Archive for December, 2007

Arts Round-Up 2007

24 Plays seen – I can’t manage a favourite, so pick of the best:   Black Watch, All My Sons, Volpone, Wonderful World of Dissocia, Rhinoceros.      We have some really good theatre in Scotland.

9 Films:  best ones:   Lives of Others, Tell No-one, The Counterfeiters, Babel, Atonement.

15 Concerts:  Scottish Ensemble lunchtime concert with Toby Spence in Glasgow takes the prize, although RSNO Mahler 3 was good.

7 Operas:  Barber of Seville at Scottish Opera was great fun, but Albert Herring and Don Giovanni at RSAMD every bit as enjoyable.

3 major art exhibitions:  enjoyed Millais at the Tate, and more recently, the Joan Eardley in Edinburgh.    Also saw a huge amount of art in Paris this summer.

But I think my event of the year is one which straddles categories and was the wonderful production of The Soldier’s Tale seen recently in Glasgow.     Runner up was Rhinoceros at the Royal Court.

Looking forward to an equally interesting 2008.


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Anyone who has been to the Royal Museum in Edinburgh in Chambers Street – that’s the old museum, will remember the spectacular building.    If you were taken there as a wee child, you will remember the two floor-level fish tanks immediately in front of you as you enter the building.    You will probably remember the stuffed animals and the push-button working models of various bits of engineering, but the fish you pass on your way in, and on your way out.   You may have even added a penny or two to their pools.

Everyone looks at them.    I actually spent time watching people there last week, and it was amazing how many stopped to look at the fish.   Parents being guided by young children, older children crowding to point at the bigger more active fish, and people simply sitting down and passing the time of day – the fish provide much amusement and a focus to the ground floor.

The museum is closing in the spring for a massive refurbishment, and sadly, the fish are not to be part of the the new look museum when it reopens.

Which is a shame, I think.   

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Donald Trump wants to build a massive golf course resort north of Aberdeen.    The golf courses would also involve a big hotel and a few hundred houses to pay for it.     The trouble is that the site is environmentally important.   To cut a very very long story short, Aberdeen Council threw out the plans on the casting vote of the Planning Committee Chairman.     Normal procedure from that point would have been for Trump to appeal, and after that for the Government to call it in for determination.    What actually happened was that the Planning Committee Chairman was sacked and the decision has been reversed.   

It is not good.    Elected representatives should be allowed to get on with their job, and the democratic process respected.   The project would have been called in by the Govermment in any case, and Trump should have been more patient instead of throwing his rattle out of the pram and threatening to decamp to Northern Ireland.    There are also accusations of sleaze by MSPs interfering behind the scenes.    And one law for the Trumps of this world and one for the rest of us is not a good way forward.

Having said that, this application should never have got to the point of entrenched positions.    Faults on both sides I think, and Trump appears to have been riding roughshod over some local opinion to get what he wants.    There should have been more allowances made for local views, and planning compromises offered.

Compare the project at St Andrews Bay, where new golf courses and a big hotel have been built.    This did not need to rely on hundreds of houses to make it work, and was a ‘pure investment’ in golf.    So why couldn’t Trump do a similar project at Aberdeen?   

The Trump golf course development is one that Scotland and Aberdeen in particular really needs, although the location is perhaps a bit remote and prone to haar off the North Sea.    It is good news that the project has been called in, and hopefully it will be given the green light, but quite appalling for local democracy.    How the MSPs come out of it remains to be seen.

And of course, there is the scruffy farmer holding out against a Trump takeover from the middle of what will be two golf courses, despite being offered a generous sum to move  – but that’s a whole other story.

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Your Other 50th Birthday Present

I reached this latest milestone last week, and there was a bit of a do last weekend which was great fun.

Sneaking into the post a few days after the day itself came my other 50th Birthday Present – one that everyone in Scotland receives when they reach the half-century.     Guessed it yet?    A do-it-yourself bowel screening kit.    I will spare you the mechanics of this, suffice it to say that three successive samples have to be taken without contamination by water.    Everything gets sealed up and sent to Dundee.    Apparently the opening process is automatic – not a machine I would care to fix if it goes wrong.

But, it is a ‘good thing’ to screen for, as bowel cancer can go unnoticed for a while and is the third most common cancer in Scotland.    

Apparently I can look forward to one of these kits arriving every other birthday until I am 74.

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I had not come across the Glasgow City branding before, and I am very impressed with what has been going on here.    Glasgow as a city is getting things together in a way that will make Edinburgh  rather envious.      As Edinburgh quietly drops its pathetic three wavy line logo, Glasgow has moved on from the ‘miles better’ campaign and has come up with this Branding Video. 

OK, I know that there is another side to the coin in Glasgow, but this is upbeat and positive.   Coupled with the successful bid for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, this is a city going places.

Oh, and in case you are reading this and chuckling to yourselves about the old Glasgow vs. Edinburgh thing, working together with Edinburgh is very much part of where Glasgow sees itself going.

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I was supposed to get the 8.15 train from Perth to Glasgow today, but it had ‘failed’ outside Aberdeen and was therefore cancelled.

So I had to wait for the next one, which was the 8.40 to Glasgow, due to get in at 9.40, making me late for my meeting.   This train also came from Aberdeen, and was taking all the passengers it normally takes, PLUS all the passengers from the cancelled train.    So it was standing room only for the 65 miles.    Not pleasant, and there was no room to even open a paper – and no windows to open to let the fug out slightly.

Scotrail run these pathetically short trains a mere three carriages long between the cities in Scotland.    

The train back was good, and on time.    I am just so glad I don’t have to commute into a city every day.

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