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

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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!

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He acted with Will Hay, you know!

Oh hello there! I’ve just been watching six scene snippets from the theatrical play Oh Hello on Facebook; back in April Facebook suggested I might like it, being theatrical and all. Oh ‘ello, thinks I, this rings a bell. Hmmm, a one man play about Charles Hawtrey, ah yes, indeed, on watching the first little scene it took me right back to God knows when. When, when? So I spent bloody ages skimming over my old Fringe calendars – nothing! I started them proper in 2004 so it must have been seriously ages ago, I had to delve into my box of tickets (thankfully kept in ticket holder envelope thingies each year) an age of reminiscences later….. Tuesday 6th August 2002 at 20:30 in Venue 13.

Ah Venue 13, I have a soft spot for Venue 13, not really sure why. It’s an obscure little venue in Lochend Close down off the Canongate (that’s the bottom part of the Royal Mile). I couldn’t tell you what it is the other eleven months of the year, maybe a social centre. It is a bit off the usual beaten tracks but Venue 13 has done me well over the years, certainly nothing awful springs to mind but a number of gems do. Each year I wonder if it will be swallowed up into one of the big companies, but it’s stayed independent and long may it remain so! Oh, and it’s also very close to the Kilderkin, a great real ale pub on the Canongate.

Oh Hello was written by Dave Ainsworth, who I think was performing it too (I know that he did perform it elsewhere around that time). Why did Bud and I pick it? See, Charles Hawtrey was part of our youth, our culture, a favourite in the old Carry On films, one of those wonderful comedy actors who make it look so easy. He had an air of bewildered but twinkly charm, which could have been from all the alcohol it turns out.

Watching the clips from this new production it felt like I’d seen it just last year, the writing is so sharp and memorable; and, as when I saw it, the performance really captures the essence of the man. Charles is played by Jamie Rees here, his Charles Hawtrey impersonating Kenneth Williams – brilliant! The last clip flips from ominous humour to pathos, I was left with a lump in my throat just like the first time.

I think it was meant to be at the Fringe this year (another logarithmic reason for Facebook to suggest it to me), so that’s not happening. The plan is for it to be up next year, do hope so, I’m quite a fan!

Toodle pip!

 

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!

Moon stalking – tricky under Scottish skies!

Today’s outdoor exercise was hunting down the Flower Moon, more like the Shrinking Violet Moon. The city sky was almost clear but the East Lothian skies were full of clouds for the moon to stay hidden behind. She hopped from one cloud to another, it’s not often I go out of an evening just to watch the moon, try it, she moves faster than a watched kettle boils! I know, who’d’ve thunk it! I calculated it would probably be around midnight before she reached clear sky, no chance, I wanted to be home way before then.

Why,  I even forewent watching Antony & Cleopatra from National Theatre Live tonight to go moon hunting. I’ll watch it at the weekend (mind, as time goes by, who, like me, wonders like a certain magnificent Dowager Countess “what is a weekend?”). I have never seen Antony & Cleopatra but should like to as I studied it at A-level, will any of it come back to me?!

Last night I had the great delight of more spooky tales from Will Seaward! Usually I have to wait ’til August to get my fix of silly spookiness, Wednesday evening was my third dose this year already!! Yes, three times already and its only May! Jam With Humans are doing a lot of stuff online including co-hosting Will Seaward’s Spooky Ghost Stories, with the Jam With Humans supplying very atmospheric musical accompaniment. This week’s terrifying tales were about a spooky castle, and then one set in the Wild West; both thoroughly enjoyed along with a rather nice bottle of Sicilian red wine and a large plate of spag bol!

I would continue but I’ve just noticed it’s way past bedtime. I’ll never stay young and pretty without my beauty sleep. I shall leave you with my earlier game of hide and seek with the moon….

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She’s there somewhere, I think?!

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Oo, a cheeky peek-a-boo!

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After all that I was expecting something more spectacular – like with bells on!!

 

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.

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Duddingston Loch.

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

 

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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.

 

 

….meanwhile in lockdown

Kia ora, dudes! Day Whatever of lockdown. Today I’ve come to a decision to be more impetuous! Yeah, I know you all see me as a carefree, live for the moment kinda moose, but not really. I may not post that often but that’s because I put it off to do other stuff (like faffing, watching telly, surfing YouTube and occasionally some cleaning). My table is covered in bits of notes for blogging ideas that I haven’t got round to writing; when something grabs me I don’t rush to share it, my head goes, No, take a note, think about it, write it up later. Needless to say, impetus lost, I don’t. Listen Head, shut up, if ever there was a time for some impetuosity it’s now. There’s nothing that needs to be done that can’t wait. That picture taken on a walk? Share it! Great vids on YouTube, resurfaced memories, Fringe friends up to stuff? Don’t write a note, write a blog post!

A few notes lying around – Jäähyväiset! (I think that’s farewell in Finish), a voodoo octopus, lamb with anchovies – dauphinoise potatoes, The Trap Pleasance Over the Road 2, Jam With Humans, Will Hay, zombiesaur. Guess the ones relating to Will Seaward! I’ll get back to those later 😂😂 See? Did it again.

Today a Facebook friend shared an episode from 60 Second Docs by an artist Mike Bennett from Portland, Oregon who makes great pieces of cartoon art from recycled wood and paints then sets them free into the wild! Well, he puts them out for people to enjoy and raise spirits. He’s raised money for local charities with his artwork, a really nice guy. The artwork is quite Seussical, not in style but in flavour, mischievousness and joie de vivre. Check it out!

Another share (obviously up rather earlier than me) was a brilliant video by Tusk Puppets for the New Zealand Police Facebook page. Hmmm, the NZ Police page has good stuff, some great kiwi humour on there to brighten up lockdown. And bubbles! I haven’t heard mention of bubbles here in the UK, I love the concept, bubbles, it’s a cheery word, not all doom and gloom. Yes, I feel more content now, visualising my bubble around me, gonna float along next time I’m oot. Anyway, Tusk Puppets have written and performed a great little number called “One day I’ll go outside again”, it quite rocks out towards the end!

From there I wandered through the New Zealand Police and Tusk Puppets Facebook pages (my tablet sneakily changes Tusk into Rusk, it just tried to do it that time too😄) where I found a video of a lovely lady tap-dancing with a puppet from Tusk, oh my, impressive! (makes me wish I’d kept up my own tap-dancing from my youth).

Whilst I’ve been tapping away, my friend has also shared a vid by the lovely Carl Marah of Logan’s Close. He’s singing a Bob Dylan cover to his washing machine, I think he may be taking lockdown hard!

Well, I suppose I should head out for my daily trot around the park. It’s great how many people are there everyday now and not just at the weekend, yes, there are quite a few folk out but everyone seems to be generally adhering to social distancing rules. Guess we’ve all been appreciative of the lovely sunny weather we’ve been having recently (yes, that’s right, lovely sunny weather in Edinburgh, Scotland) and that we have an awesome piece of rugged parkland close by the Southside.

I shall leave with another artwork of Edinburgh in smithereens by Pete Standen. Oh, and I’ll stick a piece of graffiti I came across on a walk last week (yes, something I’ve sat on to use later), look twice, there’s something really quite sweet there!

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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!

 

Saturday night at Chez Brucie

And it’s another late night for yours truly. I did spend plenty of the evening in the kitchen with Elvis making meat sauce for a lasagne (tea tomorrow). Yes, Elvis, well, a compilation cd I made a few years ago from records I’d put on my computer. Probably not the songs you may be thinking of like Blue Suede Shoes or In The Ghetto; no, my siblings and I loved watching his films on the telly, those were the songs we wanted, from the likes of Blue Hawaii, Kissing Cousins, Viva Las Vegas.

Easter weekend, it seemed right to reminisce, sing along and have a wee dance. It’s easy to forget how amazing Elvis’ voice was, man, he was gooood! But hey, all the words came flooding back, from I Got Lucky at the start right to Tender Feelings at the end, via two big big favourites of mine Someone To Lean On and Beach Boy Blues. Honestly I was doing some cooking too, a good ragu sauce does take time you know, lots of chopping up to do.

By the time the music and sauce were done it was late and I hadn’t actually had any tea (possibly the two white chocolate cookies I’d had earlier might have kibboshed my appetite). Hmm, what to have? A small bowl of sauce with added cream and quickly rustled up very garlicky bread, washed down with a bottle of Peroni.

Nice, J.J.Abrams’ Star Trek was on the telly, nearly halfway through but I know it well enough. It’s a great movie, how scared were we that it wouldn’t work before it came out?! Rather, but Chris Pine and all were brilliant, Pine especially was perfect as Kirk and Karl Urban as McCoy, uncanny at times. The only blot on the copy book was Simon Pegg as Scotty; he was fine enough but it seemed rather hammed up for me.

That’s my glass empty, time for bed.

Ciao, dudes.

And I thought 2020 was going to be an auspicious year!!

It’s official, August in Edinburgh is cancelled. No art, no books, no classics or comedy, not even the cavalry! The Military Tattoo, the International, Book and Art Festivals along with the Fringe are now cancelled for 2020 in light of the COVID-19 situation; it ain’t going away anytime soon. Even afterwards life could take some time to get back to normal, and that’s those who haven’t lost their loved ones, their jobs, their businesses.

As I’ve taken my daily exercise I’ve been pondering which little local businesses will go under as a result of being shut so long. Oh, the government may say there’ll be help but I’m sceptical it’ll be anything like enough. As if Brexit and the ongoing negotiations with the EU weren’t bad enough, COVID-19 came along and really stuck the boot into 2020.

Wherever you are, I hope you and yours are well, and please, remember the words of George Michael – you gotta gave faith. And if you can do just one kindness, give someone a smile (today I remembered reading a poem years ago about an infectious smile and how we should pass it on), it might just be what they need.

I’ll leave you with another Pete Standen; the Scott Monument, instantly recognisable even if it is surrounded by devastation.

Goodnight, and may your God go with you.

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