Not quite Dear Green(est) Place.

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The literal translation of Glasgow’s name is ‘Dear Green Place’ and the City has traded on this for many years now.

However, an analysis by mapping firm Esri UK ,analysing Landsat 8 satellite images from spring 2016 for the 10 cities with the largest populations in the UK, has found that in fact Edinburgh is far greener and is actually the greenest medium to large sized city in the UK as the image above (from today’s Guardian) reveals.

The top ten was as follows:

10. Liverpool 16.4% green

9. Bradford 18.4% green

8. Manchester 20.4% green

7. Leeds 21.7% green

6. Sheffield 22.1% green

5. Greater London 23% green (good old Royal Parks)

4. Birmingham 24.6% green

3. Bristol 29% green

2. Glasgow 32% green

1. Edinburgh (a whopping) 49.2% green

Sorry Glasgow, but Edinburgh is half again greener than you are.

It’s notable that much of the green in Glasgow is in the East end.

You can read all about it here.


Manchester by The Sea: Movie Review


About one third of the way through this, quite long (137 minutes) movie the swelling strings and organ of Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio for Strings and Organ in G Minor start to stir and build through 8 minutes and 35 seconds.

Unlike traditional screenplay music the classical piece, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, does not subtly grace the background, it grabs you by the throat and dominates the proceedings to the point, almost, of discomfort.

(Some reviewers feel it is heavy-handed, I felt it was well judged.)

The fact that it is in a minor key and is achingly melancholic bursting with sadness, despair and grief absolutely encapsulates the mood of Lonergan’s creation.

I found these lyrics written for the Adagio and they could in fact be the inspiration for Kenneth Lonergan’s Screenplay although I very much doubt he has seen them…

So turn away!
Turn away, turn away

I am alone, I am alone!
I am alone
I am alone
I am alone

Go turn away, go turn away
Turn away, turn away
Turn away,
Turn me away

Go home!
Gone in darkness
Light, surpasses

All ….
All, is one now!
All, is gone now!
All, is gone
I am gone.

I don’t recall a Hollywood movie so built around grief and that grief is etched into every pore of Casey Affleck’s face. Surely he is a shoe in for best actor at this year’s Oscars.

Lucas Hedges, as his orphaned nephew who Casey Affleck, as Leo – a dead end Janitor – suddenly becomes guardian to after the death of his brother, plays a nuanced role as the troubled teen who can at least find solace in school, sex and band practice; even if his band is dire.

(Actually, there are also a lot of laugh out loud, mainly awkward, moments in it which were entirely unexpected to me.)

It’s  essentially a two header between them although Michelle Williams plays a strong support role, albeit brief in screen time.

To be honest, even calling it a two-header is to downplay the importance of Casey Affleck in this movie.  In truth it is really a study of him alone with supporting characters used ostensibly as dramatic devices and props.

The trailers do not reveal the depth of the storyline, which is devastatingly sad, and for some almost too much to bear.  My wife sobbed almost uncontrollably throughout the third act.

But despite all this, personally, it didn’t quite capture my heart.

Maybe I was in the wrong frame of mind.  It’s a great, albeit slightly one dimensional, movie with a brilliant central performance and a strong screenplay with a good ensemble supporting cast, but that’s not enough to make it the movie of the year.

That said, I would strongly recommend it.

Creative Edinburgh, Creative and Corporate Love tonight in Leith

Creative Edinburgh Logo

I bet you’d enjoy this.  But you can’t, because you were too slow off the mark.

It’s the latest Creative Edinburgh event tonight on The Leith Agency’s Mary De Guise Barge.

As our membership grows (it’s well over 500 now) our events are getting more and more popular.  That’s why this one’s sold out.

Ed Brooke (Ed of Leith) will share the speaker’s podium with award winning photographer Jannica Honey and Arts Learning Specialist and Drama Artist Fi Milligan Rennie.

Keep an eye on the Creative Edinburgh website for our future evens (we’ve planned hosting and curating of over 50 already this year)

Better still.  Become a member.  It costs very little.  Or pop along to Creative Circles at Brew-Lab.  it’s free.

The 50 for 50 challenge

My friends on facebook will be aware of the challenge my next door neighbour, Pete Flockhart (aka Pete the Meat) and myself set ourselves in the  depressing dog days of 2011.  Both of us had piled on the weight in the last couple of years as a result of lack of exercise, overeating (or eating the wrong stuff to be more precise) and over drinking.

We’re both 50 in May, ten days apart in fact and the prospect of our local GP carrying out rectal examinations whilst lecturing us about our obesity was too much to contemplate.

So we decided to set ourselves a challenge.

We’d both lose 50 lbs by our 50th birthdays.

Our good pal Doug Cook offered to design us a campaign logo. This is it…

And we set up a blog to follow the journey.

We’ve dramatically reduced our alcohol intake (bar a few binges).

We’ve put ourselves on really good diets.  Pete’s a bit heavy on the rabbit food but I’ve been following a food combining approach which consists of Muesli and fresh fruit for breakfast, salad with lots of protein for lunch and a good mix of protein and complex carbs for dinner.

No pies, no crisps, no sweets, very few, virtually none in fact, simple carbs (white rice, white bread, white pasta, potatoes – in fact none of any of them in a month), no butter, reduced fat (the one cal spray you can buy is excellent), no chocolate, no biscuits, no visits to Greggs AT ALL.

And of course, the exercise.  I have a Nike Plus wristband which acts as a GPS device, pedometer and calorie burn measurer which is calibrated (extremely accurately I have to say) for stride length and distance walked plus weight.

Our regime has been walking 2 out of every three days across the Forth Road Bridge and back.  That’s about 5.7miles (9km) and we have a slightly longer route that’s 7 miles (11km).  In January I walked 190km ( 118 miles) and Pete was about the same.  However I’ve also recently bought an amazing, really really amazing, new bike – a Cube Hyde Pro – that’s carried me 200 miles in and out of town this month.

We’re taking the opportunity to raise funds for two very deserving charities as we go and you can pledge your support here if you’d like to help us.  They are the Rachel Appolinari Fund which has been set up on behalf of a young girl, a friend of my family, who died, aged 19, of a brain tumour at Edinburgh neuro-oncology unit at the Western General Hospital.  Her Dad and sisters have already raised £50,000 for the hospital in Rachel’s name.  The other (Pete’s choice) is the Chest, Heart and Stroke Foundation in Scotland for obvious reasons.  I hope you will support us.

The results are encouraging.

In the first month, which ended today, I lost 22lbs and Pete lost 30lbs.  That’s 9% of our combined body weight.  Our BMI’s have tumbled but there’s a long, long way to go and to be honest 50lbs may have set the bar a little too low.

We realise the easiest bit is over and we really do need to dig in now, but we’ve been saying that since the end of week one in which Pete lost a staggering 16.5 lbs, so maybe we’re striking the right balance.

A big thing about this, to my mind, is the value of attempting a challenge like that with others.  Doing it solo is very difficult indeed.  So, to Pete the Meat, Slainte!  Onwards and upwards.  Together we shall prevail!

Anyway, follow our exploits here.  You can sign up for updates on the left hand side of the blog and please support us as best you can.

And she married me?

I have been striking this ridiculous pose for at least 20 years as this photo testifies.

Shot outside The Europa Hotel (the most bombed hotel in Europe) in about 1988.

The equally unattractive human being in the photo beside me is Damian McElholm. A keen country pursuits hobbyist.

He’s famous for replying to Gerry Farrell when he was asked what the shooting was like around here (Belfast, at the back end of “The Troubles”) replied “accurate.”

Fuck sake

Back in the day, Mad men Part 2.

OK, so David Reid was given a Fashion Police type doing on this very page not a week ago.

He took it like a man I have to say so it’s only fair that he gets the right of replky.

Here’s my own fashion disaster of the 80’s when I had hair, oh boy did I have hair, and specs.

My God did I have specs…

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.