A lot of people have pointed out that Andrew Neil's lunatic rant in the Mail about the SNP-Green deal has shamed the BBC, who forever more will be known to have tried to pass off a right-wing nutter as an "objective, forensic interviewer" for the last couple of decades. But even more than the bias of the article, what strikes me is just how poor it is as a piece of punditry. It's full of factual inaccuracies, and analysis that is embarrassingly wide of the mark. Why was this guy ever so highly regarded?"After all, they [the Greens] failed to win a single constituency, and only ended up with seven seats thanks to Scotland’s absurd voting system"
Saturday, August 28, 2021
I said on Twitter a few days ago that I'm extremely unsure of what activities constitute too big a risk at the moment, because I have regular contact with a vulnerable person. One thing I had in mind was the Edinburgh Fringe, which I've been to every year since 2010 (apart from last year, when it was cancelled altogether). Normally I'd go multiple times throughout August, but given the circumstances I thought it would be nice just to make one trip in and see a couple of shows as safely as possible. With case numbers rising, though, I found it harder and harder to imagine myself actually doing it. I had a look through the website on Wednesday, and to my disappointment could literally only find four shows of the type I'd normally see (drama, dance or musicals) that I was 100% confident were taking place outdoors. I suddenly got bold and decided to go ahead anyway, so I booked the two out of those four that appealed to me the most, and made the journey in yesterday. It was my first time in the capital since the pandemic started, and it felt a bit weird to be there, to say the least.
Having gone to all that trouble, I may as well mark the occasion with a one-off return of the much-missed-by-absolutely-nobody Scot Goes Pop Fringe mini-reviews. The main legacy of having done these reviews in the past is that I ended up being followed on Twitter by a few actors and creatives, some of whom later unfollowed me after I retweeted gender critical tweets and they concluded I was a "transphobe"...
THE BANK JOB
When your main criteria for selecting a show is that it has seating arrangements that minimise your risk of catching a deadly virus, your expectations of quality are bound to be somewhat 'tempered' and 'realistic'. However, I didn't even get that far, because it was cancelled at ten minutes' notice. I've no idea if that had anything to do with Covid. In case you're wondering, the show would apparently have been a "farcical comedy" about a bank heist, but all I can really tell you about it is that the venue looked commendably airy.
DUO (GUITAR MUSIC)
Rating: 5 stars (*****)
I wouldn't normally review the free street performances, but I'm in severe need of padding this time. With an extra hour to kill, I gingerly ventured onto the Royal Mile to see what was happening. I heard some loud shouting, which normally is the dead giveaway of an escapology act, but it was actually four drunk men screaming at each other and gearing up for a fistfight. Just as I was about to give up, I stumbled across a duo, unimaginatively called "Duo", playing some lovely guitar music - a lot of it was flamenco music, but there was also some Daft Punk thrown in. They were genuinely excellent, as you can see from the short clips below.
They had a big sign up saying "Please share your footage" so I'm taking them at their word. Here are two very short videos of @duoguitarmusic playing on the Royal Mile yesterday. pic.twitter.com/03MrNSiOxz— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) August 27, 2021
Rating: 4 stars (****)
I had to walk all the way to Tynecastle Park for this one, so if it had been cancelled or turned out to be rubbish, that would have been the final straw. All was well, though, it was thoroughly entertaining in a very all-round way - there were more than two hours of songs, jokes, a love story, and above all else a painless history lesson about women's football in Scotland. I already knew some of that history, I think mainly from reading an article on the BBC website a few years ago. During the First World War, women's football suddenly became wildly popular due to male players having joined the army. Even after the war was over, the female teams continued to attract crowds of thousands, until the powers-that-be at the SFA maliciously put a stop to it by forbidding the clubs from allowing their grounds to be used.
One thing that puzzled me about the play is that the SFA bigwigs were portrayed as Glasgow nationalists with English accents. I get the Glasgow thing, but I felt like the accents were a joke that was going clean over my head. There were also references at the end to the Spanish flu and mandatory mask-wearing ("can you imagine that?"), which made me wince slightly given that I think I was the only person in the audience who wore a mask through most of the performance. But leaving aside these minor quibbles, the show is well worth seeing, and I think it's running for a couple more days. It doesn't take place on the Tynecastle pitch for obvious reasons - there's a raised little stage in front of the main stand.
Thursday, August 26, 2021
Monday, August 23, 2021
I've just voted in the Alba office bearer elections - the ballot doesn't close until 10th September, but I thought I'd better get it done now in case it slips my mind later on. I was slightly surprised by how the nominations worked out - all of the buzz on social media had been for the potential female candidates for depute leader, probably because of a desire for gender balance in the leadership team. So I was half-expecting an all-female contest, perhaps between Michelle Ferns and Eva Comrie. Personally I nominated Eva Comrie, and I was surprised when she didn't make the ballot (although she's a candidate for Equalities Convener instead) and Kenny MacAskill did. But now that Mr MacAskill is an option and clearly wants the position, I have to say I think he's the obvious choice. I dipped in and out of the hustings, and I was increasingly impressed by Michelle Ferns as it went on, but that didn't change my view that it makes sense to have someone with the tremendous experience and profile of someone like Mr MacAskill as depute leader, especially as the party is trying to get itself established.
Incidentally, I liked the fact that both candidates took the question about the high male suicide rate seriously. I'd have liked to have seen them go a little further, though, and accept that the phenomenon is actually rooted in gender, in much the same way that the structural challenges faced by women are gender-related. The idea that it can instead be put down to poverty doesn't entirely ring true, because there are as many women living in poverty, and if men are far more likely to take their own lives there must be an additional gender-related factor.
In the Equalities Convener ballot, I surprised myself slightly by giving my first preference to Suzanne Blackley. I went into the hustings expecting to vote for Eva Comrie, but I just felt that Ms Blackley's pitch gave her the very slight edge. However, I gave my second preference vote to Eva Comrie.
The Local Government Convener ballot was the one I found toughest. The hustings muddied the waters for me because Brian Topping was having severe sound problems and I was very impressed by Leigh Wilson, but I did give my first preference to the former MSP Mike MacKenzie in the end.
And last but not least, I plumped for the former MP Corri Wilson in the Membership Convener vote.