Edinburgh Airport named fifth worst in World by AirHelp. Now that’s just ridiculous.


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I have been in some shiteheap airports in my time.

Most recently Berlin (a toilet).

CDG in Paris is shite.

Stanstead was great once but is now declining.  Gatwick is a shithole.

Deau’ville near Paris is a disgrace.

Pisa is disgusting.

So for the pristine, efficient, well managed and well stocked with retail and food/drink outlets to be named fifth worst in the world by Airhelp defies belief.

Edinburgh Airport is superb.  This survey is deeply flawed.

 

 

 

Simply the best gigs I’ve ever been privileged to attend


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My pal Pete, and I, were discussing our all time favourite gigs after we gushed about Anohni on Wednesday night at the Edinburgh Festival.

He’s a massive James and Rolling Stones fan and said it even beat James.  I was more cautious.  Whilst I gave it a full five star rating and said it was in my all time top ten it’s had me thinking all week.

So with much consideration here are my all time top 20 favourite gigs.  Each in different ways was a five star performance.

In no particular order, because that’s too hard.

The Clash.  Edinburgh Playhouse. (Combat Rock tour)

Sufjan Stevens. Edinburgh Playhouse. (Carrie and Low tour Edinburgh International Festival – simply the best sound I have ever heard)

Anonhi. Edinburgh Playhouse. (Edinburgh Festival, this week)

Siouxsie and The Banshees. Edinburgh Playhouse. (around the time of Israel)

Kraftwerk. Edinburgh PLayhouse (front Row.  Computer Love Tour)

Kraftwerk.  King Tuts Stage (T in the Park – 3D tour)

Bill Nelson. The Nite Club (Upstairs from Edinburgh Playhouse)

Faust.  The Citrus Club (original one in Edinburgh Grassmarket (set fire to the stage with Petrol)

Simple Minds (supported by Positive Noise).  Tiffany’s, Glasgow.

Simple Minds.  Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow.( 5 x 4 Tour)

Chic. West Holts Dance Stage (Glastonbury)

Massive Attack. The Other Stage (Glastonbury)

Nic Cave and the Bad Seeds. The Pyramid Stage (Glastonbury)

John Grant. The Park Stage (Glastonbury)

Savages.  Williams Green Stage (Glastonbury)

Melody Gardot.  Voodoo Rooms

Emma Pollock. Voodoo Rooms

Laurie Anderson.  Queens Hall (possibly the O Superman tour, certainly around that time)

King Creosote performing From Scotland with Love at  The Hub Edinburgh (Edinburgh Festival)

Frank Sinatra.  Ibrox Park (Glasgow 1999 headline spot).  I’ll never forget him say that “I never thought I’d hear every single member of an Ibrox crowd cheer a Catholic”

One major point to note.  Only one single stadium gig.  The last one.

Some of the greatest were in the smallest venues; Pollock, Gardot, Bill Nelson, Faust.

Who did I never see that I wished I had?  Magazine, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, Steely Dan, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Belle and Sebastian, Cocteau Twins, Can, Velvet Underground.

 

A new word for the English language: Hibsed.


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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.

 

 

The mark of a true man.


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.

GGTTH.

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This’ll spook you.


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I saw this in The Met last October.  It’s from a roomful of plates shot in the late 19th century of doctors carrying out electrical impulse experiments on asylum patients to see if they could trigger different facial expressions.

I think this one was terror.

It scared the bejeezus out of me.

 

Emma Pollock Live at Voodoo Rooms Edinburgh


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A quick look through the excellent Setlist.fm reveals that true to her word it’s been a while since Emma Pollock played Edinburgh (nine years to be precise) so no surprise that on the back of her astonishing new album it’s a sell out.

(In Search of Harperfield is surely the hot favourite to win this year’s Scottish Album of the Year and I’d tip it for a Mercury nomination to boot.)

What we experience will have to wait for a moment because, first, I want to put in a mildly nepotous hurrah for Hamish James Hawk who performs as support sans-band, but whips up a great noise nevertheless.  This young man has talent and if he maintains his man of many faces approach and outstanding, between songs, rhetoric he’ll have the audience in his hands for years to come.

To Pollock.

This is no ordinary gig.  Like Hawk, who’s acoustic guitar she borrows for a substitute RM Hubbard number (Monster in the Pack), she has a gift for storytelling.  Surely nobody in the 300 strong audience could fail to be moved by her description of how Intermission came about – how she drove back and forth from Glasgow to Dumfries visiting her parents both ill, in different hospitals, during a spell of beautiful Scottish weather.

They both prevailed.

Her self deprecation is triumphantly engaging as she ineptly changes instruments throughout the gig with guitar straps proving what would be, to others, gig killers but, to her, props on the road to her stand up career.

But it’s her songs and her remarkable voice, aided by extraordinarily good sound and a superb band, that makes this such a profoundly great musical evening.  Not a moment is wasted and her range is fully extended with highlights that include Red Orange Green, Alabaster, Clemency and my personal highlightt, Dark Skies, from the brilliant stage play Whatever Gets You Through The Night (it reminded me that I must go to the Galloway Forest Park sometime).

Emma Pollock is not a prolific performer so it was a real treat to see her perform in my home town.  It would appear that she must be big in Spain because she’s going gig crazy there in April.  And she may or may not be up to something special in the Festival.  I can only guess because she’d have had to kill herself if she told us.

She didn’t.

But a whiff of anticipation smothered the room.

 

The seven day music challenge.


My pal, Peter Flockhart, challenged me to find seven songs that would sum up my musical taste, but I got a little carried away.  Thought you might like to see them all in the one place as we reach day 30.  They are in no particular order and, surprisingly, only one artist appears twice.  Tom Waits.

Day 30

Day 29

Day 28

Day 27

Day 26

Day 25

Day 24

Day 23

Day 22

Day 21

Day 20

Day 19

Day 18

Day 17

Day 16

Day 15

Day 14

Day 13

Day12

Day 11

Day 10

Day 9

Day 8

Day 7

Day 6

Day 5

Day 4

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1

FFS. That was good. (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks at Edinburgh Festival Theatre)


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Pardon the obvious cheap jibe but it HAD to be done.

Franz Ferdinand and Sparks (known as FFS) collaborated on stage tonight in the Edinburgh International Festival and ended their show with the ironic “Collaborations Don’t work”.

Ironic because they do.

Not since Elton John and Kiki Dee has collaboration hit such great heights.

I jest.

Sparks and Franz Ferdinand are made for each other.  Their art school schtick is a perfect match.  Their angsty jittery, jangly synth/guitar combo creates greatness at every turn and, of course, each gets to showcase their three best songs.

Franz chose Take me Out (awesome), Michael (good) and Do you Want to (awesome) to shattering response.

Sparks elected for No 1 Song in Heaven (awesome), This Town ain’t Big Enough for the Both of us (awesome) and When Do I get to sing “my Way” (good).

Frankly the effect of this and their sublime collaboration was almost overwhelming.  This was a truly life affirming gig that anyone in that audience will talk about for years.

Thank you Franz Ferdinand.  Thank you Sparks.  Thank you Edinburgh international Festival.  Thank you Fergus Linehan for your vision to put this on.

Sunshine on Leith


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.

Easter Road

king of the mountains?


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.

Cross cultural religious stuff happened today that was really interesting.


I played drums, as I most usually do at mass in South Queensferry.  I’m not so anal about my religion that I HAVE to be there every Sunday, but I try.

Anyway, some good rhythms.

Then I headed up to St Giles Cathedral, on the Royal Mile, to see a friend of mine sing in the choir.  If you know anything about Scottish history you’ll know that that’s not a Catholic worship place but it is very Christian.

I loved it and can recommend Sunday Service there at 11.30.

An extraordinary choir and an amazing location, set off by this stunning angel…

And a great organ…

Marilyn at The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh


Fame will go by and, so long, I’ve had you, fame. If it goes by, I’ve always known it was fickle. So at least it’s something I experience, but that’s not where I live.
Marilyn Monroe

I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.
Marilyn Monroe

I have feelings too. I am still human. All I want is to be loved, for myself and for my talent.
Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe. Not just a dumb blonde.

Marilyn Monroe, is perhaps the most famous woman in the world, ever!

OK,  she may have been beaten to it by Mary, the mother of Christ, just as her son pipped John Lennon to the male crown.

Fame haunted Monroe all through her life and her complex personality, as demonstrated by the quotes above, confused not just the public and her biographers, but the lady herself.  Just how dumb was she?  It was hard totell at times.  And the drugs didn’t help.

Her background as an abandoned orphan was a great driver but also a disturbing nightmare that she used rink and drugs to escape.

This lack of grounding no doubt contributed to her demons and dreadful lack of self worth.

So, put her in a hotel wing with Europe’s dazzling blonde intellectual arthouse love, Simone Signoret; the brainy blonde,  on a trip to the US in March 1960 where she was about to win best actress Oscar for her role in Room at The Top, (the successful blonde) and what could possibly happen?

That’s the premise of this very interesting triple header directed by Philip Howard as a co production with the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.

But Signoret wasn’t there just to pick up her Oscar.  She was accompanying her husband (the lucky blonde), Yves Montand (unseen) who was performing as male leade alongside Marilyn on the set of Let’s Make Love. (Not a career high, despite Cukor’s direction).

Meanwhile Monroe’s third Husband, Arthur Millar, types furiously away off stage as their marraige disintegrates (they divorced 10 months later).

Of course, Monroe gets the hots for Montand, which hardly helps matters as Signoret is deeply in love with Montand and remained married to him until her death in 1985.

Circling the cage is Monroe’s one real friend (it would seem, certainly in this context) her hairdresser and colourist Patti (played by Paulie Knowles).  She acts as a compere of sorts in a similar way that Alfieri did in Millar’s View from the Bridge earlier this season.

The show is a mix of mirth (“The Communists ; they’re the poor people aren’t they” quips Monroe) and misery as Monroe’s grip on reality gradually unravels, thanks mainly to her terrible insomnia fuelled by endless bubbly and a cocktail of prescription drugs.

It’s sad to see, but subtly realised.

And realisation is the real strength of this show which is built around a startling performance by Frances Thorburn in the title role and ably abetted by French actress Dominique Hollier.

A knowledge of the period is useful for one’s enjoyment as the McCarthy Witch Trials provide subtle, but important, background noise to the events on stage.

The wardrobe of authentic period couture that Marilyn parades through several costume changes is a particular delight too.

Four stars. Boo boo bee doo.

Another “odd” show at The Lyceum.


Sorry guys, it's not a bodice ripper.

Just as Stanley Townsend playing Eddie Carbone frequently accused Rodolpho to be “not right, just not right” in the previous Lyceum production of A View From The Bridge, so a central plank of Muriel Romanes’ joint production with The Lyceum and Stellar Quines is the notion of homosexuality that cannot be said by it’s name; here Lesbian ladies are merely “odd”.  But it amounts to the same.

In “A View” Rodolpho’s homosexuality was imagined by Eddie as a construct with which to castigate his foe; here it is a celebration of the two lead characters, Rhoda Nunn and Mary Barfoot who despite being a generation apart in age are Victorian entrepreneurs with a taste for each other as more than just business partners.

This could have made for a truly shocking dramatic premise but it’s shrugged off as “odd”, perhaps, but really nothing to get one’s knickers in a twist about.

Although I said previously ‘Our two leads’ this is in actual fact as ensemble a show as one could imagine, they are backed by a chorus of gaggling Macbethian sisters played outstandingly by Alexandra Mathie (truly amazing) and Molly Innes as the older, hopeless spinsters and Hannah Donaldson as the “pretty” sibling with a chance.

“Overbred” by 500,000, out of a population of two million, Victorian Britain needed women to look good if they were to have any chance in a male buyers’ market and the only two women in our cast of six that would have any chance are “pretty” Monica Madden and committed Dyke, Roda Dunn.  The fact that they both fall for the same man makes for intriguing developments as the play unfolds, and surrounded by six women of exquisite talent Jamie Lee as Everard Barfoot has his work cut out to fly the flag for us blokes.  That he succeeds with panache, wit and charm is testimony to his excellent performance.

This is a play that is richly and deeply textured; interestingly realised with beautifully subtle sound, video and lighting design and costumes (designed in a third year project by Edinburgh School of Art Students) that for me were the best I’ve seen on the Lyceum stage in a long time.  Interestingly, my wife hated them.  I’m so much more in touch with my feminine side it would seem.

This is an absorbing two hours of entertainment with a feisty and often hilarious script that batters along holding you firmly in its thrall throughout.

It’s a gem.

And it’s a real thought piece too; at its centre is the debate over the role that “work” played in liberating women from the shackles of domesticity.  The arrival of the Remington typewriter to UK shores, and made centrepiece of this show, both physically and stylistically is a clear metaphor for women’s emancipation.  But is it all good?  Has it served its function.  After all, by the 1960’s the typewriter was the focus for feminist ire as it had created exactly the opposite effect that this late 19th century passport to freedom so obviously delivered.

Motherhood and child rearing is examined too, suggesting that perhaps domesticity is not so bad.  But in the play it’s wrapped up in sexuality and the power women (still) hold over hapless men who can’t see further than the end of that organ that so drives so many of us.

It’s complex indeed (just look at the number and variety of tags I’ve used in this post).  And I’m not sure you’ll get all the answers or unravel all the themes in one sitting  Certainly it’s more than worthy of second helpings.  So, go, indulge yourself and maybe you’ll be back for more.

Odd that!

What is it about Colin Calderwood?


After defeat to Motherwell yesterday this very odd man said…

“There are aspects of the game I enjoyed. Problems are there to be solved so that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

On Tuesday night after Hibs went out to a team two leagues below the odd bod Calderwood commented…

“We had so many good opportunities, the goalkeeper’s had a number of good saves, we’ve had efforts cleared from the line and I think they defended their goal excellently.

He has so far won 2 out of 15 games.

Being, at best, an armchair fan I have not seen him in action but I am told he stands impassively, hands in pockets, barely involving himself in games and certainly not leaping about like the madman Yogi Hughes had become.

It all just seems like he’s going through the motions.

Remarkably he claims to be “really enjoying it” at Easter Road.

Inevitably, the fans’ ire tends to turn to the manager or the Chairman in these sorts of situation.  And Rod Petrie’s extended honeymoon is certainly looking to be over at this moment in time.

The sale of Stokes and Bamba appears to be hitting home now and our lack of action in the transfer market is becoming notable.  I’m a great admirer of what Petrie has acheived at Easter Road but it feels like he has made an extraordinarily bad appointment in Colin Calderwood and his earlier reputation for canniness is in danger of becoming one for penny pinching (for which I am told he has a strong internal reputation.)

Lastly, of course, there’s the team itself; some say it is a shadow of its former self, one of the worst to have played for Hibs in many years (if not ever), but I saw Zemamma, Miller, Riordan, Wotherspoon, Murray, Stack and McBride (all in the squad yesterday) play Dundee Utd on 3rd October 2009 and destroy them before drawing 1 -1.

At that point the table looked like this…

A month later it looked even better…

And even by mid January Hibs (with this team) were in touch with the top, so my contention is not that it is the players themselves that are poor but the way in which they are applying themselves.

It feels to me that there is a cancer somewhere in Easter Road that is permeating the team and turning good players into bad.  Yogi lost them, and Calderwood has never had them bar one freak night against Rangers.

It needs sorted, and quick.

2010. In hindsight.


Not a bad vintage actually.

Work wise I was run off my feet once again and almost literally in December which proved to be extraordinarily challenging due to the shitness of the weather and the fact that I was researching all over the country.  It was a real struggle, very stressful indeed.

Some great clients which include STV, Ampersand, Corporation Pop, 60 Watt, nmp and LA Media from last year.  But added a few too including Gill’s Cruise Centre, Paligap, and The Usability Lab.

My golf stank pretty much from start to finish and I had a poor Arran and a poor St Andrews.  However one highlight was an Eagle 3 on the par 5 second in the club championships first round.  I won that but went out in round two.  However Forty years of failing to Eagle were finally over. (Tom got about 6 last year alone).

Musically it was a big return to form after very poor shows in both 2008 and 2009.

I’ve already posted my tracks of the year elsewhere which will give you an idea of my top ten albums, but for the record, these are they…

I’m New Here by Gil Scott Heron

Band of Joy by Robert Plant

The Courage of Others by Midlake

Queen of Denmark by John Grant

The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire

Sky at Night by I am Kloot

Elektonische Music Experiment – German Rock and Electronic Music 1972 – 1983

Write About Love by Belle and Sebastian

The Lady Killer by Cee Lo Green

Seasons of my Soul by Rumer

My blog had a record year, just, with 340,000 hits, up 45,000 on last year and beating 2008 by only 1,000.  As a result I hit the million mark last week and raised over £1,000 for St Columba’s Hospice in the process.  Thanks to all who contributed.

I did two music quizzes (one in Edinburgh and one in Manchester) for NABS and these raised £3,500

The Hibees were a farce from year start to end and our Scottish cup hopes look less plausible than for a very long time.  Looks like we’ll be going at least 110 years before winning it again.

Theatre again played a big part in my year.

My role as a director of The Lyceum developed and I thought Mark Thomson had a vintage year.  Every show was a hit in some form or other and the highlights for me were The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Confessions of a Justified Sinner, The Price and The Importance of Being Earnest.

FCT had another good year, my first at the helm and I’d like to thank the fab committee for their support.  Two great shows in Just So and Guys and Dolls and another ENDA award.  Annie’s next but no decision yet on the festival.  Our away day in October was deemed a great success.

Amy started at Uni and is working hard as she has done all year at Dakota.  She bought a virtually new car herself ( a Toyota Yaris) and I was really proud of her for being so focussed to be able to do this.  Ria is working hard at school and did really well in her standard grades.  Tom isn’t and didn’t.

Tom’s golf continued to improve and his handicap went from 11 to 7.

Sadly Jeana’s blossoming work at Suntrap came to an end when the funding was pulled.  She was devastated and I suspect still is.

We holidayed in California and it was a tram smash of a holiday from start to finish, summed up by this video…

http://www.youtube.com/v/E5lc8c9EsXg?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1

In books I didn’t read much.  I am enjoying Freedom by Jonathon Franzen but the best of the year was the Red Riding Quadrilogy by David Peace.

fantastic series of horrific police brutality .

And my movie of the year? Well, I saw over 20 movies at the flicks this year and a lot of real quality.  But I plump for The Social Network.  A Prophet was great as was Monsters and The Road, but David Fincher surpassed himself with an amazing script by Aoron Sorkin.

TV show of the year? No Question. Mad Men (we’re playing catch up and only nearing end of season two but it’s fabulous).

In reality TV The Apprentice continues to kick ass.

Digital gizmo of the year?  My iPad… but also my Canon 450 D.  An up and down year on the camera front but happy with my lot and looking for a Canon 5D Mk 1 and a new 28mm prime lens to move on a level in 2011.

Idiot of the Year?  Won hands down by Nick Clegg.  Only cos he sold his soul to the devil.  But he was run close by those fools that lead our government.  You know who they are.  Tony Blair continued to make a right fucking dick of himself and the legacy of Kenny Macaskill is not away yet with Magrahi in the rudest of health.

Sadly I lost a number of friends during the year; Myles, Kathy and Jim, I’ll miss you all.  God bless and love to all of your families.

Wife of the year? Jeana Gorman. 21st year running.  How can she bear it?

Put it this way. I couldn’t live with me. Still.

And so to 2011.

My hopes?

Hibees win the Scottish Cup.  (That’s just stupid.  Ed.)

Tom gets down to a 4 handicap.

I win something, anything, at Golf.

The kids do well at school and uni.

I am healthy throughout. (And lose rather a lot of weight.)

Both Cath and Jean stay healthy too

The credit crunch doesn’t get worse again.

Great night at the cinema 1920’s style


To celebrate Halloween Jeana and I went to see the 1920’s original production of Jeckyl and Hyde made by Paramount and starring John Barrymore.

It showed at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall foer one night only and was accompanied by the collosal Usher Hall organ.

To be honest it was hilarious in places and certainly bnot scary but some nice special effects, mainly achieved through double exposure.  Here’s a few stills from the movie that I managed to capture on my G11.  It was kinda dark as you can imagine so they could be better but you’ll get the general idea.

Screen with organ behind

They didn't exactly hold back on the subtitling

Barrymore as Jeckyl

Jeckyl falling into the hands of temptation

The experiment

Hyde pounces

Romeo and Juliet – Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh


It’s the thing these days to reinvent Shakespeare to the point that the Shakespeare inside is barely recognisable. The Lyceum don’t do this.  Two year’s ago the Lyceum’s Macbeth was heavily criticised for this but I really enjoyed it.  This year’s Romeo and Juliet by contrast has been lauded by the critics, partly for its lack of denial.  Again I really enjoyed it.

What this production does is, for the most part, let Shakespeare’s language wash over you like a spa treatment.  Enveloping you in a warm bath of language that’s part familiar, part alien.  It’s a very compelling and quite riveting experience.

Blessed with a cast of great quality, director, Tony Cownie makes them sing from the off.  Liam Brennan stands out as a monumentally great actor and Will Featherstone is superb as Romeo.  Others I cared for to slightly lesser degrees and sadly Juliet was, for me, a bit of a disappointment – not that Kirsty Mackay didn’t put her heart and soul into the performance, she just didn’t engage me.  It’s a difficult call as act two is an endless lament on her part and so it’s very easy to overstep the mark to the point that Juliet wails once too often.

She did.

Sorry.

Aside from that, this is a truly beguiling theatrical experience.  Pjhilip Pinsky’s music was, as ever fantastic , and I thought I recognised the central motif which I’m sure was a nod to Craig Armstrong.  Like I said earlier, one feels drawn into a different world that doesn’t need a “message for today”.  And it hasn’t got a great deal to say metaphorically, politically, socially; it’s just a great piece of theatre deftly and engagingly handled.

Highly recommended.

New season at the Lyceum edinburgh


Ahhh. The grand old dame!

It was the first board meeting of the new term today and I’m immensely proud of the season we are about to put out in the next 9 months. Shakespeare opens on Saturday with Romeo and Juliet, followed by The Importance of Being Earnest (a very rare 4 act performance) and then The Snow Queen for Christmas.

There after the season opens up with a mix of classics (another Miller – the last in John Dove’s immense series) and premieres.

And to end?

The RSC come to town with Dunsinane! Bring it on!

Is this FCT’s last radical road trip?


WPC McBulldog dumped all 70 of us FCT members off the back of our float at the end of last Sunday’s Festival Cavalcade, leaving us transportless and facing the long walk back to Bangholm which, in fact Izzie and nine intrepid explorers embarked upon.  The rest of us were left to ponder the demise of a tradition of 30 years where we all travel to Holyrood Park (or Princes Street in the old days) on the back of a 40 ft Artic.

So, for those of you who’ve shared the fun, have one last nostalgic look at Cavalcade 2010 starting at Bangholm as we left our spiritual home and later as we took the second of two wrong routes to the start.

It was a hoot.

The Illusionist. Drat…


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

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

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

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

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

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

Heart? 8/10.

Head? 6/10

I am a published food writer


At last.

I wrote a story that was accepted for this book that arived in the ‘post’ today.

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So, if you want to know how not to cook, give me a ring… I’ll pass you on to Jeana.

(Actually, the book is a lot of fun and you can buy it here…)

Here’s what the Collective Gallery, that supported the idea had to say about the concept…

While the typical cookbook format gives you a recipe for obvious success it does not take into account the many ways in which its execution can fail due to the cook’s lack of experience. Based on Aleksandra’s personal history of cooking disasters, the project invites 1000 people from all around the world to give their advice of how NOT to cook. With this volume, any reader will be more than well equipped to avoid making the same mistakes in their kitchen.

Aleksandra is interested in how we are taught or teach ourselves through trial and error. By making our guilty failures public we may even be creating an original and subversive form of art, rather than simply be aspiring to obvious and repetitive results.

Mark Waites. Mother London


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I was extraordinarily priveleged to host an event for STV last night in which we had Mark Waites, founder and creative director of Mother London, speak.

By 3 am, as the grappa had flowed ceaselessly at Rufus Wedderburn’s gaff, I was quite tired.

But Mark was wonderful and if you follow this link you’ll find a fantastic photographic capture of the event thanks to my dear friend, Mike Coulter.  He likes a grappa or two, too.

Suntrap Garden Open Day – This Sunday


It’s been a very busy month getting ready for the Open Day.  It’s this Sunday, 24 May, from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm.

We’re donating to Perennial, Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society.

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It’s always a good day out with gardening demonstrations, advice, plant sales, children’s games and this year there will be a beautiful 18 month old snowy owl called Eubee.  For more information check out the Suntrap blog.

There’s an added bonus this year, Mark and I are volunteering in the garden centre.

Why not come along and enjoy a great day out.