Friday 17th December 


With spring very much in the ascendant it is safe to assume-with this being Scotland-that a late winter is waiting around the corner to pounce on us unawares just when the winter woollens have been discarded for another few months. In some ways the weather has offered some consolation for the curtailment of some of my regular activities due to the mild inconvenience of that February staple, the school mid-term holidays. This week that has meant abandoning my normal relaxing swim and sauna sessions due to the pool takeover by rowdy kids and unruly parents-not sure who makes the most noise between those two groups- and the postponing of the Mummy exhibition at the Museum for the same reasons. In some ways it is quite good to have a reasonable excuse to give up on the exercise regime for a week but it becomes more of an irritant during the summer when the activities have to be postponed for six weeks. Mind you, my plight is probably nothing compared to that of all the parents who have to entertain their little darlings during these times. I have yet to hear one of my friends or family with children say they are really looking forward to the summer/ Easter/ Xmas holidays and I very much doubt I ever will.

Even the cinema during the daytime is a veritable minefield of noise and youthful exuberance and thank God the Muppets movie seems to be the main film acting as catnip to the bunch of boisterous youngsters cluttering up the foyers with their popcorn, texting and Ugg boots. Have noticed that even when out of school there seems to be a generation emerging who still indulge in wearing a uniform of sorts- so different from my day when uniform was to be discarded at any opportunity- resulting in a sense of conformity which is quite worrying. For the girls this seems to consist of the aforementioned Uggs whilst the boys settle for expensive trainers and both sexes then adorn the rest of their young frames in anything by Jack Wills. That most of them are dressing from a shop which describes itself as a University outfitters shows a maturity which is preferable to the teenage Lolita look so prevalent a few years ago, which did little in the way of sartorial kudos other than turning teenage girls into facsimiles of wizened prostitutes. It is, however, more than a little boring and bland with little in the way of individuality or originality. Despite this it is at least good quality clothing and in an age of austerity  perhaps a good investment even if it does turn everyone into a clone of each other, though perhaps this is the point and I am simply missing it.

At the cinema A Dangerous Method-the new Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightly and Viggo Mortensen vehicle- which deals with the intricate and unravelling relationship and differing theories of Freud and Jung, The film seemed to have been held back for a week probably until after the Bafta winners were announced to allow the cinemas to squeeze a little more money out of the Artist, Shame, Drive et al. Actually it was good to see the Artist do so well at the Baftas as it is a hugely entertaining film and although it doesn’t stretch any boundaries-quite the opposite some might say- it does capture the essence of what going to the movies is about and that is not as many CGI’s as possible.

The Baftas , in my estimation, had more credibility this year than the Oscars as they at least acknowledged both Drive and Fassbender’s performance in Shame even if both didn’t actually take home any awards on the night. It also neglected to award The Descendants and this was also justifiable as the film and George Clooney’s performance are highly overrated. Clooney does look like a dead cert for the Oscar however as the Bafta went to Jean Dujardin for The Artist and it is unlikely the Academy will award a non-speaking foreigner over a Hollywood stalwart. Meryl Streep won as best actress and this was a foregone conclusion and ditto for the Oscars also. The Help also took home a clutch of awards in this dry run for the end of the month’s main event although I doubt it will take any of the truly big and most coveted categories. For the best film I think that will be between the Artist and The Descendants with Money Ball giving them a close run and perhaps Woody Allen’s inspiring Midnight in Paris as a hopeful rank outsider.

Other news this week was the sad death of Whitney Houston who was found in a bathtub after two days of partying. I must admit this news left me pretty much unaffected and non-plussed much like her music which was always more about vocal pyrotechnics, distorted features and quivering chin than any real depth of emotion or soul. Her musical legacy is zero in my opinion and signifies everything which was wrong with so much music in the decade taste forgot; the eighties. Her biggest hit was a cover of a heartfelt beautiful song written by Dolly Parton I Will Always Love You which she twisted into a histrionic, overwrought, emotionless power ballad that is responsible for a thousand cruise ship renditions and even more X-Factor auditions. For this alone it was impossible for me to feel anything more than a fleeting sadness for a life wasted, opportunities missed and bad choices made.

Unfortunately the fashion for strident voiced women is very much in vogue again at the moment. This new breed however seems intent on refashioning recent rock and indie standards accompanied simply by a piano in some conceited attempt to lend the song some  not really needed gravitas. It seems to have started with Lady Gaga and spiralled even further down the bounds of taste. So far recently I have heard the XX’S Shelter. Bon Iver’s Skinny Love and The National’s Terrible Love all put through the wringer in this way. Stop This Now Please! It is boring, unpleasant and wholly unnecessary. If you want to listen to someone sing alone at a piano then there is really no need to look further than Kate Bush who is –and always has been- in a class of her own. So no more please!

This weekend it is the last stand and final hurrah for much loved Edinburgh club venue Cabaret Voltaire which I am sure holds a plethora of fond and wild memories-and probably more nights best forgotten- for so many different people. It bows out on Saturday-though bow may be too tame a word, expect it to charge out- with Gasoline Dance Machine and a set from the Cosmonauts which looks like being a night to remember. So polish up your dancing shoes and head out for what will be the last night of this Edinburgh institution.

  1. Good read…its not always, I read something and know the writers voice…It makes it much more enjoyable – for me..That is why I like Alan Bennett and Sandi Toksvig..and more ..So I count myself lucky to know the voice of Sadie ( there’s a book title)….Now, that sounds good…I am going to bed early with Sadie…ha ha ..I totally agree with you re: Whitney Housten..I heard Dolly Parton singthis song, long long ago and it honestly made me cry..Whitney’s version, left me – well, I dont know..because I have never managed to listen to it from start to finnish, I am not a fan of the Whitney, Maria, Celine…genre…The day Whitney died, was like any other day for me…until I logged on FB…the hatered and comments, made me think I had stumbled upon some ‘ trawl ‘ site…If you dont like her, who cares..but to go to the effort of posting…’ glad she is dead ‘ and the likes, left me feeling sick…I am glad none of these comments were left by friends but friends of friends…Thanks Sadie…now get out the City Cafe and go write me that book…

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