Tuesday, 28 July 2009

AKB Cycling Club

8 members of the AKB Cycling Club hooked up at the Roseleaf on Saturday morning for July's outing. Those pictured above are Jason, Pablo, Gizz, DJ Wanless, Laura, Scottie B, Stevie D and masel. As Johnny K was too busy running his splendid bar cafe to make the bike run, he took the photo and Lynne served pre-run Irn Bru and tea (the Scottish Breakfast blend's a mighty fine brew). I half fancied grabbin a beetroot and chilli pickled egg (nobody does them better) but having just scoffed a scrambled egg roll, felt well egged up and swerved it.

So the run: a quick scoot along the Water of Leith lead us through Vicky Park past Trinity Primary where i spent 4 of the happiest years of my life (really). We battered on to Telford Path, crossing the big red bridge over Crewe Toll then under Telford Road where we stopped for a quick marvel at the fine graffiti. Must get Dunk down there sometime soon - i could spot the Elph work but he'd nae doots put a few more names to the tags. Well groovy spraycan action. I'll take some pics next time.

We soon ran out of disused railway lines and followed cycle route signs through suburban Silverknowes and the mansions of Barnton to Cramond Brig. At this point, the official cycle path runs close by the A90 to Queensferry but AKB cyclists occasionally eschew officialdom and we turned sharp right into Dalmeny Estate. This vast area comprises farmland, mature forests, beaches, a golf course, Dalmeny House and hunners o tidy lookin workers' cottages. It's owned by the Roseberrys who're very clearly no short of a bob or two. Jolly decent of them to allow a proletarian mob to spin across the lawns and through the muddy puddles of their impressive back garden.

30 mud spattering mins after entering the Estate, we reached the Hawes Inn at South Queensferry. This old boozer's parked right under the Forth Bridge and gets a mention in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped" which, if memory serves is set just after the Jacobite Rebellion. So the Hawes has been around a while and seen a bit of action. It's doubtful that any of the action's been quite as manky as the tale one of our crew related in the beer garden. He was young, he was daft, he wisnae used to the drink. And he shall remain anonymous.

Many years ago his first ever works Christmas night out was held in the Hawes. The work supplied wine on the tables (half white, half red). Luckily for this tale, our hero was the only red wine drinker at his table and guzzled several bottles to himself. He likes his scran anaw and soon went seeking the lavvies in desperate need of a keech. Due to the bevvy, he got a bit lost and stumbled into a bedroom with no en suite facilities. By this stage, he'd relaxed the sphincter a bit too much and really had to evacuate sharpish. Very sharpish. Rather than just keech in a corner, our boy thought he'd have a laugh with it, jumped up on the bed and laid a fresh jobby on top of the duvet. To compound this heinous faux pas, our lad nashed back to the table, grabbed the boss and took him for a peek and a giggle at what he'd just done.

Apparently, there was a slightly frosty atmosphere in the office on the Monday.

Once we'd stopped fallin about the garden, half of us headed back to Leith and the rest crossed the Forth Road Bridge to North Queensferry. We returners took the offical cycle path via Dalmeny village as far as Cramond Brig where we followed the river Almond to its mouth. From there we cycled along Silverknowes esplanade then jumped the road (boo) for a wee bit along Lower Granton Road til we picked up the Trinity cycle path back to Leith.

All in all a fab day out and once again, most pleasing to see how far we could get with minimal use of roads. AKB cyclists don't like roads.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Peter McDougall

Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting blew me away. Mand drank in the same Leith boozer as his uncle (Gillis's - cheap beer, dugs, pipes, bunnets, slippers, local civil servants, women in pinnies and sadly long gone) so we got a sneaky wee preview and thought we'd just discovered Embra's own Dead Sea scrolls. Turns out Trainspotting's much more interesting than those scraps of old papyrus and we were chuffed to bits that it went down so well when the people got to read it.

Welsh's brilliance makes it easy to overlook some of the other great modern writers who've plied that trade in their own version of the Scots tongue. James Kelman's a favourite and Peter McDougall's another. I'd almost forgotten Peter McDougall's tv plays of the 70's and was reminded purely by (target marketing) chance when an on line shopping site sugggested i'd mibby dig The Peter McDougall Collection. They were right, the bastards and i bought it straight away.

As a family, among other groovy stuff we went to the pictures a coupla times a month (Corstophine Astoria), hit the panto every year (Kings, Toll X) and watched a fair amount of telly (mainly snooker, films, fitba and Play for Today). Maybe cos McDougall and my dad both come from Greenock and worked for a while in the shipyards, PM's were the plays of the day that really got us going. 3 of these - Just Another Saturday, Elephant's Graveyard and Just A Boy's Game - feature in The Collection along with Down Among The Big Boys and a wee documentary about McDougall and his work.

Just Another Saturday stars Jon Morrison as the 15 year old mace twirler for a flute band on the day of a big Orange parade in Glasgow. The parade's a familiar (though pleasingly rarer) sight for any who've lived through a Scottish central belt summer. The Lodge's early co-operation with shooting contribute to the almost documenatry feel of much of the play. Twould appear that, as production proceeded, the Grand Order sussed McDougall's play wasnae gonna be shoogely sympathetic to their cause. They withdrew support and filming of later march scenes was done in Leith and Newhaven. Billy Connolly pops up late on in the play, looking and acting like he did in his Welly Boot Song days. There's also a great wee performance as Morrison's maw from Eileen McCallum. As well as being a good chum from high school's actual maw, she's a splendid actor and really sparkles in this role.

Morrison and Connolly team up again in Elephant's Graveyard. This one's a barry 2 hander about a coupla guys hiding out for the day from their wives and lives in the hills up the back of Greenock. It's easy on the peepers and gently paced yet the dialogue's fast, furious and often hilarious. It's a wee shorty of less than an hour and seemed almost trifling when i watched it a coupla night ago, but of them all, this is the one i've thought most of since.

Just Another Saturday is the one i remembered best from my youth. It features Ken Hutchison, Gregor Fisher and Frankie Miller (all pictured above) and contains my fave and most repeated tv line ever viz. - "McCafferty, yer tea's oot!" This play's an utter cracker. It's scary, funny (fuckin funny), tragic, heart warming, angry and bitter. The cast's outstanding and also includes Hector Nicol and briefly, oh so briefly, a superbly comical Eileen McCallum, again as an exasperated mother.

All 3 of the above were directed by John MacKenzie. Talented gadgie.

Down Among The Big Boys was shown on telly many years later (it reeks of the late 80's). It clearly had a bigger budget than the Plays for Today and the cast, including Billy Connolly on the cusp of his polo playing days, were mainly well established. I loved every minute of it. 'Tickety Fuckin Boo' indeed.

Other than that, McDougall wrote the screenplay for A Sense Of Freedom - Jimmy Boyle's autobiopic (?) and a late 80's teleplay called Shoot For The Sun, set smack among the same kinda mid 80's Embra junkies as Welsh's Trainspotting. I mind one nippy Feb night being asked to wait on the corner of Albert Street and the Walk while a scene was made for Shoot For The Sun. Near froze ma nuts off but i almost felt famous when it finally hit the telly.

I wish Peter McDougall had written (would write) much more but what he's done's been done supremely. He's managed to get the voices of real and often neglected people right up there on telly - the most important medium of its time. He's made me laugh and want to greet along the way and for that i thank him.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Rabbie's On The Coke

Mand came home from work (whatever that is) tother day wi a bottla coca cola featuring Rabbie Burns on the label. 250 years since his birth, Homecoming and aw that.

Really no sure how i feel about this. I love Burns' poetry, i like the taste of coca cola, it's packed full o sugar and caffeine, it's almost as good as coffee (nah, no really) and the firm that makes it's a shower o shites.

You can buy coke everywhere i've ever been in the world. Which isnae right. Coke represents the very zenith of consumerist imperialism. I despise it. But it tastes good and helps wi hangovers. Irn Bru's overrated on that front. Sorry.

Now i'm on that subject, nowt touches Alka Seltzer when it comes to the mornin after, spesh when mixed wi an effervescent vit c tab. As Archie MacPherson would put it, "Whoofhca!"

But i digress. Should i dig the zenith of consumerism bummin up Burns or should i see it for the shabby opportunism it really represents? I think the latter - it's like the Clash on a Levi's ad. Wrong.

I'll be keepin hud o the bottle though. Tis a cracker.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

More T, Vicar?

Twas with a shooge amount of trepidation that i was anticipating last weekend's T in the Park. The weather's been pish, the line up wisnae the greatest and, bein kinda long in the tooth, the thought of 3 nights in a muddy field full o buckied up nippers and boomin shcemie techno beatboxes was nane too appealin. However, C Mitchell and Acky were gonna be around and we were campin next to Jules (carriageway) and Nobby so some barry patter was bounty be on the cards. Plus the Specials were due to play and i couldnae miss them. Oh and, erm....my ticket was free so there was nowt much to lose.

First impression was that the event's mushroomed significantly since my last trip to T in 2006 (daily capacity's now 85,000). On the way into the campsite i was truly freaked by the level of wobbly pishedness on display. How grim was it gonna get by Monday morn? We did however, meet a Hare Krishna gadge whom i managed to get to shout "Awkuntzbarry" in return for me goin "Gouranga". He asked if it was Gaelic and we told him it's Embrese for "Everyone is good". Beautiful.

Having entered the arena, i spent 2 hours locating then queueing for beer tokens. Well pissed off to be stuck in a queue while my chums grooved out to Camera Obscura. Still, the site's surrounded by decent wee hills and a big big sky so i contented masel checkin the changing colours as the sun sunk gently in the west. Right pretty.
On finally obtaining said tokens and exchanging them for actual lager (£3.50 a pint, bitto a scandal but the Tennents was much tastier than that Carling keech at RockNess), i grabbed a snatch o some very jump abooty Pearl and the Puppets then rejoined ma pals for the last 45 mins o the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Tunes were tops and the singer looked fab - there's no such thing as too much lipstick and i'm always game for pvc and buckles.

By now it was late and we had to decide tween Kings of Leon (been there, bored by that) or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (never seen, always been intrigued, featured in the second rubbish pic). Seemed like 84,750 peeps took the Kings' shilling cos the crowd for NC and the BS was paltry in extemis. But who cared about that? The Bad Seeds sure didnae cos they fair battered out some filthy, malevolent, sleazebag rock, gobbed a lot, pulled great shapes and looked like they enjoyed it as much as the paltry group o punters. Well chuffed Copie and Scottie B had plugged them so heavily. Thank you, geezers - king cheeseburger really was born in Tupelo.
Back at the campsite, punters were pleasantly chatty, chilled and even keen to kip. Me, Nob and Mand were the last peeps in earshot to hit the sack and managed to grab a few happily zonked hours before waking in our sauna tent. The sun was up and we had toasty weather. Nobby had a stove and made cups o coffee wi veggie sausages on a roll and squeezy cream cheese. Jules crashed choccy bics. Mand crashed apples and oranges. Flippin magic.

So we hit the arena with a spring in the step plus gin and vodka in our bags. First sight of note was some tasty Elph graffiti on big cement bollards (3rd rubbish pic above). Later on i met Elph himself. For such a skilled sprayer, he's a right decent gadge (if i had any talent other than makin soup, i'd probs be a big heided twat). Anyway, we checked out Beardyman in the Slam tent (sweaty as fuck and too many beats), Unicorn Kid (17 years old, enthusiastic, talented, no really ma thing) then soaked up some rays wi beers, chat, laughter and James playin away in the background.

This was all a warm up for the one, the only, the truly magnificent Specials (top dodgy pic). Even without the toothless Jerry Dammers, the Specials brewed up a storm for the large 30 and 40 something crowd they pulled to the sunny main stage. The Specials have, for many years, been my favourite unseen band and i was almost in tears as they rattled out Ghost Town then left the stage. Trouble wi festivals is that non-headlining acts get noe more than an hour in the spotlight and it was all over much too soon. Oh well.

There was very little of interest to me on the rest of Saturday's bill and i'd happily have jumped a bus back to Embra for Headspin. Thank the sweet baba Jesus, i heard 2 great tunes from the 1990's and then was huckled by Jules into seein Florence and the Machine. I'd seen this mob on the tellybox at Glasto and thought they were fairly gash. How wrong i was. Florence can really leap aboot, isnae scared to down plastic bottles o vodka flung on stage and can sing like an angel on acid. She had a hoachin wee tent in the palm of her hand throughout and for me, this was by a mile the most pleasantly surprising band of the weekend.
The long feared rain rolled in on Saturday night and was still tumblin down come Sunday mornin. Urgh...this is what festy nightmare are made of. But miraculously, by midday the rain had eased and the sun poked through the cloudy murk. We still missed Squeeze and Seasick Steve due to a reluctance to venture far from our tents but by the time we did hit the arena, the weather was decent enough to wish i hadnae stuffed my daypack with every bitto waterproof clothing in Scotland.

VV Brown cheered up my hangovery mood with some happy happy tunes. Pete Doherty was right on top of his game and put me in mind of Joe Strummer (but better at guitar and no quite as angry). Lily Allen was cack as expected, Hockey disappointed, Shnaw Patrol were like pouring a pint o ditchwater down yer lug, Pendulum sounded great but i couldnae get near their stage and neither could i get in to see Tommy Reilly, of whom everyone sang massive praise.

So it was left to Blur to round things off. Another band i'd never seen before. You just cannae argue wi a proper band with great tunes and, what i imagine to have been the biggest crowd of the weekend went bonkers, singin every word from start to finish. Tender was possibly the greatest live song i've ever heard and the crowd forced a reprise from the band 3 or 4 times. Precisely what it's all about for the likes o me. Was also good to see that Damon Albarn looked rough as fuck (nae offence Damon, rock and roll eh?)

So all in all, a great weekend away and, if the line up's any good next year, i'm gonna do my best to hit it again. Organisation was spot on, the security and polis were happy and helpful and the punters were in great form - met some barry randoms including wheens o English cats who rate T as their favourite festy. There are signs of me ageing though - feel completely done in today, actually ate some food over the weekend and even had 2 jobbies, which is certainly a first for me at T. I think the presence of those big shite tankers (4th crappy pic) had somethin to do with the genuine cleanliness of the bogs. Or maybe my standards are slipping.

Anyway, my main point is, stick 85,000 people together and, in general, they're fab.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Fannies, I Love You

Been mopin bout the hoose far too much of late. This is due to it goin all quiet on the testing, painting and gairdnin fronts. The pishy weather means i cannae even add finishing touches to my ain windaes (painter's tip time: undercoat and primer need good dry weather to do their thing on fresh timber).

So, as mentioned in the AKB Harriers post, me, Pablo, Wanless and Al D plan to enter a relay team in next year's Embra snickers. To this end i've kicked off a proper training schedule. Aim is to try and run an 8 mile section in about an hour. That may prove too adventurous for a welto of my erm...age and lifestyle. We'll see, but in the meantime, i've trained just twice and the dodgy knee's nippin already. Any tips on nippy knee protection?

Other than that and an evening Macjob on the phones, i've been diggin out old tunes and playin them louder than i should (crazy, huh?) You can get away with a lot when yer neebs are at work. Anyway, shame of shames i'd forgotten just how good Teenage Fanclub really are. Been kinda ignorin the Fannies since catchin them at Connect 2008, which i now realise was just plain daft. According to the website, they're playin a few festy dates over the summer, though not T in the Park which i'll be gracing wi ma presence this coming weekend (come on weather, sort yer act oot!)

Until i see them live again (and they are astounding in the flesh), i'll kick back and blast the flawless Bandwagonesque, Thirteen, Grand Prix and Songs Fom Northern Britain lp's. Aural beauties, every one.