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Editor at Large

Of Mince and Men T

The waitress asks me not to eat my roll for a few minutes as it’s just out of the freezer

o the Now Rest Café, at the Leith end of Bonnington Road, for a hangover nosh. The first surprise is that it’s packed, with what appear to be members of the same family. Every departure marked with a “look after yourself Grandpa Broon,” or a “see you later Aunty Aggie.” The latter of these sign-offs offers up a prime window seat, which I gratefully accept, given that I am in that precarious post piss up nether world where I either start up drinking again or I eat. So eat it is, thank the good lord! Soup with a roll followed by a plate of mince, tatties and peas. Please. Service is surreal to say the least; a bowl of soup has presumably been volcanoed in the microwave for when it is handed to me with no saucer, and a spoon stood rigid in the middle, it oozes over the sides onto the table like magma. No matter, it resembles minestrone and is more than passable. (Despite fleecing the top layer of skin from my tongue.) The waitress reappears with a roll, “leave it to defrost for a few minutes son, it’s just out of the freezer.” A couple of minutes later she returns, “the chef asked me to let you know that the vegetables in the soup are undercooked.”

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And you know what? It is all entirely charming. A proper neighbourhood restaurant. If Grandpa Broon or Aunty Aggie never turned up for a couple of days, you know a member of staff would call round to see if they were okay. I bet you the legendary Isa’s Chat and Chew was exactly like this and I know that the Quick and Plenty in Tollcross is. Great names huh? Redolent. Oh, and the mince is absolutely brilliant! Just like your mother never used to make it. Didn’t get the peas though. A couple of doors down, past, bizarrely, Martin Wishart’s Cookery School (where those undercooked vegetables would have been termed al dente or served as crudités) stands a boarded up detached house where Teenage Dog Orgy had their one and only rehearsal. We met at an ungodly hour in Fox’s bar next-door to here, 9am as I recall, and caused quite a stir among the early morning bevvy merchants when our guitarist appeared with a luminous green face. The result, he patiently explained, of applying his many layers of make up in the wrong order. I’d forgotten that, till I sat in Now Rest’s window mooning (in the old fashioned sense) over my mince.

Contents 4

Finally, after 89 columns in this rag, Protempore trumps Victor Meldrew’s ‘I don’t believe it!’ with, ‘You couldn’t make it up!’

8

Dave McGuire talks to Danish indie gods Efterklang, and, further on, Hidden Orchestra. Both are deserving of your, I’m sure, informed attention

14

Want someone who bemoans the disappearance of white dog turds and the stink of pish in a red phone box? Montgomery’s yir man

18

Gordon Munro remembers Victor Jara, holds hands with Patti Smith, kisses Margo Macdonald and spends time with Che Guevara’s daughter. There’s names!

Leither Published by: Leither Publishing Editor: William Gould 07891 560 338 billy@leithermagazine.com Sub Editors: Dot Mathie, Shelley Smith and Stephanie Malcolm Design: design@leithermagazine.com Photography: Ryan McGoverne info@ryanmcgoverne.co.uk Advertising: Shelley Smith 07908 550 118 shelley@leithermagazine.com Contacts: info@leithermagazine.com leithermagazine.com Cartoonist: Gordon Riach Illustrators: Bernie Reid Printers: Arc Printing Ltd 0131 555 5459 sales@arccolour.co.uk arccolour.co.uk © 2012 LEITHER PUBLISHING. Reproduction in whole or part is forbidden without the wri!en 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: advertising@leithermagazine.com

Cover: Still from Kichwateli

(TV-Head) premiering at the Africa in Motion Film Festival Issue 89 | leithermagazine.com | 3


Protempore … At Last… The ‘You couldn’t make it up.’ Headline! T

here are some things I will never apologise for. Standing on various picket lines in the 1980s as Margaret Thatcher and her band of fat boys in the Government tried (and almost succeeded) to dismantle every trade union in the country. I will never apologise for wearing herringbone oxford bags, platform shoes, and a feather cut in the 1970s as I tried to impress Gillian Geddes at the third-year disco at Broughton High School. In my defence, on that particular occasion, I had downed a bottle of Merrydown cider and by the time I’d managed to dodge my way past Mr Millar at the door to the gym, I thought I was Bryan Ferry. Four songs in the cider eventually swam through my system to my, by now, completely deluded brain and I vaguely remember stumbling through the fire doors to unleash most of the cider into the school car park while Paul Nicholas was “Dancing with the Captain.” I would have apologised to Gillian but she was too busy mooning with someone who looked suspiciously like Mr Millar. And I will certainly never apologise for becoming increasingly laeotropic as I get older. (For those of you who, like our esteemed editor, don’t own a dictionary, it means turning to the left.) By my reckoning, I’m now beginning to make Leon Trotsky look like Norman Tebbit. However, despite my reluctance to offer up apologies, lately it seems that almost everyone is falling over themselves to say sorry. Take Nicholas Chalfont Clegg, or Nick to his friends, who recently apologised for reneging on his party’s pledge before the last General Election not to raise tuition fees for students. Prior to the election, he was photographed quite happily in colleges and universities, signing up to the pledge and smiling 4 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89

from ear to ear as he no doubt believed that he had secured the support of thousands of students who positively beamed at the prospect of an education without the added financial burden which those nasty Tories were going to impose. And then disaster. Thousands of students, quite probably many of their parents, and many, many more people voted for Chalfont and he suddenly found himself in Government. Just think, the Liberal Democrats had come from nowhere and were now providing members of the Cabinet! Chalfont became Deputy Prime Minster for goodness’ sake! And what happened then is plain for everyone to see – the Tories were the dominant party in the coalition and as such, promptly set about telling Chalfont and his spineless colleagues that any pledges they’d made were now to be forgotten. Students? Who cares? You made a promise? Break it. Which Chalfont duly did, claiming that he didn’t quite know the extent to which the country was up shit creek having lost its paddle. Bullshit. He knew all right but once he caught a whiff of the possibility that they might make an impact at the election, he trotted out a lie – he had no intention of keeping that promise and he knew it. And the faux contrition which he is displaying now is sickening. He knows that his party has as much chance of repeating its success at the next election as I had of impressing Gillian Geddes and he’s panicking. Basically, his apology is predicated on the hope that people will trust him and his party next time because; “Look; I’m big enough to say that I shouldn’t have made a promise I knew I couldn’t keep”. I’ve got news for him – millions of people have made a promise to stuff his party at the next election and guess what? They’re going to keep it.

Pigticians illustration by Bernie Reid

By my reckoning, I’m now beginning to make Leon Trotsky look like Norman Tebbit

And what about Andrew ‘Thrasher’ Mitchell, the Tory Chief Whip (no irony there, eh?) who had to apologise to police officers in Downing Street after a foul-mouthed tirade in which he called them “plebs” and “morons”. He said that although his outburst was completely unacceptable it had come after “a long and extremely frustrating day.” Thrasher denies using abusive language but has so far failed to tell anyone, including David ‘Knobend’ Cameron, exactly what he said. So what we have here is Thrasher calling the police officers involved, liars. Despite that, he offered a second apology, which the police have, understandably, refused to accept. If anyone else had launched a tirade of expletives at the police in the street, they would have been arrested on the spot and it is to the credit of the officers involved that they didn’t bundle Thrasher into the back of a van but chose to handle the situation with a smattering of common sense. I’m pretty sure that they too, had had a long and extremely frustrating day dealing with pillocks like Mitchell who think they’re above the law. I can just see it now: “I’m sorry Mr Mitchell, but we’ve had a long and extremely frustrating day and the 20,000 volts from the Taser currently careering through your body are a result of a knee-jerk reaction to your imbecilic ranting. And while we promised not to use said Taser, I’m afraid we weren’t quite aware of the extent of your imbecility and it’s a promise we just couldn’t keep”. And guess who has demanded that Thrasher give a full explanation of his actions and apologise yet again? You’ve guessed it, Chalfont. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up. Protempore


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The Shadow of the Sun: African Film Festival F

rom Kichwateli (whose image graces our cover) to Swords (both reviewed below) the Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival promises an absolute feast of colourful, challenging, inspiring, ground breaking cinema. A burnt sienna box of delights... if you will. I sent AiM Director Isabel Mendes five questions, which she answered in a wonderfully considered two thousand word reply for which, scandalously, there is only room for a scant 400 in this piece. I shall make sure Isabel’s full answers are made available here: www. leithermagazine.com, if only to show the dastardly art of editing at its most untrustworthy. The Levenson Inquiry has nothing on this… The public perception is ‘I can catch a film anytime’. Not true with many of these films? The way the film production and distribution market is set up in the ‘western world’ has resulted in the marginalisation of regional African cinema, which is clearly underrepresented in the UK. Having said that, we have evidence that the work being developed by AiM and other African festivals is raising awareness of the work being produced by talented African filmmakers and extending the life of their films – which are increasingly being picked up by other festivals, and distributed on the art house circuit. What does AiM hope to achieve going forward? We believe that the best way to learn about Africa is to listen to African voices and to view representations created by African’s themselves, as these often counter the stereotypical representations of Africa prevalent in mainstream media. But our main reason for screening the films is they are great and should be seen. Professionally and personally, I love helping move this proposition forward. What are the criteria for film selection? This year, with our ‘Modern Africa’ theme, we are focusing on films that represent Africa as part and parcel of the modern, globalised world – the urban, the new, the provocative, the innovative and experimental. We are interested in discovering and exploring Africa’s important role in the contemporary world, and how that manifests in African cultures. Nollywood, a good point to go from in the future? Curiously, at AiM 2012 we are generating a conversation around Nollywood and the dissemination of this increasingly popular African video-filmmaking industry model, which is now being replicated in other parts of the continent such as Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, etc; making it a 6 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89

transnational phenomenon. We also have documentaries on Arab Spring revolutions, looking at how these fledgling democracies are finding their feet, and how their artists are embracing the new found freedom of creative expression. Which films in particular are you looking forward to? As directly as possible, the whole programme, but I’m looking forward to seeing the African Sci-Fi films on the big screen and the Children’s Day programme. From the UK premieres I would highlight interesting work from Alain Gomis (Senegal), Faouzi Bensaidi (Morocco), Andrew Dosunmu (Nigeria) and Sara Blecher (South Africa), who is attending. What are the criteria for film selection? This year, with our ‘Modern Africa’ theme, we are focusing on films that represent Africa as part and parcel of the modern, globalised world – the urban, the new, the provocative, the innovative and experimental. We are interested in discovering and exploring Africa’s important role in the contemporary world, and how that manifests in African cultures… … AiM has invited African filmmakers to submit films of up to 30 minutes long for the Short Film Competition – part of AiM’s commitment to nurturing young African filmmaking talent – offering a cash prize of £1,000 to the winning film. Eight films have been shortlisted. Styles range from experimental and futuristic to animation and dramatic, these films will hopefully represent the potential for dynamic filmmaking in contemporary Africa. A jury of film practitioners and academics (including the ubiquitous

Mark Cousins) will select the winner but you will also have the opportunity to vote for your favourite films via the Audience Award. We review one below… Billy Gould

Hasaki Ya Suda (Swords)

Isabel Mendes and Sunday in Brazzaville

Film cultures have tribal languages. While African cinema dances to its distinctive beat, the Japanese have their own samurai code of the silver screen. Imagine then, when our esteemed editor asks me to review an African samurai film with French subtitles. It’s got to be a fuckin’ joke, no? Thankfully the 25 minute short, Swords has very little need for verbal language. Its soul lies in the wonderful, significant imagery presented. Opening with a beautiful animation, we then move onto an inventive chase scene, viewed only from the waist down but crammed with flair and tension. Lone-wolf Ronin stalk the African plains duelling for supremacy. They are disparate entities; treacherous and deceitful in sharp contrast to the honour code inherent in the Japanese originals this film pays homage to (too many to mention). Swords still manages to forge its own bold character, impregnating satisfactory fight scenes with a unique African mysticism. And most importantly the crimson blood jets freely. If this is a taste of the quality Africa in Motion has to offer then you will find me in the ticket queue. Alan Bett Info: Africa in Motion, Edinburgh & Glasgow, 25th Oct - 2nd Nov. www.africa-in-motion.org.uk


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Remembrance or Reverberation… Antje Taiga Jandrig

…are two translations of the Danish band Efterklang’s name and Dave McGuire reckons that’s just perfect

T

here’s a tradition of musicians heading off somewhere ‘inspiring’ to either write or record their new album, whether that be The Rolling Stones at Nellcôte, The Beatles at Rishikesh, or Lou Reed, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and U2 (to name but a few) in Berlin. There’s less of a tradition of groups heading off to former Soviet outposts in the Arctic Circle, but Danish trailblazers Efterklang are far from conventional, as my conversation with frontman Casper Clausen testifies; touching on orchestras, Russian relics, vinyl sequencing and the pros and cons of cycling in Germany. To hear Clausen explain it, it all sounds so natural: a filmmaker friend showed the band images of an abandoned Russian mining town, Piramida, that had been deserted since the 1990s. The band became “mesmerised by the ‘haunted’ ghost town”, and when it came time to work on their next release they took the unlikely step of travelling out to the region armed with recording equipment, with the intention of using what they gathered as the basis for what would become their new album. Nothing was prepared in advance, a risky strategy, which didn’t really hit home until many hours into the trip, on a stormy arctic ferry where they looked at each other and thought “what the fuck are we doing?” This aural archaeology saw them unearth all manner of sonic gems, from the inside of industrial metal drums to footsteps on a disused jetty. The idea was to start with a clean slate and not to think too much about what would become of the sounds captured, allowing them the freedom to discover and experiment with sounds. My mental image of Time-Teamesque antics with the band carefully having to log every single discovery were sadly dashed, the sound guy made notes at the time as to what sounds most excited the band as they recorded them. The group then started working on about 50 small sound sketches, experimenting with a variety of samples and ideas, individually and as a band. With no preconceived notion of what combinations would work they’d simply try and capture ‘the moment’ with the 8 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89

band decided to fully collaborate with the orchestra, writing new arrangements and making them an integral part of the Piramida project. This extends to the autumn tour of the UK where Northern Sinfonia guest. Efterklang’s previous Scottish concerts have been as a seven piece, in the much more intimate Oran Mor and The Arches in Glasgow. With those shows the band allowed themselves a lot of freedom to both interact with and react to the crowd, making them joyously uplifting experiences, by their very nature, the orchestral shows would be a different proposition. I spoke to Clausen during a break in rehearsals with Northern Sinfonia and he explained that whilst these shows require lots of preproduction, the band “went into working

This aural archaeology saw them unearth all manner of sonic gems, from the inside of industrial metal drums to footsteps on a disused je!y

logic that once a song had gone through the process of being given a structure/ theme that would colour it from then on. Fear not though, whilst this sounds like a potential recipe for a ramshackle disaster in lesser hands, Piramida is a masterful work of beauty from a group at their creative peak. Each Efterklang release has seen a shift in their modus operandi, from the layered orchestral electronica of their debut Tripper, to the lush complexity of Parades, to the epic ‘pop’ of the stunning Magic Chairs. Pirimida is much darker than its predecessor, vocally richer, and with a sense of immediacy previously unheard. Whilst the recording process adds texture to the record, not knowing the back-story doesn’t lessen the impact of what is a thoroughly immersive listening experience. The new material launched with an incredible sold-out performance at Sydney Opera House, with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, in May. “It was bad timing as we were finishing the album, but it was an offer we couldn’t refuse.” Keen to avoid “doing a Metallica” the

Some E!erklangers in An Island: A Film by Vincent Moon

with the orchestra with the same level of energy as they would for any live shows,” and would maintain their own idiosyncratic way of doing things, where the “orchestra would work around them”, as it’s the different way of doing things that make such projects appealing to orchestras. Once they found a groove the orchestra would be afforded the luxury of being able to play in a different way from the usual classical gigs, they’d be allowed a degree of freedom in their playing. Another Efterklang trademark is their unabashed love of cycling. I asked Clausen if the band’s new adopted home in Berlin is as conducive to life on two wheels as Copenhagen is, “they don’t really have the same cycling infrastructure, perhaps stemming from the importance of the German car industry, and I now only leave out a bashed up bike in public due to some lovely bikes ‘going missing’.” Finally, I asked for advice on whether or not I should be bold and get a single speed bike even though Edinburgh is famous for its un-bike-friendly cobbles and hills, the response was “go for it, try something new.” Which to me sums up Efterklang in a nutshell. Info: Piramida is out now, E"erklang play the Usher Hall on October 24th


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Daniel Gray’s Midget Gems No.6

Bing-bong the train is delayed. I stand on the platform and stare at the track… …

Among the ballast is an unopened blue sachet from a packet of Smith’s Salt & Shake. I imagine the pure devastation caused by its being dropped. I picture its former owner as a woman in her thirties. She hasn’t had any crisps for ages and is feeling a bit crap about something (an ill relative; a cheating boyfriend; Albania). She sees the Salt & Shake in the shop and thinks ‘I used to love them when I was a kid. I’m sure they used to have an ‘n’ and not an ampersand. Salt ‘n’ Shake. Yeah, definitely. Why did they change that? Why do they meddle with everything? I better hurry up and buy these as the newsagent is staring at me a bit.’ She pays her 65p (‘65p! 65p!’) and tucks them into her shoulder bag. Her train is delayed too, so she takes them from the bag while on the platform, even though she had been saving them for the train (‘Also. They’d make a right noise on the train,’ she thinks, because she is nice like that). She opens the packet and searches out the sachet, cradling it between index finger and thumb. She gleefully holds it to the light as if checking for fake bank notes. A thrusting gust of wind blasts it from her hand and onto the track. A tear gathers in the corner of her eye. ‘Typical,’ she thinks, ‘typical.’ On the train people stare at her because she is crying. She moves to a different carriage and begins to eat her salt-free crisps. “Awwwww, Salt & Shake,” says the passenger opposite her, a handsome man in a suit. “I used to love them. Don’t know why they got rid of the ‘n’ though. I love things with ‘n’s, me. Fish ‘n’ Chips. And…I can’t think of anything else.” Years later the pair of them love to tell this story, the story of how they met.

Potential disappearing bed I travelled to the Deep South, and Cornwall. On the first night I took a

On holiday? I hope it doesn’t go budget.) The next night I went posh. When I saw the mini-kettle it looked impossibly beautiful, the future realised.

Governor of Nightworld

room in a budget hotel. The hotel took a low-cost airline approach to costs, so that toiletries were £3, a drinks tray the same and the maid service (oooh pardon) a fiver. Did I require towel hire (£1), they asked at check-in. “Don’t worry, flower. I’ll drip dry.” The joke frightened rather than amused. I hired a towel. I climbed to my room anticipating the usual ritual perusal of the room and area’s promotional literature. There was no promotional literature. I was lucky there was even a room. To that end I poked my bed suspiciously, as if it may disappear unless I inserted a tenner, perhaps like the ‘Continue’ option at the end of an arcade game. As I tucked myself in I worried that the strong smell of damp may come with a cost; they had, I remembered, held £30 on my debit card (“It will reappear in the next two to five days but will not actually leave your account.” Where will it be then?

Funny things happen when you stay awake late. You begin to persuade yourself that six hours’ sleep, then five, then four, will be sufficient. The warm lights of the other houses in the street go out and in your world you are alone. As you imagine yourself Governor of Nightworld, odd things happen on your television. A small person appears in the corner of the screen and makes hand gestures. You drift in and out of sleep, so that the small person seems to be in the room with you. Look closer and it is a MiniMe, interpreting your every thought into sign-language. This will be fun and dangerous tomorrow, you think, and you sleep on the sofa to make it happen sooner. When you awake, you are disappointed that sign-language MiniMe has apparently left. I really should lay off the whisky.

A convincing argument

A large hole in the path by our house appears so I email the Council a photograph of it. This is who I have become

A large hole in the path by our house appears so I email the Council a photograph of it. This is who I have become. The Council immediately send someone to place a large yellow cover over the hole. However, the yellow cover slides out of place so I move it back over the hole. While I am doing so a man who likes to drive his car on the path waits and then decides to shout at me a bit. “Get oot ma way,” he says. “You shouldn’t be driving on the path,” I reply. “Fuck off you fucking fuck,” says he. It is a bloody convincing argument, so I move on. Twi"er: @d_gray_writer

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My Way Around Scotland…watching wee blue eyes track raindrops down the window… falling in love with the words of JB Priestley

10 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89


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We Have To Talk About Censorship T

o begin, lets get one thing absolutely clear. Israel is bad. Very bad. They’ve committed crimes against humanity and international law without justification or permission. No one with an ounce of political sense will argue against that statement. OK, so…now to Batsheva Dance Company and the recent heavy-handed boycott of their Edinburgh International Festival appearances. They’re from Israel, right? So they must be AntiPalestinian, Pro-Zionist lackeys of the State. Right? So, by that same reasoning if you’re reading this it’s a reasonable bet you’re UK-based. So, you’re all Tories then, obviously? Pro-war, right? Anti-abortion? Pro-church? All for the privatisation of the NHS? Because that’s the only logical conclusion - that if anyone comes from the country, they

12 | lei

fully support and endorse the political activities of that country. Right? Wrong. Moving on to the second argument posited to me by the deluded mouthbreather handing leaflets out before the show: They take money off the Israeli government so they MUST support the policies of that government. Sigh. Here we go again. Name your favourite lefty arts institution: DV8? National Theatre of Scotland? Billy Bragg? Tricycle Theatre? Forced Entertainment? The Tron? They all get government money - so it only goes to show that THEY must all be progovernment closet Tories (just like you, dear reader). But that, obviously, would be ridiculous. And that line of thinking would reduce the entire population of a country to one enormous generalisation…which would be (what’s the best word?) well…racist would seem to fit the bill. Batsheva as a company are, for the record, perpetually in trouble at home for not towing the party line; forever demonstrating in support of human rights; refuse to perform in the Occupied Territories and are genuinely opposed to the political activities of the country in which they live and are from. These are FACTS – but, hey, why let the facts

Batsheva Dance Company performing Max

There are 38 African nations where being gay is illegal and 3 of them will execute you for it – so, dear protestors, see you at WOMAD

get in the way of a good demo? Also (and once again Israel = deeply terrible stuff, haven’t forgotten, no defence) they definitely don’t, as a nation state, have the exclusivity on that. There are, for example, 38 African nations where being gay is illegal and 3 of them will execute you for it – so, dear protestors, see you at WOMAD then? Well, clearly not…but WHY not? Something about safe targets for simplistic lefties? Surely not…and you could run that list on through all the variations of human rights abuse on the planet - but it’s still poor old Batsheva that get it in the neck. (And, while we’re on the subject, isn’t boycotting a contemporary dance company for the human rights abuses of Israel about as logical as boycotting Pingu to protest against the Norwegian Far Right? But I digress).

Aggressive vandalism

At the end of the day, though, the deluded protestors outside can be, to an extent, forgiven for just being ill informed. They are wrong (see above) which is to say out there by default – but they’re not wrong like the utter idiots inside stopping the show. THOSE folks are the REAL problem. Standing outside protesting about a country - no matter how deluded or ill-informed their choice of target might be - is an act of passive resistance that is fundamentally non-aggressive and conforms with a history of protest that, at the end of the day, makes some contextual sense. The ticket-holding showstoppers are a much bigger problem here. Those bright souls who bought tickets and bravely hid in the auditorium and at three separate points stood up and stopped the show with their loud protests. By my reckoning that’s censorship and that puts you in a whole other place. Those people who stopped the show three times place themselves in some very unpleasant company indeed, in a particularly despicable and unpalatable group of zealots, bigots and book burners who aggressively prevent culture because of their own political beliefs. So – I say directly to all of you that were there stopping the show – how does it feel to be in there with the Nazis? The levels of irony are beyond impenetrable but the fact remains what they did was an act of aggressive vandalism and suppression of free speech and is in absolute opposition to the very basic principles of everything they purport to be supporting. Just saying.

Gadi Dagon

Dave Sefton, Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival, pulls no punches in his response to those who protested against the Batsheva Dance Company


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Issue 89 | leithermagazine.com | 13


Say No To The Way Of The Dodo Steve Much

As the Scottish wildcat joins the list of ‘at risk’ animals, Colin Montgomery issues a plea on behalf of soon-to-be extinct experiences.

E

ver seen a Scottish wildcat in its natural habitat? Chances are, no. And that’s not just because they’re hardly the most gregarious felines (unlike Burmese cats which are, though beautiful, near pathological in their need to trot around after you and, occasionally, wrap themselves round your neck like a living stole). No, the fact that not many of us have spent a weekend hanging out with a wildcat is largely down to the latest news that there’s only about 35 left. Indeed, so rare is the Scottish wildcat right now that if you have seen one, you probably are one. In which case: A) Hats off. You must be an amazing master of disguise, able to blend in seamlessly with the human community at a flick of your stripy tail. And… B) What are you doing, reading The Leither? You should be away up north, copulating endlessly with other wildcats right now. There’s no time to waste. I’ll even lend you my Best of Barry White album. Although maybe you’re more of a Cat Stevens fan. OK. I agree. That was unnecessary. Anyway, time for a serious interlude. If you do fancy donating some money or time to help save Felis Silverstris Grampia (that’s the wildcat’s posh name), go to www.scottishwildcats.co.uk right now. It’s a beautiful animal and a great cause to support. The website has some cracking pictures too. Right, that’s my good deed done. Now, for some good old-fashioned vitriol – which in my case, is never in danger of disappearing, believe me. You see, the plight of the Scottish wildcat sparked a spot of reverie in me. That last statement may have you longing to punch me square in the scrotum for being such a soft Herbert, please don’t. Instead, consider the following. Just as animals are in danger of disappearing, so are ideas – or more specifically certain sensory and cerebral experiences that sort of, well, made life worth living. That sounds impossibly vague. So 14 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89

Erm…here ki"y, ki"y!

to help out, I’ve made a list of said life experiences. They are of course, on one hand, absurdly personal. Then again, it may be that you recognise some of them and feel fondly about them yourself. If so, it’s time to act. Our ever more atomised world seems intent on trashing collective moments – the glue of common experience if you will. In fact, that’s probably why the recent Olympics were, for many, a massive breath of fresh air.

Malodorous ghosts

Our ever more atomised world seems intent on trashing collective moments that’s probably why the Olympics were a massive breath of fresh air

My views on the Olympics require no reprise here (see Leither issue 86). But, while hardly a fan, I did like the way they confirmed to aggressive little self-serving corporate Tory toads who champion a winner-takes-all ‘me’ culture that, ultimately, people do like to share in communal experiences from time to time. And even some kind of state investment to protect and promote that ethos may be a good thing. What am I thinking? That’s clearly dangerous Marxist talk. Anyway…those soon-to-be-extinct life experiences see if any strike a chord: Finding a white dog turd. When I was a kid, they used to be as common as er…muck. No more. Were they in fact, malodorous white ghosts, phantoms of foulness, who have now found peace? I know not. Only a brown tide remains. Discovering fresh porn in the woods. This may still go on actually. I have no idea; I’m no longer in the relevant lifestage/demographic group. But I suspect that crumpled filth in the undergrowth is now increasingly

a thing of the past – the internet replacing the jazz mag as the vehicle of choice for practising onanists. The smell of tarmac before a thunder storm/the smell of the air before a snowstorm. This is where I succumb completely to the charms of the hazy siren that is Miss Nostalgia. As a young kid, I vividly recall strange atmospheres and smells prior to major weather events. In particular one late summer evening – sat on a Raleigh Boxer in an East Kilbride street – being possessed of a tingly electricity inside; as though I could have sliced a hole in the air and looked into the nothingness behind life’s meaningless charade. Then the heavens opened. I got soaked. And mum gave me a row. These days, such potent portents escape my notice. The stink of pish in a phone box – a red one. Those of us of a certain era/age will remember the assault on the nostrils that was the inside of a traditional red phone box. It had a real gusty punch to it. Not like today’s vandalized or soiled phone box (pretty tame in comparison). Mind you, nobody uses them these days, not even to piss in probably. We live in such sad times. Seasons. This isn’t an especially new observation. But it needs to be said all the same. Years ago we had four seasons, neatly defined by weather. Now? The seasons have been replaced with an insipid dishcloth that passes for weather and, on the whole, is no better than the cheerless, rootless, blandishments of a corporate whoremaster – all year long. No wonder the wildcats have had enough.


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Dancing About Architecture No11

Handle with care, folks. I’m valuable property S

ome say I am the gift that keeps on taking but you know me better as the great equaliser; Tsarinas and Zapatistas cry my name. Freud thought he had my measure but was left musing about a ‘dark continent’. Henry Miller considered me “one of the nine reasons for reincarnation… The other eight are unimportant.” I’m a devil in a blue dress and you worship me above competing idols, Ju-Ju charms, breeze block ideologies, dreams of reality, syndicated by-lines, hallucinogenic breakfast cereals, Dark Department diktats, and hidden-shallow philosophies. Charles Baudelaire called me “the lyricism of the masses” – that dear, dear boy. I’m in the music and on the page and under the radar and somewhere over the rainbow. Temptation and seduction are my disciples. Rapture be thy middle name. For a time I worked in sales – cars, perfume, the arms trade, power, EBTs, Louise Mensch, the defence of the indefensible portfolio as it was called. Money makes the world go round but what makes money go round? Modesty precludes the answer. My favourite song? The Drifters I’ll Take You Where The Music’s Playing, Baby (Little By Little I’ll Help You Forget About Him). That or Missy Elliot’s Get Ur Freak On. The pursuit of happiness holds no appeal for me, however – I set my sights on her once and the thrill lay in the chase. You can keep your love and God and art and wealth and humanity and two-for-one meal deals. Hang onto all that theology and integrity and celebrity too. What use

have I of such ephemera? History may be written by the victors but to me accrue the spoils, and watch my bee-sting lips when I say: my needs and deeds trump your camp words of glory and hubris. It was said by Walt Whitman that I had it all: ‘Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations/Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal milk/All hopes, benefactions, bestowals/All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth/All the governments, judges, gods, follow’d persons of the earth’. 50 shades simply isn’t me though. I’m black or white; the sheen of Melville’s albino whale or the bosom of the cosmos as depicted by Miró. One mourns not in grey nor should you enter your nuptials in a colour that W. G. Grace would find unacceptable. I am their corruption and your salvation. That damned typist Jack Kerouac sought to pin national ills on me. “Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit”, spoke Sal Paradise, “…without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk – real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.” What chance piety or spiritual quest if food and drink can’t compete with me? I lurk in the shadows of the divine. Mae West said I was “emotion in motion”. Such a sweetie was she. Like Lloyd Cole, you were enlightened about me by Cosmopolitan, Jackie Collins, and those French films BBC2 used to show of a Saturday night. Bedbugs leap at my command.

A detail from the central triptych of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch

Like Lloyd Cole, you were enlightened about me by Cosmopolitan, Jackie Collins, and those French films BBC2 used to show on Saturday night

To paraphrase the late Gore Vidal: I build no roads, write no novels and give no meaning to anything in life but myself. I salute the Arch One; after all, he never missed a chance to indulge me or appear on television. You think, therefore I am. Everybody and their Alan Yentob has a view on me, most of it sham and hypocrisy. Still, inquire if you must of the libertines and the censors and the quality lit brigade and the exploiters of innocence and the poets and the transgressors and the bohemians and the patriarchs. Now dismiss them and submit to me. For I am all conquering. I am Fay Wray the size of King Kong and King Kong reduced to an action figure. I am the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. I served at the court of the Sun King and led the storming of the Bastille. I am roaring and swinging and permissive and fin de siècle. Iconic just sounds overblown but if the glass slipper fits then I go on tip-toe to kiss Prince Charming. I am Presley, Brando, Monroe, Dean, Bardot, Newman, Crawford and McQueen. Said Marilyn: “I have too many fantasies to be a housewife…I guess I am a fantasy.” Your first crush, first kiss, first time? That was me. I shall always consider duende and tristesse among my finest works. And when Eve needed a new best friend, of course I was there before winding my way around the triptych of the Garden Of Earthly Delights. Mischief and madness are in my gift and I am famed for my largesse. So how was I for you? Twi"er: @RodgerEvans

This Month Rodger’s been: Versifying at Blind Poetics’ shindig also in the backroom of the Persevere for Red10, snickering with PG Wodehouse pool-side in Ibiza, and – they will thank me one day – showing the kids the Prado, from Bosch to Rubens and Goya to Titian. Bless you 16 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89


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His lucky owners have won a FREE Bijou coffee and bacon roll to take away. For your chance to win next month, simply send Bijou or The Leither a photo of your pooch via email, Twitter or Facebook 2 Restalrig Road, Leith Links, Edinburgh EH6 8BN Monday - Saturday 9am - 8:30pm Sunday 10am - 8:30pm 0131 538 0664 www.bijoubistro.co.uk Bijou-Bistro-A-Local-Eatery/ Issue 89 | leithermagazine.com | 17


Stand up, look at your hands, take Your brother’s hand so you can grow, We’ll go together, united by blood, The future can begin today O

n 28th September this year a widow celebrated her late husband’s 80th birthday with friends and family, as they have done every year since his torture and murder in Estadio Chile. Joan Jara was not alone in mourning the death of her husband Victor. Who, along with fellow lecturers and students from the Technical University and thousands of others, was herded into the stadium after a military coup against the democratically elected Government on 11th September 1973. Victor, a popular musician, was recognised straight away and brutalised from the beginning, presumably for fear he would rally the crowd. His captors mockingly suggested that he play guitar for them as he lay on the ground with splintered hands. Defiantly, he sang part of We Will Win, a song supporting the Popular Unity coalition. After further beatings, he was machine-gunned on September 16. His body, along with five others, was dumped in a gutter on the outskirts of Santiago. The great poet Pablo Neruda, ill and confined to bed both by health and the military coup, was dismayed by the news. ‘My god they have killed a nightingale’ he remarked. Just prior to this Victor’s widow had been reassured by a member of the British Embassy staff that they would be fine, the manner of his death shocked even this complacent idiot into seeing the true savagery of the US and British backed coup. One of Britain’s best publishers of poetry, the not for profit Smokestack Books, have published a volume of his lyrics to mark that never achieved 80th birthday. The book, His Hands Were Gentle, takes its title from Adrian Mitchell’s poem – later turned into song by Arlo Guthrie – of the same name. It performs a public service for those of us who have heard renditions of his lyrics by talents as diverse as his fellow countrymen Inti Illimani, Pete Seeger, or even our own Dick Gaughan. Even if you have not been lucky enough to hear these versions the love for humanity in his lyrics shines

through this selection. Victor learnt this love at his mother’s knee. Abandoned by her husband when the family were young, his mother earned a living mainly by singing but also by hard labour. The lyrics in the book evoke those times, Miner’s Song, Prayer for a Labourer. In The Only Thing I Have he paints a portrait of poverty at its most basic, as experienced by Jara and his fellow Chileans, ‘And my hands are all I have, and my hands are my love and my living’. In Victor the people had found a voice and this partly explains his popularity. He is also uplifting, in The Plough he provides hope: ‘It is never too late, she

Victor Jara: “My god they’ve killed a nightingale.” Pablo Neruda

This month Gordon has marvelled at the luck of the Irish keeping Hibs up the table, held hands with Patti Smith, kissed Margo Macdonald and spent time with Aleida Guevara (Che’s daughter) 18 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89

tells me, the dove will fly one day. As tight as a yoke my fist is full of hope, because everything will change’. This hope was transmitted, through the education aims and intent of the New Song Movement, into a way of using culture to awaken the people from the desperate poverty – a poverty that was financial and social as well as spiritual – they had become accustomed to. (A visual corollary would be Sebastião Salgado’s photographs of the Serra Pelada mines). Fear had no credentials in Jara’s world, encapsulated by Our Hearts are Full of Banners: ‘Here, my brother, here upon the earth, our hearts are full of banners, and they advance, against fear, and they advance, against fear, !Venceremos! , ! Venceremos!’ And he exhibited this to the very end. His last poem was smuggled out of Estadio Chile just before his death. A lyric so powerful it has to be read in its entirety and closes this selection. It was sung in situ as part of an act of purification in Estadio Chile (renamed the Estadio Víctor Jara in September 2003) by Isabel Parra, the daughter of one of Victor’s ‘New Song’ companero’s Violeta, in 1991. In her preface to this volume Emma Thomson – who has tried and failed to find funding for a film of Victor’s life, why the crap ‘one joke’ Keith Lemon and not this? – provides a fine reason why you should buy this book and find out more about Victor Jara. ‘He meant this to me: if you see something very wrong then do something about it, say something, sing something, write something. You can’t stay silent. Speak about it with, above all, compassion and humour. Do anything you can, big or small, except stand back with your hands raised disclaiming responsibility’. Victor never shirked from that even when facing torture and death. Gordon Munro Info: His Hands Were Gentle: Selected Lyrics of Victor Jara, edited by Martin Espada. An Unfinished Song: The Life of Victor Jara by Joan Jara


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their superb collection of Scottish jewellery? And for the whisky connoisseur? Why they have a superb well-established single malt selection with bottles ranging from miniature to full 70cl. They also arrange daily tastings with information for the uninitiated. “Tartan, of course, has a big part to play at Hector Russell, whether it’s a tartan teddy, hip flask, pen or kilt you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place Don’t forget, tax free shopping and world wide delivery are also available. We think you will enjoy our little bit of Scotland and hope to see you soon. Slàinte mhòr!” the Outer Hebrides. In store, on offer, you will find quality men’s and women’s cashmere and Arran knitwear as well as items by James Pringle. My wife noticed a rather fetching tweed jacket on a recent scout around – unlike other

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Issue 89 | leithermagazine.com | 19


FoodReview The Editor

Right on time, in a late sort of way… Cafe St Honoré

34 North West Thistle Street Lane 0131 226 2211 cafesthonore.com

I

first became aware of Cafe St Honoré in the early 80s, I’d come down from Pitlochry for a gig by The Only Ones (ahead of the game in extolling the dubious virtues of Heroin Chic) at what was then Tiffany’s Ballroom in Stockbridge. I was with a girl I’d just met and as we crossed Hanover Street I saw a rococo blackboard, bearing the restaurant’s name, offering dishes such as Coquilles St. Jacques. She was very impressed that I was able to translate the dish for her – scallops in shell, white wine sauce, mash, gruyere, breadcrumb etc. She thought I was a man of the world… I wasn’t even a man of Edinburgh. Thirty odd years later (surely some mistake!?) I finally arrive outside its hallowed portals, right on time – for probably the first time in my life – as my host is a notorious stickler for the formalities. None of my party was in situ, so to avoid the shame of being the only one at the table, I hotfooted it to a bar in the area which, I realised too late, styled itself a ‘cocktail saloon’. Behind the counter stood the usual, predictable, array of extravagantly bewhiskered young fogeys, all affecting those tweed flat caps you might wear whilst shooting grouse or, indeed, at a Mumford & Sons gig. I asked, more out of mischief than requirement, for a pint of Tennents lager. My barman, 20 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89

sorry, mixologist – who was also sporting a tweed waistcoat and fob watch – regarded me rather as if I had just ordered a pint of his blood. After a short alcohol related Mexican standoff he presented me with a pint of Amstel in an, ahem, delightfully recherché dimple glass. And returned to furiously pummelling mint in lieu of pummelling me. Back at the restaurant my host gave me a medium hello and glanced at his watch. I did not waver, I gave him my old man Steptoe gurn and there the matter rested. Talk at the table was of the girls’ futures, Myra off to college in Buffalo and Cordelia still to decide. “I have a list of criteria, it must have a fencing school and teach the harp and the coordinates must be no further south than Philadelphia and no further west than Illinois.” “Why so specific?” I ask. “I dislike extreme heat and the Bible Belt does not appeal.” And, though I had already guessed, “what will you study”? “Physics and engineering.” No surprise there then…such certainty of purpose in one so young. I broke the habit of a lifetime and had a meat starter and main course. The other starters did not appeal. “I’m sooo over scallops with black pudding.” I announced blithely to the company, before four of them promptly ordered that dish. Having smoked salmon when you are writing about a place is (to my mind) a no-no, as you are basically reviewing the fishmonger, and the salad on offer was too expensive for its ingredients. (As an aside, someone had leek and fennel velouté from a menu

Score: Damage: £50 (But I was stitched up…)

I never saw. It was a lovely, lustrous thing but lacked any discernable taste of fennel.) So I had the pigeon carpaccio with heritage potato salad and pickled chanterelle mushrooms to start. The pigeon was not carpaccio as in ‘sliced as thinly as possible’, it came as meaty (not unpleasant) chunks. The potato was four chilled halves rather than the promised potato salad and the advertised chanterelle mushrooms were one mushroom quartered. The dish would have benefited greatly from a generosity of spirit. Across the table Mr. Sefton was extolling the virtues of Stornoway black


pudding: “Best f*****g black pudding on the planet,” he boomed loudly. I argued the merits of morcilla – the Spanish blood pudding – but a table full of devoted foodies had never heard of it, which I found baffling in a way I can’t quite explain. Mains included North Sea Halibut with Shetland mussels and Phantassie pea chowder for the New York agent, who had been here five times during his stay and ordered this exact dish every time. No higher praise. Mention here too for our host’s, always exceptional, wine choices. A lovely intense Chardonnay, hints of lime and flower scents, from Domaine Michel Briday, which I was lucky enough to sample before they ran out if it. Ever the pleb, I was on lager, albeit a méthode champenoise lager from Alsace. Tarragon roast New Miln Farm organic chicken leg, peas, mint, gem lettuce and ‘our own’ bacon, was my choice. And what a fabulous choice it was. The crisp, dark meat had the depth of flavour of

Best f*****g black pudding on the planet,” he boomed loudly a game bird, as if the chicken had first been brined. The accompaniments were light, refreshing and perfectly balanced, all in all a dish of the highest accomplishment. The only false note was that ‘our own’ bacon. If they really do cure their own ham on the premises, it is hardly worth the bother judging by the two tiny nibs that appeared on my plate and nowhere else on the menu. Neil from NTS was impressed by his pork belly (Tamworth?). Again it had a real flavour punch, but perfect belly pork can be eaten with a spoon, this had been re-grilled or roasted to crisp it up, which delivered a chewier, drier dish than I would have liked. Still, on the upside, the sourcing here is exemplary. I note the excellent forager Ben Robertson (think a younger, more handsome Ben Fogle) gets a mention. Of the desserts, wild mint and milk jelly with berry sorbet sounded lovely to me. But it was generally agreed that the pub beckoned (mercifully, not that one). The bill was settled in the modern way: £350 divided between seven of us. “50 quid!” (My food and drinks amounted to less than £30.) “I should have drunk the wine,” I say ruefully. My host gives me that bewildered look he has long perfected, “of course you should…”

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Michael And His Bloody Marvels Kennedy Wilson has been waiting years for a book on the tempestuous Redgrave clan, then two come along at once

I

n the 1960s, according to a new book, the paterfamilias of the Redgrave dynasty was constantly offered TV specials, which would feature all or some of ‘Michael’s Bloody Marvels’. And later one of his daughters said, “most days someone would contact me about a script in which the entire Redgrave family could play together.” This didn’t take into account the clan’s legendary clashing theatrical temperaments. Michael Redgrave’s ‘Marvels’ were his precocious grown-up children Vanessa, Lynn and Corin all of whom were stage and movie actors like their father. Michael Redgrave being best known for his role as the dithering Mr Worthing in the 1952 film version of The Importance of Being Earnest. Son Corin was a far-left firebrand who never really fulfilled his acting potential. Lynn starred in the 1960s romp Georgy Girl (with Charlotte Rampling – Ed) and several US sitcoms and for a time was the face of Weight Watchers in the US. She recovered from that ignominy to play the grumpy housekeeper to Ian McKellen’s James Whale in Gods and Monsters, for which she won an Oscar. Both Lynn and her brother died within weeks of each other in 2010. And then there was Vanessa: straddled by David Hemmings in 1966s Blow Up, writhing as a mad mother superior in Ken Russell’s The Devils. More movies and stage work and Oscar nominations followed. “It’s a kinky part of my nature – to meddle,” she once said. Her stand against the Vietnam war and for the Palestinian cause stirred up bitter controversy. At one time she was burned in effigy.

Mick Jagger can’t act

She and Corin were active in the Workers Revolutionary Party in the 1970s. Much of the money they earned from film work went to The Cause. The group became paranoid about a right-wing takeover of Britain and Corin was convinced he was blacklisted for his political beliefs and as a result his acting career suffered. This devotion to the extreme left caused strain in Redgrave family relationships. Once Vanessa was holding a benefit to raise party funds 22 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89

and hoped family members would show up. Lynn sent her apologies explaining she was rehearsing for TV’s Muppet Show. Lynn once stated that she disagreed with Vanessa on everything except motherhood. Vanessa married Tony Richardson a gifted and inventive film and theatre director (both her father and her husband were bisexual). Thumbs up for A Taste of Honey and The Charge of the Light Brigade – the latter widely seen as an allegory of Vietnam. Thumbs down for Ned Kelly, which proved beyond any doubt that Mick Jagger could not act. The tagline of Richardson’s The Loved One was ‘something to offend everyone’. The same could be said of the Redgrave family. The Richardsons had two children both of whom took up acting careers – Joely and Natasha. Joely starred in TV’s Nip/Tuck. Natasha was married to actor Liam Neeson and died tragically in a freak skiing accident in 2009. It is said the girls suffered from ‘benign neglect’, their parents (mother, Rachel Kempson, was also an actress) constantly leaving them with nannies when they were abroad filming. Telling the story of this often fractured family is no mean feat. For a ‘just the facts, ma’am’ version, Tim Adler’s book rips along at quite a pace. This is a concise, page-turning romp (heavily reliant, it seems, on the press cuttings library). Sadly it reveals little

Sir Michael, patriarch of the Redgraves, in the chiller Secret Beyond the Door

of the psychological depths of the family, their egos and infidelities. What precisely drove their prodigious talent? How did Vanessa’s left-leaning politics allow for nannies and regular trips to Harrods.

Alarms and surprises

The biographer is obliged to tell the truth – even when it means saying something good about someone

Gifted biographer Donald Spoto – author of 26 books, including acclaimed biographies of Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor and Laurence Olivier – promises much more. A lover of gossip and anecdotes, he has been quoted as saying, “the biographer is obliged to tell the truth – even when it means saying something good about someone.” His previous work does not shy away from complexities – Spoto is a historian as well as a biographer – “good biographers understand the necessity to give a human context to the mere facts of a person’s life,” he is on record as saying. “It’s not enough to say ‘she went there or travelled there’. As I go along in my interviews, travel, archival studies, the life of my subject emerges. It is a constant series of astonishments. If there are no surprises, then you’re not doing the research.” When his book on the Redgraves is published prepare for some surprises. Info: The House of Redgrave, by Tim Adler, Aurum Press £20. The Redgraves: A Family Epic, by Donald Spoto will be published soon by Robson £20


SummerFitness & Health Tracy Griffen

Fond Memories of Fanny (Blankers-Koen) T

Scratching about on the internet I became aware of the good work of WSFF, a charity who are campaigning to get more women and girls into sport

he Olympics and Paralympics were a rare opportunity to see plentiful television coverage of women excelling at sports. Now the games are over, primetime viewing has reverted back to naff ‘reality TV’ and overpaid footballers. It’s sad but true that many youngsters pick their role models from what they see on the box. If there was more regular coverage of women’s sports it would become commonplace. Perhaps ‘normalising’ women in sport is what we need to aim for. When I emailed our esteemed editor my article plan, his speedy reply was: “CHEERS TRACY, ‘ERE IF YOU’RE GONNA DO WOMEN IN SPORT, REMEMBER FANNY BLANKERS-KOEN!!!” * On reading the aforementioned email, my mind did indeed go blankers, uncomprehending. It seems somehow fitting that I was totally unaware of one of sport’s most famous women. Upon consulting the ever-reliable Wikipedia I discovered that Mrs Blankers-Koen, the Dutch ‘flying housewife’, was the most successful athlete at the 1948 Olympics in London, winning four gold medals. At the age of 81, in 1991, she received the honour of ‘Female Athlete of the Century’. She was an anomaly in her time, even the 800 metre track event was deemed too strenuous for women back then. Thankfully things have changed and the recent London games saw the debut of women’s boxing. I became intrigued about the historical significance of women in sport. My investigation took me all the way to the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street where their historical sports section informed me that until the Victorian era, sports were played only by men, infrequently, a couple of times a year. Leisure time was scarce, so sport was focussed on undertaking a challenge and then the celebration (feasting) afterwards. From the late 1800’s sport became more formalised and the focus was very much on taking part, rather than winning. ‘Gentlemen amateurs’ became common, that is posh folk who played sport but didn’t rely on it for an income. Cue the evolution of tennis, rugby and cricket. Women rarely took part in sports, but might play lawn tennis or croquet. From what I can gather only women who had time on their hands took up sport. The unwashed masses were too busy, being unwashed perhaps, and

The Flying Housewife with her children – before winning four Olympic Golds in 1948. At the time she held the World Record in six disciplines

only the gentry could afford time on such frivolous pursuits. Charlotte ‘Chattie’ Cooper was the first British woman to win an Olympic medal, gold for lawn tennis in 1900, and went on to become a Wimbledon hero, winning five times. At the London Olympics of 1908, there were four female gold medallists; in tennis, archery, figure skating and sailing. According to the Britain and the Olympics: 1896 – 2010 compendium I happened upon at McDonald Road library, all four women were ‘strong of character’ a.k.a. ball busters. The idea of a woman playing sport was a fairly radical idea at the time – after all it was generally deemed that women existed to mother and nurture, not compete. In my mind, it is this perception that still stands in the way of many female athletes today. This is cultural as well. Women’s sport in Australia is more mainstream than in the UK. Perhaps because of the ‘pioneering spirit’, when newcomers to Australia’s harsh shores all had to muck in, regardless of gender. So the idea of women doing manual work ‘like a man’ is not unfamiliar. I figure we need to make it more mainstream here. When I tweeted Edinburgh Evening News deputy editor Euan McGrory suggesting that they run a one-day special sports section dedicated to women, he asked me ‘which sports?’, and I had to think... I came up with a few ideas and then

my mind hit a blank. Are Edinburgh sports women invisible? The first (and only) three clubs that came immediately to mind were the Auld Reekie Rollers Girls (www.arrg.co.uk), Hibs Girls (www.hibsgirls.co.uk) and Edinburgh Athletics (www.edinburghac.org.uk), actually the athletics club was a suggestion from @alisonjohnstone. Through scratching about on the internet I’ve also become aware of the good work of WSFF, the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, a charity who are campaigning to get more women and girls into sport. As their website www.wsff.org.uk states: “We are working to tackle the things that are currently putting (women) off…a culture which prizes thin over healthy, sport and fitness delivery which doesn’t always have women’s needs at its heart and a sport sector which puts men way out in front in terms of profile, investment and leadership.” This is a call to action all you ladies, if you’re interested in sport or would like to give it a try for a first time, check out some of the above websites. If you don’t know where to start tweet me at @tracygriffen and I’ll point you in the right direction. Go girl! * The email, as all emails from Billy, was in caps, in direct contrast to Mr Gould’s softly spoken presence. A conundrum I still cannae figure. Twi"er: @tracygriffen

This month Tracy’s been: imbibing alcohol free beer (fake beer, known as feer in Saudi Arabia), surviving the Coast to Coast race and looking for a perfect 2013 diary Issue 89 | leithermagazine.com | 23


Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark Dave McGuire talks to Hidden Orchestra’s Joe Acheson on the eve of the release of second album Archipelago

W

hy don’t you record an orchestral piece? Why don’t you record with just traditional Scottish instruments? Why don’t you score a film? Why don’t you do remixes for other acts? When is the bluegrass concept album? Why don’t you make a cameo appearance on River City as the house band in The Tall Ship? When I got the nod to interview Hidden Orchestra main man Joe Acheson I’d yet to hear his new album Archipelago so subconsciously assumed it would be great and was already preparing questions regarding their next move. Fortunately I got Joe to bring me back to the present. So. Hidden Orchestra is the solo studio project of composer/producer Joe Acheson, making ‘music that incorporates and redefines elements of jazz, classical, rock, hip-hop and electronica to form a deeply original and cohesive whole’. The group’s profile has been steadily increasing since their debut album Night Walks came out on the hip Tru Thoughts label in 2010. For Acheson, releasing his new work to the public is “a bit like sending your child for their first day at school – you have high hopes and want only the best for them, but basically you’ll be happy if people just like them and they don’t get bullied too much.” I became aware of the group after a number of ‘if you like this, you’ll like this’ emails for the debut album, and snapped it up just after I moved to Edinburgh in Autumn 2010. Although it’s far from noticeable in the music, to learn that part of the album was recorded in Leith was rather exciting and immediately (albeit irrationally) made me like the band even more. Prior to this, Acheson was already making music under his own name, and although essentially a solo project (which is still the case), the core quartet of the live act is formed around the duelling drum kits, percussion and electronic 24 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89

pads of two drummers and piano, with Acheson on bass and electronics: “I wanted to make it clear in our name at gigs that we were a group on stage, not just an individual - so we became Joe Acheson Trio, and then Quartet. This understandably led to people frequently bracketing us as a jazz band, which was never the intention. So the idea came to release the music under the banner of a fictitious collective, giving me a clear channel through which to create all that particular kind of music in a single devoted project. It’s also a reference to hidden orchestras in orchestra pits at opera/theatre/old movie halls – and seemed appropriate for the kind of abstractly narrative music.”

Where’s Wally?

I was curious as to what led Acheson to producing such music, and my assumptions of a jazz buff background were off the mark. “I have no background or training in jazz, and I don’t really have either the technical or improvisatory skills on any instruments. It’s more something that I have just incorporated into the sound through being a fan and a listener – but I am no more a jazz musician than I am a dubstep producer, a hip-hop DJ or a classical composer.” Acheson tries to let tunes evolve naturally, although his use of samples is fascinating, collecting “tiny samples of single notes or chords, little hair-raising instances from a whole variety of musical sources, where composer or musician had captured something universally beautiful, even if just for an instant - it could be the way a certain string is plucked, or the hiss on the recording, and so on”, and in the studio he’d use “instrumental improvisation as the source material for the sampling, and then apply recreations of different recording conditions (such as sampled reverbs, vintage microphones and techniques, and so on).” With Night Walks and even more-so Archipelago, Hidden Orchestra have been producing gorgeous soundscapes that sound universal, and to an extent, timeless. I was curious to find out if there were any Scottish influences, however subtle, in their recordings, “a lot of the material for this new album found its origins in a large commission I had a couple of years ago, which was creating

Releasing new work is a bit like sending your child to school, you’ll be happy if people just like them and they don’t get bullied too much

music in the Hidden Orchestra style, but also with a distinctly Scottish feel for which I incorporated some elements of traditional folk melodic shapes, rhythms, harmonic progressions, and instruments – clarsach, whistle, accordion, fiddle, and so on...” Listen closely, consider it an audio ‘Where’s Wally’! Archipelago sees their sound evolving, being both darkly menacing yet with joyful flourishes and the funkiest of drum breaks. The sophisticated pallet only enhances this engrossing, powerful work, which is packed with the deftest of musical twists and turns. I did get round to asking Acheson about future plans and projects, “there are several very exciting possibilities on the horizon for Hidden Orchestra in the next couple of years, involving staging some spectacular immersive live shows and orchestral collaborations... It all depends on the response to this album really, so I am trying to wait a bit longer before getting too carried away with fanciful ideas.” Maybe next time I’ll get round to asking about that bluegrass record! Info: Archipelago is released at the beginning of October


To receive a brochure or for further details on our products and services, please contact us at:

McKenzie & Millar Funeral Directors 83-89 Great Junction St, Leith 0131 554 6174

649 Ferry Road, Edinburgh 0131 332 1234

Terrace, Edinburgh 0131 657 1786

THE PRACTICE

Chartered accountants and Chartered tax advisors Specialists in small businesses, social enterprises and charities Management and statutory accounts preparation Book keeping and payroll services Income tax and corporation VAT returns Tax planning and advice Training and consultancy services Call for an initial chat on 0131 622 6247, 07501 728 373 or email thepracticeinfo@gmail.com Issue 89 | leithermagazine.com | 25


Laird’sLarder ARC Colourprint ‘Autumn wins you best by this its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay.’ – Robert Browning

Irish Carbonnade (Laird, I bet you plenty of six to fives there is Guinness in this)

H

ello rerr ma wee muckers! It’s turnin’ a wee bit cauld is it no? So here’s something tae warm the cockles oh yir semmit. Wit yi need is

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arc colourprint ltd 12a bonnington rd lane edinburgh eh6 5bj +44(0)131 555 5459 tel +44(0)131 555 1028 fax sales@arccolour.co.uk www.arccolour.co.uk

26 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89

2 tablespoons o’ guid fat 750g skirt steak cubed 3 tablespoons sugar 1 chopped onion 2 tablespoons flour 12 shallots 500 ml beef stock (hot) 375 ml stout, such as Guinness (Yessss!!!) 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 3 cloves, 2 bay leaves Sea salt & ground pepper

Wit yi dae is… Heat yir fat in a guid sized pan, season the meat and fry till broon all over. Transfer tae an ovenproof casserole dish. Add sugar tae yir pan and cook tae it

turns chestnut colour, add onion, flour and shallots and cook for 30 seconds then stir in stock and GUINNESS. Boil and cook for 1 min, add vinegar, cloves, bay and rest o’ seasoning. Then pour o’er meat in casserole dish. Cover and leave in preheated (170c or Gas 3) for 2 hours. Pour liquid into separate pan and reduce by half. Return to meat and serve wi’ mash. (Serves 4) Enjoy muckers. By the by…here’s a wee joke that wid be funny if it didnae ring true. A pal o’ mine phoned a hospital tae ask how “John Henderson wis getting’ on. “ The nurse said: “He’s had his operation and should be out in three days…may I ask who is calling?” “John Henderson.” Ching! Ching! The Laird


The Style Counsel Jessica Taylor accosts Amy on Bernard Street

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ave you heard? Apparently after years of the skinny leg trouser being pretty much the only kind of trouser to buy if you’re at all ‘fashionable’, it’s finished! Its replacement has been occasionally popping up in stores for about a year, though in a very languid, 1930s tea party kind of way: the wide leg trouser. This after just, finally, finding a pair of skinny jeans that don’t make me want to tear my hair out with frustration, either when trying to take them off (I didn’t think my feet were THAT wide), having to constantly pull them up, and everything in-between. What is especially annoying about skinny jeans, the staple of every contemporary man and woman’s wardrobe, is the fact that they look great on about ten percent of their wearers – a very sad statistic indeed. Amy is part of that very small minority that can wear

skinny jeans and whatever they want. Her outfit is perfect – simple, clean, with a pop of colour. Personally, I prefer to wear skinny jeans the Finnish way (see hellooks.com) – with as large a t-shirt/ sweatshirt/other top as possible. This is easy. It is comfortable. It works. What won’t work are wide leg trousers in Edinburgh. Seriously. The wind will push the fabric around, getting the hem caught in your shoes, and how will this work on a bike? And you’ll be cold. Fashion is pain? Skinny jeans provide pain enough; I don’t want to freeze as well. On another note – for the last three months I have been searching for a strikingly dressed person of the male persuasion in Leith – where are you all? Step your game up, chaps. I expect better.

MOTHER AITKENS NOW OPEN! On the corner of Leith Links, come and visit us for: Home cooked bar meals from £3.95 Lounge bar with a wide selection of beers, wines and spirits Room and catering available for private parties And we’re dog friendly too!

Is it that time of the month? Or that time of year?

Jacket: Only NY Jeans: Levi’s Shoes: Target Scarf: Urban Outfi!ers Twi"er: @redotbluedot

Order your 2013 Calendar NOW 52 Jane Street, Leith, Edinburgh. EH6 5HG Tel: 0131 554 5006 | info@52printsolutions.co.uk

Issue 89 | leithermagazine.com | 27


What’sOn entertainment

52 Canoes Tiki Den 13 Melville Place 0131 226 4732 Every Fri/Sat: Live Entertainment Bainbridge Music @ All tickets: bainbridgemusic.co.uk Third Door, 45 Lothian St 12 Oct: Fat Goth 7pm 13 Oct: Your New Favourite Band 7pm 24 Oct: Dingus Khan 7pm 27 Oct: Bainbridge Music Showcase 7pm

highlight of the month

Kigali - Kigali

Contemporary Art from Rwandan; Out of the Blue Drill Hall 30 Oct - 7 Nov 10am-5pm outoftheblue.org.uk Curated by Kate Saffin of the Charlie Dutton Gallery, organised by the Rwanda Scotland Alliance, the exhibition features 5 professional and 9 student artists from the Ivuka Arts Group. The artists have developed their own expressive language both collectively and individually, and explore both figurative and abstract expressionist ideas. Members of Ivuka Arts are amongst the best-known practising artists currently working in Rwanda. A colourful show is guaranteed.

Boda Bar 229 Leith Walk 0131 553 5900 bodabar.com Every Sun: Wee Wii, play your favourite Wii games!; Every Mon: Chanbang; Every Fri: Free mezze 5-7pm Bongo Club Holyrood Road 13 Oct: Mumbo Jumbo, 11pm-3am Carrier’s Quarters 42 Bernard Street Sun: 6.30pm Jammie Devils Dalriada 77 Promenade, Portobello 0131 454 4500 dalriadabar.co.uk Every Fri: Sing-a-Long Sesh, 9-12pm Every Sat: Sean-Paul & Pals, 3-6pm Every Sat: Live Acts, 9-12pm Every Sun: Jed & Friends, 3-6pm Elbow 133 East Claremont Street 0131 556 5662 Mon: Movie night, 8pm Tue: Pub Quiz, 8.30pm Fri: Selection of DJ’s & Live Music Sat: Ambidextrous, 8pm, fortnightly Embo 29 Haddington Place, 0131 652 3880 embodeli.com Exhibition: Mon/Fri 8am-4pm Sat 9am-4.30pm; Espy 62 Bath Street, Portobello 0131 669 0082 4-7 Oct: Beer Fest! Every Mon: Film Club 8pm The Granary 32-34 The Shore Acoustic Sets: Wed 8-10pm, Thu 10-12am, Sat 10-12am & Fri Pianist 5-7pm Grid Iron Theatre The Authorised Kate Bane 16-26 Oct: Traverse Theatre (previews 12th & 13th, no performance 21st or 22nd) 8pm £15.50/£11.50/£6 (previews £11/£6); 30 Oct -3 Nov: Tron Theatre Glasgow 8pm £10/£7 Hemma 75 Holyrood Road bodabar.com

0131 629 3327

Detail Artwork 3 Emmanuel Nkuranga

Every Thu: Jogging Club, 7pm. Radical Road & Arthur’s Seat!; Every Fri: DJs; Every 3rd Tues:

Bake club

Iso Bar 7 Bernard Street 0131 467 8904 Wed: Quiz Night 8pm Sun: Open mic with Sylvain 5pm onwards Joseph Pearce’s Bar 23 Elm Row 0131 556 4140 bodabar.com Every Tues: Jogging Club 7-8pm Check our website for details of all events

The Leith Beer Co. 58 The Shore 0131 554 2425 Every Thur: Pub quiz from 9pm! Leith Folk Club 221 Ferry Road OI3I 454 2060 Nobles 44a Constitution Street 0131 629 7215 noblesbarleith.co.uk facebook.com/noblesbarleith All free entryEvery Mon: Epic Quiz, 8.30pm; Every Tues: Open Mic with Carmelo Fats & Packets O’Shea, 9.30pm; Every Wed-Sun: Live music, 9.30pm, Fri & Sat 10pm. Check website/facebook for daily listings The Parlour 142 Duke Street 0131 555 3848 Every Mon: Acoustic Jam 8pm Every Wed: Quiz 8pm Every Fri: 60s Obscuro DJs! 8.30pm

Portobello Comedy Indoor Bowls Centre, 20 Westbank St 5 Oct: Bill Dewar, Graeme Thomas & Compere Steven Davidson plus… Starts 8.30pm, Entry £5

Pressure Valve Open Mic Night @ The Pear Tree 38 West Nicolson Street 0131 667 7533 Every Sun 8pm: Featuring a fine variety of music, comedy, magic acts & more. Saturday Night Beaver 36 Blair Street 3rd Saturday of the month, 10.30-3am Shebeen 3-5 Dock Place 0131 554 9612 Live music every Saturday evening The Shore Bar 0131 553 5080 Tue: Infinite Trio 9.30pm; Wed: Folk Session 9.30pm; Thu: Kevin Gore 9pm; Sun: Jazz - Ellis & Kellock 2pm-5pm Sofi’s 65 Henderson Street 0131 555 7019 bodabar.com Every Mon: Cinema night, 8pm, £2, free popcorn 1st Tues of the month: Knitting night, 7pm 1st Sun of the month: Singer songwriter’s night, 9-11pm. Plus regular clothes swaps! The Street 2 Picardy Place 0131 556 4272 thestreetbaredinburgh.co.uk 7 Oct: 8TH Birthday Party Wed: Pub Quiz, 8pm Sponsored by

Chop Chop Leith, 76 Commercial Street Tel: 0131 553 1818 www.chop-chop.co.uk Now 28 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89


Thur: DJ LL Honky Tonk, 9pm Fri: DJ Trendy Wendy, 9pm Sat: Pre-Club parties & DJ’s Sun: A guest Club Night each week!

The Royal Oak Bar 1 Infirmary Street 0131 553 7473 Rebustours.com Every Sat: Hidden Edinburgh Tour, 12-2pm Secret Edinburgh Tour, 3-5pm Victoria Bar 265 Leith Walk 0131 555 1638 bodabar.com Every Mon: Language café Regular Bluegrass sessions on Mondays Plus regular singles nights!

the arts

Book Launch Oct 16: Poems by Gordon Peters at McDonald Road Library, 6pm Coburg House Gallery 15 Coburg Street 6-17 Oct: Resonate. A multi-disciplinary exhibition of new work by 5 artists and jewellers 10am-6pm Concrete Wardrobe 50a Broughton Street 0131 558 7130 October Maker of the Month: Crimson Textile Design Danish Cultural Institute 3 Doune Terrace 0131 225 7189 Until 15 Nov: Photography Exhibition, Kurt Hoppe, Mon-Thu 10-4pm Diner 7 7 Commercial Street 0131 553 0624 Ever changing Art Exhibitions Out of the Blue Drill Hall 36 Dalmeny Street 0131 555 7100 outoftheblue.org.uk 6 Oct: Vintage Kilo Sale £15 per kilo! 11-4pm £1 entry; 10 Oct: Wiff Waff Wednesday, Ping Pong, DJ, Food 6-10pm; 10-13 Oct: Walk on the Wild Side Exhibition 10-5pm; 13 Oct: Oktoberfest Bruncheon! Live music 11-2.30pm; 20 Oct: Out of the Blue Arts Market 11-5pm 80p entry; 24-28 Oct: Radical Book Fair & Owen Logan Exhibition 105pm; 27 Oct: Out of the Blue Flea Market 10-3pm; Weekly classes: Drama, dance, yoga, martial arts, music, aerial classes and art workshops. Sco"ish Storytelling Centre

10 Oct: Café Voices 11 Oct: Riders on the Storm, 7.30pm 13 Oct: Queen Amang the Heather. 7.30pm

community

Malcolm Chisholm 0131 558 8358 MSP Edinburgh North & Leith Advice surgeries every Saturday morning. Leith Library 10am, Royston Wardieburn Community Centre 12pm

Mark Lazarowicz 0131 557 0577 MP for Edinburgh North & Leith Weekly surgeries every Friday (no appointment required) 4pm Stockbridge Library. 5pm Constituency Office, 5 Croall Place Gordon Munro Leith Ward Labour. Advice surgeries: 1st & 3rd Monday of each month at Leith Community Education Centre, 6.30-7.15pm. 2nd Tuesday of the month at Victoria Primary School, 6.30-7.15pm. Last Saturday of each month at Lochend Y.W.C.A. 12noon-1pm. Deidre Brock Leith Walk Ward S.N.P. Advice surgeries: 1st & 3rd Wednesday of every month at McDonald Road Library 6pm and 2nd Friday (during term time) Leith Walk Primary School 12:30 Aerobics Classes Lianne on 07779064991 rorybremner@hotmail.com Tuesdays at 6pm Pilrig Church, no need to book. £3 per class, £2 concessions. Have fun and get fit Leith Library 28-30 Ferry Road

0131 529 5517

Bookbug sessions: 0 to 4 year olds and

parents/carers. 1st and 3rd Tues & 2nd and 4th Wed of every month 10.30-11.15am Fri: Craft Time (ages 4-11) 2.30pm Book Group: 2nd Tues of month 6.45pm & 4th Tues of month 2pm McDonald Road Library 2 McDonald Road 0131 529 5636 Every Fri: Craft for Kids (ages 4-9) 3-4pm Bookbug Sessions: 2ND Frid of month 1-1.30pm; Last Frid of month 10.30-11am; 2ND Sun of month, 2.30-3pm; Polish Bookbug Session: Every Tues 10.30-11am; Urdu Book Group (women only): Last Mon of month 2-4pm; Book Group: Last Monday of month 6.30-7.30 Pilates Classes 3 Queen Charlotte Lane Mat classes, 1-1 sessions, 2-1 sessions and small groups. Info or to book, email team@pilatesattic.co.uk

Leither

Send your new and updated listings to billy@ leithermagazine.com

Ramsay Cornish 15 Jane Street 0131 553 7000 Thu: 11am Traditional Lane Sale Sat: 11am General Household Auction Restalrig Lochend Community Hub 198 Restalrig Road South thirdagecf.org.uk 0131 346 1179 Thu 2-4pm: Third Age Computer Fun! Free one week taster session to all potential members. Stockbridge Market, Kerr Street 0131 551 5633 stockbridgemarket.com Every Thurs: 1-5pm; Every Sun: 10-5pm

w delivering (inc. Business Lunches) to EH6, EH7 & EH8

Key Point Building services

All insurance work carried out. Free estimates. Mob. 07904 657899 Tel. 0131 555 2483 Email. keypoint@blueyonder.co.uk CREDIT CRUNCH DISCOUNT 10% OFF TO LEITHER READERS Issue 89 | leithermagazine.com | 29


CrosswordNo.64 Mal Toast The Roast 190x72 landscape Ad.pdf

1

25/05/2012

16:25

C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K

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

VIP's that are refused in restaurants because of this (8 ) …however, crazy hot leads to disgust ( 6 ) Mad sexy Leithers ape rag ( 3.5.7 ) Mint toffee club (7) First green gardening implement used in kitchen (7) Donkey with broken tenor given official sanction ( 8 ) Egyptian god, princess and I used in wheels ( 5) Right male kneaded for this kingdom ( 5 ) Dud pings off for afters ( 8 ) Famous feet? ( 7 ) Claret I drunk at concert ( 7 ) Bury country friend abroad ( 15 ) The french undo pierced lump ( 6 ) Free Lear, seed free ( 8 )

down 1 2 3 4 6

7 8 9 14 16 17 19 21 22 24 25

Idiot not first, say ( 6 ) Waterway, but not in Russia or China! ( 3.3.3 ) First of 13 that is timorous according to rabbie ( 7 ) Girl, nell erroneously backed in ( 5 ) Hen, eg changes two rights for very soft middle and feels much better ( 7 ) Turn over some kind of pun, ed? ( 5 ) Uncontrolled excitement that forces hairy set out ( 8 ) Tramp ed? bared egg peeled ( 8 ) Bat paras out of eating place ( 5.3) I dig a list out to find foxglove ( 9 ) Roll in it perhaps if you've got this! ( 8 ) Ore found by pitman gangster ( 7 ) Fragrant smoke twisting in scene ( 7 ) Killed by Noddy and pals soundly ( 6 ) In ring a teddy bear was contained ( 5 ) Flower stone cowboy? ( 5 )

crossword prize A bottle of Malmaison house wine

winner no.62 Dr Sanjoy Das, Edinburgh

Email your answers to: billy@leithermagazine.com

Supplied by: www.leithlinks.co.uk

answers: crossword 63 across

1 Irrigate 5 Lassie 10 Bed and breakfast 11 Bonfire 12 Environ 13 Defences 15 Royal

18 20 23 25 26

Flush Busybody Legible Doublet Bubble and squeak 27 Liners 28 Assessor

down 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9

Imbibe Rod and emu Gentile Terse Ask over Stair Entangle Releases

14 16 17 19 21 22 24 25

Cable car Yodellers Off label Hobbler Brusque Stoker Gabon Dudes

Visit the original, mother of all Mals, find a cosy sofa in the bar and peruse the cocktail list, before heading to our Brasserie for fresh Sco!ish favourites and British classics 30 | leithermagazine.com | Issue 89


Leither in London Carrie Mitchell

At least my credit card will get a rest! I can’t afford to date the modern way

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Cocktail Man was telling another comedy anecdote, complete with accents, actions, and fits of laughter. Then I realised, he was the only one laughing

o it WAS a date. A good one, even. So good it led to several more. In fact, for the three weeks after that first meeting with Cocktail Man, I pretty much set up camp on cloud nine. The first few dates were a blur of laughter, cocktails, more cocktails, and lots of kissing in embarrassingly public places. Of course, he wasn’t perfect. There was one thing in particular that niggled me - and I should apologise to all the feminists out there before I say this – but it really bothered me that he didn’t once pick up the bill. I’m all for equal rights but when it comes to romance, I just want a little bit of old-fashioned chivalry. I don’t expect the guy to take me to extravagant places and spend a fortune on me but it’d be nice if he picked up the first round of drinks or at least objected when I did the requisite reach for my purse. Even when he said, he was ‘taking me for dinner’, he let me put my card down beside his when the bill came. On our cinema date, he surprised me by insisting he pay for the tickets – then followed that up with ‘you can buy dinner after’. And when he paid for the cab back to mine for that first sleepover, he reassured me: ‘don’t worry, you can get it next time’. Gee, thanks. Maybe I just need to get with the times. My friends certainly thought so. “I wouldn’t let a guy pay for my share even if he insisted,” declared Helen. “You don’t want to feel like you owe them anything,” added Vickie. Both

good points. But as soon as I managed to quash that doubt in my mind, up sprang another one. It was our fifth date – the first where alcohol hadn’t featured heavily – Cocktail Man was telling another one of his many comedy anecdotes, complete with accents, actions, and fits of laughter. Then I realised, he was the only one laughing. Adding a polite giggle, I brushed away my concern. He is a former actor after all, it’s only natural he be a bit dramatic. But then, it just kept happening. Where previously – with the help of all those cocktails – I’d found him hilarious. In sobriety, all that ‘amdram’ in him became nothing short of annoying.

Extreme vertigo joke

Introducing him to my flatmate for the first time, he became so animated while telling a story about his mum’s extreme vertigo that he literally threw himself on the floor in a re-enactment of her panic on the London Eye. Liv gamely laughed along, while I sat there cringing. “Aw, I thought that was cute,” insisted Liv afterwards. But I wanted a man who’d challenge me, not lollop around like a court jester. But even when I’d made the decision that this was not the man for me, I was too scared to call it off, worried that I’d be throwing away the first real chance of a relationship I’d had in ages. Instead, I sabotaged the whole thing by getting

spectacularly drunk on our last date. Clever, huh? In my defence, I think it was largely down to nerves – and also an effort to drown my doubts about him. I’d just got back from a week’s holiday and he’d suggested a romantic reunion where he’d collect me from my office drinks and whisk me off to a nice hotel for a fancy dinner and a night of passion. Sounds ideal, huh? The reality was far from it. Firstly, it somehow became my responsibility to book the hotel – yes, I have the advantage of being able to secure free hotel stays but he’d suggested this plan, surely he should have taken charge and found somewhere himself? Then again if he had, I would doubtless be expected to pay half so I dutifully booked a review then headed out with the team to our local bar. But when Cocktail Man arrived a few hours later, I was more than a little tipsy. Insisting he join us for a shandy, I made us late for our dinner reservation, then got us lost and then, well it’s all a bit hazy. Waking up the next morning, I just wanted to get the hell out of there and I clearly wasn’t alone in that. He dropped me at work, assured me he’d had a great night then sped off. A few polite texts later and our frisson has well and truly fizzled. Shame...but at least my credit card will get a bit of a rest. I just don’t think I can afford to date the modern way.

This month Carrie’s been: Racking up considerable debt on her credit card; adjusting to a four hour daily commute; trying and failing to go to bed early; becoming increasingly irate with the Olympic crowds at Stratford station Issue 89 | leithermagazine.com | 31



Leither - 89