A noble failure!

Woohoo! I actually saw a Fringe show tonight! Yay! And it was at a very respectable half past seven in the evening unlike it’s real Fringe time of midnight (in Monkey Barrel One). What was this wondrous happening? I hear you cry. Why, it was The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society and when the name says Alternative it means Alternative (yes, with a capital A), oh, and quite Absurd too.

It may not have been late on, but it was as live as current circumstances allow and it kept it’s usual running time of two and three quarter hours (at least that’s if it doesn’t run over). Our hosts John-Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck were on fine form; well, John-Luke’s lockdown look is a bit Charlie Manson and Thom’s gone weirdly blond, but they’re fine. Or noble failures, I should say.

The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society is as Fringey as it gets, I’m glad I spotted it was on and booked a ticket (now it almost feels like August). So, I had to watch it on my tablet, but I had the sound on through my bluetooth speaker to keep listening as I finished sorting my tea out (lasagne with a side of broccoli). There were thirteen acts to get through so it all fair cracked along.

Stand outs for me were Deborah Frances-White, Joz Norris, Johnny & The Baptists and Colt Cobana. Okay, so Colt was just chatting but that’s fine by me, the man has a most charming voice and manner! I’ve never actually seen Johnny & The Baptists before but I would see them again, much fun. Ah, Joz Norris, an odd individual, but sweetly bonkers, I think he might actually be a selkie. Deborah Frances-White had us play a fun little game of “1932 or C Venue show”; was it a 1932 news story or the plot of a show that appeared in a C Venue? Some of the news stories were so bizarre it was tricky to call, but I reckon I got more right than wrong.

A most entertaining evening, only slightly spoilt by a glimpse of Messrs Cruise and Pitt in Interview With The Vampire, oh, the horror. Luckily Buffy was soon starting over on E4. They’ve now got to when Buffy intertwines with the first series of Angel, I should dig out the dvds, hmmm.

Well, it’s late so I shall leave you. I shall leave you with a note I wrote down while listening to ACMS, Am I my own Santa?

Toodle pip!

I see shut pubs

Another Friday night and I ain’t got nobody …… so I’m staying in having feasted on lamb shank, cooked in a rustic rosemary and red wine stew, with sweet potato mash and cabbage. Tea does not get better than that! Time to open a bottle of Laughing Llama, yes I totally chose it because of the name. Mmmm mmm, not bad, deep berry flavours, a tinge of pepperiness. It’ll do.

Edinburgh is slowly opening back up, a few more pubs are doing offsales now. I suppose if they’re ready for re-opening next week the beer might as well be started on! So far pubs with outdoor areas (that’s beer gardens and pavement tables, which is not that many in the town) have been able to open after a fashion. In England pubs have already opened indoors after a fashion. The government wants us to go out to shop and eat, spend money but only after a fashion. 

There’s plenty of pubs, shops, cafes and others that won’t be able to open again yet, if ever. Even with one metre distancing some of the best pubs and little shops won’t be financially viable from the numbers they’ll be allowed through the door. Our governments and media love sound bites, yes, businesses are opening again but only after a fashion, they won’t be fully open, open like open used to be. We’ve got a long way to go before open means what it used to mean.

And talking about fashion, why are so many desperate to shop in Primark and Zara? Other large stores may have queues too, but walking along Princes Street, like wow! Why?! I made inquiries to a couple of female friends. Turns out they don’t understand it either, mind both admitted they wouldn’t shop at Primark anyway, but also, both mentioned that during Lockdown they’ve realised how many clothes they own and really, a few months of not acquiring any more was a good thing. See, that I get!

So, I’ll just continue to trot up to the Jolly Judge for offsales ciders; I’ll admire my friends’ clothing to be informed that it’s  been in their wardrobe unworn for years; I’ll arrange a wee picnic with friends at a spot in the Meadows that we won’t have to book a two hour time slot for. Life won’t be back to normal for some while yet, I’m one of the lucky ones, I’ll get by.

I leave you with my favourite Pete Standen picture, another apocalyptical one, the view of Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat is not that far from my own view! I think it quite nicely sums up life just now, it is a life in Edinburgh after a fashion. 

2020-06-30 20.21.52

Is it just me?

I’ve never seen June go so fast before! Is she speeding up or is Corona slowing time down so June just looks to be sprinting away? It’s Friday evening again, last Sunday I was brimming with ideas and good intentions for this week – I’ve got a lot of cramming to do before Sunday bedtime. Umm, can I blame my lack of impetus (aka bone idleness) on the current situation or am I actually this crap but just never noticed before?

Of course, any other year the full Fringe programme would have come out in the last week or so, I should be poring over it page by page, marking up potentials, big squiggles in the top outer corner of any page of note. Any other year I’d be looking forward to the Film Festival imminently starting, if it hadn’t already. Oo, he says after a quick dive into his files, ten years ago today I saw two films in Filmhouse One, The People vs George Lucas (primarily Bud’s choice as a big Star Wars fan), then just time for a quick pee before going back in for Monsters. 

Yeah, having a big Star Wars fan for a friend, I was well aware that many fans were feeling rather disillusioned by Mr Lucas (that was more than a few nights in the pub I can tell you!) Luckily for me, it was a smart, entertaining documentary (so it was a tad one-sided but these were passionate long time fans), enjoyable and thought-provoking (more pub chat!) even for the ambivalent.

Quick aside, Buffy has just come on the telly – it’s the first appearance of Spike and Drusilla!! Oh yay! And on that note….

Monsters but this time of the sci-fi genre. The film is obviously low budget but just how low was not appreciated until the Q&A afterwards, one of the best Q&As I’ve ever been at. Gareth Edwards, the director, writer, cinematographer, production designer and visual effects guy, came across really well with plenty great stories about the making of it; it was filmed in just three weeks in some pretty scary places, often without permission, using any locals hanging around who were willing to be extras. Edwards then spent months in his bedroom on his computer creating all the visual effects using just Adobe software. It all paid off – in 2011 Gareth Edwards was announced as the director of the new Godzilla film.

I saw ten films at the EIFF in 2010, Boy by Taika Waititi being my favourite followed by Monsters, then in third place Evil – in the Time of Heroes a Greek zombie horror film (yup, really!). One of my ticket stubs bears a film title that I have no recollection of whatsoever, nope, nothing.

And back to 2020, where the EIFF and Curzon Home Cinema have come up with #EdFilmFestAtHome, an online festival of cinema. It will run from 24th June until 5th July, there’ll be a new film each day (which then shows for between two and twelve days). I have had a quick look at this year’s selection but nothing stands out on first glance. Mind you, in a full year I may not find many films I wish to see, so I wasn’t really expecting my types to make the cut in such a slimmed down affair. I’m glad that something has been worked out, there’s even going to be live online Q&A after at least one of the films! Modern technology, eh!

Night all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just strollin’ in the rain

The rain is lashing down outside, tomorrow’s gonna be way cooler, yay, it’s June! It was forecast (the rain not June) for this evening, it tried to start earlier but all that could be mustered were a few very pleasant drizzly showers. We had a lovely warm day here in Edinburgh with balmy breezes too, the drizzle didn’t seem to put off anyone from going out, including yours truly; some were prepared with brollies or rain jackets, others just didn’t care as it was so warm, so Holyrood Park was still a popular place for the day’s exercise.

20200602_191723The scents wafting on the breeze were intoxicating, the gorse, of course, and now the elderflowers are adding their sweet sherbetiness, there’s plenty of dogtooth roses out now too (they always make me think of my father). Plenty of other smells too mingling in, especially after a shower. This afternoon I noticed how many foxgloves seem to have recently popped up, they are some of my favourite flowers.

The big tree by the side of Dunsapie Loch was literally buzzing with life (well, bees). The swans were proudly showing off this year’s brood, six cygnets all looking well with one being a bit of rebel, dawdling doing it’s own thing (there’s always one in every family!) An inquisitive young spaniel was subjected to the most awful language by the father, well, he did sound like he was swearing. Poor pup wasn’t even that close to the water’s edge when the swans came by, possibly the fact that the pup was quite wet made Pops decide best to discourage any future doggy paddling.

As often proceeds heavy rain the birds were all singing like billy-o; a fair few keen amateur photographers were about trying to catch sight of them. The poor jackdaws were ignored as usual, I like them with their shiny black caps, all hanging out together in their bovver boy gangs on the craggier parts of the park. Somewhere on a lower spot a pheasant would occasionally let out a few raucous squawks, not a pleasant sound!

I did notice today that some parts of the Park were looking quite parched and both the ponds were looking lower than usual, the rain will be very welcome. And the good folk of Auld Reekie can go back to moaning about the weather!

 

Reading on a sunny afternoon

2020-05-31 13.59.18

Basking! Edinburgh has been basking in glorious sunshine! For me, a nice hideaway nook amidst the gorse in Holyrood Park is the perfect spot to soak the sun and a good story. Oh, and occasionally doze off! I do read at home too, but al fresco is so nice. From no reading at all for some while, I’ve read two books over five afternoons and am now on another.

First off was Chris Brookmyre’s offering from last year Fallen Angel. I do like Mr Brookmyre’s works but though I did enjoy Fallen Angel (it is a cracking read) it felt like overfamiliar territory, kind of like how I felt after reading a number of Iain Banks’ books. And I bet most Brookmyre fans guessed the big reveal that I spotted as early on as I did, but no I won’t spoil it here. Oh yeah, and the other big one was no big shocking reveal to me either, that was just standard fare that I’d figured out way earlier.

At least in this book there no ranting about religion or football. In fact, there’s no serious ranting at all, his attacks on conspiracy theorists and truth manipulators are well placed, insightful and not overly sermonising within the characters’ words and deeds. It would be a good holiday read, though if you were in a villa with a shared pool you may find yourself concocting your own conspiracy theories!

Next up, a book I was lent last year (I say lent, it may be one that my friend doesn’t want back, I’m just a dropoff for books charity bound) it’s been looking balefully at me each time I’ve passed it. Okay, so I didn’t think I’d like it that’s why it’s taken so long, it’s The tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Two afternoons in the park is all it took. I say afternoons, the weather has been so lovely and the story so compelling that it was almost seven o’clock in the evening before I stopped myself from reading “just a bit more” on the first day.

The tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale Sokolov. It’s a story about the horrors of the Holocaust, survival and love as experienced by one man, a Slovakian Jew who told his story after the death of his beloved wife, Gita. The author has woven a compelling, life-affirming story from Sokolov’s memories; and it doesn’t end there, after the end of the story there’s a postscript, additional info, an afterword from Sokolov’s son, extracts of records from Sokolov’s time in Auschwitz-Berginau, along with photos of Lale and Gita together (how the love shines through). Morris also tells of her trip to Sokolov’s home town which is quite moving. I’m very glad I read it, I must thank my friend when I enquire if it’s to be returned or passed on.

Now its on to Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There which though not brilliant is a good read. I have been lent a Bryson before but after a few attempts handed it back unfinished, probably why this has been sitting around since last year. Well, I’m just over halfway through it! This one caught my interest as it’s about a trip he made around Europe whilst all recounting his earlier backpacking round Europe in the early seventies (I get lost which decade he’s on about at times). I went Inter-railing around Europe in the eighties and can quite relate to some of his younger experiences. Bryson’s friend Katz puts me in mind that one of my older siblings advised me to travel alone as even the best friend is not necessarily a good travelling companion for a whole month (and I was going for two), I paid heed as he was a veteran Interrailer, four times I think. Reading this, yeah, I did right.

Inter-railing. Every new train carriage had the potential of new friends, new ideas; a couple of days seeing mutual must-see things before hugging good-bye and jumping on different trains – another train carriage another adventure! It was while Inter-railing that my love for all things antipodean began. See some of the best characters I met that summer were Kiwis and Aussies, that was what inspired me to go Down Under, that and the knowledge that I was capable of travelling alone.

Oo, I know what I should read next (Aussies, Australia, Tasmania, Errol Flynn, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, keep up!) Just got it down from the bookcase, ah, the cinema ticket bookmark still between pages 44 and 45 suggests I last tried to get into it in March 2016. Oops! Wonder if the lender has noticed it still gone? I fear a certain primate will not be impressed with my lack of returning skills, sorry!

It’s said that the charity shops will be overflowing with all the stuff everyone has been clearing out during Lockdown, my friends will have fuller bookcases after my Lockdown!

2020-05-31 17.59.17

2020, ironically the year Eurovision wasn’t

Eurovision may have been cancelled this year but you’d hardly know it from today’s radio and telly in the UK. As I tap this out Nicole is on telly singing A Little Peace (Ein bißchen Frieden) – only the umpteenth time I’ve heard it today! Not that I mind, by halfway through I’ll be singing along again.

This evening I’m indulging myself with prosecco and pear juice, they do go together rather well (and if the prosecco is too dry, pear juice is a good antidote). Well, I deserved a treat after all the tidying round and cleaning I did today. Just because I had no one coming round this year didn’t mean I was gonna let standards slip, ok, so they’re not that high anyway but I always have a massive clean round before Eurovision. Right from Graham Norton’s Radio 2 show this morning I’ve been cleaning, singing and dancing, sometimes all at the same time!

Ah, Graham Norton, a worthy successor to Terry Wogan. So it wasn’t officially a competition but I still raised my glass to Sir Tel at the ninth snippet, Sweden’s song, I believe. Why the ninth? Well, when handing over the baton to Graham, Sir Tel advised young Graham to pace himself by not having his first drink of the evening until the ninth song. So, now every year at the ninth, Graham raises a toast to Sir Tel, it’s quite poignant actually. This evening I thought Graham was very sweet and eloquent when the hosts spoke to him, I heartily agreed with him about how great the show was going, an impressive production in these extraordinary circumstances.

Eurovision is feelgood tv (even during the voting) and especially this year with the personal messages from each performer after their song snippet. I’d like to think folk feel a stronger camaraderie with their fellow Europeans after sharing all this music; a celebration of musical differences and similarities, an insight into nations’ souls. The mass love-in of all the performers singing Love Shine A Light was great touch in this time of musicians putting out stuff from their own spaces (often bedrooms, I’ve noticed!)

Mind, we in the UK often wonder why we can’t send a decent song that reflects us now, our songs do tend to be on the naff, dated side. Do other nations feel the same about their entries? Do the Finns, Moldovans or Germans consider their songs reflect them well? My recipe for UK success is Jack Savoretti; my eurika moment came the first time I heard Candlelight, a perfect Eurovision song and a voice to penetrate the hardest of hearts. I’m sure he probably has something that would be perfect – and not written to be a Eurovision song, important methinks.

Tonight we only heard short blasts of each song (blasts almost literally in some cases) so we missed out on costume changes, key changes, great powerful endings from soft beginnings, all staples of Eurovision and it’s associated drinking games. But, going on just the snippets I observed I liked France, Belgium, North Macedonia, Austria and Armenia, with additional mentions for the Italian guy’s voice and the Finnish lad’s blue jacket. Who knows what might have been?!

Tomorrow I intend to look for the ukulele chords for Alexander Rybak’s Fairytale, I rather like it hearing it again today, possibly playable. Today’s find was Boom Bang-a-Bang by Lulu, a couple of tricky chords but I might be able by next May!

Good night, peeps! Stay safe!

Fluffy bunnies, fluffy bunnies!

Fluffy bunnies! Why? Err, a friend in school said it to me many years, told me it was the first thing you should say to anyone on the 1st May. Who was I to argue? I just googled it to see if it really is a thing and apparently some say “white rabbits” at the start of March, while others say it at the start of every month. Hmmm, a tenuous similarity. Does anyone else say fluffy bunnies on 1st May?

I had thought I would trot up Arthur’s Seat early doors to wash my face in the morning dew on May Day – tis said this will keep one young and fresh-faced! Yeah, right! As every other year I’ve battered my alarm off and gone back to sleep. Besides, there is social distancing to be adhered to, supposing hordes had descended on the same hill? That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Goodness, time is marching on and I’m yet to my own marching for the day. I shall leave you with some pics I’ve taken out and about recently.

20200501_134754

Duddingston Loch.

20200424_161404

 

A pheasant in Holyrood Park enjoying the view over Portobello and the Forth.

 

20200501_140423

Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile in the foreground, part of the high rises of Dumbiedykes visible behind, all dwarfed by the Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park, with Arthur’s Seat peeking over at the back.

 

 

If the audience can’t go to the theatre…..

Ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, meine damen und herren, naiset ja herrat. Hi peeps! I was just flicking through the tv channels – can you guess what film almost sucked me in? It was tough but I managed to switch it off.

Earlier this evening I did watch Twelfth Night on YouTube from National Theatre Live. Most excellent! I saw it when it was shown in cinemas and was delighted that it’s been included in their lockdown #NationalTheatreAtHome run. This is a brilliant production but particularly outstanding for me were Tamara Lawrance as Viola and Tamsin Greig as Malvolia (yes, that’s right, they’ve made Malvolio a woman!). I’ve loved Tamsin Greig since Black Books, she was a big part of why I saw Twelfth Night in the cinema, and by god, she was magnificent.

There’s seven days to catch Twelfth Night on YouTube until Thursday 30th April when another NTLive production is shown. And what a treat next week! Not just one but two!! Well, the same play with the leads alternating, that’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller as Frankenstein and his creature. I was lucky enough to catch both versions at the cinema and will no doubt see both again over the course of the week.

There’s certainly some great theatre and music to be had on the internet to keep us going in these troubled times. I’ve recently been delighted to watch scenes from Oh Hello, a one man show about Charles Hawtrey, on their Facebook page; and how delighted was I to hear a spooky poem featuring Clarence and Louloulou the other evening? Very, very, indeed. More about those later.

Oh, and I have acquired Spotify on my phone (for my daily walks) and am enjoying playlists from the lads at Logan’s Close, so many bands I’ve never heard before, but in the main really good.

Sweet dreams!