The end of the Fringe as we know it?

Thirteen days ago The Times had a front page headline Two weeks to save the Fringe from oblivion, erm, so is this really it for the Fringe?! The chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Shona McCarthy has been asking the Scottish government to lower the two metre rule to one metre in venues to ensure at least some shows will be viable. She said acts that would usually come to Edinburgh in August are already arranging stuff in England because, well, they can. Quite why the two week deadline I can’t figure out, yes time is seriously running out for anything to happen in August, but why by 12th June? Or is that paper emphasising the clock ticking timebomb more than the chief exec?

Is there really a danger that two years without a full-on Fringe will mean the demise of the Edinburgh Fringe? The article states that “an alliance of ten venues recently warned that the Fringe was in danger of sinking without trace”. Oh boy, I know I’ve pondered such a thing, but I’m a top level catastrophist! I keep checking the BBC online news for updates but all I’ve read recently is that the Scottish government intend to extend their temporary emergency powers (that really doesn’t sound promising!). These temporary emergency powers were meant to expire in September but they want them extending until March next year, with an option to extend further until September 2022 if they deem it necessary. Wow. Cautious or controlling? Opposition parties have expressed concern that the government is trying to rush the bill through before the summer recess which means there won’t be time to properly scrutinise the details and fully debate it – call me cynical but I smell something fishy!

I haven’t seen anything that even hints the Sturgeon will agree to cut the two metres down to one. There have been a number of large trial events in England that have had good results, as in only few positive cases found linked to the events. Yes, there are new variants, some that spread quickly but they don’t seem to be as harmful (which come to think of it, way back last year some scientist said that as viruses mutate to survive they become less virulent as part of that survival process). There’s enough evidence to show that one metre distancing is good enough if the rules are followed. Many countries have gone down to one metre and seem to be doing okay, many businesses here are unmanageable and unviable at two metres. If businesses here have to abide by stricter guidelines, then the government could at least give enough assistance to alleviate some of the hardship caused by them.

I’ll leave you with a quote I saw this week from Scotland’s chief medical office, one Dr Gregor Smith, talking to a committee he said, “…. and if you are at one metre your risk is much greater than if you are at two metres ….” No shit, Sherlock! Who’d’ve thunk it! Of course there’s a higher risk, higher, but higher than what? What is the risk now and each day as more people get vaccinated? And much greater? I wonder the percentage that adds the “much”. In times gone by, folk carried snuffboxes about their person, these days we need saltboxes for a ready pinch to hand!

Toodle pip!

It’s downhill all the way

After doing my civic duty yesterday, I skidaddled down the road to the old country (so much quicker going down the way, as my old dad used to say). First morning woke early, ye gods, frost! And I’d thought, what a waste of time, when I had to cover a multitude of young plants around the garden with various objects yesterday evening. Apparently it’s been back to wintery coldness down here recently, but now I’m here things are gonna get warmer and, rather annoyingly, wetter.

Hurrah, teatime viewing is Richard Osman’s House Of Games. Ha, back in the day mother banished the new colour telly to the sitting room and insisted we all sat at the table for meals – it still feels slightly devilish even now to eat tea watching the telly down here! ROHOG is rather good this week, I do like Samira Ahmed, she and Angela Rippon (isn’t she looking great) compliment each other well in the pairs round. Meanwhile at the far end Dom Joly has been rather a misery guts, doesn’t like losing, does he? And then there’s the stand-up comedian, the rather amiable and unassuming John Robins, he’s whupping Dom Joly’s ass in the final round each day (oh, I hope saying that doesn’t damn John’s performance today). On checking wikipedia last night, I see he’s been performing at the Edinburgh Fringe since 2007, winning the Comedy Award in 2017 for his show The Darkness of Robins – how does his name not register with me at all?! I’ll have to look through my Fringe programs when I get back home and see why Mr Robins has stayed below my fringedar.

Oh joys! John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme is back on Radio 4 on Thursday evenings, I was happy to have the kitchen to myself to listen while (while or whilst? Linguistics?) I did the washing up. Oo, I wonder if he’s ever been on ROHOG? With the unusual things he dreams up I bet he’d be rather good on it, though his quickness on the buzzer wouldn’t be stand-up fast. Finnemore v Neenan would be a good match, I reckon, let’s add in, erm, Carrie Quinlan and Alice Lowe. Okay, so I think about people I’d like to see competing on ROHOG, more about that another time.

By the time I return to Auld Reekie the dust will have settled after the parliamentary election. No doubt it’ll all be whirled up again soon enough with independence talks. Politics suck, why can’t folk just try to get along better? Vive la différence! Another thing that sucks is waiting to see how this year’s Fringe will pan out. Registrations have now opened for it but, as the vast majority of venues won’t be viable under current restrictions, it’ll be more the Online Fringe than the Edinburgh Fringe. Hey, at least that could be fairly international, I mean, from next year there could be fair less Creatives over from europe thanks to Brexit, and then, god knows what will happen when Scotland goes for independence?! And let’s not forget the new Scottish Hate Crime Bill thats been disturbing many with its potential new puritanism. At this rate 2019 may turn out to have been the last ever full-on Edinburgh Fringe!!

Oh dear, that went bad. I’ll pick the mood back up by leaving you with a pic of the blue haze of bluebells in the local woods. Toodle pip!

Happy Blog Day to me!!

Today it’s four years since my first blog post, yay! Who’d’ve thunk it! This will be my 218th post, so that’s one and a tinsy bit a week. Outside it’s a gloriously sunny day, I fully intend to enjoy some sun today, yesterday afternoon was spent wrapping Christmas presents which takes time to do properly (I pride myself on my gift-wrapping skills, friends are always saying how immaculate my presents look). Mind, this lot may not look their best once transported down to deepest Yorkshire, where I shall be heading in the near future. At Christmastime I usually leave the wrapping of presents until I’m wherever I’m spending it but hey, what’s been usual about this year?! I was so engrossed with planning, well, just thinking about all the things I need to do, what to take, who’ll water my plants that time slid by. Half nine at night was when I went wandering…..

I decided to head to Portobello Beach, brrrr, it was rather chilly. The wind was blowing down from the north so any daytime warmth was gone, not that a bit of cold will send the locals packing, oh no. I counted thirty, yes, thirty beach fires (it is a long beach and the tide was heading out). There were thirty beach fires, two groups had windbreaks, a smart idea, and there were two little groups with no beach fires or windbreaks, they must have been bloody freezing sitting on the sand! Don’t judge me that I counted them, I like a bit of precision, “a lot” wouldn’t have cut it for me. I would’ve taken a photo but it would’ve been red blobs surrounded by darkness.

Oo, that reminds me, a few evenings ago I went out to check how the bats are doing up at Dunsapie Loch. They’re doing very well! It had been a warmish day with little wind, so I reckoned there’d be plenty food on the wing for them. Indeed, and as the bats up there come out relatively early I could really enjoy watching them. The difference in watching the bats at Dunsapie rather than St Margaret’s Loch is like an action movie with long shots where you can see the action played out, as opposed to one with so many cuts between cameras you don’t have a scoobies what’s going on. Anyhoo, that’s not actually what I was reminded of, walking back down the Queens Drive I saw a dark figure approaching me in the gloom, at a low level was a green glowing thing moving at the same speed. Of course, I knew it was one of those dog collars but really I could not make out any dog at all! Ah, finally when we passed by each other – a black labrador, it was darker than it’s surrounding, which made me think of the aliens in Attack The Block, I picked up my pace.

It’s now over a week since Edinburgh Fringe announced that registration for shows would open in May. Since then the local press have said that Underbelly have decided their big purple cow will be summering in London this year at their new Wonderground. Underbelly are planning their own festival that will, and I quote “champion the spirit and quality of the Edinburgh Fringe”; indeed, they’re going to program a “Best of the Edinburgh Festival” season of performances. I can see the idea and why they’re marketing it this way, but also, it’s not Edinburgh, won’t be, ever. Oh, how the Facebook commentators went berserk! Underbelly are not well-liked by the stampy-feet local rag readers any time, it was all “Good riddance!”,”Cheerio”,”Don’t come back”. Erm, guys, Underbelly are still hoping to have some kind of Fringe presence in Edinburgh, it all depends on what the Sturgeon decides and how long that decision takes. See, England has given one metre as the social distancing necessary for venues, in Scotland it’s still two metres which is obviously not viable. If the fishwoman won’t change her mind or takes until midsummer to change it, well.

The Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival are looking at ways to put something on this year, the size of the venues they use are really, really not viable for two metre distancing, one metre would be tough in some of the rooms, we’re talking snug places! At least they’re probably well placed to be online as they’ve had plenty of experience this last year. I saw something about maybe putting the online shows on the big screen at the Pear Tree, I assume that’s the one in the beer garden, in which case there does also happen to be a big screen in the beer garden at the Three Sisters.

Ho hum. Who knows what the next month will throw up? Enough of this doom and gloom, I’m going to take me out into the sunshine. Oh, and I need to get milk on my way home.

Toodle pip!

I heard the news, oh boy!

I wasn’t surprised when a cousin phoned me on Tuesday afternoon, “Bet you’re feeling happy now!”,”Oh? Why’s that, then?” I replied obtusely. “The Fringe, it’s on!”,”No. The International Festival is kinda on”, “That’s not the Fringe?” And so it went on, I deflated his bubble of eagerness slowly and with a smug sense of superiority (dumb of me, I know, but I don’t reckon he had an inkling of it). I’d read about it on the BBC website after checking the weather forecast and knew that at least one person I know would confuse the two or just see the headline and assume!

An official statement from the Fringe Society was issued the following day. Yes, there’ll be a Fringe of sorts in 2021, it’ll run from 6th to 30th August; shows and venues can register to participate from early May right up to the end of the Fringe; tickets will go on sale early summer (vague as it’s hard to tell how quickly things will get moving just now?). As the path out of Covid restrictions is like a staircase at Hogwarts, the Fringe Society can not know for certain at this point what forms the Fringe will take but they are trying to prepare for most scenarios (good luck with that!). Following the public health guidance will be tricky to navigate and will make many of the usual venues unfeasible and/or unviable.

Well, one way round it is to do what creatives have been doing this last year – go online. This year the Fringe Society are introducing the Fringe Player, available for use by all registered Fringe shows, will it be all singing and dancing, with bells on? Let’s hope so. No doubt there’ll be some glitches and the odd oversight to contend with, fingers crossed not too many. The Fringe Player will have the bonus of making the shows on it available to a world-wide audience rather than just the folk who had made it to Edinburgh. Performers who haven’t already been online this year will get a chance of going global! Fringe-goers who are feeling a tad anxious of going back out and mingling in crowds will be able watch shows online at home without the expense of travel, hotels and expensive drinks! Mind, this is all assuming that the Fringe-goer is au fait with the online world and has adequate access to it.

Of course, my cousin wasn’t the only one to miscontrue the news on Tuesday; the whooping, emojis and tagging of friends on Facebook on Tuesday, well, pardon me, but I don’t think they’re all fans of the International Festival. There was the usual vitriol online which always happens here when the word Festival is mentioned; again, I don’t reckon they spotted the word International and just assumed Fringe. When the Fringe news did break the following day, the local rag focused on how much local businesses looked forwarded to and needed the Fringe, rather ignoring all the part that online content was being encouraged. Well! The very idea of a busy, bustling Edinburgh incensed the locals! September Lockdown!! Covid Soup!! Why, oh why, can’t they leave it one more year?! And at the other end of the scale – gleeful emojis and promises to meet up to see a show and get hammered. Everyone and their aunty has been adding their tuppenceworth on Facebook. And my opinion?

I think plenty of acts will use the new Fringe Player and won’t bother with in-person shows. Yes, they are dying to get out there and perform in front of people, but all the uncertainties and risk of cancellation will weigh heavy, nevermind the expense! And there is the time constraint on companies organising everything in time for August. Hearts may be willing but heads and wallets may have to decide no. Will people come to Edinburgh in droves? I reckon anyone booking hotel rooms for an August stay in Edinburgh expecting a “Fringe Experience” will be a tad disappointed! Duh! Would I be crediting people with too much sense if I thought they’d save the trip for another year? Oh, by all means, come to Edinburgh, see the sights (we have plenty) just be aware you may need to access shows online.

I have typed this up on Sunday 18th April, things may look different in a few days. The above thoughts will no doubt be revised as things become clearer. We have the tapestry canvas and lots of threads but are unsure what the actual design is yet.

Toodle pip!

So great I watched it twice, huzzah!

Apart from that fingernails bit, eewww. The Great has been such a romp, perfect Sunday evening viewing, everything about it is so sumptuous. I may have to gorge on it later once the series has finished, a banquet with ten courses, yum! I’ll need some popcorn and raspberry ripple ice cream for that (no, not in the same bowl).

It was this time last year I was back in from seeing Logan’s Close at the Caves for the release of Lost In You. It’s been a lonnng year since then. Some are getting excited at the news that the end of Covid restrictions may be in sight, but I don’t reckon it’s as straightforward or as timetably as folk want to believe – look at what happened to the Christmas Grace. Yes, the vaccines are being rolled out but I reckon there will still be some social restrictions in place, more than the general populace will be happy with. Call me a pessimist but hey, at least I’ll be mightily impressed if I get to be in a packed room to see the Close before the end of the year, I’m just not holding my breath.

Who knows what form any Fringe that takes place will be?! And, of course there’s the new bother of post Brexit paperwork and costs for acts coming over from Europe. Creatives have gotten creative online, will the cost of a month in Edinburgh seem worth it any more? Especially if there’s no physical Fringe for a second year. Will the new generation of creatives look on the Edinburgh Fringe as too cumbersome, expensive and old hat? Has it had it’s day? Will it rise again like a phoenix or be like one of those tawdry, tired old seaside towns that you know would have been magnificent back in the day but, sadly, not any more?

Oo, that got maudlin. Here’s to better times, however they may present themselves. Here’s to one day being able to stumble upon a great band playing live in a pub. Here’s to hugging a long-not-seen mate.

God, I so miss hugging 😔

A bit of banter….

The weather’s been rotten today, it’s gonna be really rotten tomorrow, Thursday it’ll keep being rotten just not as windy as tomorrow. The forecast I saw earlier predicts heavy rain, lots of sleet and the odd bit of actual snow until next Tuesday morning, not a single segment showed a lack of any kind of precipitation ’til then. Welcome to February! This may be the time to finally break out the Breaking Bad box set.

I’ve been watching Staged sporadically over the last two weeks. I missed all of the first series last June, so had to catch up on that before watching the second, just out in January. I particularly wanted to see it as it is mainly David Tennant and Michael Sheen bickering with each other, well, they were the best thing about the TV production of Good Omens (from the book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – him again). Staged is a product of the current crisis, it’s about this moment in time, all the restrictions on lives, everyone meeting online. I wonder what we’ll make of it in ten, twenty years time?

The premise is that David Tennant (my favourite of the modern Doctors) and Michael Sheen were due to do a play together in the West End, of course it’s on hold due to the pandemic, but the director Simon Evans decides they should press ahead with rehearsals via Zoom………. The three play exaggerated versions of themselves. As this is filmed from their homes their significant others (Georgia Tennant and Anna Lundberg) and Simon’s sister (Lucy Eaton whose house he’s living in) pop up too. The banter is just wonderful, the beards, the wild-eyed rants and angsty moments, spot on as life in lockdown mode. There is some riffing between Sheen and Tennant but it is mainly scripted by Simon Evans who also directs, stars and co-created it (not to be confused with the stand-up comedian Simon Evans, a Fringe regular).

That was just the first series, the second series isn’t just more of the same, oh no, they take it several notches further. The second series accepts that the first series was just that, a tv series, a successful tv series that Evans has been asked to remake for American television – without Tennant and Sheen! Naturally the two are not happy at this, especially when they’re asked to speak to potential new leads, cue a marvellous parade of guest stars including Jim Parsons and Christoph Waltz. While the second series is still very funny and enjoyable, I do prefer the first, it has a warm charm about it of two great friends just bantering.

Hmmm, if Covid isn’t brought to heel soon, if it keeps mutating and makes the current vaccines useless, will there be a third series of Staged? Just how meta could it get? It’s late, the heating gone off for the night, I need to get snuggly warm and sleep.

G’night, sleep tight. 💛

Y’know, 2020 wasn’t all bad….

Saw yet another strand of tinsel as I downward dogged this morning, that’ll be the twelfth since my last blog post! It lay there glinting mockingly at me, bold as brass it was, well not any more. Oh, and we didn’t get the promised snow, so I closed the curtain again and went back to bed. There has been more snow outside of Edinburgh but nothing in the city, just freezing temperatures.

Listening to the news, it’s sounding like we’ll be lucky if we can do anything at Easter nevermind Mothering Sunday here in the UK. That’ll be another of my annual trips to the old country cancelled, I’ll have forgotten the way down soon! Yeah, 2021 isn’t looking that much better than 2020 so far. How depressing! So, to brighten the mood I decided to look back through 2020 and find my highlights, surely there were some?!

First off, Esther – our wee beastie o’the loch. I reckon she’ll be a highlight for a few Edinburgh folks grateful for the distraction. It’s been so good to watch this beautiful wild creature so close by. Hopefully she’ll be okay after all the recent weather, Dunsapie Loch has been frozen over a fair bit this last month. From otters to rabbits….

Way back last January I went to Jojo Rabbit three times at the cinema. Those were days, open cinemas, me with my unlimited card going to see two films in one evening, Nando’s chicken wings in between (will Cineworld reopen at all now?). Jojo Rabbit is such an outstanding film and a proper cinema film too. God, I miss going to the cinema, that sense of occasion (as a young moose a trip to the cinema was an event, that feeling has never quite left). The whole cast of Jojo were brilliant and Taika Waititi cemented his place as my favourite director and all-round amazing film person.

Thinking about it, I guess all that time spent in Holyrood Park, walking around, lying in sunny nooks reading, that was pretty special. We did have long spells of great weather in 2020, I did most of my reading outdoors. Highlights bookwise, finally reading Errol Flynn’s autobiography (an amazing glimpse at another time and place) and John Robertson’s The Little Town of Marrowville, I expected it to be good and darkly humorous but wow, it exceeded all my expectations! Yes it’s a kid’s book, but it’s a damn fine one.

Not Eurovision 2020 was a day of Eurovision treats for the fans on radio and tv. In the evening Graham Norton guided us through the main Not Eurovision Show, which just felt like one big love-in around the world (as Australia is now in it, yes I make that around the world). I thoroughly enjoyed a day of reminiscing, music, dancing, oh, and prosecco with pear juice.

2020, a shorter but sweetest year yet for Strictly Come Dancing. Bill Bailey with Oti was a worthy winner, confounding the initial assumptions of so many viewers with his capacity to learn and ability to dance. Their routine to Rapper’s Delight will go down in Strictly history. I learnt you could video chat on WhatsApp in November – yeah, Strictly brings out that need to share!

Fringey goodness was found online. April and May saw the magnificent Will Seaward online re-telling his Spooky Ghost Stories sometimes with live accompaniment courtesy of Jam With Humans. Yes, it was back in the early lockdown days, things went a bit wonky, not always online just somewhere in the vicinity, but no matter, it was great to see the maestro weaving his wondrous tales again.

The nearing of the NonFringe saw me checking to see what the Sleeping Trees were up to, if anything. Oh bugger! I’d missed getting to see MAFIA? by about ten days! Joys, I did get see SCI-FI? again. So is there a recording of WESTERN? somewhere? I’d love to see that again. Pretty please?! I could read MAFIA? by purchasing a copy the recently published Sleeping Trees at The Movies – Blueprints for Devised Comedy, but it just wouldn’t be the same as seeing it. But the best was yet to come – a Christmas Living Room Adventure! Oh yay, The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington was the highlight of my Christmas, yes, even above my Christmas Lunch Roll! That first sighting of the great white whale will stay with me forever.

Anything else, Brucie? Well, there was the small matter of Logan’s Close at the Caves for the release of their latest opus Lost In You at the end of February, like, a truly epic night! Best I’ve seen them yet; there was a gig planned for the end of this month but it has, of course, been cancelled. Lead guitarist and singer Carl Marah took to singing Bob Dylan to his washing machine in April, strange behaviour but captivatingly beautiful.

My top highlight of 2020? The Close’s Lockdown Cover of Fantastic Man by William Onyeabor. Having since put the original on one of my Spotify playlists, I love what the lads did with it even more; they’ve taken the best parts, condensed and Closified it into a summer classic of their own. Their video is rather fine too, and usually if I leave YouTube running afterwards it goes to a film of roller dancers skating to the original with some seriously cool moves (yes, I’ve watched both plenty of times after I’ve done online exercises – hey, its good cool down music).

So, wow, 2020 wasn’t all bad, and I did two seasons of Preacher and three of Lucifer, plus my uke playing is slowly coming on. Dear reader, I hope you too can look back and recognise your own highlights of 2020, to paraphrase Aidan Goatley, What made you happy in 2020?

Toodle pip!

It’s all over – bar the tinsel

That’s everything put away for another year, just got a carpet of tinsel to hoover up. I say everything but I can’t help looking around for something I’ve managed to overlook. One year it wasn’t until the end of February that I noticed my glass mistletoe decoration was still hanging in the hallway! I say I noticed it but it was a friend who was wondering what it was, I remember it, “What’s that?”,”What?”,”That hanging up there” oh bugger!

It’s quite astonishing how tinsel manages to get everywhere; I guess it uses any passing static energy to get around, I’ve found bits in the bathroom and the kitchen. There’s never been so many bits before, does tinsel shed more with old age? Some of the tinsel in my Christmas box will be over thirty years old! Maybe the tinsel feels obliged to leave traces of Christmas to be found months later seeing as there aren’t any pine needles to hide out in the carpet. I used to get real trees but one year, just after Christmas, Sainsbury’s were selling fake trees that had been £12.99 for about £6; I reckoned it was worth buying one for the following year, if it turned out to be rubbish I’d donate it to a charity shop and buy another one. It was fine and dandy!

My Christmas mugs and pint glass are washed and put back in the back of the kitchen cupboard. I had the last two slices of my cake this afternoon, oo, I’ve still to clean up and thank the penguins for their sterling work again this year. I did buy myself a Christmas pudding to have – unusual for me as I don’t generally bother but I tried some last year for the first time in many and, you know, it was rather good! It’s still not eaten, but the use by date is March 2022, so I’m saving it ’til the start of December, letting it mature.

The town is eerily quiet with just a few decorations brightening up the Royal Mile……

See what I mean? Oh yeah, they really jolly the place up! Just help to make it all look starker and emptier, I reckon.

And snowmen, sometimes I wonder about them – jolly and answer to the name Frosty or something more malevolent watching us………

The one with the mask is trying to blend in, the one below is checking out everyone going past, bottom left is calling down either a god or the mothership and the other, well, there’s one in every family!?

I really should head for my bed now. It’s meant to snow tonight, it was meant to be snowing by now, its not. I really do intend to be up early to walk on the virgin snow.

G’night, sweet dreams!

So it’s Crimble à Chez Bruce

Wow, Saturday night was a real doozy! Possibly the best Strictly Come Dancing final I’ve ever seen and the worst news announcements possible with just days to go til Christmas. Sunday was a day of head scratching, bad tempers and/or sad resignation for many. I, myself, was on the phone back and forth with half my Yorkshire clan for plenty of the day. Obviously they all feel it won’t be a proper Christmas without yours truly to brighten up the room! We’re all crossing everything we can to hope that things will have calmed down enough by March to have a combined Belated Christmas Day/Mothering Sunday.

I’m fine with it all, hey i)I knew this would happen from the moment the five days grace was announced, and ii) being angry or upset would only negatively affect me and not make a blind bit of difference to the fact I have to stay put in Edinburgh (folks, I’m not usually this mature about things, who is this?!) So I’m just quietly continuing on, just slowly weaving together ideas, shopping lists, weather forecasts and TV schedules for my own cosy Crimble. Sadly the zoo isn’t open on Christmas Day this year otherwise I would have organised a trip for the late morning; so Arthur’s Seat it is, then, oh and hopefully Esther too.

My daily walks should put me in good stead for reaching the top of the hill with ease. Recently with the night falling so early I find myself in darkness even as I approach the Park but I have fairly good night vision – until I’m blinded by the extremely bright headlights some folk wear! Others are like ninjas, suddenly appearing three steps away, okay so maybe if I wasn’t listening to music on my earphones I would at least hear them draw near. I don’t mind night walking in winter, it can be quite pleasant. It is nice to see the decorations in tenement flats as I head back into town and the occasional Christmas tree in a square or garden. In fact…..

Spotted in the garden at St Peters at Newington
West Parliament Square by St Giles

Ah, Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter! Damn, that is such an earworm, and I’ve just put it back in my head, bugger!

But, Brucie, what’s happening with the cake? I hear you cry. It’s done! Iced in my inimitable style (a snowy wonderland) and the penguins have once again agreed to stand around on it for a few days – they like to pretend it’s an iceberg! So laydeees and gentlemen, I give you, cook and cake……

Poor Eric was worried what may be lurking in the moat of china below

Oh, and those wonderful silly boys The Sleeping Trees have come up with their own Christmas song The Ballad of the Reindeer – do check it out. It made me laugh, anyway.

Toodle pip!

24 hours later………

See! My misgivings were right – the Christmas grace has been rescinded! I got a phone call from a sibling, rudely interrupted the start of Strictly it did, I got the gist and promised to call back later, like after Strictly. So, the new Scottish restrictions say there’ll only be a relaxation of the rules on Christmas Day, which means there isn’t time enough to see any family if they’re not close by, nevermind in other parts of the UK, and travel to those parts is now banned over Christmas anyway. Boxing Day will see all mainland Scotland on the highest level restrictions for at least three weeks. Happy New Year!

Can’t say I’m surprised, the rhetoric was all heading this way. That’s me off veg peeling duties then! Luckily this morning I bought a Christmas lunch sausage roll at the Farmers Market. I say sausage roll, this is a gourmet, ridiculously large, sausage roll containing the various constituents of a Christmas lunch; a friend on Facebook had tried one and liked it so I thought I would get one too – must pop it in the freezer til Friday morning.

Anyhoo, Strictly the Final was rather bloody good. Three of my Week Two finals predictions were there, oh yay, I’m good! Okay, HRVY and Maisie were gonna be there, but who else seriously predicted Bill for the Final? I don’t care for Jamie Laing, neither do a lot of other folk on the basis he made the Dance-off four times, a definite lack of Fan Base there, no way was he lifting the glitterball tonight.

To be honest I think Maisie should have won, her dancing was stunningly good, she completely embraced the performances – her show dance and her favourite dance with Gorka were so sublime, like watching an old Hollywood musical, astounding!! HRVY, whilst he is amazing too and sooo watchable, his show dance didn’t do it for me somehow. That apart, his Jive was great again and that American Smooth to One Singular Sensation, wow!!!

But the night belonged to Bill and Oti. Their first dance, the Judges’ Choice was their Quickstep to If I Could Talk To The Animals from Week Two, so light and precise, hmmm, definitely a contender. Next their show dance to Queen’s The Show Must Go On, like OMG, jaw-droppingly brilliant, Oti is an amazing choreographer, she created so much drama and intensity, oofph. Watching it again online, many comments say that this is when Bill won Strictly, maybe, but repeating their interpretation of Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang was what drove their win home. Oh yes, Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse won the Glitterball tonight! He may not have been the most technically perfect dancer, but, by Harry, his passion, commitment and amazing stamina (he is the oldest contestant to have won, the previous oldest was a mere 42 year old, Bill is 55) along with that light, fleetness of foot – a worthy winner. Huzzah!

On that note I shall bid you goodnight and leave you with a pic of my cake now covered with the almond paste. The darker blob is where I spilt some apricot jam – it’s what I use to stick the paste to the cake. I’lll leave it a day for the almond paste to dry before putting the icing on. Just as well I made it, huh?!