I’m confused!

So, Gideon takes his first step forward in the adult arena and…he fails to fail.

That was a big surprise to me.

But, credit where it’s due; his first budget was a triumph.  Having said that it would be difficult not to have shone in the austerity budget to end all budgets.

What impressed me, aside from the many tedious Labour rhetoric snide criticisms (and the progressive coalition big ups. Ed), was his strategy.

The way I read it is thus, stuff the super-rich (we’ve got them anyway) and let’s really rip into the “Shameless” class, those that really do screw benefits.

I have to say that as a non Daily Mail reader I buy that.

The other thing I agree with is his slowing down of public sector employment growth.

However, there was never an easier time to deliver a swingeing budget and I wonder if he actually missed a trick and could have gone even further.  I will also find it amusing to read commentators’ views on the VAT rise. When Darling cut it to 15% nobody said it made a heap of difference…why then is the subsequent rise such a focus on this particular budget?

I confirm, I have not turned right wing, but common sense prevailed today and was presented well.

(Will, I so know you are going to disagree with every word of this.)

Jupiter Artland

Jeana and I went to perhaps the most remarkable exhibition space in Scotland today.  It’s a forest on an estate at Wilkieston, between Edinburgh and Livingston on the Calder Road.

Artists of international repute are represented, with works that take nature as their theme.

You may have seen Charles Jencks’ Life Mounds at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Belford Road.  That was a mere starter for 10.  The mounds here are significantly more detailed and four times the size.  Antony Gormley, Nathan Coley (whose In Memory is nothing short of stunning), Ian Hamilton Finlay, Jim Lambie, Andy Goldsworthy (whose Stone House is breathtaking), and Laura Ford all impress.

Laura Ford’s exhibits, called Weeping Girls, is my pick of the bunch; like walking onto the set of The Ring, these macabre, faceless Bronze girls beguil and intrigue.  It is truly unique and possibly the most affecting piece of art I have ever seen.

The Ring, 3.

I simply cannot find enough superlatives to review Jupiter Artland.

It fucking rocks.

And fucking rolls.

The cafe, run by Circle cafe at Canonmills is the best I’ve ever been at.  Great food.  Great value.  Great Airstream.

You don’t see many of these when I’m on the golf course.

The lesser spotted Eagle.

I’ve creamed a drive, smacked a sweet 3 wood to 70 yards and stand with a pitching wedge on the 2nd fairway at Dundas.  “Nice shot” my opponent shouts as I nip a sweet little wedge greenwards.  Two bounces and it drop off the pin into the hole.  After 35 years of waiting I finally shoot my first ever eagle.  I was pleased.  Ross my opponent high fives me and I go two up.

Two holes later, despite playing to five under my handicap I’m only one up. and at the turn it’s all square. Then I lose 10, 11, 12 and 13.  Four down with five to play.  But I dig deep and win 14and 15.  Disaster awaits on the 16th tee though and a hooked drive leads to a five.  It’s all over.  All I have to remember this round by is that elusive eagle.  But it’s a sweet one.

When I saw Tom at home  I asked him.  “How’d you play son?’

“Crap, but I eagled the first.”

Whatever.  He’s had about 10.

Junior Apprentice. Top dollar.


And so, the all too brief but wondrous, Junior Apprentice comes to an end with unquestionably the most likaeable Apprentice winner ever in Arjun Rayjagor.

Charming, articulate, willing, creative and…god…so polite.

I would hire this young man in the blink of an eye.

The rest were the usual hotch potch of wannabees and prats. But somehow, Junior Apprentice captured the human condition a little more sweetly, a little more believably than its daddy.

It was, in fact, the daddy.

Karren Brady played a blinder too by the way.  Just enough to make her presence known.  Not too much to piss Margaret off.

Nick Rocked.

Sir Alan?  Och.  He gets all the best lines.

A very worthwhile and fun charity idea. Please support it.

Should get through the traffic OK.

My mate, Phil Adams of Blonde Digital,  is taking part in this summer’s Mongol Rally as part of a team called The Ambeciles (5 imbeciles in a secondhand ambulance). Check them out here  http://www.theambeciles.com/

More details on the rally itself here – http://mongolrally.theadventurists.com/

They are looking to build their fanbase on facebook as it gives them access to more corporate sponsorship to underwrite the not inconsiderable costs of undertaking the adventure. If they can point to loads of fans the sponsors will be more likely to support them so please help this really good cause by signing up as a fan at http://www.facebook.com/TheAmbeciles

The objective, ultimately, is to raise money for various charities with over £1,500 raised so far in total.

They are planning to give the charity side of this a big push in July but if you would like to help just go to http://www.justgiving.com/TheAmbeciles The principal beneficiary from the Edinburgh end of The Ambeciles is The Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

one week to go

Cannae wait till the World Cup, although I shall be playing in the second round of the Dundas Singles on opening night.  Nevertheless my Fantasy team is submitted and I can reveal it here to you dear reader…

sexy huh?

My thinking is as follows…

Bamba plays for Hibees, so is first pick.

Coupla Brazilians, cos they’re gonna win.

Messi, cos he’s the best player in the world.

Coupla Dutch, cos they’ll go far.

Coupla Spaniards, cos ditto.

Token Englishman so I can’t be accussed of being a Jock biased bastard.

The Pig guy from Germany, cos he has the best name in Footie.

There you go.  That’s how to get £20k richer.

Sweeney Todd at The Dundee Rep

Sondheim’s Sweeney is, for me, very near to perfection in terms of musical theatre.  I rate it alongside West Side Story and Ragtime for wit, quality and sheer vocal demand.  It’s more an opera than a musical in truth but Sondheim insists that operas are for opera houses and musicals are for theatres.  So, a musical it is.

This production has been lauded by the critics and I can see why.

I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way but it felt like a very high quality amateur production (with a budget) because the performances across the ensemble cast were riproaringly enthusiastic and heartfelt.  (My point is that I sometimes feel in professional theatre that some of the passion is missing.  Not here. )

This show rocks from the opening bar of Sondheim’s astounding prologue to the last bar of the shattering epilogue (both are highlights of the musical).  Act 1 in particular was spellbindingly good, partly because the material is so strong.  (I feel the same about West Side Story as it happens.)

But this is certainly no amdram performance.  It is highly polished, visually powerful (a very good set) and musically accomplished.  And what a great theatre space.  My first, but not last, visit to the Dundee Rep.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Richard Conlon in the cast, playing Pirelli terrifically. (An old FCT cast member.)

It’s difficult not to make comparisons to the Johnny Depp/Helena Bonham Carter roles in the movie, but I won’t.  Suffice to say that in the title role David Birrell was brilliant without being OTT.  Much of the humour was reserved for Ann Louise Ross who played Mrs Lovett beautifully but particularly deviously.  You really got a feeling for her as the real driving force of the operation.  Poor old Sweeney is just consumed with anger and the need for remorse, old Mrs Lovett’s in it for what she can get.

This is the least gory version of Sweeney I think I’ve ever seen.  I’m not sure a drop of fake blood was spilled throughout and that did slightly lessen the drama in the second act killing spree.  But it didn’t spoil the overall effect.

A major shout out must go to the ‘ensemble’ who really carried the show.  Too often professional musicals (especially tourers) are let down by weak chorus work because the numbers on stage are insufficient.  Again, not here.

I absolutely loved this.  Great value for money with a 16 strong cast and an 11 piece orchestra; three hours of entertainment, and all for £18 with a standing ovation to boot.  Go on the Rep!