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Editor at Large
Mr Lovell finished 276th, just edging out a man running backwards dressed as a tractor and a newlywed bride wheeling her husband in a Lidl’s trolley
our editor lived up to the title of this column and was ‘at large’ last month. Snifters were plentiful and the crack was mighty as Jimmy Shepherd, rubbish domino player and popular pint puller at the Alan Breck Lounge Bar, handed over a cheque for 500 smackeroonies to two delightful staff from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at the aforementioned hostelry sometime in late December – due to festive revelries I can’t be more specific. Half the money was collected in a giant whisky bottle – by the simple expedient of refusing to give customers change or, in the case of part-time host (does one shift a year constitute part-time?) and fulltime grouch Derek, demanding money with menaces. The menaces names were Darren, Kevin, Gordon and Neil. In a neat twist, the pub was broken into the night before and some ne’er-do-wells made off with the bottle only to run into Leith’s finest (that’s the police to you), they scarpered, smashing the bottle as the Polis arrived, leaving £200 on the pavement. Handily the boys in blue were obliged to count the loot. Thus saving Mr. Shepherd the discomfort of contracting cramp in his calculator finger. Other monies were raised through various charity initiatives, including Mr Derek Lovell’s valiant attempt at a 10-kilometre run – in which he finished a creditable 276, just edging out a man running backwards dressed
Protempore our (only) man in the know, says the coalition government shall be torn asunder this year In the soothsaying month, Mr Montgomery predicts Prince William will bed the whole of the Isle of Man on his stag do
Jimmy show’s the girls his etchings
as a tractor and a newlywed bride who was wheeling her husband in a Lidl’s trolley. Afterwards he assured your correspondent that: “It was not about the winning but the taking part… after all, I am a Hibs fan.” In response, the girls from the SSPCA said: “We’d like to thank Mr Lovell for putting his life on the line for a few stray dugs.” Mrs Lovell – the real power behind the throne – singularly refused to comment. For the sake of balance, a Jambo from the Breck asked me if the Leither could publish notes taken from a blind tasting of a premium lager (brewed by Stewarts) to celebrate a 125 years at Tynecastle. We are happy to oblige Kevin: Scouse suggested, “It’s hoppy but not as smooth as the Dundee Utd Centenary ale.” Pat offered, “It lacks the bite of the Single Century Ale one gets in hospitality at Tannadice.” And Stuart said, “Where am I?” ■ ÊÊ Info: Donations www.scottishspca.org
David Barnes an, ahem, itinerant writer for this rag – and popular mine host of the Isobar – on his acclaimed rugby book
Alan Bett explores the vaulting ambitions of Werner Herzog. A man for whom the term ‘never knowingly undersold’ was invented
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Front cover: Illustration by Ian Kinghorn Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 3
Protempore Our correspondent dips his toes in the murky waters of 2011 A
nd so dear readers, another new year has finally arrived after a cold, harsh and as yet, unfinished winter. Normally at this time of year I would be dedicating this article to a forward look towards the arrival of the spring, crocuses on the Links and some respite from the long, dark months which are slowly receding into memory. However, a quick look at the New Year messages from our esteemed government at Westminster leads me to believe that this year will be one of disharmony, hardship and fear for those members of our community who are disadvantaged and vulnerable. In the grand tradition of saving the best until last, there may be a silver lining to this particular cloud but before that here’s what our Prime Minister said that we could look forward to in 2011. David Cameron has declared himself to be an optimist and believes that the decisions which the coalition government has already taken will prove to be right for the entire country and help to get Britain back on its feet. However, it’s pretty easy to be an optimist when you’re a multi-millionaire and every decision that you make has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the quality of your day-to-day life. Let’s look at a few examples.
£20,000 a week chalet
First of all, let’s look at the increase on VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent. This is a tax which the government would have you believe falls equally on every citizen. They consider it to be a progressive tax, that is, one which places the biggest burden on those most able to pay. A regressive tax does the opposite. So what is the actual impact of the increase in VAT? Well in very simple terms, a banker earning £100,000 a year will be able to cope with the rise fairly easily while a single mum earning 4 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 72
£10,000 will struggle. Now before you think that I’m being too simplistic or overtly socialist in my outlook, here’s what David Cameron said about the possibility of a rise in VAT before the general election last year: “It’s very regressive. It hits the poorest the hardest. It does, I absolutely promise you.” So Dave believes that it hits the poorest hardest and must have discussed this with his old Etonian chum, Gideon Osborne, our benign Chancellor, before hiking the rate up. So what does Osborne think about this inherent unfairness which has been heavily criticised by economic experts throughout the country? Well Gideon refuses to rule out further rises to VAT saying that the 20% rate is here to stay and that there may be further increases to come. But Gideon has made some promises with regard to tax – he’s already said that once he has some money to play with he’s going to reduce the top rate of income tax for the highest earners in the country. That seems fair doesn’t it? And of course, who can forget Gideon’s rallying call to the country that “we’re all in this together”? Mmm, I don’t think so. While the vast majority of people in the country were spending time working out how to juggle less money, Gideon was off skiing in Klosters in Switzerland, staying in a £20,000 a week chalet. No doubt he was having nightmares about the effect of another of his policies which is going to heap further misery on vulnerable citizens in the UK. Gideon plans to slash welfare payments for people who are disabled or too ill to work by £2.5 billion per year. Now I know that the Daily Mail readers amongst you will be spluttering and raging about scroungers who are cheating the system and who are not entitled to any benefits, so let’s put that it into perspective. The Government’s own estimates show that there are approximately 9,000 people
Pigticians illustration by Bernie Reid
currently claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) who may not be entitled to it. Fair enough, set up the system to assess those people and re-calculate their benefits accordingly. But the savings of £2.5 billion a year which the Government is determined to make mean that around 400,000 working age disabled adults will lose their DLA. Unfortunately, for the Colonel Blimps who read (and believe) the scaremongering nonsense in the Daily Mail, the figures don’t add up. Many disabled people who are perfectly entitled to benefits will become more disadvantaged and even impoverished by the Government’s plans.
Nick Clegg pariah
Unfortunately, for the Colonel Blimps who read (and believe) the scaremongering nonsense in the Daily Mail, the figures don’t add up
I did mention the possibility of a silver lining in all of this and here it is. The more socially conscious Liberal Democrats who form part of the coalition are becoming increasingly concerned at the nature and depth of the Government cuts. Increases to student tuition fees, the VAT rise, the disability living allowance cuts, the decision to ignore (once again) banker’s bonuses and a Government which is going to plough on regardless in spite of the unfairness of all of these policies, are starting to produce huge cracks in the coalition arrangement. As the sheen of being in government begins to wear off and with Nick Clegg slowly becoming a pariah in Lib Dem circles, my prediction is that the coalition government won’t survive a full term in office. 2011 will see massive demonstrations against the Government and could see it fall thereby bringing to a halt the Tory juggernaut which is only really interested in looking after those who can afford skiing holidays. ■ Protempore
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An annus possiblis Colin Montgomery kicks off 2011 with some entirely feasible predictions
ell, don’t know about you but last year was a stinker. A festering sore. A pup. In fact if it had been a dog I’d have bought the mangy mutt a one-way ticket to that death flat in Zurich (having shaved ‘inject here’ on its back beforehand). Out of pity you understand. I’m not into forced euthanasia for animals. Well, not all of them anyway. Snakes are a bunch of slithery pricks. Especially cobras. I’d have them removed from the planet by law. Cackling like a loopy witch as I did so. Before you start on about nature’s balance, plague of rats, dangerous environmental intervention blah blah blah, no I don’t care about meddling with food chains. Playing a malicious serpent loathing God might bring some light relief after the tosser on stilts that was 2010. Anyway, I’m not going to labour the point. Safe to say this year can only get marginally better – in theory. And here are some predictions for how it’s going to pan out. Some feasible. Some er…less feasible. One I’d give my left kidney in an Elizabeth Duke style presentation box to come true. You can guess which.
Massive cuts to clouds, vagrants and shouting The Leither is technically an apolitical cultural periodical that usually doesn’t go in for crude partisan politicking. But I’m guessing however that like most sane people, i.e. those of us who don’t eat swan on toast and shit gold, that it finds the conservative schoolboy wheeze that is ‘the coalition’ to be trying its patience. I know I do. It’s doing more wayward slashing than an incontinent drunk on a booze cruise. I predict more of the same
Who’d have guessed that conniving, unhinged, greedy ne’er do wells run the world? Unless of course, it’s actually all just a jolly caper dreamt up by the puckish spirit of deceased archprankster Beadle. Yes I think I’ll console myself with that prediction. The grim reality is too depressing to contemplate frankly. Well done Jeremy, you card!
in 2011 with massive cuts to immigrant weather fronts, gentlemen tramps and anyone raising their voice to sound off about the poisonous agenda of perfumed fart Cameron and his chums.
Prince William to ‘bed’ the Isle of Man on his stag do
Simon Cowell to Launch An X-Factor for Countries
There’s nothing like a toff circus to bring the nation together. Actually that’s not strictly true. Most people would rather vomit their own soul than pretend to care about some blue blood tying the knot with a simpering lovely. Before he does, there’s the business of ‘the stag’ to take care of. For ordinary Joes that means clowning around like a Neanderthal twat and using your liver as a shoe in some unfortunate European city. Being royal, he’ll have to go one better. I predict that egged on by fellow snorters he’ll get the entire Isle of Man up the duff and have it towed off to Tasmania to cover his tracks.
Cowell sounds like it could be a nice coastal town near Plockton. Alas, it’s a rubbish-haired high-trousered Barnum who sprays sound gruel into the willing lugs of easily pleased buffoons. But hey he makes money, so he must be good eh? Having made the X-Factor format into the new heroin, he’s not going to miss the opportunity to up the dosage. I predict that not content with pitting desperate warblers against each other he’ll make countries battle it out next. Britain to go out at the first audition stage. North Korea to emerge as the ‘Wagner’ dark horse.
The City of Edinburgh to Retire to Glasgow Edinburgh – once proud capital of Scotland – is now a badly run, dog-eared postcard. The winter nearly finished it off. To be fair, it’s had a good innings. But there comes a time when it would be better for everybody if it shuffled off to a TV lounge somewhere and waited it out for the end. I predict the city’s authorities will see the light, close the doors and pack the whole city off to Glasgow. There are enough derelict estates over there to accommodate it.
Julian Assange revealed to be Jeremy Beadle’s ghost The Wikileaks Cables. What a hoot!
Lottery win to buy me a Marcel Duchamp The government is doing more wayward slashing than an incontinent drunk on a booze cruise
Okay, time to fess up. I pay the fool’s tax that is the lotto. Weekly. It’s desperate I know. But then again, so is life mostly. This year, I predict I’ll luck out and win big. Then pointlessly blow the lot on an original by Marcel Duchamp. The genius readymade that is L.H.O.O.Q (the Mona Lisa with a moustache basically) would be nice. You can’t live in it. Or drive it. Or wear it. Or eat it. But you can admire the absurdity. Which in a world that is becoming ever more absurd year after year, makes perfect if somewhat paradoxical sense. Happy 2011. ■ Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 7
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New Media Resolutions Vikki Jones drops her phone down the toilet and has a Damascene moment
love my iPhone. For a long time I resisted, declaring it a waste of time and an expensive excuse for online procrastination, but having relented there is no going back. It makes lots of fun noises, takes pretty good pictures and, if I do the settings right, always lets me win at Scrabble. Not only that, as much as I hate to admit it, whatever information you seem to be looking for there is, as those irritatingly canny folk at Apple inform us, ‘an app for that’. You can find stuff, buy stuff, sell stuff, write stuff; you can generate a routine for an hour-long session of yoga, learn to tango; you can even track your fertility. So much can be done with this little black lump of shiny plastic that it is possible to wonder if you could ever lead a truly full and enriching life without it.
I know this because, on Christmas Eve, I accidentally dropped my iPhone down the loo. My hitherto untapped lightning reactions enabled me to retrieve it from the icy (yet thankfully clean) water before it even hit the basin. But, as I gently absorbed the water from the headphone jack with a carefully folded piece of toilet paper, I felt genuine despair. Normally when stuff like this happens it would go on Twitter or Facebook as some sort of witty, 45 character anecdote to impress my pals, but without my slinky little touch-screen toy, I had become instantly socially bereft.
On reflection, however, (and once the phone had recovered) I wondered if a Christmas and Hogmanay holiday from the instant world of social media would really be that bad? Take January, for example, that dreaded month where you feel sometimes inspired and often obliged to profess your intention to become a better person. New technologies and clever internet relationship-building means that many of us are not only living our lives, but documenting them in real time – our words, thoughts and actions recorded for the entire virtual world to see. Perfect then for New Year’s resolutions, but does anyone else pay attention, or is it just self-indulgence? On Twitter for example, a search for the hashtag ‘#newyearsresolution’ yielded some inspiring words from a young man with the handle @willstemman. Mr Stemman will be working hard in 2011 to “save money, [s]mack bitches and play sick shows with my new band”. He didn’t mention anything about improving his spelling. And it gets better: type ‘new year’s resolutions’ into the search engine on Facebook and you could have the pleasure of joining the other 5000-odd followers in liking a page called ‘Never in my Life Have I Kept a New Year’s Resolution’. Here you can learn about users’ likings for nudity, giraffes and something the administrator calls ‘swag surfin’. I think that one might be rude. Once upon a time, the most personal encouragement you were likely to offer your resolution would probably have been stuck to the fridge – a handwritten statement of intent, perhaps, or a photo of a thin celebrity to keep your newfound love for salad at the forefront of
your mind. Declarations made over pints of vodka and flat coke at 3am were easily enough forgotten once the festive fog had lifted and normal life had resumed. Not anymore. And it’s not just social media sites exploiting our ever-growing need to tell the world what we’re up to. The very driven amongst us can sign up to 43things.com, a goal-setting website that invites you to list your resolutions and share your progress with others. This online forum not only allows you to set personal targets, but to latch on to the life choices of complete strangers. And these could be anything. For instance, I was surprised to find that well over 100 users had listed beekeeping among their resolutions: good on them, we know the bees are in danger. But I was even more surprised to discover that 17 users considered ‘get my wife to cuckold me’ to be an inspiring target for the coming year. Maybe that could be some kind of self-indulgence too.
I was even more surprised to discover that 17 users considered ‘get my wife to cuckold me’ to be an inspiring resolution target for the coming year
For those of us who are truly determined to quit smoking, lose weight, eat our five a day or take up competitive knitting, regular progress reports on sites like this may well prove helpful. The 43 things strap line says ‘Changing your life is hard. Doing it by yourself is harder’, but maybe something like ‘If you’ve broken your New Year’s resolution, or realised it’s stupid/ unattainable/too much like hard work, come and beat yourself up about it for a while by reading about how amazingly well other aspiring life-changers are doing. Then go off by yourself, open a bottle of wine and have a cheeseboard’ might be more appropriate. I’ll bet there’s an app for that. n Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 9
Pen Portrait from the Port
To swear, or not to swear, that is the question Daniel Gray breaks free of his historian’s shackles
friend of mine (this one is real), having just been at a Hibs match, went to visit the parents of a pal, taking with her a further friend. The pal’s mum asked how the game was. Without pause, my friend’s friend replied: “fucking pish.” When the two were alone again, my chum enquired: “What the hell were you doing there? She’s about 90. You’ve never met her and the first word you say is a swearword.” “Well,” replied her companion, “I thought she was a Swearer.” In his head, it seems there are two types of people in this world: Swearers and non-Swearers. Joining him and scar-heided fictional footballer Gordon Ramsay in the first group, you have those who believe that all sentences are improved by a garnishing of expletives. To them, everything is game for blaspheming, so that Martin Luther King Junior’s most famous speech would’ve been far better if he’d stood up and gone: ‘I have a dream that one day this frigging nation will rise the shit up and live out the true meaning of its creed’. Of course, there is truth in this: anything the great Doctor said would’ve been improved by the use of northern English words like ‘frigging’. If only he’d thought of this, King Junior wouldn’t have become the forgotten and marginalised fringe character he is today; truly, he was the Bobby Davro of the equal rights movement. Another Swearer was my granddad, a Yorkshire-Irishman brimming with the confusing sense of morose bonhomie such genetics breed. When marrying into the family, my dad was immediately impressed by his new father-in-law’s cussing, later defining it as ‘creative swearing of the best kind’. Dad’s favourite remains the occasion on which an exasperated granddad bore down on a quarrelsome housefly and seethed: “come ‘ere, yer blue-arsed flamer.” That second group (remember, from a few words back), the non-Swearers, would certainly not have welcomed granddad into their pious cabal, but it’s amusing to imagine the tame language with which they’d have told him to go away, and equally his untamed response. Advantages of being a non-Swearer 10 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 72
Dan Gray (seated, in ladies togs) listens to the denouement of the 2010 Ashes
include performing better at job interviews than Swearers and not offending the elderly, always good unless the elder in question is Margaret Thatcher or the novelist Katie Price. In addition, non-Swearers don’t suffer the sense of alienation an ‘Email not sent due to explicit content’ brings. Whose side are you on? It’s a bloody minefield.
Twatting apples with a pogo stick
I might have within my hidden talents a cure for the common cold or that thing when you knock your elbow on the table and it goes all fuzzy
For the past month, more often than not I’ve fallen asleep listening to the Ashes and reading the diaries of former Labour MP Chris Mullin (to use some words up, un-dear reader, you can have two jokes here: ‘Chris doesn’t seem to mind’ and ‘which is a particular worry as I’m an overnight long distance lorry driver’. Neither work, but that’s 42 words used – now who’s the idiot?). Other than inviting Delia Smith around to make you a cocoa laced with free-range port, this is about the most middle-class way to reach slumber. It also leads to lucid dreams of former Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Nick Brown bowling at Michael Hussey or Diane Abbott dropping an easy catch at slip, but that’s a different matter, as my psychoanalyst keeps reminding me. Laying there, understanding
between four and seven per cent of the words babbled and jargoned by the commentators, a nagging feeling gripped me in its arms: having never played cricket on any discernible level apart from twatting an apple core with a pogo stick, how do I know that this isn’t the game for me? How do I know I’m not in possession of an incredible, raw, worldbeating talent? Before long, this feeling extended to everything in the universe, ever (it was a long night): politics; metaphysics; javelin; making cup cakes; medicine (medicine, for Pete’s sake - I might have within my hidden talents a cure for cancer or the common cold or that thing when you knock your elbow on the table and it goes all fuzzy). You name it, I fretted that it could be my leashed talent, my untapped gift to mankind. Now though, the cricket’s over and I’ve finished the diaries. I can get back to listening to Tony Livesey’s 5Live phone-ins about bin collections. I can start reading Mrs Pen Portrait’s Heat magazines again. Happy New Year. ■ ÊÊInfo: Daniel Gray’s Stramash: Tackling Scotland’s Towns and Teams is out now priced £9.99. For more, including what he’ll soon be describing as ‘critical acclaim’, see www.stramashthebook.com
Behind the Thistle David Barnes delivers his mammoth tome on Scottish Rugby a mere three years late
illy Gould, our esteemed editor here at The Leither, is always grumbling about deadlines. Apparently, promising to submit an article then not doing so until two weeks after the ‘due date’ is very inconvenient. He should speak to the guys at Birlinn, who have just published my book Behind The Thistle – Playing for Scotland. I told them the book would be done by October 2007. It just made it onto the shelves in the last weeks of 2010. I like to think there is a certain greatness to that sort of lateness. I have an excuse, though – the book is an absolute monster. Pulling together a 480 page tome containing some 160,000 words and over 200 pictures is no minor undertaking – and I am deeply indebted to Peter Burns, who became co-author earlier this year, and provided some much need impetus in the final push towards getting the bloody thing finished. Had he not got involved, I am in no doubt that I would still be drowning under the weight of something that grew way beyond the expectations of everyone initially involved in the project. Behind the Thistle consists of over seventy interviews with Scotland internationalists stretching back to the end of World War Two. I feel comfortable talking the book up, because I am not trying to sell myself. Peter and I were merely the facilitators. This is the story of Scottish rugby, told by the guys who were there, in their own words. It spans five and a half decades, from the immediate post-war years – when deprivation and grief for loved ones lost formed an unusual alliance with hope for a brighter future – right through to the present day, in which we are seeing the first generation of rugby players who have known nothing but a fully professional game. My favourite section is definitely the first, when Frank Coutts and Russell Bruce talk us through the Victory Internationals and the resumption of a full fixture schedule in 1947. Reading about those two wonderful men, both of whom have sadly passed away since being interviewed, gives you a real sense of where the sport we know today has come from. Coutts talking about playing France on New Year’s Day 1947, and then attending the post-match dinner at the top of the Eiffel Tower, is incredibly poignant. “That was a great occasion because things had been so grim for so long and it was just wonderful to be in this magnificent city, playing rugby and enjoying life,” he said. “It was sad because
people who might have been there were no longer with us, and you could argue that I would never have been involved had so-and-so not been killed in the war, but that was the life we had and I was thrilled to be there.” There is a lot of fun in the book as well, as you would expect from something containing the wit and wisdom of such affable rogues as Jim Renwick, Peter Brown, Norrie Rowan, Gavin and Scott Hastings, and Peter Wright. One story by ‘Lucky’ Jim Pollock gives a fascinating and funny insight into what it was like to be an international rugby player before the advent of professionalism: “The last game I played for Scotland was in Paris in 1985. We ended up in a nightclub and I ordered two whiskies, a vodka and a gin and tonic. Bang, bang, bang, bang, the drinks were laid down: two bottles of whisky, a bottle of vodka and a bottle of gin! I tried to pay but the barman managed to explain that the first drinks were all free, so I decided to throw in a bottle of champagne as well.” “About two hours later, I was outside lying on top of a Porsche when a blue van
David Barnes Esq: A certain greatness for lateness
ÊÊInfo: Messrs Barnes & Burns book, nominated for Sports Book of the Year, is available from all the usual outlets and www.birlinn.co.uk
with a flashing light on top comes round the corner and four gendarmes jump out, pick me up and throw me in the back. It was one of those sobering moments when you think: I’m in big trouble here.” “The van was tootling along at about ten miles an hour when suddenly the backdoor opened and one of the policemen kicked me out of the van. I hit the ground – my dinner-suit is wrecked all the way down the left side – and as I turned to call them all the names under the sun I noticed my hotel. Somehow I made it to my room. I opened the door, and walked in… and there is absolutely nothing there. No wardrobe, no TV, no bed, no chair… absolutely nothing. I ended up sleeping on the floor. When I woke in the morning my suitcase was outside the door – but the furniture was still gone. Who took it? Well, nobody was coughing up to that the next day.” Playing rugby for Scotland is the dream of many, but the privilege of only a lucky few. I’m very glad that this book gave me the opportunity to speak to a few of those men who have pulled on the dark blue jersey about their experiences. ■ Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 11
A terrible beauty is born Robert Lebeck
Alan Bett on why director Werner Herzog is obsessed by obsession
he recent release on DVD of My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? offers the perfect excuse to look back at the early work of one of cinemas most extraordinary and bewildering characters, the indefinable Werner Herzog. The only expectation attached to Herzog is to expect the unexpected for his films follow no genre or style. He is as au fait with documentary as historical drama or modern pulp fiction, however one theme is common to his work, both in front of and behind the camera, obsession. It was 1972 when the 30-year-old German filmmaker travelled to Peru to film his first feature. Most aspiring directors make their debut in their backyard covering a subject matter familiar to them, not Herzog. 16th Century conquistadors seemed like a good starting point for his debut so he packed his bags, his camera and his psychotic leading man/childhood friend – Klaus Kinski – and departed for Machu Picchu. The initial frames of Aguirre Wrath of God, depicting Spanish soldiers and Peruvian natives scaling the misty slopes of that awesome and ancient monolith, are truly one of cinemas greatest visual moments. What followed was a blossoming story of madness and obsession on both sides of the lens.
Monkey wielding conqueror
On screen a search for El Dorado, the mythical city of gold. Behind it Herzog and Klaus Kinski sought a different treasure, a modern cinematic masterpiece. Kinski played the deluded monkey-wielding conqueror as only he could, the manic reality of Kinski proving more captivating than any ‘performance’. The charismatic but temperamental actor found time to anger the locals with his explosive outbursts and prima donna demands. This behaviour would only increase throughout the years until 1982 when the indigenous extras on the – again Peruvian – set of Fitzcarraldo asked Herzog if he would like them to 12 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 72
kill Kinski. The director quietly mused over the proposition but wisely decided that a living lead man was a necessity in completing his film. Fitzcarraldo again tackles a man’s obsession, this time a rubber baron’s fevered dream of building an opera house in the deep jungles of South America. The film required a huge boat to be transported over a hill from one section of the Amazon into another. Herzog dealt with this scene the only way he knew how, special effects were laid aside and the locals had to deal with the actuality of hauling a 340 ton boat over a steep jungle slope, the collateral damage being the limbs of the natives. It can be a noble characteristic to suffer for your art, but is it acceptable to force this onto others? This struggle between science and nature can be seen as a metaphor for the unbearable toil on the film set. Life is imitating art and vice versa. Herzog and Kinski looked into the abyss and it looked right back at them. It’s often said that this odd couple have worked in ever decreasing circles ever since. That’s debateable. What is not is that they tackled the same themes constantly until their partnership ended with Kinski’s death in 1991. Woyzeck, Cobra Verde and Nosferatu all have elements of desperation and obsessive need. Herzog even made a documentary about the their relationship entitled My Best Fiend. These two men were like magnets, a push and pull of love against murderous ambitions. Their lives truly became a whirlwind of obsession of each other and their craft. In recent years Herzog has embraced documentary
Clockwise from above: The incomparable Klaus Kinski; Still from the epic Fitzcarraldo; The man himself
filmmaking, bringing his obsession with him. Exemplified by his award winning Grizzly Man. Timothy Treadwell was a selfproclaimed protector of wild bears, who filmed them and truly believed he befriended them in their natural environment. In 2003 he changed from friend to food when he and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by the animals – an interesting but fairly standard tale, which for most would be a single news article. However Herzog connected strongly to something here so dug a little deeper into the background of the man.
Almost peroxide hair
Treadwell and his girlfriend were changed from friends to food in 2003, when they were killed and eaten by the grizzly bears
Treadwell had rebelled against traditional society since a troubled and alcoholic past. The world of the bears seemed simpler and purer than the human existence that he had rejected. This man believed he could become one with the bears, the grizzlies disagreed and made lunch of him. The story is told through Treadwell’s extensive video diaries. In one he rages incandescently against the iniquities of society. The similarities with Kinski are stunning, even down to the almost peroxide blond hair. Perhaps Herzog was attracted to the story because he sensed a kindred spirit who could fill the hole left by Klaus. A new leading man, steeped in delusion and obsession, tragically and morbidly dead. Always something of a renegade Herzog continues to interest and provoke. Two years ago he made the oddly beautiful Encounters at the End of the World where he filmed those who
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have taken their lives to Antarctica for various reasons. Living in that hostile environment Herzog uncovered individual obsessions within each individual encounter, whether it was to study penguins or volcanoes. Some were running towards something, others away. Running away would seem the reasonable reaction for the director who took on a remake of Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant but Herzog faced the storm. Creative types can be precious at times but Ferrara took this to hilariously absurd levels when he stated, “They should all die in hell!” This head to head is the true psychotic director heavyweight prizefight. Herzog rather cheekily opined that he had never heard of Ferrara or the film he (Herzog) had just remade.
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An insignificant bullet
Whether Herzog is chronically obsessed or just in possession of an unbelievable streak of steely determination is open to question. My abiding image of him (viewable on You Tube) is when a passer-by shoots him whilst being interviewed by Mark Kermode in L.A. Kermode looks shocked but Herzog does not miss a beat, he merely says: “It is not a significant bullet.” Perhaps this was Karmic retribution for the stolen souls of Peruvian Indians so many years ago, but one accusation that cannot be levelled at this intriguing director is hypocrisy. In an age when celebrities refuse to be seen with a hair out of place Herzog just continues the interview, as he would expect his actors to maintain their performance. The show must go on, the movie always comes first. ■
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Ego stroking? You must be joking Our new music columnist, Dave McGuire, has a thing about end of year lists…
part from summer holidays my main time for reading is the Christmas holidays, and this year was no exception. I bought the ‘big four’ music magazines: Mojo, Q, Uncut, Word, and then remembered why I usually avoid them at this time of year – the traditional year-end ‘Best Of’ lists. Generally speaking these sort of lists annoy me, it’s not just music lists (or their film and book equivalents), but the constant stream of ‘list’ TV shows, ‘The 100 Greatest Footballing Love Rats’ or ‘The Ultimate Hollyoaks Push-up Bra Poll’ and other such nonsense – watch E4 long enough and I’m sure these will crop up. Bearing that in mind, I also picked up a copy of The Skinny and looked at their end of year album round up and found myself shifting my opinion temporarily. I looked at their selection and found that rather surprisingly I happened to have most of the albums they chose. With my ego well and truly stroked I spent the rest of the day with a spring in my step briefly convincing myself that I am still down with the cool kids (I know, a ‘cool kid’ would never use that phrase).
Voice like Marmite
This brought me back to my student days of reading The Face. Each year I’d look at their end of year round ups and rather misguidedly use that as a guide as to whether or not my taste in music was hip or not. For the first few years our tastes were in tandem, but when I looked at their millennium chart I saw the one album they listed that I had came free in a 3 for 2 offer. I looked down their chart and thought ‘who chose this shit?’, it looked to me like a bunch of middle-aged men trying to choose what they thought trendy youngsters would be impressed by. I stopped buying The Face – it goes without saying that I assumed that it wasn’t me that had strayed from the path of coolness in my musical tastes. This year, as I said, I skimmed through all of the ‘albums of the year’ lists, and it turns out that I still have issues with these lists. The first thing I noticed is how similar the lists were, like the compilers were given the same list of albums and just listed them in a slightly different order. If you were to take a dozen mates and ask them each to list their 20 albums of the year I doubt they’d be so similar. I’d have thought that in this digital age with listeners having access to a wider range of music than
The much loved Arcade Fire third album is hailed as a return to form by people who heaped praise on the now ‘inferior’ second album
ever before there would be much greater diversity. Another wonder is how some of the selections placed so highly, Joanna Newsom’s voice is like musical Marmite, everyone said that the Gorillaz album was patchy when it was released yet it’s in all the best of lists, the much loved Arcade Fire third album is hailed as a return to form by people who heaped praise on the now ‘inferior’ second album, and so on. I do really like the John Grant, Field Music and The National albums but calling these records works of genius is ridiculous. I also notice the snobbery in the music press, it’s like comic actors and films never winning Oscars – surely there should be a place in any Top 50 for Take That? The record buying public love them, and they’ve written many a tune that I’ve been unable to get out of my head for weeks. Writing a great pop tune is as difficult as writing something that’ll give critics orgasms, but folks that write columns such as this seem reluctant to say so. Last summer, out of curiosity, I
posted on Facebook that I preferred Abba over David Bowie and was shocked at the response I got, yet give folks a few drinks and we all know who most people would rather sing along to. But I digress… Ironically I had thought about doing a list here – simply as it’s pretty easy to do, and the cynic in me reckons that’s a big reason why we have these lists, they fill up a silly amount of pages with regurgitated quotes from existing reviews. I often ask myself what is the point of them, do they really think it’s to inform the reader of good music, is it to help sell more albums, or is it to show off how on the pulse they are? Much better to check out the ‘undiscovered’ or ‘overlooked’ lists, you’re more likely to get diversity but even then you could view them as showing off. Lists are impersonal, and quantifying culture surely defeats the point; an informed and genuinely enthusiastic round-up is surely the way to go. Got that off my chest, now to read all the ‘Top Tips for 2011’ lists… ■ Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 15
Like discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante Stephanie Malcolm on the impossible probabilities of freedom of speech
t was a cold December day in Twickenham when two unassuming women constituents put a few questions to Vince Cable. While he was dutifully answering any other questions posed to him by any other ordinary constituents, for these two women, Telegraph reporters by trade, he happened to elaborate rather colourfully on a few sensitive topics. As the reporters saw out their sting operation and Cable descended ever further into an uncharted hole, every erred word was captured on tape and repeated in the paper. Since Cable is the second most important Lib Dem in the cabinet, this pre-empted several days of Nurofen induced haze for the Cameron/ Clegg partnership while they not once but twice had to take an official line on the misdemeanours. But what The Telegraph now inevitably knows, is their sting operation seriously backfired unravelling a series of cock-ups that only achieved the unwished for result of keeping the proles amused. Undercover reporting is a grey area in journalism. In this instance, the Press Complaints Committee justifies this subterfuge because they rule Cable’s remarks to be of public concern and interest. Cable is a politician of note, a key component in the coalition and crucially important for the Lib Dems. It is almost impossible for politicians to enjoy unrestricted access to both a public and private existence whilst keeping their political careers intact. In this instance Mr Cable’s strong opinions and self-assured ability to bring down the government should be made 16 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 72
known, as he was seemingly operating subjectively rather than objectively. Though, perversely, in abandoning the shackles of professionalism, Cable surely made himself more personable and approachable to his constituents. He traversed the line and danced dangerously close to political ruin. His profound statements mean he may have spoken more as a human than as Business Secretary and for this he was punished. Though the story achieved the defamation of Cable by tactless means, The Telegraph was yet to experience the backlash. What is particularly backward about the whole business is that in exposing Cable, The Telegraph also succeeded in quashing any political advantage they may have had in avoiding the threat of media plurality. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s proposed full takeover of Sky poses said threat. The BBC and The Telegraph Media Group (to which The Telegraph belongs) alongside other media bodies oppose Rupert Murdoch’s intended takeover. The move has already been given the go ahead by the European Commission; the next stage was dependent on Cable’s decision. But the ‘decision’ was never actually his to make. He was to refer the issue to the Competitions Committee for their consideration. Rather unlike his nuclear decision to bring down the government if he so chose. Certainly Cable could make himself a nuisance, but as Julian Assange asserts, governments have ways and means of dealing with pests. Like Wikileaks, an institution that has also sparked ethical concern in investigative journalism practices, The Telegraph has succeeded in exposing what are, probably, statements that are in the interest of the public. But was it really worth it? Wikileaks, a vessel that harbours secrecy better than no other, succeeds in achieving a degree
Famous people discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante, no, really
The ‘decision’ was never actually Vince Cable’s to make. He was to refer the issue to the Competitions Committee for their consideration
of transparency in governmental organisations. Their mission enlightens the public of governmental goings on, which has included the opinions of American ambassadors and shed light on unlawful killings. Sometimes this information is highly relevant and other times truly irrelevant. Information for information’s sake in other words. However, despite the similarities between The Telegraph’s recent investigative proceedings and Wikileaks’ mission as a whole, The Telegraph has instead landed itself in a self-inflicted backlash similar to Vince Cable’s own experience, which The Telegraph itself was responsible for inciting. What provided another embarrassing twist was that The Telegraph apparently decided to stagger the statements given by Cable. First, in a string of cock-ups, they released his damaging statements about the coalition but held back statements about Murdoch. Instantly The Telegraph undermined any or all efforts to oppose the Sky takeover by partaking in a manipulation of news that is dangerously akin to that which is supposedly threatened by Murdoch’s media dominance. One Telegraph insider was so enraged by such selective publishing that he or she leaked the news to the BBC who were the first to break it. Whilst The Telegraph expose has sidelined Cable, making him all but redundant, thus losing any influence over the Sky takeover decision. Time will tell whether Mr Barclay and his Telegraph were beaten at their own game. The paper and other News bodies should perhaps look at the Wikileaks model and consider adopting its approach to promoting freedom of speech/information. Rather than exposing Cable for his stated ability to deal a nuclear blow to the coalition they should consider more closely the nuclear blow they have potentially dealt themselves. ■
Something to hold on to Lovingly wrapped vinyl LP or an itunes voucher? Asks Dave McGuire
id you get any music for Christmas? If you did I’m hazarding a guess that like the bulk of our readers what you received was an actual CD or LP lovingly covered in wrapping paper. This is what the majority of us think of when we think of getting an album for Christmas, but for the (predominantly) younger music fans, this could just as easily have been an itunes voucher. Whilst these might be the first albums some kids have ever bought, surely it’s unlikely that they’ll remember their first download purchase in years to come with the same fondness those of previous generations remember the first time they bought a record, tape or CD. Ask most people of a certain age and they’ll be able to tell you where, when, and what they bought, and some of them may still even have that album.
Food for funk
Growing up before the days of itunes, MP3s, file sharing, and general instant accessibility to an astounding amount of music (often free), to get a new album was something special. My childhood was full of saving up pocket money and sometimes not spending my lunch money so I could afford to buy records and tapes, or as I now grandly call it ‘giving up food for funk’ I still recall certain experiences, the excitement of travelling to the record shop, looking through the racks to see what cover captured my attention, the big decision on what to buy, getting it home, taking the vinyl out of the sleeve, then the excitement of putting the needle on the record, I’d listen to it over and over again, pouring over the sleeve notes and singing along with the lyrics. I often wondered about my compulsion to buy new albums all the time, but it wasn’t until I started buying records again in my late twenties that it came flooding back to me, the same rush I had as a kid. The phrase vinyl junkie is completely accurate; each time the needle hits the groove it’s like trying to capture the same rush you had in the beginning.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just some Luddite technophobe, I use my ipod all the time, discover new music on Spotify and listen to podcasts regularly, but to this day I still prefer and see the
Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, the elaborate drawings on the ParliamentFunkadelic albums, Francis Wolfe’s iconic photography on numerous Blue Note albums, to name but a few. Vinyl is the only format whose sales are continually on the increase over the past few years; even MP3s have seen some levelling off in the current economic climate. USB turntables will sell in large numbers this Christmas, allowing people to keep or expand their vinyl collection as well as having the music on their ipods. The simple fact is that vinyl is cool, good artwork becomes great as a 12” square. It’s not just the older generation or DJs that are buying records, 7” singles are very popular with the indie kids.
The phrase vinyl junkie is completely accurate; each time the needle hits the groove it’s like trying to capture the same rush you had in the beginning A desirable item
need to have my music as a physical item, something tangible. When I visit someone’s house for the first time my eyes are always drawn to their CD/ record collection, and if I get the chance I love to look through them no matter how big or small, I find it absolutely fascinating. I’m unable to think of an itunes library as a proper collection. There are plenty of albums where the packaging is as memorable as the music: the zipper on the front of The Stones Sticky Fingers, the classic cross fold-out gatefold of Isaac Hayes Black Moses, the bonus 7” single with Steve
I still see the importance of the physical item, I believe that it’s good for the industry; it makes money for the labels and artists, and allows them to invest in new talent and less obviously commercial projects. The internet is a great tool and has given exposure to some artists, allowing thousands to hear their music without the expense of producing demo CDs. Of course most people that discover acts this way will then look for their album, and ironically most of these internet sensations will sign a record deal as soon as they can. More fundamental than this is the fact that records and CDs sound better than MP3s, and if you want to you can transfer to MP3 if needed. As a music fan I like the labels that go the opposite route from MP3 and invest more in packaging, sound quality, notes, and cover, to make their albums a desirable item, in other words, something to hold onto. ■ P.S. As we go to press it has just been reported that overall album sales, including digital, are on a downward trajectory. Ironically, we've gone one step forward and two steps back – almost mimicking the early days of rock ‘n’ roll when the single was dominant (and disposable) and the album as an art form was deemed to be for the elite. Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 17
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New Year – resolutions, regrets and results? D
id you have a good Christmas? I hope so. I know I did. Spent mostly in California, I got talking to Bill Cosby on Boxing Day…but more of that later. Now to business. Many of the male readers, and some of the female ones, of this column will have…(here Leo – no doubt in his cups – tells us far too much about pleasuring himself in an ersatz yogic position all of which is a tad to, erm, robust for our timid gazette). Well (continues Leo) I did that very party trick last week during the New Year’s festivities at a gathering on Mulholland Drive. Hosted by Tom Selleck and Sissy Spacek, the feat went down particularly well with recently dumped Liz Hurley whom I’m meeting in the nation’s capital next week. I’ve arranged to meet her ‘under the Fraser’s clock’ at eight on Friday. We’ll probably go for a couple of drinks in Mathers across the road then back to my suite at the Caledonian. A few swift cocktails and I’ll attempt to get fired straight in – judging by her latest activities with fat Warnie I think I’m in with good chance.
A few swift cocktails and I’ll attempt to get fired straight in – judging by her latest activities with Warnie I think I’m in with good chance
Sharleen: Blind as a bat
By now, a lot of you will have fully stuffed your faces, drunk yourselves both clever then stupid, tried to breed with the wrong partner and are even now probably regretting your actions and preparing to enter the reluctant world of the New Year’s Resolution. It’s no different in the wonderful cigar-chomping, taboo swilling, hairy fisted, champagnewasting world of Leo Simpson – except of course my activities are far more
Jude Law: You’ll know when he’s there
exotic and interesting, involving more attractive people and well worthy of 800 extremely well paid words in your lowly, geographically subdued, bible. Firstly, don’t feel too bad about yourselves, I too, have had a few slips ups, I made a few quasi-religious promises as requested by the Pope during his Summer visit, these included – ‘Less bagging off with movie stars’ plus ‘Trying to curb my more overt onanistic tendencies’. Sounds easy. But, well, there was the ‘Tron Legacy’ premiere in Paris last month where I met up with Jeff Bridges, Lisa Edelstein and Sheena Easton. Suffice to say ‘Cuddy’ had the best night of her life since episode 4 series 3 of House when she was unconscious due to a strange, far fetched, Prince Rainier of Monaco Disease or some such thing they keep coming up with on that show. House and myself took turns at reviving her back to conscious by round the clock…(you can imagine – Ed). It’s not that realistic, House, is it? The good doctor is a genius – fair enough – but he’s a bit rude. You’d think by now somebody might have taken the opportunity to give him a proper pasting. Me? You? Alan Carr’s jealous boyfriend? Or any one of the patients relatives? Who knows? But somebody should have done the decent thing and knocked his designer stubbled visage all over the ward and stuffed all that Vicodin down his chops in a ‘onesie’. I’ve slipped up on the masturbatory promise as well. In my defence I had earlier been to a Command
Performance with ‘blind as a bat’ Sharleen Spiteri, Sienna Miller and the juicy Lulu – so I suppose that doesn’t really count (though knocking off another two or three the next morning will probably have disappointed the more prudish among my fans). Just a small footnote to end with… wait, I forgot, Bill Cosby…told me that he’d bought his wife a diamond ring and a Mercedes so that if she didn’t like the ring she could drive and get it exchanged in the new car. I replied that I’d bought my latest beau a pair of slippers and a dildo so that if she didn’t like the slippers she could go and f*** herself. Nice guy Bill. Oh, that footnote, is it me or does everybody feel the Christian Dior advert with Jude Law in front of the Eiffel tower makes you think of him ‘blowing off’ rather than wearing a sophisticated up market scent? If you look closely you can see the poor girls nostrils twitching in a disapproving manner, almost as if Mr Law has just dropped a real eggy number from his stance some 20 yards away. Vive La Romance! An egg fuelled anal expulsion gently drafted on a light, beautiful, sensuous, Parisian wind – just enough to let her ‘know when he’ll be there.’ E-mail me at the usual address if you disagree – if I receive nothing I’ll just assume you’re with me on this one. Have a big, bold, boisterous 2011. And remember. Keep your hands downs your pants and your eyes on the prize. ■ Leopold ‘Leo’ Simpson xx
Lisa Edelstein: A great night Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 19
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I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise Installation by Calum Colvin
Gordon Munro hails the advent of less sedate Burns Night Suppers
n his Christmas Address of 1897 Keir Hardie fulminated against the “white-livered poltroons“ who took “the Christ’s name in vain.” Transpose ‘Burns’ for ‘Christ’ and you get an idea of why some people take the annual round of Burns Suppers which celebrate our Bard so seriously. Traditionally they were all male affairs, which led to an ossification of Burns and overly conservative celebrations that were the absolute antithesis of what the Burns we know would have wanted. Leith’s association with the bard is tenuous but it is good. When he first came to Edinburgh in 1786 he had a ticket in his pocket for the Roselle which was due to sail from Leith, bound for the West Indies, at the end of December in that year. His intention was to emigrate to Jamaica – and Messenger Sound System thought they were first to bring Jamaica to Leith! He did not, however, set sail as around this time an agreement was reached in Edinburgh to publish a new edition of his poems. He did manage some carousing in Leith, although to be fair he did so all over Scotland. Burns wrote to his friend Gavin Hamilton (later to achieve even greater fame as an England test cricketer – Ed) of a convivial dinner at a friend’s house in Leith where they ‘danced, drank and sang until late enough’ and also of meeting ‘a pretty girl’. Some things never change.
Break from seagulls
Eventually, his memory was commemorated permanently by the Leith Burns Appreciation Society who raised enough funding to erect a statue of the man himself in Bernard Street in 1898, the year after Hardie’s address, where it stands in solitary splendour to this day. Edinburgh built a monument on Calton Hill but Leith remembered the man and wanted its citizens to look on him and remember him whilst going about their daily affairs. The Council liked it so much that it was entered in a UK competition for a clean up and came second, earning the statue a welldeserved break from the seagulls. So Leith’s claim to a bit of the Burns legend is as good as any and it has its own way of celebrating him. Leith Festival are holding a fundraiser by way of a Burns Supper at Leith Dockers Club on Thursday 27th January and it will be
Kevin Williamson will draw out the Burns who gave the white-livered poltroons of his day concern about his politics
carried out in a manner of which Burns would probably have approved and indeed wished to attend. Local Master Butcher Sandy Crombie will supply and then address the haggis. Musician Andy Chung will ‘Address the Lassies’. He will need to use all of his renowned charm and patter on the night, as the reply will come from the sharp and witty tongue of comedienne Susan Morrison. As her column in the Evening News proves she will not need help in penning her ‘Reply to the Lads’. Actually if we just get called Lads we’ll be getting off lightly! ‘The Immortal Memory to Burns’ will be given by Kevin Williamson who is no stranger to controversy, for he is the man who posed with a tab of Ecstasy on his tongue on the cover of his infamous magazine Rebel Inc, alongside his pal Irvine Welsh. His claim that Trainspotting ‘…deserves to sell more copies than the
Bible’ may have been coined to court controversy but also supported his belief that it deserved as big an audience. I’m sure he will draw out the Burns who gave the white-livered poltroons of his day concern about his politics.
Dockers Club prices
Haggis, neeps & tatties will of course be served, Dockers Club prices observed, and the whole event will end with Andy Chung playing into the wee small hours. The night promises to inform and entertain, with none of the stodge you get from more ‘establishment’ celebrations of Burns. Show your love for Burns and for Leith Festival. Buy a ticket and bring a friend or auld acquaintance. You’ll enjoy yirsel’. ■ ÊÊInfo: Tickets 0131 454 4500 - Gordon Munro is chair of Leith Festival Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 21
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WinterFitness Tracy Griffen
Food Inglorious Food I
It’s interesting to note the increasing prevalence of modern (and largely Western) digestive health conditions such as IBS, gluten intolerance and food allergies
t was with excitement that I informed Mr Editor of my proposed article outline for winter. I would present a two-part piece about the evils of the modern food industry. The hope was that you would be so impressed by my research that you would instantly turn to eating porridge, lentils and other healthy food. I was excited but ready for it, then I started doing some serious reading and discovered that it’s rather a massive subject. So here goes… A few years ago I devoured food writer Joanna Blythman’s excellent book Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets, which I still believe to be the best and easiest read on the subject. From Blythman I learnt about supermarket ready meals being a ploy by the big guys to ‘value add’ products and earn more dosh. That is, the more a food is processed, or pre-prepared for you, the greater the profit margin for the supermarket (and the less nutrition for you). There’s not much profit to be made from potatoes, but if you process them in some way, turn them into oven chips for instance, you not only make more money, but as a side effect, much of the goodness and nutrition of the potato is removed. I’m not for one second implying that the primary aim of ready meals is to deny you valuable nutrients, but it is a side effect of having a machine mush up substandard ingredients into a ready meal.
As ready meals are mechanically processed, it means that the human body needs to do less processing to digest them. This means that processed foods tend to be higher on the Glycaemic Index (how long it takes the body to turn food into energy), as the body doesn’t need to do so much ‘processing’ of the food
itself. Compare ready-made soups to homemade soups – which one to do you think will give you better nutrition and satisfy you more? The more sophisticated our society gets and the more complicated our food gets, the more removed from actual ‘food’ it is. Our digestive systems haven’t evolved in the last fifty years, but it is truly mind boggling how much our food has. We’ve seen a massive shift from producing food ourselves to multinational corporations manufacturing it for us. The emphasis has gone from eating what was nutritious and available locally, to buying foodstuffs that taste nice with the least amount of effort. It’s also interesting to note the prevalence of modern (and largely Western) digestive health conditions that are also on the increase, such as IBS, gluten intolerance and food allergies in general. That’s without getting into eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa or even touching on diabetes. With all our labour saving devices, is it really true that we no longer have time to feed ourselves properly? Large producers certainly want us to think that. Breakfast cereals are a good example of an original ready meal – just add milk. They can make a much bigger profit by taking raw products (i.e. corn) and processing them, then chemically adding fortifying vitamins and minerals that have been processed from the raw state (i.e. corn flakes). Before cereal, most British households had a cooked breakfast. With more women joining the workforce, and the advent of television advertising, breakfast cereals found their niche in the nation’s psyche. This is despite the fact that most cereals are as nutritious as the cardboard box they
come in. The traditional Scottish meal of porridge has become trendy again for good reason.
If you’re a regular Leither reader, you’ll remember The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler being highly lauded in my column. If you’ve ever been at the mercy of a packet of digestive biscuits and scoffed the lot, this is the book for you. You are normal, the biscuits are freaky. McVities have perfected the flavour balance that makes them remarkably enjoyable to eat, and therefore you buy more. Major food producers are aware of the irresistibility of the salt/fat/ sugar combo. If there’s any food you find yourself eating compulsively, it is likely to be high in these. Think of buttered toast (Mmmmmm), which is basically fat on salt/sugar added bread. We have lost connection with what our body needs, namely nutrients, sacrificed for foods that our brains tell us we like (salt/ sugar/fat). Michael Pollan’s The Omnivores Dilemma sums it up nicely: “Add fat or sugar to anything and it’s going to taste better on the tongue of an animal that natural selection has hard wired to seek out energy-dense foods. Animal studies prove the point: rats presented with solutions of pure sucrose or tubs of pure lard – goodies they seldom encounter in nature – will gorge themselves sick.” Pollan’s In Defence of Food was the last book on the subject I read, aptly finishing it on Christmas day. He puts it in a nutshell with his Eater’s Manifesto. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” If only I’d read that first. Next time we examine the economics of the food industry. ■ ÊÊInfo: www.getfitandenjoyit.com Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 23
FoodReview John Holmes
The Café Royal v M & S Meal Deal
Café Royal Restaurant 19 West Register Street ( 0131 556 1884 8 caferoyal.org.uk
irst, the good news: The Café Royal is a beautiful building, inside and out. It originally opened (opposite the current building) in 1826. It moved in 1863, but the original predates London’s Café Royal by almost four decades. And we’re lucky still to have it - the building was nearly destroyed in 1965 when Woolworths, the prospective new owner, wanted to expand their store on Princess St. Just think, we could have had a really giant Burger King if they’d succeeded. But thanks to Edinburgh Planners (who knew?!) and the old and venerable Historic Buildings Branch of the then Scottish Office, they failed and we now have a Category A listed building which can never be destroyed or altered without consent. Hail the public sector, eh? Talking of which, in The Good Old Days (from around 1978) a bunch of friends and I would wend our way from the loftiness of our luxuriously-appointed New St Andrew’s House offices every Friday after work (and sometimes during work) for a beer or more. In those days you could actually catch a tender’s eye and be served a pint of the ubiquitous 80/- before you reached the bar. In 24 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 72
subsequent times, you’d be lucky to be served before closing time. Back then, life was simpler but we had more energy and the carousing would last until closing time, which was 10pm. Anything more than a couple of hours on the beer these days will witness a gaggle of retired or should-be retired civil servants talking gibberish and reminiscing old conquests, not all of which are exaggerated. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve recalled trips to the wilds of Newhaven for our 5-pint Starbank lunch breaks and a warm Bridie in the cold street (so that the voluminous grease emitting therefrom wouldn’t soil the cream upholstery of the newly-bought Audi): happy days, though, happy days.
50p from Lidls
Back to the present, we pitched up on a Saturday night just before the start of the season’s jollities, or so we thought. Upon entering we found a table of 20 or so octogenarians who clearly believed (with the Café Royal’s connivance) that Xmas begins in mid-November – because there they all sat in splendid incongruity, jaunty of paper hat and attired in their festive finest. They looked like central casting’s pick of the litter for a re-make of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. And a couple of them looked as though they may have been around to celebrate the Café Royal’s original opening. I had to sit facing the wall because the sight of
8/20 Damage: £78.50
But thanks to Edinburgh Planners (who knew?!) we now have a Category A listed building that can never be destroyed or altered
someone dribbling soup down their novelty tie is enough to kill my appetite. As it turned out, that might have been no bad thing. We were given menus and asked if we wanted still or sparkling - a bad sign, to which we always tersely reply ‘tap’, The waitress turned on her disappointed heels and without a word returned with a carafe of rotten, warm tap water. I wonder if this was supposed to convince us of the error of our ways and to pay for the privilege of having acceptable water ‘for the table’? It failed. I can cut off my nose to spite my face as readily as the next stubborn sod. The waitress then brought some anaemic-looking bread which actually tasted little better than it looked, and the oysters we’d ordered as a pre-starter on the grounds that the Café Royal is famous for its oysters. What a disappointment – they were very small, tasted of not much and were overpriced at £9.50 for 6. We’d also ordered a bottle of Chablis because it was a very reasonable £18.95, and when it’s good is a classic match for all manner of the fish and shellfish we were looking forward to. It was warm on arrival but once the ice bucket drained a few degrees from the bottle, it turned out to be quite good quality and very good value for central Edinburgh. We kicked off with potato and vegetable soup (£4.10) and Cullen skink (£5.40). The former was fine, but too salty, and the latter was quite good – not thickened with too much flour, it had
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generous amounts of Arbroath smokie within and was close to a match for such offerings in our favourite Leith bistros. Mains were sea bass in chowder, which tasted like boil-in-the-bag mush and a fish stew which was not a stew, more seafood linguine in tomato sauce, but was a bit better than the ‘chowder’. We had a side of chips (£2.75) that would probably have cost them under 50p from Lidls. To finish, we shared a chocolate marquise which turned out to be a mousse-like effort; it came with cream and fresh mint and at £5.40 was over-priced but just on the right side of acceptable. Our passable double espressos with the pud were £1.95 each.
Bloated Pub Company
The following evening we had an M&S Dine in for a Tenner deal, including, as you will doubtless be aware, a bottle of wine. The food was better and the value much more so. The Café Royal is currently owned by Punch Taverns, a bloated pub company that long since got far too big for its boots. Its shares were worth £11.50 in 2007 but had collapsed to less than the price of a bag of chips the last time I looked. I read recently that there was a threat of their defaulting on £2.6bn of securitised loans. But they’ll survive, because as the old saying goes – if you’re skint and owe the bank 50 grand, you’ve got a problem: if you owe the bank £2.6 billion, the bank’s got a problem. ■
Mark Lazarowicz MP Constituency Office
5 Croall Place, Leith Walk, Edinburgh
Weekly Surgeries Every Friday 4pm Stockbridge Library 5pm Constituency Office
(No appointment required) Other Surgeries throughout constituency...
For details Tel: 557 0577 email@example.com www.marklazarowicz.org.uk
Leither Advertising Jennifer Lawrie ( 07908 550 118 firstname.lastname@example.org Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 25
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26 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 72
Home thoughts from abroad
On the road to nowhere via Antony Gormley’s bum waterofleith.org.uk
uild it and they will come’, the central tenet of the Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams has much to recommend it. In last month’s Leither, Gordon Munro spoke of the comparisons between Leith and Liverpool and how a lack of visitor attractions and accessibility for those who wish to walk meant that Leith was falling behind with regards to its attractiveness to tourists and those living here. This followed my article in the June edition when I spoke of my visit to London and how they had turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse by opening up the Thames Southbank walkway and linking it to St Paul’s, via the architecturally splendid footbridge. Both articles pointed out that Leith, whilst having much to offer, suffers from the lack of a cohesive network of footpaths or a showcase promenade allowing people to interact with Leith. Cramond is the paradigm for this; there are no major visitor attractions, just a wonderful wide walkway that families, dog walkers, cyclists and roller bladers flock to for the simple pleasure of getting out! However all is not lost for here in Leith, tucked away and barely noticed a start has been made and so in the best tradition of the Scotsman’s Saturday walking guide I present to you ‘Britannia Walk’!
Cask & Barrel hurray!
The best way to approach the walk is by the ubiquitous No 22 bus or car, there are always spaces in the car park attached to the cathedral of consumerism that is Ocean Terminal. Upon leaving you may want to have a look at the wonderful views that can be had from here across the Forth, it’s your last chance! Then descend to ground level, take a left turn and walk towards the water alongside the road entrance to the car park. Directly in front of you, is a large sign proclaiming ‘Britannia Walkway and viewing point’. I suggest that rather than immediately turning left as the sign dictates you may wish to go right first as this will add another 40 metres to your stroll. Walk to the end of the pathway until you are confronted by an old fence where the path stops, then turn around and re-trace your steps, the path then opens up into a broad, well made, path with cobble stones to your left and the water’ s edge to your right. After a couple of minutes you will come across a row of picnic tables, ensuring that you always have an opportunity to stop and get your breath
Britannia Walk Distance: 300 metres Time: 10 – 15 mins Height climbed: 0 metres Difficulty: Too easy Start Rating: No stars, Comment: A walk with views? Who are they kidding!
back. Continue along the path with the car park to your left and you will see journey’s end ahead. It will have taken little more than 5 minutes to reach the promised views, first up is the final piece of Antony Gormley’s, 6 Times, you get a fine view of the artist’s backside from here. Turn to your left for another fine view of a rear end, this time the Royal Yacht Britannia, I know this because that’s what it says on its stern, never having been able to get a good view of this vessel owing to the fact that someone built a shopping centre in front of it. You can then re-trace your steps, the whole round trip taking about 15 minutes if you walk really slowly, leaving you plenty of time to find something else to do. I managed to walk up to the excellent Cask and Barrel pub on Broughton Street, a proper walk along the old railway line with marvellous views of the Edinburgh skyline. Leith Ports was once publicly owned before being sold by the Government via a management buy out, since then its success has been based upon the building of flats and a shopping centre whilst providing little in the way of civic amenities. UK laws do not require
owners of companies to do anything other than maximise the benefits for the shareholder, ‘acting in a right and proper manner’ is not required. The consequences of this were shown recently with the closure of Heathrow airport. Also publicly owned until central government sold it off. Heathrow is now owned by a Spanish company whose borrowings are so high that it has to maximise every square foot of space for retail outlets and fast food joints.
Alas I fear
Public seating and decent snowploughs are low on their list of priorities. It’s the same philosophy that provides us with the joke that is Britannia walkway and the planned Biomass power station. Leith Ports has become very successful through the milking of this once publicly owned asset, is it too much to ask that a sudden act of public spiritedness might see them invest in something that doesn’t have an immediate cash benefit to them? Alas I fear the only way they would ever build a walkway worthy of its name was if they thought they could insert a turnstile and charge the users for the privilege. ■ Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 27
Boda Bar 229 Leith Walk 0131 553 5900 Rocktail Thursdays, Meze Fridays and Soul Sundays.
highlight of the month
Brunton Theatre 0131 665 2240 3 Feb: New Fangled Folk with Kim Edgar, Yvonne Lyon and David Ferrard - 7.30pm Burn’s Nicht: A Leith Festival Fundraiser Leith Dockers Club. 0131 454 4500 leithfestival.com Tickets £20/£15. Leith Festival office 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 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 Espy 62 Bath Street, Portobello 0131 669 0082 Tue: Stitch & Bitch (knitting circle) Fri: Live music 9.30pm 29 Jan: The Annual Espy Australia Day Iron Man Run. Charity Event Festival Theatre 0131 529 6000 8-12 Feb: Master Class staring Stephanie Beacham 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 18 Jan: Wendy Weatherby £8 25 Jan: Rachel Cross & Punch in the Dark £6 1 Feb: Michelle Burke with Anna Massie & James Ross £8 Nobles 44a Constitution Street 0131 629 7215 Every Mon: Quiz Night 28 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 72
Light Work by Emma Szilágyi
Emma Szilágyi, Charlotte Brayley & Mary Louise Wrightson The Leith Gallery, 65 Shore, Edinburgh 0131 553 5255 the-leith-gallery.co.uk 15th-29th January, Monday to Friday 11am5pm. Saturday 11am-4pm. The Crucial Three:
Emma’s painting connect to the element of fire. Charlotte found fame spray-painting and camouflaging her flock against the big cats of Scotland (it says here). Mary Louise too divines, in her work, that elusive childhood spirit. ■
Every Wed: World music with John Langan Every Thu: Hailey Beavis and Friends Every Sun: Acoustic Sets Fri 21 Jan: Peterman Powderkeg Project Sat 22 Jan: Holkum Blues & Support Fri 28 Jan: From The Windows Sat 29 Jan: The Black Diamond Express Fri 4 Feb: Act TBC Sat 5 Feb: Blue Wicked Spazm Band Fri 11 Feb: Sundancer plus The O’s Sat 12 Feb: Eclectic Mud with DJ’s Fuzz n’ Lee Fri 18 Feb: Peterman Powderkeg Project Sat 19 Feb: Adopted as Holograph Fri 25 Feb: Tam’s Railways & Support Sat 26 Feb: Act TBC
Sat 29 Jan: Advance tickets available from Ripping Records. vegasscotland.co.uk
Sofi’s Bar 65 Henderson Street 0131 555 7019 Monday Film Night 8pm Mon: Black & White Cinema Nights, 8pm, £2 1st Tues of Month: Knitting Nights 1st Thurs of Month: Open Mic with Shaz Until 31 Jan: Asta Petkunaite Exhibition 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 15 Jan: A Girl’s Night Out! With D.J. Trendy Wendy VEGAS! The Voodoo Rooms 8.30-1am
The Waterline 58 The Shore 0131 554 2425 15 Jan: Ned Goodwin 22 Jan: Blind Lemon 29 Jan: Burns Night Special - Andrew Gordon 5 Feb: Sean Lithgow Every Thu: Quiz 9pm
Concrete Wardrobe 50 Broughton Street 0131 558 7130 February Maker of the Month: Stewart Simpson. Screen prints and Lino cuts 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! 29 Jan: 3rd Global Commune Event, 11-4pm. Theme is Trade Unions Until 5 Feb: Maryam Hashemi and Haleh Jamali. Exhibition by two contemporary Iranian artists 10-5pm The Scottish Storytelling Centre 43 High Street Until 5 Feb: Exhibition by Edinburgh based Russian painter/designer, Maria Rudd. ‘Exile and Homecoming’ 19 Jan: Café Voices, 7pm, £4 22-25 Jan: Burnsfest. Series of events to celebrate the Bard. See website for details. 4 Feb: Songwriters’ Circle with Karine Polwart, David Ferrard & Kim Edgar 7.30pm, £10/£8.
What’sOn Sponsored by Chop Chop Leith 76 Commercial Street Commercial Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX Tel: 0131 553 1818
Malcolm Chisholm 0131 558 8358 MSP for Edinburgh North & Leith. Advice surgeries every Saturday morning. Mark Lazarowicz 0131 557 0577 MP for Edinburgh North & Leith. Weekly surgeries every Friday (no appointment required) 4pm Stockbridge Library. 5pm Constituency Office, 5 Croall Place Rob Munn 0131 529 3290 Leith Ward SNP. 1st & 3rd Mon of month: Leith Library 6pm 1st Fri of month: Leith Community Centre, 1pm 2nd Wed of month: 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 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
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)
he See t acht Y g n i c Ra dhound o o l B
Registered charity: SC028070
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 Laughter Yoga Mon 10 Jan: Leith Community Education Centre, 7-8pm, £4/£3 From Thurs 13 Jan: Iso Bar, Bernard Street, 7-8pm, £4/£3 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.
Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk Tel: 0131 555 5566
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All insurance work carried out. Free estimates. Mob. 07904 657899 Tel. 0131 555 2483 Email. firstname.lastname@example.org 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 ■
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. Jelly Co-Working Day 27 Jan: A free event for freelancers and home workers 9am-9pm. For more info contact the Melting Pot, 5 Rose Street 0131 243 2626. Leith Community Centre Kinsfolk Carers drop-in support group. Thursday 10am-noon. Crèche & Café available 07990795635
Full body: £15 Half body: £10 e: email@example.com Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 29
across 1 5 10 11 12 13 15 18 20 23 25 26 27 28
Bachelor with navy, party with gold that could not be missed (4,4) Metal pig (6) This food perhaps for the sly con, yes! (4,4,7) State in the style of bachelor mother (7) Narrows the eyes when organ note is aboard ship (7) Troublemaker one with tat between silver and gold (8) Strange great lake sound (5) Arsed in more ways than one (5) Derision when one cop is back in authority (8) Cups smashed everyone inside enlists (5,2) Portion of broken chanter (7) Is it next to the Queen Vic? (5,6,4) Flat board aboard ship that meanders (6) Storyteller ran back with rodent alternative (8)
Robert Burns Week 21st to 28th January. Burns menu available served alongside à la carte in the brasserie. Haggis choices and Scottish specialities at lunch and dinner with two courses at £17.50 and three courses at £22.50. Whisky Masterclass with Johnny Walker 22nd January. A 2 hour ‘Introduction to Whisky’ Masterclass at £20 per person.
down 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 14 16 17 19 21 22 24 25
Dance notice and this sung there (6) Renews chaser Reg put down (9) Fed up I with worker resistant to authority (7) Aim, on confused it’s all Latin to me (5) Ex-pupils salt bacon, weird! (7) Quill without, about feather cleaning (5) 3 down perhaps strides East (8) Shaved round set perhaps (8) Part Goth rap, pleased, by the throat (4,8) Rule broken with court worker, shy (9) Non-amateur heals and acts like pimp (8) Slip, day off and show (7) Branch of hell’s angels in book (7) Cop stripper (6) It’s in clay Erch, hen (5) Article thanks, certainly Greek (5)
crossword prize A bottle of Malmaison house wine
winner no.46 Karen Holmes, Dundee (Utd)
Email your answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Supplied by: www.leithlinks.co.uk
answers: crossword 46 across
1 Clocks on 5 Sprain 10 A head for heights 11 Cold air 12 Spinner 13 Passed on 15 Gabon
18 20 23 25 26
Paste Vitamins Torment Canasta Entrecote steaks 27 Sporty 28 Impelled
down 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9
Chance Overloads Kidnaps Odour Pairing Ashen Nose ring Chestnut
14 16 17 19 21 22 24 25
Devotion Bonus ball Spotless Everest Manatee Gassed Ratio Cream
Valentine’s Sharing Dinner with matched wines 11th to 14th February Call 0131 468 5001 30 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 72
Leither in London Carrie Mitchell …
…determines to wash those men right out of her hair
She’s got no chance of keeping that resolution, I hear you mutter, that is precisely why I’m writing it down here for you all to see
o here we are. Another new year, and what has changed? Not much for me. Still in the same job, still no progress on that book I’ve been planning to start for…oh, 10 years or so, and of course I’m still a fully signed up member of the singles club. This Spring, it’ll be 6 long years since I could legitimately be called someone’s girlfriend. Does that mean I get some kind of reward for my loyalty to the cause soon? A commemorative spoon or shiny plaque maybe? That’d be nice. I could hang it above my bed to mark the spot where all the trouble starts. Ironically, at the turn of the last year, my friends and I rather optimistically christened 2010 – the year of men. And in all honesty, there have been quite a few in these past twelve months but their roles have been more walk-on cameos than leading men. Maybe we should have been more specific with our expectations – it could have been the year of nice men who are not emotionally retarded, preferably over 5’ 11”, who don’t live with their parents, have decent jobs, and still believe in old-fashioned chivalry. Or to get right down to basics, men who want to date me rather than simply bed me. I’m beginning to think they may not even exist. If they do, they’re certainly not hammering down my door. Of course there’s one lingering thought that I’ve been trying to ignore but can’t quite seem to shake, maybe it’s not the men that are getting it wrong, maybe it’s me…
I definitely got things wrong with Chris. Any sane person would know that a man who states from the outset that he does not want a relationship and only gets in touch late at night when he’s feeling ‘fidgety’ is only looking for one thing – simple, no strings-attached sex. Yet I somehow manage to convince myself that our physical connection means much, much more and that if he just spends enough time with me, he’ll realise this too. Well guess what...that didn’t happen. And last month, I finally accepted that it won’t ever happen, calling the whole thing off and asking him not to contact me again. New year’s resolution number one: no more sex with Chris.
Rogues from good ‘uns
But that got me to thinking. Sex is what seems to get me in trouble. We all know that most women are incapable of separating sex from emotions so why do I continue to pretend that I’m any different? Maybe rather than sleeping with someone then developing misplaced feelings for them, I should figure out my feelings for them first – and more importantly, their feelings for me – before heading to the bedroom. Maybe that way I’ll be able to figure out the men from the boys, the rogues from the good ‘uns. And maybe that way, by the end of 2011, I might not find myself here again – single, frustrated, disillusioned. Of course knowing how my emotions
tend to run away from me, I appreciate that it’s going to be hard to identify any real feelings from my more impulsive (horny) ones. As far as I can see, there’s only one way to be sure, which brings me back to that resolution. What I propose is a revision of the ‘no more sex with Chris’ plan. Perhaps it’s time to try extreme measures - to take sex off the table altogether. New year’s resolution number one (revised): No More Sex. Bit of a grand statement, you might think. She’s got no chance, I hear you mutter. But that is precisely why I’m writing it down here for you all to see. I genuinely want to stick to this plan – and I figure declaring it publicly gives me more motivation to see it through than keeping it to myself. So here goes: I will not have sex in 2011. And while I’m making grand statements, here’s resolution number 2. This is the year I will write that book I’ve been threatening you all with since I started this column. I figure if I aim to average out at a page a day, I could be churning out a chapter every month. And if, for one reason or another, life gets in the way and I don’t write a word one week, I’ll just write twice as much the following week. If I can keep it up, by next New Year, I could have something approaching a first draft. After all, if I’m not going to be having sex all year, I’m going to have much more time on my hands. Wish me luck. I think I’m going to need it. ■ Issue 72 | leithermagazine.com | 31
OPENING FOR 2011 ON THE 18TH JANUARY
“A bubbly welcome back to cafe fish in 2011 to all our fellow Leithers” Book Dinner Tuesday to Saturday during January & February and we will welcome you with a glass of our fab champagne - Cheers!! January and February are great months for Scottish fish and shellfish and with the menu changing daily you’ll be able to sample all the best that Scotland has to offer! Our £10 for 2 courses lunch deal continues through January and February Leither Fizz T & Cs apply – must pre-book and mention ‘Leither Fizz Offer!’ when booking. Only applies to dinner – one glass per person but not the kids !!
60 Henderson Street, Edinburgh 0131 538 6131 www.cafefish.net
Published on Jan 14, 2011
our editor lived up to the title of this column and was ‘at large’ last month. Snifters were plentiful and the crack was mighty as Jimmy She...