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Just An Observation


With less than three weeks to go until Brexit is supposedly upon us I think following the government’s lead in simply avoiding talking about the impending disaster  about to hit- anyone else noticed the suspicious rise in distractions on the news recently?- is perhaps the best ploy.

Or is it?

At this moment it doesn’t feel if it can possibly happen at the end of this month as planned, as there seems little or no preparation in place; this is despite having three years to implement such measures but something the Government has dismally failed in at huge cost to the integrity and economy of the country.

I mean who exactly would want to enter into any trade deals with the UK looking at the way they have mishandled all negotiations with the EU?; demands followed by tantrum throwing, inept deals followed by tantrum throwing, ridiculous suggestions rejected following by tantrum throwing, then cancelled votes on ridiculous suggestions followed by a pathetic stubbornness to shift on anything. Yes, it’s all going so well.

Since her time in office Teresa May has not managed to pass one solitary piece of legislation that has been of any advantage to any section of society- apart from a few specifically tailored for her privileged and elitist pals of course- and ultimately her legacy will be that of the Prime Minister who effectively destroyed what little credibility Britain had left on the world stage. Scotland having been ignored totally during this whole shambles can surely do better and it really is time that those who voted against independence five years ago looked at the overwhelming evidence in front of them as to how little regard the UK Government affords the nation it claimed so strenuously to respect and want to hold onto.

Away from this Brexshit nonsense- it really is a never-ending and wholly unsatisfying conundrum- it has been an interesting week in many other respects.

The ‘Leaving Neverland’ documentary on Channel 4 has made for uncomfortable viewing and Michael Jackson’s accusers have faced a barrage of hostility regarding their claims the singer sexually abused them from a seriously young age. Whilst aspersions are being cast upon the validity of their statements, not least because the two victims in the programme have previously denied any sexual abuse took place, it made for hard viewing and the sheer pain each revelation obviously brought back made a convincing argument that Jackson was a cruel, manipulative paedophile labouring under the delusion of an inflated ‘God’ complex.

The sheer terror these boys must have felt when they were being questioned and the secrets they felt they were duty bound to keep, harbour a deep and intense damage they will probably never recover from. The lack of comapsssion from Jackson’s devoted fans who are obviously complaining that it is all lies in a bid to discredit their idol reminds me somewhat of Tory followers who despite all the overwhelming evidence placed in front of them  remain in denial.

In other sad news this week I was deeply saddened by the news of TV Presenter. ‘Yoof’ Representative  and all round fabulous style icon Magenta Devine’s sad passing. A much-needed spokesperson for ‘cool’ in an era when cool people were in abundance and ruled the world- nowadays we’d be challenged to find ten cool people on the whole planet- she wore her status, not to mention her omnipresent dark glasses, as if it were a  couture outfit with style, grace and élan.

I remember meeting her at an early Sigue Sigue Sputnik gig when she invited me back to their after party at a swanky hotel where she tried to persuade me to join their touring entourage for the sheer hell of it. I remember being extremely flattered and even more so by the fact it came from someone so in touch with the moment we were living in: an indominitable spirit which touched me then and still arouses fond memories.

Now that Oscar fever has died down – I say fever although it was more of a damp squib with Bohemian Rhapsody and The Green Book entirely undeserving of their awards in my opinion- I can highly recommend Fighting with My Family about a female wrestler making her way to the top of her profession despite the many obstacles in her way. Don’t worry if wrestling is not your thing- it is sooo not mine- as the story at the heart of the film is touching, humorous and rewarding whilst the performances are captivating. If Beale Street Could Talk adapted from the James Baldwin novel is also a great film, beautiful and langurous  and kicks The Green Book into touch with its sensitivity regarding the injustices inherent in what it was like to be  African-American in a bygone era.

If all this is not enough then at least there is something to look forward to in the return of Line of Duty soon although  somehow it is still not soon enough! The next couple of weeks also sees the return of the legend that is Lee Scratch Perry at Summerhall- March 21st- and this time I have no intentions of missing him as I usually always seem to manage to do, much to my regret afterwards!




Can You Ever Forgive Me


It is easy to forget in a world of blockbusters, big star names and an endless cycle of publicity hungry franchises that occasionally a film of real substance, human frailty and hopelessness can brak through and engender some real empathy even though its central character- the author- Lee Israel portrayed brilliantly by Melissa Mc Carthy- is wholly unsympathetic and pretty unlikable on nearly every level.

Alongside McCarthy’s compelling performance credit must also go to Marielle Heller’s direction and Nicole Holefcener and Jeff Whitty’s thoughtful and incisive screenplay which pulls no punches and makes little attempt to draw a veil over some of the less savoury aspects of Israel’s personality. Throw Richard E Grant into the mix with a performance, which just falls short of over the top, as her bitchy friend and eventual co-conspirator Jack Hock and the stage is set for  the makings of a great film.

With her  career having stalled after a commercial failure Lee Israel finds herself on the sidelines of the eighties literary circle where what see sees as lesser talents are commanding advances in the millions whilst she struggles to get a meeting with her agent who eventually tells her that there is no public appetite for her latest project on vaudeville star Fanny Brice.

Totally out of step with the times and lacking the social skills for survival in a new era of celebrity driven authors Israel stumbles upon some personal and intimate typed letters from Katherine Hepburn and hits upon the lucrative idea of forging letters from other notable figures- Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward are amongst those Israel attempts to impersonate- to fame hungry collectors and historians.

All is going well until someone notices some anomalies and a lack of discretion out of character with the person Israel is trying to emulate wherein she has her collar felt by the FBI and has to enrol the services of Jack as she has now been visibly identified, placing her on a watch list.

Of course as always in these situations everything unravels and Israel finds herself in extremely deep water.

It is amazing that a character  as abrasive and rude as Israel can arouse any support from her audience- this is a woman who makes distasteful jokes about her disabled friend after all- but somehow Mc Carthy’s performance manages to make you root for her even though you don’t ostensibly like her.

In essence the film details loneliness and frustration in an articulate way without ever articulating either of these things explicitly. This is its real substance  and what makes it so entertaining.


Just An Observation


So with Brexit merely a few weeks away it would seem that things are even less clear than they were even a few months ago and let’s face it they were as clear as mud back then. The government is in disarray but pulling together to ensure that we all head into the abyss with them. Except they won’t be heading into any abyss any time soon as they all have the financial resources to ensure they will remain unaffected by any of the wounds they are inflicting on the rest of us. In fact some of them even stand to turn a profit. Now who saw that coming? More accurately who didn’t?

One thing that is clear is the whole thing has been a Tory catfight that somehow escalated into national crisis with threats of food shortages. medical supplies in disarray and even Martial Law being threatened as a means to quell any dissenters. I don’t recall seeing any of those things emblazoned across the side of a bus in the Leave campaign.

It is quite astounding-and disgusting- that one political party has managed to create such mayhem and discord with a nation at each others throats and living in a constant fear of what is coming next. Party before country is certainly the Tory manifesto and unfortunately this looks unlikely to change in the near future as people continue to vote for them and Labour offer no alternative whatsoever; unless a party with no backbone is likely to secure your vote.

What disgusts me even more is how complicit the mainstream media is in this deception; every time the government receives another damning blow they write about it as of it is some sort of triumph. Don’t even start me on the BBC by the way…

However with all this chaos and disappointment on an almost daily basis it was good to hear some good news from the capital this week as the Save Leith Walk campaign which has been gathering momentum over the last months actually succeeded in their aims to stop the demolition of the beautiful Art Deco frontage on Stead’s Place in the face of totally inappropriate plans put forward by Drum Property Group. The latter’s plans were unanimously rejected in a rare case of common sense prevailing by Edinburgh council and although the fight is far from over it was heartwarming to see a community take on a big corporate business structure and actually win.

As said before the fight is far from finished but the fact that such a grass-roots endeavour by the locals and residents was able to garner such widespread support- national as well as local politicians, celebrities, musicians , Hollywood film stars etc. all threw their weight behind it- shows a strength of will that made me proud to be Scottish.

Now if only we were allowed to sort out this Brexit mess…then again we have another solution at our disposal and I doubt the time will ever be more right than it is now.

Particularly pleased to see that hopefully Leith Depot may get a reprieve as it really is an essential venue not just for the local community but also for the city’s musical scene as a whole. Coming as the news did during Independent Music Venue Week couldn’t have been more serendipitous really.

Talking of Independent Music Venue week there are some great gigs on this weekend at Sneaky Pete’s, Opium and Summerhall as well as finishing off on Sunday night at the aforementioned Leith Depot with Callum Easter which promises to be a belter of a gig which sold out almost as soon as it was announced.

If the cold weather doesn’t inspire you to leave the comfort of your abode then Netflix has a great couple of series’ which I can highly recommend. First up is The Ted Bundy Tapes which I reckon will see off the upcoming biopic starring Zac Efron for creepiness and sheer tension. It doesn’t set out to glorify him in any way but ultimately any form of attention or recognition directed towards a serious narcissist will feed the ego and the mythology and that is always an unhealthy risk. I think in the most part this series manages to avoid these trappings but despite this it does whet the appetite for wanting to know more.

Also well worth catching is Sex Education starring Gillian Anderson which I mistakenly thought was a ‘teen’ show but on closer examination found it to be well written with great characters and extremely addictive. It is a show which attempts to push boundaries but also knows when not to go too far; a rare thing these days.

Out at the cinema there are also several great choices including The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scots-ignore the historical inaccuracies and get swept up in the drama- the emotionally rewarding Stan And Ollie and out today the interesting looking Can You Ever Forgive Me.

All in all there is plenty to be getting on with and now that the 96 days of January are  officially over it is maybe time to come out of hibernation!

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This one man show performed and conceived by Willy Hudson is a humorous and insightful look into the gay community and how its internalized homophobia is as restricting as any other form of homophobia.
Beginning with Hudson rushing onstage clad only in a pink towel and asking an audience member to pass him his dinosaur print underwear once he is decent the show proper can begin.
What follows is an exploration as to how as he has defined himself as a ‘bottom’ in the bedroom whether this transfers to him being a bottom in the rest of his life also-ie is he always going to be the one who gets screwed.
Certainly there is a vulnerability about Hudson’s character which suggests this might be so and when he finds himself on a third date which takes a strange turn when he discovers that his paramour is also a bottom he ponders whether such restrictions are binding and how often do they get in the way of any real relationship development.
The show is fast paced with slower moments of introspection and there is a lot of referencing Beyonce including an over-extended dance work out to her Love on Top which frankly I felt overstayed its welcome somewhat.
Despite this the show is an amiable expose of the restrictions the gay community imposes on itself and how once labeled as one thing it is hard to be taken seriously as another. Hudson does a good job of drawing attention to just how ridiculous this is and showing there is no point of coming out if you are prepared to jump straight back into another box.
Definitely a show worth seeing and Hudson is a confident stage presence who uses his vulnerability to great effect.
Bottom is at Summerhall until August 26th(not 13th and 20th) at 4.25pm


Just an Observation

In a week that the news has seen Donald Trump rip families apart and imprison children in cages it is hard to imagine that there is anything good in the world as this personification of evil grabs the headlines. The fact that he backtracked in the face of such adverse publicity shows not a concern for these distraught children or their heartbroken parents but merely an eye on his poll ratings which let’s face it is the only thing Donald Trump actually cares about.
Even his wife Melania spoke out at the inhumane treatment of these families then blew any notion that she may actually be human by wearing a jacket emblazoned with ‘I Really Don’t Care’ emblazoned on the back, whilst visiting said immigrant children at their detention centre, then insisting it was not a message but merely a jacket. Seriously, are these people for real?
It would seem that any form of outrage or sadness at these situations in the US- although we are playing catch up and not far behind them here- is fruitless as there seems little way to get through to these people and their bigotry, hatred and outright contempt for human beings except themselves and their appointed sycophants,
Trying to stay positive there has been a huge support for Scottish independence in the last week and even small sections of the media are opening up to the possibility that it may be more likely even though-excepting the National- they stop short of any real support. Hopefully the smug arrogance of The Tories, ably assisted by Labour, which precipitated last week’s SNP walkout at Westminster will be a lesson they deservedly live to regret.
Out and about in the capital this weekend there is more than plenty to see and do to distract from the abstract reality we seem to inhabit these days- ironically going out seems to provide a reality more real than the supposed real one we live in on a daily basis. How and when did that actually happen?
First up is the Refugee benefit at Leith Depot this evening which has a great line up including The Primevals, Johnny and The Deadbeats and The Normans all for the great price of £7.50. Doors open at 7.30 so get there early as all the acts are worth catching.
Also on at the National Museum of Scotland in Chamber Street is ‘Rip It Up’ a look back at Scotland’s contribution to pop and rock music over the last sixty years. Included are memorabilia, rarities and artefacts by artists such as Lulu, The Rezillos, Midge Ure, Simple Minds, The Skids, Big Country, Garbage, Franz Ferdinand and Young Fathers.
However the big one this weekend is The Rezillos at Summerhall on Sunday at 7pm which is the grand closing gig from a series at the venue over the last week which included The Skids and Big Country on a double bill. The Rezillos however will be a mighty show and with The Trama Dolls opening for them it is bound to be a night to remember.
Oh and if anyone is still interested the Edinburgh International Film Festival is also on, although I must admit I have found my appetite for this waning over the last few years but this year must admit I have lost interest completely.
There is also the matter of some football tournament that is called, I do believe, The World Cup. I must admit that I have found myself quite taken with it much against my natural instincts. Admittedly I am unable to distinguish which team is which as their strips confuse me; however that doesn’t matter as it is quite aesthetically pleasing to watch!


Just an Observation

It has been a while since politics has been a benign area where things run smoothly and in some relative order but this last week has been particularly inventive especially with the midweek SNP walkout during Prime Minister’s Question Time when they made it clear enough was enough.
Of course Donald Trump’s highly publicized visit to North Korea and his ‘summit’ with Kim Jong-un also made headlines with the assertion that North Korea was now a safer place but how much faith I place in that is highly disputable.
Back to the SNP walkout though and it certainly was interesting to see a party actually stand up not just for their constituents but for their country in general. The power-grab that Westminster instigated with less than twenty minutes debating time and not one member from Scotland being allowed to speak due to Tory filibustering- an antiquated method of blocking any serious debate that is a methodology they consistently return to but needs to be seriously reconsidered- was a shocking display of arrogance and contempt. It totally undermined the devolution process which has served Scotland and Wales well for nigh in twenty years.
Well done Ian Blackford and the rest of the SNP representatives for having the balls to stand up to this bullying and hateful attitude –when asked what the SNP could do about the situation a Tory response, to much jeering and laughter was ‘commit suicide’. I’ll just leave that remark there for a second and let it sink in!

It is really quite shocking that such a hateful response can be allowed to pass with no reprimand from the House Speaker whatsoever. Imagine if this took place in a school playground, or on social media, or a workplace or just anywhere else you would like to consider. Would it be considered acceptable? I very much doubt it so why then is it acceptable in the House of Commons by elected MPs? I am seriously baffled by this and am left in no doubt that the Tory party have no respect for Scotland whatsoever and possibly never have done.
The whole situation has obviously galvanized the Scottish electorate however as the SNP increased their membership by 5085 in the 24 hours following this incident which has been rather derogatorily referred to as a stunt and amateur dramatics by the jeering, boorish Tory party who would know more about such things than anyone else I suppose.
Meanwhile Donald Trump continued in his role as world saviour and advocate of peace and harmony- when he’s not tweeting about bombing people that is- when he visited North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-un this week in an apparent bid to persuade the dictator to give up his nuclear arms programme. There are many theories surrounding this and let’s face it when Trump is involved anything is possible. My own personal theory is that he misread his diary and was probably convinced he had a follow-up meeting with another Kim-of the Kardashian variety- and merely wanted to continue their conversation regarding who is versus who has the biggest arse in the world right at this moment.
Sometimes when it all gets too much- most of the time these days- there is very little else to do other than embrace hedonism and this is exactly what I intend on doing today. Or rather I am going to see a film which documents Studio 24 where hedonism was the byword for entry into an exclusive nightclub and world which is still legendary today. Really looking forward to this one and a review will be up as soon as I have seen it.
Also there are a few very worthwhile gigs coming up over the next month in the capital-before The Fringe returns and disrupts our lives for the whole of August- kicking off with The Rezillos at Summerhall on Sunday June 24th, then there is former Cramps bassist Fur Dixon at Opium on Saturday July 14th and last but very much not least there is legendary Sylvain Sylvain of The New York Dolls alongside The Filthy Tongues at the Voodoo Rooms on Friday the 27th.
All in all plenty to be getting on with!


Just an Observation

Well 2018 has got off to quite an unassuming start so far although that is no gauge as to things remaining that way. Across the Atlantic we still have Trump boasting about the size of his nuclear button via Twitter rants and telling blatant lies on a daily basis but this no longer surprises nor shocks us –it does still infuriate however. Over on this side of the water we still have Theresa May providing us with her daily set of lies-apparently the NHS is in crisis because of a particularly virulent strain of flu- and her vision of a strong and stable government consists of her Cabinet Ministers refusing to allow her to dismiss or demote them and announcing the wrong party chairman proving yet gain just how much she is in control, i.e. not at all.
How such bullshit being peddled to us on almost daily basis has become an accepted part of our lives is probably the most worrying aspect of all this as it in some way normalizes it all and reduces it to an almost humorous status, even though it is far from funny on any level.
Are we seriously expected to believe that flu is the major cause of the problems the NHS is suffering and not the cuts and attempts at privatisation the government is imposing. Surely the seasonal habit of excessive drinking must carry some of the burden that the NHS is suffering as by all accounts A&E departments on weekend nights are full of people with alcohol related ‘illnessses’ and accidents, This must put a strain on services and as people drink far more excessively over the Christmas and New Year period then this also must have a knock on effect. In the past I have had nothing but amazing treatment by the NHS and I do remember being rushed to A&E twice in the same week and the difference between being there during the week and then at the weekend was staggering and it was totally down to the ‘altered’ states of the patients which put not only the resources and staff under pressure but also the other patients.
Admittedly things seem much worse down south than they are in Scotland but it is only a matter of time before things start to slide here as well if things don’t change soon.
As an aside I find it hard to take anything seriously that Theresa May says when the woman seems to have a set of anal love-beads permanently draped around her neck. I know where I would love to shove them then watch how long it would take the overstretched NHS to remove them. She’d probably just call it flu anyway!
As usual this time of year goes on a little too long for my liking; was Christmas really only two and a half weeks ago?
Time to stock up on reading books, binge watch Netflix shows and discover new and old music to listen to; far too cold and miserable to go out of an evening. If going out is on the cards then January is always good for new cinema releases.
This year is no exception and top picks are Ridley Scott’s ‘All the Money on the World’ about Paul Getty’s kidnapping in the early seventies which resulted in the brutal removal of his ear after his Grandfather-the then richest man in the history of the world- refused to pay the ransom. Outstanding performances especially by Christopher Plummer who was a very last-minute replacement for Kevin Spacey after the recent Hollywood sex scandals and taut drama make this film a worthwhile viewing experience. Also Three Billboards Outside Hebbing Missouri starring Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson looks excellent. Apparently a black comedy of the highest and most twisted calibre only increases this film’s appeal to me. Hope to catch it today so a review will follow shortly.
Anyway it’s almost the middle of the month already so only February to get out the way and we can start thinking of Spring again. Here’s hoping!