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Archive for February, 2010

“Have you tried turning it off and restarting it again?”  must be anyone who has worked in computer support’s favourite phrase.    To be fair, if your computer starts behaving oddly, not to mention freezing, that it a great first step to solving things.

virgin train

Virgin Train

But yesterday this was applied to a whole train.   The Virgin train from Glasgow to Euston pulled into Penrith and the ‘train manager’ announced that we would be having a ‘computer reset”.   The engine stopped, the air conditioning stopped, and all the lights went out.   Complete train darkness and silence.   Then everything fired up again, and off we went, 20 minutes late.    Well, almost everything – the power supplies at the seats for laptops never quite made it back on again, but I was not going to ask about it in case the electronics took another fit.

The man running the Shop on the train said that the problem was the alarms in the loos apparently, which all stopped working.   He said in two years of working for Virgin Trains, this was the first time it had happened!

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There is a brand new collaboration between BBC Scotland and Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama across all atristic genres.    Today saw a wonderful workshop with top players from RSAMD getting the chance to play a concerto with the whole BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the City Halls.

Kirsten Jensen played the Schuman ‘Cello Concereto, Calum Robertson a Carl Nielsen Concerto for clarinet (he is also Organ Scholar at Old St Pauls), and Tom Poulson playing a trumpet concerto by Jolivet.   These were all virtuoso pieces, and were also pretty tricky for the orchestra, who never put a foot wrong.

Coming on top of the recent success of “War and Peace” collaboration with Scottish Opera and the Rostov-on-Don Conservatiore, it is a feather in the cap of RSAMD and its new partners.   And of course, a treat for our young musicians to get a feel of the professional world they are seeking to join.

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Ian Dury and the Blockheads was part of the soundtrack to my College days, as was the Stiff tour which finally reached the northern outpost at Aberdeen.   More recently, Ian and the band played Perth Festival of the Arts – Ian was pretty ill by this stage, but it was still a great gig, and the Blockheads were storming..

As a companion piece to Nowhere Boy, this was every bit as enjoyable thanks to an amazing performance by Andy Serkis as Ian Dury, and a refusal to play the film through as one sweaty gig after another.   We did get the great music, but Dury’s chaotic lifestyle, grim early life and family and other relations made this much more than that.    The film drew parallels between Dury’s early life, and Dury’s son, Baxter – excellently played by Bill Milner, who gets bullied at school ‘because he is posh’.

Andy Serkis plays Ian Dury.

There was plenty of advice sought from Dury’s widow, and she was apparently present at some of the filming – stopping the action to correct Serkis’s scarf to how Ian wore it.

Nowhere Boy was the better film I think, but this had some great moments, and it was fun to revisit the late 1970s for a while.

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