When the fun of wintry walks wears off….

January is marching on a pace, I myself, less so. It’s cold out there and has been quite miserable (Storm Christoph was not a pleasant chap even though we, in Edinburgh, only caught a glancing blow from him) with plenty of rain, sleet and snow, and now slushy slippiness underfoot. It’s one thing to slip on ice, another to slip on slush – a slip in slush leaves one very soggy! It adds insult to injury!

I’ve only been round Holyrood Park once this week and then it drizzled most of the way round, yuk. Crow Hill and Arthur’s Seat had low misty clouds swirling round them, but despite the cold and damp and rapidly darkening dusk there were people up near the summit!! Why?! My mind went back to Barry Ferns, he who climbed to the top to perform his free Fringe show every day for a number of Fringes, even in the worst of weathers just in case a reviewer turned up on the one day he gave it a miss. Yeah, he had a point.

Rather than battling the wintry elements I’ve been staying warm indoors listening to favourite Radio 4 bits. It started with Desert Island Discs, a friend had previously mentioned their enjoyment from delving through the back catalogue that’s now available, a few weeks later I found myself having a dig around (yes, that’s how long the idea took to percolate through my brain). There’s a lot to go through, though some of the older ones only have five or ten minutes extracts available, and I was so delighted to spot Vincent Price in the list – it was just a four minute clip!

One wallowy afternoon I listened to Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle, I’d missed it on Boxing Day, so glad I caught it. Well, Mr Gaiman does write a good tale and this one was dramatised with Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) and Penelope Wilton (tons of stuff) playing the leads. Marvellous it was! Staying on the Neil Gaiman theme Anansi Boys was next up; this six part series was first on late night R4 over Christmas in 2017, I only caught about have of it at the time but huzzah, Anansi Boys was repeated this Christmas, thereby making it also available to binge at a more reasonable hour online. Yay!

Anansi Boys is a great read but this radio dramatisation over 197 minutes is definitely one time I’d recommend the audio version over the book! It’s a feast for the ears, don’t have it on whilst doing chores, it’s one for wallowing on the sofa or soaking in a long hot bath. This is the fifth time Dirk Maggs has dramatised a Neil Gaiman book for Radio 4, he knows what he’s doing and he has the cast to do it justice. Just the Anansi boys themselves are a pleasure to listen to, Anansi is played by Lenny Henry (which is quite fitting as it was a conversation with him that gave Gaiman the idea, also Henry helped him with the Caribbean dialect and syntax in the book), Spider is played by Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Misfits) and Fat Charlie is Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm in Game of Thrones). Jacob Anderson sings a song he composed himself for the show, and he plays it on a ukulele, yay, my man!

Oh cripes, I did not realise how late it is, very. I did pause to watch the new Russell T Davies series It’s A Sin (great first episode) and then later The Graham Norton Show. I shall leave you with another snowman I suspect of malevolent intent…..

He’s just waiting for back up to arrive, then they’ll storm the castle!

A tinge of blue

Today would have been the 97th birthday of the wonderful Nicholas Parsons; this evening Radio 4 paid tribute to him with a look back at his life and career along with an edition of Just a Minute (how could they not!), his Desert Island Discs and two one-offs he made for Radio Four. The Straight Man in particular was very interesting listen, part biography, part lesson in comedy duo dynamics. Fascinating stuff! Ah, Nicholas, the world has been very blue since you departed at the beginning of the year.

Edinburgh anĸ many parts of Scotland have just had all pubs and restaurants close down for at least two weeks. As a protest bar workers in Edinburgh dumped the remaining contents of their ice machines outside the Scottish Parliament, over in Glasgow the ice was dumped outside the City Chambers. Can’t say I blame them! They’ve jumped through hoops forwards, backwards and sideways to comply with the new regulations, disheartened is probably way too light a word to describe how they must be feeling. In the rest of Scotland licensed premises can serve alcohol in outdoor areas up to 22:00, but only non-alcoholic drinks and food indoors until 18:00.

You may already be pondering whether restaurants can still open if they promise not to sell alcohol, alas, the Sturgeon says no. But, some cafes have alcohol licences – apparently they will be allowed to open but not sell alcohol! You can imagine many in the industry are confused and angry by this contrariness. Indeed, I’ve wondered about the position of restaurants that are purely BYO, the Sturgeon doesn’t want restaurants trying to classify themselves as cafes, but without an alcohol licence what defines a restaurant as different to a cafe?

Even in the areas where pubs and restaurants can open, many are closing their doors because, even if they were as full as now allowed, the latest restrictions will make the businesses unviable. Sad times.

Dear readers, wherever you may be, I wish you all the best in getting through this in one piece. I hope your leaders use some commonsense and care about your well-being. I have to believe there’s intelligent life somewhere out there!