the primal curtain…


The day has arrived.

We took ownership, however briefly, of the Church Hill Theatre tonight and had our first run, in the studio theatre.  Tomorrow we do our technical run at 10.30.  Dress at 2.30 and open at 7.30.  We’re ready.  The rehearsals on Sunday, last night and tonight have all built on each other and started from a good place.  It’s getting pretty tight all round I have to say.  (Although one of my numbers – Get me to the Church on Time from My Fair Lady happily calls for rumbustuousness and a lack of overall discipline!)

The show with the exception of the Sat Mat is, to all intent and purpose, sold out.  As I predicted. And the Saturday matinee is half sold and will no doubt fill up quickly now as the latecomers realise that when we said we thought the nights would sell out it wasn’t just us making it up.

If you’re lucky enough to have a ticket (and believe me you will count yourself lucky) you are in for a spellbinding evening’s entertainment.

I count myself blessed and privileged beyond belief to be part of this.  Felix McLaughlin who just came up from Cardiff on Sunday to join the final rehearsals was dumbstruck by the depth and quality of talent on show.  I’m not talking about me and my generation here I’m talking about the current and just ‘graduated’ cast who have talent in extreme.  And the directing team, choreographer and musical direction team have to be seen to be believed.

The impact this show has had on me will never be repeated in my life.  I feel sure of that because it is truly a one off, truly a labour of extraordinary love.

My father would not only have got ‘the tingles’ as he called it.  He would have been swept away in a tidal wave of emotion which is exactly what will happen to our audiences because, on the whole, their lives have been so positively influencd by the wonderful work of FCT and this is, after all, the best of FCT.

I keep coming back to the greatest thing of all;  membership is a mere £3 – for the year – which includes the opportunity of being in a 10 night run on the Fringe PLUS a show like this and we’ve never had even so much as a penny of public sector funding.

FCT is immense and this  joyous photo from the rehearsals sums it all up for me.

This is FCT!


On stage from tomorrow night

We go into the theatre tonight and one of the highlights of the show is our version of Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim.

I hope it’s better than this pish.  But you can be the judge of that if you’re coming to see it.

Big thanks to Geraldine for sourcing this vid.

Mind you, this is pish too and it’s what I used initially to learn it.  It’s a pure feckin’ howler man.