Tom’s brilliant golf career

Amazingly Tom went round Ratho in Three over par (72) this morning and one under (68) this afternoon (both in Junior medals) which means his handicap has been cut over the course of this week from 10 to 6!  He’s been threatening this for weeks but hasn’t happened, however his recent lesson at the excellent driving range at Linlithgow must have played a part.

Very proud!

Lib Dem success through the back passage? Brokeback coalition is facing a rough ride.

I realise I am not overly qualified to comment on defence budgeting but I will nevertheless.  That’s what blogging’s all about after all.

So, I think it’s interesting that Gideon Osborne has decided that the Trident Project can continue (keeps Tory voters at bay) but the MOD must fund it through its own resources (Keeps Lib Dem supporters engaged).

The MOD has a £36bn resource budget (which is to be cut by 10 – 20% – thereby focussing our minds on pointless wars.  We all know what those are.)  It also has a £9bn capital budget which is currently earmarked primarily, I think, for 100 new jet fighters and two new aircraft carriers.  That now has to include Trident.  So, what would you do?

Certainly I was with the Lib Dems, in policy terms, in that I believe money on defence could be spent more effectively in other areas than Trident and that’s looking like the outcome now.

But I very much doubt that one can put this down to brilliant negotiation by Nick Clegg;  just pure pragmatism by Gideon (who continues to surprise me with his apparent lack of total shitness).

Meanwhile the LIb Dem’s referendum looks like being derailed in the Lords. (And in Scotland.)

So, will this effectively derail the coalition too?

Depends if it becomes a lovers tiff (a la Brokeback Coalition) or a deal breaking divorce.

The Lyceum Youth Theatre; Summer on Stage

For the second year running I found myself at the opening night of Summer on Stage, an extraordinary theatrical venture that gives young people a truly great experience.  As it happens I was sat next to a lovely lady from Cairn Energy who was one of the founders of the whole thing and I have to say she was as blown away as I was.

The evening consisted of two productions, one for younger children (up to about 16 I’d say) and one for older youths.  The former was a charming tale called The Musicians in which a “shite” school orchestra arrived in Russia to perform as part of a cultural exchange, only to find that their instruments had been impounded at the airport because a spliff had been found in one of the cases.  The spliff had been secreted there because the doting flautists in the orchestra had hoped to use it medicinally to calm down the highly excitable conducter played excellently by Louis Plummer.

In the end the performance was mimed to Tchiakovsky’s 4th Symphony but inspired by the supportive (eventually) intervention of two hilarious stage hands/cleaners who stole the show (Keir Aitken and Samuel Adams).

The second performance, A Vampire Story, is a highly complex meeting of 19th Century vampirism with contemporary mental health issues and is quite stunning.  Both shows shared basically the same simple but highly effective set but in this one the set was used to meld two very different eras very effectively.  Although dark in content it is also hilarious in parts; it deals with the story of a teenage girl who clearly has become delusional and is creating a fantasy world of vampires as she seeks (with the help of her sister ) to escape the grasp of the authorities by constantly moving on.  On her journey she encounters another lost soul in the form of a home taught kid who is similarly trying to escape the attentions of his eccentric parents.  I can’t tell from the programme who played what parts but all of the principles were phenomenal and a special word has to go to the dotty teacher, Mint, played by Blair Grandison.  (The Home Economics teacher, Filet, who was played by Emma Mckenna was a class character part and I recognise the girl who played the part from previous Lyceum Youth performances – a real talent).

Director Steve Mann made a considerable impression on me with this show because the content was complex, the movement difficult and the pace very important.  All were delivered perfectly in a great technical set up so that what emerged was a highly professional production that replicated the sort of conditions that professional rep actors and technicians have to (and most certainly had to) work under;   short time scales to learn and perfect the the performances.  In this case A Vampire Story was created in under three weeks and The Musicians in under two.

As a kid, I’d have loved to have had this opportunity and so hats off to The Lyceum for making this happen and also to Cairn Energy for supporting it financially.

Mercury Prize shortlist announced in the morning

It’s been a great year for music.  Even British music. Here’s what I’d predict to see on it.

Field Music

Tracey Thorn

Paul Weller (not that great though)

Massive attack

Hot Chip

Bombay Bicycle Club

British Sea Power

Four Tet

Frightened Rabbit

Corrine Bailey Rae (not great but has a sympathy vote)

Laura Marling

Potico Quartet

Wild Beasts

Oh, and Mumford and Sons for the Pop vote

(I have no real insight into Jazz, classical and folk to predict what reps they will have but that Polar Bear chappie is quite productive so might see him.)

And my predicted winner from that?

Laura Marling, (or Feild Music or Wild Beasts or Hot Chip)

Let’s see in the morning eh!

The Illusionist. Drat…

It was my great privelege to be invited to the world premiere of Sylvain Chomet’s follow up to Belleville Rendez-Vous.

Set in Edinburgh and produced by an old pal of mine, Bob Last, I had very high expectations indeed.  Not least because it is not every day that one of the world’s most beautiful cities (my own) would be caught in artful majesty for years to come.  And indeed it was.  Edinburgh is a eal star of this charming but very slight movie.

The city shimmers throughout, but the story sadly does not.  It reminded me of  a novel by Irish writer, William Trevor, called Felicia’s Journey in which a young girl is taken into the trust of an older man.  In that book (and subsequent film starring Bob Hoskins) and this, there is a slight air of seediness. (That’s maybe going too far in the case of The Illusionist but the comparison was palpable for me.)

Why the protection?  What are the man’s motives?  I found it mildly uncomfortable.  The fact is, in neither case are the intentions, apparently, anything more than protective; but somehow the feeling persists in both that all may not be as it seems.

Belleville Rendez-Vous arrived on the film scene like a bolt from the blue.  This, sadly, suffers from that difficult second film syndrome.  It oozes class and charm from every pore.  It looks sublime.  But the story (a Jaques Tati cast off) fails to deliver.  It simply does not have the muscle to sustain 90 minutes of screen time.

A real shame because it has a great deal of merit.

Heart? 8/10.

Head? 6/10

The Road to the X factor with Maria Doherty

I love X factor, but this year has an added twist.  Our pal, Maria Doherty, is performing.  Well, she’s just headed south to Boot Camp, having got through the auditions; so she will definitely feature at least in the early stages of the programme.

That’s her opening this version of Amazing Grace on The Hour on STV.  She’s the one in the middle.

Come on Maria; we’re all rootin’ and tootin’ for ya.

Rooney, Ronaldo, Messi, Kaka; you boys took a hell of a beating

Stand up the new world superstars of football. Who’d have thought, at the start of this tournament, that it would be Ozel, Schweinsteiger and Schneider that we’d be hailing as the greats. And good on Klose too; edging in on that record. I really hope he gets it. (And let’s not forget Diego Forlan of course!)

Germany have been awesome and deserve to win the tournament although I backed Holland at the start, so obviously I want them to do it, but on merit so far it’s Germany by a distance.

It all happens in Southern California

Southern California, Orange County to be precise, is where we are right now. we’ll put the pretty awful weather to one side for now but what really strikes me is the obscene weather (you said that. Ed.) and the ridiculous level of autocracy.

Never mind the Ten Commandments; in the OC there are 500 and soon I shall share some of them with you.

As I type I sit with the Pacific smashing onto the beach below me and I wonder why SoCa has to be so anal. Spoils the place.