West Side Story. Bo’ness Academy.


Let’s be brutally honest to start with.

High School musicals seldom fill the audience with a great deal of enthusiasm.  Not least if, as an audience member, your kids aren’t even in it.

But West Side Story is the greatest musical ever written so it just, just might have the chance of being a good experience.

My cousin’s son was playing Tony in Bo’ness Academy’s production and we thought it might be worth the risk on a quiet work day (with the prospect of the World Cup evening matches to console us if our optimism proved unfounded).

And so we set off for West Lothian in 26 degree summer heat for the Tuesday matinee.

We were not to be disappointed.

All expectations were exceeded in this scintillating production in which the school drama and music teachers must take the first bow for managing, and excellently choreographing, what looked like a 90 strong cast.

Daniel Johnston, my aforementioned relative, was stunning as Tony.  Even with a sore throat he caught many of those high notes with a flourish.  His Maria, played today by Erin Smith, (there are two that alternate) was delightful and well cast (appropriately pretty in fact for her act two opener).

Anita (this afternoon performed by Kirsten Miller) rocked the very foundations of the school with her brassy, bold magnificent performance.  In fact all of the girls’ Puerto Rican accents were excellent throughout. And their rendition of America was magic.

The Jets ensemble (especially Riff played by Robert Grant – I think) were universally excellent and the mass chorus ranks, when put to use delivered with aplomb.

This is a great show.  An absolute credit to the school and makes me think it must be a great place to have been educated.  One up for the state sector and proof that with the right support and some talented teachers anything is possible.  A particular shout out must go to the excellent band.





D Day. The irony.

Today is the 70th anniversary of D Day.  As a nation we should be very proud of the efforts of the Allied Forces on that historic day.

On June 6th 1944 James Stagg managed, without the aid of any computers, to predict the impact of the then undiscovered Jetstream on a series of Atlantic lows and a seemingly distant, and weak, high above the Azores.

He predicted, in the midst of a howling storm on June 5th, that somehow that distant high would sneak in between the ferocious lows unlocking a short window of good weather which would  open up over the English Channel to allow the Allied forces to successfully mount the beginning of end of the war.

The man is a legend.

Today is my daughter Amy’s own personal D Day because at 9am on June 6th she was due to hear the final result of her degree at Napier University.

In these days of mass computing power and internet technology you’d think this would be a straightforward exercise.

But no.  Here’s what she found out.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 09.51.06

(Image grabbed at 9.50am as it has been since 9.10 when she first tried to log on.)

Why David Cameron Should fear the next generation.

Dinner at 11.

OK this is something of a contrivance, but check out the wonderful David Cameron-despising Grace at 27:42..

A bunch of 11 year olds were selected from thousands to a dinner party and to talk about, well whatever they liked.

Love, marriage, (Superglue strong parental relationships), politics, education and bullying.

It’s often hilarious, sometimes charming.  And, yes, a little contrived.

The kids come from a variety of backgrounds with a range of views and experiences.  But all are remarkably articulate.

The real star of the show and the reason you should watch it is Grace (aged 10 and three quarters) who uses the platform to share her views on David Cameron.

This is it in all its glory.