Just an Observation

Well that is the festivities well and truly over and normal-or abnormal if you prefer- life can resume. It is interesting to hear conflicting views about Edinburgh’s New Year Street Party as the mainstream press are heralding it as the most successful ever with profits exceeding what they expected. However the story from residents and others on the street as well as my first hand experience is a tale coloured from a different palette.
It would seem Edinburgh Council are only interested in promoting financial gain as this is the only way they can assuage their guilt over the crippling losses the whole tram debacle has raised. There was no mention in their report of the river of piss or the mountain of bottles and broken glass which littered the streets at only 9pm-three hours before the bells even rang-I encountered as I made my way across the city. There was no mention again of the bloodied, battered, aggressive and staggeringly drunk groups of people I also encountered at this early time either. That a young girl was sexually assaulted in the Canongate a few yards away from drunken revellers is shocking but it is hardly surprising considering the lack of a police presence which was noticeable passing through the city centre. It was however, according to the Evening News headlines, a great success and plans are afoot to make it even more ‘successful’ next year.
By successful I take it they are talking about profit yet again but only profit which benefits those closest to their own ideologies. I wonder how many small independent businesses actually prosper at this time and how many others simply dread the carnage which accompanies this party which in my opinion has ruined Edinburgh’s Hogmanays which used to be about its populous and not simply tourists.
It would seem that this once historic city which is considered one of the top places in the UK to live is fast becoming a tourist only destination and whilst the Festival and Fringe are essential cultural endeavours I also feel that the Stag and Hen parties which dominate the streets and bars every weekend are not but for some reason something the council are not only hell-bent on encouraging but actively pursuing.
With the January blues in full downward swing I thought I would try my luck with the television schedules and was pleased to see ‘Swedish /Danish drama ‘The Bridge’ is back and its main character Saga Noren still socially inept although she is trying to modify her behaviour with often hilarious results. As far as TV detectives she is possibly the best creation ever with the possible exception of ‘The Killing’s’ Sarah Lund.
The most interesting programme of the past week however has to have been Channel 4’s‘The Secret of the Living Dolls’ wherein a previously little known counterculture was brought to a mainstream audience for the very first time. Described variously as creepy and weird it certainly is a cult that seems to be growing and with botox and surgery part of the mainstream these days it seems new taboos keep having to be created.
This one in particular involves the wearing of a second skin- a rubber like substance referred to as Femskin- a wig and female clothing. At one point one of the ‘dolls’ said this was the closest they would ever get to being one of the beautiful people and I had to laugh as minutes before I had spotted one of them wearing crocs which are not exactly renowned for taking you down that road to the beautiful people. Personally for someone who grew up with icons such as Leigh Bowery this is perhaps a natural step forward and for those who find it creepy and weird well I can only counter that I don’t find it as creepy or weird as those who favour stereotypical uniformity and shopping in Primark. Some may look at these Living Dolls and ask why whereas my initial reaction is why not?
The Living Dolls however may not split opinion quite as much as Channel 4’s other offering this week ‘Benefits Street’ which in a week which saw the Tories plan to slash benefits to pay the deficit –incurred mainly by bankers- whilst allowing the more privileged to remain virtually untouched came across as little more than propaganda. Channel 4 should be ashamed of themselves as the media is always quick to attack those on benefits or from the poorer sections of society and programmes like this only fuel the bias. A more reasoned approach is required showing how difficult life on benefits can be in a society which encourages consumerism and ever increasing household expenses.
Out at the cinema this weekend is the new Steve Mc Queen movie ’12 Years a Slave’ starring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Eijofor which has been garnering a lot of attention prior to its release. A review will be posted on these pages over the weekend.
Although January is traditionally a quiet month it would already appear that February is shaping up to be something quite special. There are already two nights which promise not to be missed and they are ‘Lux Lives’- The Cramps based tribute night with various acts- on the 14th in Henry’s Cellar Bar and a Fini Tribe sound system experience in conjunction with the Rammed crew at the Voodoo Rooms, as part of their new single launch, on the 28th. More details about both of these events nearer the time but for now definitely two dates to save in the diary.

  1. I totally agree with you about Hogmanay. I was totally terrified… the streets were disgusting… their was not single police officer to be seen from Easter Road all the way, up the High Street, to Bruntsfield… their grabbing a buck from tourists… is paramount to income generating plans… often exclusively pandering to the drink industry in Edinburgh… I have a continual battle with this in the Grassmarket where the Council have established a BID zone where small struggling businesses are forced to pay the Council hundreds of pounds a year to promote the Grassmarket as a grand beer garden to stag and hen parties….. I certainly havent paid and have court orders… there were plenty windows smashed in down here at Hogmanay…. you dont pay £22 for a street party ticket… rest assured you can party, drink and piss and shite inchallenged on any other street. not only did I have to avoid broken bottles but piles of human excrement!…. the street lighting was also dimmed and there was one side of the Bridges completely in darkness as lights not even on! A major exit route from the official party zone…. horrified this was trumpeted as a sucess… windows in Grassmarket just bring repaired yesterday! Four arrests… that was as they had a police presence of four officers… that was certainly the nastiest Christmas and New Year I have ever seen… election year… let get rid of our culture Czar…. ha ha Cardownie and his Eton boys… I am already looking at booking a hotel in Crail for next year to get away from it all…. shocking… ps shall be in Crail with my second skin!

  2. I haven’t set foot in Edinburgh City Centre at Hogmanay for 10 years, and it will stay that way. It is one of the most inane and unpleasant experiences of living in this once-beautiful city. The ‘celebrations’ seem only to involve partaking in yet another elongated session of binge-drinking. To me, that’s not fun, it’s ugly and pointless.

    • Wendy – this was the first time I went down there – also I was down town yesterday and they were still dismantling all those horrible huts – the ground is like mush and all the grass is pale yellow – I used to work in the National Galleries and ever year was horrified about how long it took the Gardens to get back to being a pleasant green space…. but next year will be leaving altogether… I like a drink – but given that people are drinking until they fall over or get violent – dont think it is something I will do again in a hurry… I cant get over the Council calling this a success… yes for pubs, funfairs and the drinks industry… for any normal person in Edinburgh it was a nightmare – from the minute they put up that horrible wheel and still continues – the Mound precinct is still all fenced off with metal barriers and there are a banks of electric generators in St Andrew Square and piled up woooden boards – that is over a 12th of the year for this nonsense… you know I kinda liked it when you just went to the Tron – waited for the bells (ie waiting up for the bells – there are no bells on Princes Street!) having a wee sing song and back home to a party at home.. I used to walk home and people would open their windows and shout we’re having a party come on up…. didnae know who they were ! and all that was not that long ago…. so many nightclubs open now too… it used to be you bought your ticket well in advance and nae ticket nae entry… now at £25 a pop – shall try and cram as many folk in there for 1 am – 2am that they can… yuck!

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