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Archive for September, 2007

Hallam Foe

Hallam Foe is a great new movie from David Mackenzie (Young Adam) and really worthwhile getting along to see.  

Hallam (Jamie Bell) cannot get over the death of his mother in unexplained circumstances, leaving him damaged emotionally.   A committed peeping tom, he leaves home and ends up in Edinburgh where he falls on his feet working in a famous hotel and meets Kate Breck (Sophia Myles).   

It is funny, disturbing and difficult story.   Bell and Myles give superb performances and their direction by Mackenzie make the unlikely believable.     The film is very stylish and showcases Edinburgh roofscapes at night.  

 The 18 certificate is a little puzzling, although there is some ‘strong sex’ – though not as explicit as Red Road.

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The BBC decided to broadcast part of the opening concert of the season by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra last night live from their new home in Glasgow.    They used the BBC2 Scotland channel to do this.     It was well flagged up both on Radio Scotland and BBC Scotland TV in the past week, and a genuinely popular (and difficult) work, Holst’s Planets Suite.  

Great, I thought.   This is exactly what the BBC should be doing, and perhaps this is a new venture into classical music for BBC Scotland.

I watched and listened on big speakers, because The Planets has some very noisy music, but also some of the quietest music ever written.

The performance itself was very good, but perhaps not groundbreaking.     The sound balance could and should have been better – there were some terrible gaps, but worst of all, the TV cameras put on a truly shameful show.   We had pictures of trombone players relaxing after a big blast, cuts to cameras still swooping to their next focus, and  shots of musicians at inappropriate times to the music.    Some parts of the orchestra were hardly covered – percussion section?    (OK, we did get tubular bell lady visibly counting bars for all she was worth).   And when the conductor asked separate sections of the orchestra to stand at the end, the cameras simply could not cope – we had pictures of people sitting down, and completely missed out sections – the strings in particular.

And at the end, it is normal for the presenter to round things off after allowing applause for a short time.   We got absolutely nothing.   Nothing about the performance, what the orchestra are doing next, where they can be heard or what BBC Scotland are doing next in the classical music line.    The applause continued, the credits rolled, and with the usual BBC Scotland clunk, the program was cut short by a couple of seconds into BBC Scotland BBC2 programming.

So its full marks for showing the Planets – lets have more please, and absolutely nil points for the technical presentation.    The BBC should do better than this.

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Black Watch on TV

I sat down and watched the TV version of Black Watch and a program about the making of the play.    Both were very good, but like the radio version, the TV version simply does not come close being at an actual performance.

Black Watch has just opened to standing ovations in Los Angeles.

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I have been watching the swallows over these past weeks.   They have been leaving to go south in batches.   They line up in great chattering rows on the phone wires in the mornings, and are suddenly gone.    We still have a few left who have recently reared their last broods, but they too will be away soon.    The place will be fairly quiet again, as the swallows make considerable noise as they swoop and screech, catching insects on the wing.

But just as one of nature’s timepieces reminds us of autumn, so another comes into play:   I heard the first geese of the season today.   We will expect considerable numbers in the next few weeks as birds pass on through in great V shaped skeins, but we will be left with a winter population.

Harvest was finished on 11th September, which is reasonably early for this farm.   Now the race is on to get some winter crops in the ground before the weather closes in.    It has been a really great three weeks of sunshine.    And the combine did not break down.

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Beech Tree Fire

Last weekend a dogwalker phoned to tell me that some local Neds had been up in the woods above our village park having a drinking party, and setting fire to a tree.

I went to look, and the tree was still smouldering.    Called the Fire Brigade, and we had to get a tree surgeon in as well to allow access to the burning bits.    It took about 2 hours to get it out.   That’s four firemen that the taxpayer has to pay, and one tree surgeon I have to pay, for although very much part of the community woodland, when push comes to shove, it is my tree.

So this 150 year old big beautiful beech tree will probably not survive.   And nobody does anything about it.   The police are simply not interested or can’t cope – they are a very thin blue line indeed in rural Perthshire, and have other priorities – like speeding traffic – to deal with.   Clearly environmental damage is not top of the pile.

Apart from losing a beautiful tree that has been there since Queen Victoria came to the throne, it is the inaction and total lack of any collective community responsibility that makes me so angry.     Also, if I were to cut down a healthy tree, the Forestry Commission could take me to court for doing so, as cutting down a healthy tree is an offence (there are exceptions – trees in gardens, dangerous trees etc.)    

But if the local Neds want to kill a big healthy tree, nobody bats an eyelid.  

Access to the countryside is well and good (and I am a farmer in favour of public access) but this comes with responsibilities.   Who is there to police this when it all goes wrong?    Nobody, it seems.

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