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Priceless Issue 122

Leither

“In Erie County,

New York, he became the first human being, ever, to be put to

deliberate death by means of electricity”

Council Budgets: What You Need To Know | Frida Kahlo: Making Her
Self Up Ed Lipman: The Lost Prison Poet | Seafield ‘Stench’ Review | Russian Roulette


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Contents 12

Kennedy Wilson, how a disabled, bisexual, Hispanic woman became
a cult figure to academics, millennials and pop stars

La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s home till her death in 1954

17

Michael Gove is advocating a
new form of payment from the UK Government to landowners. Beware, says Deidre Brock

Where it all happens, the Council Chamber

Toeing The Party Line A

A Scottish Parliament that conducts itself like a student debating society with all the depth of twitter has shown no appetite to implement it

n urgent communiqué from Our Man in the City landed on my desk just before going to print. We had no space. However, I judged it to be of more immediate interest than my, ahem, observations. So, here you go – Editor. ‘Your Council has just passed a budget that contains cuts of £34m for 2018/19. This is on top of cuts made over the last 5 years of £240m and the loss of 1446 workers. Audit Scotland in its report points out that the Council will receive £59m less in the block grant from the Scottish Government over the next 5 years. It will also have to make a further £133m of cuts in the same time scale. This is why Audit Scotland uses the phrase ‘financial stress’ to describe the state of council finances in Scotland. The need for change, recognised by Scottish Government/Cosla’s Just Change report, launched in December 2015, has not had a shelf life beyond its press releases. Yet the need for the change it advocates was brought before Councillors and Council officers in the City Chambers by the trade union delegations on Budget day. They talked of Council workers doing more work with fewer workers, causing stress and strain on both performance and the health of workers. This will only increase as the pressures of demographics, inflation, pay rises and funding the City Deal, impact on Council services. As the Unison deputation pointed out, the Scottish Government has not fully funded the pay rise it expected Councils to pay workers. The gap between the pronouncement and the provision by the Scottish Government left over 25% of the pay deal unfunded. The cost of this would be met by service reduction. The need for it was acknowledged in debate by the Finance Convenor who said, “This was a major topic at a

recent conference I attended which discussed the state of Council finances.” Acknowledged too by the Council Leader when he said he would make “robust representations” to the Scottish Government. Yet to date we have only had timid tweets toeing the party line and blandishments that Edinburgh’s settlement from the Scottish Government was ‘positive’, when the cuts imposed were in reality less deep than expected but cuts none the less. There is an alternative. Labour has pointed out that the Scottish Government could use its powers to raise £960m. The Unions Congress said that Holyrood could use its powers and raise £800m. Both amounts are larger than the £545m that Cosla said Councils needed for ‘stand still’ budgets this year. The overriding point is; Holyrood has powers to effect change but has used these in a limited way. In their analysis of the draft budget the STUC observed that: “The failure to use the Scottish Parliament’s powers ambitiously is clear. The income tax proposals fail to raise sufficient revenue and the modest additional revenues raised primarily fund tax cuts for business. This suggests a worrying lack of commitment to properly resourcing public services and a misunderstanding of the best way to support the economy by the Scottish Government.” This failure by Holyrood to use its powers to fully and properly fund Councils will see the cuts avoided this year come back onto the table in future years. The solution is there on the shelf endorsed by both the Scottish Government and Cosla. Just Change is what councils need but a Scottish Parliament that conducts itself like a student debating society with all the depth of twitter has shown no appetite to implement it. Just Change or keep cutting councils? The choice is theirs the loss is ours’. ■

25

29

Ben Macpherson fosters the belief that the social and monetary value of our contributions may differ but the worth of our contributions are ultimately the same An initiative that promotes research into the therapeutic value of dogs? Tracy Griffen’s in

Leither Published by: Leither Publishing Editor: William Gould ( 07891 560 338  billy@leithermagazine.com Sub Editor: Dot Mathie Design:  design@leithermagazine.com Advertising: Sue Glancy ( 07772 059 516  sue@leithermagazine.com Contacts:  info@leithermagazine.com 8 leithermagazine.com Cartoonist: Gordon Riach Illustrator: Bernie Reid Printers: Gladstone Media, Bonnyrigg ( 0131 663 5305 ( 07443 425125 8 gladstonemedia.co.uk * mark@gladstonemedia.co.uk © 2018 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: sue@leithermagazine.com Cover: Excerpt from Ed “Foots” Lipman’s Poem For Rupert Weber, 85 Years Too Late

Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 3


Protempore … Saudi Arabia is currently engineering genocide in Yemen A

ren’t the Russians a bad lot, creeping around the UK, bumping off spies and dissidents in a macabre, real-life chapter from a John Le Carre novel? While at home they introduce laws that make certain forms of domestic abuse legal and others which persecute homosexuals and anyone else who doesn’t maraud around like their glorious, straight and tough leader, Vlad “I’m all bad” Putin. Well, I’ll tell you what, we just won’t have it. The British Government believes in fair play, equality, law and order and compassion for all of our citizens and anyone else who is being persecuted across the globe. So how are we going to show the Russians that we mean business and that our influence in settling geopolitical scores has not been tarnished or diminished in any shape or from? Well for one thing, we’re not going to send Clare Balding to the football World Cup. Oh yes, old put ‘em up Putin must have been in a right rage about that one. But just to compound his anger, we’re not going to send any of our blueblooded Royals over there for the footie either. And another thing, we’ve dispatched 23 Russian diplomats back to Moscow for good measure. And we’re not alone in doing this. Diplomats are being kicked out of 23 other countries including the US, France, Germany and Latvia. Yes, even Latvia has joined the queue to give the Russian bear a hiding. OK, they’ve only expelled one diplomat but every little helps. And what’s been the Russian reaction to all of this? Well they’ve said rather cryptically, that they will definitely retaliate “at the appropriate time” and will do so in a way that “would correspond to Russian national interests”. Which probably means that they will target the business interests of 4 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 122

those countries operating in Russia who have jumped in to give the UK a hand in this new cold war square go. Now like most people, I don’t have any hard evidence to prove that the Russians were behind the nerve agent attack in Salisbury and I’m not going to indulge in any conspiracy theories about the UK Government having perpetrated the attack to deflect from bad-news Brexit. But something about the unfolding narrative that the UK Government is suddenly a squeaky-clean upholder of all that is good and proper in international relations is making me queasy. In 2017, the UK Government sold £1.1 billion worth of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia – which was visited by Theresa May as one of her first trips after triggering the formal Brexit process – has purchased arms including air-to-air missiles, aircraft components and sniper rifles. The sales also include anti-riot gear, ballistic shields and body armour. Saudi Arabia is currently engineering genocide in Yemen. As a direct result of military action by the Saudi regime, more than 10,000 people have died, over 5,000 of them innocent civilians including many children. The Saudis have targeted schools, hospitals, markets, farms and parks. As a result of the war-induced famine and lack of adequate medical aid, 50,000 children died in 2017 alone. Mass starvation threatens 8.4 million people, which equates to one-third of the country’s population. A report by the United Nations also pointed to evidence of systematic arbitrary arrests of civilians, deprivation of liberty and enforced disappearances. The report talks of civilians being tortured by being beaten, electrocuted, placed in constrained suspension and being locked in a cage in blazing heat, without access to water or medical aid.

For one thing, we’re not going to send Clare Balding to the football World Cup. Oh yes, old put ‘em up Putin must have been in a right rage about that one

What’s all this got to do with the Russians I hear you ask? Well right now, Russia and Saudi Arabia are in negotiations to secure an agreement to extend their alliance on oil production and control on prices. They are looking to secure a deal which would last between 10 and 20 years. Saudi Arabia has long sought to raise prices to fund economic reforms at home, the main goal being to eventually reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oilrelated income. Last October, Saudi King Salman became the first Saudi monarch to visit Russia, providing investment and political support for the Russian economy which has been battered by Western sanctions. So what do we have here? The UK Government selling weapons to a murderous, regime which uses them to eviscerate innocent children; a UK Government which has also decided that the Russians are a nasty lot who should be kept at arms-length; the Russians and the Saudi’s ganging up to control oil prices; and the murderous regime raking in more money to buy bombs and guns from the UK Government and laughing all the way to the bank. It’s a tangled web I know, but please don’t tell me that the UK Government is suddenly the cowboy in the white hat. Nothing could be further from the truth. ■ Protempore


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Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 5


Admission free

You are invited to Easter in the Gardens Join us for lively music, a message of hope and lots of fun activities for all the family in the heart of the city.

destinyedinburgh.

6 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 122

Easter Sunday | 1st April 2018 Ross Bandstand, Princes Street Gardens 11:30am - 12:30pm

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Who is Risen is always Risen A broken television (or two) foretells an epiphany of sorts for Sally Fraser

S

o, where are we at just now? Where are we at with this? There has been a resurrection, allegedly, and I have broken the television – or more precisely, I have broken two televisions, but more on that in a moment. First, the resurrection bit which, like everything else, is not how you would think. So much hype, when you work in a church, so much eagerness and waiting and all that yearning, because this is Catholicism after all and we are all about the yearning. I thought I was ready for it this year but then I ended up in the dark, quite literally. Stuck in the, bible black, sanctuary on Easter night, everything happening at the other end of the church without me. I thought of myself as Buzz Aldrin, but even that wasn’t right, it was the other one I felt like, the one who didn’t get to go to the moon at all and had to sit in his rocket in the dark by himself. And, of course, no one remembers his name because it isn’t Buzz Aldrin. But at least rocket man had some kind of insight in that darkness and I, well, didn’t really. I never really saw nor felt the earth move. But then he wasn’t expected to sing anything. No one was going to expect him to sing six pages of chant without accompaniment or a candle to read his hymn sheet.

Of course we never really get our big moments of earth moving and flashes of light, and that was the whole thing with the resurrection; everyone who actually saw it was really thick about it and didn’t even notice it at first. So, back to those tellies, we broke the first one drawing the curtains. Knocked it right over and the screen smashed. So come Easter Monday, facing a rainy day of school holidays, I went to John Lewis to purchase a new one. Came back all pleased with myself, all hunter gatherer and provider, then KNOCKED THAT ONE OVER AND SMASHED IT TOO. And it felt like no greater depth of despair could have been plumbed. I completely fell to pieces with it. I am rubbish. I am a terrible person. I can’t do anything right. “Have you got any insurance or anything for it?” Said my friend David, who happened to call round in the midst of the chaos. “That’s the thing” I sniffed. I paid extra for the accidental damage cover. “Oh I don’t believe it!” He exclaimed with joy. “Nobody ever does that! Well done!” And there was something so gracious about the whole thing, the ability to see the positive, to congratulate me, and the miracle of new life that was someone actually forking out the extra forty quid for once in the history of humanity. So my ever-patient husband picked up the pieces quite literally and made that phone call to John Lewis. “Will you tell them your wife is an idiot and she has just smashed two televisions in a row?” I said.

That was the whole thing with the resurrection; everyone who actually saw it was really thick about it and didn’t even notice it at first

“No darling. I don’t need to say that. They can infer it for themselves.” He said. But affectionately, with the love of a man who has had to spend an awful lot of time doing this kind of thing. I remember not long before we were married, I was having a complete meltdown about something, and he tried to reassure me. “You are just going through a great big mincer right now. And one day you will emerge as a beautiful lasagne”. And it occurs to me that, as we approach our tenth wedding anniversary, we have been waiting a long time. I am not sure whether I am still in that mincer or grinding, ever so slowly, towards lasagne, it’s been quite a process. But maybe that’s the point, the process. Because it occurs to me too that I was looking in the wrong place for the resurrection, in that dark sanctuary, on the quiet side of the moon, or anywhere else where I could make myself alone. I was being thick about it just like everyone always was. Because who is risen is always risen, rolling up at the table, on the journey. Present every single time someone loves us, and listens, and sees us, each time we are sanctuary to one another. When we congratulate each other for buying the insurance rather than criticising for breaking the telly. When we wait for ten years by the mincer for each other, wondering if the lasagne will ever really emerge, and enjoying the waiting. The waiting in joyful hope (that yearning again) for the day that we will all be glorious lasagne together. ■ Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 7


TheNoRecipe Man Tom Wheeler

Learning From The Professionals F

The upshot of all this is that in the past six months, I could count the number of times I’ve had to throw food away at work on the fingers of Captain Hook’s bad hand

or as long as I’ve been writing about food, it occurs to me that I’ve attempted to make a virtue of my own amateurism. On balance, I’m happy enough with that. I firmly believed when I started scribbling – and slightly more limply believe now – that professional chefs are the best tutors to those who want to follow in their footsteps, while time-served home cooks are better placed to advise their less confident or experienced peers. The logic of this remains sound enough. The multi-Michelin-starred chef, whose cookbook you were given three Christmases ago and has gathered three years’ worth of dust since then, operates in a wholly different realm from any domestic cook. Without the necessary equipment, expertise, ingredients and budget, what are you really going to gain from a Heston Blumenthal recipe for unicorn carpaccio, other than an overdraft, an inferiority complex and a dose of the trots? Logical as this viewpoint might be, the past few months have given me cause to reconsider it, if not to change it altogether. For the first time, I’ve found myself working in a kitchen run by “proper” chefs – as distinct from, say, me – and have picked up all sorts of new skills as a result. That’s only to be expected, of course; but I didn’t anticipate just how relevant these skills would be to the way I cook at home. Actually, perhaps “skills” is the wrong word. Most of the techniques I use at work are familiar enough to me from thirty years of self-imposed practice – but what I have had to learn, and quickly, is a whole set of new habits. Friends and family have used many kind

8 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 122

words to describe my cooking over the years, but “efficient”, “organised” and “punctual” have never been among them. At home, I can just about get away with these foibles; but bring them to work and I’d be out on my arse. Fortunately, as it turns out, old habits don’t die all that hard at all. So now I find myself finishing one job before starting the next, clearing up as I go along and storing everything in its proper place – all anathema to me until recently, but now finding their way into my home as well as my workplace. To see the ultimate benefits of these good habits, all I need to do is watch the chefs at work during service. From a kitchen that wouldn’t look out of place in a caravanette, and with just two pairs of hands, I’ve seen them feed fifty guests in minutes, all in a manner so assured it’s almost casual. Work surfaces are continually cleared and cleaned, ready for the next check to appear. Food is routinely transferred from half-empty containers to smaller ones, freeing up precious fridge space. Every ingredient and utensil has its meticulously arranged space so the chefs can instantly find what they need without even looking. Such efficiency is reflected across the board, not least in the approach to waste. Vegetable trimmings are chopped up for soup; the last smidgen of celeriac purée is deftly scooped from the Magimix with a well-worn spatula; and every pigeon bone or parsley stalk finds its way into the stockpot. If there’s a surplus of a particular food, it ends up on the fixed price menu and is swiftly used up; and if ever that doesn’t happen, we might be lucky enough to find it in the next day’s staff meal. The upshot of all this is that in the past six months,

A good stockpot is the heart of any serious kitchen

I could count the number of times I’ve had to throw food away at work on the fingers of Captain Hook’s bad hand. By any standards – domestic or professional – that’s pretty remarkable. I can’t pretend I’ve yet applied all of these good habits beyond the workplace – and part of me still feels that my home kitchen needs just a little touch of disorder to give it character (and to remind me I’m not actually at work). But gradually, and more through repetition than resolution, this once-chaotic corner of the flat is taking on the tiniest hint of professionalism, and it’s all the better for the cross-pollination. With that in mind, here’s my revised take on the amateur/professional distinction. All cooks, paid or not, need to make good use of the resources they have: time, space, skills, money and more. In that respect, restaurant economics are just home economics scaled up. The difference is that if you briefly lose sight of home economics, you hopefully won’t lose your home; but lose sight of restaurant economics and you’ll almost certainly lose your restaurant. With that significant extra incentive, it’s little wonder that the pros tend to do it better. So if you ever find yourself having a pint with a successful chef, don’t bother asking them how they make Béarnaise sauce or persuade a soufflé to rise, you can read up on that for yourself. Instead, just ask: “How do you make it all work?” The answer might just be the most valuable cooking advice you’ll ever receive. n ÊÊTwitter: @norecipeman


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Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 9


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Welcome to Pin Drop Central Graham Ross manages to lever himself from his cemented spot under the telly in the Carriers Quarters to discover, once again, that the pub has a back room and sometimes bands play there!

T

here are some brilliant live recordings of Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers singing through the noisy and sometimes febrile atmosphere of the Palomino Club in Hollywood in the 1960s. Throughout the recordings, you can hear people talking, shouting and laughing and the sound of glasses breaking on the floor. Despite the cacophony, the band perseveres and Parsons and Chris Hillman blow out some of the sweetest harmonies you’ll ever hear. As each song draws to a close, the audience suddenly remember why they’re there and a distinctly lacklustre round of applause can be heard in the background. (For more of the same listen to The Velvet Underground Live at Max’s Kansas City, particularly the guy whining “can I have a double pernod?” – Ed). Now, I wouldn’t for one second compare the back room of the Carriers Quarters to the Palomino or for that matter, compare respective audiences, but at most of the small gigs that I’ve been to in the Carriers, the same rules

apply – the band plays and the audience carry on talking, drinking and falling over. However, on the night I went to see Sanna in the CQ, something strange happened. Almost as soon as the first notes of the first song began to drift into the air, the talking stopped and underneath the haunting intro to the night’s opener, Transformation you could have heard a pin drop. On that night’s evidence, to say that Sanna’s sound is captivating is like saying the ocean’s blue – yes, it’s a statement of fact but there’s something much deeper going on. Sanna are essentially a three-piece outfit who, every now and again, bring on board a guest performer; the night in question saw Graham Clark on lead vocals, Martin O’Donnell on guitar/ vocals and Sylvia Bell on vocals, cello and clarinet (amongst other things) joined by Cammy Newell as guest violinist. Try as I might, I really can’t begin to tell you ‘how’ Sanna sound – whenever you’re tasked with reviewing a band, the last thing you want to do is start comparing them to anyone else but it’s a trap that most reviews fall into. Looking at my notes in the cold light of day I realised that I had attempted to describe their sound as the night unfolded and had scribbled things like ‘ethereal pop’; ‘echo melodic’; and ‘a hypnotic road trip into the dark’. None of these descriptions really nail it but listening to the beautiful Sailor Farmer, they’re getting close. O’Donnell’s dream-like guitar intro opens the door for Clark’s vocals which come at you like an anaesthetist gently and reassuringly waking you from a

The band Sanna live, in the back room of Carriers Quarters

At most of the gigs that I’ve been to in the Carriers, the same rules apply – the band plays and the audience carry on talking, drinking and falling over

deep sleep. When Bell’s cello drifts in the sound is so pure it’s as if there’s velvet being pulled across the strings. Like all classic pop songs, it lasts less than three minutes in the playing but ten seconds in and the silence I mentioned above seemed to get even quieter. I swear when you hear it you won’t be able to get it out of your head. Remember 6 is another short, beautiful prayer and if there’s one petty criticism of Dinnae Ken it’s that the gruff title belies another two and a half minutes of haunting melodies which swirl around the room and are gone too soon. There is so much more to say and only the draconian restrictions of an imposed word count are preventing me from running through the entire set but it’s safe to say that over the course of the night, Sanna held a packed back room in the palm of their hands. Beautiful guitar and string arrangements, nailed on vocals and harmonies, and lyrics which veer from tender to funny all combined to make inch perfect pop songs. Of course, all of that is only in my humble opinion and if this review makes it sound as though Sanna take themselves ever so seriously, nothing could be further from the truth. They have a brilliant sense of humour which was obvious from the chat between each song which only added to the hold they had over the audience. Do go and see them but don’t laugh too loudly at their self-deprecating banter – you may not hear that pin drop. ■ ÊÊInfo: You can check out the band on Facebook or at www.Sanna.org.uk Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 11


Painting Her Reality Kennedy Wilson, how a disabled, bisexual, Hispanic woman became
a cult figure to academics, millennials and pop stars.

M

agdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón is perhaps the unlikeliest of heroines. The late Mexican artist became the idol of America’s 52 million Hispanic/Latin American population, academics and feminists have re-evaluated her work and young people have created a Kahlo cult complete with T-shirts, Japanese Kokeshi dolls, books, posters and comics. Back in the 1990s at the height of Kahlomania a Mexican shoe manufacturer made Kahlo slippers the toes of which were decorated with a bushy fringe that mimicked Kahlo’s signature eyebrows, which met in the middle. Now a new exhibition and book bring Kahlo to another generation. The exhibition, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up at the V&A in London brings a fresh perspective on Kahlo’s compelling life story through her personal belongings. In the book, Hidden Frida Kahlo, Helga Prignitz-Poda writes: ‘Her work always revolved around herself [and] is perhaps so popular today, as queen of the selfie, because her constant self-reflection and loneliness represent the fundamental issues of our time. In the longing for closeness, the constantly questioning gaze directed towards the viewer is the driving force of her work’. She has been nominated as one of the top women of the 20th century. And has been a touchstone for activists interested in disability rights and identity politics. In 2002 Salma Hayek starred in a Hollywood biopic usurping Madonna who had long wanted to play Kahlo in a movie of the artist’s life story. Madonna famously owned Kahlo’s My Birth, a graphic and disturbing picture showing Kahlo’s adult head emerging from her mother. Madonna said. “If someone doesn’t like the painting then I know they can’t be my friend… I identify with Kahlo’s pain and sadness.” (The music video for Madge’s 1994 song Bedtime Story was heavily influenced by Kahlo.) So how did a disabled, bisexual, Hispanic woman become a cult figure among feminists, academics, pop stars and Hispanics? Kahlo began painting at 16; she married the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera in 1928 and after her death in 1954 her house in Mexico City became a museum. It was in the mid-1980s that Kahlo’s name came to prominence again, when the Mexican government decreed her art a national treasure. 12 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 122

Frida Kahlo, Rue de l’Ourcq, Paris, by Marko 93 - Jeanne Menjoulet

Kahlo’s chief subject was pain, pain caused by the slow deterioration of her body due to injuries suffered in a streetcar [accident] when she was 18

Since then critics have hailed her the greatest artist Mexico has ever produced. ‘Her greatest appeal is her strength in adversity’, wrote Kahlo’s biographer Hayden Herrera, ‘and her chief subject was pain, pain caused by the slow deterioration of her body due to injuries suffered in a streetcar [accident] when she was 18’. In 30 years Kahlo had more than 30 operations, she suffered lifelong back-pain, had a foot amputated and became addicted to painkillers. Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly? Is one of her many inspirational quotes and, according to the late writer Angela Carter, a lifelong fan, Kahlo was “a connoisseur of physical suffering.” Throughout her stormy 25 year marriage she depicted the agony of her injuries and the heartache inflicted on her by Rivera’s many extramarital love affairs (one with her sister). “For a society drawn to notions of victimisation, Kahlo is certainly an alluring victim. ‘For people preoccupied with psychological health, the gritty strength with which she endured her illness is salutary’ – wrote Herrera in 1983. Griselda Pollock, academic and author of several books on women and art, points out, “The reason she is such a powerful figure is that Kahlo’s art is available to so many different

constituencies.” But Pollock was critical of so-called Kahlomania, which tends to take Kahlo’s life and work out of context and exploit it. “I’m delighted her work has become more well-known but it is important to retain the accuracy of people’s understanding of Kahlo’s life and not to see it just as a dramatic story.” Pollock has also been critical of the myth that because Kahlo was unable to have children she was driven to paint, often with an uncompromising vision. “No allowance is made for complexity or ambiguity and certainly no independent sexuality. Kahlo is being seen as a woman exquisitely beautiful but ultimately doomed. It’s much more important that she lived a long life, had a complicated relationship with Rivera, that she had relationships with men and women, and fully explored her identity.” Frida specialised in self-portraits, one of which was sold in 1990 in New York for nearly $1.5 million, the most at the time ever paid at auction for a Latin American work of art. “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone,” Kahlo once said. Years later, Angela Carter wrote memorably; ‘the face in the self-portraits is not that of a woman looking at the person looking at the picture; she is not addressing us… It is the face of a woman looking at herself, subjecting herself to the most intense scrutiny, almost to an interrogation’. Herrera talks of Kahlo never flinching from facing her own pain. “When she displays her wounds we immediately know that those wounds stand for all human suffering. She is a kind of secular saint. People look at her image and find strength’. n ÊÊ Info: Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up opens at the V&A, London on 18th June. Hidden Frida Kahlo – Lost, Destroyed or Little-known Works by Helga Prignitz-Poda (Prestel Publishing £39.99) ÊÊTwitter @KenWilson84


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Leith Dockers Club, 17 Academy Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 7EE LeithDockersClub www.leithdockersclub.co.uk T: 0131 467 7879 Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 13


In Search of San Quentin’s Prison Poet How Scottish poetry lover Scott J Lawrie found himself republishing the work of an American writer everyone seemed to have forgotten

T

he first Ed ‘Foots” Lipman poem I ever read was Because San Quentin Killed Two More Today, discovered in a collection published in 1977 called Second Coming Volume 5 No1, where Lipman appears last of three poets alongside A.D. Winans and the infamous Charles Bukowski. I had never been so affected by a poem in my whole life - its honesty and sensitivity were two attributes I had never before associated with the habitual criminal class to which Lipman belonged. So naturally, as is now the way, I searched for his name on the internet, found little to nothing, and felt overwhelmingly compelled to change that. Before experiencing his poetry, I read a short biography outlining Lipman’s life as a prisoner and a letter that he had written; he mentions the famous prisoner poet William Wantling and asks, ‘Did he not once graduate from this concrete sewer?’. He was, of course, referring to California’s notorious Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation state prison, San Quentin. Even in this environment and among its flawed and frightening characters, Ed “Foots” Lipman was described by those who met him as “something of a legend among prisoners” - a mix between Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke and Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Randall P. McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. 14 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 122

Born on New Year’s Day 1941, this MENSA-recognised man went on to spend almost 15 of his 34 years in the U.S. prison system. He was paroled from San Quentin on the 22nd May 1975 and died on the 8th September of natural causes. He had been free for just 3 months and 17 days. Now, sitting writing this article about the man, my desk is covered with snippets of information collected over months of research; court transcript documents, prison records, mug shots, finger prints and newspaper cut-outs dating all the way back to his first offence in 1958 when he stole a ‘57 Buick Sedan from the Iron Coal and Coke Company in Wichita Falls, and drove it 6000 miles across America, evading capture 8-10 times (all at the age of 17). To my left is a photograph of Lipman and his publisher, A.D. Winans, at a reading – one of the few pictures of Lipman still in existence. There’s a feature article from a magazine in which an inmate recalls the time Lipman refused to give a prison guard the piece of paper that he was writing on (we must imagine it was a poem). This resulted in a fight and Lipman – the 250-pound 6ft 5” Texan - throwing the guard out of his cell. He was visited later by the “goon squad” and subjected to tear gas and clubs, a combination that sent him straight to the prison hospital. These are just snippets of a life less ordinary, but my own entry into this story had begun with a late night transatlantic phone call to the San Quentin Prison public relations department, who were, despite their best efforts, not equipped to deal with a bizarre request, made in broad Scottish brogue, regarding a prisoner from 40

Above: Second Coming Volume 5 No1 (1977) Lipman appears alongside Bukowski and A.D. Winans, the writer reading at Neu Reekie (with Ed Lipman on screen),

Among its flawed and frightening characters, Ed “Foots” Lipman was described by those who met him as something of a legend among prisoners

years ago. Understandable, when all I had was a name. I fared partially better with the Californian State Archives who found some of the information I had requested: microfiche documents of his mug shot, finger prints and prison record. I also submitted a freedom of information request to the FBI, for which I’m still waiting, although it has been acknowledged. At this point, having exhausted all official avenues, I decided to investigate whether the original publisher was still in business. Of course they weren’t, but fortuitously, one of the poets featured, A.D. Winans, was actually the person who had run Second Coming Press, the publisher of the collection that introduced me to Lipman. I checked whether he was alive. He was. I emailed. I waited. Three months went by. Then came a reply from Winans now 81 years old, and as surprised by my enquiry as I was his reply. He answered all questions, most importantly regarding whether Lipman had further work. It turns out he had published one chapbook, Winans informed, back in 1975, titled No Capital Crime. This was all I needed. I discovered that a rare book dealer in San Francisco had a copy so I contacted him. He knew nothing of Lipman, the chapbook having been bought unintentionally – but for me serendipitously – in a job lot. With another purchase and import expense run up against the ever-increasing “quest” account I waited feverishly for it to arrive. It was during this time that I had the idea of republishing all Lipman’s work. I had no experience of doing this but by now I was regularly corresponding with A.D. Winans, so ran


the idea past him and he was more than happy. I asked Winans once more if there was anything missing, and there was. At some point in the last 40 years Winans had donated all his Second Coming Press work, which included original letters, poems and past issues, to Brown University’s creative archives. ‘There has to be something in there from Lipman’ he wrote, sure that there was a tape of both men reading in 1975 - the only recording in existence. So, next stop from the correctional facility that is San Quentin was the Ivy League. Winans was right, they had everything: prison letters Lipman had sent to friends, first draft submissions of poems, final drafts and newspaper clippings and, most importantly, that tape of them both reading...Lipman

Right: Illustration for one of his poems, a chapbook published the year he died

Because Truth Is Seldom Silent (San Quentin killed two more today) I have seen some good friends lie bleeding on The Yard broken victims of the errors in us all. (The wall doesn’t care: it’s savage stones washed by peaceful rains, it’s solid eye recording our every move.) We write down their names and remember their faces at night or in lines at mealtime. But, altho we watch completely the weeks melt in to months and soon those myths are silent, placed with respect in books nobody knows.

starts nervously, the first poem is short and there’s no applause from the crowd. He moves quickly onto the next. There’s a pause, then a loud cheering this time. This seems to settle him and he is then entertaining and calm throughout the rest of the reading even stopping in between poems to tell stories. I knew that I could never profit from another man’s work and that sales from the proposed book, however small, should go to a good cause of which Lipman would have hopefully approved. I started corresponding with a woman who runs the creative writing class at San Quentin and asked if she had ever heard of Lipman (sadly, she was yet another who had not). But we agreed on the charity that provides her funding for San Quentin and Folsom as the best place for any profits to go. Hopefully this will play some small part in Lipman’s name echoing around the prison once more, for all the right reasons. Hopefully it will inspire others trapped behind its walls and wire. It’s difficult to talk about a man like Ed “Foots” Lipman without either glorifying or vilifying him, hard not to concentrate only on his crimes as there seems little else to map out his life. But then of course, there is the work. With that in mind, I’ll end with a line I think perfectly sums this up, the last from a short review of unknown origins that I had translated from its original Portuguese, about the poem Prison Poem for Instance. It simply reads. ‘Don’t be misled by the apparent artlessness’. ■ ÊÊInfo: Only by Flashlight: Collected Poems of Ed “Foots” Lipman with an introduction by Scott J Lawrie (Published by Laura Press £10 RRP). All enquiries: scott.j.lawrie@hotmail.com

Timeline 01/01/1941 Born in Waco, Texas 13/11/1958 Age 17: Arrested for stealing ’57 Buick Sedan 05/05/1959 Age 18: Awaiting trial, receives 3 years 11 months 11/01/1965 - 09/02/1965 23/02/1965 Age 24: Arrested for robbery. Pleads guilty to robbery of first degree. Prison term starts - 5 to life 07/08/1967 Age 26: Escapes the Halls of Justice in Tujunga, Los Angeles, California 02/03/1968 - 06/10/1968 18/10/1968 Age 27: Caught after 7 months and 5 days. Attempted escape San Diego County Jail. Pleads not guilty acting as his own lawyer

11/02/1969 26/06/1969 Age 28: Convicted of attempted escape from lawful custody of the San Diego County Jail by force of violence and kidnapping - 10 years to life. Sent to San Quentin prison 02/10/1970 Age 29: Moved to Folsom Prison 09/08/1971 Age 30: Moved to San Quentin Prison Hospital 25/03/1975 22/05/1975 Age 34: Granted parole. Freed from San Quentin Prison Hospital. 08/09/1975 (Deceased)

Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 15


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DeidreBrock MP for Edinburgh North and Leith

Where is all the money going? homefarmer.co.uk

A

The UK Government can take money away from farmers and give it to Lord Bufton Tufton to subsidise his hunting, shooting and fishing business

nybody reading what the UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been writing or listening to what he’s been saying might think that he has great plans for the environment. He’s talking a good game, praising NFU members for their work to prevent environmental degradation and the work they do against climate change.. No-one seems to be noticing the little lines he’s dropping in, though. For decades the EU has paid farmers subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy to help keep food prices low. There have always been disagreements about how the system works and whether it benefits all farmers equally and it has always been changing to adapt, but when the UK leaves the EU next year the payments will stop. Michael Gove is suggesting a new form of payment from the UK Government to landowners. He wants to move the subsidies away from food producers to reward landowners who deliver what he calls “public goods” including “environmental enhancements”. What are those? Well, he wants to see some land untilled and trees planted and wildlife encouraged; he wants to see “resilient habitats” and “richer wildlife” where there was once food production. I hope I’m wrong but it sounds to me like he’s talking about grouse moors and shooting estates picking up some of the cash that used to go to farmers. The UK Government has a commitment to maintain the CAP payments, in cash terms, until the next UK general election but no commitment to keep paying the same subsidies for food production. They can take money away from farmers and give it to Lord Bufton Tufton to subsidise his hunting, shooting and fishing business. That, of course, means that food production will no longer be subsidised to the same extent and food prices would go up. Smaller farmers might struggle to survive without the CAP payments they’ve relied on for so long and it might seem a better option to sell up and move on. Diversity in farming would be lost - the big farmers and big agribusinesses would be buying up smaller farms and consolidating their landholdings. Little businesses would go under, family farms would disappear, and massive businesses would rule the countryside.

Family run farms could soon be a thing of the past

That would satisfy some of Gove’s other stated ambitions. He says he wants to see much more technology and automation in farming - and that’s much easier with really big farming businesses. He says he wants to see fewer people employed in agriculture - more machinery and more technology, more genetic modification and new plant biosecurity but fewer people working. All of that is much easier with bigger farms and fewer players in the game. So food prices go up, small businesses go bust, public money in the form of subsidies will be more and more concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer big landowners, and food production will become the preserve of a hegemony. The very rich will get richer off the public purse and richer still by controlling the means of producing food while the poor will find that food is no longer affordable. Doesn’t sound like the land of opportunity and promise that the Brexiteers promised us, does it? Here’s the thing, though - Gove is responsible for the English system and the devolved administrations are responsible for their own patches. I don’t think anyone expects the Scottish Government or the Welsh Government to shaft their farmers in this way - or to make food more expensive for the people they serve. Northern Ireland, of

course, is anyone’s guess just now with no political leadership in Stormont but Scotland and Wales are fairly safe bets. So if Scotland controls its own system and Wales does the same, why am I concerned about Gove running off on his merry way? Well, with us being dragged out of the EU and stuck in a union with England that leaves that nation as the elephant in the bed we’re tied far too tightly to what happens down south. Both ends of that elephant are dangerous. Being cut off from the free trading of the EU will mean that our food producers will find it harder to sell into Europe and our farmers will find it harder to survive. With no or limited access to the cheaper food that’s produced in Europe our food prices will rise. Our trade with England and being cut off from the EU will mean that England’s food price increase will also affect us. Brexit has many disadvantages but one of the worst might be that a Government in London chasing an ideological goal could do us massive damage. I don’t think that will be their intent, it’s just that our interests won’t even be part of their calculations. It’s going to be a bumpy ride and it’s only just getting started. ■ ÊÊTwitter: @ eBrock Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 17


HAPE SPAC YOUR


"TO MERELY OBSERVE YOUR CULTURE WITHOUT CONTRIBUTING TO IT SEEMS VERY CLOSE TO EXISTING AS A GHOST" Chuck Palahnuik

Set up in the shadow of venue closures, funding cuts and rising licencing costs; #SHAPEYOURSPACE is an Edinburgh wide campaign organised by local community stakeholders to create and facilitate discussion on the future of Edinburgh's local culture scene. Join our discussion on April 1st when we will be gathering your views on the challenges facing the capital. #SHAPEYOURSPACE

APRIL 1ST 2018


Life, dearth and anything Humanity’s reserves of pretty much everything are running low, contends Colin Montgomery; time to restock perchance…

W

e’re running out of giraffes. It’s no tall story. In fact it’s not even a new story seemingly (my daughter referred to it in a panic this very morning, but a quick check online confirms it’s passé to bleat on about giraffe shortages; they were doing that back in 2016). Anyway, point being, thanks to the egregious excesses of bell-end poachers – and those fat Yanks you see grinning over giraffe corpses on Facebook – we’re low on the old long-necked ones. It’s not like you can pop down to Giraffes R Us to stock up. Actually, you can’t even pop down to Toys R Us anymore…so long Geoffrey. That achingly contrived giraffe/mass redundancy reference (a rare species of shoehorned prose worth preserving I think – although I gather they’re hunted down for sport by irate Editors who have indulged me long enough) is somewhat misplaced in the context of this rant. Truth is, despite high-profile casualties in the retail sector, we’re not running low on jobs. Yet a dearth of sorts persists. As in a dearth of decent, well-paid, secure employment with, you know, luxuries, like guaranteed hours, sick pay, time-off, etc etc. Not to carp at entrepreneurialism, but calling yourself self-employed loses its glamour when you’re really just some overworked slave, grubbing away at the behest of fate. Such cynicism eh? We’re clearly not running low on that front. Not when this particular curmudgeon is around…I have limitless reserves, following a Faustian pact. But on a serious note – and to make sense of this rambling essay – we are, despite the swagger of the super-rich, living in straitened times. I refer not just to disposable readies (the squeeze continues to hurt in that department, even if wages are now threatening to nudge a little), I refer to the distinct dearth of qualities that used to define the better side of our species: objectivity; evidence-based thinking; tolerance; mutual respect; heck, even the tendency to not overreact to perceived slights is now looking a bit thin on the ground. A worthy list I know. But it’s becoming genuinely tiresome…my tolerance is running low too. I can only compare it to a mass outbreak of ‘hangry’ – that hair-trigger tendency to snap, gurn and grumble that only a fish supper or yard of Haribos will cure. A rather cutesy definition admittedly of a psychological malaise 20 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 122

Somewhat improbably, Jimmy Kimmel tries to console Geoffrey the Toys R Us giraffe after the group’s closures

that could ultimately lead to our collective end, but I fear there’s a dearth of solutions to this ruinous slide. It’s a lot easier to become entrenched than it is to emerge from the mud, pristine and sparkling. Which is to say, the dearth of values feeds off itself. Once it becomes acceptable to wilfully lie, obfuscate, bait, distort or ignore the mote in one’s own eye, it sets a new standard devoid of standards if you will, becoming a pernicious gauntlet tossed down to the rest. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I won’t start cherry-picking examples from our ever more absurd politics; let’s just say my radio alarm has even taken to shouting down the Today Programme of a morning. It had a furious go at John Humphries the other week; I had to retune it to Classic FM lest it blew a gasket. Nah, better to stare at the ceiling with the sound of birdsong and distant motorbikes for company. To all those still burning with the fire of activism, be my guest, but I really don’t have the stomach for it right now. A dearth of will? Perhaps. But always better than a Triumph of the Will. That last reference wasn’t intended to invoke Godwin’s Law. It was, I suppose, to suggest that becoming emphatic does not come without a price.

There’s a dearth of decency, nuance, understanding and dare I say it, mea culpas – as if admitting a mistake was too much for a supposedly muscular world-view to contend with. It’s a steroid-fuelled mindset that is again, with great irony (we’re in no danger of running out of irony, as a rather splendid Martin Rowson cartoon in the Grauniad made light of recently), rather brittle and lacking substance underneath the skin. And with that, I feel there’s a great dearth of frothy knockabout humour in this month’s download. We can’t let spurious cod-philosophy crowd out puerile references can we? That wouldn’t do. So to try and salvage a guffaw or two – they’re also in short supply these days, or maybe I need to up my medication again – I will end this miserablist splurge with a round-up of things that require an urgent top-up before it’s too late. Let’s call it an alternative endangered species list. Minus animals.

Seasons (status: endangered) It’s fecking snowing. In April. Don’t listen to those who recall fond days of snowman building in spring. This is absurd. If we don’t get a summer this year, I’m handcuffing June, July and August to a


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radiator, just to watch them suffer.

Thank Yous (status: endangered) This is straight out of the old geezer’s handbook, but honestly, people don’t say thank you nearly as much as they used to. Maybe it’s just me. I’m sort of the guy who apologises for someone else bumping into me with a supermarket trolley.

White Dog Shit (status: critical) Albino dog’s eggs were a ‘thing’ when I was growing up. But where have they gone? Consigned to history along with childhood fridge deaths, electrocution and puppy-wielding pederasts? Who knows? Or dares to dream.

A viable alternative to this ongoing pantomime (status: ?)

This is a contentious one. Maybe there are loads of them out there. Hiding in a bush on the Links. We can only but imagine. Until this elusive quarry surfaces, I shall take solace in my jazz mags. Until we meet again… ■

I can only compare it to a mass outbreak of ‘hangry’ – that hairtrigger tendency to snap, gurn and grumble that only a fish supper or yard of Haribos cures

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“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

Theme: Manufactured obsolescence, boosting profit and generating e-waste, Apple’s battery life controversy is a recent example that exacerbates the problem; China is refusing to take more e-waste from the west; ignore the pressure to upgrade, embrace second hand goods. Suggested Titles: Is it beautiful because it’s new? Drop the pie and pick up the spanner. Yesterday is cheaper than today.

I

’m writing this remembering the recent Valentine’s Day - there’s an odour of rich food in the kitchen and the remains of Prosecco, amidst some pawed over oyster shaped chocs that found little take-up from my (current) girlfriend. I recall the price crashed on such romantic confections from £6 to £1 overnight. The Poundland romantic in me has a drawer of stashed ‘25p only’ cards accumulated on 15th February – the call of the wild or just the appeal of cheap? Don’t you find cupid day much cheaper twenty-fours on? I’m holding out for similar bargains on Commonwealth Games merchandise once the closing ceremony gets out the door. You’d be surprised how many price-sensitive shoppers share my appetite for redundant stock, and if you squint and look at goods in the half-light, it could be any generic, non-copyright character from the last fifty years of sporting wonder. Timing plus careful shopping, you will observe, induces smugness and celebration on a budget. The same does not hold true for advert-induced pressure to upgrade our technology. How lame, ugly and broken down the iPhone 8 seems (like 22 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 122

a lecherous drunk barfly hitting on unsuspecting young serving staff) beside the gleaming, new, sexy iPhone X. Flirting on its white pedestal at gaping urban hipsters in the pure white Apple store/temple. “How stupid are you to not just buy me?” Even though the release dates between the two is a scant six months. I am blessed with less of an appetite for form over function than Apple’s preferred customer. My flirtation with the company’s products began and ended with an old iPod Nano found abandoned in a hedge ten years ago – beautiful because it was free, not because it was new. I troubleshoot tech for a living among the older population and my client’s shower me with old castoffs. More than I can list, use, or possibly retain. Hubris, though not the sole preserve of Apple’s merry band, operates alongside an insatiable demand for profit. When considering the recent controversy over battery life, many journalists suggested the ‘fruity one’ was inducing under-performance to speed up upgrades and drive sales. Public awareness of the corporation’s cheap $29 battery replacement, rather than the $1000 new hotness product yielded bad news for their bottom line. A recent one percent dip in iPhone sales also suggested that consumers were tiring of the upgrade cascade.

As China flexes it’s manufacturing muscles and begins to refuse importation of electronic waste and other recyclables, a more economic approach to consumption is set to become the new mainstream. Today alone I have Freegle, the swap site, picking up two printers. While I’m nabbing a couple of LPs to keep up with the hard-to-fathom vinyl revival; Archie McCulloch’s Scottish Dance Party 1974 featuring Strip the Willow, The Gay Gordons, The Lerwick Two-Step) and Disco Hits ‘75 (Jasper Carrot, Gary Glitter and Minnie Riperton together at last – anyone?). These two appear alongside two hundred other quality titles surprisingly still available. I shall also be wrecking Beatles numbers with a free Xbox Rockband drum kit I acquired, this very night, and have recently sold ten jackets dumped by the bins – possibly from a crime scene investigation but still worth a listing once the blood’s out. My online sale account is jammed with anything I can find for nothing and sell for something, self-interest allied with a little cash, surely the best incentive not to bin things with a post-new value. Checkout scenes in Blade Runner 2049, now a mere thirty years away, it has underground sweatshops jammed with jailed children stripping out precious metals from circuit boards. However, with your help and commitment to social change, we can make this a reality for our children long before then. It won’t require any increase in council tax rates, will reduce class sizes and instil a strong sense of discipline amongst the under tens, which is so lacking in these cynical 2018 days of revenge porn and fracking. I’m entreating all persons of good character to end the appetite for the new, not for green reasons but to stick it to advertisers and companies we all know, who make billions by subtly adjusting your mindset to believe that last season’s gadget dé jour is a pile of greasy refuse. Just tell them “this one will do thanks.” Then get yourself along to free repair site ifixit, bag some screwdrivers and mend not spend. You may get electrocuted but hey, you’ll die soon anyway so give it a go. And the next time you here the protest, “What do we want?” Just answer. “A bit less stuff thanks mate.” ■ Mark Young

Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 22


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BenMacpherson MSP for Edinburgh North and Leith

“During the snow days, there was a real sense of public spirit in the air” A

A strong belief that while the social and monetary value of our contributions may differ, as fellow human beings, the worth of our contributions are ultimately the same

s the snow thawed and the shop shelves filled up again, there was a palpable sense of solidarity in Leith in the aftermath of the #BeastFromTheEast. Communities shovelled streets together and volunteers gathered to clear school playgrounds. People got messages for their neighbours and helped each other along the road. While we experienced some of the worst weather in years, inspiringly, the snow also brought us together. Folk who wouldn’t normally talk to each other chatted and supported each other in a whole range of different ways. Just a day after the blizzards had stopped, nowhere was this community spirit more vibrant than at a packed L£ith Chooses launch at the Kirkgate, where hundreds of people gathered at the community centre to promote their outstanding initiatives and cast their deciding votes. If you didn’t make it along or haven’t heard about L£ith Chooses then I’d really recommend checking it out: www.leithchooses. net. Buzzing with ideas and rejoicing in collective relief from “cabin fever” during the snow days, there was a real sense of public spirit in the air. And like those who’d cleared paths and helped fellow Leithers through those snow days, the volunteers who made L£ith Chooses possible deserve huge praise. Indeed, whether it’s the commitment of such volunteers, the way neighbourhoods pull together to help each other or the strong sense of community in times of need, those weeks have reminded us of how important all of our contributions are to the common good. Upliftingly, recent events and developments have emphasised something that I firmly believe in and say often – a strong belief that while the social and monetary value of our contributions may differ, as fellow human beings, the worth of our contributions are ultimately the same. Because all of us can, and do, make a difference. Many have rightly praised emergency service workers, Council workers, call centre workers, heroic bus drivers and good Samaritans for getting us through the #BeastFromTheEast – and I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you again to all of those who worked so hard for the benefit of others during such difficult conditions. However, it’s also important to think

Sainsbury’s, looking suitably 1970s Russia, in March

about those who maybe don’t always come to mind – like carers, delivery drivers or those who keep our water systems running. Because as the ice melted, of course, one of the many consequences of the #BeastFromTheEast was a lot more water flowing beneath our feet. These high water levels require skill and insight to manage – which made me wonder, maybe we don’t think enough about the important job that those who treat our water systems do day in day out, in bad weather and all year round? Whether it’s after a storm and heavy snow fall, or through a dry summer period, those who manage our water supply do such a vital job and that should be recognised. This is particularly pertinent for us here in Leith, where water treatment has been a big issue for some time. And while I want to take this opportunity to show my gratitude for the important work that engineers and others do to manage our water, as the local MSP, I am of course also concerned about the fact that Seafield has caused discomfort and nuisance to nearby residents for some time. In fact, doing what I can to help tackle the “Seafield stench” was a key commitment I made at election time. Building on the impressive work of local campaigners and others over a number of years, I organised a meeting last year between Leith Links Community Council and the Leith Links Residents’ Association with the Environment Minister, which resulted in the Scottish Government undertaking a robust and thorough Strategic Review of Seafield. You can read the report

here: http://www.scottishwater.co.uk/ investment-and-communities/yourcommunity/seafield. This is a significant piece of work and makes the case for both operational improvements and investment at Seafield, in the short, medium and long term. Not only has this report been produced by independent experts but it also includes wide-ranging input from Leithers and our community. Working with community representatives, the Council, Scottish Water, the plant operators and the Scottish Government, I will now be pressing for implementation of recommendations in the Strategic Review. For too long Leithers have had to suffer discomfort due to odours from Seafield and in the capital city of modern 21st century Scotland this needs to stop. Following on from this Strategic Review, I’ll be pushing for more action on Seafield. But if you’re affected in the meantime please do keep reporting any odour issues to the Council by calling 0131 469 5641 or emailing publichealth@ edinburgh.gov.uk. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that, while we are very grateful to those who work to keep our water system running, and especially during severe weather like the #BeastFromTheEast, odour problems from Seafield must be addressed. The coming months and years are a real opportunity to press for more action on Seafield and I’m confident that the Strategic Review will result in meaningful progress. I’ll certainly be pushing for that. Persevere. ■ ÊÊTwitter: @BenMacpherson Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 25


Not quite loving the alien Lawrence Lettice offers an alternative examination of the man who fell to earth – and stole the world

A

few years ago, after reading his morning tabloid, my late step-dad announced some shocking news: “Jim Bowie’s had a heart attack!” I tried to grasp, with some confusion, exactly what he was meant replying, “I’m not surprised, the sight of dozens of angry Mexicans running towards you wielding loaded muskets and sharpened bayonets would be enough to give anyone a heart attack!” It soon became apparent that the man he was referring to was not the famed American frontiersman (after all, he’d been dead since 1836) but a completely different Bowie – the London born singer, David. I must confess that I am not, nor have I ever been a David Bowie fan. I didn’t really dislike him, or his music I simply just didn’t get him. And even two years after his death, I still don’t; a fact that continues to bemuse and baffle many of my friends. Even though there are those who sacrilegiously describe him as pretentious and self-indulgent. A touch of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” regarding his many invented personas. Well, who am I to say! Following his death, the emotive tributes and eulogies appeared for the most part genuine and unending. “He was a true innovator, a creative musical genius and a serious artist…” ran some of the praise coming from fans and critics alike, as his music was played constantly and hundreds of candles were lit to his memory. Profound and deeply held emotions pointed towards the unique impact he had for so many. “He was my idol, my inspiration, my hero”, or “He guided me through my teenage years”. Well, to be honest, I don’t remember him guiding me through my teenage years. Come to think of it, I don’t think anyone did. Although on reflection, I was probably more inspired by “Duke Wayne”, than “The Thin White Duke”. I suppose I was a teenage absolute beginner, when I first became aware of David Bowie (formerly plain David Jones) during the early 1970s. Alongside the likes of Elton John, Rod Stewart and Bryan Ferry, he helped those boys to keep swinging as they shaped the mood, sound & vision (a great title for a song there!) and style of that decade’s music. That is until the punk rockers 26 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 122

Not that Bowie… this Bowie

It soon became apparent that the man he was referring to was not the famed American frontiersman (after all, he’d been dead since 1836) but the the London born singer, David

rudely crashed the party, leaving it all in ashes…to ashes. All the young dudes at my school, looked at the strange androgynous one with sheer open-mouthed awe – as someone who had indeed fallen to earth from a distant planet. Yet, I (for whatever reason) stubbornly refused to succumb to his extra terrestrial hypnosis. Around the time he died, I recall meeting up with some friends (all massive Bowie aficionados) in a local Leith hostelry, where we discussed the significance of his passing, as well as his continuing musical legacy. After consuming several drinks, the late Mr Bowie’s influence on 20th century popular culture was being carefully and minutely dissected. Then with tongue (a little) in cheek, I put in my tuppence worth. “I just thought of him as a Glam Rocker, no better or worse than say, Alvin Stardust, Marc Bolan, Mud and Sweet. They all had a tendency to wear heavy make-up and sparkly outfits altough I’ll grant you he did sing about a spaceman and a laughing gnome.” (Lawrence, Lawrence, are you at the wind up? – Editor.) You could have cut the silence with a knife, as my pals regarded me with a frightening blend of acute, outraged indignation, as if I had just brazenly insulted a sacred deity. We then moved on to his music and stage image, and how he was perceived as the very first performer

who enthralled an enraptured audience with his aura of ambiguously defined sexuality. I mulled this thought over for a few seconds, trying hard to identify where that now left the likes of Danny La Rue, Dame Edna and Marlene Dietrich? Oh well, you can’t win them all. One of my pals attempted to (gently) guide me towards a more enlightened appreciation of Mr Bowie’s overall contribution to music. “You don’t understand, he constantly changed image, mood and style, he was always musically reinventing himself.” That may well be true, but you could also apply the same words to the likes of Kylie Minogue! As you may have guessed, dear reader, he was preaching to the unconvertable. The allure of Mr Bowie continues to escape me. So where are we now? Well not so long ago (strangely, out of curiosity) I took part in an online music quiz in which you had to identify 20 songs by the self-same Mr David Bowie – no pressure then – and guess what, to my great surprise, I got every single one correct! Which just goes to show that, inadvertently, Mr Bowie’s musical oeuvre had sneaked into my psyche without me even realising it. Suffice to say I wasn’t exactly dancing in the street at this outcome, however, I did feel a tad hunky dory latter on when I considered all that untapped knowledge I had in the tank! ■


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SpringFitness Tracy Griffen

Coco the Superpug Therapet R

There’s something very special about seeing a patient respond to stroking the softness of her fur, and remembering dogs they have had as pets

egular Leither readers may be familiar with the pictured pug. Coco is also known as ‘the fitness pug’ as she works in my personal training studio on Balfour Street. By work, I mean she sits in the corner looking awfully sweet, and is always up for a pug hug at the end of a good workout. Over the last couple of years many folk who were apprehensive about fitness have really warmed to the wee furry creature. She’s a real icebreaker. So when I heard about local charity Canine Concern and their work with Therapets, I decided to sign Coco up. It’s a fairly straightforward process, starting with a number of forms to be completed and returned. Once the forms were posted off and the human owner signed up as a Canine Concern member, Coco was able to sit her Therapet entrance exam. This involved a local Canine Concern examiner coming to the studio to see how personable and well behaved the little duggy was. No jumping up allowed, and the canine has to be of a friendly (but not too rambunctious) disposition. I was thankful that we’d taken her to puppy training lessons at Portobello with ‘Lynn the Dog Lady’ (highly recommended for puppy training and socialisation) and Coco passed the Therapet exam with flying colours. Then came the six-week process of getting my credentials checked with Disclosure Scotland to ensure I’m an upstanding member of society with no criminal record. All processes passed, we were then good to go. I had in mind volunteering at the St Columba’s Hospice in Trinity, as they looked after a dear friend of ours a while ago, however they were over-subscribed for Therapets. No worries, we were offered a placement at Findlay House in Seafield, a NHS facility for patients with dementia and older folks with behavioural issues (meaning that they can’t go to a traditional nursing home). I have to admit I approached our first couple of visits with trepidation. Neither Coco nor I had done such visiting before and I think we were a bit overwhelmed initially. We’re getting to know the patients and nursing staff now and they are delightful. Some people, including some vets, seem to believe it’s irresponsible to encourage the breeding of brachiophilic (flat-faced) pets due to potential health issues. It’s true some overweight pugs I’ve met have breathing difficulties that would be improved if they lost weight (and some humans too). Sadly people like

Guess who?

to overfeed cute dogs, it’s not the dog’s fault, you have to be disciplined to be a responsible pug owner. Coco has had no health issues in her four years of living with us, and I like to think it’s because she is active with a good varied diet. The video of her eating the tender kale plants in our allotment went viral with over 20,000 views, it’s the pinned tweet @cocofitnesspug, so it shows a healthy pug is a popular pug. Pugs are in fact one of the oldest breeds of dog in the world, during the Ming dynasty pugs were popular with Chinese emperors and were bred as companion dogs for ruling families. Pugs were brought from China to Eastern Europe in the 16th century and are well known for their affable nature. They love humans. In fact, Coco seems to prefer humans to other dogs (perhaps because we are more likely to have food), and it was because of this I thought Coco would make a happy Therapet. And she loves it! Coco gets more and more excited as we make our fortnightly walk along Restalrig Path to Findlay House. She knows when the dedicated Therapet leash comes out that she will be getting lots of pats and attention. As she is only wee, it is very easy to hold her up so patients who are bed-bound or in wheelchairs can enjoy a pat. There’s something very special about seeing a patient respond to stroking the softness of her fur, and remembering dogs they have had as pets. Coco was actually named after another pug my husband and I met in Australia.

We loved the original Coco so much that we decided to get the same type of dog here in Leith. Coco the Second! And over the last four years she’s become my Constant Companion, Co-Conspirator and Confidential Colleague. She’s so CoCo! Canine Concern Scotland Trust was formed in 1988 to help dogs and their owners, and to improve their position in present-day society. Its aims are to: ââProvide an educational service to promote responsible dog ownership in Scotland by visiting schools to reach dog owners of the future, or to give talks, supply useful literature and advice to any interested Community Groups. ââEstablish and manage a service to be known as “Therapet”. ââFurther the role and care of dogs in Scotland, either directly or in cooperation with Government, Local Authorities and other organisations in Scotland, whether charitable or not. ââPromote research into the therapeutic value of dogs to patients or others isolated from normal association with pets. Canine Concern has also launched the ‘Reading with Dogs’ initiative, where youngsters practise their reading skills by reading to dogs. Find out more about Canine Concern at www. canineconcernscotland.org.uk. ■ ÊÊTwitter: @griffenfitness Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 29


CrosswordNo.97 Win a Coffee & your choice of cake

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across 1 5 10 11 12 13 15 18 20 23 25 26 27 28

Easterner chirped to break code (8) It’s a horse for a sum (6) 0? (4,2,3,6) Drink to coax a cur out, not 10 (7) Lever altered badly (7) Drink for French, dry and firm (8) Monk found in lab bottle? (5) Errors found in sacristy post box (5) Element of a mini, cut out (8) Saves drug and curses badly (7) Tits pop out for a splash and a dash (3,4) Tin flyer with boy at peace with railroad (8,7) Pierces fruit in ship (6) Drug scandal out in the light (8)

down 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 14 16 17 19 21 22 24 25

Citadel smashed without a violation of law (6) Lid cut to enrich the soil (5,4) Billy and Hal for example? (7) Another bye (5) Nelson caught up in German delay (7) Single, smashes wunderkind, not half! (5) Terns rot badly in outpourings (8) Vegetable puree Otto had with bad beer (8) Uproar in form!? (5,3) Plenty for Captain Bligh? (9) A teetotal artist cuts out Uni and pulls (8) So beneath, testing depth (7) Saw neat whisky? (7) Hot stuff in steamy Southern epics (6) Char, short tenor (5) Country university without personal assistants (5)

answers: crossword 96 across

1 Pleasure 5 Chintz 10 Northampton town 11 Inanely 12 Eminent 13 Skill set 15 Genoa 18 Midas 20 Indigent 23 Natural 25 Heather 26 Newcastle United 27 Eldest 28 Sacristy

down

1 Pundit 2 Earmarked 3 Schnell 4 Rummy 6 Hunting 7 Noose 8 Zenithal 9 Attested 14 Skillets 16 Non-whites 17 Eminence 19 Surpass 21 Grainer 22 Friday 24 Towed 25 Hyena

winner crossword 96 Margaret O’Brien, Gorgie

30 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 122

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“Try to keep a small, smelly child close to your person at all times” Dear Mrs MacPickle, A member of my extended family squeezes me just that little bit too tightly whilst regularly invading my personal space. How can I deal with this without making a distasteful face? Yours Silly Old Snake Dear SOS, Firstly, I would suggest that you should not even attempt to refrain from making a distasteful face, as it might just be the quickest and simplest way to resolve the issue. However, if your space invader is more persistent than that I would suggest the following: Either a) try to keep a small and smelly child, preferably with copious amounts of snot, close to your person at all times b) generate static, or c) try to Out Bore him. B and C were techniques I developed while living in a Very Cold Country, a place where personal space boundaries were for some reason particularly prone

to being ignored, so I suppose B was not so much a technique but rather a consequence of endlessly shuffling around in head-to-toe artificial fur. However, it was enormously satisfying to see someone move in for a grope and quite literally watch the sparks fly. So if you are desperate you could always get yourself a faux fur jacket, go up and down some escalators a few times and then Zap! Option C takes real grit, I remember being plagued all evening by some octopushanded weirdo before slowly and carefully explaining to him the British notion of Cathedral Cities. He dropped me like a brick chicken. Topics recommended for Out-Boring are: (obviously) Cathedral Cities, Your Child’s Bowel Movements and Parking Spaces You Have Known. Good Luck! ■ Mrs MacPickle ÊÊGot a prickly problem? E-mail Mrs MacPickle at info@leithermagazine.com Issue 122 | leithermagazine.com | 31


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The Leither Issue 122  

The Leither Issue 122  

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