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Editor at Large
Things we only eat at Christmas C
Turkeys sell out, by that I don’t mean they betray their deepest held principles, it’s infinitely more alarming than that. Turkeys sell out
hristmas beckons, well it doesn’t so much beckon as take down its knickers and wave it’s hairy arse at the sky. That Meerkat from off the telly has written an autobiography and there are unfounded rumours that the monkey from the PG Tips advert has received a huge advance to pen his memoirs in time for next year’s shenanigans. The smell of gluhwein, a foul tasting brew – think savlon and TCP antiseptic boiled with corn plasters – purchased at one of those ubiquitous German markets, permeates Leither Towers. From the same source, stollen cake – texture and taste of a spent firework that has been doused with Old Spice aftershave – makes its dreaded annual appearance. Turkeys sell out, by that I don’t mean they betray their deepest held principles, it’s infinitely more alarming than that. Turkeys sell out. There are no turkeys on the shelves. An aged aunt from genteel territories opens last year’s crusted bottle of Warnink’s advocaat – cold, curdled, alcholic custard – and asks you if, “you’ve made an honest woman of her yet?” On another – statutory – festive visit to the aunt who doesn’t speak to that aunt, the lady in question dispenses Harvey’s
Carine offers, in the immortal words (nearly) of Haircut 100 a good soup for a bad, bad, day
Electric Shadows on films of the year and gothed up crack whores
God knows we’ve been trailing this for months but at last Stramash: Tackling Scotland’s Towns and Teams is among us
Tracy, our fitness guru completes her epic trilogy Air, Food, Water
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Bristol Cream from the same bottle she’s been slowly emptying for the last five years and regards you rather as if you were lower than pond life. “You’ve lost the bloom of youth,” she concludes, devastatingly, returning to her knitting. Nephews and nieces everywhere, names to remember, is it Dwayne, Wayne or Shane? Mother-in-laws (prospective) bead their eyes in your direction, “how come we only see you once a year?” Things we only eat at Christmas: pomegranates, red as blood and pithy as Jeremy Clarkson; chipolatas, little penises of pink sawdust; melon boats, complete with orange slice and Maraschino cherry sail, akin to eating raw turnip sprinkled with Midori liqueur; mincemeat pies, like transvestite Eccles cakes; chestnuts, sweet as the Andrex dog, chalky as the white cliffs of Dover; cranberries, much the same as eating arse botherer Gillian McKeith when she has overdosed on unripe purple gooseberries and, last but not least, dates. They taste like camel droppings in a boat shaped box. Still there is always Boxing Day at some ill-advised party, listening to the 4th Ashes test on the DAB radio in the toilet at three in the morning, while people try to break the door down… ■
If you have an interesting story we should know about, contact William Gould on tel: 07891 560 338. If you would like information on advertising or sponsorship opportunities with the Leither email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Front cover: Design by Stuart Beel, check out 8 stuartbeel.co.uk Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 3
Protempore Were Bradley Manning and Julian Assange right? S
o now we know. Prince Andrew is a boorish, arrogant, freeloading clown. Foreign diplomats talk about each other in mildly unflattering terms behind each other’s backs and the Church of Scientology is a bit mental. You can’t have failed to notice the media storm surrounding the Wikileaks phenomenon in the past couple of years. As you probably know, Wikileaks is a non-profit media organisation which is dedicated to opening up, amongst other organisations, the world’s governments to the full scrutiny of public glare by providing a safe, anonymous way for independent sources to leak information to its journalists. Their website declares that: “We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices.”
Church of Mentalists
Now it’s hard to argue that leaking information about Prince Andrew’s inability to behave like a normal human being is of ethical, political or historical significance. And telling a journalist that the Church of Scientology is mental is a bit like revealing that the Pope’s a Catholic. But there is a deeper, far more significant element to the work that Wikileaks is involved in – and that’s exposing governments when they seek to hide and cover up the truth when it is in the public interest to do just that.We all know that certain aspects of government have to be carried out in a clandestine manner – security operations, particularly when dealing with terrorist activity, would be futile if every detail was made public, that’s a no-brainer. But if a government attempts to cover up atrocities perpetrated on innocent human beings, surely we have a right to know what is being done in our name? 4 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
The organisation has, to date, released 400,000 files on the Iraq war. While there are many files which are of no real significance one way or another, the most harrowing leak is one showing horrifying footage filmed from an American Apache helicopter, of 15 innocent civilians, two of them Reuters journalists, being shot dead. In the film clip, the crew can be heard laughing at “the dead bastards” and screaming, “keep shooting, keep shooting!” The US military has refused to even discipline the helicopter crew stating that there were insurgents in the area and that the crew were not able to discern between reporters, civilians and those that were posing a threat. Now in my most forgiving of moments, I have to say that I have absolutely no idea and no prospect of ever finding out what it is like to be in a combat situation such as the one that the crew found themselves and I can appreciate that there will be moments in conflicts when people lose their heads and innocent lives are lost as a consequence. But in this particular instance, it’s obvious from the footage that the crew were consumed with bloodlust and appeared to be enjoying every minute of the carnage. If soldiers are being sent abroad to supposedly quell insurgent uprisings and prevent terrorism from spreading to the west, then we have to trust implicitly that this is what they are doing. To embark on a killing spree simply because you have the means and the opportunity to do so is something which should always be exposed and Governments should be aware that support for their wars is based on an understanding that they are just and within the limits of convention. To cover up such atrocities is simply not acceptable and there is never an excuse to do so. Among other significant leaks are the following:
Pigticians illustration by Bernie Reid
At Guantanamo Bay human rights groups were concerned to discover that according to official guidelines, prisoners could be denied access to the Red Cross for up to four weeks. It also showed that inmates could earn ‘special rewards’ for good behaviour and cooperation - and that one such ‘reward’ was a roll of toilet paper.
Derailing the BNP
The most harrowing leak shows horrifying footage filmed from an American Apache helicopter, of 15 innocent civilians, two of them Reuters journalists, being shot dead
The names, addresses and occupations of 13,500 members of the far-right British National Party were released on to Wikileaks in 2008. The list included the names of several police officers, senior members of the military, doctors and professors. It came as senior military figures warned that the BNP’s politics were ‘fundamentally at odds’ with the values of the British military, and BNP figures said that the ‘establishment’ was trying to ‘derail’ the party. At least one person on the list was fired from their job after it was revealed that they were a member of the BNP. Most recently, a large number of cables emanating from US embassies around the world show that US embassy staff are regularly involved in intelligence gathering activities, an activity which has always been strenuously denied by the US government. How important are these leaks? I guess it depends on which side of the fence you’re sitting. For my money, if Governments are routinely covering up human rights abuses across the globe, then we have an undisputable right to know. As Samuel Johnson once said “where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off.” ■ Protempore
CHRISTMAS FAYRE Order in Advance Starters
Homemade Lentil Soup With a warm bread roll & butter Button Mushroom Crostini (V) Mushrooms in cracked black pepper sauce served on toasted garlic bread Prawn Marie Rose Atlantic prawns served on iceberg lettuce with seafood sauce and brown bread
Traditional Roast Turkey Hand carved turkey with kilted sausages, chestnut and sage stuffing, cranberry sauce, rich gravy Braised Beef in Red Wine with Puff Pastry Chunks of beef, marinated and slow cooked in a red wine and thyme sauce and topped with flaky pastry Grilled Scottish Salmon Grilled fillet of salmon in a tomato & basil sauce *All above served with roast and mashed potatoes, lemon carrots & Brussels sprouts Butternut Squash Stroganoff (V) Butternut squash and chickpeas in a paprika and spinach sauce with rice, soured cream and green beans
Christmas Pudding Served with hot brandy sauce Fresh Fruit Salad Served warm and with whipped Glayva cream Millionaire’s Shortbread Ice Cream With chocolate sauce and a wafer Mince Pies with coffee or tea 4 courses for only £16.99
Xmas Eve food 12-8. Drink 11-10pm Boxing Day food 12-7, drink 12-9 Hogmanay food 12-8, drink 11-2am New Years Day food 12-9, drink 11-11
The Waterline, 58 The Shore, Edinburgh, 0131 554 2425
Chefs Abby and Tom look forward to cooking for you…two main courses – £9.99 – All day Mon/Tue/Wed and Thurs till 6pm. Look out for our specials…the likes of Sea Bass/Lemon Sole/King Prawns & Chorizo all at £9.99 Hogmanay – Traditional music with Graeme E. Pearson 9pm Sonia looks forward to welcoming you to our Saturday Live Music Nights (check What’s on page 28) Thursday Quiz Nights 9pm, oh, and just generally welcoming you!
Christmas is snow joke* With the big day fast approaching Colin Montgomery urges you to spare a thought for some less fortunate souls
any Christmases ago, back when Eric and Ernie were routinely warming the nation’s giblets with their comedy eggnog, my grandfather nearly choked to death. For a joke. Actually, to be more accurate, it was because of a joke. He was attacking a melon boat laden with powdered ginger from the Indies (via Safeway). Her cherry mast had been discarded. And he was slowly gnawing his way down to the hold, in search of any sweet fleshy stowaways to be devoured. Suddenly there was a comedy broadside on the starboard bow. In an act of impish impetuosity my brother had dared to break the ‘cracker code’ and was reading a joke aloud at the table. His act of heresy could have proved fatal. Granddad was always a sucker for a corny gag. Upon hearing that a ghost’s favourite food is ‘ice scream’ Gramps was reduced to a spluttering melony candidate for the Heimlich. A swift blow to the sternum by my Gran followed. She didn’t know he was choking. But it did help. From that day, I never forgave that cracker joke. Years later, my hatred found validation. During an entirely innocent internet search, I stumbled across an investigative report in gentlemen’s periodical Playboy from 1983. It exposed the horror of one of the world’s most nefarious illegal trades… Cracker gangs!
You may laugh (although given the quality of the output that’s unlikely). But behind the gaudy crepe tube of inter6 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
active festive fun, there lurked a cold cruel reality. And fittingly it lurked in Swindon. For there, in the basement of a derelict shoe factory, hungry and emaciated, working in obscene conditions, were unregistered gag writers. It was a hellish tableau. Mirthless souls hunched over old Remington typewriters banging out cracker jokes. Many deafened from the continuous clatter of the keys. Some mumbled one-liners dementedly. Others jerked and twitched uncontrollably due to long stints in the testing lab where crackers were pulled round the clock, the incessant snapping enough to drive a man insane. Many ended up cracking. But the gangmasters were unmoved. Except when required to prod an exhausted gag writer who had collapsed under the weight of the roundthe-clock expectations. What of these poor souls? How did they become victims of such corny inhumanity? Well, many had once been rapier wits, crafting rib-ticklers a plenty for TV bellowfests such as Hi-de-Hi, Allo Allo and Russ Abbot’s Madhouse. Others were workplace wags, always ready with bon mots and badinage at the Water Cooler. And, in perhaps the most tragic case of all, many of the captive joke peddlers just happened to be making enquiries about shoes, unaware that the footwear factory was a front for forced labour/laboured gags. Most of these unfortunates had long lost the will to rebel or resist. But for one year, when, led by a retired office manager from Dorset, there was mutiny. The dissidents took to writing willfully obscure non-sequiturs instead of gags. Such as “Why did the chicken cross the road? To shoehorn a bowl of kittens.” Others preferred a more politicised protest penning firebrand lines such as “What’s black, white and red all over? The dogmatic dialectic of the bourgeoisloving class traitor.”
Their protests were tragically counter-productive. Batches of crackers featuring the anti-jokes proved to be more popular than the usual crop of puns and groaners. One actually featured on a Noel Edmonds Christmas Special. The gangmasters demanded double the amount of (now profitable) anti-jokes as punishment. This vile trade would still be with us to this day were it not for the courageous and heroic actions of a young sub-editor at Playboy called Larry Draxler.
Cracker gang exposé
The dissidents took to writing nonsequiturs instead of gags. Such as – Why did the chicken cross the road? To shoehorn a bowl of kittens.
When the cracker gang article was filed back in 1983, porn kingpin Hugh Hefner took issue and refused to countenance its publication. He wanted it pulled. It’s never been established why. Although some believe he objected to his ‘bunch of crackers’ being sullied by another less exuberant bunch of crackers. We shall never know. What we do know is this. Larry Draxler’s mother had been severely injured by a faulty party hat from a rogue Christmas cracker. It had dislocated her beehive and Draxler vowed to gain revenge. So when the instruction came to spike the cracker gang exposé he refused. It cost him his job. But it proved to be decisive. Within hours of hitting the top shelves, police stormed the cracker joke compound. Some commentators thought that heavy-handed, believing a simple ‘knock knock’ would have sufficed. Dissenting voices were few when the full story emerged. In a symbolic and cathartic act, the shoe factory cum cracker sweatshop was pulled apart by two cranes – one at either side. It is now an outdoor swimming pool. Which given Swindon’s less than tropical climes, is something of a bad joke. Plus ça change. ■ *This free-range pun is in no way connected to Christmas cracker sweatshops.
Pen Portrait from the Port
Tiny Geoffrey Boycotts Chris Hill
Daniel Gray breaks free of his historian’s shackles
ome to York, where I grew up (well, older). There, the Minster stood grandly as places that cost £8 to enter should. At the ancient marketplace, men called Gaz sold multipacks of pegs to women called Denise and the fishmonger told people to cheer up as it might never happen. I walked through the Farmers’ Market, picking up a burly offal-faced dairy specialist named Colin for £107.50 as I passed, pressed on via Whipmawhopmagate (take that, spellchecker you halfwit!) and settled for a pint in The Blue Bell. The Blue Bell is a pub of magnificence. In room one, men that have known each other since Roman times sip and fail to speak. Their faces are so rigorously Yorkshire that if you look hard enough in their wrinkles you can see tiny Geoffrey Boycotts pushing Wensleydale cheese downhill in a steel bathtub. In room two, baffled tourists, sent there by their Rough Guides, wonder if you really do have to order your poison through a hatch. Of course you do. This is Yorkshire. Full frontal service is frowned upon. I settled by the front bar and tried to look like my choice of real ale was informed by wisdom and not the shiny picture of a dragon on the hand pump. Accompanying the pint with Scampi Fries beside an open fire that threatened to melt one side of my face, all was well in the world. Then a man wearing a cravat walked in. Behind a thin beard, I could pick out a chap in his early 50s. His tweed jacket smelt slightly of fetid dog, his conversation of dormant fascism. “Yes,” he would say to anyone who wasn’t listening, “I’ve just been to a civilised country where they actually let you smoke in bars.” Wearily going through the motions like a cruise ship comedian 32 years into the same routine, the barwoman was the unlucky person obliged to reply. “Oh yeah? Where was that then?” “Belgium. That’s a proper country. None of this PC nonsense.” Because, of course, it’s Politically Correct not to want lung cancer via passive smoking,
wheelchairs to sell for scrap and the obese to sell parts of their flubber for cat food before it gets any better. Then, and only then, can Davina McCall reveal the truth in an altogether shouty manner.
Red Flag for Refs
Given their strike the other week, it’s comforting to imagine what a picket line of Scottish referees would look like. Firstly, they’d all be in garish full kit, occasionally stopping to jokingly book one another for knocking over the stack of foam teacups. Officials would be scrawling tiny slogans into their books, causing cars to drive dangerously close as they strained to read the words ‘Honk if you support our claim to not get shouted at in the face by Neil Lennon as defined by the Human Rights Act 1998’. Around a barrel of fire, Dougie McDonald and Willie Collum would stand rubbing their hands together and occasionally blowing for imaginary free-kicks or sending bypassing pram-pushing mothers to the stands. I am concerned about the impact on tonight’s Stramash book launch, of course. I’ve already had a number of call-offs and am hoping the SFA have plans to send in a group of mystery foreign guests. But would that make me a scab? Nothing is certain any more. Pass me the fingerless gloves, Dougie.
Madness of lunch at 12 The snow Mr. Daniel Gray can’t quite write about
I didn’t say; the Scampi Fries were all gone and it was time to get Colin the farmer home.
Jug faced Cameron
As baby-faced Toby Jug David Cameron hones in on society’s most vulnerable, I’ve been wondering just how far he can go. Each week, there’s a fresh policy to terrorise a new group weaker than the last. Realistically, this can only go on until he levies a stealth tax on pigeons for relying on the food crumbs of hardworking families. There is every chance this is all actually a reality TV show where ‘the government’ push things as far as they possibly can. Expect the impoverished blind to burn their sticks for warmth, the disabled to smelt their
As the deadline for this humble rag lapsed before the recent snow deluge, I can’t really write about it. I can’t write about how, despite nauseatingly in-depth coverage, the world’s media missed the real story: that of my working from home routine being disturbed by the snow-bound presence of Mrs Pen Portraits. I can’t write how she singularly failed to realise that I have my newspaper and banana break at 10.30am and scattered her real-job detritus all over my regular resting perch. Nor can I mention how much her failure to see the genius of Homes Under the Hammer perturbed me. As for the madness of having lunch at 12pm? Bring on the melting, I’d say, if I could. ■ ÊÊInfo: Stramash, £9.99 etc. Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 7
Carine provides perfect antidote to editor’s Christmas humbug W
hy is everyone so surprised when it snows? Hint: it’s December, and it’s Scotland. Is it really so baffling? Apparently so. Despite the fact that we were knee-deep in snow this time last year and all indications suggested we’d have the same again, everyone is dumbstruck. And subsequently, completely unprepared. Once again, there’s no grit for the roads, schools are closed and people are to avoid leaving their homes. REALLY? It’s not bloody Siberia people. Perspective? It’s a wee bit of snow. People who live in sub-zero temperatures must be laughing their asses off at us. I LOVE snow. Even with a broken boiler and no central heating (the parts need to come from Italy which, I’ve been told, could take over a week because of the snow…) it’s so achingly beautiful outside I can’t help but love it. Suddenly it feels like Christmas, which means it’s officially ok to buy a tree even though the month isn’t even into double figures yet. I’ve already started studding oranges with cloves and tomorrow I’ve got a friend coming round to listen to the Rat Pack Christmas CD and bake Christmas cake. I can barely contain my excitement. I’m obsessed with the scent of wintery spices like cinnamon and cloves, mingled with freshly peeled clementines and warmed red wine A sure fire way to ensure your home smells like Christmas is to make some cinnamon cold treatment. I recently attended an event hosted by Napiers
Carine’s been to a herbalist with the result that The Leither has been tangoed
Herbalists and Real Foods where the topic of the day was Kitchen Cupboard Remedies. Herbalist Dee Atkinson demonstrated how to make simple and effective remedies from every day food items and this recipe was my favourite. Cinnamon has antiseptic properties, and has been used for centuries as a way of stopping flu attacks in their tracks. It is recommended to start the treatment within two to five hours of the start of symptoms.
Food Glorious Food
Even with a broken boiler and no central heating it’s so achingly beautiful outside I can’t help but love it
o we’re into December and already I can’t stop eating. I promised myself today would be day one of my healthy eating plan. So far I’ve had broccoli and Stilton soup, and eight chocolate biscuits. Hmmm. An excellent start. Perhaps this is the wrong time of year to impose healthy eating restrictions. However, I do think it’s important to remember some moderation day to day so that when you do indulge you can do so without feeling quite so guilty. I try and up my fruit, vegetable and water intake to counterbalance the rich celebration
8 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
food I can’t resist, and if I’m home alone I’ll opt for lean fish or white meat, choosing wholefoods such as brown rice to help cleanse my system. Japanese food tends to be flavoursome whilst light, and I often reach for a cup of miso if I’ve over-indulged the night before and I need to replenish my body’s salt. Ramen is perfect nourishing food and beyond simple to make – noodles, vegetables and meat or fish in a nutritious broth. Broughton Deli on Barony Street does a very good one and they’re now open until 9pm – perfect if you can’t be bothered to make it yourself.
Good Soup For A Bad Day
Makes one cup Half a large cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, Large glass of water, Honey to taste, Squeeze of lemon
Place the water, cinnamon and cloves in a pan, bring to the boil and boil for three minutes with the lid on. Switch off the heat and infuse for 20 minutes. Add honey and lemon to taste and strain into a cup. Take at the first sign of a cold. Heaven.
This month I’ve been mainly…
planning the perfect Christmas presents, obsessing over tree decorations, making herbal potions, waiting patiently for my fleecy welly liners to arrive so my feet can stop FREEZING, looking forward to opening my bottle of Heartlands Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (thanks for the heads up Villeneuve), avoiding X Factor, wondering how long I can get away without having my hair cut, trying desperately to get my head around numbers, sniffing cinnamon, layering wool, remembering that my cosy wee flat is at it’s best during the winter months, trying to source the perfect sixpence, wishing you all a Merry Christmas. ■
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Electric Man Redux R
egular readers of this august journal may remember an article in last year’s December issue about a proposed low budget superhero comedy movie called Electric Man, which it was hoped would begin shooting in early 2010. Well, we all know about God and plans, and if you don’t, try making some plans and sit back and watch God. Is he laughing yet? So, what’s happened since last year? Director and co-writer David Barras takes up the story.
A kick up the bahookie
In 2009, I was sitting in the audience at the Edinburgh Film Festival listening to Shane Meadows (This is England, Dead Man’s Shoes) talk about how he’d just made a feature for £50,000 and encouraging would be film-makers to get off their arses and do it. It was the proverbial kick up the bahookie I needed; a call to arms. I phoned my friend Scott Mackay and told him my plans – the script I wanted to make was originally written by Scott in the mid 90s, we’d re-worked it together and sent it off to several people. After some mild praise, a bit of development and some failed pitches, the project went on the back burner as we both moved on to different things. Originally, the script concerned a missing copy of Action Comics issue 1 (the first appearance of Superman), the most valuable comic in the world and what happens when it pitches up in an Edinburgh comic shop where the two owners are desperately in need of cash. We described it as Clerks meets The Maltese Falcon. I was pretty sure Scott wouldn’t want to be bothered by such a crazed scheme. Raising a budget and making a film with no backing from any studio or TV company is pure madness. I was wrong. Scott relishes such craziness. I then phoned a producer friend of mine, Ellen Raissa Jackson who also said yes; soon after we 10 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
secured the services of cameraman par excellence Rich Steel and we were off. But first we had to update and rewrite the script to include more modern references and lose that Superman comic, it could have proved tricky to get permission to use it and cost us a lot of time and money… So was born Electric Man! “Electric Man? Whit does he do, read the meter?” “Electric Man? My wife’s got one of those.” Ah, the wit of the general public never ceases to amaze. Electric Man is not a meter reader or a marital aid but a new (and for new, read old) superhero, who’ll be debuting on cinema screens next year. The film, however, is not your average superhero flick. Made on an astoundingly low budget, it still features the original plotline but with Electric Man at it’s centre.
Main actors clockwise from top left: Jennifer Ewing, Toby Manley, Mark McCurdy, Fish and Mark Kobine and repeats thereof
Money makes the (film) world go round Trying to raise money to make a film in the middle of an economic apocalypse proved to be a bit trickier than we envisaged. Ever optimistic however, we started to gather the forces together that would eventually coalesce into team Electric Man, a crack squad of freelancers, friends and acquaintances willing to work for very little short-term reward. A main cast of six performers meant we were not dealing with a cast of thousands or a wage bill of thousands either. Aside from comic shop owners Jazz and Wolf, we needed to find Lauren McCall, the femme fatale of the piece, Uncle Jimmy, the murderous brother of the comic’s true owner, Edison Bolt, an obsessive American comic collector and Victoria, ex girlfriend of Wolf. Director of Photography Richard Steel suggested a young American actress named Jennifer Ewing whose father he
Electric Man is not a meter reader or a marital aid but a new (and for new, read old) superhero
knew. She sent an audition tape across and won us over with her obvious love of comic books and her enthusiasm for the script. Next up, Uncle Jimmy required an imposing figure. A brainwave threw up Fish’s name and after a carefully worded letter and a brief meeting we had our man. Wolf, co-owner of the comic shop and comedy sidekick to main character Jazz was found at open auditions as was his on screen girlfriend Victoria. In the meantime, a raft of investors both small, medium and large had come on board, allowing us to schedule the shoot for September 2010. This left us Edison Bolt and Jazz, our main character. By this time, we’d run an event for interested investors and amazingly managed to scare up the budget for the film. A chance meeting at the Edinburgh Film Festival with Mark McDonnell who I’d worked with in the past solved the problem of who would play Edison Bolt. Now we just needed our hero. Two weeks before shooting was scheduled to begin we found Toby Manley. You’ve probably seen Toby on BBC 2, hiding in a big wooden cutout of the channels logo in one of those bizarre idents the BBC loves so much. Come September, with the cast and crew in place, we boldly went where no low budget film has gone before – into a grungy comic shop in the Grassmarket where we spent a great deal of the shoot. Other locations include Princes Street Gardens, the Hibs club (doubling as a Glasgow boozer), Leith Academy (doubling as a Police Station) Bristo Hall (scene of a comic convention) and King’s Stables Road, where a member of the Clan stunt cycle team gamely hopped his bike onto a truck’s bonnet for several
The orginal Electric Man comic available on ebay for bloody fortunes
takes, with only the truck coming out of it with any injury. As befits a comedy drama, the three week shoot was good-natured and highspirited even when filming in peeing rain on increasingly cold days. Everyone was there for the right reasons. We’re deep into post-production now, editing a rough cut to send to South by South West Film Festival (Austin, March) and targeting Tribeca (New York, May) and Edinburgh (June). After that, we’ll hope to get picked up by a distributor and see what happens. We’re still fundraising to complete the film and if you’re interested please check out our website (below) where you can donate some money linked to various packages or simply buy a t-shirt to support us. You can also keep track of our progress, read more about the film and watch our selection of video interviews and promo material. ■ ÊÊInfo: www.electricmanmovie.com Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 11
Adam Smart with The Leither’s best (and worst) Films of the Year The Road January
arrying with it a fire to re-ignite a genre that has long lost its spark, The Road warns audiences that humanity has more plausible terrors to be afraid of in the post-apocalyptic wastelands of civilization than the threat of Zombies or Aliens. This terrifying road-movie succeeds in generating a more believable doomsday scenario of dread than recent additions to the genre, such as The Book of Eli or Daybreakers. Blending disturbing scenes of violence, psychological torment and the constant fear of cannibalism, it focuses on the relationship between Man (a superb Viggo Mortensen) and Boy (Kodi Smit-Mcphee), as they struggle to survive off the scraps of a dying world. John Hillcoat adapts Cormac McCarthy’s elegy to his son into a miniature masterpiece that was criminally deprived of Oscar recognition. Crafted with passion and intelligence this is a difficult film to watch, but all the more impressive and rewarding for it.
I Love You Phillip Morris March
utrageous is an underestimation when referring to Jim Carrey’s most recent blackcomedy gem. Jaw-droppingly crude and stroke-inducingly funny, there are a myriad of moments where you will not believe the profanities and situations that arise. Carrey gives yet another under-rated performance as real-life con man Steven Russell, supported by an equally wonderful Ewan McGregor as his love interest who is the Phillip of the title. As well as being hysterical, this is also a very touching love story. Containing proper adult humour and with two excellent performances by its leading men, I Love You Phillip Morris is the year’s best comedy. Hopefully the future will see Carrey staying away from the generic Hollywood machine and participating in more projects of this quality.
City of Life and Death April
his historic epic is a mesmerizing and unforgettable account of the mass rape and murder of 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers during the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanking. A visceral assault on the emotions this is an extremely difficult film to endure due to the atrocities committed on screen. Yet, at the same time it is a stunning work of art thanks to cinematographer Yu Cao, as he
12 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
Joseph GordonLevitt does his Fred Astaire impersonation
turns devastating acts of brutality into shots of cinematic beauty. Far superior to Schindler’s List, director Chuan Lu’s third feature is a truly important piece of cinema and a testament to the human spirit.
character driven crime-thriller that deserves to be recognised alongside modern heavyweight classics such as Heat and The Departed.
nception is directed by the genius that gave us The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan. I do not feel I really need to say any more on the matter: just sit back and enjoy the year’s most innovative and imaginative blockbuster.
The Town September
I would have happily paid the ticket clerk £6.75 to come out from behind her booth and kick me square in the testicles
en Affleck’s second outing in the director’s chair contains exciting action set-pieces, excellent performances and a brilliant, if slightly unoriginal story, making this one of the year’s most enjoyable films. As well as returning to writing and directing duties, Affleck makes a return to acting as well; for too long his ability in front of the camera has been unfairly panned and here he proves he still has what it takes to be the leading man. Also starring The Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, at first glance one might think this would be nothing more than a testosterone fuelled heist movie. In fact this is a very powerful and
… And the Worst Film of the Year Alice in Wonderland March
ver-hyped, unimaginative, unoriginal, shockingly acted, coma-inducingly boring; in all honesty, rather than watch this movie I would have happily paid the Vue ticket clerk £6.75 to come out from behind her booth and kick me square in the testicles. Alice looks like a gothed up crack-whore; Johnny Depp’s performance is weird even by his standards; the CGI is far too primitive for the $200million budget; Danny Elfman’s score is what hell must sound like; and Tim Burton really needs to stop casting his wife in every bloody film he makes to prove to the world he is getting laid.108 minutes of my life I will never get back. ■
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Darling… Guess whose coming to dinner? A
t this time of year, with our countryside under an averaged sized erection of snow and Jack Frost nibbling at our toes, it’s difficult to keep your mind focused on the activities of local cricketing heroes Leith Beige – so let’s not bother. Nor do we really have to concern ourselves about our brave lads over in Oz battling for The Ashes – I’ll be watching most of it though - mainly because of a ‘stupid’ late night promise I made in London at a party to celebrate Piers Morgan’s engagement to himself. I told anybody that was a ‘true’ cricket fan that my abode was ‘open house’ any night that the antipodean test matches were on. Bad idea. As a result my home cinema/bunkhouse/microtheque front room has been host to Kelly & Jack Osbourne, Prince Naseem Hamed, Jim Watt, Lulu, Claire Grogan, Kelly Brook, Jedward and Sienna Miller – still the offer was made - so there’s been, drinking, dancing and much merriment. Good job I got Stolichnaya vodka as a late sponsor, though I think the real
Sepp Blatter has green lighted our musical tear-jerker about England’s failed World Cup bid, strangely he seems to have an awfully big budget
Sarah: Foreplay drinks
high point has probably been when Sharon Osbourne turned up but was told to ‘fuck off, trout’ at the front door. I was also a bit disgruntled when a clearly ‘worse for wear’ Gail and Tommy Sheridan turned up for the second day of the first test. They were let in for a while but it was a bit of a downer. Mind you, since then, things have been a lot more fun. The sound proofing in my converted cinema is fairly decent so I can head off for quality kip at any time and this allows guests to get up to pretty much what they want – lets face it – they are just celebs, but to pay for that quality of hospitality I have to get my column
Sir Alex: Drinks
for ‘The Leither’ in on time. Vodka may grow on trees – but ketamine, well, who knows? You’d think it was only found at the bottom of Chilean mines for the prices they’re asking these days. Still, Ashes aside, it’s where I’m going to spend Christmas dinner that comes to the fore. (Naturally, I’ve got lots of offers, an embarrassment of riches if you like, if we include Sir Cliff’s offer to go to Barbados.) Winters past have included The Battle of the Fergies – when HRH and The Black Eyed Peas singer were vying for my attendance along with Manchester United Coach Sir Alex. It may surprise readers, if indeed you’re still reading, but I ended up going along to Sir Alex’s… for a few stiff drinks with the red nosed one before heading round to Sarah’s for some upmarket foreplay, eventually spending the night with the curvaceous Pea – that’s not to knock Sarah she is a blinding bunk up – but sometimes you just have to move on. Then there was 2006 with Madge and Gwynie – but what with their personal rift and Madonna insisting that now all dinner guests must urinate on their own feet after every course – that’s
probably out for me. Frankly I just can’t be fucked. Back in the 90s Madge only insisted on foot urination when showering but I guess that Kabbalah is really starting to get a grip. You’ve got Sting there as well, very attentitive to his lovely wife Trudy but constantly playing footsy with me under the table. Worse to come though: their drambuie and mincemeat pie karaoke afterwards. Don’t ask. Just don’t ask. On a brighter note dear friend Michael (Winner) has offered but I’ve politely, though firmly, declined – I like Geraldine and Michael and I love their cross dressing themed Xmas luncheons but the Parkinsons will be there as well and between the four of them they’ll be asleep by nine (and not A.M. I can tell you). Still, I don’t know if I’ll even get back home in time for Christmas what with all the weather problems. I’m in the Italian Alps working on some unfinished business with George Michael and Sir Elton John – we are currently working on a project for Sepp Blatter and the F.I.F.A. organisation. They have hired
Fergal Sharkey: Close call
us with a view to extending George’s ‘Last Christmas’ video into a full-blown 90-minute musical tearjerker for the HBO network based on England’s 2018 World Cup bid. It would seem it’s already been given the green light. I’m not sure about the casting though – can Sir Geoffrey Boycott really play a determined, young, bitterly complaining David Beckham? Blatter seems to think so and, strangely, he seems to have an awfully big budget. Meanwhile keeps your hands deep down your pants and your eyes on the prize. ■ Yours, in love, at Christmas Leopold ‘Francis’ Simpson xx Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 15
ARC Colourprint ‘Advice is like snow - the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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16 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
the green pesto, add olive oil and juice o’ half lemon and add seasoning. Pull foil the gither and scrunch intae parcel. Dae same wi’ second fillet. Now pit oan baking tray and intae hot oven fir 15 mins. Remove fae oven and allow tae rest a bit… then unwrap yir wee treasure. Serve wi’ new tatties or rice. A right guid tightener! By the by mah mucker Luke Deekin’s wife is feart o’ the dark. At least she wis till she spied him naked the ither day… now she’s afraid o’ the light! ■ A guid Xmas and a bonnie New Year tae yis awe! The Laird ÊÊInfo: The Laird is doin’ the guid thing…get yir merchandise in memory o’ blues legend Tam White – The Gadgefather – at: www. zazzle.com/thelairdofleith
Pools Coupon Towns Author Daniel Gray explores the meaning of nowhere in his new book
hy on earth would a Yorkshireman want to write about Albion Rovers or Greenock Morton? When I were a lad, as all utterances by Yorkshiremen are legally obliged to begin, there was something exotic about names like Albion or Morton. I’d be in my dad’s car, listening to James Alexander Gordon whisper the results on the radio – ‘Queen of the South nil, St Mirren nil’ – and wonder where on earth these places were. They sounded impossibly far away, and of course many of them didn’t actually exist. Jonathan Meades called them ‘Pools coupon towns’ summing it up better than I could, the bastard. So after years of living up here, I’d still not lost that sense of wonder and thought it was about time to find out whether Albion really existed. On top of that, I was pig sick of football in England, a millionaires’ banquet, and here, where the Old Firm seemed to dominate like chain stores on high streets. By getting back to the roots of the game, where the players know the supporters and the grounds have tea cabins not corporate lounges, I’d try and remind myself what it was I loved about football in the first place. Yet half the book is not about football, but about the towns that host the teams. So a similar question – why would you want to write about Cumbernauld? Cumbernauld, a place with more slaggings off per square metre than Susan Boyle, it was all about why it was created, what had happened there and what it is now. There, you had a planned utopia, the future, even if it didn’t happen. That’s got to be interesting. Now, it’s like an abandoned sci-fi film set. What’s not to like? The same applied for all of the towns – what part had they played in the making of Scotland and the world? In each of them, something remarkable had happened, like the British state believing Cowdenbeath to be on the verge of Bolshevik revolution, Dumfries’ harrowing connection to the Holocaust or ‘Fighting Mac’ from Dingwall, one day the darling soldier of the British Empire, the next suicide in a Paris hotel room. Big things happened in small towns. On top of that, I wanted to try and work out what they actually did now. Places like Alloa, once an Infant Hercules, a beating heart; how did it look now the breweries and works had gone? Hopefully all these elements come to-
The ubiquitous, you guessed it, Dan Gray!
The fact he once got sent off for singing a George Benson song at a referee is the icing on the cake
gether, and I also hope the book is written in a completely accessible way, with the kind of disregard for footnotes that would have academics shuddering. It’s social history, just as football history is. Of the football history that’s in the book, what struck you most? With each old local newspaper I went through or person I interviewed, there were things to astonish and uplift me, which I hope do the same for readers. I loved some of the heroic characters I came across: Hyam Dimmer at Ayr, a giant contortionist of a winger in the 1930s; Wee Willie Crilley at Alloa, barely 5 foot but in 1922 the best forward in Scotland; then more recently Vic Kasule, one of the only black players in Scotland in the 1980s, so really a pioneer. The fact he once got sent off for singing a George Benson song at a referee is the icing on the cake. There were other things as well, like the incredible crowd violence erupting time and again from the 1880s onwards, much of it Sectarian. The impact of the wars was massive too. Most of all, there was the way in which these clubs were always the focal point of the wider town and its history, and often formed to reflect local circumstances (Morton by Temperance activists looking to get dock workers off the ale or
Cowdenbeath as an outlet for miners). As I travelled around I found that to be the case more than ever – town and team are intertwined. The accounts of your town and match visits are written with great humour and affection. Which moments stick out? I definitely have affection for the places I visited, both their pasts and what they are today. The book is unashamedly positive as I’m a bit tired of reading sneering books or watching depressing programmes about forgotten post-industrial towns. I particularly enjoyed the Arbroath Superloo. With certificates in frames for every award the public toilet world has to give, I entered with high expectations. The toilets were ok, but the highlight came when a bloke emerged from the cubicle, eye-balled me in the mirror and said: “Well, at 30p I wisnae just gonna have a pish, was I?” So did you manage to fall in love with football again? It was impossible not to. Those 12 towns and teams have a lot to answer for. ■ ÊÊInfo: Stramash: Tackling Scotland’s Towns and Teams (Luath Press) is available now priced £9.99. Make a Leith author happy this Christmas Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 17
FoodReview The Editor
Singing barmen & miracle chips
The Shore Bar and Restaurant 3 The Shore, Leith ( 0131 553 5080
have to declare a small interest where The Shore is concerned, I worked there once about, oh, twenty years ago, when it was owned by the wonderful Pip (Phillipa). She was at the tailend of that generation of restaurateurs who regarded running a restaurant as less a labour of (unrequited) love and more of a ripping hobbie. ‘Jolly hockey sticks’ and all that but rendered in a warm, all encompassing, Earth Mother way. She would stand by the stove and breast feed her latest baby, unperturbed, as pans spat hot oil and chefs fulminated and seethed as if they were entering hell naked impaled on a rhinoceros’s horn. Beatific, always, she asked me during one of her visits to our self-perpetuating Dante’s Inferno, “What is your favourite flower?” As I was dusting squid in cornflour at the time, and in truth not best placed for idle chat, I barked, “Cornflowers.” That afternoon she scoured Edinburgh and delivered the only bunch to be had to my flat. She was also the only person to sack me, delivering a valuable lesson in doing so… I was getting far to old to turn up 3 hours late for every Monday lunch shift after yet another speed-fuelled weekend of debauchery. That was Pip. A diamond. She and her children died in a car accident on their way home to the Borders and her husband soldiered on bravely for a few years, but I’ll be surprised if his heart was in it. Eventually he sold up to the admirable team from the Fishers group of restaurants. And that is where we are now.
Depp & Paradis
The old place hasn’t changed much in the intervening years, a good thing. Globe lights glimmer like burnished 18 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
moons, illuminating dark wood and blood red walls. In the restaurant, picture windows frame the low winter sun; crisp linen adds neutral tone, flowers vibrant colour. The whole would not be out of place on the left bank of Paris – think Sartre and Beauvoir or, if you prefer, Depp and Paradis. Bread & butter (remember butter?) and a jug of iced water (unasked) arrive in a trice – service here is absolutely immaculate – as do a big flavoured Handmade Shiraz and a pint of Tennents for your correspondent the philistine. Coal fires rustle and we stick our tongues out at the blizzarding snow, which from this cosy nest looks beautiful. We are slouched in the less formal bar area listening to the barman sing. Someone asks him if there is “any soup du jour?” He smiles, and nods. I would have been tempted to say, “not till tomorrow.” Starters arrive; French onion soup – here called ‘brown’ onion which is strange because it is recognisably the classic bistro staple – is perfect. Meltingly soft onions, a good stock and bubbling Gruyere cheese that welds itself to your chin. Ham hash cake, a giant puck of potato, greens and plenty of ham, comes with a perfectly judged egg atop and a coat of rich hollandaise.
Score: Just go Damage: £57
The speciality board offers fish pie, haddock in Deuchar’s batter, and a daily sausage ‘n’ mash. We plump for venison and root veg stew, which comes in an enormous cast iron casserole in the form of a cobbler, which is to say topped with savoury scones/doughboys. It is melt in the mouth comfort food lacking only seasoning. My bouillabaisse is not that dish, but that is to nitpick, what it is is a cracking North Atlantic fish stew. Fillets of hake, bass and arctic char rest on an island of peppery wilted spinach, all expertly cooked, surrounded by fat mussels and turned potatoes. The saf-
My bouillabaisse is not that dish, but that is to nitpick, what it is is a cracking North Atlantic fish stew
fron broth is served in a jug and proves to be more of a bisque than a consommé; nonetheless it has great depth of flavour. A portion of ‘miracle chips’; soft, crispy, fluffy and crunchy all at the same time (do they boil them first?) render us immoveable objects…ach well, more drink and a treacle tart. Which is fine, if slightly cloying – the last time I had this dish here it was a world-beater. The accompanying clotted cream ice cream lightens the dish and is as creamy as all those creams suggest. The barman is singing La Vie en Rose, above him serried ranks of wine reach to the roof, coffee machines grind and sputter, and people ask what time the music starts. Cocooned here against the weather, it is not actually hard to imagine oneself in that Parisian bistro with all those pompous philosophers…the only giveaway is the pint of Tennents lager in my red right hand. For shame. ■
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It’s not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me… Gordon Munro compares and contrasts the ‘Pool and Leith
rade, labour and the sea have always connected the ports of Liverpool and Leith. A recent return trip to Liverpool made me reflect on how much it had changed for the better compared to Leith. A lot had happened and, importantly, been built since I visited when it was the City of Culture in 2008. The sheer volume of people around Albert Dock was the first clue. Loads of tourists and locals were enjoying the ambience, architecture and attractions on offer. Strolling in Leith – strictly legal of course – is done around the Walk and Gt Junction Street. Our dock area has made commendable strides but it does not connect people as Albert Dock does to Liverpool 1. Traversing this route on Saturday and Sunday I was struck by the number of people walking in either direction. There is no real permeability in Leith Docks. You can walk from the Shore to Victoria Bridge but even before the recent roadworks the promenade to Ocean Terminal wasn’t exactly ‘pedestrian friendly’. Which is absurd.
Robb’s paint shed
To be fair there have been a couple of attempts to encourage pedestrians. The first is the Discover Leith navigation points that are dotted about the area. A sign at the old boundary between Leith and Edinburgh, City Limits Bar, encourages you to discover more about your surroundings. There is even a map with details of the other navigation points (all of which need a clean and an info refresh) each of which contain information on the immediate locale. Many of them have a small electricity unit nearby enabling them to be illuminated at night, making them a handy navigational tool on the way back from one of Leith’s many excellent hostelries. Surely the money can be found to do this? The other initiative is part of the Townscape Heritage project. As well as improving buildings such as Dr. Bell’s, the Gurdwara, Citadel, Victoria Boxing Club and the Hindu Mandir, the project aims to improve the pedestrian environment from the Kirkgate to the Shore. This has improved parts of the Kirkgate and the park at Tolbooth Wynd and will expand to include the Shore and Bernard Street. Markers should also be available for the whole route delineated by Antony Gormley’s ‘6 Times’ artwork on the
Princess Anne admiring the new memorial commemorating men and women of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who died in both World Wars
One marker could link the Gormley figure at Bonnington with the one at Ocean Terminal via the great local quotes on the walkway at Coalie Park
Water of Leith. One of these could link the figure at Bonnington with the one at Ocean Terminal via the great local quotes on the walkway at Coalie Park near the (very good) Water of Leith Bistro. You could then be led toward the magnificent new memorial for the Merchant Navy outside Malmaison before heading out on the difficult route from there to the final Gormley figure beside the old Robb’s paint shed on the north side of Ocean Terminal. I have walked this route and noticed, like my visit to his work ‘Another Place’ at Crosby Beach on the outskirts of Liverpool, that it is a tourist attraction in itself. This is where Liverpool’s lead could be adopted by Leith. The new Museum of Liverpool designed by Danish architects 3XN looks like it will be another stunning addition to the waterfront when it opens. It will record Liverpool’s history and add to the offer already given here by the Maritime Museum and the Tate. It was UK state funding which brought the Tate and the National Maritime to Liverpool. And that model could be used to build a Museum of Leith. The preferred site of campaigners is Custom House which is currently being used by National Museum of Scotland to store artefacts. Their publicly stated preference is to display, not store, these items. So it would need Scottish Government
funding to allow them to realise this aim. Thus freeing up Custom House to be turned into Leith’s own museum through the Tax Incremental Finance scheme – a Trust Fund could be set aside for running costs and maintenance so that the city is not burdened – adding to the offer on Edinburgh’s waterfront as well as stoking Scotland’s tourist industry.
Villages 1 & 2
However the real insight in Liverpool was the obvious one…the real attraction is the water itself – and I don’t just mean The Yellow Duck Marine Tour. Britannia is popular but it is passive and people are brought to Leith for it, not to linger longer. This needs to be addressed. The plaza in the outline plan for proposed villages 1 & 2 may do this but it does need to have a space for public expression, along with strolling for enjoyment not just consumption. Again the water here could be animated easily just by having a space for the Sea Cadets to practice their skills. The cadets in Dundee – another Forth Ports port – have a great space for this and it draws people, as does any visiting ship entering or leaving Leith. Natural. Low-cost. Doable. On leaving Liverpool I was impressed again with its liveliness, which in no small part reminded me of Leith, but also its progress. We need to catch up. ■ Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 21
22 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
WinterFitness Tracy Griffen
Water, The Elixir of Life
Dried out skin
For the esteemed Editor’s info; Tartex Vegetable pate is a yeast based pate that is very tasty on oatcakes and can be found in healthy food shops
I have a theory about not-feeling-thirsty and it goes like this: many moons ago when we were hunter-gatherers, we did not always have access to water (or 24hour supermarkets for that matter) and could only drink water when it was available. So when water was plentiful, we drank lots of it and were healthy. When water was scarce, the body stopped ‘feeling’ thirsty as a survival mechanism. It may be a load of old tosh, but that’s what I reckon. If you don’t drink much water, then you don’t get thirsty in the same way that someone who drinks a lot of water does. So it’s just a matter of getting into the habit of drinking more water, then you will get more thirsty, so it will become automatic. Hey Presto, an easy way to become healthier. Just look at someone’s skin and you can tell if they drink enough water or not. Water also assists the body in its metabolic processes. So drinking more water can help you burn calories more easily as it assists the actual process of burning calories. Nifty, eh? For this reason, it is best to sip water throughout the day,
ir, food and water – the things we need to live. Over the last two issues, we’ve examined breathing and eating. Now all we have left to cover is hydration, not typically a winter subject. It’s not as if we’re stranded in the desert with only sand to be seen and a cantankerous camel and empty hot water bottle for company. There’s water everywhere, why should we have to think about drinking the stuff? To quote from Wikipedia, Guyton’s Textbook of Medical Physiology states: the total amount of water in a man of average weight (70 kilos) is approximately 40 litres, averaging 57% of his total body weight. In a newborn infant, this may be as high as 75% of body weight, but it progressively decreases from birth to old age, most of the decrease occurring during the first 10 years of life. Also, obesity decreases the percentage of water in the body, sometimes to as low as 45%. We use water for everything from cushioning the body, to dissolving substances to circulate around the body, to removing toxins, keeping skin in good conditions and even lubricating eyeballs! It is not uncommon for people to get by not drinking water, or maybe only a glass or two a day. I know some people just don’t get thirsty.
rather than gulp a large amount at a time. Whilst the weather is cold outside, the temperature is often overly warm and dry inside (not so much a problem in drafty tenement flats, but in modern housing, offices and buses where the temperature is more tropical). Central heating dries out the skin, so in addition to using a good moisturiser, drinking loads of water will keep your festive complexion glowing. If cold water really isn’t your thing, try keeping a filter jug at room temperature, or even hot water (you can add lemon and honey too). Since we’re on the subject, my rule of thumb as to whether a drink counts as water is that it has to be noncaffeinated (as caffeine is a diuretic that flushes water out of your system), not a fizzy drink with artificial sweeteners and mainly comprising of… you guessed it, water. Easy ways to help you drink more water: ›› Have a glass of water beside the bed. ›› Drink a glass of water upon waking as your body will be dehydrated from sleeping. If you have a morning coffee, have it after your glass of water. ›› Keep a bottle of water at your desk,
and try to drink one bottle before lunch and one after. ›› For those on the go, carry a bottle of water with you. And remember to drink it, as it means your load will get lighter… ›› If you drink tea or coffee during the day, alternate with glasses of water. ›› Likewise, if you are indulging in some ethanol in the evening, rehydrate by alternating water with booze. ›› Use a filter jug and buy filters in bulk. Get a nice water bottle that can be washed or put in the dishwasher and fill it from the filter jug to carry around with you. Portable water without the waste. ›› If you run or power walk, get a donut shaped water bottle that is easy to carry. Thomson’s Sport at the top of Leith Walk (53 Elm Row, just down from Tattie Shaw’s) sells them for about £4. Salut! Cheers and Slainte! I’ll drink (water) to that. ■ ÊÊInfo: www.getfitandenjoyit.com Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 23
Three Musketeers & the Princess of Spain… Robert Day
… Is swashbuckling fun for real families, says Victoria Jones
here is something about the word ‘family’ which, when it attaches itself to a theatre production, has the capacity to make a prospective audience groan. All the more so at Christmas, when rational discerning liberals seem to forget their principles and descend into the titillatingly un-PC world of pantomime which would, at any other time of year, be branded something of a catastrophe – if only by me. As director Dominic Hill’s own introduction to Chris Hannan’s The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain – a co-production between the Traverse, the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry and the English Touring Theatre – acknowledges, a big, ‘family’ oriented show is not what most audiences would traditionally expect from the Traverse. But expecting the unexpected is a lot more fun. My experience of the Musketeers ranges from the campness of the 1973 Oliver Reed and Michael York film; through the canine reimagining that was Dogtanian; to the brilliant French cartoon dwarf that no one seems to remember but me: Albert the Fifth Musketeer. As all these unique incarnations prove, the brilliance of the characters and outlines created by Alexandre Dumas is their flexibility and the seemingly endless stream of scenarios in which we could potentially find them. To recreate the winding back-stories of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, D’Artagnan and the evil Cardinal would be a lengthy and arduous process. Instead, Hannan opted to take their spirit and situation into a brand new adventure, giving yet another new lease of life.
Dead dog swamp
The princess of Spain is ambushed on her way to marry the king of France. Inconveniently, she is also pregnant, and is forced to leave her baby in a basket to escape the bloodhounds set upon her by the cardinal. Then, the evil baby-eating Lord Mandible captures her daughter. D’Artagnan, in Paris to find his vocation and his heart, rounds up the Musketeers who are hiding from the cardinal, rescues the princess and defeats the hungry lord by affirming that love, and his love for his childhood 24 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
sweetheart and talented swordswoman Constance, is the most important thing on earth. Visually, the production, with set and costume design by Colin Richmond, is stunning. Giant puppets and characters on stilts play with our sense of scale and bring a genuine sense of magic. Skeletal bird puppets are frighteningly hypnotic, and though it’s comforting to see the actors providing their squawking voices on stage, amazingly this does nothing to break their spell. Perhaps it’s just my love for classic 1980s fantastical of the Dark Crystal and Never Ending Story genre, but I had fun drawing parallels with Labyrinth – stolen babies, giant puppets, bird-like masks and a Dead Dog Swamp à la the Bog of Eternal Stench. Screw up your eyes and you could half imagine, if you wanted, that the tight-trousered womaniser Aramis, played by Cliff Burnett, is David Bowie. The genius of the Three Musketeers is that it’s good clean fun in a manner that isn’t always clean. Hearing the princess of Spain say “shiiiiit” is a bit like the first time you’re allowed to stay up late and watch the sweary bits on TV. We also get some brilliantly choreographed sword fights, some PGcertifiable snogging, liberated women
Seb Morgan, Mark Jax and Paul Trussell
demanding sex and a very realistic looking jobby. Unless your parents were true, card-carrying lefties, it may seem a bit shocking, but it is precisely the lack of sugar-coating that makes this show, despite its somewhat marathon duration of over two hours, so truly engaging.
King changes nappy
Screw up your eyes and you could half imagine, if you wanted, that the tighttrousered womaniser Aramis, played by Cliff Burnett, is David Bowie
It is as though Hannan’s script and Hill’s production have captured the true sense of what it is to be a ‘family’. The princess can still be queen of France despite having another man’s baby, lovers swear and fight and cheat and the king may be ostentatious, but he can still change a nappy. And all of this chaos takes place within a carefully crafted script and slickly organised set that manages to tell its story cleanly (apart from the jobby) and cleverly, with plenty of hilarity but without unnecessary embellishment. Whether you’re young, old, prudish or vulgar; buckle your swashes and go see. ■ ÊÊInfo: The Three Musketeers & the Princess of Spain Traverse until 24 December, times and prices vary To book visit www.traverse.co.uk or 0131 228 1404
Gambling on our children’s future health Stephanie Malcolm believes Michael Gove’s swingeing cuts will cause irreparable damage
he classrooms of every state school in the UK resonated with a chorus of sighs and expressions of relief this week as Michael Gove delivered the news that his government intends to cut £162 million from physical education funding in schools. Hurrah! Say the unwilling Scottish contingent of Xbox loyalists grateful to Gove for handing them a plate of deep fried triumph. They are off the hook, left to further indulge in an apathetic existence that’ll continue to contribute generously to Scotland’s poor health statistics adding to the 1 in 5 Scots declared obese in the academic year 2004-05. This, a predictably hot topic, has already garnered a mix of fervent objection and creative appreciation from within ministerial ranks. Gove’s move is made all the more edgy as he pits himself in the ring against Britain’s PE teachers and sporty types. For those unlucky enough to have experienced the militaristic wrath of a track suited tyrant during cross country practice on the coldest and wettest morning of the year shall astutely recall the real meaning of pain. A bitter memory best left in the past but an equally valuable one at that. PE lessons set and maintain valuable physical standards that are vital in later life. Establishing physical capabilities at a young age gauges the level to which we should be gearing an active lifestyle. In a country
English in school was a complicated but mostly positive one; I enjoyed literary studies but grammar was a no go. My real academic beef lay solely with maths. No kind of effort or faith could salvage even a glimmer of hope from our messy classroom dealings. Trigonometry served only the purpose of haunting myself and my classmates in our less than exceptional, ability-determined maths set and Pythagoras, like an ever keen suitor, kept reappearing at the most inconvenient of times; thanks but no thanks.
where the issue of obesity is reaching crisis point and apathy’s chokehold on today’s youth becomes ever tighter it is ludicrous to sideline those who may not be ‘Olympic material’ lending them instead the opportunity to, well, cheer? It may not be a surprise, given Scotland’s record of poor health amongst its European neighbours, that PE is not compulsory. Schools are instead expected to fulfil a two-hour target of sport each week set out (and soon to be scrapped) by the SNP. If Gove were to review the statistics would Scotland not stand as a blaringly obvious reason not to impose draconian cuts to investment in PE? Instead of investing in the athletic elite which is more akin to sports coaching.
Axe wielding rampage
Loathed partners in crime
If Gove’s concerns are in conditioning future Olympians before London 2012 he may wish to leave it to the country’s many sports centres where first class training is assured. He maintains that participation in extra curricular sport will not waver and those who want to participate, will participate. But many pupils don’t share the desire to swing a hockey stick round a pitch or indulge in testosterone fuelled rugby training, this should not however disqualify them from receiving PE nor does it justify the dismissal of valuable learning practices. PE may be the awkward foreign counterpart on the school’s curriculum that is enjoyed by some, disdained by most, but it is not so foreign that the age-old question, ‘what am I actually going to use this for once I leave school?’ doesn’t apply. Thus aligning the subject with the traditional and ever loathed partners in crime: maths and English. My relationship with
It may not be a surprise, given Scotland’s record of poor health compared to its European neighbours that PE is not compulsory
True to the above golden logic of any fifteen year old, I have never used trigonometry since my school years and never crossed paths with Pythagoras since our fleetingly awkward moment on the Standard Grade maths paper. But somewhere amid all that mental torment I managed to salvage the basics of how to go about solving a problem in stages, or even logically. The same applies to PE, after leaving school I did not find a good use for my ability to execute a decent layup, nor did I muster the motivation to beat my personal best in the 800 metres. What I did learn was the value of teamwork and that if I put the physical effort in, my body would respond and the activity would become easier. No matter how spectacularly rubbish my classmates or myself were at synchronised swimming or graceless in gymnastics, we still reaped the rewards for physical exertion however they disguised themselves. If Gove continues his rampage of axe wielding cuts whilst substituting what’s lost with superficial grandiose affairs, the real concern is not in fulfilling our two hours but in what comes next. ■ Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 25
£12.50 for two courses £16.00 for three courses
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Home thoughts from abroad
Office Christmas party? I think not says An Englishman in Leith I
pull my scarf up higher, the Edinburgh wind is more biting than usual, my ears and toes are numb, whose idea was it to leave Leith and head into the city? Cursing, I see my destination and the welcoming light of the hostelry, I push the door open and plunge into its warmth – further cursing the fact that I haven’t worn my contact lenses as my glasses immediately steam up rendering me blind. I stand motionless as my ears are assaulted by the shrill laughter and high-pitched shrieks that pass for conversation. Suddenly the piece of floor I am standing on acts as a magnet for drunken revellers who all decide to join me on that exact spot. Drinks spill on me, shoulders barge me and beery breath and spittle assault my senses. Every year I promise myself I will avoid town in December, every year I break my promise and every year I rue my stupidity as the part-time drinkers who appear at this time of year laugh hysterically whilst indulging in one too many alcopops. This year I vow to listen to myself because this year is likely to see an increase in pub revelries, following reports in the papers that many companies are cutting back on Christmas parties. The cut backs are hitting all sectors including financial institutions such as Standard Life, Aegon and Scottish Enterprise. Once upon a time it was not uncommon for companies to spend up to £450 per employee, the Scotsman reported on the halcyon days when Honda spent £100,000 on a three-course meal and drinks for staff. Meanwhile Saatchi & Saatchi spent £85,000 turning its car park into a fun fair with merry-go-rounds, whilst city brokers Inter Capital hosted a party at the Gibson Hall in London and decked it out in Grand Imperial style with a lavish Russian banquet. Now that austerity measures are biting – with of course the honourable exception of banker’s pay and bonuses – companies are urging staff to organise and pay for their own parties. The upshot of this will be more drunks in pubs and less hidden in hotel function rooms, so you’ve been warned!
Ageing DJ crying
I have always tried to avoid works Christmas parties, never having worked for a blue chip company that liked to spoil its workers by renting a castle and turning it into a winter wonderland. My experience has mostly been of mass produced food in a soulless function room, small talk with people you have little in common with, followed by a
The opening strains of Simply the Best fill our correspondent with dread
My business Xmas parties always ended the same way, a drunken employee telling me exactly how crap me and my company were
disco, made up of music that hits the lowest common denominator. A balding and aged DJ crying, “Whose for Abba?” And If I hear Simply the Best once more I may commit murder! You’d think no other music had been written in the last 40 years! The playlists are compiled by DJs who tramp from Uncle Jimmy’s 50th birthday party to Auntie Maureen’s golden wedding, before descending like a Dementor from a Harry Potter film on the Christmas party circuit. They suck the very lifeblood from you inflicting an unchanging playlist that transports you to Groundhog Day. Of course you promised you would behave, that you wouldn’t drink, but there is no way out, you are trapped in this nightmare soundtrack of crushing mediocrity. Sometimes I allow myself to drift off into some parallel universe, where DJs actually like music, Fat Boy Slim might be followed by Kings of Leon or REM before the DJ retires to the bar having put on Motown Gold and the dance floor reverberates to the sounds of Martha & the Vandella’s, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson. He would slow the
mood down with a bit of Louis Armstrong before blasting us into the night with Motorhead, to make sure that people remember music should be in your face and challenging. But no, it’s ‘Hi Ho bloody Silver Lining again! Where’s my gun? When I ran my own business the results weren’t much better, we would work creatively to try something different – we even attended the greyhound racing one year. Not exactly Ascot I grant you, but at least we tried. However they always ended in the same way, a drunken employee taking the chance to tell you exactly how crap you and the company are, how they have the answers to everything and that whilst the party was a nice idea, ultimately you are a capitalist bastard who doesn’t care! Our esteemed editor managed to avoid this last year by cravenly deciding that The Leither Christmas party would be better held in February and then he quietly forgot about it! To misquote The Hollies (and to be honest they should be misquoted given the rank musical offerings they have inflicted upon us over the years!) He ain’t stupid, he’s my Editor! ■ Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 27
Boda Bar 229 Leith Walk 0131 553 5900 Rocktail Thursdays, Meze Fridays and Soul Sundays. 13 Dec: Lucia Celebrations ( Sofi’s, Joseph Pearce’s and Victoria’s bars taking part too!)
highlight of the month
Brunton Theatre 0131 665 2240 Until 31 Dec: Mother Goose Carrier’s Quarters 42 Bernard Street Sun: 6.30pm Jammie Devils Dalriada 77 Promenade, Portobello 0131 454 4500 Thu: Quiz Night 8.30pm Fri & Sat: Live Music 9pm Sat & Sun: Live Music 3-6pm 31 Dec: Hogmany Party ticket only Elbow 133 East Claremont Street 0131 556 5662 Mon: Supper Club Tue: Pub Quiz at 8pm Fri: Live Music, 9pm Sun: Open Mic Night, 9pm December Photography Exhibition: Kerstin Gruenling “From Here to Eternity” Espy 62 Bath Street, Portobello 0131 669 0082 Tue: Stitch & Bitch (knitting circle) Fri: Live music 9.30pm Festival Theatre 0131 529 6000 9 Dec–8 Jan: The Secret Garden 12-15 Jan: The Scottish Ballet’s Cinderella Guilty Lily 284 Bonnington Road 0131 554 5824 Sunday Quiz Nite 8.30; Mad Mexican Mondays; Open Mic on last Friday of the month 8.30pm Iso Bar 7 Bernard Street 0131 467 8904 Wed: Quiz Night 8pm Sun: Open mic with Sylvain 5pm onwards Joseph Pearce’s Bar 23 Elm Row 0131 556 4140 Tue: Jogging Club 7pm-8pm 1st Monday of month: The Paintbrush and the Sewing Needle 7pm. Cinnamon Wednesdays and Sunday D.J. Leith Folk Club @ the Village South Fort Street 0131 478 7810 4 Dec: Bruce Molsky £10 11 Jan: Dick Gaughan £10 Nobles 44a Constitution Street 0131 629 7215 10 Dec: Peter Powderkeg Project 11 Dec: Electric Mud with dj’s Fuz n’ Lee 12 & 19 Dec: Doctor Ruby’s in Leith 17 Dec: Andy Tucker & the Scattered Family, Paul Gilbody, the Stormy Seas, Douglas Kay, Kat Healy 18 Dec: Collar Up, The Black Sea Sailors 31 Dec: Hogmany Party £15, Earl Gray & the 28 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
A-lad-in Leith: The Pantomime The Gate, Cruise Liner Terminal, Ocean Drive, Leith 15th-18th December @ 7.30pm (Saturday matinee 2pm) Gala Night 18th December £10
Tickets available…(Oh no they’re not!) Leith Festival Office 0131 555 4104 Molly’s Playcentre Ocean Terminal Leith Education Community Centre leithfestival.com ■
Loose Leaves Every Wed: Folk & World Music Night Every Thur: Acoustic Night
Sat 18: Matt Johnson 9-12pm Friday 31: Graeme E. Pearson 9-12:30 Every Thur: Quiz 9pm
Sofi’s Bar 65 Henderson Street 0131 555 7019 Monday Film Night 8pm Scot/ Swede Soc: last Monday of month Tue: Knitting Group 7.30pm Thu: Acoustic Open Mic Night with Sylvian The Shore Bar 0131 553 5080 Tue: Infinite Trio 9.30pm Wed: Folk Session 9.30pm Thu: The GT’s or Kevin Gore 9pm Sun: Jazz - Ellis & Kellock 2pm-5pm. Velvet Women’s Club Night @ the Speakeasy 36 Blair Street 11 Dec: A Girl’s Night Out! With DJ Jeremy 10.30-3am The Waterline 58 The Shore 0131 554 2425 Sat 11: Andrew Johnson 9-12pm
Concrete Wardrobe 50 Broughton Street 0131 558 7130 December Maker of the Month: Fiona McIntosh’s Tessuti and James Donald’s PickOne Out of the Blue Drill Hall 36 Dalmeny Street 0131 555 7100 outoftheblue.o rg.uk Weekly: drama, dance, yoga, martial arts, belly dancing, life drawing and aerial (phew!) Oh and kids art classes! 11 Dec: Xmas Bruncheon 11.30-3pm 11 & 18 Dec: Xmas Art Market 12 Dec: Miss Fitz-Poste’s Modern Mixers present Merry Kitschmas 5-9pm £12 dance, cabaret, games & treats 21 Dec-21 Jan: Wandelung 10-5pm Installation by Karl Sylvester & Vroni Holzmann The Scottish Storytelling Centre 43 High Street
What’sOn Sponsored by Chop Chop Leith 76 Commercial Street Commercial Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX Tel: 0131 553 1818 From 11 Dec: Exhibition by Edinburgh based Russian painter/designer, Maria Rudd. ‘Exile and Homecoming’ 17 Dec: Tales for a Winter Evening, 7pm 21 Dec: Storytelling Laureate, Taffy Thomas, ‘Christmas Tales’, 2.30pm & ‘Merry Christmas’, 7pm
Malcolm Chisholm 0131 558 8358 MSP for Edinburgh North & Leith. Advice surgeries every Saturday morning. Every Friday from 7 January 4pm at Stockbridge Library and 5pm at Constituency Office, 5 Croall Place Mark Lazarowicz 0131 557 0577 MP for Edinburgh North & Leith, regular advice surgeries for local residents every Friday Rob Munn Leith Ward SNP. Advice surgeries: 1st & 3rd Monday of month at Thomas Morton Hall 6pm. 2nd Wednesday of month at Hermitage Park Primary 6pm Gordon Munro Leith Ward Labour. Advice surgeries: 1st & 3rd Monday of each month at Leith Community Education Centre 6.30-7.15pm. 2nd Monday of each month at Fort Primary School 6.30-7.15pm. Last Saturday of each month at Lochend Y.W.C.A 12noon-1pm Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP Advice Surgeries: Every Monday at the Scottish Parliament 10am-12pm Margorie Thomas City Chambers. 0131 529 4988 Leith Ward Lib/Dem. Advice surgeries: 1st & 3rd Wed. of each month at Fort Community Wing 5.30-6pm and Leith Academy 6.30-7.30pm Deidre Brock Leith Walk Ward S.N.P. Advice surgeries: 1st & 3rd Wednesday of every month at McDonald Road Library 6pm and 2nd Friday (during term time) Leith Walk Primary School 12:30
Leith Community Centre Kinsfolk Carers drop-in support group. Thursday 10am-noon. Crèche & Café available 07990795635 Wed: 6.15/8.15pm: Senior Youth Club Thur: 3.30/5.30pm: (P5 to 7) Girl’s Club 4/5pm: Breakdance Class (technical) 5/6pm: Breakdance Class (routines) 4/4.45pm: Drum Kit tuition (P6,7) 5/5.45pm: Drum Kit Tuition (S1 to S6) 6/6.45pm: Drum Kit tuition (Adult) 4/5.30pm: Guitar and Bass tuition (P6,7) 5/6.30pm: Guitar and bass tuition (S1 to S6) 6.45/7.30pm: Guitar and Bass tuition (Adult) Fri: 1/2.30pm After school club (P5 to 7) 3/4.30pm: Sports Café (P7,S1,S2) 5/6.30pm: Boxing Training, Leith Victoria Gym (S1 to S6) Leith Library 28-30 Ferry Road 0131 529 5517 Tue: 4-5pm Under 13’s Computer Club Fri: 2.30pm Craft Time: (ages 4 to 11) For info on other clubs contact Leith Library. The WW1 Leith Roll of Honour that was exhibited in Leith Library at 2008-2009 is now available in page-turner format at lhsa.lib.ed.ac.uk/exhibits/Leith_ROH.htm South Leith Church Halls 6 Henderson Street 0131 554 2578 volunteeredinburgh.org.uk 11am Every Thursday, Find out about doing volunteer work in Leith. Perc U Up Café opening times: Mon to Fri 10am2pm Fairtrade goods for sale Ramsay Cornish 15 Jane Street. 0131 553 7000 Thu: 11am Traditional Lane Sale Sat: 11am General Household Auction.
he See t acht Y g n i c Ra dhound o o l B
Registered charity: SC028070
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All insurance work carried out. Free estimates. Mob. 07904 657899 Tel. 0131 555 2483 Email. email@example.com CREDIT CRUNCH DISCOUNT 10% OFF TO LEITHER READERS
Red for Heart February 2011 National Heart Month. Find out how you can get involved at bhf.org.uk/red ■
Louise Lang Leith Walk Ward Lib/Dem 0131 529 4019 Advice surgeries: 1st Monday of month at Broughton Primary School, 6pm and 1st Wedneday of month at Lorne Primary School, 6pm Community Village Store @ Out of the Blue 36 Dalmeny Sreet Every Saturday 10am-2pm. Local suppliers, producers and farmers. Tinker Tailor, craft people on hand to help mend those broken things. The Edinburgh Ethical Christmas Fair Princes Street and Castle Street 11 – 19 Dec
Full body: £15 Half body: £10 e: firstname.lastname@example.org Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 29
1 5 10 11 12 13 15 18 20 23 25 26 27 28
In panic lock son in and goes to work (6,2) Twist bet on precipitation (6) Miner doesn’t but pilot does have this (1,4,3,7) Frosty atmosphere, certainly not Hot Gossip (4,3) Fishing lure that salesmen back outside bar (7) Late? (6,2) Country nog knocked back with sailor aboard (5) Sticky stuff in spate, perhaps (5) Mints via broken essential substances (8) The turmoil of chaps in civil wrong (7) Card game, tin like, thanks! (7) Ascent otter ekes out, he doesn’t eat these (9,6) Left in hollow spy, fit (6) Forced devil the Spanish and the French dropped first (8)
New Years Eve at Malmaison Hotel, Edinburgh - £75 per person. Enjoy 3 courses plus a glass of Champagne on arrival. There will also be a bagpiper and a live DJ. Dress code: Dress to impress! Above available in our Hotel Brasserie and private function rooms – minimum numbers apply. Please speak to our events team on: 0131 468 5001
1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 14 16 17 19 21 22 24 25
Unknown element, article between churches (6) Burdens but still loves road strangely (9) Carries off goat asleep? (7) Smell blood our lady shed (5) Couple had high pitched sound outside broadcast (7) Like bird, ghostly (5) Device to lead bull, sadly no singer (4,4) Tree tit fanatic (8) What a strange to do, vine becomes dedicated (8) Good French, American and British, everyone needs to win lottery (5,4) Clean and definitely no acne (8) Mount first lady and others (7) Mammal reportedly ready to play golf (7) Drunk so aged badly without ship (6) Proportion of fixed allowance cut (5) Top part of nacre, a mother of pearl (5)
Supplied by: www.leithlinks.co.uk
A bottle of Malmaison house wine
answers: crossword 45
Patricia Landis, Easter Road
Email your answers to: email@example.com
1 Stupidly 5 Cobble 10 MarxismLeninism 11 Explain 12 Loiters 13 Underdog 15 Nurse
18 20 23 25 26
Tidal Saturate Utensil Manilla Magnifying glass 27 Resign 28: Headrest
down 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9
Summer Unripened Imitate Lemon Opinion Brine Enmeshed Red light
14 16 17 19 21 22 24 25
Displays Retaliate Strummer Lasting Reneged Basset Edges Mince
Enjoy the festive season at Malmaison, Celebration Menus available: Call 0131 468 5001 30 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 71
Leither in London Carrie Mitchell
A new perspective: considering things from a man’s point of view I
’ve just been given some pretty controversial man advice, and I’m not quite sure how to process it. According to my new love guru, Sam (more on him later), all the rules I’ve been religiously following for years are a load of old codswallop! Can this really be true? Lets see what you think. The conundrum was thus: Girl meets boy, girl falls for boy, boy seems to like girl but ‘doesn’t want to be in a relationship’, girl tries the casual thing but still wants more, boy stands his ground. What to do? The strategy I’d opted for - on the advice of pretty much every woman I know and every dating guide ever published - was to play hard to get. I’d called a halt to the booty calls and vowed only to see him if he should man up and take me on a date. A fairly obvious and effective approach, you might think. But it didn’t seem to be getting me very far.
I called a halt to the booty calls and vowed only to see him if he should man up and take me on a date
The Boy – Chris, if we must give him a name – initially seemed to respond well, agreeing that it was ridiculous that he’d only seen me fully dressed once and that he should indeed take me for a drink next time we arranged to meet up. But that ‘next time’ seemed to get further and further away. ‘How about Wednesday?’ I suggested. ‘I’m in Scotland,’ he responded, offering no alternative date. Okay so he’s just not into me then, I decided, promising myself that was the last time I’d get in
touch with him and deleting his number (for the umpteenth time). But then on Wednesday, the texts started. First, it was a friendly ‘I think I like Glasgow.’ Innocent enough so I sent a similarly innocuous reply and went to bed. But Chris wasn’t for letting me sleep. Every 15 minutes for the next two hours, he sent me increasing amounts of nonsense: ‘I miss you’. Oh really? ‘Are you still up? I want to talk.’ No. ‘I wish you were here.’ Yes, that’s because you’re hammered. ‘This hotel room’s not as nice as being in your bed.’ No, I’m sure it isn’t. Of course I didn’t actually send any of these replies – I did as any dating guru would advise, I ignored him. Now, if roles were reversed and Chris woke up to a series of drunken texts from me, I can safely assume that I would be deemed a psycho and relegated to the ex-file. But in this case, what did I do? Woke up, hugged my phone, and skipped off to work, gleeful with the proof that he really did like me. And what did Chris do? Acted like it hadn’t happened and went back to being just as slippery as he was before. Of course he did. That’s where my love guru stepped in. Sam’s a PR I met on a press trip a few months back, when Chris was initially causing a stir in my life. At the time, I was a little more optimistic about the situation but when Sam and I met up again, things between Chris and I were far from hopeful. I’d reached my limit
(again), deleted his number (again), and vowed it was over (again). As I explained the whole situation, I fully expected him to say what everyone else was saying – you’re wasting your time, you deserve better, walk away then he’ll realise what he’s missed. Instead, Sam sighed, shook his head, and with a wry smile told me I was getting it all SO wrong: “You’re playing it WAY too cool! What you don’t realise is that men like girls to be a little needy,” he announced. Eh, come again?!
“You have to stop deleting him. Text him – or call him even – whenever you want to. Tell him how you actually feel. And don’t wait for him to take you out. He clearly likes you and is just scared of the idea of a ‘date’. Keep pushing for that and he will run. Just go round to his place one night. From the sounds of things, he always comes to you. Why can’t you go to him? Why does it all have to be on his terms? You should behave however you want to behave, stop worrying about looking needy, breaking the ‘rules’, or some ill-conceived notion of ‘having the power’. Be soft. Be yourself. And stop taking advice from other single women. Evidently, they’re getting it all wrong too!” (Good point.) “Just try it my way for a while,” pleaded Sam. “What harm can it do?” Hmmm, what harm could it do? Lets give it a go and see... ■ Issue 71 | leithermagazine.com | 31
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