Saturday, March 17, 2018

There was an article in the Evening News yesterday about the new concert hall to be built on the site of the office block behind Dundas House in St. Andrew Sqare.

It was complete with a natty artist's impression of the circular auditorium ranged with stacked balconies.  My objective when it opens will be to locate the seat nearest to where my office was when I worked for RBS.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The pesky pigeons survived snowmageddon and continued their attempts to set up home on my balcony.  They managed to lay one egg which I swiftly removed and we then entered into a war.  As soon as they found a little corner in which to nestle I deployed an obstacle.

They were very persistent.  The balcony is now criss-crossed by silver tape that is claimed to frighten them but doesn't really, although it impedes their movement.  It's also strewn with upturned flowerpots and other obstacles that leave no sheltered spot a bird can rest in.  The right way up flowerpot that received the egg now boasts wooden slats poking up out of the soil and just itching for a pigeon to try lowering its bum onto them.

I'm praying they've got the message because I've exhausted my gamut of defensive measures.

Encouraged by Claire's rave review and the wish to try what sounded like Aldous Huxley's "feelies" I went to see Black Panther.  It wasn't a bad film as far as Boys Own Paper adventures go and the visual effects were impressive.  The pitch and yaw seats, blasts of air and sprinklings of water were fun.  I missed a smell effect but am assured that's because my sense of smell wasn't up to the job.  I don't think Huxley would have been entirely satisfied but it was enough for me.  For once anyway.  I fear that the experience would quickly get boring so don't expect to try it very often.  Plus it's hideously expensive.

I enjoyed a wonderful SCO concert and was impressed as was this reviewer by just how much the musicians were enjoying themselves, It bodes well for Francois Leveux's return visits.  I've put them in my diary.

The second Jazz at St James concert was equally rewarding.  Brian Molley and his quartet played a very generous two hour-long sets, mostly his own compositions in a contemporary jazz style with a tinge of the other gained from the quartet's travels in India and elsewhere.  Here they are in Bangalore last year.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Preparatory to striking another blow in the St James Centre rebuild and the sometime, maybe, let's hope not never tram extension, Picardy Place has had its statues moved and its trees cut down.

Sherlock Holmes has been stuck in a storage cupboard somewhere but the Paolozzi pieces have been put in the gardens at Hillside Crescent/London Road and very lovely they look there.  The contemplation chairs are a welcome addition.

Pity about the Picardy Place trees but the Council has a two for one replanting plan which sounds good.  The reason given for axeing them now is that it had to be done before the bird nesting season got underway.  I synpathise. The pigeons who nested on my balcony last year have been doing their best to move in again and I've been fighting back.  I haven't seen them for a few days so perhaps the Beast from the East got them.  It's an ill wind and all that..

Saturday, March 03, 2018

I can't tell how cold it is on my balcony because my thermometer is covered by snow.  I'm not particularly inconvenienced by the nasty weather.  I don't need to drive anywhere and I have in any case just disposed of my car.  I have done so not out of a fervent desire to save the planet though I do hope it will hang on for a few more years but I now use a car so little that it didn't seem worth the expense of keeping it going or, given its age, buying a replacement.

The snow has so far caused the cancellation of two concerts I had tickets for.  A blessing in disguise really since it meant that I didn't have to venture out into the cold night but could stay comfortably at home.  The major danger is that I will run out of milk for my breakfast cereal before the supermarkets have their supplies restored.

Before I disposed of my car I stopped by the roadside and took some snaps of the tailend of the Ochils near Stirling which, thanks to some clever software, I stitched together to make what I think is a lovely panorama.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

This is Gean House in Alloa where a couple of dozen saxophonists congregated for a weekend of music making.  Much fun was had by all and the food and drink were excellent.

Instead of coming straight home on Sunday I went on to Glasgow to an SNJO concert at the Conservatoire.  It was a good decision because the concert was brilliant.  Tommy Smith had arranged Peter and the Wolf for the band plus a classical flautist since as he explained in a pre-concert chat none of his reed section could play the flute well enough.  Liz Lochhead had written a new text with a mildly Scottish flavour and it was delivered in bravura style by Tam Dean Burn.  Playing the piano was Makoto Ozone, a Japanese jazzman who has worked with the SNJO before and who had created the second work played,  a jazz version of Carnival of the Animals.  I loved it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I've spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks in front of my TV drinking in the thrills and spills of the Winter Olympics.  I loved it all but am unlikely to emulate the teeniest, weeniest Olympic manouevre  when I get onto the slopes in Austria next month.

One of the events I enjoyed most was the figure skating and coincidentally or not the film I, Tonya which deals with the notorious attack on an American skater to prevent her taking part in the Lillehammer games in 1994 was showing at the Cameo.  Tonya Harding was banned from competitive skating for life because of her involvement.  The film paints a picture of Harding's upbringing by an unloving, fiercely pushy mother and her physically abusive marriage which inspires a great deal of sympathy for her, or it did in this spectator.

I've seen more films recently in a bid to maximise the benefits of my Cameo membership before it runs out.  They are asking what seems to me too much for renewal this year.  One was another abrasive mother daughter relationship, fictional this time, entertainingly told in Ladybird complete with happy ending.  While in Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri the daughter is already dead and the black comedy is the tale of how the mother tries to force the cops to get off their butts and find her killer.  It's very funny.

I wasn't so keen on Phantom Thread, despite it being lauded by the critics.  While it's very beautiful and well acted and all that it was a bit dull.

The Grads had a couple of shows in the SCDA one-act competition this month and I managed to see them both and enjoyed them both and they came first and third which must be the best result we've had for some time.  I'm in the Grads production of Macbeth which is now in rehearsal though so far it's been focussed on jaw, jaw, jaw  Luckily I missed the session in which we were asked to associate a song with our character (in my case characters since I'm two) and blether about various other odds and sods.  I'm all for getting on with the action and drawing out character and relationships and meaning in the process.

That's on in May.  One of our Fringe shows will be a new play called Skirt written by Claire and it had its first airing at a readthrough last week.  She's tried quite successfully to pack a multitude of what we might loosely describe as women's issues into a piece intended to run for an hour and twenty minutes. Men do get a look in with some nice parts.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

I could give you a day by day account of my holiday in Tenerife but let me save a few thousand words by posting some pictures instead.

A lorryload of bananas spotted when out walking

Something of a cloudy day but it was perfectly warm and the sand perfectly delightful if you don't mind the colour.

It even snowed one day but only at 12,000 feet.

One of the floats in the Three Kings procession.  Sweets were sprayed liberally over the crowd. A "shortcut" back to my hotel ended up in a taxi ride two hours later.
 Here are the extraordinary jagged ranges of spent volcanic peaks that I remember vividly passing as we sailed into Santa Cruz en route home from Kenya in 73.

I couldn't get enough pictures of gorgeous waves breaking on the rugged rocks that make up the coastline.

In contrast a path through a forest in the mountains.

Flowers in the aptly named Orchid Garden in El Puerto.  This is the garden of a private house built by a Scottish wine merchant in 1730.  It's been in British hands ever since and lots of household names have stayed there, Oscar Wilde and Agatha Christie amongst them. 

This chap's picture is pinned up somewhere in the garden.  I discovered that he was the founder of an industrial empire in Tenerife that persists to the present day. He arrived from Greenock aged 17 in 1816 and flourished.
These two articles give the lowdown.

The Hamilton Heritage

The Scottish Origins of the Hamilton family   

It's a beautiful place.  I'll be back.