Check this out. It’s beautiful.
Then check out how she made it thanks to We Transfer.
Check this out. It’s beautiful.
Then check out how she made it thanks to We Transfer.
I was listening to the radio last night to hear of Brendan Rogers cheering on Leicester City’s first win as their new manager.
What the Brendan Rogers that is manager of one of the biggest clubs in the world, Celtic FC?
The team that’s on the verge of a historic treble, treble under his management?
The club that is on the verge of a historic ten league titles in a row.
To go to a mid rank English team that spanned a Championship win a few years ago before returning to mediocrity?
Nah, can’t be him. He was managing Celtic, one of the world’s biggest clubs two days ago in a 4 – 1 win over Motherwell.
And then I heard that Neil Lennon, whom I admire greatly as a manager but have severe concerns about his mental health, a problem that led to him being fired from his previous job for calling the club MD, my club, a ******* ****, is taking over till the end of the season.
A man who incites massive sectarian hatred in Glasgow.
He’s taking over?
Nah, he said he couldn’t handle that sort off shit any more.
Must have been a dream.
If it was real the Celtic fans would all be going daft.
The theory was articulated in 1614 by William Campden and expressed as
“Many a little makes a micle.”
But I prefer the Scots language variant;
“Many a mickle maks a muckle.”
“Many a mickle (little) maks (makes) a muckle (lot).”
Leaving the film theatre finally allows your diaphragm to return to normality because the final thirty minutes of this monumental documentary is like being put through the worst nightmare Alfred Hitchcock could ever have dreamed up.
You see, you’ve just witnessed Alex Honnold attempt the first ever solo rope-free ascent of the 3,000foot high El Capitan cliff face in Yosemite National Park.
Apple Mac Users will know it as that home screen on a recent Mac Operating System.
Before the attempt Honnold was a legend of free climbing in the mountaineering community. Now, he is simply a legend.
This National Geographic Doc (that has been Oscar nominated for best feature length documentary) works on four levels;
Each component is critical in making the film add to up to more than the sum of its parts.
But it’s the climb that is the centrepiece, for obvious reasons, and the camerawork of Chin, Matt Clegg, Clair Poplin and Mikey Schaefer is like nothing you will ever have seen in your life.
And there, standing erect, brooding, terrifying, is El Capitan at the heart of it all.
This is boy’s own stuff on a truly grand scale, but it is a film with a heart too and I loved every second of it. It will be some feat to beat this at The Kodak Theatre in March.
100% recommended. 10/10.
Had it not been for my good friend Tim Maguire I would never have stumbled across this wonderful anthology of odd little stories from the underworld of Scotland. By underworld I don’t mean seedy, just slightly off the beaten track.
The titular hero is a fan of Partick Thistle. (Glasgow’s third football team – the one that people who don’t support football support – actually you might argue that it’s the one that people who DO support football support, because ‘The Jags” don’t come with the baggage of the Old Firm.)
Harry Bingo is 97 and has supported The Jags since 1945 – his passion.
The stories are written in a peculiar style, impossible to replicate, the best I can describe them tonally is a like like a reverential Scottish Louis Theroux. I like Theroux, but some of his documentaries are seriously taking the piss out of his oddball cast of characters. Peter Ross has similarly collected together people that at times could be mocked for their unorthodoxy, but while Ross writes with a twinkle in his eye that never turns into a sneer.
We meet a Sikh Pipe Band, The Burry Man, a man that protects the River Clyde dragging the bodies of the dead ashore, a wall of death rider, a bunch of bitchy (butchy) drag queens, The Naked Rambler, The Clavie King and we visit circuses, poultry shows, sex shops, car boot sales ,The Barrowlands Ballroom and the World Crazy Golf Championships.
Each short story, 5 to 10 pages long, sets up an indelible image, some familiar – most not – of characters that care deeply about something in their life – it may even be their job.
In places it is laugh out loud, but never mockingly, we laugh WITH these wonderful people. The people that make up the rich tapestry that is Scotland’s culture.
They were all commissioned by Scotland’s leading newspapers, mainly Scotland on Sunday but also The Guardian, The Big Issue, The Times and The Herald.
They are little nuggets of Scottish gold.
Go read. I have a signed copy!
But we can have one last laugh.
They trained the East German athletics team through music and that is to our great benefit.
If you haven’t listened to the GENIUS that is Athletico Mince yet, here is a little taster for you. Made even greater through the wonder of animation.
This is not for sensitive minded folks.
I am celebrating the centenary of WWI’s Armistice Day with some ‘enthusiasm’.
Peter Jackson’s ‘They Shall Never Grow Old” which premiered at The London Film Festival got the ball rolling to incredible effect a couple of weeks ago. It is a must see.
And on Sunday I shall be attending a virtually sold out Far From Ypres at The Usher Hall in which my good pal Gary West will be taking to the stage as part of a celebrated ensemble.
Last night was the turn of theatre in a site-specific production held at Tynecastle Football Stadium.
As a lifelong Hibs fan attending a period drama that ‘celebrated’ Heart of Midlothian’s incredibly altruistic past had a degree of challenge. It was clear that I was surrounded by a largely partizan audience. But I’m bigger than that. If these men could face ‘The Hun’ in the French trenches, I could pay my respect alongside my rivals.
And I’m very glad that I did.
Paul Beeson and Tim Barrow’s play is a very fine thing indeed. It was performed on the Fringe and has been timeously restaged in its original form for this monumental anniversary.
One of the potential problems this show faces is the way that some Hearts fans celebrate their team’s mass act of courage as a comparator. No other team so unselfishly released their players from their contracts in such a way (13 players enlisted together to serve in McCrae’s Battalion, the 16th Royal Scots).
And that’s only part of the story.
Hearts were top of the league, having won 19 of their 21 games, when the mass exodus occurred. They continued to play for the team, but on the back of strenuous army basic training that included long forced marches. Their form inevitably slumped dramatically, through sheer exhaustion, and what should have been one of the greatest celebrations in Hearts’ history was dashed.
But what Beeson and Barrow have created is brilliant in this respect. That achievement is duly noted but not at the expense of the competition. It is far from vainglorious and largely avoids comparative narrative (indeed the contribution from other clubs is articulated clearly); rather it takes you into the souls of these young lads who fought for King and Country, sacrificing glory on the battlefields of Tyncastle, Ibrox, Celtic Park and Easter Road.
It’s beautifully acted throughout (although sadly no programme was made available so I have no idea who the cast was).
A central character, one of the players and the narrator, leads us through the build up to the mass enlistment, glorying in Hearts’ impressive form. This takes place in the new main stand to the sound of radio commentaries of the matches, before we traverse the stadium. One scene is in the Home Players dressing room, another in the bar, several in the stands themselves before culminating in an achingly beautiful finale underneath the Gorgie Road stand in a makeshift bunker. The final moments play out by the poignant War Memorial.
I’m sure, for many, this is an intensely moving experience. I found it highly dramatic and sympathetically presented.
There is no tub-thumping in this play. There is a great deal of humour and the sound design and violin accompaniment by the sole female cast member is excellent and highly redolent of the time.
Hearts, Hearts, Glorious Hearts features subtly (#HHGH) and is appropriate, without dropping the show’s standards..
The performances are roundly laudable, especially the leads but the ensemble do their part with merit.
This is another must see reflection on the Great War. It has wonderful provenance, it’s superbly written and directed in what is both a stirring but challenging location.
Highly recommended. But you’ll have to move quick if you want a ticket.
PS. The Last Days of Making featuring the Tiger Lilies at Leith Theatre (from Saturday) also looks pretty special.
No ordinary pop documentary, reads the poster, but M.I.A. is no ordinary pop star.
If you’ve not see it before this video for Born Free is a shocking centrepiece to the documentary.
I have been a fan of Maya Arulpragasam (AKA M.I.A) for over a decade now so this film came as a pleasant surprise. Allegedly it’s been over a decade in the making and the relationship between Maya and the filmmaker, Steve Loveridge, has been, to say the least, “challenging”.
She’s a bloody difficult woman, as it reveals.
The daughter of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist minority resistance group that was formed in 1976, she had to flee her home land of Sri Lanka in 1986 to set up home in London with her mother, brother and sister while her dad fought the good fight in the face of what she claims was ‘ethnic cleansing’. It was ten years before she met her father again.
Clearly she has inherited her father’s sense of justice and fighting spirit.
Basing her unique style of hip hop on political oppression she has been an unlikely success, rising to top the Billboard dance charts and performing alongside Madonna at the Super Bowl where she raised her middle finger to camera and in doing so enraged the NFL so much that they sued her for $16.6 million.
Her right to be angry is, in my opinion, quite reasonable but clearly her detractors think it is a stunt as she has gathered considerable wealth since her politically oppressed immigrant days.
For me, her wealth is irrelevant.
The documentary is a curate’s egg. Some of it rambles almost incoherently, using found footage on dodgy VHS tape from her childhood, some of it is expertly shot. Its timeline is also so scattergun as to be quite confusing at times and this jolts the narrative. At times one wonders what the point really is.
She doesn’t shirk criticism, but the reaction of the NFL on American TV drew loud guffaws from the audience I was in at their petty outrage. It’s certainly a precursor to Colin Kaepernick’s ‘Taking the Knee’ and a good, if a little childish, one at that.
Madonna was not overly happy.
For fans of M.I.A. this is a must see, for others I doubt you will be engrossed.
For me, even as a fan, it took a good hour to reel me in. But once there I was sold.
10 black protagonists (some disabled)
4 female protagonists (two black)
Three white male protagonists.
Not representative, huh?
Colin Kaepernick, the former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback strongly divides opinion in the USA.
It was he who started the black injustice protest of kneeling on one knee during the National Anthem and this has driven white supremasists, such as Donald Trump, absolutely nuts for disrespecting the flag.
And it’s him that’s fronting this commercial standing in a US city street in front of a rippling US flag.
Now that’s what I call brave marketing.
This is what Donald Trump calls it.
And he’s right to an extent, there are boycotts from similarly white supremasist Republicans.
But my mate (who doesn’t really like Nike) just bought a White Nike NFL #7 Colin Kaepernick T shirt for £25.
Because this ad moved him.
Sure Nike may lose some customers with this (admittedly a bit Appley) ad, but they’ll win over a lot more than they lose.
Someone at Nike said to a brand manager “Don’t ask if your strategy is crazy, ask if it’s crazy enough.”
I doff my hat.
Our extremely good friends, Will and Ann, have lived in Howard Place for many years and last Saturday they had a leaving do that got a little bit, well, refreshed.
Anyway, as I left I kissed goodbye to Howard Place.
He looked so lonely.
Simon (by Mike Davidson) Small, smily and ineffectual.
Sauzee (by Mark Gorman). Stern and rock hard.
This one’s for my children in London and Australia.
London gets its own Nike ad.
We regionistas should hate it ‘cos it’s Lundin, innit.
But nah; it’s just great. the fastest three minutes in advertising you will see in a long time.
What I particularly love about it is that it twists the ULTIMATE regional yarn – the Four Yorkshireman sketch from the 1970’s by Monty Python – and makes it relevant to both London and 2018.
Every sport, every exercise, every trope explored with wit and excellent cultural mixing.
Everyone comes out of it well.
What’s wrong with Peckham?
Whilst Emma Stone puts down her marker for a possible third Oscar nomination the film as a whole left me slightly cold. But then, when did you last see a GREAT tennis movie. That’s right. You didn’t.
But this potentially offered more because it appeared multi layered and could have been more nuanced than it is.
It tackles two themes simultaneously. First, Billie Jean King’s lesbian relationship with her hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) that eventually ended in controversy as she was publicly outed by her lover when they split in 1981. Throughout King remained married to her first love Larry (played sympathetically but a little limply by Austin Stowell). This is handled very tastefully and, for me, was the better part of the whole.
Second, and the source of the title, the movie explores sexism in the women’s tennis game that led to her breaking away from the WTA and its sexist president, Jack Kramer (in an unconvincing performance by Bill Pullman), and taking on a challenge billed as THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES with 55 year old ex tennis champion and self proclaimed Male Chauvinist, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell).
I disliked Carell’s part greatly, not because he didn’t perform it well but that it is written to make him out to be a complete idiot (which no doubt he was). He becomes a caricature of himself quickly and I neither liked nor disliked him (I was annoyed by him though). It all makes for a strange mix of comedy, politics, sexuality and revolt.
And the revolt was all too gentlemanly for me – despite the subject matter and the ire it must have stirred nobody really ever loses the plot and so the film lacks edge and dramatic tension.
What’s more, it’s 30 minutes too long and the overwrought soundtrack (Nicholas Britell – it really is a shocker) is over-pervasive and just plain annoying.
Emma Stone rarely puts a foot wrong in my view and at times you really do think BJK is on screen. That part, and the general 70’s styling of the movie, is excellent but it’s ponderously directed and although the final shoot out between BJK and Riggs has an element of tension we all know the outcome and Britell’s pomp and circumstance was gradually doing my nut in.
Just because you loved Little Miss Sunshine it does not follow that you will love this.
That was sorted this morning.
All my strikers scored, all my defenders and goalie kept clean sheets. A triumph.
I’ve now reached the giddy heights of 16th for the season. Thanks Tony Harding for organising.
Look out for my impending travel writing. I’ve just been interviewed by Bart and Sanne who run Spotted by Locals. A travel app and website, created in 2008 and reaching over 60 cities, that invites a small group of writers to share their insights into their HOME city.
It’s a great idea because you get insights into cities all over the world from a non commercial perspective and outside of the usual historical or just plain obvious sights.
Anyway there will be five Edinburgh writers when I start. Looking forward to it. If anyone has any interesting spots for me to check out do please let me know and I’ll go investigate.
Those of you who, like me, support Hibernian; Edinburgh’s most stylish football team and forefathers of the rather more successful Celtic FC, will be feeling that slightly sick feeling after once again victory was the more likely, more deserved and more bearable outcome on Sunday afternoon at ‘Scotland’s National Stadium.’
But we were Hisbsed.
We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Consequently, a petition has been set up by a Mr Rudolph Skakel on Change.com begging the Oxford English Dictionary to add ‘Hibsed’ to their content.
It has a smell of schadenfreude about it.
For the uninitiated, to be Hibsed means ‘to be ahead in your pursuit of something, only to mess it up before you cross the finish line’.
And we’ve been Hibsed many times. On Sunday particularly so, and Liam Fontaine, arguably the man of the match, must feel especially Hibsed as it was he who teed up the winning goal for a team that could best be described as diddy.
I mean, you could fit the population of Dingwall, from where they bide, into the back of a camper van and still have room for a couple of tents.
Many have argued that we shouldn’t be so down on ourselves because it was only the diddy cup we Hibsed. But we Hibsed it in 2004 against the mighty Ferranti Thistle playing under the pseudonym of Livingston (a town so small it has an Edinburgh postcode).
We Hibsed it every time in living memory that we played in Europe and we’ve Hibsed it so many times against the other team in Edinburgh that I’ve simply lost count.
By Thursday morning there’s every chance we’ll have Hibsed it against that other Highland League powerhouse, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, in the big cup (that we put that other team from Edinburgh out of a few weeks ago), and we’ve already Hibsed it in the Scottish Championship having been in a great position to overtake long term leaders Rangers just after Christmas.
So, go on, Mr Skakel. have you schadenfreudey moment. the awful truth is, you’re right.
Yesterday was yet another nightmare for Hibs fans. Despite being the better team we inexplicably lost the with of our last ten cup finals. The 12th of 15 in my life so far.
Arguably the man of the match Liam Fontaine had this to say after the game when he was involved in the losing goal.
It’s a sign of greatness in my eyes.
Articulate. Emotional. Great.
There’s much to admire in Ron Howard’s biopic of the battle between Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), not least both actors’ portrayals of the leads and Howard’s, at times, brilliant action sequences.
Sad to say though there’s a lot that simply doesn’t work.
Act 1 (the set up – early years) has moments of cringeworthy scripting and acting with little that engages (in fact I found myself wishing it was all over).
Act 2 (the action sequences when 1976 is dramatically recreated, race by race) is mostly enthralling and really brings together all that is good about this movie (Bruhl, Hemsworth and Howard’s direction).
Act 3 (the denouement) is a missed opportunity. It’s desperately rushed – despite its two hour length. I suspect an order from the studio to cut the timelength came into play with the consequence that it feels like an afterthought.
What makes Rush worth seeing is the most important aspect of the movie, the bitter rivalry between Lauda and Hunt. Both actors uncannily capture the drivers’ individual personalities but the script by The Queen writer Peter Morgan sometimes leaves them with nowhere to go, at others it dazzles, “You’re the only man that is better looking after skin grafts” quips Hunt to Lauda in Act 3; and Lauda’s repeated statement that a 20% risk of death in each race is all that’s acceptable is used well and resonates.
It’s the supporting actors that lets it down; an unconvincing Murray Walker, an unlikeable Lord Hesketh, Hunt’s wife – all fail to convince. Only Alexandra Maria Lara, as Lauda’s wife, strikes a real chord.
At $38million this is a big budget movie for the UK. Its ambitions are clear to see. Just a shame the whole doesn’t amount to more than the sum of its variable parts.
Want to see a great motor racing movie?
(There’s very few of merit and despite my reservations this one’s definitely among the elite.)
Yesterday I took part in the Kinross Sportiv Black run. 88 miles (my clock read 91) and 6561 feet of climbing (1.5 x the height of Ben Nevis).
See those red boxes? They’re the hills and they are very cleverly spaced out so as to just about allow you to recover from one before you hit the next.
Of course some are worse than others. Just like waterboarding is worse than the rack or having fingernails extracted.
But you think the ascents are bad? Well, on three of them, having reached the peak you see this.
And those signs are there for a reason.
I had ho’d and hummed a lot the night before about whether to put the new brake blocks I’d just bought onto my (not very) trusty Willier and eventually decided, after removing them and scraping them, that they’d suffice.
Well, they did. Just. But that was after recording my top speed, so far, on a bike (38mph) on a not dangerous descent.
Going down those bad ones was a test of nerve – and one that I abjectly failed because my arms ached at the bottom of each of them with the sheer effort of clamping those 2cm blocks of rubber to the rims of my wheels. At times I simply had no idea if the brakes would last out. Feathering them was rarely an option as the descents were so brutal, the second you let go the bike would just leap forward at horrendous speed. Clamping was the key. So, the next time you watch a descent on the Tour de France consider the risks these guys are taking.
Towards the end of my six and a bit hours in the saddle (we had three stops for punctures and two for food on top of that) I was in a state of complete exhaustion.
Maybe it was the half pint of Guinness that we had in Dunning that did me in. As the barmaid said “Oh, you’re the first cyclists we’ve had in three years that had a drink!” But it certainly helped us up the 900ft climb, that is Dunning Common, that we faced the second we got back on the bike.
As I sit at my computer at 9.30 the next day I feel fine. Had I done an equivalent feat by running I’d have been in agony for at least three days.
So, vive le cycling.
Today we set off as usual at 8.01 from Dalmeny Station, 11 of us. And headed for Auchterarder.
At Yetts o’ Muckart the group split and six of us carried on to Auchteradrer where we had coffee and bacon rolls (some had Carrot cake) at Indulge. The Maitre of the house elicited positive observation from all parties. Indeed, it may require further visitation.
Then the hard work began.
37 miles under our belt and coffeed up we set off for Dunning to begin the dreaded ascent of the 3 mile long Dunning Hill (probably about 1,000 feet ascent). At one point I was down to 5.3mph in my lowest gear. Really, really tough.
But Roddy McRae, total whippet, was in front of me and got off his bike to photograph us as we neared the summit.
This is the result.
That was at 45 miles.
15 miles later we hit Cleish Hill. Another, slightly shorter killer climb.
At 2.15 we finally got home. 77 miles later. Shattered but happy
…this looks impressive.
Garrett McNamara in Nazare, Portugal breaks world record for surfing a 100ft wave. Yikes.
Advertising supremo, Iain McAteer, of The Union was climbing Arthur Seat on a chill but not Arctic New Year’s day.
The hike was an attempt to wash the bitter taste of the defeat (and too much red wine) of his beloved Chips’n’cheese-eating, potato picking, football team to the (ex) purveyors of the beautiful game, the mighty Hibernian FC from his mouth.
He turned to take in the glorious view and was rewarded with this stunning vision.
Nimes 2003. Mid July. 35 degrees in the shade.
As I stood in the baking sun for more than five hours at the finishing line of a mid-race stage of the Tour de France waiting to catch a glimpse of my all time hero, Lance Armstrong, I’m blown away when an attractive young lady approaches me selling , for one Euro, the single most desirable, and certainly the coolest, thing I’ve ever seen.
A yellow rubber wristband bearing the Nike branded name of Lance’s new charitable venture – Livestrong.
I buy 10. And I wear a succession of these bands for a number of years.
I’ve already devoured “It’s not about the bike” (sublime) and ‘Every second counts” (something of a shabby follow up) but who cares, the proceeds are going to the Lance Armstrong Foundation (trustees of LIvestrong).
I buy Livestrong T Shirts. I am Lance Armstrong’s greatest evangelist.
Then news comes of the USADA’s alleged”victimisation” of Armstrong. They suspect wrongdoing and they go after him like a dog after a bone. What’s the point I wonder. After all I’ve read the books in which, page after page, he denies wrongdoing; “Why would I take drugs and risk ruining my body having just survived life threatening cancer. I would be the biggest fool on the planet.” I paraphrase, but that’s the sentiment and it runs through the books like a stick of rock.
Why would anyone lie, and lie again and again, this publicly, so convincingly? It’s not possible that it’s a lie.
Yesterday, the USADA issued a 1,000 page report using sworn testimony from 26 people including 15 members of Armstrong’s team at the time of his superhuman successes, US postal.
In it they say; “Together these different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalized team-run doping conspiracy.”
Team Doctor, Pedro Celaya, was the mastermind of the hideous cheat but he contests the claims as does Armstrong, but the evidence is no longer refutable.
One question. Why?
Why would a team, comprising of dozens of people no doubt, conspire to cheat so willfully and cover their tracks so assiduously for so many years? what is actually the point of that? In the words of the Horlicks advertising team “How do they sleep at night?”
So, I am the fool. A naive dreamer that like a child simply believed what St Lance said. saint by night, sinner by day that is. You can’t take away what Armstrong did for many suffering people,, you can’t ignore the benefits of the LAF and Livestrong. But now it’s a legacy shrouded in guilt, bad taste and conscience salving.
Oh Lance. You make me so sad now.
It would seem I have failed to understand, pretty much fundamentally, the fashion code for serious cyclists as this excerpt from the very amusing 801 Dalmeny blog suggests
“Newbie Mark G compounded multiple violations of the rules (mountain bike, trainers, camelbak, raybans, mudguards, panniers, pants showing through lycra shorts…) with a milky coffee choice and boiled eggs with soldiers.”
On Saturday I cycled this route (initially in the rain as dawn broke – well 7am) with a couple of pals. It took me to a lovely little, one pub, village called Torphichen in the hills between Livingston and Linlithgow and through the Beecraigs Park.
Quite hilly, it proved almost too much for one of our group and it was a leisurely 4 and a half hours before we set foot back on Queensferry soil. But the route was fantastic, much of it on car free single track roads so I thought, what the hell, I’ll go out again this afternoon and see what time I can do it in. Two hours on the dot and with 63 miles in my legs idea preparation for the freshnlo Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh bike race on 9th September. You can register here.
By the end of the second run though my thigh muscles were starting to groan and a long bath was called for.
Monday was a work from home day with meetings in Edinburgh both in the morning and in the evening. Consequently I put another 52 miles on the clock. So a good few days all in all.
I had an afternoon off and I had some stuff to pick up in Edinburgh so, between rain showers (well, when I say SHOWERS…), I jumped on the old bike to do a training run for the Pedal For Scotland ride that’s now only 8 weeks away. You can register here… http://ow.ly/c1Ssg
So, I cycled into Edinburgh (11 miles ) and then did two circuits of Arthur’s Seat (my second volcanic circumnavigation in a week given that I’d done Vesuvius last week).
The trip round Arthur’s Seat is 3.3 miles and I clocked 14 minutes or so both times. My memories of the ascent (just under a mile) to Dunsapie Loch were far more onerous than the reality.
After that a cycle back to South Queensferry and all 32 miles done and dusted in about 2hrs 15 minutes.
Cream crackered now like.