Unknown Pleasures #6: David Reid

David Reid 1 SA : David Reid – Because Brands Matter Picture by Stewart Attwood All images © Stewart Attwood Photography 2018. All other rights are reserved. Use in any other context is expressly prohibited without prior permission. No Syndication Permitted.

Ahhhh. David Reid. My longtime compatriot and co-founder of 1576 Advertising Limited where we did seriously great work and had seriously good fun.

David was never shy of a lig. Most famously perhaps in his Schlitz days when he got all pissed up with Lisa Bonet and Johnny Rotten.

My favourite memory is around his kitchen table, planning 1576 when his Dad (Normski) uttered the ludicrous conclusion on reading my business plan “You’re not seriously considering going into business with this wanker are you David?’ He was. He did. We rocked. Normski later redacted.

David and I regularly attend PrimaveraSound in Barcelona.

I regularly embarrass him with my lack of finesse as he peacocks to my tramping.

We are pretty much chalk and cheese, but we love one another nevertheless.

Here’s his shizazzle.

My favourite author or book

I always look forward to a Robert Harris novel coming out. He rarely misses the beat. Other authors I like are George Orwell, Graham Macrae Burnet, Ernest Hemmingway, Aldous Huxley, Donna Tartt, Ray Bradbury and William Boyd. 

His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae by Graeme  Macrae Burnet

The book I’m reading

I’ve got a few on the go at the moment but the one you need to know about first is definitely the weirdest – We All Hear Stories in The Dark by Robert Shearman. Nothing quite like this trio of books has ever been attempted before. The premise is that stories always change their meaning dependent upon the order in which you read them and as you work your way through the peculiar tunnels of the 101 short stories he has written, the odds against anyone else ever treading the same path as you become exponentially unlikely. In essence, every reader’s journey through the book will be entirely unique and you will be the only person who ever reads your version of the collection. I’m also reading the classic book about positivity – Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman as well as the fantastic Mayflies by Scots author Andrew O’Hagen.

The book I wish I had written

If I’d written a set of books about a Boy Wizard I’d like to think I’d have spent my earnings wisely. As well as very unwisely. 

The book I couldn’t finish

I’m not a quitter – I never start a book without completing it. My patience was really tried recently however with a collection of EM Forster short stories. They were crashingly dull. 

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

I’ve never read Catch 22 by Joseph Heller or Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. That’s a pretty poor show, I know.

My favourite film

This is such a hard question because different films equate to different moods and times. I could easily make a case for Jaws, The Third Man, Duel, Once Upon A Time In America, Pan’s Labyrinth, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Blade Runner. I’m going to go with Sleuth. The original film made by Joseph Mankiewicz in 1972. I was lucky enough to enjoy a drink with Michael Caine, one of the only two actors within the film, back in 1997 and he confirmed it was one of his most joyous acting experiences.  

Sleuth (1972 film) - Wikipedia

My favourite play

The Royal Lyceum Theatre’s production of A View From The Bridge by Arthur Miller. It was absolutely outstanding. 

My favourite podcast

The Spectator has some excellent podcasts. Coffee House Shots provides really incisive political analysis. At the other end of the spectrum, but no less important – Scarves Around The Funnel is a podcast for fans (like me) of Heart of Midlothian FC. They were also Sir Walter Scott’s team y’know. 

The box set I’m hooked on

I’m on a box-set break at the moment – but the original Russian version of To The Lake is exceptional. 

My favourite TV series

I used to love watching University Challenge, but I’ve completely lost interest in it now for some reason.  I like watching documentaries on art, literature and music – usually on Sky Arts. In terms of making a conscious decision to sit down and watch something regularly – that would nearly always be for unbridled escapism. Real mainstream stuff like Strictly, GBBO, Top Gear, Antique’s Road Show, Fake or Fortune and Poirot would fall into that category. 

BBC One - Strictly Come Dancing

My favourite piece of music

La Wally from the opera by the same name by Catalani. In 2018, I went to Vienna with my daughter to see it being performed.

My favourite dance performance

I can still vividly remember seeing Michael Clark and his company performing at the Edinburgh Festival in 1988. Supported on stage throughout by The Fall, I am Curious Orange was a bizarre mash-up that featured dancing phone boxes, an enormous Big Mac, a gay Old Film football match and several risqué costumes by Leigh Bowery. It was glorious.

The Last film/music/book that made me cry

It doesn’t happen very often. I may have had something in my eye at the end of A Star is Born.

The lyric I wish I’d written

From Neil Young’s Cortez The Killer

He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
And the palace in the sun

On the shore lay Montezuma
With his coca leaves and pearls
In his halls, he often wandered
With the secrets of the world

And his subjects gathered ’round him
Like the leaves around a tree
In their clothes of many colours
For the angry gods to see

The song that saved me

Being saved sounds a bit dramatic – but I remember the moment I heard New Rose by The Damned and being really excited about its rawness and energy. I had just turned 13 at the time and, up until then, wasn’t really into music. Punk and New Wave changed all that. Forever.

The Damned - New Rose

The instrument I play

I can’t play anything. I was in a post punk band from 1979 – 1983 and I had to sing because I couldn’t play anything. I couldn’t sing either – but I was quite happy taking centre stage. 

The instrument I wish I’d learned

The electric guitar, although I have never even tried. 

If I could own one painting it would be

Generally I am more drawn towards modern art, but the two paintings I’m struggling to decide between are The Balconyby Edouard Manet and Nichols Canyon by David Hockney. I’m going to go with Manet. 

1868-1869 – Edouard Manet, Le balcon (The Balcony) | Fashion History  Timeline

The music that cheers me up

Unquestionably Reggae. I love the classic Jamaican stuff by Toots & The Maytals, Lee Perry, Culture and of course Bob Marley. On balance however, I prefer the more political English reggae of the 1970’s – Misty in Roots, Steel Pulse and Mikey Dread. 

The place I feel happiest

My perfect day would be art gallery / pub / football match / restaurant / show or gig. 

My true happy place is also where I have had some of my saddest moments – Tynecastle Park. 

Fan behaviour "beggars belief" says Hearts owner Ann Budge as section of  Tynecastle is closed | HeraldScotland

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

Pretending to work, but actually reading The Spectator. 

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

Very difficult, but here goes: 

Jah Wobble

Pablo Picasso

Oscar Wilde

Marilyn Monroe

Agatha Christie 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Oscar Wilde's Arrest and Conviction: He Discovered His Wit Had Limits | Time

And I’ll put on this music

It would have to be instrumental so everyone could listen to what everyone else was saying. Jazz from the Dave Brubeck and Sonny Rawlins era. 

Children of the Stones: Podcast Review

Milbury, a fictitious town in England, is the home of a bunch of ancient stones that encircle the community and have strange intoxicating powers that render the townsfolk strangely happy and a bit out of it.

Moving there in the wake of the death of the family matriarch, father and daughter Adam and Mia are both involved in their study. Dad as a professional Archeometrist, daughter as a grumpy teenage podcaster.

Mia, in the central role is played by Worzel Gummidge actress India Brown and she rules the roost with a fine performance.

It’s a tight, short two and a half hour yarn that brings a mix of sci-fi and semi-religious mumbo jumbo into play.

It feels a bit young adult in nature but is well put together and an entertaining romp.

Reece Shearsmith plays a crazed scientist who wants to take over the world and adds his usual stamp of maniacal over the topness.

It was a 1977 TV series apparently, although I missed it at the time, and is brought deftly up to date by the accomplished dialogue of scriptwriting team of AK Benedict and Guy Adams.

Presented by BBC Radio 4 and BaffleGab it’s well worthy of your time.

Good drama well presented.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett: Book Review

The Vanishing Half: Longlisted for the Women's Prize 2021: Amazon.co.uk:  Bennett, Brit: 9780349701462: Books

This article in The Atlantic sets out some context here. Its by Theodore R. Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice.

According to the Implicit Association Test, I have a “strong automatic preference for European Americans compared to African Americans.” That’s a sterile way of saying that I’m biased against black people. For most people, such a designation would probably be unsettling. After all, the United States is a nation that ostensibly aspires not to judge others “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” But for me, it caused a mini-existential crisis.”

Why? Because I’m black.

That’s a bold and brave admission and central to the tenet of this novel.

I read the book because Bernardine Evaristo recommended it.

I’m glad she did because it’s an engrossing read, albeit a game of two halves.

Ironic, as it’s about the lives of twins who take different paths.

But much more than this, it’s a highly original tale about racism.

Desiree and Stella are Black twins that look White.

In fact, they are born in a small town called Mallard in Louisiana that has an all-Black citizenship that hates being Black – they are all fair skinned, the melanin somehow bred out of the local populace. Worse, they hate Black people, they especially hate Black people that present as Black.

The sully the town.

So, when Desiree and Stella jump town at 16 and move to New Orleans, Desiree spites them all by marrying an ink-Black man. Blue Black. And has a Blue Black baby, Jude.

Returning to Mallard after her husband abuses and beats her, with Jude in tow, she finds her daughter ostracised.

Meanwhile Stella goes all White.

She bluffs her way into a job in the local department store where Blacks are shunned and meets her soon to be wealthy husband who, as her boss, is unaware of her racial background and soon they give birth to a blue eyed blonde ‘princess’ who embarks on a career as a second rate theatre and then soap actress.

It’s menacing.

The first half of the book sets up this story beautifully and elegantly.

Stella’s racism grows out of control as she first shuns, then guiltily embraces, a rich Black female neighbour that taints her staunchly White suburb, threatening a mass exodus and outcries at the town hall meetings.

So far, so brilliant.

Act two loses some of its sparkle, although the story develops strongly as the twins and their daughters’ lives gradually overlap.

The secrets and lies gradually threaten to overwhelm Stella’s life, and the action turns into a part detective story, part revenge thriller.

For me, it started to lose its power as the, admittedly good, story fails to build as strongly as I had hoped on the central premise of the novel.

But overall it’s a page-turning, deeply shocking exploration of racism that can’t but help draw you into thinking about both Meghan Markle and Michael Jackson.

Racism isn’t about race. Racism is about attitude.

It’s a stark reminder that we all need to look ourselves in the mirror.

Unknown Pleasures #5. Gus Harrower

I’ve known Gus since he was ten.

He stood atop a rostrum and uttered these words.

In 1902 Father built a house at the crest of the Brodview
Avenue hill in New Rochelle, New York, and it seemed for
Some years thereafter that all the family’s days would be
Warm and fair.The skies were blue and hazy,
Rarely a storm. Barely a chill…

Our love affair had begun.

I know of no-one I have seen perform more often. In theatre and in bands and as a solo singer songwriter.

(Probably photographed him more often than my children too, TBH.)

He performed these two immense songs for my mum’s funeral.

Listen and weep. I did. (Just click on the pic. It’ll take you to Soundcloud.)

It’s his songwriting and vocal performance that hits the heights for me.

And clearly his academic advisors agree, as he is in the latter stages of a Master’s Degree in music (or something).

Lazily compared, by lesser critics than I, to Elton John (the specs and the height I guess) I prefer Billy Joel as a comparison.

But could Billy Joel do Jesus Christ in JCS? (I cried again)

Could Billy Joel hit the heights needed to carry off Bring Him Home as Jean Valjean? I think not. (And again I wept.)

Ladies and gentlemen (and those that go by any other description) please enjoy Gus’s cultural influences.

My favourite author or book

The book that my mind goes to if I’m ever asked this question is ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini. At this point I must’ve read it 3 or 4 times and it still gets me every time. It has a lovely father-son relationship story, but also emphasises themes of guilt and friendship. 

The book I’m reading

I’m currently reading ‘How to Write One Song’ by Jeff Tweedy which was kindly gifted to me by Mark Gorman. A brilliant insight into the motives of songwriting and the philosophy of the creative process.

The book I wish I had written

The Bible. 

The book I couldn’t finish

I never was able to finish the last Harry Potter books and as someone who lived as a young person in the 2000/10’s I think that’s poor show.

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

Like Mark, I’ve never gone for the classics, but I’ve always wanted to read the philosophical works of Plato and Aristotle. My Master’s degree often touches on philosophy so would probably stand me in better stead if I gave them a read. On a simpler note though, The Hobbit.

My favourite film

Interstellar. Absolutely love anything Nolan does, The Prestige, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Tenet.

Interstellar (@Interstellar) | Twitter

My favourite play

Will have to swap out play for musical and I think for me it has to be Les Mis every time. Having seen it on stage countless times and been lucky enough to perform in it, I hope I never tire of it.

My favourite podcast

Has to be Sodajerker on Songwriting. They have talked to everyone under the sun and they manage to veer away from the shitty chat show questions to focus on the mechanics and process of songwriting. 

Sodajerker On Songwriting (podcast) - Sodajerker | Listen Notes
Gus and I share a love of this wonderful podcast. Call yourself a music lover? Get wired in. https://www.sodajerker.com/podcast/

The box set I’m hooked on

Still needing to finish off The Sopranos but I have been binging that of late. I’m excited and intrigued by the prequel movie that’s coming out this year starring James Gandolfini’s son. 

My favourite TV series

This is possibly the hardest question on here. Chernobyl, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, Ozark, The Thick of It, True Detective to name but a few. 

My favourite piece of music

I think at the moment it’s Racing in The Street’ by Bruce Springsteen. I could listen to the outro on an endless loop for the rest of my life. 

My favourite dance performance

Mark Gorman at Forth Children’s Theatre after show party for Jesus Christ Superstar. A truly spellbinding and magical performance, those white jeans made him look like an elegant swan.

The last film/music/book that made me cry

The last few episodes of Schitts Creek were tear jerkers. Another excellent TV show. 

The lyric I wish I’d written

I would like to think and hope that any lyrics I want to write have already been written by myself. And if any lyrics in well-known songs had been written by me well no one would hear them. However, “Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.” That’s a pretty iconic line. 

Bruce Springsteen Born To Run German 7" vinyl single (7 inch record)  (385443)

The song that saved me

I wouldn’t say I’ve ever needed saved, but Bon Iver’s music always can pull me out of a rut; creative or otherwise. 

The instrument I play

Piano and a spot of guitar. 

The instrument I wish I’d learned

Drums. Or how to actually play the guitar well. 

If I could own one painting it would be

These questions are clearly meant for someone more cultured than me. Eh, The Mona Lisa because it’s worth an absolute mint?!

Christie's Offers a Chance to Witness the 'Mona Lisa's Restoration – Robb  Report

The music that cheers me up

Anything pop from the 80’s. 

The place I feel happiest

Anywhere on stage with my band. 

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

I will get sucked into a YouTube hole watching Made in Chelsea and TOWIE videos. I have no idea why, but the people are weirdly intriguing, and the videos are more digestible in short form. I’ve never watched the shows on TV.

The Only Way Is Essex 2021 start date as Series 28 arrives on ITVBe |  Reality TV | TellyMix


I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

I don’t read enough to invite authors so I’m going to invite musicians and general famous people. And this is a question I do ponder often. 

  1. Jesus Christ
  2. The Prophet Mohammed
  3. Hitler
  4. Prince
  5. Bruce Springsteen
  6. Justin Currie
  7. Bob Mortimer

I wouldn’t want to be the person doing the seating plan for that one. 

Vertical Painting - Mohammed The Prophet Of Islam by Vintage Images | Cute  cartoon wallpapers, Cartoon wallpaper, Islamic art

And I’ll put on this music

Probably some easy dinner jazz. With a few of my own numbers mixed in there.

Unknown Pleasures #4: David Greig

It’s a real honour to have David contribute to my blog.

David is Scotland’s greatest living playwright (and dramaturg).

You’ll know him perhaps as Artistic Director of The Lyceum where he has written business-changing productions such as The Suppliant Women (an adaptation of Aeschylus’ classic and a personal favourite of mine. It truly was an epic and very moving, very feminist experience, so much so that I saw it three times), Touching the Void, Solaris and Local Hero.

He also wrote two more of my all time favourite plays; The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart and Dunsinane.

As if that isn’t enough, how about Lanark, Midsummer, Yellow Moon (I saw a lovely student production of this in a freezing cold Bedlam Theatre) and Europe, the show that initially made his name.

Perhaps his biggest commercial success has been his much lauded West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

He’s a great voice in the Independence debate. And he’s a runner.

I mean £ for £ he’s one of Scotland’s greatest creative talents with no discernible style. Look at his full list of productions on Wikipedia and you won’t say “Oh that’s a Davy Greig” because his output is so creatively diverse.

And when you read this you won’t be disappointed because he doesn’t just tell us what he likes he tells us why and shines really interesting insight onto all of his taste.

There’s a pretty shocking revelation in it too about his recent health that knocked me off my feet but I’ll let you read about it for yourself.

Thanks David. I am not worthy to be sharing this but I am very grateful.

THE SRB INTERVIEW: David Greig – Scottish Review of Books

My favourite author or book

PG Wodehouse is the writer to whom I return and return. 

The book I’m reading

The Lost Plays of Greek Tragedy by Matthew Wright, a two volume account of all that we know of the lost plays and authors of ancient Greek Tragedy. For example Euripides wrote over 100 plays and we only have 17 of them. And there were dozens of known, celebrated authors apart from the big three of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus. This magisterial book collects everything we know about the lost work. 

The book I wish I had written

This is an odd concept for me. I feel like if I wish I’d written a book then I would have written it. When I like a book, it’s in great part because I could never have written it. I suppose I will answer this by saying the form in which I feel least skilled is poetry, and I wish I could write it as well as the poets I admire whether that be Sappho or Alice Oswald, Don Paterson or Kathleen Jamie, Betjeman or Brecht. A book of really good poetry is the book I wish I had written.

The book I couldn’t finish

There are many but Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace is probably the one which comes to mind. I found it fascinating, funny, engaging… but it’s also huge. It’s just too much. Too much. One day I’ll go back to it.

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

I’m not a great reader of contemporary novels. It’s not deliberate. I find my time is filled up with plays, films, poetry, twitter, and I read a lot of non-fiction.  When I get a chance at a novel I tend to pick a classic. I rarely get round to a new novel. I’m rather ashamed of this, in general, and specifically I would say Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels. They seem like a deep and powerful exploration of women’s lives and friendships that could absorb me for a good while… so why haven’t I dived in yet! 

Twelve-Year-Old Sofia Abramsky-Sze Reviews Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan  Novels

My favourite film

Hunt for the Wilderpeople by Taiko Waititi

My favourite play

This is a very difficult one for me. Theatre and plays are my life. You’ve asked me four questions about books but only one on plays! And I have to choose only one.  And it’s unclear whether it’s a performance of a play, or a script? So many flaws in this question! Nevertheless, them’s the rules, I suppose. In that case I will choose The Present by Andrew Upton adapted from Chekhov’s play Platonov. I saw it on Broadway directed by John Crowley with Cate Blanchett playing the lead, Anna Petrovna, who is turning 40 and bored of life, and staging a party. The play revolves around the eponymous Platonov with whom she is in love, as are most of the women in the play, and who has never been able to commit to her or admit his true feelings. Out of this simple country house palaver Chekhov weaves a desperate aching gouging out of the male heart, of love, of despair, and of the comedy of our own foolishness in the face of our desire. The original play is long. The magnificent Australian dramatist Andrew Upton did a version which adapts the play to 1980’s Russia and puts it in a simple contemporary English idiom which lets the play breathe beautifully.

John Crowley’s production was absolutely beautiful, delicate and detailed naturalism.

Cate Blanchett was incandescent.

When the lights came down I was in tears and couldn’t move for a full ten minutes. 

Cate Blanchett's Star Power Lifts 'The Present' on Broadway - The New York  Times

My favourite podcast

There are so many, I like Talking Politics with David Runciman, I like The Archers podcast Dum Ti Dum, I like Blocked and Reported but recently I’ve been obsessed with QAnonAnonymous, a long running investigative series which follows the QAnon conspiracy theory. I picked up on it about a year ago, just after lockdown, and it became a bible for understanding the craziness which then beset America. It’s still the best primer I know for the American right.

The box set I’m hooked on

Do we do box sets anymore? I have a full collection of Muppet Show videos, I adore them, and when I saw that Disney Plus had them I began revisiting them on streaming. I can never get enough of them. Check out the episode from the first series with Kris Kristofferson singing Help Me Make It Through The Night with Miss Piggy.

Why are Kermit and Miss Piggy making headlines - The Economic Times

My favourite TV series

Upright by Tim Minchin.

My favourite piece of music

Ay ay ay! Four questions about books but one about music!! It’s like the theatre question all over again. At least you get eight in desert island discs.

Since I was fifteen my Desert Island Disc, that I would save from the waves, has been the cover version of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ by Paul Quinn and Edwyn Collins from 1984.

I had to search for this (Ed), not on Spotify

My favourite dance performance

I was lucky enough to see ‘I Am Curious Orange’ by Michael Clarke with live music by The Fall at The Royal Opera House. It was glorious. The re-staging of the Battle of the Boyne by bum baring boy dancers in Rangers and Celtic shirts as Mark E Smith scowled and stomped across the stage… 

The Story of Michael Clark's Game-Changing I Am Curious, Orange Performance  | AnOther

The Last film/music/book that made me cry

Peanut Butter Falcon, a rather beautiful movie from 2019 by Tyler Nillson and Michael Shwartz in which Zack Gottsagen plays a Down Syndrome man who escapes from a home to pursue his dream of becoming a wrestler, and hooks up with a down and out fisherman on the run played by Shia La Beouf. 

The film, like Hunt for The Wilderpeople & Upright, explores my favourite movie trope where a gruff emotionally closed person carrying grief is paired with a vulnerable emotionally open person and they are cast loose in the wilderness.

These stories always make me cry.

I should write one one day.

The lyric I wish I’d written

So so so many from so so so many songs but I think, in the end, I have to defer to Bob Dylan who has come up with so many, so consistently extraordinary lyrics.

Probably my favourite is…

‘Oh the streets of Rome are filled with rubble

Ancient footsteps everywhere

You can almost think you’re seeing double

On a cold dark night on the Spanish Stair.

Got to hurry on back to my hotel room

Where I got me a date with a pretty little girl from Greece.

She promised she’d be there with me

When I paint my masterpiece.

Oh the hours we’d spend, inside the Coliseum

Dodging lions and wasting time

Oh those mighty kings of the jungle

I can hardly stand to see ‘em

It sure has been a long hard climb.

Train wheels running through the back of my memory

When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese

Someday, everything’s gonna sound like a raphsody

When I paint my masterpiece.

From ‘When I Paint My Masterpiece’ by Bob Dylan

It catches so beautifully the sense of playfulness and connection I felt, as a young artist, that the best is yet to come, that the great work is just around the corner.

The song that saved me

Dream Operator by The Talking Heads from True Stories.

I had a stroke last summer. I think running a theatre in a pandemic just got to me and my brain popped. Anyway, I’m fortunate it was a minor stroke and I was able to recover from the major physical effects quite quickly. But the mental effects were hard. I have found being an artist deprived of my medium, a theatre maker deprived of an audience, very hard on the soul. The wounds to The Lyceum of redundancy and closure have sometimes felt unbearable. 

I am a runner, I like the trails and hills, and I was worried that the stroke would take that away from me. Fortunately I’ve been able to get myself together and, although a bit slower, I’m back running in the hills now.

Spring is here and the other day I was running in some back country. I was cresting a hill, the sun was out, and I saw a glorious Scottish landscape of loch and mountain laid out before me and this song came on.

It spoke directly to me, as songs sometimes do. 

It was clearly a song in which an old artist remembers themselves being young and hoping one day to make art. The old artist says to the young one… ‘don’t worry, I’m here from the future to tell you, you become an artist in the end.’

In one line David Byrne sings…

‘Every dream tells it all, and this is your story, you dreamed me a heart, you’re the dream operator.’

That reminded me that the heart of an artist is a child.

And that an artist is just that, ‘a dream operator’ and that’s also as good a definition of an artistic director as I’ve ever heard.

I found myself crying as I ran.

The song released the responsibility and grief of the pandemic and returned me to the child artist who just wants to celebrate, understand and dream the world.

File:Talking Heads - True Stories.svg - Wikimedia Commons

The instrument I play

I play the guitar well enough to strum along to things, and I have an extensive collection of guitars, ukuleles and banjos which I enjoy playing. The stroke rather fucked up my left hand fingering so I’m even worse than I used to be. I’m no musician.

Recently I have started taking singing lessons. I am greatly enjoying discovering my voice as an instrument.

The instrument I wish I’d learned

As a kid I learned Cello. I loved the sound of it, the feel of it. I still love Cello music. Jaqueline Du Pre doing Bach is some of my favourite music ever. I wish I’d kept it up.

If I could own one painting it would be

One of Rothko’s Red and Black paintings.

Mark Rothko | Untitled (Black and Orange on Red) (1962) | Artsy

The music that cheers me up

Ah, there IS another music question. Phew!

I am always cheered up by ‘Got Soul’ by Valerie June and I challenge you not to be as well.

The place I feel happiest

My family’s cottage on Rannoch Moor.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

I genuinely don’t believe in guilt over pleasure.

I like reading massive volumes of history – Anthony Beevor, Robert Caro, etc… Sometimes that feels like an old white man thing to be doing. It’s not that I don’t seek out diversity in history, I do. But I’m a bit Alan Partridge about military history. So maybe that?

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

I don’t like dinner parties. I really enjoy one on one encounters best. I would invite Lee Miller to dinner. If she was unavailable, I would invite Aeschylus.


And I’ll put on this music

Lee Miller I would play Beyonce’s Lemonade. I think she’d like that. Aeschylus would be fascinated by Hip Hop – he was a composer as well as a poet and he wrote in rhythmic speech – so I’d play him some of the best Hip Hop I know from Public Enemy, to Dr Dre to Drake to Kanye.

Unknown Pleasures #3: Murray Calder (RIP)

I knew, when I asked Murray to write this for me, that he was dying. But I knew he’d relish it. I knew that he would entertain us and shed light on his most treasured cultural memories.

It’s perhaps significant that the book he had just completed in the last weeks of his life was about stoic philosophy. Because he was stoic and witty to the end.

We weren’t big mates or anything. But I admired his great strategic mind and his love for African music, something we shared.

He will be greatly missed by his family and many great friends.

God bless Murray.

Here is something my good friend Pauline Platt sent me when my Mum passed away that may bring comfort to his family.

What is dying?

The ship sails and I stand watching till he fades on the horizon and something at my side says “He is gone”.

Gone where?

Gone from my sight, that is all: he is just as large as when I saw him.

The diminshed size and total loss of sight is in me, not in him and just at the moment when someone at my side says “He is gone” there are others who are watching him coming and other voices take up a glad shout, “There he comes””.

And that is dying.

He struggled to compose emails to me as we messaged each other “It’s the cancer Mark”, he told me when I said to him that one of his emails had “…hit the scrambler”.

You can see it in some of his final tweets.

Now we are left with these reflections after his short life.

Murray and I share a distinction. Both of us are ex-chairs of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in Scotland (the IPA). I think he was the first ‘media man’ to hold the position. I was the first idiot.

Those of you who know him, know he’s no longer working, but he is a source of great inspiration to us all. That’s because he has terminal cancer and, rather than getting all sorry for himself, he’s doing stuff like this.

He’s being positive. He’s living the life he has left.

Captain Murray. We salute you sir.

My favourite author or book

Iain M. Banks (or Iain Banks if you’re more of a fan of his literary fiction) has long been my favourite author. He switches seamlessly between literary and science fiction and this Culture Universe is, to me at least, one of the most beautifully realised pieces of world-building in science fiction. And probably the best example of “fully-automated luxury communism” in literature. So many future-scapes are written as dystopian that it’s a real tonic to read about a universe which spells out such a vividly realised utpopian vision.

Not only that, his sense of playfulness and humour shines through in both the names and the dialogue of the “Minds”, the AI’s who run the whole shebang. I’m very sad every time I’m reminded there will never be another new Culture novel. RIP Iain. 

The book I’m reading

I have just finished Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” after reading a lot of Stoic Philosophy with which It showed a lot of similarities.

The book I wish I had written

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

The book I couldn’t finish

Too many to name. Life’s too short to waste on books you’re not enjoying. 

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

None. Life’s also far too short to be ashamed about not reading a book. 

My favourite film

Bladerunner. Brilliant set-design, great performances, a stunning soundtrack. It’s perfect. 

Blade Runner' future is now and you are old - CNN

My favourite play

I can’t even remember the last time I saw a play so I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this question.

My favourite podcast

I’m not really a podcast listener, but I’m a great admirer of what Giles Edwards and team have achieved with the isolaTED talks series. Some fantastic talks from impressive people in aid of an important and worthwhile cause.

The box set I’m hooked on

Last thing I was hooked on was zerozerozero on Sky. Mexican drug cartel ultraviolence, Italian mafia codes of honour and American avarice all rolled into one. Highly entertaining 

ZeroZeroZero (TV Series 2019– ) - IMDb

My favourite TV series

Antiques Roadshow is a Sunday evening staple in our house. Of course you’d never sell it. 

My favourite piece of music

As Long as I Have You by Garnett Mimms. A stomping piece of Northern Soul which we chose as first dance at our wedding after being introduced to it by Gideon, the guy behind Block 9 at Glastonbury who’s a friend of Emma (my now wife’s) best pal from school. 

My favourite dance performance

Ashley Page’s The Pump Room performed by Scottish Ballet to an Aphex Twin remix of Nine Inch Nails. Most unexpected. 

The Last film/music/book that made me cry

I’m not sure I’d stop if I started, so I’ve not cried for a while now.

The lyric I wish I’d written

I’ll leave it to the professionals.

The song that saved me

See My Favourite Piece of Music

The instrument I play

I don’t play any musical instrument but I do play other people’s records occasionally. Does DJing count?

Murray’s in-home Captain DJ booth. Complete with Lichtenstein backdrop.

The instrument I wish I’d learned

I wish I’d started DJing earlier

If I could own one painting it would be

Not a painting but a print, specifically, The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai. As a (very) amateur printer myself, I’m fascinated by the technique involved in creating these incredible woodblock prints.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa - Wikipedia

The music that cheers me up

I’m a funk fan. Anything with a driving baseline

The place I feel happiest

Behind the decks. I was fortunate to hold a brief residency at the SubClub in Glasgow in the mid 2,000’s and warming up for Hardfloor to an over-capacity crowd from that booth is one of my happiest memories. 

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

LIfe’s too short to feel guilt about the pleasures you take. 

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

David Byrne, Brian Eno, Olivery Bondzio, Snoop Dogg, Beyonce, Hilary Mantell, Margaret Atwood

And I’ll put on this music

Mostly African recently, although, not necessarily Afrobeat. I’m a huge fan of the Analog Africa label and have been slowly completing my collection of their compilations. 

Unknown Pleasures #2: Stephen Dunn

Contact — Stephen Wilson Dunn

I’ve known Stephen for the best part of a decade now. He’s a phenomenon. A proper philanthropist who has, in his retirement from the energy industry where he made an impact at the very highest level, continued that impact, particularly in theatre and at Hibernian FC where he is a hands-on and much loved board director.

He’s a photographer, and an exceptionally good one at that, having undertaken study at degree level. But he’s intuitively great.

It’s in theatre that I know him best and his recent creation of the Stephen Dunn Theatre Fund is helping in many ways, most recently with the fabulous new podcast series presented by Nicola Roy called The Cultural Coven. You’ll find it on Spotify and Apple.

Here’s his beautifully curated and eclectic Unknown Pleasures.

My favourite author or book

I love a laugh, so it must be Spike Milligan’s Adolf Hitler, My Part in His Downfall.  It is a book I can read again, and again, and always laugh out loud.  I loved Milligan and his viewpoint on all life.  His letters, particularly to HMRC, met in-kind by a very funny tax inspector, brighten up any day and are a template on how to deal with officialdom and jobsworths.  However, it his beautifully observed, and no doubt greatly exaggerated, commentary on army life, the war and particularly the characters he encountered is a book I would take to that desert island if I were ever asked.  

Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall (film) - Alchetron, the free social  encyclopedia

The book I’m reading

Svetlana Boym’s The Future of Nostalgia is my current read, primarily for my Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography.  It is a book worth reading in its own right however as it looks at nostalgia, from its historic position as a disease, cured in some armies by shooting, to the reasons we feel a longing for times and places from the past.  Being of Russian birth there is a brilliant analysis of their psyche and approach to life, and of their former citizens! 

The book I wish I had written

“From the Earth to the Moon” Jules Verne.  Foresight or what!

The book I couldn’t finish

Loads of those.  Mostly science fiction literature. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick is one I gave up on in the early 1970s, only to love Blade Runner the film.  Who knew!

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.  My English teacher at school was a great inspiration and she gave us the option to read either the Thucydides or An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley.  I chose the latter and that started my love of theatre. Miss Merson wanted the former as she felt I would become a more rounded person.  I was ashamed to let her down.

My favourite film

An impossible question. Depends on mood, genre and what is happening in the world.  Recently I watched and loved Apollo 11, more a documentary but great, nevertheless.  A bit of film noir such as Double Indemnity and of course a bit of To Catch a Thief, just to see the South of France!

My favourite play

Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller at the Young Vic was probably the best I have seen in recent years although Angels in America, Tony Kushner at The National Theatre was also up there.

Theater: 'Angels in America' Punches Through the Roof Again

My favourite podcast

15 Minutes to the Moon. Theme here!

The box set I’m hooked on

Don’t do box sets.  Although have recently found Netflix but tried to avoid binges.

My favourite TV series

The Sweeney, followed by The Avengers followed by Rising Damp.

My favourite piece of music

Alone Again Naturally, Gilbert O’Sullivan.  Loved it when it first came out and love it today.

Alone Again (Naturally) by Gilbert O'Sullivan on Amazon Music - Amazon.co.uk

My favourite dance performance

No great on dance. Went to a ballet once and thought it was noisy!

The Last film/music/book that made me cry

Fences. August Wilson play turned into a film directed and starred Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.

The lyric I wish I’d written

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Don McLean, Vincent

The song that saved me

Not needed so far.  However, Stay With Me, The Faces would feature!

The instrument I play

A Leica MP film camera.

Leica MP // Leica M-System // Photography - Leica Camera AG

The instrument I wish I’d learned

A triangle.

If I could own one painting it would be

Ophelia, Sir John Everett Millais.  Pre Electricity Council meetings at Millbank I would sit and stare at it! Was offended when they loaned it to Russia and complained to one of the curators.  It was mine you see!

Ophelia', Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, 1851–2 | Tate

The music that cheers me up

The Faces.

The place I feel happiest

In a theatre, preferably the Lyceum, although The National in London is a space I love and of course Easter Road.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

Being able to go to the smoke at the drop of the hat to “do” theatre.  

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

Spike Milligan, Jack Lemmon, Billie Holliday, W. Eugene Smith, Bing Crosby and Stephen Fry.   

And I’ll put on this music

So What, Miles Davis

Unknown Pleasures #1: Mark Gorman

I love the, always insightful and thoughtful, celebrity column each Saturday in the Times called ‘My Culture Fix’ and realise I will never be asked to write it (because I’m not a celebrity), so I thought I’d do it myself and then invite some friends to do their own.

So, this is #1 in an occasional series.

Here’s my starter.  It took me ages.  

(If you’d like to contribute please let me know and I’ll send you the form.)

My favourite author or book

Few authors have fault-free cannons of work.  Favourites like Ian McEwan, John Irving and Margaret Atwood all suffer from weak spots, Donna Tartt, less so. But I’ll go for the two books that punched me in the chest most vividly in recent year, The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Both deal with aspects of systemic racism in America that makes you wonder why, in 2020, there should have still been a need for #BlackLivesMatter.  But it seems racism is not just systemic but endemic too. Maybe books this brilliant can make a dent.

The book I’m reading

Barack Obama’s fine memoir, A Promised Land.  Big and beautiful.  (Like him).  And the latest of my book club’s choices (it’s my work’s diversity and inclusion group so we only read books by authors of colour).  The current read is a brilliant page-turner.  The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett.

HBO Brit Bennett The Vanishing Half 7-Figure Deal; 17 Bidders – Deadline

The book I wish I had written

“How I won a million dollars” by Mark A Gorman.

The book I couldn’t finish

There’s plenty.  I’m not too squeamish about that.  But Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is some pile of drudging poopery.

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

I’ve never really taken to ‘the classics’.  My reading starts mid 1930’s (Lawrence, FSF, Camus, Kafka, Huxley) so I’m fairly ashamed that, when I describe writing as Dickensian, my experience of his work is from TV, the stage or through the eyes of writers like Michel Faber.

My favourite film

That changes.  I recently re-watched what I thought was my favourite, Magnolia by PT Anderson, and the edge was off it.  The Shining and Apocalypse Now often sit front of mind for this question, when asked, but actually I’m going to stick with Paul Thomas Anderson and say ‘his body of work’.

My favourite play

The Royal Lyceum Theatre’s production of Berthold Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle 

My favourite podcast

For about two years now podcasts have become my biggest indulgence in my own time, not all are cultural of course.  In fact, they’re mainly political, news and history.  But a few cultural gems have slipped in there.  It’s hard to do well.  But Homecoming (both series) is fantastic theatre of the mind, as is Passenger List but the most gruesome and funniest (even if unintentionally) is a New York take on Sweeney Todd called the Horrors of Dolores Roach.  Delicious.

The box set I’m hooked on

Gomorrah is ridiculously callous in its brutality but gloriously so.  The fact it’s in Italian masks what I’m pretty sure are at least two central performances of dubious merit.  My wife and I were feeling decidedly guilty that we feel invested in the character Ciro, despite the fact that he’s a cold-blooded murdering bastard. 

Gomorra: La serie (TV Series 2014– ) - IMDb

My favourite TV series

You can’t beat getting your scoresheet out with University Challenge on the screen.  Jools, when he doesn’t talk, has been a staple for many years, but the programme that got me hook, line and sinker during lockdown was Junior Bake Off with the wonderful Harry Hill presenting.

My favourite piece of music

Well, I definitely want Into My Arms by Nick Cave played at my funeral but the two records that I simply never tire of are Reproduction and Travelogue by The Human League.  It’s pretty incredible to think how they knocked this up at the time they did.  Extraordinary technique, tunes and oddly brilliant lyrics.  The real deal.

The Human League – Reproduction (Vinyl) - Discogs

My favourite dance performance

I was blown away by Peacock (choreographed by Yang Liping) in the 2019 Edinburgh Festival.  But every time I see NDT I have a similar WTF reaction.  Done really well, with great music, contemporary dance is my favourite artform. We are blessed in Edinburgh to see this sort of stuff for under £20 every year.  Nowhere else on earth would you get that sort of value.

The Last film/music/book that made me cry

Gus Harrower recorded a version of Secret Love by Doris Day, my Mum’s favourite song, for her funeral recently and it was electrifying and hugely emotional for me.  And then, just last night, we watched an Australian movie about a terminally ill teenager called Babyteeth.  That hit the spot too.

The lyric I wish I’d written

From Grinderman (Nick Cave) from Palaces of Montezuma… The spinal cord of JFK
Wrapped in Marilyn Monroe’s negligee I give to you.”

The song that saved me

I’m glad to say that I don’t feel I’ve ever needed ‘saved’ but should I find myself in that situation it’s not hard to imagine that it would be Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World.

The instrument I play

Haha.  Play? The ukulele and the drums, but over my life I have become able to get tunes out of the larynx, oboes, clarinets, synthesisers and guitars.  None with distinction. 

A Guide to Ukulele Strings: How to Choose Ukulele Strings - 2021 -  MasterClass

The instrument I wish I’d learned

Unquestionably, the piano.

If I could own one painting it would be

Three Oncologists, by Ken Currie, that hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  It terrifies me but absorbs me.  I never tire of it.

Three Oncologists by Ken Currie art print

The music that cheers me up

I’d have to say, in general terms, soul music.  From the early 70’s when the real masters were at their peak: Curtis, Stevie, Isaac, Marvin, Bobby Womack, Bill Withers, Aretha, Nina.  For these legends, first names suffice.

The place I feel happiest

It’s a straight toss up between opening night at The Lyceum in Edinburgh, with my wife, and Glastonbury.  But for the sheer awesomeness of it the big G gets my vote.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

Reading on the bog.  I have James Robertson’s 365 Stories on the go upstairs and a wonderful book about famous letters downstairs.

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

Billy Connolly, Salvador Dali, David Byrne, Viv Albertine, Grace Jones (for the clothes and the fighting) and Donna Tartt.  

And I’ll put on this music

Oh, Jazz.  Things like GoGo Penguin, Moses Boyd, Kamasi Washington and some AfroBeat, led by Fela Kuti.

Babyteeth: Movie Review.

Babyteeth (2019) - IMDb

This had been on my watchlist for a while but I was prompted to watch it when its director Shannon Murphy was BAFTA nominated as best director. It’s based on play by its writer Rita Kalnejais but it’s no play transformed to film. It’s a breathtaking film in its own right, in no small part due to its bold direction.

It’s about a terminally ill 15 year old girl, played beautifully and unmawkishly by Eliza Scanlen, a true star in the making who you may remember as the dying sister Beth March in 2019’s exquisite Little Women.

The plot revolves around Scanlen’s Milla who lives with her dysfunctional parents. Her dad, Ben Mendelsohn, is a psychiatrist, her mum, Essie Davis, is a retired concert pianist. Milla too plays violin rather well and attends an all girls music school where, despite her illness, is unembraced and something of an outsider.

One day on her way to school she almost ends up under a train thanks to the intervention of a 23 year old junkie, Moses (another fine performance by Toby Wallace) and so begins an unlikely romance/symbiotic relationship wherein Moses is invited into the family home, despite his thieving of the heavily sedated mother’s drugs, as her dad fuels his drug-taking habit via prescriptions he can write for him.

It’s largely hilarious, but gradually switches gear into poignancy without ever going all “Marley and Me” on us.

The central performance by the radiantly beautiful Scanlen is truly great as she navigates the relationship awkwardly, but entirely believably, with both her illness and her reluctant ‘boyfriend’; her first.

But it’s Murphy’s direction that draws the most admiration as a subject that could be car crash moviemaking as it negotiates all the usual tropes with a deftness of touch and a searingly brilliant soundtrack (including two scenes, one as she dances to Sudan Archive’s glorious violin infused Come Meh Way and another at a party where it all goes a bit hallucinogenic).

The real craft in this beautiful and ultimately moving movie is in the weaving together of episodes with quirky titling that captures the dying girl’s last year or so of her life without flinching and throwing in moment after moment of humour that’s genuinely laugh out loud, even if we, the viewers, think “Come on , this is no laughing matter.”

It’s no pity-porn, far from it, and that’s why it’s so affecting.

It’s a triumphant film deserving of even more recognition than it is already garnering.

A must see.

In case you didn’t know. A catastrophic moral failure is unfolding in front of our eyes.

World Health Organization: Its History, Its Mission, Its Role In The  Current Crisis : Goats and Soda : NPR

Not my view, although I subscribe to it.

It’s the World Health Organisation’s.

(Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General, said recently that it was not fair for younger, healthy people in richer nations to get injections before vulnerable people in poorer states.)

But in this world of vanity politics the UK is blowing its national trumpet in an echo of Empire days.

No longer the force it was, since absurdly leaving its European power base, it reverts instead to bragging that it leads the race for population vaccination.

But it’s a folly.

It’s like before the fall of the Berlin Wall, with West Berlin a little bubble encapsulated by communist rule. An anomaly and one cut off, in many ways, from reality.

Long before we had a vaccine, the West talked of vaccine democracy, where ‘resource poor’ nations would be helped out of the global, yes global, pandemic alongside their wealthier planet-mates. Not only for philanthropic reasons, but for rational ones.

A pandemic does nor respect borders or wealth.

Are we, West Berlin-like, to survive in gloriously inoculated isolation while those around us continue to incubate and spread the risk? Or, shall we, as promised, dilute the pandemic globally, simultaneously.

No, the former. We will sit proud, world-leadingly ‘cured’ but surrounded by shark-filled water, unable to progress, unable to economically prosper because our reduced customer base (also our own fault) remains on its knees.

The risk of mutations in the virus happening in non-vaccinated resource poor nations is huge. So that after looking after ourselves a mutant (vaccine resistant) strain could spring up overnight and undo ALL of the work.

It’s ignorance on a grand scale.

No, not ignorance. Arrogance.

A Moment in History: Scotland v England, Hampden Park, 1999.

As the old millennium drew to a close the newly formed Sky Scottish TV channel (I was the Account Director that ran it at my Agency, 1576) had a launch event at a Hampden Park that was half demolished, readying itself for the soulless bowl that resulted.

On one side the cranes were disassembling the old stand.

And so I took to the field (in defence rotating with Terry Williams) for a Scotland Media 11 against an English team that had flown up that morning.

Our resolute back line held out for a 7 – 6 victory. ( I think Stuart Bell scored the winner from a penalty deep in stoppage time.)

That’s me, back row, second from right (if you ignore the ref).

It was awesome.

I was preposterous and pretty much had a heart attack with the exertion. (Terry will probably share that memory.)

(I am, however, extremely grateful to Caroline McGrath for digging the photo up and sharing it with me. Something to treasure.)

41% of Republicans say they don’t plan to get a vaccine if it’s available to them.


You read that correctly.

Quite rightly Joe Biden, earlier this week, called this out as Neanderthal thinking.

There are reasons why communities of colour (many of them tied into religious dogma) are resistant to vaccination. Some people have moral/ethical reasons for objecting, which I suppose we have to firstly accept, but secondly try to educate about the pros over the cons.

But for 41%, yes 41%, of Republican voters, a demograph only drawn together by political affiliation, to say they will not take a vaccine that their demiGod funded and, by the way, secretly took with his wife in the White House before his departure, is truly sub-prime intelligence at work.

What the actual fuck does a global pandemic have, in any way, to do with right or left wing politics?

Answer here please.

Herd immunity simply can’t ‘take’ in America if this prevails.

And for Trump, the fomenter of crap about the vaccine (despite seeing it as a potential election winner for him), to be vaccinated in secret. In FUCKING SECRET? Instead of making a big public show of demonstrating that he was doing his bit to save the American people is so disgusting as to take my breath away.

Come on you fucking morons. Get out of the Gary Larson cartoon that you are in.

Grief thief

Grief thief

It’s been 7 weeks, 50 days. 

Since she went away.  

Stolen in the night.

A victim through, not of, the plague.

There’s no score less one on her certificate of death.

She’s not a number.

But she has succumbed to the stealer of grief.

7 weeks, 50 days, nary a tear

I ask myself why and I stumble

Stumble upon an explanation

No stories

No tales

They’ve been hijacked, by the stealer of grief

Dead.  Not gone.

The passage of rite, of rights, is to talk

To hug, to laugh, to cry

To party

Parting is party time

Time for the telling and retelling of tales.

Ham and eggs or eggs and ham?

But the stealer of grief shut the party down

The red card

The naysayer.

Storytelling it took

The rite to smile

Though mortality has left the room

The rite to weep 

When the whisky takes its inevitable toll.

But the firkin lies untapped

The stories dusting up in droothy neighbours minds

The stealer of grief. 

Snatched away our tales.

And what’s left?

A place at the table, unsat.

A place in the heart, ungrat

A place at the party, unhad

And memories untold, going cold?

Oh, this plague.

I hate it so much, I should cry.

Bodyform Pain Dictionary

The extraordinary creative work created by AMV BBDO for Bodyform continues.

Following its category redefining ‘Womb Stories” Here comes another bunch of greatness that brings to life womens’ descriptions of the pain that periods (and worse, endometriosis) cause them.

It will create huge empathy for the brand and may even help women articulate to their unsympathetic partners what it is they are going through.

So commercial and educational in one fell swoop. Congratulations.

(Please note, there is no sound on these animations.)

Passenger List: Podcast review

Passenger List — Radiotopia

For fans of Homecoming this might be the drama you’ve been waiting for.

It follows a similar dramatic technique involving many phone calls and scene shifts without plodding narrative to take you from place to place and is produced and edited with such dexterity that it cracks along at a multo rapido pace.

The story concerns the disappearance of Atlantic Flight 702 somewhere between London and New York and the introduction of this (and all eight) episodes uses a mix of real and recorded newsreader outputs, underscored by a quite superb music theme, to set up the episode that follows.

At first we think the reason for the flight’s failure is down to a bird strike. But our central character, Kaitlin Le a Vietnamese-American college student, who has lost her brother on the flight is suspicious of the official reports, so she gradually falls into a private investigation that sets out to discover the truth.

In this respect it gets a little far-fetched in that Kaitlin Le gains access to so many high powered Govt, educational and security contacts (including Homeland Security and the FBI) that it stretches credibility a tad. But if you can put that down to storytelling licence you’ll be in for a treat.

The initial tragedy becomes a conspiracy on many levels, many of which overlap – but maybe none, or all, of them are true.

It’s really great work by Radiotopia and Kelly Marie Tran who, in the lead role, is an accomplished actor that overcomes the preposterous premise of her sleuthing skills (and budget it has to be said) to drive the story forward with real energy.

I’ll not spoil it for you by revealing where the narrative takes us, but suffice to say it’s a gripping yarn, brilliantly written and researched that will keep you guessing right to the end.

Bravo Radiotopia.

Steve Richards: Rock ‘n’ Roll Politics Podcast

Steve Richards presents the Rock N Roll Politics podcast - Podcast | Global  Player

Along with Matt Forde’s the Political Party, this is my favourite political podcast but I have tired of his recent direction so felt it was time to reach out to Steve and beg respite from his failings.

I share my correspondence. Perhaps he will reply.

Dear Steve

I write to you with compliment and critique combined.

Of course it is the former that trumps the latter because we both know good always triumphs.

This week’s podcast about Prime Ministers and Chancellors was a very fine return to form in my view and, I confess, I was wavering in my subscription to your wonderful podcast, because what I most admire about your work is when you set sail from the off on a subject and unleash your acutely observed opinions.

What I have tired of in recent months is a) the democratisation of listeners’ questions over your own POV and b) the banal stories of what they do whilst listening to you that both eats up valuable time and is, frankly, boring.

So this week you got back to your core strength and nary an ironing or jogging story was given the oxygen of publicity.

Please, please, I beg of you, make this a Damascan moment and stride purposefully towards the truth.

Yours aye.

Mark Gorman

(For the record I walk through the surroundings of beautiful South Queensferry, in the lee of the Forth Bridge, when listening weekly to your epic transmissions.)

Sleaford Mods: Mork n Mindy (feat: Billy Nomates)

Frankly I don’t know how they keep managing to produce absolute bangers like this one, the latest, with Billy Nomates.

I mean, you’d think the formula would have run out long ago but, no, along comes another awesome addition to their canon of work.

I’ve seen them live twice.

Once at La Belle Angel in Edinburgh and once at PrimaveraSound in Barcelona.

On both occasions a stationery, disinterested dork and a wildly affected lunatic barely moved an inch between them but had hundreds of (mostly men) driven to moshpit mayhem and complete adulation.

They inspire me.