P&J Column for 15.12.14

Alex Salmond to stand as M.P? Well, it just goes to show; sooner or later, ab’dy heads tae London for the big money.

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

There has been much awkward looking at feet and unease in Council circles this week with the news that Alex Salmond is to stand as a MP in Gordon.  We always had an uneasy working relationship with the former first minister but when he retired we decided to put all that behind us and generously praise his extraordinary contribution to Scottish political life.  Now that it turns out that he’s the political equivalent of Lazarus, we would like to make it clear that all previous praise is now rescinded, and he is back to being a balloon of the first water until such time as he really does retire, at which point he will again assume his rightful place in the Pantheon of Scottish political greats.

J Fergus Lamont, arts critic and author of “Twitter, how does this work again?”- The unauthorized biography of Cllr. Willie Young

‘Tis the season to reflect on and celebrate all that is best in the cultural zeitgeist. Speaking of which, If you have room for but one artistic event on your Yuletide ‘to do’ list then you could do no better than immerse yourself in ‘The Nativity’ as performed by a daring young company known as Garthdee Primary School.

This searing production took that most familiar of stories, and managed to deliver it entirely afresh, for a modern audience. Oh, that our National theatre’s alumni, the Nunns and the Hytners of this world, had the wit and brio of Miss Mackenzie. The introduction of several pirates, a tinsel-bedecked boxing kangaroo and Paddington Bear into events, clearly signifying the contradiction between the consumerist frenzy which now attends the festival and the simplicity of Christ’s birth in a stable. Hence the presence, between Magi and shepherds, of Peppa Pig and Barney The Dinosaur.

What elevated this production to greatness was the music provided by an ironically out of tune upright piano played by Mr. Galbraith, a clear Phillip Glass devotee. His tinkling of the dissonant ivories was a delightful distraction as we were forced by this Avant-garde ensemble to decipher any semblance of melody or rhythm. Each line was sung by 1 or perhaps 2 of the cast, with no apparent structure. It was almost as if the cast were choosing which lines to sing as they went along. This impressive free form arrangement was not only a constant atmospheric reminder of the centuries of discord in the Middle East, but more specifically a trenchant commentary on the recent Band Aid single.

As the nativity reached its denouement, the heavenly host sang ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams. Ivan Finnie made a wonderfully deconstructed Gabriel, dressed in his Mike the Knight costume.

Whilst slightly younger than previous interpretations of Mary, 6-year-old Taneesha Dykers truly embodied the ethereal quality of the role. In a key sequence, her frustration at Joseph’s failure to utilise Tripadvisor ahead of their visit to Bethlehem, and her ire at his providing transportation in the form of a little donkey (an assured debut by Isla Sandison) provide fuel for an expletive laden verbal tirade and subsequent battering of Tyler Wisely (a very moving Joseph), deftly signifying the difficulties in the couple’s relationship, given Mary’s explanation of her pregnancy. Joseph, in counter-point simply falls to the floor, wails for his ‘Ma’ and refuses to continue.

Like Joseph, I wept.

Entertainment news with showbiz insider Shelley Shingles (Miss Fetteresso, 1993)

This week I was down at Earl’s Court, London, which it turns out is not just a tube station but a music venue too!?! I was there for the new BBC Music Awards.  I really hope they take off – there is a real need for it, with only the Brits, the Grammys, the Mobos and the MTV awards for competition.  Certainly Pharrell Williams took it real seriously, taking time out of his busy schedule to collect it in person via videolink from his neighbour Gwen Stefani’s house in LA. Going by his acceptance speech, which I think he is nearly finished now, he seemed “Happy” to win, LOL!!!  Mind you, I have my doubts aboot some o the lyrics in that song.  “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.”  If you were in a room with no roof around here, you’d have to clap your hands, stamp your feet and run on the spot and a’!!

While I was there I just had time to catch up with MasterChef in my hotel room.  (Premier Inn – white and purple is so this season).  I was bursting with pride when I saw Aberdeen chef Brian McLeish get through to the final!  Of course me and Brian go way back.  I always use the Moonfish Café when I’m interviewing the big stars who come to Aberdeen.  I once made Gareth Hale laugh so hard that he inhaled his Cullen Skink and a bit yella fish came out of his nose, LOL!!!

Brian his obviously come a long way.  The first time I was there I ordered gazpacho and when it come it was stone cold!  Well, when I complained he tried to tell me it was supposed to be like that!  I just said, if that was his attitude he could cancel the order and bring me the lobster thermostat instead!  Well fair play to him, he took a long look at me and says,

“I’ll go and warm it up for you.”

Wise words (and totes amaze cooking!) from a true gent!