Friday, 30 October 2009
Stefan Pearson produced tonight's show (as well as designing the poster), a dapper Gavin Inglis MCd and entertained us with snippets of classroom-life as a nod to our hero Miss Brodie, and Alan Campbell kindly stepped in to fill the sudden gap left by Janie MacKie and Andrew J Wilson, sadly both too ill to attend tonight. He read a suitably threatening story that ensured he was thoroughly and concentratedly applauded!
I was third up, well, seated off-stage, and read 'The Fountain of Youth'. It went pretty well despite my inexperience with (and suspicions of) the microphone, and the fact that my eyes are so bad these last few weeks I could hardly see the text. I was grateful that Andrew C Ferguson, producer of the end-of-show zombie Shakespeare play, had printed me out a copy of my story too, as I hadn't had the time or technology.
I did first warn the audience that if they were squeamish, especially about doctors, childbirth or seagulls, then they shouldn't listen (to give them a chance to escape), but also pointed out that if they were squeamish or easily offended, what the fuck were they doing at a Bloc Halloween show. I'm sorry, I'm not at my most tactful when painkillers aren't strong enough.
On next, the new Bloc star was Kirsty Wishart, who gave an excellent reading of her Eburgh story 'Under the Deep', with a real beat poet's rythym to her voice.
After the first break we had more of Gav's classroom gems, a fishy ghost story from our master of the maritime, Stefan Pearson, then the many voices of Gavin Inglis' contributing to his 'Burne Identity'.
I had to leave during the second break and missed the final section of the show, unfortunately, but I was too ill to stay. It was to feature another story from Kirsty, another from Stef, another from suitably-soviet-hatted ACF, and the second half of Gav's Weegie tribute 'The Burne Identity'.
Fortunately I got a lift back to the hotel from my beachy pal M, and it wasn't as though we were depleting the audience, as several latecomers had arrived during the break to compensate. The hotel staff were as helpful as ever in getting me up to my room. I wish I was rich enough to tip them.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
by Writers' Bloc
Thursday, 29 October 2009
20:00 - 23:00
Pleasance Cabaret Bar, 60 the Pleasance
Late October is traditionally the time of year when our ancestors huddled closer to the fireside, glancing fearfully now and then at the rattling door lest the storm outside was about to unleash some frightful creature of the night upon them.
Well, never mind all that bollocks. This is the 21st century, after all, and the thing to do at Halloween is huddle round your pint, as those creatures of the night Writers' Bloc read tales of mayhem and immoderate threat in the Pleasance Cabaret Bar.
This outing does promise a more feminine - if not necessarily softer - side of Bloc than usual, with Morag Edward, Jane McKie and new Bloc star Kirsti Wishart all presenting new stories for your delectation. All this plus the usual undead European white males. We can't promise you the crème de la crème, but perhaps the crème de la slime….
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Dreams of Steam: The Second Seance
Friday 30th October
8.30pm till 12.30am
The Lot, Grassmarket
Wheelchair accessible, a good excuse to dress up (steampunk but also historic, goth, glamour) and a chance to kick back and listen to the best gramophone hits of the century, some hair-raising Cthulu-esque bedtime stories, and be dazzled by twisted circus performers. And of course the Second Seance itself, calling on the ancient spirit of the deep!
21:00 - 03:00
The Speakeasy, Cabaret Voltaire
AbSynth is an experimental dance friendly music club based in Edinburgh. We play a mix of electro-industrial, rhythmic noise and goth. for more details go to http://www.clubabsynth.com/
AbSynth is returning to ancient caverns under the Edinburgh streets on Halloween weekend.This lavish prohibition era style venue is the newest addition to the Cabaret Voltaire. Please enter by the Cabaret Voltaire's main entrance.
HALLOWE'EN THEME - FANCY DRESS - DRESS TO IMPRESS
There is £1 discount to Absynth with a Dreams of Steam ticket (as stated on the back of the Dreams of Steams tickets). Therefore entry to Absynth will be £4 with both Dreams of Steam and advance Absynth ticket or £6 on the door when showing your Dreams of Steam ticket.
Confusion is Sex
Friday 30th October
Moray House, Holyrood Road
10.40pm till 3am
dark burlesque, dancing, bands and surprises from this fantastic event
and on Saturday 31st Oct...
Castle Esplanade down the High Street to the Cathedral
9pm till 11pm
Free but please give donations to the bucketeers
Get dressed up in some magical hippiest finery, and add a mask or facepaint to confuse the otherworldly elements as you join in the celebration of Samhuinn and the heralding of the new year. This is the night when the wall between the worlds is down and all the strange creatures come out to play, so you may as well join in. You might like to wear something warm and carry a waterproof just in case the other elements join in, though, should you not be speedy enough to dance yourself warm or dodge the raindrops.
Watch the procession of summer and winter courts travel down the Royal Mile to the cathedral where the kings will battle to end one year and start the next, with drums and swords and pyrotechnics and wild performers.
If you need a wheelchair space to sit and watch the stage performance when the event reaches the cathedral, speak to a member of staff to ensure a seat at the front of the crowds. Arriving well-ahead of the procession is the only way this will happen, so keep an eye on the time (and the other on the cobbles).
If you're wondering about how to say the word, 'mh' in gaelic is pronounced 'v', though the Eburgh voice sounds more like 'w', which is still far better than saying the 'm'.
Headpsin Halloween Ball at The Bongo Club
Funk, hiphop, house + electro beats.
£7/£5 before midnight, £3 in fancy dress.
massive 12th birthday party. Guests include The Kitsch Kats and Craig McMurdo with his Dance Orchestra alongside the Vegas! showgirls and the peerless DJ team and their good time mix of jazz, swing, easy listening, big band and country classics. (The List)
Night of the Circle: Stories from the Otherworld
The Storytelling Centre
Linda Williamson introduces a selection of stories from guest readers, with a little singing and dancing too.
The Wash bar is down three steps so isn't smoothly accessible but it is possible with a hefty pusher, and it is a lovely bar. The most important thing was being there at all and able to meet some of the regular Salon crowd. The City of Lit Salon is a fantastic concept - and also a fantastic opportunity to mingle and network with a group of cityfolk who expect to talk to strangers.
Seeing me - and the wheelchair, so realising why they hadn't met me before - started many conversations and had folk expressing astonishment, then keenness for a new venue next month, any new venue, as access was a priority over previous priorities. I was relieved by the insight, but also a little embarrassed and wary, as there is always the danger of someone being most miffed at anything that seems like 'pressure', 'demands', 'ingratitude' or 'troublemaking' and becoming a background niggle to my confidence. In fact I heard one, but kept on smiling and tried not to look momentarily crushed.
The best moments were seeing the chapbooks laid out on the table, and also when my dear friend, another wheely writer, turned up for her first ever Salon and expressed similar excitement to mine at finally having access. She mentioned how many others in the industry locally would be pleased to join in when they got a new venue. One person looked astonished that there were any, commenting that they'd not met any other wheely writers. That's because the most folk hold parties upstairs in this old hilly city and we've eaten too much cake to be carried!
That was one of the best nights in my brand-new career so far, thank you Bloc Press and City of Literature! I apologise to everyone who subsequently found inexplicable glitter on their person after the event. That was me.
So, I trundled into the Caves clutching my coat around me for decency, a box of stock for the stall (that fell by the wayside, as did the coat) and nine angel drawings for the walls. I even had a kinky bedtime story in my head, should that kind of ambient room be downstairs, but I completely forgot in the effort to remember everything else. I finally met Dee, the Edinburgh part of the collaboration who had originally liked the artwork online, who came to front of house to meet me then assigned me two very helpful sticker-uppers. We hit the walls, dodging passing dungeon furniture. As I hadn't had the chance to come in and check the sufaces I'd had to guess the best tape to use, and it turned out not to be strong enough, so throughout the night angels plummeted to the floor. Next time I have unpainted walls that can't be nailed, I will use car licence plate tape.
I didn't recall just how hilly the ground floor is, or that although officially on the same floor, the downstairs bar and anteroom are actually down three stone steps. So my plan of trundling in and out of the dungeon/ playroom to see the shows on the main stage were somewhat scuppered in advance. I could have got down there and there was plenty of help, but it wasn't something to be done when the crowds gathered. I found the best parking place was on the slope past the bar, and it certainly was a slope, with several trundles down to the stage for cabaret and then back up the now seemingly steeper slope to park up again. The performers and fashion models had to hobble down past me from the dressing rooms to the main stage room so I didn't miss much. They may have looked like goddesses but were all very approachable, and after the show were up for a blether and a boogie.
So, what was Torture Garden like when transported to the provinces? http://www.torturegarden.com/events/ It is hard to do an unbiased review when still covered in glitter, but I'd say it was a huge success. It wasn't at all like TG London apart from the very familiar wall banners, fantastic selection of music, and House of Harlot rubber gorgeousness, but it was a great addition to the Eburgh club scene for about 600 rather sexily-dressed creatures. Its usually the second event when everyone knows what sort of things are being worn, where to go, what to expect, how daring they can risk being and really relaxes, so I have a feeling that next time round will be wilder.
Aesthetics: Scarlet TG banners on old stone walls, vaulted ceilings, candlelight and flag floors - it looked the part. There had been huge wardrobe anxiety on the grapevine prior to this event as London dress code is strict, tall slinky models abound, and of course the chance to attend such a big fetish party doesn't happen often in Scotland so no-one wanted to miss the opportunity to make the most of it. TG were very efficient and helpful with communications, answering queries within the hour in some cases, and the Caves management told us all about the venue, but it was almost impossible to get other information in time so we had to wing it.
Venue: http://www.thecavesedinburgh.com/ I have to confess that when I arrived I thought it was a mistake to have no seating in the main hall as it looked empty and unfriendly, making folk sit in other areas. I also wasn't sure about flicking between music and performance throughout the night. But I'm delighted to say I was wrong - the performances got people into the area, and they were only too happy to dance when the music got going. That space filled and stayed filled but not static, a steady stream of movement throughout the venue all night ensuring new faces kept appearing out of the blue. I'm sure half of those were smokers nipping out into the street for a fag and cool air, but it kept the crowd swirling and schmoozing.
Assistance-wise, there was the offer of a carry up the stairs from the staff, helpful folk on duty everywhere including the lovely front-desk goths. There was no shortage of pushers, including the Londoners who helped enormously, and folk got out of the way with a smile when I moved around. The loos were accessible, and although I knew I was missing the action upstairs and in the anteroom, most of the action was in the main room. I wasn't the only person with 'mobility difficulties' but some of the others had it from wearing four inch platform eight inch stilletoes on uneven old stone flag floors. Having to hold folk upright, or indeed having them suddenly land in your lap, is a good way to meet people. Also, not being able to reach the bar means folk have to buy me drinks.
Perks: Scots in general take a while to warm up to dancing mode but then you can't stop them. The TG music was fab, but needed to be a smidgeon lower in volume for that venue. I like to feel the thump of beats but I'm still shoogling my internal organs back into place three days later. There is a different emphasis and pecking order of music, meeting, fashion and play at every event and of course for each individual attendee, but Scottish partygoers seem more likely to play than pose so the dungeon has the support to be four times the size (they had the furniture, just nowhere to put it!) though it would need all three DMs on duty at the same time not just one. Given those proclivities, my wielding a crop failed to clear a path, it just ensured that more buttocks were shoved towards me in optimism.
Performers: Fab, but, right, how do I address this tactfully. TG is not usually a burlesque club. Not unless the burlesquers are wearing rubber, dangling from skyhooks, and waving floggers. That is TG. These burlesque performers were among the best, very talented, a couple were downright hilarious, and as someone who can't get into the Voodoo Rooms to see the burlesque shows, I was very pleased to see them in the Caves having missed them for so long. I thoroughly enjoyed the ones I saw downstairs. However, it was TG and I was hoping to see real TG shock and scandal. I could design costumes that would meet the mark, go on, try me. Let me loose with tePOOKa aerial acrobats, metal spikes, a few hundred yards of rubber, a bottle of fake blood and I'll give you Scottish TG performers. Actually, I'd really like to do costumes and props for the burlesque lot as well, they have some pretty good moves and 'tude...
The underrated star: Des O Connnor (the young pervy one not the other one) I had no idea he was going to be the compere, so was delighted at the belated discovery. He should have performed more songs, they are perfect for this crowd, but we just had little tastes here and there, in between ostrich feathers. They were rather good feathers though.
There is still a trail of glitter through the hotel to my room.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Opening this weekend, the new exhibition at the Talbot Rice Gallery, Old College, Edinburgh: An Entangled Bank
Darwin & Edinburgh
24 October – 12 December 2009
Christine Borland / Kenny Hunter / Ilana Halperin / Brian Hewitt / Ben Rivers
To celebrate the Darwin anniversaries in 2009 Talbot Rice Gallery will present two important exhibitions. In the Georgian Gallery, we explore Darwin’s time in Edinburgh and his enduring influence on the world as we know it today, while the companion exhibition will showcase five contemporary art projects inspired by Darwinian thought.
An Entangled Bank will show a series of diverse but interrelated works by five invited artists and will be accompanied by an extensive education and events programme. All the artists have significant national and international reputations and work in complex and various media including film, photography, digital projection, sculpture and installation.
The resulting exhibition will present a rich visual spectacle where research and methodologies will be displayed alongside finished work.
The Talbot Rice Gallery is accessible from either side, then up in the lift to the main floors. Last time I was there, there was no ramp to go up the few steps into the back room (not part of the gallery showing the new exhibition, but it was where the table of free wine was laid out that night so yanno, it was pretty vital) I will check this time and get back to you.
From the Evening News: City housing leader, Councillor Paul Edie, said: "For the first time in a generation the council plans to build new council homes and this marks a major shift in strategy that will boost the future of social housing in Edinburgh for the 21st century. Sunday's demolition will kick-start a programme of council-led investment worth up to £150 million aiming to build 1,300 homes across the Capital."
Unfortunately there is no official viewing area and interested onlookers are requested to stay at home and watch it online. I'm sure if you know the area you will have a good vantage place in mind and can be trusted to stay there rather than run through the barricades to do the larger-scale equivalent of returning to check on a lit firework. If you can't be trusted to stay on the safer side of the fence, the Darwin Awards await your details with interest.
To view the demolition online visit www.edinburgh.gov.uk.
SUNDAY IS DEMOLITION DAY
6.30am Road closures begin, affecting Lasswade Road, Gracemount Drive and other smaller roads, running until 3pm.
• Parking restrictions will also be in place until 3pm or 4pm. Residents of the exclusion zone can leave their cars parked in their normal location if they are not in an area of restricted parking, but are warned that the demolition will generate a lot of dust.
• The number 31 bus will be diverted via Liberton Brae, Howdenhall Road and Captain's Road from the start of service until Lasswade Road re-opens.
8.30am Residents to begin leaving the exclusion zone.
10.30am All residents to be outside the exclusion zone.
Around 11.30am A warning siren and shot will sound, followed by demolition.
12.30pm Safety inspection and clean-up begin.
2pm Residents can return to their homes.
3pm Roads reopened and parking restrictions removed.
• The timetable may vary due to operational or health and safety reasons. For more information call the City of Edinburgh Council on 0131 200 2000, or visit www.edinburghnp.org.uk.
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Tomorrow head down to the docks to catch HMCS Halifax (a 5,100-tonne destroyer) and HMCS Athabaskan in from Canada for the weekend. If the weather is as it was today you may still need a smidgeon of sunblock.
It's been a fine weekend for oggling seacraft here. The Queen Mary II, Cunard line's flagship liner couldn't berth, but moored nearby. Should you have failed to blag your way on board amid the celebrities but still have an urge to set to sea, here are some alternatives to stowing away:
Friday, 2 October 2009
Edinburgh College of Art Open Day
Friday 30th October
9am to 4pm
The tours, led by current students, will cover all areas of study – from fashion to glass-making, product design to landscape architecture – as well as introducing visitors to our student facilities, including the acclaimed Library based at the College’s new building on West Port, Evolution House, the Wee Red Bar which hosts live music and club nights, and the new printmaking facilities based in the Main Building.
Built 1907-1911 and designed by leading architects George Washington Browne (1853 - 1939) and James More Dick Peddie (1853 - 1921), the original Edinburgh College of Art building (one of four buildings in the College campus) includes the dramatic internal Sculpture Court which was designed to house the 200 year-old Cast Collection of Antique, Renaissance and medieval statues, bas reliefs and architectural casts.
In these stunning surroundings, guests to the Open Day can visit information stands to find out more about Accommodation, Finances & Studying Abroad; Career opportunities; Portfolio Preparation and details of applications through UCAS. Visitors will also be able to talk face to face with staff about the course programmes, which include Architecture; Design - Animation, Fashion, Film & TV, Glass, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interior Design, Jewellery & Silversmithing, Performance Costume, Photography, Product Design, Textiles; Drawing and Painting and Intermedia Art; Landscape Architecture; Sculpture and the Centre for Continuing Studies (part-time study options).
register to attend email@example.com
The motion will take place at Parliament on December 3rd:
Short Title: Barred Campaign Goes Nationwide
Date of Lodging: 23 September 2009
S3M-04618 George Foulkes (Lothians) (Lab): That the Parliament
congratulates the Barred campaign, led by Mark Cooper, which seeks to improve the accessibility for disabled people of licensed premises across Edinburgh and now Scotland; recognises that the campaign has been adopted by Capability Scotland; looks forward to the campaign’s development and future successes, and believes that no one should be barred from accessing a pub or club or receive a poorer standard of service because of a perceived disability.
Meanwhile, published in the Herald:
by Mary Rodham
Five years on from changes to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), disabled people remain to be convinced it has led to improvements, according to new research.
The legislation required physical amendments to be made to property to improve access for those with a disability. However, new research by Capability Scotland, commissioned to mark the anniversary of those changes, has found that disabled people in Scotland are three times as likely as non-disabled people to report that there has been no improvement in physical access.
Responses from carers, disabled and non-disabled people to two surveys commissioned by Capability Scotland reveal that uneven pavements, a lack of drop-kerbs and a failure to provide ramped access to buildings are persistent problems.
Despite acknowledgement of some positive improvements in shops, workplaces and other buildings, carers were twice as likely as non-disabled people to state that things had remained the same.
The research also found that while only one-third of non-disabled people recognise the use of disabled parking bays by non-disabled people as a problem, half of disabled people and carers see this as a major issue.
Capability Scotland said the figures confirmed the importance of the Disabled Persons’ Parking Places (Scotland) Act, which came into force yesterday.
Alan Dickson, Capability Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Although access to the physical environment is improving for disabled people, these results show that there is still important work to be done.
“Capability is in a unique position to highlight these issues through our research into the views and opinions of both disabled and non-disabled people.
“Gathering this knowledge is a vital part of our work in supporting disabled people to achieve full equality and have choice and control in their lives.”
Capability Scotland contracted the research organisation TNS-BMRB to find out if any tangible improvements had been made to physical access, as part of a wider opinion survey across the country. There were more than 1000 responses from adults around Scotland, 20% of whom were disabled.
Peter Stirling is both a wheelchair user and a buildings expert, with a diploma in inclusive environmental access and design. He volunteers to audit access for Capability Scotland, and works as a professional disability consultant.
“The changes made to the DDA have certainly helped improve awareness of the need for physical accessibility, but progress is still very slow in actually achieving an improved physical environment,” he said.
“Organisations are trying to move in the right direction by making what they think are reasonable changes to buildings, but by doing so without consulting disabled people themselves they are merely changing the goalposts rather than making life any easier.
“People with different impairments have individual needs, so where a wheelchair user would need a ramp to get into a building, someone with a visual impairment might prefer steps so they have somewhere clear to find their footing. Therefore, by replacing or removing steps altogether in an attempt to help
one group of disabled people, an organisation may be actually making things harder for another.
“Many organisations are also simply making the basic adjustments required to meet the minimum British Standard, but this does not take into account any external factors and should be used as a very simple base to build on. Wherever possible, organisations should be going that extra mile to make buildings as accessible as possible.”
Mark Cooper, an Edinburgh disability-rights campaigner, says he has also been frustrated by ill-thought-through access provision. He launched his Barred!
campaign after visiting a pub in Edinburgh which had disabled access but no disabled toilet.
The campaign seeks to have existing licensed premises audited for accessibility, and also wants a statement of compliance with the DDA to be part of the process for new applicants for drinks licenses.
Cooper said: “Barred! highlights that, five years on, there is still a significant need to reinforce the DDA legislation and educate people in what makes a building fully accessible.
“Many pubs think they are accessible because they have made efforts to put in a disabled toilet or an accessible entrance – though, as my experience shows, sometimes not both together.
“Where a disabled toilet is put in, other access issues may be overlooked, such as not leaving enough turning space for a wheelchair or having steps down to the toilet itself.
“Perceptions of accessibility are very different from a disabled and non-disabled person’s point of view. I understand that it is not possible to make all buildings fully accessible, but that is why we are campaigning to highlight which ones truly are.”