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Free Issue 107


Inside: Latest addition to The Leither family, a wee beauty!

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127 Great Junction Street 0131 553 2722 2 | | Issue 107

Editor at Large

Contents 4

Undercover of anonymity, Protempore gives the editor ‘what for’ harking back to a golden age when there were proper journalists at Leither Towers

Hello Little One




ear reader – I use the singular advisedly – you will find a leaflet embedded in the folds of this particular issue of The Leither, please desist from casting it aside with undue force, it is not an advertising scam perpetrated by some scurrilous ne’er-do-well trying to separate you from your hard earned. Indeed it is the very polar opposite, for you will have in your hands The Little Leither – a bonnie pamphlet stuffed to the gunnels with all things Leith, brought to you, at least this first edition, by an enthusiastic bunch of young citizens. It is, I know, their fervent wish that in the fullness of time contributions will come from across the age spectrum and from all walks of life. This inaugural issue augurs well. In what surely qualifies as an eerie coincidence I came out of a screening of a fine documentary, Big Gold Dream – about the early 1980s rebirth of the Scottish Enlightenment (in a musical style) fomented by the Postcard and Fast Product record labels – in which Dave Carson, of this parish, delivers many sage and, typically, trenchant observations from his time as lead singer in the ‘super group’ Boots for Dancing. Imagine my surprise when, on settling in the Filmhouse bar with a pot of tea (honestly), to peruse my copy of The Little Leither, I found the very same Mr. Carson delivering the opening article in his capacity as Chairperson of Leith Festival. I can tell you it is a coruscating and insightful piece about the future of the Festival in which he, typically, takes no prisoners (hello Edinburgh Council). You are in for a rare treat.


We view the occurrence of a massive and typically eclectic Neu! Reekie! event in a Methodist Hall as a dandy excuse to interview the main musical protagonists

What else lies in wait? A potted history of Hibernian’s experiences in the Scottish Championship last season promises to be a roller coaster ride (hopefully without any casualties), that will appeal to those of the green persuasion. Readers of an artistic bent should hot foot it to the piece about the former Crawford’s Biscuit Factory and the creative possibilities therein, a timely overview of the recent Leith Jazz & Blues Festival reminds me of what I missed whilst not getting that Buffalo Black soup kettle (product placement alert) back to David Barnes.

Reverse origami

Whilst warmly extolling the virtues of ‘this little beauty’ of a debut, which hopefully even now will be doing a reverse origami in your eager mitts, it would be remiss of me not to admit that one’s gruntle was more than a little dissed when I noticed that my local of choice, the unimpeachable The Alan Breck Lounge Bar, 159 Constitution Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH6 7AD, 0131 467

2581 (surely free bevy beckons?) doesn’t feature in the otherwise thoroughly comprehensive survey of the cheapest pint of lager to be had in Leith. For shame. Finally, on the subject of shame, there is – somewhere in the bowels of this otherwise bracing and thought provoking first issue of The Little Leither – an article by yours truly, in which I explain to potential eager future contributors in laborious detail how best not to deliver their articles in timely fashion for deadline day. Feel free to regard said piece as the only trespass of cynicism in an otherwise wholly noble and noteworthy enterprise, which is by way of saying that my, ‘it is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them’. Will hopefully be trumped by The Little Leither’s, more celebratory, ‘nothing is true, everything is permitted’. Mind you, both quotes are attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche…and we all know how that ended. ■

Win tickets to the Netherlands Circus e have 15 family tickets to give away for The Netherlands National Circus at Ocean Terminal allowing entry for two adults and three children (aged 2-12). This fantastic prize has a value

Dan Gray and his father head of to Wembley with hope in their hearts and a spring in their step…not for long though

of £81 and is valid on any night from Tuesday 23rd to Sunday 28th June. For a chance to win a ticket please email the answer to this question: Name the retired boat at Ocean Terminal? To sue@ ■


Sally Fraser, somewhat improbably, embarks on a series of pole dancing classes apparently they make ‘the cares of the day slip away’


A remarkable cache of home movies from the 1960s, depicting the great and the good at Roddy McDowall’s Malibu beach house have surfaced on YouTube. Kennedy Wilson has a peek

Leither Published by: Leither Publishing Editor: William Gould ( 07891 560 338  Sub Editor: Dot Mathie Design:  Advertising: Sue Glancy ( 07772 059 516  Contacts:  8 Cartoonist: Gordon Riach Illustrator: Bernie Reid Printers: Thoughtwell Ltd, Edinburgh ( 0131 551 3265 ( 07904471959 * © 2015 LEITHER PUBLISHING. Reproduction in whole or part is forbidden without the written permission of the Publishers. The Leither does not accept responsibility for unsolicited material. 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:

Cover: Ryan Laing at Zac & Zac Issue 107 | | 3

Protempore … Our stretch of the water is home to piles of rubbish, footballs, discarded shopping trolleys and large amounts of silt D

ear readers, I have lost count of the number of times that people have come up to me in the street (i.e. the pub) and asked me if and when there are going to be more local stories and local issues covered in this thunderous rag which has extended its reach far beyond the glorious boundaries of EH6. Some of those who approach me are misty-eyed and long to hear about stuff happening on their own doorstep while others are incandescent that there hasn’t been an article about the trams for what seems like an age. I can still remember when proper journalists like Dave Barnes worked on the magazine and who became a proper thorn in the side of local councillors, dignitaries (and more often than not, the then editor) filing stories (usually a week late) which exposed incompetence, laziness and sheer ignorance thereby making people sit up, take notice and even get involved in putting pressure on those who can make a difference. It’s fair to say that in the run up to the referendum, this particular column was as guilty as any of focussing on the bigger picture nationally, but it would have seemed pretty strange to have ignored one of the most important moments in Scotland’s history to concentrate on the seagull problem and the bins.

A complete eyesore

However, I am nothing if not a proud and staunch Leither; I am also a man of the people (whatever that means) and am not one to ignore the impassioned pleas of those who would like to read a bit more of what’s happening (or what’s not happening) in our colourful 4 | | Issue 107

neighbourhood. And, ironically, it was while taking a walk from the National Galleries up in darkest Edinburgh back home to Leith that I decided to write about something which has been annoying Leithers for far too long. Anyone who has lived in Leith for any length of time will have taken a walk along the water of Leith. For many of us, it’s just there; a part of our local landscape which we probably take far too much for granted. It’s a beautiful stretch of water which, according to the Water of Leith Conservation Trust, flows for 24 miles from its source in the Pentland Hills, through the city, to its outflow into the Firth of Forth in sunny Leith. The valley that the water flows through was once host to over 70 mills, which harnessed the power of the water to produce paper, fabric and flour with the river mouth at Leith supporting one of the busiest docks in Europe. The Trust states that today, the river is home to a wide diversity of plants and animals from wild garlic and orchids to brown trout, heron, kingfishers and even otters. I can testify to the fact that there are heron and kingfishers as I’ve seen them many times and I’ll never tire of trying to catch a glimpse of an otter on one of my many walks along the banks of the water. There are also six statues by the artist Anthony Gormley at various points along the river. But for Leithers, the water is and has been for far too long, a source of irritation, frustration and anger as our particular stretch of the water is also home to piles of rubbish, footballs, discarded shopping trolleys and large amounts of silt which serves to discourage wildlife. Put simply, at times,

Pigticians illustration by Bernie Reid

the water in Leith is a complete eyesore. For many years, I’ve had conversations with councillors and politicians and asked them who would be responsible for cleaning up the water in and around the Leith basin. They all seem to be in agreement that no one can agree as to who is ultimately responsible; some say it’s the local council, others say it’s Forth Ports. The fact that no one has ever taken responsibility for cleaning it up is an absolute disgrace. But it doesn’t have to be like this.

The Leith basin

The valley that the water flows through was once host to over 70 mills, which harnessed the power of the water to produce paper, fabric and flour

Like me, you’ve probably never heard of biomatrix floating islands. Thought not. But these floating islands can be custom-designed and utilised to improve water quality and increase biodiversity. They offer a cost effective and attractive focal point to waterscapes, and support natural, maintenance-free ecological water restoration processes. They can also be equipped with solar power panels which encourage biological sediment breakdown, again, leading to increased biodiversity and cleaner water. How do I know all of this? Because I heard on the grapevine that a local company, SRT EcoBuild (, has offered to implement such a project to improve the situation at the Leith basin but those with the powers and levers to give it the go-ahead have yet to take the plunge. If the water tables were turned and all of the rubbish, muck and smell were gathered at the Dean Village, this project would have been given the green light years ago. Let’s get involved. ■ Protempore

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6 | | Issue 107

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A Postcard from Daniel Gray

#8 Wembley


he man has a piece of paper. On it is written ‘Black Ford’ and ‘11.30am’. Up and down, up and down he paces along the footpath, glancing at cars and then at the paper. With the non-note hand, he nudges his sinking spectacles hard against the bridge of his nose, sighs and slumps against a wall. Luton Airport’s pick-up area does this to you. He shows me the piece of paper. “Have you seen a Black Ford, mate?” I have not the heart to tell him that I couldn’t tell a Ford from a motorbike, that cars have long eluded me, but I settle for what I hope is a sympathetic shake of the head. In front of us, a man in shades performs an Irish jig around a ginger-haired bloke who looks like he wants to cry. Drivers toot and gesticulate at one another, their arms like the branches of some demented tree in the wind. My fatherly lift arrives and we leave the man looking for his Black Ford. It is way after 11.30am. Football brings me to the Deep South. This is not just any football. This is Middlesbrough. For 27 of my 33 years they have tormented and delighted me. They are my curse and my family. If – and millions are like me here – I put the toil into another pursuit that I do following this football club, I would be useful and perhaps even beautiful. We are going to Wembley, rhythmic, magicfuelled words when you are lost to this game like I am. Me and 40,000 others, all convincing ourselves that getting the upstairs front seat on the bus or finding 20p on the floor are lucky omens; not only are we going to Wembley: we are going to win. On the morning of the game, we travel to 1957. A relative has brought

mementoes of his footballing career to show us. There are prim matchday programmes and newspaper clippings gone brittle. He played in the Spartan League, a fair level if you happened to be in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire or beyond in the 1950s. In fonts that take me far away, I read about Boreham Wood and Ruislip FCs, Tring Town and Sandy Albion. ‘Brown’s Brilliant Goalkeeping Prevented an Utter Rout’, a headline shouts at me. Another tells of ‘The Massacre of Stonecross Road’ (Hatfield Town 8 v 3 Baldock Town). Old adverts take your hand and lead you gently down the high street. J. Hartrop Tobacconist (‘Dutch and English Whiffs’), Days’ Off Licence (‘For all your drink in the home’) and Hollier’s Tuberculin Tested Milk. How about we look in on EC Careless, Ironmonger or Peter Goodfellow with his Distinctive Menswear? And let us not forget that Boreham Wood Cage Bird Society meets on the first Wednesday of every month. I am still thinking of Bob the Barber and the Hankin Drapery as we jolt and grind through Metroland and into London. The old beast fascinates me. As ever, it is not the parts or buildings I am supposed to be interested in, but the housing estates and scruffy shop parades. All those lives, all those stories, piled together like chaotic toys on a jumble sale table. This, though, is a football day, and therefore one for the heart rather than the head. My fellow reds swarm around King’s Cross. Half of Middlesbrough is here, the old with steel in their blood and the young who may well have to take their chances elsewhere. Work for the latter has vanished since the days

We are going to Wembley, rhythmic, magic-fuelled words when you are lost to this game like I am. Me and 40,000 others

when ‘Made on Teesside’ was chiselled into bridges straddling Sydney Harbour and the Tyne. Here is a town and team whose identities are interspersed. Hope is pinned on shirts with lions on the crest, and hope is important. The escalators down into the earth are caked red too. I feel wildly, hypnotically optimistic. What is the point of going to football if you don’t? I look across the Tube carriage at my Dad. We were first here to see our team in 1990. I remember flashes of the game, and more about the riot afterwards Police horses bolting and me picking up a Middlesbrough flag with Doc Marten prints across it, a spoil of war. I still have it. I ask him if he thinks we will win. “Of course we will.” He looks as petrified as I am beginning to feel. Somewhere between Kilburn and Dollis Hill, I am remembering that we actually have to play another team to win, and not a bad one at that. Wembley Way feels like the centre of the world. This is an occasion. We sing our way in. We are going up. Norwich City score two early goals and the game is over, really, by halftime. Again and again, I look around our half of the ground, up and down, up and down. We needed this. Our town needed this. All those hopes and stories turned to sadness and thoughts of work tomorrow. The final whistle goes. Other people’s joy is hell. We trudge and dredge away. “I bloody hate Wembley,” says my Dad. ■ ÊÊInfo: Our Dan presents the People’s History Show, every Monday at 20:30 on STV Edinburgh ÊÊWeb: ÊÊTwitter: @d_gray_writer Issue 107 | | 7

TheNoRecipe Man Tom Wheeler

The Gwyneth bloody Paltrow process


very now and then, I’ll find myself talking to someone who proudly claims never to eat processed food. My preferred approach in these situations is to excuse myself politely and down a pint of Cup-a-Soup – which is probably good news for the person concerned, because if I were ever to provide a proper response, it would take quite a while, and would go something like this. “Everything you eat is processed. Cultivating grain is a process – several processes, in fact. Turning that grain into flour, and onwards into pasta or bread, involves several more. The wine in your glass, organic and sulphite-free as it may be, has been elaborately processed since its previous life as grapes on a vine. We’ve been processing food for millennia – through pickling, salting, drying and the like – in order to preserve it. If we hadn’t, most of us wouldn’t be here. So if you don’t eat processed food, what exactly do you eat?

Why would you rely on some arbitrary and flawed credo to determine your eating decisions, then have the brass neck to boast about it?

Pseudo bacon

What I’m guessing you mean is that, as far as possible, you’d prefer your food to be processed by someone you trust – yourself, ideally – using methods with which you’re comfortable. In other words, you’re keenly interested in the provenance of the food you eat. There’s nothing at all wrong with that; but the processed/unprocessed distinction you’re applying is as artificial as the pseudo-bacon in a veggie breakfast. If it’s any comfort, you’re far from alone in seeking a crutch for your eating choices. Some worship at the altar of a certain shop or brand: “well, it’s from M&S, so it must be all right”. Others strike entire food groups from their diets because Gwyneth bloody Paltrow tells

8 | | Issue 107

A singular yet singularly enticing Cheesy Wotsit

them to, or buy blueberries in industrial quantities because somebody once had the bright idea of slapping the word ‘superfood’ on the packaging. And at the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who’ll go out of their way to avoid finding out what their food contains. Theirs is perhaps the greatest act of faith of all: placing their total trust in food manufacturers and regulators to ensure that what they eat won’t kill them – at least, not straight away. That’s their prerogative too, of course; but it does mean that they forfeit the right to complain when they eventually discover that their battered sausage consists mainly of wood shavings and badger faces. Here’s what I don’t understand. In other aspects of life – deciding what to wear, what car to drive or where to go on holiday – you’ll routinely make your own choices on a case-by-case basis, informed by any number of factors, notably time and money. Why, then, would you rely on some arbitrary and flawed credo to determine your eating decisions, then have the brass neck to boast about it? Is there really any point in buying, peeling and chopping a kilo of fresh tomatoes for your pasta sauce when you could pick up a couple of tins of the same ingredient for half the cost? Or, if tinned tomatoes don’t fall within your personal definition of processed food, how about black bean sauce? Do you salt and ferment your own soya beans; do you decide to do without; or do you simply open a sachet? If the last option seems unthinkable, bear in mind that, while food labelling in this country might be far from perfect, you are at

least able to check the ingredients of this or any other processed food before you buy it. If you’re reasonably happy with the contents, what does it really matter whether you’ve painstakingly assembled the sauce yourself or tipped it out of a jar? And even if you discover that the ingredients of the bought sauce include the dreaded MSG, it’s really not the end of the world. After all, you already eat it every day – it occurs naturally in mushrooms, potatoes and tomatoes (even unprocessed ones) – so a little more is unlikely to hurt you.

You’re looking alarmed

If you’ll forgive me for clambering on a familiar hobbyhorse, turning your nose up at perfectly good food because it arrives in a packet, jar or tin is as illogical as slavishly following a stranger’s recipe, rather than trusting your own senses, judgement and tastes. Your next-door neighbour obediently stirs a spoonful of paprika into his stew because Jamie Oliver tells him to. As it happens, he’s no great fan of paprika; but it’s in the recipe, so he’s trooped off to the shop to pick some up, and is about to be rewarded with a slightly worse meal than he’d otherwise have had. Meanwhile, you’re spending an hour shelling fresh broad beans to make a purée that’s entirely indistinguishable from the one you could have made with frozen beans in thirty seconds. Both of you are relying on longobserved rules of thumb, in defiance of your common sense. And it’s difficult to decide whose actions are the more bizarre. Sorry, I can see you’re looking a bit alarmed there. No offence meant I assure you. Care for a Cheesy Wotsit?” n ÊÊTwitter: @norecipeman

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Issue 107 | | 9


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Eve Arnold: An Unretouched Woman Kennedy Wilson remembers the famous Magnum photographer who photographed Marilyn Monroe and migrant farmers with the same compassionate eye

Detail of Eve Arnold self-portrait from the cover of Magnum Legacy: Eve Arnold


t may be the saddest movie ever made. Within five years of the 1961 release of The Misfits three of its stars were dead: Hollywood legend Clark Gable succumbed 9 months after the film’s release at the age of 59, due to a heart attack rumoured to have been brought on by the stress of making the film in the Nevada desert; the tortured sex goddess Marilyn Monroe overdosed on barbiturates (supposedly) at only 36, barely 7 months later; and Montgomery Clift had already begun the selfdestructive journey towards drinking himself to death which reached its sorry destination in 1966 – he was 45. The film set was an unhappy one. Director John Huston was drinking heavily, screenwriter Arthur Miller was breaking up from his wife Marilyn and the desert heat was unbearable. Much of the sadness and tension of the film shoot was captured by the Magnum photographer Eve Arnold. Monroe was at the peak of her beauty but her life was tipping into tragedy. According to one of Arnold’s obituarists, the largely self-taught photographer was able to ‘show celebrities in spontaneous mood, and to achieve unusual levels of intimacy and trust with her subjects, especially women’. Arnold was a photographer of people – trying, as she put it, “to record the essence of a subject in the 125th part of a second.” Born one of nine siblings to poor Russian migrants in Philadelphia in 1912 she lived to be 99 years old, enjoying an accomplished professional career now captured in a new book, Magnum Legacy: Eve Arnold. Arnold loved to travel and her photography career memorably took her to her parents’ homeland in 1965 and visits to China yielded a remarkable body of work that threw new light on this then hidden and enigmatic country. She photographed everything from the opera house to the sports arena, students to soldiers. As ever her eye was acute yet compassionate.

An outsider’s eye

She became the first female photographer at the celebrated Magnum photo agency when it opened a branch in New York. What made Magnum special was that it was a

cooperative. “The idea was to protect the work of its photographers by ensuring that they, rather than the people who assigned them, owned the copyright to their work,” writes the author of the book, Janine di Giovanni. What was to become one of Arnold’s passions was ‘shining a light into dark corners’. Famously, after a miscarriage, she threw herself straight back into working, her first project being a photo essay of a maternity ward. Arnold was a late starter; in 1950 she was a 38-year-old Long Island housewife who enrolled on a six-week photography course that led to a groundbreaking photo essay on black fashion models in Harlem. Still, it took another year before she believed that she had a serviceable portfolio she felt proud of. Soon she was travelling the world. Her pictures appearing in pioneering British publications like Picture Post and the Sunday Times Colour Section (later Magazine). She lived in Britain for many years photographing the British with an outsider’s eye. Indeed she photographed several British prime ministers – Margaret Thatcher was the most difficult, stage

Ask yourself what you are trying to say. If you love what you see – then see it with love. Remember it is the photographer and not the camera that is the instrument

managing the shoot and telling Arnold how to take the best picture. The end result was telling. Thatcher positioned herself next to a giant plaster head of her hero Churchill making the lady look like a dwarf. In a long career Eve Arnold worked on photo essays, exhibitions, books, advertising features and programmes for TV. Zelig-like she captured the American Civil Rights movement, South African apartheid, Trenchtown Rastas (back in 1953), and was the on-set photographer on thirty-one motion pictures. In the 1980s she travelled across America capturing everything from the Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City and Texas chain gangs to New York’s Guardian Angels and San Francisco’s Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. She was hugely generous with her time. Helping young, inexperienced photographers. Among her tips were: “ask yourself constantly what it is you are trying to say. If you love what you see – then see it with love. Remember it is the photographer and not the camera that is the instrument.” In this world of social media where we are assaulted by images every day (meaningless memes, joyless giffs, Instagram etc) remember, the next time you pick up your camera or camera phone before you press the shutter, think to yourself: what would Eve do? ■ ÊÊInfo: Magnum Legacy: Eve Arnold by Janine di Giovanni published by Prestel and the Magnum Foundation at £25.99 visit Issue 107 | | 11

Dancing About Architecture No.29

The Rainbow Chasing Hippo & I In the beginning was the word and verily the word was spoken reckons Rodger Evans


n the left hand is a pint but the right is free and he makes an arc with that arm to show something he wishes us to identify. A rainbow! After several more bouts of audience participation he conjures up the image of a rainbow reflected in a puddle in which a hippopotamus is dancing. Cue smiles all round. Welcome to the backroom of the Persevere pub and 10Red, a monthly poetry powwow overseen by Kevin Cadwallender, wearer of a woollen jumper of a June evening and a man David Bowie once instructed to fetch a glass of water. Ill-advised. The capital’s spoken word scene is rosy of cheek and catholic of taste, with nights such as Blind Poetics, Inky Fingers, Neu!Reekie!, Rally & Broad and Shore Poets, but 10Red is the most egalitarian. Ten readers do 10 minutes, be you a first timer or serial performer, with no big-up introductions, but there is a raffle – with books, a kettle and Curly Wurlies to be won. I’m doing a turn tonight and I sit nervously during the seven speakers before me, tuned in but semi-detached. That is until one guy gets up to sing and strum through three tunes. Then I turn into the little book of calm. I know my lines, it’s all that rehearsing in the shower, and I remind myself that today would have been Allen Ginsberg’s 89th birthday. This is going to be OK.

Stilts during coitus

Alec from Blind Poetics is next on and furiously funny, recalling his time as an altar boy and an episode involving puke and profanity that ended in his expulsion. His MC-ing experience is evident. He connects. An AmericanIranian reads poems about her memories of Tehran. Another young woman versifies about someone feeling like an apple core or being upside down on stilts during coitus. Only she says “being fucked”. My nerves return. And we don’t win anything in the raffle, though Kevin chucks us a compensatory Curly Wurly. Then he says my name. Agh. I’m up. An opening comment about the host’s knitwear and I reference the birthday boy and how I’d considered paying tribute by taking off all my clothes and reciting 12 | | Issue 107

Don’t even ask!

Welcome to the backroom of the Persevere pub and 10Red, a monthly poetry powwow overseen by Kevin Cadwallender, wearer of a woollen jumper of a June evening

Howl. In Scots. Polite tittering. I suggest Ginsberg would have approved of the title of the first piece: My Typewriter Ejaculates. Someone ooh-ers and it might be Kevin. Ten minutes scoot by with a few pauses but no brain freeze and no forgotten words. There is a brief interaction with a pished guy concerning Thomas Pikety but I handle it. I include two emotionally heavy poems I haven’t warned my Missus about, one being about our middle child’s liver failure when he was just weeks old. She’s close to bubbling she tells me later. I even sing a line, one from The Hippy Hippy Shake, realising afterwards that I’ve got the lyrics wrong – shimmy shimmy when it should be hippy hippy – but the melody is right. Tom might not have spun his chair around but Rita or Ricky would have hit that button. The chap on after me is doing oneliners and they’re woeful, as if written by a small child loving the idea of jokes but yet to learn the principles. He keeps at it with a conviction as absurd as it is impressive. I salute you, Sir. Anyone who gets up to do a spot deserves respect and he’s seeing his routine through unfazed by the groans and theatrical laughter. He too has an exchange with the pished guy but plays it up and responds with the worst/best gag of the lot – something about walls having ears, this being an ear museum. He expresses self-doubt about that one, his single moment of vulnerability. I chortle and down a pint of

Guinness, one I’d been denying myself for the last hour and a half. Up last is a poet called Nico. He spins on-the-road stories and does three long and loud poems that do little for me despite my best efforts and a heightened level of generosity. I’m channelling Peggy Guggenheim. The highlight is a piece about turning into his Granddad. You can’t help but like him. Puppyish in his energy and music hall with his camp, he resembles a mini Jack Black and must know as much because he dresses accordingly.

Five star review

The Missus hands me a five star review at the end and while she’s hardly a disinterested party neither is she one to hurl around the superlatives. I hear compliments from complete strangers and accept them with grace rather than bashfulness. If Mark Twain was correct in his assessment, these effusions should sustain me for the next six months. I shake hands with a now jumper-less Mr Cadwallender, talk football with the blokes from Blind Poetics and waft out of the pub on my own personal cloud. No doubt my ego will return to its regulation size at some point but I remain a-buzz as I write this sentence. And the next one. The rainbow-chasing hippo is still dancing in his puddle. n ÊÊFacebook: Tenred

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At home on Disappearing Islands When Marianne Wheelaghan fancied a change she certainly got one, the Republic of Kiribati, bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean


hen I was growing up rock band Mott The Hoople said ‘home’ was ‘where they wanna be’, for Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz there was no place like it, John Denver wanted to be taken there, Tom Jones longed for its ‘green green grass’ and Lynryd Skynyrd called it ‘sweet’. But I never got the big deal about it. Home was the same old same old, dull. I yearned for the beauty of being surrounded by the unfamiliar. I wanted the slap of the different in my face, to shake up my senses. And so I travelled, which is how I ended up on the very remote South Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati (see Leither Magazine issue 106). However, of all the different places I’d been – quite a few by then – South Tarawa was the place I most struggled to appreciate. It consists of a string of islets, joined by causeways to form a narrow strip of land slap bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is 3 meters above sea level at its highest point, with an average width of only 450 meters. In other words, it’s a narrow strip of sand surrounded by water in the middle of nowhere. I thought being so far away would mean exotic. Tranquil. And it was. But a tranquil life can also be a boring life. Being on Tarawa reminded me of a sunny Sunday in Scotland in the 70s: suffocating and oppressive – but much hotter and think coconut trees instead of

lampposts. Even after I started my job as a teacher, I hated that there was nothing to do and nowhere to go – there are only so many books you can read to pass the time. I struggled to like tinned lamb flaps, instant noodles and long life milk – the only imports at the time; I was disgusted at the local habit of using the beach as a toilet; I was infuriated at how Kiribati people took forever to do anything and that when it rained everyone took to their beds and slept. And then there was the extreme isolation. The nearest western hospital was 4968 miles away in Australia, eight hours flying time away, once a week. What if we got ill, I mean really ill, or had an accident (the local mini buses were death traps)? For the first time in my life I lost my bearings. I yearned for the familiar, no matter how dull. I was homesick and after six months I headed home to Edinburgh. But on my return something weird happened.

Giant Clam harvesting in shallow water near a village in Tabiteuea, South Tarawa

How to be still

And then there was the extreme isolation. The nearest western hospital was 4968 miles away in Australia, eight hours flying time away, once a week

As if for the first time I saw the litter and crusty dog crap on the streets. Was surprised by the constant in-your-face advertising to buy stuff. Alarmed by the deafening traffic noise. Buildings, streets and people all looked the same homogenous shade of dirty grey. Everyone was in a hurry, caught up in the never-ending cycle of work-sleepwork. And then there was the weather: Rain. Wind. And more rain. I had an epiphany: while I thought I’d been stagnating during my six months in Tarawa, I had, in fact, been learning a valuable skill, how to be still. By not having to rush and by soaking in nature, I had unwittingly discovered what was important to me. Sure, I enjoyed the

good stuff of city life, like the galleries, the bookshops, the theatres, the cinemas etc. But I realised I didn’t care a jot about fashion, so what if red heels were in or out? It was okay if I didn’t eat organic, I wouldn’t die. I didn’t want this year’s car, HD TV or iPhone. I preferred the blue of the Pacific Ocean to the murky-grey of the city. I longed for the gentle rustle of coconut fronds instead of the screaming nee naw, nee naw, of emergency vehicles. Getting drenched when I left the house was miserable, why not stay in and take a nap when it rained? What was the hurry? I returned to Tarawa and saw it as the people who lived there saw it: a stress free, beautiful home. I had my second epiphany: home is not so much about the place we’re from as knowing who we are inside. It’s about looking after our soul as much as a piece of soil. And travelling is not so much about being somewhere different as being willing to see our surroundings as others might do. It’s a matter of perspective. Perhaps this is why so many of the 220 million people in the world who live in countries they were not born in, can call the foreign place they live in their home. I am now back in Edinburgh and I love it. As long as I make the effort to be still every now and then, I see it’s not all dog crap and rain. I now get why so many people sing songs yearning for home. ‘Home’ is where we become ourselves. As Marcel Proust would have it: ‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in looking with new eyes.’ n ÊÊInfo: Marianne’s novel, Food of Ghosts, set on Kiribati, is available from ÊÊTwitter: @MWheelaghan Issue 107 | | 15

Neu! Reekie! #UntitledLive The Interviews M

ichael Pedersen: Kevin Williamson and I set up Neu! Reekie! in December 2010. We’re now entering our fifth year programming what we reckon have been cutting edge, fast-paced yet carefully curated mixed-arts events with a literary yolk – all you have to do is bring your own toast and get dipping. We’ve taken this unique brand of bash to New York, Tokyo, London and Malawi whilst publishing poetry anthologies, sticking out a few singles, along with a double compilation album on our micro record label. We’ve had Jim Lambie designed CDs; honey coloured and scented cassettes; bespoke wooden USBs and, as of the 9th of June, #UntitledLive – our biggest, boldest and most strident undertaking to date. The historic Central Hall hosted 1,000 guests in what we believe will prove to be one of the shows of the year. Heading up the bill were the mighty Young Fathers (whose interview with Dave McGuire ends this piece), one of the most exciting musical forces in the world right now. I caught up with the other musical acts on a multifarious bill; internationally renowned DJ, producer and re-mixer Andrew Weatherall and Davie Millar from iconic electronic dance troupe FiniTribe. n


Michael Pedersen: Tell me how FiniTribe got started, what was the thinking behind it? Davie Miller: FiniTribe came into being because that’s what you did on the dole in the early 1980s. You formed a band. A mutual love of Edinburgh post punk group Visitors, German Krautrock band Can, Throbbing Gristle and Wire bound us all together. We used tape loops and pieces of metal mixed with guitars and percussion to make sounds and songs. Musicianship was not considered nor seemed important. I doubt there was any collective thought behind it. We just liked getting together and making a noise. It seems that you very soon found yourselves involved with quirky labels while collecting John Peel sessions? We started our own label in 1984 called Finiflex and released our first 12 inch vinyl single Curling and Stretching. It was a DIY effort and we paid for the release ourselves. John Peel played the single on 16 | | Issue 107

his radio show and asked us to support him on his Roadshows. He then asked us to record our first Peel Session in 1985. That changed everything. Our second single DeTestimony – a slab of music that featured a peel of bells that, two years later, became an integral sound of the Balearic/Acid House movement in Ibiza and London – was released by Glasgow label Cathexis in 1986. Things moved quickly again and Wax Trax! a Chicago label signed us via Southern Studios, home of Adrian Sherwood who became our sound engineer. FiniTribe have caused a bit of controversy in their time – lashing out at the Golden Arches for instance – are you a political band or just fond of mischief making? I would say we are political but mischief is never far from anything we do. We openly attacked McDonalds with a song that used the Old Macdonald nursery rhyme as its chorus. It attacked its gross farming methods and deforestation of the Amazonian rain forest. We mimicked their posters and covered the country in FUCK off McDonalds posters. Lawyers came in heavy and we were asked to destroy the posters. We didn’t, we sold thousands of Fuck off McDonalds posters and T-shirts, which funded our UK tour that year. Was there also a story concerning nearly setting a venue ablaze in Caledonia’s fair capital? After recording Detestimony we lost interest in the conventional band set-up. We put down guitars and picked up projectors and kettledrums. Mischief and the simple need to do things differently played a part, we were utilising lots of different ways to make sounds and imagery. We used animation, angle grinders, paint and sculpture to make our set, which we built with stolen scaffolding, and for reasons I can no longer remember we used a large metal trough that we filled with petrol and set alight. We had rehearsed this in our studio but didn’t realize that in a room full of people fire is propelled by heat. When we lit the fire the flames reached the ceiling and along with angle grinding bits of the scaffolding set we brought panic and the fire service to the venue. Some thought us quite pretentious but we liked that, indeed encouraged it.

From top: FiniTribe (by Janica Honey), Andrew Weatherall & Young Fathers

‘For reasons I can no longer remember we put a large metal trough on the Assembly Rooms stage and set it alight… we are still barred” FiniTribe

I believe we are still barred from the Assembly Rooms! After a hiatus you’re back with a bang: a stunning 2015 Record Store Day release with One Little Indian, a flurry of live events forthcoming. How did the comeback happen? I was encouraged by Trevor Jackson to re-release Detestimony 25 years after its original release. He had licensed it for a compilation called Metal Dance and thought it should come out again. It snowballed from there. I asked various people to remix it firstly my good friend Scott Ferguson (Robot 84) and Justin Robertson. Keith from Optimo got in touch, I was delighted he wanted to rework it. Finally John Vick (Millar’s bandmate) remixed it and it just found its own momentum. I went back to One Little Indian who we’d been signed to in the early 1990s and they asked for more. 101 has just been released and there will be a further update of this track later in the year with Andrew Weatherall’s original Intensity mix featuring. John and I are working with One Little Indian on a project but are unsure how this will materialise in shape or sound. It’s likely we will spend some time in Iceland collecting sounds and ideas and there is a theme developing around Science. Can you let me know your thoughts on the acts you’re playing with at #UntitledLive? We’ve known Andrew since we first met in Brighton in 1989, he has never compromised his position on any of his creative output. When I want to hear new music I pretty much refer to his recordings, his radio shows or his Djing much as I did with John Peel in the late 1970s. That Young Fathers have a clear vision of what they want to achieve musically and politically is the biggest appeal to me. I have only seen them live once but their intensity reminded me of Joy Division. They don’t need that comparison but they enthralled me that night as much as when I saw Joy Division. I find them quite industrial and I like that.

Andrew Weatherall

Andrew Weatherall: (Eventually answering phone). “Sorry Michael, I’m in the basement all the time – it’s my

excuse for being non-contactable. Too busy making things to be interrupted.” Michael Pedersen: Aye, that’s the show sold out. Did I tell you it’s in a Methodist church? Sold out? Why the fuck am I doing this promotional interview then? Haha! Methodists - we’re just doing what they do without the books – gathering together in sacrament, trying to attain transcendence. We’re Methodists in disguise my friend.

Inverness by The Prats, which is just them banging saucepans and shouting: “Inverness! What a Mess!”. Both are quintessentially Scottish. I produced The Twilight Sad by not producing them if you see what I mean. They wanted something more electronic but they did all the work with the engineer. I think they just wanted someone outside of the band to step inside and say “that’s okay”.

How did you find your way into music because it was a zeal for art and a flair for style that held you in the younger years? Suburban living is a bit dull to a young man reaching his teens; you’re looking for a Technicolor escape. That was provided with music and with that came the style and the fashions associated with music, which leads you into art. It was just what I liked more than anything and it enabled me to escape. I didn’t have a bad up bringing it was just a bit monochrome.

What does the rest of 2015 have in store? Right this second I’m putting the finishing touches on a New Order remix. I’m running Convenanza Festival in France at Carcassonne Castle in September. I like that sort of secular taking over the religious – it’s the heresy element. It’s nice how that symmetry came around. I’m also setting up a new label called Moine Dubh where I’ll work with poets on improvised, subscription only, 7-inch singles.

Can you package some highlights from your career to date? In terms of the fulfillment factor or something more unusual. Just being given the opportunity to make things, sometimes with people whose music I really admire. Being mentioned in Jah Wobble’s autobiography was a bit of a high point. Also DJing/warming-up for Chuck Berry. And I’m being given that ability as an amateur. I’m not a professional by any means, I’m a music fan who gets to go into the studio with people far more talented than myself and make stuff. How would you describe your relationship with Scottish music? Naturally you’re lauded for those sacred ‘Screamadelica’ workings and you’ve produced Twilight Sad. In The Herald a few years ago I read I was a ‘Glasgow born’ DJ and a fair amount of the world believes I am from Glasgow. So, I like that osmosis where I’ve actually turned into a Glaswegian. Hmmmm, maybe that’s not the best thing to say when doing an interview for an Edinburgh publication. I’ll start furiously back peddling. So, yeah, it’s not just Glasgow I get a lot of love from Scotland in general. Many of my early musical memories are based around John Peel. Favourite moments include Ivor Cutler’s Life in a Scotch Living Room and a record called

Is a collaboration between you and YF likely in the future? I thought they were great the first time I heard them, it was timeless music, it was naturally modern – they weren’t trying to be modern – nothing dates quicker than a new sound, by not striving to be modern they are, but in a way that resonates. There are so many elements in their music: a pop sensibility, a glam rock sensibility, a bit of rock and roll – all the things I like really. It’s not obvious and they clearly really listen to their own music. This music they are referencing is in their blood – they’re not copying anything. Regarding a collaboration, they’re far more talented than me. Being a big fan does have its drawbacks – you turn into a fan around them. I’d be in the studio repeating, “That sounds amazing chaps.” My usual non-production.

Young Fathers

Dave McGuire: You followed your biggest success so far with ‘White Men are Black Men Too’, something much less obvious and different. Young Fathers: One of the good things about being this kind of group is we can do whatever the fuck we want, as long as we make it fit with the aesthetic. In fact, that almost is the aesthetic. There are invisible lines that we don’t step over, that change all the time but are

Continued on page 18

Issue 107 | | 17

Continued from page 17

step from there, at war. We have family, friends, our own country we create, that shifts around. It’s not just musical freedom – it’s the whole thing, of being in a group.

Is a ‘pure’ hip-hop record ever a possibility? There’s a chance we could still make a clearly defined hip-hop record at some point – it’s in the DNA after all – but it would probably only work if the bigger hip-hop world moves forward a bit, especially when it comes to words. There’s a lot of dumb-ass shit rapped, full of cliché and ugly, bully words. There’s meant to be a swing, a beauty to the lyrics. Even when Wu Tang riffed on torturing people there was selfawareness there. An irony. That seems to have departed.

Have you considered working with anyone beyond these shores? Someone like Nigerian afrobeat legend Tony Allen would seem like a perfect collaborator, or maybe an album with Rick Rubin. Are such opportunities a reality for you these days? Both ideas would be fun. We were talking about Rick Rubin the other day, wondering if he still makes his own beats. In fact we have been collaborating more this year – in South Africa with several artists and, by coincidence, with some singers and a rapper from Durban when they visited Edinburgh. Both tracks are waiting for a mix. We’ve also kind of collaborated with Tricky, by accident and recorded with Massive in Bristol in January. We’re getting a little more open minded about that kind of thing!

relative to our journey but to even define them means examining the process too closely. It’s like trying to catch a dust mote in your eye.

Stating upfront that you are addressing issues of race is bold. Do you hope to provoke discussions about these issues, or do you worry that liberal white arts/music writers will be too scared to approach the topic for fear of offending someone? The title is a way for everyone in the media to be able to talk about skin colour and all the things that come from that, because it’s really all about privilege and class and skin colour is just a distraction invented by psychotic idiots who seek to control others and even if there’s a kind of unspoken, wider understanding that this is the case, because we all have different experiences of it there’s no unity in response. Scotland has hardly

Hollie McNish: “Performing on the same bill as Young Fathers made me wanna wee myself a little

any black people but, for instance, if the SNP had won last September, then they proposed much more immigration. Then the idea that Scotland is somehow a more tolerant place than the rest of the UK would really have been put to the test. Do you feel that your non-traditional UK heritage helps with the usual false modesty, and enables you to aim for worldwide success? That’s about right. We’re proud of what we are and don’t need to be part of a local scene in that way – it doesn’t define us. It’s a small step away from that kind of pride to being proud of your country, whatever it does and being proud of being white, whatever that means and being proud when your country wins at sport and, just a short

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RediscoveringOur Promised Lands With the official confirmation that public life is a corrupt cesspit of lies, Colin Montgomery suggests we reset our moral compass


y eyes are failing me. Well, one is. For years, Lefty has been ailing – and that’s putting it politely. So off I trotted to have the peepers checked. The optician couldn’t believe the retinally challenged old googler had made it so far, claiming it defied its own degradation by having its superior sibling, Righty, carry the load. Ah Righty, that faithful servant. He’s a star pupil…yes, I’m here all week. Pondering that as I exited the Glecks shop, I was thankful that dutiful Righty hadn’t exited its socket, slithered across my beak, and consumed weaker Lefty in a fit of Darwinistic rage. That would have been a truly grotesque spectacle. Not that I would have seen it perhaps, but for public decency’s sake it was relief. But who needs public decency these days? Or rather, who needs the illusion of public decency? In recent days, its mask hasn’t just slipped its knickers are down by its ankles too. In summary, if you were like me a callow youth at heart, still labouring under the delusion that despite the bewildering pace of change there’s some moral core magnetically holding the sacrosanct values of honesty, integrity and service to the greater good in place…well, forget it, we’re humped. Step forward the first person to articulate the triumph of the sleazy underbelly, ‘Sir’ Malcolm Bruce. According to Malky – as he tried to swat away the stooshie over Alistair Carmichael’s wanton lying about the infamous ‘French letter’ casting Nicola Sturgeon as a Tory in disguise – you’d be a prize numptie to imagine our public servants were vexed by such frippery as telling the truth. My shoulders sank. More accurately, it was as though he’d curled one into my cup-a- soup. It wasn’t the acknowledgement that people lie in all walks of life that bothered me (at heart, naebody and nowt is infallible - except the late Davie Cooper’s left foot). Nah, it was Bruce’s patronising incredulity as he casually belittled the assumption that our elected officials should aspire to live by a more stringent moral code. I was still sore from this when the FIFA farce guffed into view.

Interesting millinery could cure humanity’s ills

It’s as though, weighed down by slabs of scandal, we’ve been sucked back into the primeval swamp…’it’s human nature’ goes the logic

You have to hand it to old Sepp…the ‘it’ being a tankard of arsenic posset for him to gulp back and exit the pitch. Seriously, why is he even still vertical? He’s in Zurich already, home of Dignitas; so cutting short his tenure in every sense seems apt. Then one of the FIFA delegates came on the tranny in the car, scoffing at the idea we should be appalled by corruption. It’s as natural as air, water and getting bladdered on a Friday, implied said chappie. Nobody said much in response. It’s as though, weighed down by slabs of scandal, we’ve been sucked back into the primeval swamp – ‘everyone’s out to get away with what they can, it’s human nature’ goes the logic. And only a dribbling fool would think this tacit surrender to institutionalised and normalised wrongdoing to be in any way depressing or – more worryingly – damaging in an elemental way to our continued existence. Then it struck me, maybe it’s not not the system that’s broken it’s my aspirations. Yeah, aspirations are the future (according to the burbling classes). What a fool I was aspiring to the impossible Land of Milk and Honey that is generosity of spirit, truthfulness and a fair crack of the whip for all. I should have reset my moral compass for any or all of the following destinations. Tally Ho…

The Land of Mince and Pish

Now granted, it doesn’t sound very appealing. But there’s something homely about a plate of mince. And we all have to take a slash. So long as the two aren’t combined in a repulsive example of experimental Blumenthalism, sounds great.

The Land of Neds and Pugil Sticks

In this charming enclave, the angst of our everyday existence is no more. Not thanks to some utopian system of governance, but because you can relieve your rage by hammering f**k out of some ned automata. A violent catharsis if you will.

The Land of Hats and Hand Signals

Surely, humanity’s ‘issues’ would be no more if we all moved to a land where interesting millinery was a must and failure to acknowledge acts of driving kindness with a hand signal was punishable by death. Harsh but fair I think.

The Land of Blinkers and Earplugs

Why pretend to ignore the crumbling moral edifice when you can actually ignore it in a place where our shoulder shrugging finds its most perfect exposition. But if we’re after blissful ignorance, I can think of a more attractive alternative…

The Land of Lager and Crisps

A place where you can soak away your troubles with a beer and salty snacks, oh hang on, it’s called the pub. And it offers some sanctuary from all this nonsense. Head in the sand? Yeah I suppose so. But for the moment the revolution seems a far way off. So, let’s leave the last word to the bibulous sage that was Bukowski: “When you drink, the world’s still out there, but for one moment it doesn’t have you by the throat.” n Issue 107 | | 19

Green&Leithy Rebecca Jane Armstrong

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Vegan Omelette Y

ep I know, Vegan and Omelette are about as synonymous as techno and tranquillity but therein lies the beauty. The challenge (and thus for me the thrill) of vegan cooking is finding ways to recreate typical dishes that everyone can enjoy together (except if you’re allergic to soya that is – soz). Perhaps I’m slightly biased in that I’ve never particularly liked omelettes but this little number ticks all my boxes. Its healthier than its eggy equivalent, its pretty cheap (Hing Xing on Leith Walk do organic, non GMO firm tofu for £1.20), animal free and still damn delicious if I do say so myself. Once you’ve whipped up the tofu ‘egg’ mixture throw in anything you fancy or has been lurking in the back of the fridge a wee bit too long. I went with smoked paprika, olives, a handful of beans, tomato and coriander – bliss! It will obviously have a different texture than is traditional, but once everything gets all coddled in the velvety tofu hug I doubt you’ll notice the difference. This omelette makes for a beautiful weekend brunch, a speedy weeknight supper and is particularly good for settling the stomach after accidentally imbibing one too many £4 bottles of cava the night before. A great all-

round dish that can be shared with your carnivorous counterparts. Serves 2, or 4 aside a hearty salad

450g firm tofu (pressed between kitchen roll to remove excess water) 1/2 cup Plant Milk (I used Oat) Sea Salt & ground Peppercorns (to taste) 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast (optional) 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum (or cornstarch/ground flax/chia seeds/ psyllium) 1 tbsp Oil Vegetables, herbs, spices of your choice

Heat your oven to 180c Blend the tofu, milk, seasoning and xanthan gum (or other binding agent) until super smooth, about 4 minutes Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet on a medium heat Lightly sauté your chosen accompaniments Pour the tofu mixture over the veg and stir carefully until everything is incorporated Pop in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned Allow to cool and firm up for about 10 minutes. ■ ÊÊInfo: See more at

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My 6-year-old daughter wants a wallet made out of solid gold Dear Mrs MacPickle, I know its poor form to complain about one’s children but I am worried about my daughter. I think she might be a capitalist. She is only six, and obviously I will love her no matter what, but today she told me that when she was rich she was going to have a wallet made of gold. All she talks about is how much things cost and how many jobs she is going to do when she is older so she can buy lots of things, and she told my mother that the only sandwiches she likes are smoked salmon. I am a card carrying beardy weirdy lefty, how should I to relate to her beliefs? And did I do something wrong to make her turn out like this? Yours, worriedly, Ann R Kist

children, but there’s no saying how they are going to turn out. If you and her father are both of a similar persuasion it seems unlikely that it’s in the genes, unless you had a secret affair with Duncan Ballantine or something. I would say it’s probably just a rebellious phase. After all, if you were a pair of straight-laced Tory types you would be expecting your kids to get tattoos and eat lentils to try and piss you off, it seems only natural that the only way your wee one can kick out and assert her own identity is by rampant consumerism and mainstream-ness. Hopefully she will get it out her system now, and you won’t be left trying to sound proud when she comes home and tells you she has got a job at Ernst and Young. ■

Oh my poor Ms Kist, This does sound difficult. As parents we do our best by our

ÊÊGot a prickly problem? E-mail Mrs MacPickle at Issue 107 | | 21

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Into That Darkness Evie Ausley

Mark Fleming enjoys flicking through a childhood diary from 1976. A chance meeting later that day reminds him of a darker side to the same year

headmaster of my primary school to receive a prize. He favoured those old-fashioned black gowns. Instead of shaking my hand, he enveloped me within the garments’ folds, and embraced me, holding me there for many more excruciatingly awkward seconds than seemed natural. On both occassions I certainly found their behavior odd, but not odd enough to broach it with anyone. My Scout troop – the 58th Gorgie – were based at North Merchiston church too, there was a Scoutmaster there who seemed to relish wandering around stripped to the waist, and another known to everyone as ‘Igor’. You were warned never to put yourself in a position where you were alone with Igor. We even had a signature tune for him, based on the charming terracing ditty: “You’re gonna get your fucking heads kicked in!”…“Igor leave my fucking balls alone!” (That the word ‘church’ is often inextricably linked with these events is one damning indictment of these patriarchal institutions).


he other day I came across a diary from 1976. It contained many gripes: school dinners, having to wear a brace, the enthusiasm of certain teachers for dispensing the belt. There were more upbeat scribblings: Kenny Dalglish poking the ball between Ray Clemence’s legs to secure a 2-1 victory over England at Hampden (not quite alleviating the 5-1 Wembley disaster the year before). Being too young for pubs, I spent much of my leisure time watching the box: Colditz, The Water Margin, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, It’s A Knockout, The Goodies, Jim’ll Fix It. Life has the uncanny ability to throw coincidences at you, because 1976 also came flooding back to me a few weekends previously. Driving through Gorgie with my wife and daughter, I’d stopped at the traffic lights outside McDonald’s. Innocuously pushing a wheelchair through the Saturday crowds was a man I recognised immediately. Although four decades had passed since our last encounter, his face was imprinted in my subconscious, indelible as a drunken holiday tattoo. He had been a volunteer at a Gorgie Parish church Sunday school picnic I’d been dragged to by a churchier schoolmate, aged 13. This had taken place in the grounds of a country house in East Lothian. At one point that afternoon, I’d agreed to accompany this man to fill kettles from a sink in an outhouse. He was tall and intimidating, eccentric looking, his slicked-back hair a throwback to National Service days.

Feverish breath

After securing the door, he subjected me to an ordeal of groping and fumbling. In real time, it was over in minutes. But in my mind, the universe ground to a halt. As I tried to ignore his feverish breathing, I was petrified: for a fleeting moment, I feared this was all a precursor to being murdered. Eventually I summoned the courage to push myself away, and stumbled outside into excoriating sunshine.

Denigrating PC

I found myself dwelling on the extent to which I once lived amongst adults whose activities would now face scrutiny by the full force of the law

Dumbstruck, I didn’t breathe a word of what had just happened to my mate or any of the adults present. In fact, I blotted the experience from my mind until drunkenly blurting it all out to my wee sister, years later. Presently, the lights at the place where he was crossing changed to green, and he vanished from my life again. Having been confronted by my past, I found myself dwelling on the extent to which I once lived amongst adults whose activities would now face scrutiny by the full force of the law, as has happened to more than a few of the presenters of some of those programmes mentioned in my diary. When I was about 10, I played a shepherd in the nativity at my local church, North Merchiston. Moments before taking my place on stage, a white-haired teacher took me aside. I clearly recall his fingers trembling as he bent down and tugged my costume’s hood away, before planting a lingering, slobbery kiss on my lips. On another occasion, I was summoned before the

In any situation where there were adults whose dodgy reputations preceded them, all you did was snigger behind their backs. There was a tacit acceptance of their weirdness, and that they should be kept at arm’s length. It never crossed anyone’s minds that these disgraceful figures should be reported. There are those who bemoan political correctness, such as the odious Jeremy Clarkson who, prior to being sacked for assaulting a BBC producer who appeared to be half his height and age, garnered a massive populist following for denigrating PC. But there is most surely another side to that coin. In the 1970s, Benny Hill and a posse of balding, middle-aged simpletons chasing after teenage females in underwear was considered hilarious. What is more, as young girls, my sister and her friends almost became blasé about being flashed at so often by adult men, at Harrison Park or by the Union Canal. I wouldn’t want my daughter to experience pre-PC Britain, when misogyny was endemic, when primetime comics told racist jokes, and when paedophiles, from rapists like Jimmy Savile to lecherous churchgoers, enjoyed far more freedom to indulge their warped desires. ■ ÊÊTwitter: @fleming584 Issue 107 | | 23

Boobs to bum, Boobs to Bum

Sally Fraser, somewhat improbably, embarks on a series of pole dancing classes which apparently make ‘the cares of the day slip away’

not Russian (not unless the syllabus has changed since my day). The one useful attribute I do have is that, as a midwife once told me, I have a high pain threshold.

Crushed with thighs


am covered in bruises. I am rather proud of them. I keep trying to enthusiastically show them off to the other mums in the snack money queue. Hoping they will be suitably impressed by my black and blue shins. You see its early days, but I may have found the answer to All My Problems. Of an evening, after I put my kids to bed, I don the advised outfit of ‘layers and a smile’ and head down to The Shore. I go into the Granary, where I have to admit I was a bit shy the first time I approached the barman and said “oh, hello, I’m, er… here for the pole-dancing class”, but now I just swagger on up the stairs. Or stumble, depending on how sore my legs are from the last session. Then, for an hour, the cares of the day slip away as I attempt to defy gravity, exert superhuman strength and be some sort of seductive goddess at the same time, with almost no success. It’s very similar to when I learned to speak Russian: it’s much harder than I thought, and much less sexy. In fact it’s fair to say it’s not remotely sexy. The chief attributes required, which I do not possess, are upper body strength and the ability to know your left from your right – for pole-dancing that is, 24 | | Issue 107

Strength and commitment are crucial, if there is one thing in life you can’t be half arsed about it’s swinging yourself round a large metal pole by your ankles

Especially when suitably banging tunes are playing. Not that the midwife new about that, she didn’t say “wow Sal, you are coping well with these contractions, how about we take it up a level with some Taylor Swift?” But generally it is my being very weak that holds me back. I need to build myself up a bit. If you see a shadowy figure on Leith Links practising on the monkey bars in the dead of night you’ll know who it is. It is definitely going to be a challenge. But I like the core principles and they are almost certainly transferable skills. Namely strength and commitment, because if there is one thing in life you can’t be half arsed about it’s swinging yourself round a large metal pole by your ankles. I am not sure how far I am going to get with it but the important thing is: I have a focus. I have a tangible aim. I am going to learn to pole-dance, and everything else will just fall into place. I am going to be thin and muscly and healthy. When I eventually master slithering up from the floor in the smooth sexy manoeuvre known as ‘boobs to bum’ I will clearly be the sort of wife I have always dreamed of being. And if it makes me slightly less bad tempered it will certainly make me a better mum. And career wise it has to be a real goer: I mean, I can’t imagine just how

much my position as the director of an organisation is going to be strengthened by the knowledge that if necessary I could crush any one of my team to death with my thighs, but it can surely only add to my gravitas. More important than the strength and the gravitas is the idea that I am doing something a bit unexpected and naughty. I have had a bit of a low-level early midlife crisis bubbling away under the surface for a while now and this might just stave it off. Let’s face it; as much as we all love our kids, being a parent is pretty dull at times. And fun and naughtiness can be pretty hard to come by.

Proud bruises

In my previous life all my fun and naughtiness would have been, even if legal, either not permissible as a married woman or not possible for someone who has to be at the school gates looking reasonably presentable each morning. In truth, most fun costs money or calories or both, and too often, for a lot of us, our only treats involve cake and shortbread, Which is to say being naughty means narrowing of arteries and widening of hips. Not anymore, dear reader. Now my misbehaviour comes with bicep-building properties and extra health endorphins. Amid the daily grind of parenthood, domesticity and public school boys, I just need an hour in an environment where the only demand made on me is boobs to bum, BOOBS TO BUM! And next time you see me, I will be more than happy to show you my bruises. ■



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SpringHealth & Fitness Tracy Griffen

What I think about when I think about running F

I still think back to my two nights performing at NVA’s Speed of Light, and the friendly camaraderie of runners, as we were required to run cooperatively rather than competitively

antastic ideas rush through my head as I hurtle downhill from Arthur’s Seat. When I run, thoughts become fluid and I see the world with renewed clarity. Running is something I’ve done since I was a nipper. Growing up in the South Australian countryside, I could run for ages and not see another soul. It was my escape. And it’s a habit-forming escape. Over the years my reasons to run have changed, nowadays my job involves showing other people the joys of running. Mind you, not all of my Personal Training clients run. For some individuals fast walking is sufficient, but for most as their fitness improves, moving at a steady trot is necessary to ensure they get a good workout. Getting into running should be slow and steady. You don’t need to sprint and absolutely knacker yourself. Listen to your breathing, take note of your posture, and enjoy the surroundings as you pass by. Running need not be about speed or constantly smashing PB’s (Personal Bests). In fact for many running is the only time they truly have to themselves. It’s ‘time out’, as it’s impossible to multi-task whilst running. Running is mono-tasking in action, and it can also be multi-purpose. For example, one of my favourite runs is simply along the cycle path to Portobello Beach. I stop at the Crumbs caravan and buy some liver cake for fitness pug Coco and then run back. I am seeing more and more people in the evening running with backpacks on, presumably having escaped the daily grind at the office. A running commute home is an excellent way to fit in a run and get home quicker (often quicker than a bus). In this way, running is about more than running. It’s about giving yourself time and space to unwind whilst actually getting somewhere. It’s a great antidote to a shit day. Getting started is all about maintaining the right pace. This is what I specialise in, getting folk running and helping improve those who are already running. Speaking of which, big congrats to Leither stalwart Dot Mathie for recently winning the women’s Kilomathon – she’s a truly wonderful runner, and I’m proud to say, an old client of mine. A favourite birthday present this year was a copy of Like the Wind magazine, a national journal packed with running

stories of all kinds. I love running, writing and reading other people’s stories so this wonderful publication is right up my street. The beautifully illustrated stories, ranging from elite athletes to ordinary folk, are presented in an arty format I’d never encountered before. I’ve read (and written) many articles on running technique however I’d never read so many stories, written from the heart, on what it personally means to run.

Water of Leith

I’m elated my wee running story has been accepted and will be published in the June issue and if you love to run, you’ll love this magazine. You can read more or subscribe at www. It’s [almost] as good as The Leither! Quality over quantity is what really matters with running. Doing it enough so it’s not unbearably difficult (i.e. ideally move at a fast trot around three times per week) and choosing routes that are enjoyable are key. Leith is a haven of excellent runs, from a loop around Leith Links to exploring the cycle paths and witnessing the changing seasons along the Water of Leith, or getting a coastal experience around the front of Platinum Point, there is a route for all abilities. If you fancy some hill training, Arthur’s Seat is just a trot up Easter Road, taking the back route into Holyrood Park

at Abbeyhill. ParkRun is a good group run to start with, suitable for all fitness levels. It’s a 5km timed race that takes place across the globe every Saturday morning. In Edinburgh we have a Run on Cramond Esplanade, and recently a Run has started at Figgate Park, Portobello. Both of them are easy bike rides from Leith and are nice flat routes. The crowd are very welcoming, and it’s a great way to start a weekend. More info can be found at Running is also art, as the 2012 NVA Speed of Light performance for the Edinburgh International Festival proved. It was a choreographed mass run on the back of Salisbury Crags, with runners wearing light suits and making patterns whilst running in formation. It was a brilliant event to be a part of, and the Glasgow-based theatre company NVA has taken the show around the globe to different locations. I still think back to the two nights I ran in the performance, and the friendly camaraderie of the other runners, as we were required to run cooperatively rather than competitively. If you love running and love theatre, check out the videos on their website at www. ■ ÊÊInfo: Tracy has FREE group fitness sessions from time to time. Check out ÊÊTwitter: @tracygriffen ÊÊFacebook: /griffenfitnesss Issue 107 | | 27

A Shoulder for Stars to Cry on Planet of the Apes star Roddy McDowall’s 16mm films of Hollywood stars relaxing at his house in the 1960s have gone viral, Kennedy Wilson tells us more


ne thousand years before YouTube there was Super 8. In those days home movies were just that, for home consumption. Only rarely did celebrities’ ciné films see the light of day. The comedian and actor Peter Sellers was a great ciné lover and clips of Rock Hudson’s 16mm movies were made into a film back in the 1990s. However, Roddy McDowall was the unlikely star whose home movies endured long enough to become a YouTube sensation. Born in 1928, to a Scottish father and Irish mother, he came to Hollywood in 1940 to appear in one of the classic children’s films of all time; Lassie Come Home. McDowall was never a big star rather becoming a reliable man for all seasons. He had a role in the 1963 Cleopatra movie playing Octavian (he found a fast friend in his co-star Elizabeth Taylor), he was one of the escapees in the disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure, and memorably appeared as Cornelius the concerned chimp in the original Planet of the Apes franchise. In 1965 McDowall was riding high, starring in The Loved One, That Darn Cat! and The Greatest Story Ever Told. He proved to be a fantastically loyal and reliable friend. The open door Sunday brunches at his Malibu beach house became a favourite spot for stars of the day to kick back without worrying about gossip writers and paparazzi.

Rock Hudson’s ‘friend’

Since the 1920s the Malibu beach colony had been a safe retreat from the febrile atmosphere of the Hollywood bubble. It was said that it was William Randolph Hearst – the model for Citizen Kane – that first popularised the place when he ensconced his mistress there. David Thomson in his Biographical Dictionary of Film said McDowall ‘was self-effacing, a great listener, and that rare thing, a person Hollywood people could open their hearts to without any fear of betrayal. A more sharply intelligent or adult man might have lacked his patience with so many selfcentred neurotics. But he knew a lot and never breathed an unfair or improper word. Which is not to say that he was 28 | | Issue 107

anything less than immensely helpful to biographers or researchers who wanted to do honest work on Hollywood people’. So above reproach was McDowall that no one objected when he produced a ciné camera to record their harmless antics. All sorts of unexpected people turned up and starred in Roddy’s home movies: Jane Fonda with her frizzy split ends, Rock Hudson with a young gentleman friend, Julie Andrews brought her young children. There was Judy Garland, Dennis Hopper, Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Sal Mineo and many more. Although McDowall never officially came out as gay, guests kept his secret and he kept theirs. He innocently filmed barbecues on the deck, sand sculpture competitions, beach volleyball, stars sipping beer, mixing cocktails and pulling faces for the camera. It’s all a far cry from today’s celebrity sex tapes ‘leaked’ onto the internet. No one would have realised then that 50 years later his guests’ beach jollity would be seen by millions of people all over the world thanks to YouTube – the individual who uploaded these amazing videos, known only as soapbxprod, claims that McDowall gave them to him personally. In many ways McDowall’s home movies usher in Hollywood’s last hurrah. By the mid-60s the old studio and star systems were changing. Fox had almost bankrupted itself thanks to the soaring production costs of Cleopatra. Indie films were coming and stars were setting up their own production houses. And the good times, sadly, did not last. In the latter years of the 1960s the zeitgeist in America grew disturbingly dark. Vietnam reached a nadir: students were shot at Kent State University, there were civil rights riots, the Altamont rock concert ended in violence, Martin Luther King was murdered. In LA alone there was the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the Watts riots and the Manson murders.

Amphetamine Annie

Moreover, the future of some of the participants wasn’t always a happy one – some of them met with sad endings and most are now dead or, at the very least, their Hollywood careers have been long faded. This backdrop makes Roddy

From top: Jane Fonda, Robert Redford & Julie Andrews

A more sharply intelligent or adult man might have lacked his patience with so many selfcentred neurotics

McDowall’s home movies all the more poignant. Despite the happy times everyone seemed to be having it’s now known that several of Roddy’s guests had a lot of psychological baggage. Jane Fonda, by her own admission, was a pretty troubled woman with a lot of issues with her father. Paul Newman was an alcoholic for years, Rock Hudson was also a well-known alcoholic, according to David Ehrenstein, in his book on gay Hollywood Open Secret, ‘he courted self-destruction born of deep-seated self-hatred’. Sal Mineo was murdered. Judy Garland, nicknamed Amphetamine Annie, OD’d in 1969. His unpretentious Laurel Canyon home was famous for its ‘powder room’ the walls of which were lined with photos of the great names of Hollywood – all personally signed to Roddy. Like his ciné films Roddy’s guest loo is preserved – tile by tile complete with washbasin, towels, commode and all the pictures – in the Hollywood History Museum. For all the world to gawk at. ■ ÊÊTwitter: @KenWilson84

Way Out West With The Man From Leith W

Buddy Holly. The list is endless. Dean’s solo career has seen him tour far and wide, including in Europe, USA and Australia. Dean is also highly regarded among other musicians and has played shows and toured with Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Joan As Policewoman, John Hiatt and Nanci Griffith, to name but a few.

hen a musician known as ‘The Man from Leith’ has a new album out, it would be churlish of The Leither not to write about it. The fact that Dean Owens is a genuine talent, and this album, recorded in Nashville is a treat, only serves to reinforce that. Into the Sea was recorded with producer Neilson Hubbard and a whole host of amazing US musicians, including the award-winning guitarist Will Kimbrough and renowned singersongwriters Kim Richey and Suzy Bogguss. Dean’s music has been described as Celtic Americana with a rocky pop edge, and draws as much from his Scottish roots – especially his hometown of Leith (referenced and loved by the Proclaimers) – as from his US heroes. The emotional honesty in his songs shines through as he sings about people and places, love and regrets, drawing favourable comparisons with the likes of Springsteen. A gritty yet lyrical Scottish sensibility, delivered with a searingly soulful voice. The Leither caught up with Dean in advance of the new record to find out more. There appears to be an honesty in your lyrics, but how much of it is autobiographical and how much purely fiction? There are a lot of true stories in there and real people. Sometimes I’ll take someone else’s story and make it mine. True Fiction. A song like Man From Leith is all about my dad and all true. The songs Dora and Kids off my new record – Into The Sea – are all true stories. Dora was my granny and Kids is based on an old school football team photo and about what happened to the kids in that photo, though some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Music such as yours benefits from the voice of experience; do you feel that you’re easing into your sound, ultimately getting better with each release? Well I hope so. Ha ha! You never really know, but I certainly feel more comfortable now. I think I’ve found my voice There are plenty of Scottish references in your music, especially Leith, is this to counter your perceived Americanness? Have you ever toyed with the idea of doing a straight up ‘Scottish’ album?

People make much of your Celtic Americana sound; we’ve heard the famous US musicians you’ve worked with, but are there any top Scottish acts that you’ve worked with? I’ve worked with a few over the years. Karine Polwart sang on the My Town album and I sang on her Faultlines album. Martin Green from Lau is also on My Town. I’ve toured with Eddi Reader, Capercaillie and shared the stage with Dick Gaughan among many other great Scottish artists.

I firmly believe all my albums are as much Scottish as they are Americana. If you listen to my first two albums The Droma Tapes (recorded live in a remote cottage in the Scottish Highlands) and My Town (with all Scottish musicians) they are very Scottish in sound. But I also love American music, the landscape and literature. I’ve travelled all over the US many times and particularly love the desert states of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California. Whether it’s the Scottish Highlands, the deserts of the Southwest US, the streets of Leith or the streets of New York, it all seeps into my writing and my sound. Springsteen is the obvious comparison, but what other songwriter/storytellers have inspired you? Many. Tom Waits, Beck, Jackson Browne, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Ron Sexsmith, Dick Gaughan, Bert Jansch, John Lennon, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle,

In his early career Dean was the frontman of the much loved and lauded Americana band The Felsons. Since launching his solo career he has produced 5 albums, including the highly regarded Whisky Hearts (also recorded in Nashville), New York Hummingbird (recorded in the Big Apple with some exceptional New York-based musicians) and Cash Back (Songs I Learned From Johnny) album, inspired by one of his lifelong idols, Johnny Cash. What do American audiences make of your music, do they identify with it or do they see it as being very Scottish? To be honest I usually get a great response in the States. They do think I sound Scottish and I’m very happy about that. ‘Valentine’s Day in New York’ may be played on rotation every February 14th from now on, did that cross your mind when you wrote it? Ha. Not really. I just had to write a song about my experiences in New York on Valentine’s Day. I hope it does get played every year. I need to get a Christmas single together now! n Dave McGuire

ÊÊInfo: Dean Owens’ album, Into the Sea is out now. He tours late June/early July check out Issue 107 | | 29


Now vandalize truthless crab perhaps to rescue globe? ( 6,3)


1 Nearer the front, worker queen with one alternative (8) 5 Rely on far side of the pool without drug (6) 10 Not night when bad boy bore the signs of blatant overcharging (8-7) 11 Fleshy otic hangar for the lord with honour (7) 12 Conductor most are confused (7) 13 Books with newspaper are usually early or late (8) 15 Swiss language in the vernacular (5) 18 Woman points to equals (5) 20 Point to independent hiding pussy (8) 23 The great outdoors stated without knickers (7) 25 Master maths, first off, stutter! (7) 26 Scottish mountain preserve in UK, stated composer (8,7) 27 PT without hesitation usually with custom (6) 28 Before X, church fantasy (8)

down 1 2 3 4 6

7 8 9 14 16 17 19 21 22 24 25

Drunk, spanked not soft (6) River game disaster (3,6) In Bahrain outside influences cause game cancellation (7) Pigment for those who love church, queen returns (5) Assemble MSPs within to take symbolic badges of nationhood (7) Match oriental airhole? (5) Cry dough perhaps but does not wax phlegmatically (3,5) Pledged right, imposed wrong (8) Lubricate fruit first for dressing (5,3) Car carpet on robot (9) MBE leers badly at look alike (8) Ice cream required for bad ass nude (7) H spelt, or change old racer (7) Can ref mess up country (6) Sudden uncontrollable fear of cereal (5) Converse of one direction? (5)

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1 Others 2 Tongue tie 3 Payroll 4 Nouns 6 Upended 7 Gloat 8 Deep ends 9 Skylines

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