P&J Column for 5/11/12

An unsuitable job for an inabootcomer

J FERGUS LAMONT, arts critic and author of ‘Gilfeather! – The Unauthorised Biography’

‘Unsuitable’.  It was with overwhelming melancholy and a heavy heart that I heard that Aberdeen City Council’s efforts to appoint a worthy personage to lead their bid to be crowned ‘2017 City of Culture’ had been frustrated by the paucity, both in terms of quality and quantity, of the applicants. I fear our City Fathers have been looking in the wrong place.  No doubt the position was advertised nationally, in illustrious publications like the Scotsman, and the Times of London. But where was their cri de coeur in the local media? I saw nothing in the Herald & Post, nor heard a peep through broadcast media, and I refer not just to the twin behemoths of Northsounds One and Two; equally, Shmu FM was silent on the issue.  Truly this region is a mecca for the creative arts, and I cannot be alone in feeling that only someone indigenous to the area would be fully cogniscant of the remarkable cultural beacons, which shine from this Granite City like the ancient lighthouse at Pharos. I feel sure that once these gems are properly publicised, the bid is bound to succeed.

Visual Arts – The city is awash with accidental frescos, created by an army of savant ‘street’ Raphaels. There are mobile installations appearing on the rear of many a freight vehicle; “aslo available in white” and “pleese cleen me” (the deliberate misspellings always put me in mind of Anthony Burgess) and also more permanent works which utilise the very fabric of the city as their canvass. Who can say they have not been affected by “pay no more than 30 a score”, Bridge Street’s insouciant “Rachel T is a right slag” and, brightening the gloomy surrounds of College Street, the convivial “A/deen casuals kill all away fans”?

Music – As Bram Stoker, a great writer with a strong connection to the North East (he used to work in ‘Slaines Castle’ on Belmont Street) famously penned, “Listen to them, the children of the night.  What music they make!”  Aberdeen is akin to the likes of Salzburg in offering a nightly festival of music to satisfy any afficionado. Two, in particular, merit wider recognition.  The Union Bridge Piper, who combines the traditional red face and folk melodies with the modernity of Reebok trainers and industrial noise, and the Monkey House Guitar Wifie (the artist formrly known as the St Nicholas Guitar Wifie) whose performances, owing much to the John Cage school of minimalism and the atonal experimental work of Philip Glass, attract a herd of followers, particularly at 3am, like a latter day Pied Piper.

Gastronomy – As with all true cultural hubs, Aberdeen boasts a wide array of haute cuisine eateries. In food, variety and authenticity are everything, and in those areas the late night bistros of our city centre are unsurpassed. Where else could one purchase, as I did on Friday night, the succulent Asiatic delight of doner kebab, the bohemian mish-mash of chips, cheese and gravy and the Italian classic pizza marguerita – all in the same polystyrene box?

I wept.

Entertainment news with showbiz insider SHELLEY SHINGLES (Miss Fetteresso, 1993

I finally made it to the flicks to see “Skyfall” at the weekend. OMG!  It was the guts of twenty quid for a seat plus a wheelie-bin of popcorn and a slush-puppy.  And they’ve the cheek to say watching pirate DVDs is criminal?!  I’m glad I get in free with my press pass! IMHO it’s almost as bad as the theatre! (I get in free there, too! LOL)

What a bosker of a film it was.  Love the bit at the begining (SPOLIER ALERT! He’s not really dead!) and Adelaide’s fabby theme song where she lists all her favourite puddings; “Lemon Trifle, Apple Crumble!” Plus it features two powerhouse performances from one of my oldest and one of my newest showbiz pals.  It was only recently I first bumped into Daniel Craig.  He’d just left the London premiere of that Swedish film he was in, “The Girl with the Fag and Tattoo” and was in his taxi to the aftershow party.  I was driving behind him and, talk about star-struck; I drove clean into the back of him at the traffic lights!  Nightmare!  I rushed to give him mouth-to-mouth but he was fine (gutted!) Still, it was worth it in the end.  I’ve got an autograph from him that I’ll treasure forever.  It’s right at the bottom of the restraining order.

Dame Judi Dench is aceic as “M” (short for Marjory I think) and she is still one of the nicest wifies I’ve met in showbiz circles.  It was at the Lonach Gathering in 1997 when I first met her.  As always, “The Big Yin” was there and he had heaps of his showbiz pals with him, including Robin Williams (who had really let himself go since leaving Take That) and Dame Judi.  I was there as a spokesmodel for the Fetteresso WRVS home-bakes stall. I’ll never forget what she said to me that day:

‘How much is your Millionaire’s short-bread?’

Wise words from a great lady.