Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Take a bow

Tilda Swinton.
Not only has she collected a best supporting actress Oscar without losing her cool or gushing on and on, but for seeming to have it all.
She's got a successful film career which appears to be picking up as most 47 year old actresses are slowing down.
She lives in a fabulous mansion in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland with the talented and funny John Byrne and brings up their 10-year-old twins.
Meanwhile, when it suits her, she cavorts around the world with 27-year-old lover Sandro Kopp... and JB doesn't seem to mind. You have to hand it to her...

And, no, Mr P, that doesn't mean I want to go charging off with any passing, talented, young artists. Honest.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

romance

What does it mean when your husband brings you back a surprise gift of kippers?

Bonnie Scotland



There was a day a few weeks ago when Scotland looked like this. Tear-jerkingly lovely. It very nearly makes up for the months and months and months of damp and gloom. Almost makes endless no-point-in-putting-the-fence-back-up gales worthwhile. Almost.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Looking for a tradesman...

they're all here.
This week I have availed myself of the services of a glazier, a drain unblocking chap, a boiler fixer, a locksmith, a car mechanic and an ordinary plumber. That's not counting the architect who is consulting a structural engineer on our behalf.
Is it some sort of construction karma for someone who building a garage without bothering to open an account at the local cement emporium?
Perhaps there's a celestial tally of home improvement short cuts. Crikey, what's going to happen when they realise the coat cupboard hooks are stuck on with glue and the cobwebs don't get dusted because the hold the wallpaper up?

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Bard news, good news

Primary four boys stopped wriggling and waving at their parents and started to sing. My Love is Like a Red Red Rose rang out in the school hall and it was lovely.
No really.
The boys had worked really hard on their Burns project, learning about the man and his work. Then they organised a concert for their parents - roping in most of the rest of the school to do a turn.
On the face of it, you'd think it was a special kind of Caledonian cruelty. First you get kids - many of whom don't grow up with native Scots speakers - to study the Bard, then you stick them either in kilts or white frocks and sashes accordingly and make them Strip the Willow.
Incidentally, I wonder how many other homes in Bridge of Weir endured some interesting conversations about Gay Gordons.
The sights and sounds took me right back to the dusty gyms of my schooldays and the accordion music on the record player. Not so much an ordeal as a necessary part of the curriculum.
Anyhow, last week the Burns concert was a triumph. The children learned about an important part of their Scots culture and picked up a few skills on the way.
Mr Salmond would have been every bit as proud as those camera wielding parents.
So why then was the sight of healthy, round-faced youngsters glibly punching the air and pledging that "Liberty's in every blow! Let us do or dee" quite so unsettling?




'Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae your gory bed,
Or tae Victorie!

'Now's the day, and now's the hour:
See the front o' battle lour,
See approach proud Edward's power -
Chains and Slaverie!

'Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

'Wha, for Scotland's king and law,
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or Freeman fa',
Let him on wi' me!

'By Oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

'Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow! -
Let us do or dee!'

Monday, 4 February 2008

A tiny beef

The other day I found myself at the grand opening of the Cameron Grill. The swish new restaurant at the under-refurbishment De Vere Cameron House.
It was a very fancy affair - the great and good of Scotland were all there (well Gavin Hastings and Viv Lumsden anyway).
It's impressive, I'll give it that. All dark and sooty looking with great hunks of furniture. There's a huge meat fridge with a glass wall looking on to the dining room giving diners a full view of bovine carcasses on meathooks being hacked to bits by a man in chainmail - very macho.
In fact the whole shooting match was macho, from the tattooed drummers laid on as entertainment to the exhortions to "drink, drink".
It did make me wonder, though, where they kept the rest of the meat - the less decorative and butch stuff. Perhaps things with eyes, bulletholes and entrails because there was more than cow on the menu?
Actually they didn't do menu last week - it wasn't so much a moveable feast but a feastable move. Every corner had different delicacies on offer. Most of them were fabulous, quirky and delicious.
Fish and chips - three delicate slivers of golden fried pototo with a couple of elegant, succulent morcels of fish served in a poke of paper by a girl with an usher's tray round her neck.
Haggis, neeps and tatties in a dainty ramekin.
The most mouthwatering slices of roast beef.
A single, perfect seared scallop in its shell.
The only duffer was the coq au vin served in a mini pie (mutton, Glesca style) case. The pastry was tough and the filling a little sloppy for elegance. Remember this lot was being scoffed on the hoof with a glass in the other fist.
Ok, it was, therefore a little naughty, when chatting aimlessly with the London PR type who wondered what I was doing there to tell her they were simply devine.
How big was my inner snigger when she had to stop looking down her nose at me and start peering at the splot of gravy on her expensive bosom?
Anyhow, Cameron Grill. The Americans will love it, which, I suppose, is the point.
But, as for standing up to eat, I'll wager that was a man's idea. That'll be a man who's never stood up all evening in heels and tried not to spill stuff down his frock. Next time, let the ladies know: leave your sitting down shoes at home and bring a bib.
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