SNACK - Issue 15 - March 2020

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MARCH 2020






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E: Editor/Sales: Kenny Lavelle Sub Editor: Leona Skene Sales: Sophie Henderson Food and Travel Editors: Emma Mykytyn and Mark Murphy LGBT+ Editor: Jonny Stone Designer/Illustrator: Fionnlagh Ballantine Spine quote: Jenny Holzer




DESIRE PATHS OF BADGERS | PAGE 54 MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR Hello. Welcome to issue 15 of SNACK. With world events as they are, it’s been a torrid couple of months all round. Perhaps it’s best to look to the summer with some hope and see where that takes us. We can help get you started on that road; in this issue you’ll find our annual guide to Scotland’s festivals. Elsewhere we find Baxter Dury feeling relaxed about his new album The Night Chancers, we

speak to Ashley Storrie about the meaning of success and the pleasure to be found in taking the pressure off yourself and our LGBT+ editor, Jonny Stone, explores some of the many ways you can celebrate International Women’s Day. As for the rest, I’m sure you’ll find your way around. Kenny Lavelle Dedicated to the memory of Ina Michie.


Usher Hall – 27th March Goldfrapp bring their Felt Mountain 20th anniversary celebrating mini tour to Edinburgh for their only Scottish date announced, so far, for 2020. They’re performing the album in full with the help of a string section, and given that they haven’t played a few of the tracks since the original release, it’s going to be something pretty special for sure. It’s an album that defined the early 2000s for so many; best not leave it late if you want to bag one of the remaining tickets.

METAMORPHOSIS Tron Theatre – 10th March till 21st March Widely considered to be Kafka’s most iconic piece of writing, The Metamorphosis involves a very typical man dealing with incredibly difficult and bizarre circumstances. If you don’t know the story, it follows a salesman who wakes up one morning, and is horrified to discover that during the course of the night, he has turned into an insect. It’s massively influential, David Cronenberg’s The Fly and Irvine Welsh’s Acid House short story ‘The Granton Star Cause’, for example, clearly use it as a touchstone. THE METAMORPHOSIS UNPLUGGED, an intimate, musical version of the show, will tour across Scotland to village halls and smaller venues in May and June.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM Festival Theatre, Edinburgh – 31st March till 4th April Dominic Hill, Artistic Director at the Citizens Theatre, returns to Scottish Opera, once again bringing his Shakespearean expertise to bear. Joined by designer Tom Piper, famed for the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London, he promises to enchant and entertain with Britten’s entrancing work. The opera is, of course, based on Shakespeare’s popular comedy, which follows the consequences of a falling-out between the fairy-king Oberon and his queen, Tytania. Mistaken identities, confused lovers and alarming transformations ensue.

BLADE RUNNER WITH LIVE ORCHESTRA Glasgow Royal Concert Hall – 28th March The benchmark from which all great cinematic sci fi is measured. Ridley Scott’s multi Academy Award nominated masterpiece is being broadcast on huge HD screens, accompanied by a live orchestra. For any true film aficionado, the opportunity to hear Vangelis spine-tingling synth inspired soundtrack performed live will be an experience never to be lost (like tears in the rain). Harrison Ford and the late, great Rutger Hauer have never been better than in their roles here as hunter and hunted.


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RODDY WOOMBLE Paisley Arts Centre – 29th March Roddy Woomble has his excellent new Everyday Sun EP coming out at the end of the month which sees him and his Idlewild bandmate Andrew Mitchell experimenting with spoken word and electronica for the first time. It’s a woozy and warm hug of a record and the night should be much the same. It’ll be worth the entry fee alone to experience the 17 minutes of album closer ‘RW OC Cuttup’, complete with poetry spliced and triggered by a computer algorithm, while cello & synth drones of varying length loop.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL - CRYSTAL Braehead Arena – 11th till 15th March The world’s most famous contemporary circus brings a new sensory experience to Glasgow. It follows the story of Crystal, a young woman who falls through ice and is transported to a parallel world where she meets a reflection of herself. This brand new experience incorporates all the standard aspects of Cirque: trapeze, acrobatics, death defying aerial stunts, and, for the first time, ice. Expect stunts and performances that will take your breath away.

GLASGOW MUSIC FESTIVAL Venues throughout Glasgow – 14th till 21st March The annual festival of amateur music, speech and drama returns with performances from nearly 7,000 participants. First held in 1911, this celebration of creative arts brings together groups of all ages and abilities, giving them the opportunity to perform in front of some of the country’s most experienced adjudicators. Every penny raised goes towards the running of next year’s festival.

AYE WRITE! Various venues, Glasgow – 12th till 29th March Best pick up their brochure for more details. Highlights include household names like crime writer Val McDermid and former House of Commons speaker John Bercow. Classes on creative writing, and Wee Write, a splinter festival devoted to creative writing for children with both ticketed and free events.

100% SIMON BRODKIN The Stand, Glasgow – 20th March Best known as his alter-ego Lee Nelson, Simon Brodkin is out to show that he is more than just a one trick pony. The award winning comedian, fresh

from a sell out run at the Edinburgh Festival, brings his unique blend of satire, shock and humour to Glasgow. As widely known for his comedy as he is infamous celebrity bating stunts. Sepp Blatter, Donald Trump and Theresa May have all been at Brodkin’s mercy. Expect a no holds barred performance which is only suitable for ages 18 and above.

THE CABARET OF DANGEROUS IDEAS The Stand, Edinburgh – 3rd March Returning once again after a hugely successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, this show challenges you to question everything you think you know about modern society. The CoDI provides an informal but high-profile platform for researchers to discuss their work with members of the public. Curated by the University of Edinburgh, this edition explores hot button issues such as whether taking the danger out of modern childhood could actually be dangerous, the optimum regularity of dentist trips, plus the banking crisis and those bloody bankers. Looks like it will be thought provoking and jaw dropping in equal measure.

ELECTRIC MUSES FT AURORA ENGINE AND BELL LUNGES Leith Theatre – 6th March Celebrating international women’s day, this two century spanning event celebrates women’s role from the birth of cinema until the modern age. Aiming to redress discrimination and sexism in the arts, using surrealist film and cinema. Electric Muses merges cinema and live technologically enhanced music. Together highlighting women’s often overlooked contribution to the medium. Featuring films, live scores and contemporary performances showcasing feminist surrealism the event will be followed with a live set by Aurora Engine and Bell Lungs. What’s on By Gregg Kelly Page 9



SEC – 13th till 15th March The largest gin festival in the UK comes to Glasgow. Offering the city’s passionate gin patrons a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the people responsible for more than 60 of the top gin and mixer brands. With 250 different separate gins to experience, cocktail masterclasses, taste challenges and tutorials. This festival is truly heaven for all gin lovers.

Dundee Rep – 20th March In 50 Things About Us, Mark Thomas uses his trademark style of storytelling, stand-up, subversion and really, really, well researched material to try and find out how the hell we ended up in the middle of this current shit show. A show about songs, gongs, loot, tradition, wigs, nicking, statues, art and identity - kind of like a national edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Subversive, obsessively factual, and always interesting. If you’ve seen Thomas perform 100 Acts of Minor Dissent, you’ll have an idea of what to expect.

JOEL HARRISON PERFORMS STILL POINT: TURNING WORLD The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh – 18th March Edinburgh’s longest standing independent jazz establishment presents one of the great modern jazz guitarists. Joel Harrison returns to Europe with long time collaborator David Binney, bringing jazz icons Michael Janisch and Gerald Cleaver to complete the band. They’ll be showcasing his new album Still Point: Turning World as well as compositions from his last 20 recordings to encompass jazz, blues, rock, classical, Appalachian music, and intensely personal, lyrical songs. A night for both those who love jazz and those who don’t yet know they do.






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What’s on By Gregg Kelly Page 11

BAX TER On the eve of his new album, and a Glasgow gig in April, SNACK caught up with one of the best lyricists of the modern era to talk characters, boutique coffee and a whole lot of stuff we can’t print. At the launch of Prince of Tears, you said you really cared about the reaction to the album, because you felt it was a great record. How are you feeling for the release of The Night Chancers? I’m more relaxed. I felt that record and I think this record is pretty good as well. I think I’m quite relaxed, I don’t really care. I’ve done quite a few of them now, and I’m confident it’s pretty good. The last one was a bit more of an emotional subject. “Daylight” felt more in step with some of your earlier work? It’s connected to the album before. It’s about the person, about that girl. That’s the only one which links back to the old album. A farewell if you will. The first line of the album is ‘I’m not your fucking friend’ – a statement of intent, or just a great line by itself? I didn’t write it and think, I’ll write the album around that. I did write the songs and know the order it would be in, but that wasn’t intentionally a provocative opening statement. It’s a kind of creepy song I guess. I always think of it, perhaps pretentiously, as though they are Kubrick films. That first one is like a door being opened. Have you ever watched 2001? It’s very claustrophobic, and it’s meant to be a bit like that. The last one is a bit like



Music by Andy Reilly Page 13


Clockwork Orange, and psychedelic. The album ends on the line ‘Baxter loves you’ being repeated – was it easier to have someone say this for you? Yeah, it was funny to have someone else sing it for me. When we came up with it in the studio, it felt funny, and weird and good. Softly provocative. The record company said to take it out, which was ridiculous, so we didn’t. Also, while there are many characters and great stories in your song, was this an attempt to make the personal nature of the songs more obvious? I think it’s a good line, but it is personal. The songs are personal. There’s a vanity in my music which doesn’t extend beyond 20ft around my life and the people in it. It’s micro-politics, it’s not about anything grander than that. It’s quite egotistical. By the nature of it, it’s exploring things close to home. On that note, how autobiographical is “Oi”? It’s very autobiographical. It’s an amalgam or composite of characters, mostly one, who I can’t name because he’ll probably stick a stake in my neck. He’s still pretty angry. It was pretty real. I still live close to where that used to happen. There were some unsavoury people I grew up with. And like I am now; I was quite sensitive then. You use a few voices on the record – Is this you trying something different or just slipping into character? A bloke talking over music is a really spent format, and I got a bit bored by it. I was just projecting some of the voices I knew growing up. West London variations of slightly idiotic characters. I used those to vary the idea of a man talking over music. I thought that sounded kind of tired, and I knew I don’t need to do that ever again. If I hear another band with a bloke with a mockney accent, I’ll go fucking mad. Your Glasgow gig has been upgraded to a larger venue, looking forward to coming back? That’s right yeah, we sold that one out and

Photos: Tom Beard

with? Weirdly enough, and it’s never going to happen, the only person I really like, and I’ve come late to the party on, is Frank Ocean. I think he writes weird sentences like I do. I’m really into him, and I’d like to hang out, but he probably wouldn’t like me at all. I’d like to go do something like that. It’d be different, get out of indie world, away from blokes and beer. I think he shines a bit; everyone has been saying it for ages, someone in that realm of that urban American thing. When it’s song-written and good, I’d love that. Baxter Dury plays QMU on 18th April. Baxter’s album The Night Chancers is released by Heavenly Recordings on 20th March.


moved up. That’s good news, I love Glasgow. It’s got a good vibe. For a ponce like me, you’re not far away from a boutique coffee shop. You’ve got everything there, and it’s beautiful. The restaurants are amazing. You enjoy a bit of “give and go” with your audience, are you looking forward to the tour? Well, if the Coronavirus doesn’t take us down I am, yeah. I love a bit of give and go, it’s a bit of an old tradition. Basically, I forget my lyrics and then have a go at someone as part of a compensational trick! I forget things so much, so I talk to the audience, and they’ll say something bollocks, but I quite like that. In Glasgow, people will definitely tell you what they think! That’s the good thing about Glasgow, but also a very frightening thing. It’s your name and all on you, but how does the band work – do others have input into the process? I’m definitely the leader, but I don’t always lead them. They probably go ‘alright mate’, call me the leader and let me believe that. I’m quite an inconsistent person so a lot of them take control. There will be different views at different times, but I know what I want and then I leave it to them. They know what to do, they are definitely better musicians than I am. You’re writing a book about your childhood – how are you finding that experience? Bleak, painful, slow, badly paid. I did a book conference yesterday, and I’m good at that bit, where I talk bollocks. I go up and down with it. I’m hoping to write it on tour. It’s bleak. I thought writing might be enjoyable, but it’s probably a bit like having the Coronavirus, it’s awful. I just don’t get it. Is there a deadline for it? A few months ago. I am joking, I will do it. You’ve collaborated with the Fat White Family and released the B.E.D. album – Any plans for future side projects or anyone you’d love to work

Music by Andy Reilly Page 15

MITCHELL MUSEUM When we catch up with Cammy he’s just nipped out of band practice to chat. They’re preparing for an intimate set at Some Great Reward in Govanhill. It’s a tiny space and the album has so much going on in it; I ask him how they’ll go about stripping things back to fit that type of space. ‘Yeah, the funny thing is, this album Skinny Tricks, my original idea for it, it was meant to be a much more basic album, in terms of how many tracks we used on each song. I wanted to make it quite straight: bass, drums, guitar, some samples, a vocal and not much else. As we started putting the record together it became more and more out of control and dense. We’ve got all the brass and weird samples in the samplers already. For this gig, Chris is just playing the samples. I’ve got this small Korg keyboard that I’m plugging into a tiny pretend Marshall amp. Raindeer, the drummer, will just play this one floor tom and a tambourine. It’s different from what we do live normally but it’s pretty cool.’ I mention to Cammy that when I was listening to Skinny Tricks for the first time it reminded me of when I first listened to the Superorganism album. I had a similar reaction with both albums, thinking Wow! There’s so much going on here! How do I start making sense of it all?’. That’s interesting, I was quite into that album at the time of making Skinny Tricks. I’ve a friend that said she was a bit taken aback when she first listened to the new album, she found it to be like

listening to a piece of abstract art, but when she listened to the thing as a whole she found it made more sense. Towards the end of the album… there’s a point when there’s an explosion and the song dies away... all the chaos all falls away. The idea is to get the listener thinking, ‘What the hell just happened here?’. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it and go back again and start picking up the little pieces. I wanted to recreate the idea that everyone is just constantly documenting their lives via Whatsapp videos and things like that. There was a point when I was constantly getting videos from friends. I had the idea that it might be good to start sampling these and then turn that into a loop or a synth chord and to build something from that. Once I did that with the first song I quickly realised that I wanted to do that for the rest of the album.’ It was only after the album was complete that Cammy realised that he wanted to make sure his friends and family were ok with featuring on it. ‘The thing is, the samples are so warped and so manipulated that it comes to a point where you can’t really decipher what’s going on. One friend was a bit disappointed that he couldn’t really hear himself on it.’ ‘My mum got a surprise when I told her. There’s a point in the last song where you can hear a loop of her whooping.’ When we get to talking about themes and stories, Cammy says that he generally doesn’t like people to know exactly what the lyrics are to some of the songs. He’s more into the idea of people building their own meaning from the music. That’s understandable and if an artist decides to bury a difficult lyric under layers of sound, then that’s part of the story too. Cammy explains that when he was writing this

album he was on a bit of a downer, it was all about the breakup of a long term relationship. He’d just finished the second album Evertt Trap and found it a ‘wee bit sad’ and after that, in terms of songwriting, he wanted to get away from writing typical Mitchell Museum songs. ‘I wrote ‘Freakbeak’ for my brother’s birthday and I wrote it in a different persona that I ended up calling ‘Flog’. I thought if I did that, it would help me get out of the trap of being stuck thinking I was writing a Mitchell Museum Song.’ He gave it to his brother, Raindeer, who really liked it and asked why they weren’t playing it: ‘Why don’t you write a load of Flog songs for the new album? I really like the way this sits.’ So that’s what he ended up doing. ‘I was thinking a lot about mental health, because while I wasn’t in a bad way, I was

feeling quite anxious. Years and years ago when I was a teenager I had a manic episode.’ ‘Reflecting on the anniversary of a mental breakdown inspired me to write about the journey of that period of illness ... I don’t want to give it all away, but I was trying to put that into music. For example ‘Footsteps 101’ is about when I came out of hospital and I couldn’t remember how to walk properly. walk but I couldn’t walk normally, and there was a point when I was asking my brother if he could show me how to walk like a normal common person. I remember very clearly watching my brother and trying to emulate the way he was walking.’ Mitchell Museum will release Skinny Tricks on 15th May via Scottish Fiction and play The Glad Cafe (15th May) & Leith Depot (16th May). The single ‘Freakbeak’ is out now.

Music by Kenny Lavelle Page 17

Sometimes a novel captures the feeling and spirit of the age perfectly. Vicki Jarrett’s Always North is such a novel. It may have been a long time coming (as Vicki explains) but the timing of its publication is impeccable as it looks at concerns and questions about climate change and uses them to examine many other aspects of the modern world. We caught up with Vicki to discuss the book and she told us why this story, why now, and that everything begins with the bear. Always North is not an easy novel to explain. How do you describe it when people like me ask? To be honest, when I was writing it I didn’t know what it was either. It’s been called psychological sci-fi, and although I didn’t set out to write a science fiction book it sort of came out that way, although ultimately it’s a decision for readers. You mentioned that Always North has been a long time in the making, is that right? Oh, yes. In fact I found a notebook recently that contained parts of the book that date back to 2010, so I have been wrestling with this one for a long time – from before my first novel was published. Over the years I’ve had periods of working with it, trying to wrestle it into some sort of shape, to make it behave itself, and it steadfastly refused to do so. It’s been abandoned at times as life and other work has taken over, but I was never able to entirely leave it alone. I eventually got it Photo: Chris Scott

to the point where I was able to say, ‘Right, that’s what you are’. What’s amazing about that history is that it’s a novel that is incredibly timely, dealing with climate concerns, the morality of science, the greed of man. If I was going to recommend Greta Thunberg a Scottish novel this is the one. Was the timing a coincidence? Although environmental concerns are something I’ve always had since relatively young, the publication of the book at the time of Extinction Rebellion, the activism of Greta, the increasing evidence that climate change is irrefutable, it’s purely coincidental. Unless the book was deliberately waiting! I like that idea, ‘You’re not finished with me yet. I’ll bide my time’. Could you tell us a bit about your central character of Isobel? I didn’t want to have either a hero or an antihero. We’re all a bit of both, and we are all a bit compromised morally by just continuing to live in the society we live in. I wanted her to reflect the push-and-pull of kind of knowing what the right thing to do is, but being unable to do it through everyday pressures. I wanted her to be a real person who is a victim of circumstance. Yet you place her in one of the most extreme environments imaginable, with a vengeful polar bear to boot. The very first seed of the story was the bear. It was based on a real polar bear sighting from a survey vessel. One of my moral compromises was working for a company who made software for the seismic exploration industry. One of the offshore guys working in the north sent back a very grainy video of this polar bear that appeared to be stalking their vessel, walking alongside and looking straight into the camera. I got goose bumps watching it. It was so direct and you could really feel the presence of the bear. I didn’t stay in the job, but I started writing around that video and the feeling I experienced, and that’s how the original short story came about, which became the start of the novel.

BOOKS I assumed the bear was inspired by other fictional creatures, such as Jaws, Alien(s), or even Moby Dick, so it’s fascinating to hear the true story. Were there other influences you brought to Always North? I wouldn’t pick out specific influences, although you’ve got something with Moby Dick, definitely. I read a lot, split between literary and speculative fiction, and I suppose this book mostly came from the latter - writers such as Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, and, perhaps strangely, the Canadian writer Douglas Coupland. I wanted the freedom that if something goes off the rails from what we think of as reality, I could just go with it. Vicki Jarrett’s Always North is published by Unsung Stories



We caught up with Ashley Storrie and chatted about her upcoming shows at the Glasgow Comedy Festival, smear test pals, the pressure to succeed, and her plans for the rest of 2020. What do you have planned for your Glasgow Comedy Festival Shows? This year is the first where I’m not doing the Edinburgh Festival. The Glasgow Comedy Festival is where I’ll usually preview my Edinburgh show and this is the first time I don’t really have to worry about that; I’m just getting to be myself, have fun and not worry about it. Do you have a theme? Not a single theme! I know this sounds mental but this is what’s so exciting, not having to be like ‘This show is about smear tests’ or ‘This show is about womanhood’. I just want to talk about things that I want to talk about. I want to revisit some of the things I did before. I did do a show about smear tests and the importance of them. I want to talk about the aftermath of that and follow up on some of my jokes, cause I’m a storyteller. There’s lots that happened after the fact that I want to tell the audience about. I made a video where I was a pal to take with you to your appointment and a bunch of women took it with them to go and get their smear test. There were varying outcomes: some of them got told off by their doctors, some of them found that they had abnormal cells and

ended up having to investigate further, and some of them found out other stuff. It was weird how something that was just a comedy show ended up having a strange impact on a load of different people’s lives. This Glasgow Comedy Festival show doesn’t have a big arcing storyline, I’m just excited to be able to be myself for a change and not have to think about how it’s going to be accepted during the Fringe. Whatever this show is, this is the only place I’ll do it and the only time I’ll do it. Are you quite glad not to be doing Edinburgh this year then? Yeah, you know how they have to take a year off every four years at Glastonbury, cause otherwise the fields get too fucked? I feel like my field’s fucked. And I feel like I need to let my field breathe a bit and not have to… I don’t know… the Fringe is a lot of pressure and in a lot of ways it’s the most expensive three weeks of your life. There’s no guarantees and it’s less about putting on a show now and more about getting the interest of TV people or agents or something. I just want to be like ‘Here’s me’. I’m not expected to get on Have I got News For You, I just want to make a bunch of people laugh. Are you concentrating on the radio show and video shorts this year then? The radio show has been picked up for another year and we’re currently editing season 2 of Up For It which is the TV show I do with Christopher Macarthur-Boyd and Rosco McClelland. That’s coming out in April. Again, I’m working on the shorts and I’m trying to focus more on writing. Is it writing or performing that’s exciting for you, or is it a bit of both? It’s a bit of everything. I like the freedom of being online and being able to experiment and try things and not have to have notes or producers and stuff. So I think in the next year I’m definitely moving on to creating more for online, not just sketches but factual entertainment. In the next couple of years I want to be producing other people’s online content. I think I can make content

SCOTTISH FESTIVALS GUIDE 2020 for other people. There are people making money and making businesses purely out of making content for online. Do you see a lot of pressure to ‘succeed’ and to be seen as being successful in comedy and entertainment? I think that people put a lot of pressure on themselves, and I think there’s a lot of comparing yourself to other people that goes on. I’ve never had that feeling, I take my successes as my own and I don’t see anybody else’s success as my failure. In fact, when ma pals do well, I’m the happiest person in the world - I’m everybody’s cheerleader. There’s a wee weird thing, and I don’t know if it’s just social media because we’re all constantly aware of everyone’s lives, about people getting salty about other people doing good. In this day and age, what does success even mean? It’s being happy. It’s working a job that you like, and see if you’ve got enough money to live, I think that’s it. I make stupid YouTube videos and talk for a few hours on the radio and that makes me enough money for me to live my life, and I’m quite happy with that. Anything else is just cream on that fruit. Ashley Storrie will perform at The Stand, Glasgow on 19th and 21st March as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival. Our full interview with Ashley will be available online at Comedy by Kenny Lavelle Page 21



FEST Returning for its 13th year with a wonderfully diverse programme, GSFF will prove itself again to be at the vanguard of UK short film festivals. We caught up with Matt Lloyd, the festival director. This is the first year of the festival being independent and as a charitable organisation. How have you found this transition? What it has done is given us the freedom to try things out like a ‘pay what you can’ scale for tickets, which when you are part of a bigger organisation you don’t necessarily have the freedom to do. I think it gives us the opportunity to really consider what the purpose of the festival is and what kind of organisation we want to be. The five programme focus on Northern Ireland during the troubles sounds very interesting. The idea originated from the last three years of Brexit and the fact that the implications for Northern Ireland seemed to be completely ignored by everyone, at least everyone in a position of power. So it’s about redressing that sort of absence of memory for a mainland UK audience. The thing I’m most excited about is that my favourite horror film, the Japanese movie House, is showing. You have the film and also director Obayashi’s early shorts. This is all thanks to Sean and Megan of Matchbox Cineclub. One or two of them have Film by Martin Sandison

never been shown in the UK before. They’re trying to get some of his early commercials as well which apparently are quite unlike any kind of regular commercials. They are encouraging a bit of Cosplay which is a first for us as well! You call Bill Douglas the greatest Scottish film-maker. Can you talk about him and the International Competition, the winner of which will receive the Bill Douglas Award? Bill had a very international outlook. The tragedy is that he really only made the trilogy and then one feature after that, then he died relatively young. His work is some of the most gorgeous, pure visual and aural storytelling you’ll ever see. It’s great to find films submitted from places like Cuba, and the film-makers are really delighted that they’ve been nominated for the Bill Douglas award because they really loved his work. The programme shows a lot of diversity. Has this always been an aim for the festival and has it also been shaped by the changes we’re seeing in society recently? It has, because the festival was set up by two women, Penny Bartlett and Rosie Crerar, and one of their main aims from the outset was to foreground women film-makers. I think there is far greater diversity in short film-making than there is in feature film-making, so in some ways it’s a lot easier for us to be more diverse because there is so much great work out there. Can you talk about what the medium of short film means to you and what the festival looks to communicate through that? Short films are hard to define. It’s easier to define what it isn’t, and what it isn’t is a convenient length commercial film that can fit into one of four slots at a commercial cinema. You’re going to see something you’ve never seen before on some level. If a feature is a novel then a short film is like a poem, with a different set of rules. Glasgow Short Film Festival runs from 18th till 22nd of March at various venues across Glasgow.


EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Various Venues, Edinburgh – 17th till 28th June The world’s longest continually-running film festival is back yet again for its whopping 74th year. This year’s festival will highlight The Big Score, a retrospective focusing on innovation in film scores, including the works of Ennio Morricone, Delia Derbyshire, Mica Levi and an odyssey into jazz cinema. Then there’s the pre-included Film Fest on the Forth, featuring free outdoor screenings at a special location on the banks of the Firth of Forth on June 7th and 8th of films with aquatic themes, as well as classic Scottish cinema and archival gems. The full programme will be announced on 27th May.

EDINBURGH SHORT FILM FESTIVAL The capital has your short film needs covered with this celebration of cinema in its more concise form. A fast-growing and exciting little festival casts a wide net to bring in films from all over the world, from Scotland to China and beyond, handing out awards for the best on offer. Submissions are still open until 22nd June.

CROMARTY FILM FESTIVAL Various venues, Cromarty – 4th till 6th December. Looking for a celebration of cinema away from the bustle of a city? Look no further. Taking place in the eponymous Highland town, it showcases a varied selection of films in eight different venues, including a converted stable and a mobile cinema, all within walking distance or

FILM via convenient shuttle bus. Films plus beautiful scenery, what’s not to love? Mark your calendars.

FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL UK Various venues, Edinburgh – early November till mid-December It’s the country that gave us filmmaking greats such as Godard and Truffaut but here’s your chance to take a oui look at French cinema right here at home. Now in its 28th year, screenings and events take place up and down the UK simultaneously, from the Edinburgh Filmhouse to London Ciné Lumière.

TAKE ONE ACTION! Various venues, Edinburgh and Glasgow – 16th till 27th September This innovative and socially conscious festival is a great way for film fans to come together to celebrate cinema that strives to make a difference. Screenings are in Glasgow and Edinburgh across 12 days, as well as two weekend line-ups in Inverness and Aberdeen, with a focus on stories that explore issues of global concern.

AFRICA IN MOTION Various venues, Edinburgh and Glasgow – 30th October till 8th November This annual festival, now in its 15th year, takes place in both Edinburgh and Glasgow and celebrates the beautiful and often underrepresented films made in and about Africa. Its collaborative approach to curation, between people of colour from Scotland to Morocco and Rwanda, leads it to feeling inclusive and diverse in the films that it showcases from the continent. Film by Ross T. Miller Page 23

HIPPFEST Bo’ness’ HippFest is very much born out of the stunning Hippodrome cinema itself. It was Scotland’s first purpose built cinema; it was the first time that anyone thought to create a building especially to show films in - it dates back to 1912. The idea behind the festival was to put the Hippodrome on the map when it was restored and reopened in 2009. It married the birth of cinema in this building with the early heritage of the medium itself. The other thing that’s really important about the festival is that it’s showing silent films from the first 30 or 40 years of film production across the world, but always with live music. You get the fantastic experience of early film with all kinds of genres, and all kinds of actors, and all kinds of countries, but shown in the best way: on a big screen with fantastic musicians performing live. You might not necessarily think about premieres when you think about silent films, after all they tend to be over 100 years old. Think again with The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots, an extremely rare film of which the organisers believe there is only one copy of in existence. HippFest will be presenting it to audiences for the first time in 90 years. There’s going to be a cello, voice, piano and guitar accompaniment, but also a storyteller, Andy Cannon, who we’re told is just brilliant at bringing stories to life. He is going to be elaborating the story and giving it historical context in character. This particular film will be supported by Linlithgow Gin, and their Mary Queen of Scots spirit. Station Content, The Timber Queen & The Lonedale Operator (Platform Reels) The festival isn’t just at the Hippodrome, there’s even an event that takes place outdoors on a rail

platform preserved by the local heritage railway. It’s a triple bill of films with railroad heroines featuring screen legend Gloria Swanson, queen of the serials Ruth Roland, and the Biograph Blonde, Blanche Sweet. Rail and film have long had a strong connection: did you know that in the silent era they often used trains to move the heavy cameras? They used to strap them to the front of the trains and, lo and behold, you had a dolly moving camera. What’s a film festival without a star? HippFest has its own in Paul McGann (Withnail and I, Doctor Who). He’ll be providing live narration of the intertitles that accompany the closing night screening of L’Homme du Large (1920): a powerful tale of a fisherman and his family living on the remote Breton coast and torn apart by their idle degenerate son. Proving that silent film isn’t just one thing Poil De Carotte (restoration world premiere) is a lovely family drama about a neglected boy who’s mother mercilessly teases him about his red hair. It’s a child’s eye view of growing up in an unhappy family and it’s thoroughly recommended by festival director Alison Strauss. If you’re watching the pennies then you’ll be glad to know that some of the events are free. There are youth workshops, primary school workshops and a window dressing competition – a wander around the entries will be the perfect way to explore the local area. They’re even kicking the whole festival off with a custard pie fight (not actual custard) before the opening film. Make sure you register beforehand for this! Hippodrome Silent Film Festival will run across various venues from 18th till 22nd March




The World, in Words. 900 events featuring 1000 authors, poets, musicians and artists, plus cafés, bars and bookshops.

15–31 August 2020

Programme launch: 11 June Tickets on sale from 27 June @edbookfest

Scottish Festivals by Andrew Reilly Page 25


MUSIC PLAYGROUND Rouken Glen Park – 31st July till 2nd August A relative newcomer in the Scottish festival calendar, Playground has quickly become one of the ‘must do’ weekends of the year. The Flaming Lips. Chvrches. Underworld. That’s your headliners for Rouken Glen Park, and you’ll struggle to find three better live acts for wowing a festival crowd. These are headliners you can set your watch by, which is certainly a welcome feature after Lauryn Hill’s belated appearance last year. It’s shaping up to be another Southside extravaganza, with an crowd pleasing and eclectic supporting cast including: Neneh Cherry, Kelis, Leftfield (DJ), Nightmares On Wax, The Wailers, WSHOM, Barrowland hall of famers Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, Scarlett Randle and LEZZER QUEST. Hats off to the organisers for the almost even gender split, and all female Saturday lineup - a great example of quality and parity going hand in hand.

Glasgow Green – 10th till 12th July 2020 Criticising the TRNSMT line-up has become one of the most eagerly anticipated traditions in the Scottish music calendar. 2020 is another bumper year for moans, tantrums and groans. Despite some progress, gender parity isn’t their strong suit – the new normal it ain’t. Say what you like about DF Concerts, but they know their audience. You can expect big hits, singalongs, up and coming acts, and plenty of booze. For many, it’ll be the best weekend of the year. Highlights include Georgia, Little Simz, Foals, The Ninth Wave, Ian Brown, The Murder Capital, Pip Blom and St.Martiins.

STAG & DAGGER Various Venues (Edinburgh – 2nd May and Glasgow – 3rd May) Something new, 2020 sees the East Coast joining in with the Stag & Dagger fun. One of the best Glasgow gigging days of the year has Shame, Ezra Furman, Holy F, Ghostpoet, Just Mustard and Pom Poko. It’ll be interesting to see if the first May Bank Holiday moving from Monday to the following Friday dampens the enthusiasm and vigour of the crowd. Chances are that there won’t be any noticeable difference. The Edinburgh lineup is looking pretty solid too, with The Orielles, Dream Wife (who shone in Glasgow last year), Carla J. Easton and Callum Easter, all certain highlights.

KELBURN GARDEN PARTY Kelburn Estate, near Largs – 3rd till 6th July Looking up the Kelburn Garden Party line-up and seeing Andrew Weatherall still on the list of performing artists was a punch to the stomach. It must be said though, the eclectic nature of new and underground artists, with

Afro Celt

Sound System High Tone -Shooglenifty Kel Assouf - Lowkey Leah Song (of Rising Appalachia)

Mungos Hi Fi Sound System The Poozies - Blick Bassy Moishe’s Bagel - Callum Easter Cut Capers - The Inexplicables John Fairhurst - Twelfth Day Zoe Bestel - Ceitidh Mac Dopesickfly - Liquid Spirit Stacey McMullan - Blue Giant

Orkestar - Fuzzkill - Saw Reds and many more Lineup may be subject to change

In the lush mountains of South West Scotland

plenty of electronica and psychedelia bubbling away, would be very much up Andy’s street. Max Cooper, Henge, Moonsoup, Free Love, Ida, Henge and Fat Suit are all acts to look out for in a festival line-up that always delivers something interesting. Bonus points go to Kelburn for one of the most picturesque festival sites around.

SUMMER SESSIONS Princes Street Gardens – 8th till 20th August It’s not unusual to start an overview featuring Tom Jones in this manner, and the Summer Sessions line-up in Edinburgh doesn’t deviate from the norm. As long as you like artists that have established themselves in the mainstream, there’s something for everyone. With performances from Travis, Lionel Richie, The 1975, McFly, Simple Minds and Michael Kiwanuka; you really don’t need us to tell you what to expect from these big shows.

DOUNE THE RABBIT HOLE Cardross Estate, Stirlingshire – 17th till 19th July Scottish twee royalty, Belle & Sebastian, are the big headliners for Doune The Rabbit Hole this year, and you know for sure you’re in for a good show from them. Pussy Riot may stand in contrast to Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, but if you’re looking for strong females on a festival bill, you’ve got them right here. From hotly tipped new(ish) acts like Girl Ray to the forever young at heart, Bluebells, this is a festival that covers a lot of bases, and does so with a smile. DTRH is always one of the highlights of the summer, and you’ll struggle to find a festival with as chilled a vibe or as beautiful a setting anywhere in Scotland.

MUGSTOCK Strathallan Castle – 31st July till 3rd August Scottish Festivals by Andrew Reilly

Mugstock may be moving from Mugdock Country Park, but with any luck, it will retain its adventurous and slightly kooky spirit. The festival makes it way to the larger surroundings of Strathallan Castle, and hopefully it won’t lose any of its charm. Some of the infrastructure put in place for the final years of T in the Park will assist the festival in glowing up, and we’re all ears for the line-up.

KNOCKENGORROCH Carsphairn, Castle Douglas – 21st till 24th May Knockengorroch does things a bit differently. Who’s up for a world ceilidh in the hills? Officially the longest running camping music festival in Scotland, they’re yet again sticking to their roots: presenting some of the best music from around the globe alongside Scottish trad. This year’s main headliner draw is acclaimed European and African based collective Afro Celt Sound System. They’ve been after this band for a long time and they’re thrilled to be able to finally welcome them to the hills. Other highlights include, Kel Assouf, who will bring his unique blend of Tuareg roots and Psychedelic rock, Scottish favourites Shooglenifty will get crowds on their feet with their electric tunes and a full-on set of old favourites as the band celebrate 30 years together, and Bristol nine-piece band Cut Capers who’ll be showcasing a swinging vintage-style brass section with funk, soul and hip-hop. It’s not just about the music, the weekend will also feature comedy and theatre shows, arts, crafts, environment and heritage workshops. It’s one of the most family-friendly festivals on the circuit, open to all ages with a dedicated quiet family camping area plus a children’s tent and procession. Soothe your weary soul with music, real ales and good food in a setting that can only be described as magical.

ELECTRONIC & WORLD RIVERSIDE FESTIVAL The Riverside Museum, Glasgow – 23rd till 24th May The high point of the Scottish dance music calendar for many. Specialising in electronic music, this festival has developed from humble beginnings into a side-stepping behemoth. Set among the impressive surroundings of the Transport Museum and the Tall Ship, house and techno fans can look forward to the creme de la creme of artists peddling their wares. The lineup leans more to techno on the Saturday and house on the Sunday - the lineup includes top names like Disclosure, Floating Points, Slam, Hunee, Ben Klock, Leon Vynehall and local artists such as Bonzai Bonner, IDA, Sofay, Ribeka, Stevie Cox and Wardy & Dom D’Sylva, spread evenly over the two days of hedonism.

PLATFORM 18 West Street Subway Station – 4th till 5th July The surroundings of Platform 18 are grey, industrial and bleak. If you are looking for home comforts then look away now. The festival is celebrating it’s 7th incarnation and has a compelling lineup that contradicts it’s destitute surroundings. Possibly the greatest techno DJ out there is Richie Hawtin, headlining on Friday along with ANNA and FJAAK and acts such as Floorplan (Robert Hood and his daughter Lyric Hood) and Kevin Saunderson (one of the founding fathers of techno) are playing on

Saturday. The organiser and DJ Ivan Kutz also performs while helping shine a light on local and up and coming talent by presenting the likes of Systematic, Tom & Gerry and Fraz.ier.

FLY OPEN AIR Hopetoun House, Edinburgh – 16th till 17th of May A strong contender for electronic festival of the year, FLY has the properly grandiose setting in Hopetoun House. Construction began on the property in 1699 and the south wing is still occupied by the 4th Marquess of Linlithgow - Lord Adrian Hope and his family. The vast and pristine grounds will be treated to thousands of dancing feet over two days as eager fans arrive via bus, taxi and automobile. The main stage and Boiler Room stage will host some of the biggest names in dance music: Peggy Gou, DJ Koze, Dixon, Palms Trax B2B Job Jobse plus many more. This mammoth festival makes space for its own local burgeoning talent such as the likes of LF System and Macka, both fresh from releasing debut EP’s.

COUNTERFLOWS Various venues, Glasgow – 2nd till 5th April Counterflows is a collection of local and worldwide musicians who can be categorized by the fact that they are not easily categorised. DIY and underground backgrounds are brought to the fore with attendees exposed to versions of electronic music, punk, jazz, hip-hop, musique concrete, dance music, classical music and more. Glasgow and South London-based three-piece Still House Plants will play as one of Counterflows’ 2020 Featured Artists. Also available among the diverse venues across the city centre and the westend are Indonesia’s Gabber Modus Operandi and from Jamaica, I Jahbar. An interesting pick is Sosena Gebre Eyesus, who plays the begena while singing six Ethiopian orthodox hymns. Scottish Festivals by Donald Shields Page 29

FOOD AND DRINK PASTAVAL Now into its 6th year, Pastaval is back. A festival with a difference, armed with a scorecard and map make your way around a selection of venues judging who makes the best mac and cheese worthy of the astounding Pastaval trophy. Last year saw Van Winkle pick up the trophy for the city centre while Langside Cafe claimed the crown for the Southside.

FYNEFEST From 5th to 8th June the family-friendly FyneFest returns to the shores of Loch Fyne. Organised by Fyne Ales, the festival has of course lots of beer but also plenty of live music and lots of food.

BEER MAKES GLASGOW Beer Makes Glasgow is making a return this August. A charitable project born from the brewing community of Glasgow, Beer Makes Glasgow has been running since 2017, raising money for Drumchapel Food Bank. Last year had 15 breweries with over 50 beers on offer.

CRAIL FOOD FESTIVAL It’s the 10th Anniversary of Crail Food Festival this year, so keep the weekend of 13th and 14th of June free. Throughout the coastal village of Crail there will be food, demonstrations, markets and music events.

EDINBURGH FOOD FEST Edinburgh Food Fest will return in July 2020Â and has grown from its launch in 2014. Top figures in the foodie industry such as Carina Contini, Shirley Spear, Tom Lewis, Guy Grieve and Neil Forbes have all entertained the crowds here. The festival is free and is within George Square Gardens. Expect stalls, talks and demonstrations.

Photo: Giles Smith

Scottish Festivals by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers 31


The home of Becks beer and Werder Bremen football club and well...we had no idea what else to expect from Bremen before arriving but we have discovered that it is one of only three city states (Stadtstaaten) in the whole of Germany. The others being Berlin and Hamburg but actually the Bremen boundary is unique in that it comprises the actual city of Bremen and the separate port of Bremerhaven on the north west coast - just imagine that the boundary of Glasgow also separately included Port Glasgow or Irvine.

With around 570,000 residents it is Germany’s 11th largest city and roughly comparable in size to Edinburgh or Glasgow.



Bremen started to become mentioned around 700AD. Shortly thereafter it had its own laws and currency and it was in 1260 that it joined the Hanseatic League, leading to two centuries of successful maritime trade with other German cities, the Dutch, English, Scandinavian and Baltics - at least until wars with the Dutch and Danish in the 1400s when the city actively encouraged piracy, which included the looting of Scottish ships for (mostly) woolen fabrics. Restituted by goods to the value and a cargo of Bremen beer, which somehow seems nothing less than you would expect, trading relations with the Scots resumed. But it wasn’t just beer that was traded, coffee became a major import in the 17th century. It was said that nearly all of the coffee consumed in Germany had passed through Bremen, arriving via the port at Bremerhaven. Germany’s first coffee shop allegedly opened in Bremen in the late 17th century, Europe’s first coffee factory was certainly Kaffee HAG (now Café HAG) in the 1900s who even invented / discovered decaffeinated coffee shortly thereafter. In the 1920s there were as many as 250 coffee roasters in the city. That figure fell to single hand digits but is steadily rising again, thanks perhaps to the Coffee School (Kaffeeschule) who boldly state that they are sustainably increasing coffee quality in and around Bremen, on their website.

certainly take inspiration from him in the artwork on their coffee tins and you shouldn’t leave without one filled with coffee beans. They can also accommodate tours. Schnoor is Bremen's oldest quarter and cutest area of central Bremen - quaint cobbled streets and lots of local craft and gift shops. Head to Schnoor Konditorei for local confectionary, specifically schnoorkuller: meringue with a nougat cream centre coated in milk chocolate and hazelnuts. See if you can also do one better than us and track down a bottle of Schnoor Bräu in one of the local shops or pubs. We tried and failed. Das Viertel is the more Bohemian Berlin like side of the city (in the east, obviously). Here you will find ‘Kauf dich Glucklich’ (shop till happy) for clothing and ‘Die sachenmacher’, a gift shop selling the wares of 70+ local Bremen artists.



Munchausen coffee roasters is a family-run business, operating since 1935, with a roastery and shop which looks like it hasn’t changed for decades. They’re not named after Baron Munchausen, it's the name of the family, but they

Schattiger Gasthausbrauerei is a beer hall serving up traditional German fare and brewing a few of their own beers. Or head across the road to ‘Sluk ut de lamp’ at Spitzen Gebel. Sounds a bit iffy but it means to sip from the lamp. In days Travel by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers Page 33

gone by workers would sneak a sip of schnapps during the day by hiding the drink in an old lamp. You to can continue this tradition today and bar staff will pour a shot from the lamp for you. Wash it down with a better tasting beer afterwards in this cosy medieval building. Bremer Ratskeller, the restaurant under the town hall has an exceptionally great wine list, especially if you are fond of Reisling. It’s one of the oldest wine cellars in Germany with over 650 varieties of wine!

EAT Bremen has a number of food specialities, which are similar to traditional Scottish fare like stovies and haggis. Labskaus is one such dish. Made from salted meat, or corned beef, potatoes and onion. It’s a similar dish to Liverpudlian scouse which is a type of stew eaten by sailors in Northern Europe. Another one you will find on menus is Knipp, which is a kind of massive sausage made with pork and oats flavoured with allspice - very like haggis but served with bread, potatoes and gherkins. Pinkel is a sausage which is made from bacon, oats, suet and spices. It is served alongside kale (Grunwohl) known as ‘Grünkohl met Pinkel’ and often with a shot of schnapps. Kaffeemühle (Mühle Am Wall) is unique in that it’s a cafe housed inside a historic windmill so quite literally the coolest place to enjoy the local cuisine, it was here we ate some knipp. LUV on Schlachte has an outdoor biergarten for sunny weather where you can lounge with not

only a beer but one of their many cocktails. The inside of the restaurant feels like a lounge-bar with a relaxed vibe. The menu is casual dining with lots of pasta and salads as well as meaty items such as Big Texas burger or Weiner Schnitzel. Küche 13 is a lively and popular bistro in hip Das Viertel, which serves fresh food well. The fresh produce is the draw here rather than any fancy decor. Dishes include fresh pasta with fennel salami, olives, chilli, fresh herbs and parmesan and mushroom risotto with onion leeks, cranberries and parmesan.

CULTURE Do you know the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Town Musicians of Bremen? It tells the story of four aging animals, who after a lifetime of hard work decide to run away and become musicians in Bremen. They never reach Bremen, being waylaid by robbers. Well, there’s a famous statue here as they are basically the symbol of the city. Seemingly if you rub the animals’ legs and give the donkey a kiss you will be granted your wish. Böttcherstrasse connects the Market Square with the river. Named after the böttcher (coopers) who used to live and make their barrels there. The ornate brick lane has a golden relief at the entrance which shows a scene from the Apocalypse with the Archangel Michael fighting a dragon. You’ll also find here a glockenspiel, craft shops and art built into the buildings. In front of the town hall (Rathaus) there’s a five metre high statue of a chap called Roland. This stone giant was erected in 1404, after its wooden predecessor was destroyed in 1366. Roland was a knight of the first Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. The statues of Roland appear in numerous cities of the former empire as emblems of the city liberties such as market rights. The Roland statue in Bremen is the oldest surviving example and has UNESCO World Heritage Status.

VISIT The Town Hall has also received UNESCO status. Built in the Gothic style in the early 15th century with additions over the years to include the styles Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau. It’s worth booking a tour to see the interior as it is just as stunning as the exterior. Tours are free but must be booked in advance. Beck's Brewery is just across the river, and walking distance, from the city centre. They run tours every day apart from Sunday where you will discover that they are not just about lager. Nowadays they brew a variety of beers including pale ales, red ales and fruit beers and you will taste three of these on the tour while learning about the history. We’ve mentioned Bremerhaven already. Definitely do make a day trip here for two excellent museums, it’s only 35 minutes away by train. The German Emigration Centre (Deutsches Auswandererhaus) is similar to Titanic Belfast but dare I say better as it gives a good feel for what those leaving Europe for the new world would have experienced. The reconstructions of the ship interiors and the sounds set the scene. There’s also a family research centre at the end for anyone who has family members emigrated across the Atlantic. Klima Haus is an interactive science museum with a clear focus on climate change and the environment. Aimed at kids but just as relevant to adults in today’s world. For visits in November and December, Bremen is well regarded for its Christmas market with the main square hosting 170 stalls but in addition to that they also have the separate SchlachteZaubermarket along the river promenade.

SLEEP Hotel Residence is within walking distance of the historic city centre plus it’s handily placed for

the main train station should you wish to discover Bremerhaven or further afield. It’s a 3-star hotel with non-smoking rooms, free Wi-Fi, a small spa area with sauna, and a wide variety on offer at the buffet breakfast.

GET THERE We flew from Edinburgh with Ryanair but currently there are no direct flights from Scotland. Easyjet operate 4 flights per week from Edinburgh to Hamburg, while Ryanair will start doing the same from the end of March. Travel time between the two cities on the fastest train is just under one hour.



Travel by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers Page 35

ONE CANNONMILLS Formerly Brandon’s of Canonmills, before that Cross and Corner, and close to a decade ago - McLachlan’s. One Canonmills now keeps it simple by merely naming itself after the actual street address. Understated from the outside, there is no signage above the door so we felt a slight hesitation as we approached, even though we were almost 100% certain we were in the right place. Being a corner unit accessed from ahem, the corner on the cross, we couldn’t see the windows from the crossing plus it was blowing a hooley - but once inside and seated we did see that the name, along with the words ‘Independent local bar and eatery’ is proudly displayed on the windows. One Canonmills has been here since April

2019 and although this was our first visit we had been in the building a few years ago when it was Brandon’s, desperately trying to remember our only visit there we think that it’s now a bit cheerier. There’s a selection of little micromachines and/or train set vehicles in a glass display case on the wall, and Marge Simpson and Barney Gumble lead the way to the Ladies and Gents respectively, but this is a lot more respectable than Moe’s Tavern. There were both dogs and children in the bar happily munching away at the same time as us. Food is served all week, but we were here specifically for the filling weekend brunch, served between 10am - 3pm every Saturday and Sunday so we dived right in and ordered the Big Breakfast (meaty version): a hefty plate of haggis,black pudding, smoked streaky bacon,

pork & leek sausage, flat mushroom, roast tomato, eggs (poached), tattie scone, beans, hash brown and sourdough toast with a big dod of butter, phew. Gluten-free bread is also available but due to the kitchen being small they can’t promise that anything is 100% gluten-free. Emma ordered the Eggs Benedict with poachers, Puddledub bacon and hollandaise, mainly due to it being served on a bagel instead of the usual muffin. Poached eggs, Puddledub bacon and hollandaise, mainly due to it being served on a bagel instead of the usual muffin. It worked, a ring of carby tastiness to dip into the perfect poached egg. A nice bright yolk with that ideal balance of goo for dipping but solid enough for spreading on top of the bagel. We really wanted to try the halloumi fries as well but had no room but we did put our dessert stomach to the test by sharing a plate of banana fritters, and where else other than a Chinese restaurant or takeaway do you find these? Sweet, caramelised and warming in contrast to the rotten weather outside. We washed it down with tea from nearby Eteaket and coffee from another local producer, Brodie’s (take away coffee only £2 if you have a reusable cup). If you want beer we were happy, or should that be hoppy, to see Leith Juice on cask from Campervan brewery just up the road. There was a good assortment of other draught and bottled craft beers from the likes of Barneys, Pilot and Tempest. If you just want a lager Prahva is available. Prosecco is £4.50 a glass and the house wines are £19 a bottle. If we could have, we would have stayed longer and made a night of it but we had to get back to Glasgow before the threat of train cancellation became a reality. Canonmills is an area that has been overshadowed by the like of Stockbridge and Leith in terms of food and drink options for years but now has great wee businesses like The Marshmallow Lady, the Bearded Baker and The Beer Hive so the area is becoming a bit of a foodie enclave. Despite being ‘Weegies’ we’ve made the journey through here a few times and


“THE WORDS ‘INDEPENDENT LOCAL BAR AND EATERY’ IS PROUDLY DISPLAYED ON THE WINDOWS.” remember O’Connor’s when it was Stags Head. You see when we aren’t eating we are also history geeks and the Rodney Street railway tunnel, now pedestrianised, passes under here. But if you’re in the area don’t pass by, check out One Canonmills. Other good things to note are that they pay staff the living wage, and on Mondays a burger or fish & chips for two costs a mere £15, there’s a £50 cash prize pub quiz every Wednesday at 8:30pm, the snug is available for hire, there’s free WiFi, it’s dog- friendly etc. etc. We’ll be back to sample the mac and cheese from the week day menu I’m sure. 1 Canonmills, Edinburgh EH3 5HA

IN BRIEF Stocking local producers’ goods Chilled vibe with wide range of food and drinks A living wage employer

Food and Drink by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers Page 37

ALSTON The weather is awful just now and if you’re like us you’ll still be skint following Christmas and needing cheering up, right? Well, Alston Bar and Beef, hidden in plain sight underneath Glasgow Central Railway Station, have a set menu which runs Monday to Wednesday 12pm - 7:30pm and Thursday to Saturday 12pm - 5pm. With a choice of 1 course for £12, 2 courses being £15 or 3 courses coming in at £18, so you can spend as much, or as little as you like. The cavernous vaults of Alston may be hidden to many yet it’s still a popular spot with diners and those popping in for a quick libation before their train home. There’s an emphasis on steak and gin but don’t fret if these aren’t to your liking as there are plenty of other dishes and drinks available. The restaurant fills up quickly, with fellow budget conscious eaters, so best to book a table. We started off with a glass of Malbec each, drinkable and smooth, without being pressured into buying a whole bottle. As the weather was awful, we both needed some warmth and on

the menu was classic Scottish soup Cullen Skink with bread. A creamy wintery soup with chunks of smoked haddock, potatoes and leek - hearty fare for a wet and windy day. Also on offer for starters were haggis pakora with tomato and chilli jam and lime yoghurt, and a feta and beetroot tart with caramelised onions, sundried tomato and basil.. The mains were a choice of chicken and leek puff pastry pie with smoked cheddar mashed potato, mushroom risotto with Danish blue and pesto and herb crusted salmon. Steak-wise there was a choice of steak and onion baguette with mustard mayonnaise and fries, Tweed Valley Flat Iron with fries and garlic butter or, for a £3 supplement, Tweed Valley Rump Steak with fries and garlic butter. To keep the fish theme going with us we picked the herb crusted salmon, which was perfectly cooked with a crunchy topping and moist interior. Crisp vegetables too, creamy potatoes and a lightly spiced tomato sauce. But it still made sense for one of us to have

some meat, so the flat iron was ordered up, medium-rare, succulent and juicy, served with garlic butter which was suitably full of garlicky flavour. The fries were as hoped for - crisp and fluffy. Strangely enough, we always seem to have space for pudding and here there’s a choice of three. We passed up the more healthy-sounding option of pineapple carpaccio with mixed berry compote, shortbread crumble and raspberry sorbet, instead having the gooey cherry and chocolate brownie with warm chocolate sauce and creamy raspberry ripple ice cream. Oh yes, and our final dish of the evening was the pear crumble with custard and pear gel. A pear just ripe and soft enough that even Eddie Izzard would approve, coated in crumble with just enough custard to soak up the crumble.

If you’re travelling home by train from here then have no fear about missing the last one as there is a screen on the back wall showing not just the departure times but the platforms as well, so you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere. Central Station, 79 Gordon St, Glasgow G1 3SQ

IN BRIEF Smart but casual dining. Good quality set menu Chill out and enjoy a drink before your train



I’ve been vegan for several years now, and although I’m not at the point where I’m considering children... it seems to be a point other people have felt the need to raise with me. According to the British Dietetic Association, ‘veganism is healthy at all stages of life’.

I wondered about the experience of vegan families in Scotland. So I interviewed two vegan mums Hannah and Sarah-Jane who were happy to share their family lives with me. Both have small toddlers and live in Scotland in full vegan households. L: Do you think Scotland is an easy place to bring up a vegan family? H:I live on the island of Mull, I’m guessing it’s easier on the mainland, but we are all perfectly happy. SJ: It is definitely getting better each year. The big cities have enough cafes and big supermarkets have options. There is a need for more affordable family centred options at soft plays and kid friendly locations. L: How did doctors approach your pregnancy/ being vegan parents? H: Drs and NHS staff have mainly been supportive. Only a couple have given me the impression that they didn’t advise it, with one bluntly stating it was not recommended. SJ: I was vegetarian during my 1st pregnancy and that was accepted. After omitting dairy from my diet to continue breastfeeding (baby had a milk allergy) there was a sudden panic from the doctors and health visitors! With my second pregnancy I had been vegan for 2 years and I think a lot had changed in even that short time. L: Do you send your children to nursery? Were they accommodating to the diet?

H: He’s due to go in a year. I will make sure they are fully informed, not just regarding diet, but also with teaching/ethics/morals/beliefs/providing alternatives so he never feels left out. SJ: They have always been understanding and inclusive. They are good at checking labels or asking if they are unsure. If they have a particular activity they either get vegan ingredients or make it a whole nursery task. She takes her own packed lunch. L: What kind of vegan diet do you feed your children? H: We ‘eat the rainbow’, I try to give him as wide a variety as possible, mainly home cooked food... processed food is probably 1% of his diet. Fortified plant milks and yoghurt with added iron, calcium and b12. Healthy fats such as nut butters, seed butters and avocado. He also has vegan multivitamins just to be on the safe side. SJ: Like any children, each day is different and varied! Both are ‘good eaters’ in that they will eat most things without complaint. L: What were people’s opinions on you being vegan parents? H: I’ve had some uninformed comments come my way but I soon set them right. This can be extremely hard if you are an exhausted new mum and already have enough to struggle with. SJ: Being vegan gives people free reign to pass

comment on our kids’ diet in a way we wouldn’t comment on others. We wouldn’t think to question another parent on how they are providing their child with nutrients. L: What do you think is the best thing about being a vegan parent? H: I get to raise the type of people that I’d like to see in the world. SJ: The honesty. It allows us to talk openly and maturely about the world we live in. L: What do you think is the hardest thing? H: I’m dreading a scenario where all the kids in the class are given a non-vegan cookie from Santa and my child isn’t given a vegan alternative - the disappointment will be heart-breaking. SJ: I can see it becoming trickier if they face

pressure, but maybe they are in a world which is on the whole more inclusive and full of alternatives that they wouldn’t feel like they are going without. L: If you could give anyone advice about becoming a vegan parent, what would it be? H: Go for it. Eat a well thought out healthy diet. Be proud, promote it. SJ: Educate yourself! The more knowledge you have, the more confidence you will have in your decisions. It’s been really lovely to hear from Hannah and Sarah-Jane about their experiences and although they both have found the hardest challenge to be other people’s opinions. It’s a good reminder that no matter what lifestyle we choose, compassion and letting go of judgement just makes lives better.

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Vegan by Laura Woodland Page 41



Wilsen with an ‘e’ (not Wilson, the recently disbanded Detroit rock band and not to be confused with Wilson Phillips, the filial eighties supergroup) are fronted by Tamsin Wilson with an ‘o’. The spelling is probably fairly important to avoid being mistakenly booked as a Beach Boys tribute act or at moviecon events being asked questions about spending long periods of time as a volleyball on an island with Tom Hanks. Ruiner is Wilsen’s second album for the Dalliance Recs label although they’ve been selfreleasing EPs since 2013. ‘I Go Missing in My Sleep’ in 2017 brought their haunting mix of lo-fi folk and dreampop to a much wider audience with Wilson’s (Tamsin, not Jackie or Harold or any other famous Wilsons thrown in to wring out this frankly poor attempt at a thematic joke)

hypnotising vocals providing a figurative bridge into someone else’s dreams. The album is produced by Andrew Sarlo, who worked with fellow Brooklyn-based Big Thief and, while it doesn’t re-invent anything, it expands on what Wilsen have previously recorded but with a polish and balance that means layered soundscapes can exist alongside delicate, acoustic meanderings. Title track, first single and opener, ‘Ruiner’ lays its cards on the table early as an eerie, disembodied vocal swells into a reverb-heavy guitar/bass/more guitars soundscape that quickly ebbs away into Wilson’s finely crafted verse. These playful, undulating dynamics set a standard for what is to follow introducing bassist Drew Arndt and guitarist Johnny Simon to the mix immediately.

However, it’s the craft of an evident bedroom songwriter that comes straight to the forefront. It would be amazing to be a fly on the wall at one of Wilsen’s rehearsals. The serious songwriter versus band dynamic sounds so natural that it must, presumably, take a fair bit of effort and debate to sound so effortless. The introspective chords of the verses blossoming into an absolute firework display of a chorus will make you throw your arms wide in an awe-filled twirl in full view of your fellow commuting ghouls. The intro to latest single ‘Align’ is such a simple idea and so well executed that I expect to hear it on a dozen records between now and next March. A vocal recording of the drumbeat being tenderly beatboxed is joined by live drums but both tracks continue throughout the verses giving a skipping, organic drive to the song. Like all truly accomplished songwriters, Wilson is able to build a chorus and middle eight that are both as catchy as each other. ‘Down’ feels like act three in an early suite with a guitar motif over the chorus, with just the right amount of clarity despite the lashings of reverb and a slight delay. At this point, ‘Wearing’ provides a shift of gear where precise arpeggio guitar coats the vocals in an outdoor fireside vibe. Within this pastoral arrangement, the vocals convey a slightly Wiccan-sounding take on Joni Mitchell. The line “I hate that I’m not enough for you” is delivered with such breathless earnest that it’s hard not to mouth along in empathy. ‘Yntoo’ is a real highlight revolving around a simple picked riff surrounded by gentle reversed noises. Again, Wilson’s natural ability as a bedroom songwriter is evident. Her songs grow and breathe rather than feeling like any sort of formulaic slaves to the verse/chorus/verse/ chorus/bridge/chorus/repeat to fade template. ‘Birds Pt 1’ is a haunting acoustic taster of the part two to come and ‘Wedding’ quietly drifts across three and a half minutes wryly observing the similarities between an unnamed matrimonial

couple and various forms of shrubbery. I think I’d be flattered if someone compared me at my wedding to an oak and a cypress rather than embrace the reality of a sweaty guy in a kilt clearly bricking his breakfast and swallowing nervously in front of everyone he knows. ‘Birds Pt 2’ bears very little resemblance to the first part, settling in a heel-tapping groove. The middle section of the track introduces a very quiet spoken word section which merges with multi-tracked vocal harmonies to produce the slightly confusing feeling of being trapped in someone’s non-linear diary. Released as a single, ‘Feeling Fancy’ has a dense mix of instrumentation that is nothing short of sonically arousing. A paeon to being naturally insecure, the “quiet’s not a fault to weed out” line in the chorus is so succinct, so simply evocative that it’ll lodge straight in your frontal lobe. Penultimate track ‘Fuse’ is the best example on the whole album of subtlety with changes in volume to accentuate the notion of a journey rather than fits of loud and quiet. It’s followed by ‘Moon’, a closing track recorded in such a sparse and intimate way, sitting slightly at odds with the rest of the album so that it slightly jars with every scratchy finger slide and every bit of tape saturation in the vocals. Haunting while exhilarating, ‘Ruiner’ straddles ethereal, dense harmonic moods while showcasing a real compositional talent. Just don’t get them mixed up with Scottish darts players called Jocky, US presidents called Woodrow or Wilson Pickett.



Album: England Is A Garden It’s debatable if it is good to be on the road back home again anymore, but it’s brilliant to have Cornershop back. In 2020, we need the best bands with something to say, even though England Is A Garden may not be the political assault you expect. This isn’t to say it is a light album. There is protest, historical enlightenment and weary resignation, but musically and spiritually, it’s uplifting and upbeat. You’ll find yourself singing along in public, so be careful when it comes to “Everywhere That Wog Army Roam”. “Highly Amplified” is glorious, chiming with hope, bolstered by strings. “I’m A Wooden Soldier” and lead single “No Rock: Save In Roll” have the swagger of yesteryear which we need today, and if you want a reason to sing and smile, closer “The Holy Name” will take residence in your head and heart. It’s a record that should welcome fans old and new. If your Cornershop experience consists of much more than just “Brimful of Asha”, you’ll feel instantly at home here. However, anyone who has limited or no engagement with the group should slip into the groove without too much effort. England Is A Garden is released on 6th March 2020 on Ample Play Records. By Andrew Reilly



Film: True History of the Kelly Gang The story of notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly feels inherently ripe for exploration on the big-screen, where he’s already been played by everyone from Heath Ledger to Mick Jagger. But this ambitious, visually striking adaptation of Peter Carey’s 2000 novel is more a mythical interpretation of the legend than factual recounting. ‘Nothing you’re about to see is true,’ reads the films wry opening text. Instead it’s a refreshingly unsympathetic examination of the famed idealistic outlaw and his likeminded familial gang in the late 19th century. Snowtown and Macbeth director Justin Kurzel redeems himself after the curiously dull Assassin’s Creed movie to deliver something that grabs you by the throat and envelopes you in a hazy atmosphere of violence and unpredictable behaviour. It takes a bit to find its feet when initially focusing on the childhood antics that would inspire future ideals. But once it transitions to his domineering adulthood, when his punk anarchist rebellion against authority comes into full view, it becomes a force to be reckoned with. Much of this is down to George MacKay, so captivating in recent war epic 1917, who brings a combination of rawness and fascinating strangeness to a potently bleak film that never quite allows you to settle comfortably and is all the better for it. By Ross Miller






Book: When The Dead Come Calling In Scottish writing crime remains king, so much so that it’s not easy for a writer to make a mark against established competition. However, that hasn’t stopped an increasing number turning their hand to the genre leading to a welcome new diversity. A recent example is Helen Sedgwick’s When The Dead Come Calling, her third novel following The Comet Seekers and The Growing Season, but the first to appear on the shelves marked ‘Crime’. The novel is set in the village of Burrowhead where mysteries are rooted in a mistrust of outsiders and generational prejudice, and where ‘justice’ is distinctly Old Testament. The atmosphere Sedgwick creates is paranoid, angry, and unsettling, and at times feels in line with that strand of British horror cinema where the outside world is never welcome, as found in The Wicker Man, Stray Dogs or Kill List. When The Dead Come Calling also puts me in mind of supernatural/psychological fiction such as John Burnside’s The Devil’s Footprints or James Robertson’s The Testament of Gideon Mack as much as it does the books of Ann Cleeves or Peter Robinson. If you’re looking for a new crime series to follow, then this is a fine place to start. Alistair Braidwood

Email: Page 45


International Transgender Day of Visibility is commemorated each year on March 31 and is a time to celebrate transgender people around the world and the courage it takes to live openly and authentically, while also raising awareness around the discrimination trans people still face. Stonewall’s “Trans Report” presents concerning statistics about the UK’s trans citizens: Two in five trans people (41 per cent) and three in ten non-binary people (31 per cent) have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months. One in four trans people (25 per cent) have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Two in five trans people (41 per cent) said that healthcare staff lacked understanding of specific trans health needs when accessing general healthcare services in the last year.

TWO IN FIVE TRANS PEOPLE (41 PER CENT) AND THREE IN TEN NONBINARY PEOPLE (31 PER CENT) HAVE EXPERIENCED A HATE CRIME There is much to be done to safeguard the rights of transgender people in Scotland, and while there has been strong progress in trans inclusion in mainstream conversations about equality, we cannot let such achievement lead to complacency. With that in mind, here are some ways in which you can celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility wherever and whoever you are.

TRANS PRIDE SCOTLAND 2020 One of the biggest ways to celebrate is to

attend Trans Pride Scotland 2020. Paisley is hosting Scotland’s third Trans Pride event on the weekend of Trans Day of Visibility, Saturday 28th March 2020. Mustering for the march will begin at 12:00 midday at County Square, just outside Paisley Gilmour Street Station. They “plan to be visible, audible and very findable;” make sure you bring placards, signs and anything to show off your trans pride! At 12:30, the march will depart and follow the planned route along the High Street. The march will arrive at UWS Students’ Union by 13:00 and the group will head into the main hall. The march be followed by workshops and stalls running in the Union itself. The event is inclusive and open to all trans people, including non-binary people, and their friends, families and allies.

HOST A TRANS MOVIE NIGHT For movie buffs, you could host a night dedicated to trans stories in the comfort of your own home. Fire up Netflix and try to find the best in cinema exploring the trans experience: we can recommend titles such as Sebastián Lelio’s Oscarwinning A Fantastic Woman, Sean Baker’s modern classic Tangerine, Sabine Bernardi’s tragicomedy Romeos and Netflix documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson. Oh, go on, watch Paris is Burning too for good measure. Charge a couple of quid at the door and give the money to Scottish Trans Alliance!

DO SOME HOMEWORK There is no such thing as one trans experience: perhaps you could take time to yourself and learn more about what it means to be transgender, especially if you are an LGBT+ ally. Research the Human Rights Campaign’s resources on trans identity and educate yourself on trans terminology, read up on important figures in trans history such as April Ashley and Sylvia Rivera, or spend some time learning about the intersections of transgender identity, and how race, sexuality, class, disability

LGBT+ and citizenship inform the experience of trans people. I would recommend reading the aforementioned “Trans Report” complied by Stonewall to bone up on the ways in which many trans people in the UK face much adversity. It is very comprehensive and may allow you to see ways in which you can positively contribute towards trans equality.

VISIT CATEGORY IS AND CELEBRATE TRANS AUTHORS Located in the heart of the south side of Glasgow, Category Is is an inclusive book shop dedicated to promoting stories by queer people and a safe place to access them. Take the time this month to visit them and find works by the likes of Leslie Feinberg, Janet Mock and Juno Dawson. Speaking to SNACK last September, owners Fi and Charlotte stated that “Queer spaces are needed given the current political climate and the rise in transphobic and homophobic violence across the UK. We made a space and filled it with information, with stories, with queer words and worlds to escape to.”

VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME AND ENERGY The lead up to Trans Visibility Day could inspire you to dedicate some time to the community and volunteer in whatever way you can. In Scotland, there are several LGBT+ organisations you could support, such as LGBT Youth Scotland, Switchboard, the LGBT support hotline, Stonewall and Equality Network. You may have to undergo some training depending on the area in which you are interested, but this could be a great opportunity for you to support the trans people in our community using your unique skill set. LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 47

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020 Consider this a call to arms to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day. The first International Women’s Day occurred in 1911, supported by over one million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation specific. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day. This year’s theme, #EachforEqual, challenges us to “actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.” In other words, unity and collective action is the only way to create a gender equal world. This concept of equality and balance is crucial in the fight for gender parity: cynics are quick to overlook that feminism requires co-operation from all genders, and that levelling the playing field may have to come as a result of men taking responsibility for their actions, past and present. 2020’s theme comes from an economic perspective, with IWD contending that a gender equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive. According to UNESCO among the world’s 123 million


illiterate youth, 76 million are female. These gender disparities remain persistent, with little change over time. IWD believe “The race is on for the gender equal boardroom, a gender equal government, gender equal media coverage, gender equal workplaces, gender equal sports coverage, more gender equality in health and wealth ....” So let’s make it happen. There are a host of events running across the country to commemorate IWD 2020: in Glasgow, Operation Play Outdoors will be celebrating International Women’s Day on Sunday 8th March from 12-3pm at Lang Craig’s Woodland. They have been working closely with 6 women’s group throughout Glasgow and further afield to put together a range of female lead activities, with environmental organisations taking part to highlight some of the important work going on in and around Lang Craig’s to support biodiversity. Join them on Sunday 8th March for an outdoor celebration and feel free to bring your own picnic and make it a full day outdoors. Edinburgh, however, hosts an even bigger variety of events this year. There is an extensive range of presentations and seminars in collaboration with Not9to5, “Woman 2020: Stories and Facts,” covering important topics from “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” with Martin Hayward from the Equality & Human Rights Commission to “Women’s Leadership, Climate Change and Courage” with Lorna Slater from Homeward Bound, Orbital Marine Power Ltd and the Scottish Greens. Visit for full details and more topics and speakers taking part. And in line with this year’s focus on promoting equality in the workplace and professional

achievement, the Scottish Chamber Choir wanted to mark this day by celebrating the achievements of women composers through the ages. Its impressive programme will include the mystic Medieval plainchant of Hildegard von Bingen, florid Renaissance polyphony of Leonora d’Este, lush French Romanticism of Lili Boulanger, and sacred works by contemporary British composers. This takes place on Sunday 8 March 2020, 6pm at St Giles Cathedral. Starting 8th March in Edinburgh Printmakers, “Women Print” displays a collection of original prints by over 50 women artists from its print collection, including work by Sam Ainslie, Victoria Crowe, Kate Davis and many more. This unique exhibition showcases contemporary printmaking produced in their studio, as well as a diverse range of styles, subjects, and printmaking techniques spanning a period of three decades created by women. And sci-fi fans are in for a treat on Thu

12th March from 19.30 as Shoreline of Infinity hosts an IWD event that sees the likes of authors Laura Lam and Cat Hellisen, poet Jeda Pearl and many more showcasing their work and celebrating women’s voices in science fiction. This takes place in the Pleasance Cabaret Bar. But as always, there is scope to create your own event or celebrate International Women’s Day in your own way. Given this year’s focus, perhaps there is a way you can promote equality in your work place. And you can at least support one of the many organisations fighting to support women throughout Scotland: the likes of Scottish Women’s Aid, Shelter Scotland, Glasgow Women’s Aid and LGBT+ Youth Scotland work tirelessly within their remit to protect the lives of girls and women across the country. So consider how you can make this year’s IWD really count and offer your much needed support where you can.

LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 49




Arguably the biggest LGBT+ story of the year so far is Philip Schofield coming out as gay at the age of 57 on national television. This feels like a monumental moment in visibility: after all, Schofield is one of the most famous and accessible figures in British culture, greeting millions “good morning” every day since 2002. He posted the news on his Instagram story, followed up in an interview on This Morning, stating that “with the strength and support of my wife and my daughters, I have been coming to terms with the fact that I am gay.” Public reaction has been largely positive and has primarily led me to consider the way in which the coming out process is perceived by others. I, for one, wasn’t completely surprised by the news, but refrained from the “knew it all along” narrative I’ve read elsewhere. That response is not constructive: after all, it is disappointing that we’re still at a point where it takes people 57 years to publicly come out, and that his private life has become quite so scrutinised. I guess that’s the game of celebrity; but the lesson I hope people take from Schofield’s coming out is that our closeted brothers and sisters are just as valid as those who have managed to navigate the outing process themselves and that every story is different.

So rarely do we have good news when it comes to queer representation in TV and film, but this month we do! Someone grab the bunting! Pixar’s upcoming release Onward will feature Disney’s first openly LGBT+ character, in the form of Officer Spector. Even cooler is that she will be played by the already trailblazing Lena Waithe. The actress and comedian became the first black woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 2017 for her work on Master of None, creating an episode inspired by her personal experience of coming out to her mother. This is a very positive step for Disney: creating openly queer roles in films targeted at younger audiences will promote acceptance and tolerance immeasurably. Also, the character itself is very cute, so kudos for that too, Disney.

SWITZERLAND VOTE More good news in Europe, as Switzerland has voted in favour of legislation that will further protect those in the LGBT+ community. 63.1% of voters backed a proposal to make discrimination based on sexual orientation and sexual identity illegal, despite those on the opposition asserting that doing so will infringe on people’s freedom of expression, concerned that free speech is overpoliced. This proposal, which could be compared to the UK’s Equality Act 2010, comes at a time when a bill for marriage equality is making its way through parliament, too. Progress towards an LGBT+ friendly society in Switzerland has been surprisingly slow, with the country ranking 23rd out of a possible 49 in the 2019 Rainbow Map of countries’ respect for LGBT+ rights. The road to marriage equality, for one, still faces

opposition from religious groups like the Swiss Evangelical Alliance and organisations in more rural parts of the country. But this recent vote is an optimistic indication that the Swiss public is becoming more receptive to protecting minorities and safeguarding the rights of its LGBT+ citizens.

BUTTERFLY Dating is hard work. And when you are in the LGBT+ community, you may face barriers our straight counterparts manage to evade. Safety is paramount, and trans people risk facing hate speech and mistreatment when using dating apps. Butterfly boasts an auto-correction tool within messages that stops offensive terms being used. This was a deliberate move by its founder, who wanted to educate cisgender people about the ways in which prospective partners could be rude without meaning to. There is no swiping required: instead, one can send a “flutter” to show your interest and allows you then to IM anyone that appeals to you, and as part of its impressive priority on safety, you decide how much personal information you are willing to share on your profile. You can access every piece of personal data easily and its auto-purging data policy means anything you send in a private chat is deleted after 30 days. Butterfly is available in 26 different countries and caters to 24 gender types and 10 sexuality options. So, if you are looking for a safer, more inclusive dating experience, look no further than Butterfly!


close to their hearts. There are three titles to be snatched: Miss Drag Charity, for the queen who has raised the most money; Miss Drag Publicity, for the queen who has raised the most awareness of the competition; and the final crown goes to the overall Miss Drag UK. Sadly for us in Scotland, it takes place all the way down in Folkestone on Sun 29 March, but perhaps the success of Miss Drag UK will inspire others to create their own inclusive pageants all over the country: the likes of RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Alaska have taken the initiative to do so, with Alaska creating the “Drag Queen of the Year Pageant” in order to raise money for the LA LGBT Centre, welcoming performers regardless of their gender or sexual identity. So, what are you waiting for?


This month sees the debut of an exciting, uplifting new pageant that strives to bring inclusion, charity and, of course, glamour to the table. Miss Drag UK is the first British charity pageant offering the opportunity to all Drag Queens, regardless of gender, to enter. This grassroots event gives the entrants a platform to showcase what makes them unique and raise awareness for causes LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 51

Harakat-e Islami fighters during street fighting in Kabul. 1994

One of many amputees from landmines in Afghanistan. Kabul 1993


Robbie Fraser's Pictures from Afghanistan will be shown on BBC Scotland, Tuesday 24th March at 10pm, and for a limited time on iPlayer after that. photographsŠ David Pratt


Checkpoint in southern suburbs of the capital during heavy fighting. Kabul 1994 Visual Arts Page 53

DESIRE PATHS OF BADGERS Claw pricked paw tracks in the mud meander scatter scuttle low-bellied baring lush earth snuffle-rooted stiff grey hairs caught on the lowest strand of a barbed wire fence green grass line growing up through the barley stubble in the gloaming of a summer’s evening glimpse a mint humbug striped snout glowing white so clean and perfect this creature who lives in the earth by F.E. Clark