Public Grief and Joy

A Happy Family in Hello

A Happy Family in Hello

Poor wee Peaches Geldof has died at 25 and there’s an outpouring of ghoulish sympathy and an outpouring of hating on the ghoulish sympathy… although I don’t recall anyone being too insulting (apart from die-hard Tories and disillusioned Militants) about the Nelson Mandela weeping, wailing and clicking of cameras… as if we knew the real Nelson any more than we knew the real Peaches… as if crying over a symbolic political father (who will live on in the history books) is more mature than crying over a symbolic young mother (who is likely to be forgotten by the middle of next week – which is a far more poignant fate).

I tend to dislike our distortion of reality through myths (ironic for a wannabe writer)… I worry that people will get killed… or isolated… I don’t trust us to be right… I don’t trust morality to be humane.

So these public spasms of grief (or joy) over symbolic figures gets me musing.

I like structure.

I’m a naturally anxious person so anything tolerable that stays the same is ok by me.

I’m fine with the Queen, I’m fine with the Pope, I’m fine with Mosques, I’m ok with absolutely anything that can calmly proceed from day-to-day without overtly trying to kill me.

But some of the emotions that underpin these institutions are a mystery to me….

I don’t understand crying when someone famous dies. It’s sad – of course – but by the magic of the media they will never really leave us. Only the people who were physically close to them – who shared hugs and personal conversations – have lost anything…

I don’t understand screaming at pop stars, waving manically at royalty, or camping out for days to catch a glimpse of an actor (it made more sense in the olden days when you genuinely had to be there to see it)…

I can understand having a vague daydream about being married to someone rich and powerful (or pretty) but I can’t understand stalking them (my brain finds celebrities creepy – it clearly stores all media images in the bit that deals with fiction – seeing a celebrity in real life is like seeing Rumpelstiltskin or a type of ghost… The only way to cope with them is to forget their media image – so that the two have no connection in my mind).

I can understand having convictions – thinking that Marxism, or liberalism or even fascism is the way to run the world… I can understand needing role models… but I can’t understand fanatical hero-worship. The need to copy your hero down to the last donkey jacket… The inability to accept they’re human or make mistakes or from a different perspective were ‘a bad thing’…

I can understand the modern atheists’ objection to religion but not their desire to burn it like a witch…

The EDL needing to shout ‘God Save the Queen’ while their brothers-in-arms the British Islamic Fundamentalists ( I like to call them the BIF) wail ‘God is Great’ strikes me as weird. Can’t you just get on with being whatever you are without forming a largely aimless mob to back it up? It’s not like forming a pressure group or a political party – which at least has laws it wants changed or MPs it wants elected (although some of them are borderline-cases).

But then these strange reactions happen all around me, all the time. They bind groups together and make sense of daily life.

They put places on the map – who ever thought about Luton before the EDL?

They work as addictions  – a human-zoo version of hunting and gathering - reading more and more about the favoured one, attending concerts/demos/displays, fiercely arguing with anyone that thinks they’re nothing special…

Seeing yourself in an icon and giving yourself social permission to live, die, kill, harass and hustle for that icon is a normal thing.

Pluralistic societies will have to learn to juggle these icons in sophisticated ways or groups will attack each other. You can’t assume that racial tensions can never touch the government – anything is possible. A future breaking up of The Dusty Springfield fan club could cause the apocalypse – odd triggers can have huge consequences…

Barak Obama got the Noble Peace Prize because people wanted him to bring peace. The fact that he hadn’t didn’t seem to bother them at all.

The one thing The Enlightenment didn’t bring was group sanity.

I’m phobic and fearful about news-based narratives… I think too much, and feel too little.

I won’t invade your nation, but then I won’t liberate it either.

These irrational seeming manias – horrific when they’re against you, glorious when they run in your favour – are the plate tectonics of our social systems.

I think it’s weird…. but we’re stuck with it.

practically everything reminds me of this...

practically everything reminds me of this…

Slightly Better Review!

This review is nicer about me :

At least it doesn’t think I’m a snotty cow! (yes – that’s how I interpreted the last one).

Frankie MacEachen, and Johanna Harper (civilian name : Louise Stewart).

Frankie MacEachen, and Johanna Harper (civilian name : Louise Stewart).


REVIEW: Star Stricken Double Bill – CCA, Glasgow

Karen Barclay:

I'd rather you looked at this puppy.

I’d rather you looked at this puppy.

So cruel !!! So unjust!!! About me as a person!!!! I have never had a ‘I’m cleverer than you attitude’, but it’s pulchritudinous about my cohort in malefaction, Tom Brogan. So out of pellucid probity I will re-blog the below evisceration! : 

Originally posted on Glasgow Theatre Blog:


Presented as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Star Stricken a double bill of new comedy writing by Karen Barclay and Tom Brogan is certainly a bill of contrasts.

First up, Emily Entwistle by Karen Barclay pitches us headlong into the world of big business: a crisis has happened in an unnamed factory and corporate business solutions expert Elfrida (Frankie McEachen) is sent to sort the damage, with of course, less than successful results.

Heavy on the corporate speak (which considering the audience reaction was not a world we are as familiar with as the writer) and light on storyline and laughs, Barclay’s piece lacked cohesion and smacked a little of self-indulgence from the choice of heroines the play takes its name from to the I’m clever than you attitude which the writer seemed keen to demonstrate throughout. What did shine through was the talent of the actors, in particular Johanna…

View original 233 more words

Kate Bush Live!!!!!!!!!!



UPDATE : I failed to get any tickets !!! I’m about as miserable as a human can get without actually dying from it. 

All my dreams are coming true this week! Barring the apocalypse – Kate Bush!!!! – will be doing a series of concerts at the Hammersmith Apollo (which for money reasons is called the Eventim Apollo).

The link is here (although I shouldn’t be helping rival ticket-hounds to get tickets before me… I want to go more than you!!!!!)

She’s older, she’s fatter, I suspect there’s been a face-lift (or someone went nuts with photo shop) – but she’s still the single greatest female singer-songwriter ever in the history of singer-songwriters. Absolutely gorgeous – inside and out. There isn’t anyone that can bring the emotion, drama and wit the way she can. I’d listen to her singing her shopping list (and she’s probably putting that on her next album as we speak)… She truly is a one and only and I’d chew my own arm off to see her.

Yves Saint-Laurent!!!


Oh, dear Lord – this is my dream.

On June 25th they release a movie of the life of Yves Saint Laurent!

Yves is responsible for every trash fashion that old ladies wore from the 1960s to the the 1980s… Back then – if you stared at a 90 year old and wondered where her exquisite sofa fabric trouser suit came from – it came from Yves (or at least a knock down version she bought from British Home Stores). Safari Suits, giant pussy bows, ruffled duvet flamenco dresses – he did it all – while looking like an intense bespectacled newt sex god.

The film’s French – so it should be reverential, serious, beautiful – and slightly hilarious. Fabulous!

yves yves 3 yves 4 yves 5

Prudencia Hart !

Melody Grove as Prudencia Hart.

Melody Grove as Prudencia Hart.

Last Friday I went to the social media call of The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, and I saw the play on Sunday… This time I’m late writing about it because I had to salvage my truly awful pictures and footage… it’s just not the same without pictures and it took a long, long while before faces emerged from the blur… This may have been because I was knackered, in a sad twist of fate, I aimed for Maryhill Road and I found myself outside Kelvinside Academy; just like our heroine who gets lost in the snow – only I was lost in blazing sunshine and rock-like hailstones.

It was worth it – words can’t describe how much I love The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart – really to get a full understanding of how I feel – you should picture a fat blonde jumping up and down, with her not-so-little hands clutched in glee, like a five year old in a chocolate factory. I could do cartwheels. I adore it. And I didn’t even need to drink the free whisky (the show is sponsored by Benromach – connoisseurs think it’s dandy) I was this enraptured on only tea and a polo mint.

It’s about a folklore academic (Prudencia Hart), who shuns the modern world, who gets lost after a conference in Kelso, has strange encounters with ghosts and the devil, and learns to live in the moment at a hellish Karaoke night with a man she previously found repulsive. We’ve all been there!!!

David McKay, Melody Grove, Annie Grace, Paul McCole and Alasdair Macrae.

David McKay, Melody Grove, Annie Grace, Paul McCole and Alasdair Macrae.

The cast are amazing – Annie Grace, Alasdair Macrae (who is also the composer and musical director), Melody Grove (our heroine!), Paul McCole and David McKay – they sing, they create the scenery with props and movement (I had no idea how magical getting the audience to throw torn up napkins could be – it was like going into the forest in the dead of winter with Little Red Riding Hood), they play a wide variety of roles, they direct the audience, they have to negotiate unconventional and unpredictable spaces (this time in Maryhill Burgh Hall – laid out like a school canteen on a sports day or the last day of term) – they should be preserved for all time on film or else we’ll have to recreate the experience for our Grandchildren by unwisely climbing on the dining-room table and singing out of tune while twisting a vodka bottle around our ancient bodies (which would be a travesty of one of the most heart-stoppingly beautiful moments I’ve ever seen on stage).

The show’s been on the road for three years now – and the perfection shows. The writer, David Greig, wanted to do something like a kids party for adults with the Border Ballads as a jumping off point – so they made the show like a pub. lock-in, channeling that old style of story-telling that people used to engage in, the type of story-telling that gets around authority – that doesn’t need a gatekeeper – that naturally happens. In their improvised rehearsals they talked to a folklore academic who became something of an inspiration for Prudencia.

Academics say they’ve hit the academia nail on the head… That beneath all the intellectual compartmentalizing is a raging hotbed of lust… One American academic told Alasdair Macrae that the most difficult thing at a conference was ‘keeping the condom machine full’… Annie Grace thought that was surprising considering the amount of sensible trousers that were worn… As a chaste veteran of geeky sci-fi and fantasy conventions – I don’t find it at all surprising… What does surprise me is that the people of Kelso didn’t rise up in rebellion over the rhymed assertion that they have an Asda carpark… They have a Sainsburys… I mean, can you imagine?

More info about Prudencia here :

If you’ve never seen it before (or if you have and you’re dying to see it again) do make sure you don’t miss out.

Glasgow Girls!

The brilliant Patricia Panther singing 'Cuff Me'.

The brilliant Patricia Panther singing ‘Cuff Me’.

UPDATE : I’m reassured by teachers that they love it… My ear-wigging was inaccurate! 

Last Thursday I went to the social media call of Glasgow Girls – I don’t know why I’ve dithered over posting about it – I’ll assume the cosmos wanted me to mull it over (probably so I didn’t tell you what I had for my lunch or some similar detail).

It’s a brilliant show. A truly great musical – everything about it works – and the story is deeper than boy meets girl – based on true events it’s about a group of schoolgirls saving their friend from deportation. It’s uplifting and empowering, and the tunes are modern but theatrical (not an easy thing to do if I go by the endlessly limp and twee new musical scores I’ve listened to). The performances are wonderful – the young cast have boundless energy and talent. It’s like an edgy, urban, teenage Matilda.

Doing my usual ear-wigging I was mournful to hear that it was so difficult for the production to raise the money for this re-staging… If a hit sell-out show with great reviews struggles to find cash – the structure of the world economy stinks… It also has a problem attracting schools – many of them are worried about the political content. Cora Bissett (the creator and director) wants the show to inspire direct action – so the fears are not objectively unfounded. I just find it hard to believe anyone would support the detention of children by the state just for being foreign. As Patricia Panther (who plays the lead immigration officer) said ‘when you arrest a criminal it’s innocent until proven guilty, but a migrant is guilty until proven innocent’.

The show runs at The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow until March 8th… it’s unmissable, so get your tickets! Make great theatre flourish!!!  More info here :

The girls.

The girls.