Archive for July, 2016


Just an Observation
Well that time of year is nearly upon us yet again!
The streets are already starting to fill up with dithering tourists not knowing where they are going and seemingly devoid of any purpose once they actually decide.
The skies are grey – as they have been for at least the last eighteen months so nothing new there.
The locals already exasperated and overwhelmed with a feeling of dread and the Scottish accent has all been obliterated and drowned out by the temporary onslaught of national and international interlopers.
Yes the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe and all that it brings with it –inevitably it will also start raining next Thursday and not stop until September- is upon us once again!
Actually this year I am quite ambivalent about the whole proceedings although I will still be reviewing shows. What I won’t be doing however is stressing out by running from one to another. Years of experience have taught me what will be worthwhile and what is to be avoided.
Mind you I do always try to pick at least one show I suspect will be dreadful as a means of releasing all the bile and frustrations I don’t feel I can justifiably take out on the aforementioned dithering tourists who seem to constantly dare to be in my way. Let me state however I don’t pick these shows indiscriminately and usually make sure it is a big budget production which has obviously had money thrown at it and should therefore be of a higher standard. It would be unfair to show such invective towards a struggling company as they are probably financially crippling themselves for years by staging their shows.
On the other hand maybe delusions should be quashed sooner rather than later and the way I approach such shows is by trying to imagine at what point they decided it was worth taking it beyond an idea then into rehearsals and then eventually onto a stage. If I can work out at what point it felt like a worthwhile project then that ios how I approach my review.
Then again I don’t have to pay for my tickets-which for most shows are certainly not cheap- so I also have a responsibility to make sure that people don’t waste their time as well as their money.
Things which look like sure bet are the stage productions of Trainspotting and A Streetcar Named Desire alongside Warhol acolyte Penny Arcade’s stage show all on at Assembly. Ruraidh Murray’s Club at The Gilded Balloon is another I have high hopes for and Circa, Elixir and Christeene at Underbelly are all probably worth checking out also.
As far as the official festival goes I would definitely recommend either one of Anonhi’s two shows-formerly Antony of Antony and the Johnsons- at the Playhouse on the 17th and 18th August playing the new album Hopelessness, which is possibly the best anti-war/protest album ever: definitely of this millennium.
As usual I find the whole Fringe programme completely daunting, uninformative and more than a little dense. Hopefully once I have spoken to a few venue promoters and staff I will have a clearer idea what will and what won’t be worth seeing.
Meanwhile a month after the EU referendum when things are no clearer than they were in the national collective fog of June 24th it is good to know that the new government is off on its summer holidays. How many other people with less responsible jobs would be allowed to jet off on holiday less than two weeks into a new job? Yet that is exactly that our new unelected Prime Minister has done. Yet again a different set of rules for the elite!
Cruella May did however reassure us about the referendum result before taking herself off to the sun by stating ‘Brexit means Brexit’.
The thing is what does Brexit actually mean? (My spell-check isn’t recognising it by the way). As far as I am aware it is a totally made up word with a meaning which is nebulous and more than a little undefined; even those who were advocating and supporting it didn’t have a clue what it actually meant. Therefore ‘Brexit means Brexit’ actually means…well, fuck all really.
I’ll leave you with that!


Just an Observation
Theresa May on the cover of The National

Imagine you had been put into a hyper-sleep on June 23rd –not that hard to imagine really the weather alone is enough to make you wish such a thing possible-and were just being brought out of it today. Would you actually recognise the world you were to wake up in?
Not only has Britain –well Wales and England to be precise- voted to leave the European Union but since that unexpected result the man who called the referendum, David Cameron, has resigned as Prime Minister, been replaced by the Thatcher-lite Theresa May who remained in the shadows during the whole referendum debate and is now running the country unopposed and unelected by her own party, with no mandate and no say whatsoever by the populace.
This is apparently the price of democracy though how that makes much sense is way beyond a mere mortal such as myself.
Let us not forget the supporting players in this never-ending soap-which is basically what it is with its ridiculously absurd storylines and dastardly characters- such as the great buffoon Boris Johnson, the dangers of whom I extolled in this column only a few weeks ago, who after encouraging this chaos fled the scene when he, alongside the rest of the country, realised he had no plan for the future he had promised us all.
His was only a brief scene change however as newly (self) appointed Prime Minister May immediately rewarded –or should that be punished, the jury is still out on that one- him with the position of Foreign Secretary in her new cabinet with no hint of irony whatsoever.
This was considered a joke not just here in Britain but also internationally and at his maiden outing at the French Institute his speech was laughed at and loudly booed at its conclusion. So that is going well then .It augurs even better for great diplomatic relations with other countries in the future; many of whom he has already offended and insulted already.
Meanwhile the fascist that was Farage claimed his life’s work was done as he has disunited the country, precipitating a huge rise in racially motivated hate crime and then he too fled the scene. Hopefully he has disappeared completely but I wouldn’t rule out an unwelcome return at some point in the future once the initial hatred and bile has settled down and the fires need re-stoked.
Meanwhile stage left –not too much to the left of course but more of a centre left- The Labour Party has also been in disarray with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership challenged again and again and again by his own party members in repeated blows with a heavy mallet. It brings to mind the longstanding belief that the left wing is always so preoccupied with fighting amongst themselves that the right wing use this to their advantage, doing what ever they want whilst Labour are distracted by their petty insider squabbling. Hence we have an even more right wing Prime Minister unelected and unopposed.
Perhaps the only person to rise out of this quagmire with any dignity and semblance of a plan is the SNP’S Nicola Sturgeon. Whether or not you agree with her policies she is the only party leader who has remained calm by reassuring her electorate that Scotland voted against leaving the EU and she will do everything in her power to ensure that this is honoured under her leadership.
Perhaps Scotland is not as enamoured of harking back to an idealised past as England is and this year this misguided patriotism was only fuelled by celebrations for the Queen’s ninetieth birthday. Cries of wanting ‘to take our country back’ were rife although I often wondered back to what.
Back to the early nineteen-seventies with its three day weeks, power cuts and the most exotic things on the supermarket shelves were Ski yogurt, coleslaw and, if you were really lucky, an occasional rogue green pepper?
Back to the days when everything cost the right price and the sun always shone in the summer? Back to a fantasy that never actually existed if the truth be told.
This country has undergone massive changes in the last forty years and although not all of them for the better a great many of them have enriched our lives immeasurably and I, for one, have no intention of returning to those bigoted, racially backward times although it will be interesting to see if our new government agrees.
Already alarm bells are ringing with Andrea Leadsome’s appointment as environment Minister as she doesn’t actually know what climate change is nor does she believe in it and as for her beliefs that the fox-hunting ban should be repealed well I am almost speechless.
As I write this the first reports are coming in from Nice about a horrific terror attack at that city’s Bastille Day celebrations. Apparently 84 people have died needlessly in yet another merciless and frustrating slaughter. At times like this we need to be strong and send messages of support and condolences not just as individuals but also as a nation.
Over to you then Boris!


Absolutely Fabulous:The Movie
It was with more than a slight feeling of trepidation that I approached this film; a spin-off of a much loved television show which captured and parodied a particular zeitgeist in PR and fashion in the early to mid nineties. The central characters Edina (Eddie) Monsoon and Patsy Stone- respectively Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley- became an instant success and legendary comedy figures with every pair of girlfriends who had ever shared a glass of cheap fizz believing they were one of the two and adapting to their roles accordingly.
The series began to pall in the late nineties and the spark failed to re-ignite as comeback series after comeback series failed to generate the same laughs or capture the current climate as successfully as the original runs did; the less said about the 2012 Olympic themed one-off ‘special’ the better.
However, as if to make sure that a dead horse has been properly flogged, Saunders was persuaded that what the world really needed was a full length movie version of a show which peaked over twenty years ago. Thus we find ourselves with Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and with the country on the brink of chaos after the recent Brexit result it would seem that a bit of comedy is just what we need to cheer up what is quite a miserable time.
Or at least that is the theory!
The film is based around the premise that Eddie’s PR firm, which at best was a nebulous concept anyway, is in dire straits and needs some serious attention or at least one decent client. As if on cue it transpires that Kate Moss is seeking new PR and therefore Eddie sets about pursuing this dream client but inadvertently ends up pushing the supermodel off a balcony and into The Thames, where everyone assumes she drowns.
Eddie quickly finds herself accused of her murder- the only thing that really gets murdered in this film is the Scottish accent left in the incapable and culpable hands of Lulu- and an international hate figure, which combined with her business and financial woes, forces her into fleeing the country conspiring with faithful cohort Patsy who believes she is still such a catch that she can attract a rich playboy who will fund their lives in the champagne lifestyle they feel (self) entitled to.
Around this juncture the whole movie degenerates even further into predictable farce and there is even a ‘Some Like It Hot’ styled plotline you see coming a mile off.
I am not sure quite why Saunders chose to make this film as it is clearly way past its peak and although she and Lumley are as brilliant as ever in their roles there is a feeling they are sleepwalking their way through them; they even on occasion throw out a few greatest hits moments. The thing is, due to re-runs and box sets, these are not as funny as they should be as familiarity alongside predictability are the curse of any comedy.
The roll call of celebrities doesn’t help matters – the aforementioned Lulu, Emma Bunton, Lily Cole, Christopher Biggins, Jon Hamm, Stella McCartney, Jean Paul Gaultier and a particularly wooden Kate Moss who clearly doesn’t have a career as an actress lying ahead of her.
Eventually the best thing I can say about this film is that it was mercifully short- apparently the editing suite did the bulk of the work in trying to salvage anything remotely watchable. If anything the whole concept felt dated and irrelevant –surely even Eddie and Patsy in a desperate bid to remain current would now drink Prosecco rather than insisting on Bolly- and the laughs were the thinnest thing in the movie. A much better option would be to open a bottle of fizz, get a few friends round and watch a box-set or an early series on Netflix. With the weather outside you are more in need of a brolly than Bolly anyway!


Just an Observation
Wow! What a week!
Have stayed away from writing about the shock result of last week’s European Referendum as emotions –mine included- were riding so high and was waiting for a bit of clarity after the dust had settled..
Unfortunately this hasn’t been the case, far from it actually, and a full week later things are no nearer to being resolved satisfactorily- which ever way you voted- and the country is in an even worse state of turmoil than ever. In fact I would go as far as to say it is in its worst state of turmoil it has ever been in during my lifetime. Never have divisions been more apparent and never have so many people been as clueless as to which direction we are heading in; unfortunately this applies as much to those who are supposed to be directing us as it does to the general public.
It’s a mess!
It is ridiculous that such a large percentage of the populace waited until after they had voted to find out what the plan was for after a leave vote had been attained. It is beyond shocking that the top two Google searches immediately following the vote were ‘What is the EU?’ and ‘What will happen to the UK if it leaves the EU?’ Surely a bit of research beforehand would have been the sensible thing.
Then again what sense can be made of the whole shambles, including the result?
Since last Friday morning when shock, despair and disbelief set in, matters seem only to have gone from bad to worse with everyone blaming someone else.
Young people blaming old people for ruining their future- the highest age group voting Leave were the over 55’s- when the percentage of young people bothering to actually vote itself was extremely low. I have continuously mentioned an apathy, complacency and a sense of entitlement amongst young people on several occasions and now by not even bothering to vote on their own future they are entitled to lot less than they were just over a week ago. Blaming it on the older generation is unfair and complacent in itself!
Poor people blame the rich people with their private schooling and advantaged lifestyles. Rich people blame the poor people who are uneducated , unable to find jobs and therefore draining the welfare system.
Racists and bigots blame the immigrants while racist related hate crimes are on the rise; it seems as if what was until recently thinly veiled xenophobia has now dropped its veil and is clearly out in the open and viciously exposed.
Meanwhile both the Tory and Labour parties are in disarray and squabbling whilst jousting amongst them selves rather than reassuring a troubled nation which is in need of some guidance.
From where I am standing the person responsible for the whole debacle is David Cameron who needlessly called the referendum in an arrogant attempt to silence the Euro-sceptics in his own party. The whole thing then sensationally backfired and on losing the public’s support he then backtracked and resigned when the result didn’t go his way.
It then didn’t take even the bumbling buffoon that is Boris Johnson too long to work out that as his natural successor-having led the Leave campaign to their result, I stop short of calling it a victory- that he had basically stuffed his own chances at being Prime Minister as he was merely being handed a poisoned chalice.
In fact the whole thing has been like an Old Etonian version of Truth or Dare –with the Truth part omitted obviously- with the country’s future as its stake.
Only Nicola Sturgeon seemed to have had any plan following the shock result and Scotland-along with Northern Ireland- are making plans regarding their own future. Sturgeon is the only leading British politician who has shown any integrity in this debacle and it looks as if another Independence Referendum is now on the cards.
Mind you I feel that we are on a constant loop of referendums, protests and voting these days.
All this turmoil is so distressing when all I want is for life to be Absolutely Fabulous! As if on cue the film of that very name is released today with a vague intention of cheering us up. Initial reviews have been a little guarded in their praise-although more favourable than expected but that is probably down to the prodigious amounts of free ‘Bolly’ being poured down reviewers throats at screenings than anything- but to be honest anything is better than the comedy of errors, or tragedy, that is British politics and politicians at this very moment in time.