Sunday, January 29, 2012

Zumba this morning. Now, zumba is a variable class. According to the official website:

"Zumba combines Latin and International music with a fun and effective workout system. With classes and instructors worldwide, anyone can Join the Party!"

Now the second line is the key to the thing. "With classes and instructors worldwide". Clearly whoever and wherever Mr And Mrs Zumba are, like most of these silly branded fitness classes, they give the thing some sort of official badge, fan the flames a little and then let it rampage around the place, picking up all sorts of bad habits along the way.

So in my short-lived relationship with zumba - a relationship born out of laziness, I might add, rather than desire. If someone stands in front of me and barks orders for an hour, I'm much more likely to stir my limbs into action - has seen my beloved Body Balance teacher put us through our paces in a clinical aerobic fashion, a Polish girl who taught zumba meets street dance (loved her), a wild whirling dervish of a girl who compounded the frenetic effect with the special zumba trousers adorned with all sorts of lashing tapes that whip and spin throughout the class for added theatre, an inoffensive nimble little girl who beamed throughout the classes and was possibly Spanish and my all-time favourite, the theatrical one, of whom I initially despaired but now secretly hanker for. Or at least, hanker for her Charlestons (so not zumba) and her hat collection.

I haven't been to a class of this kind for an age. I keep being away at weekends or at least, more gainfully occupied. And Christmas got in the way and so forth. So I trudged back today, excuse-less and heavy-hearted.

The inoffensive nimble girl rolled into the class approx 10 minutes late and spent another 5 footering around not really doing anything much before she finally began the capering and jumping. I capered and jumped with brooding resentment to her frantic tropical music, promising myself that I would not oh no I would not come back next week for this silly hybrid exercise.

A few capering and jumping tracks in, the nimble girl looks at us (she's been zumba-ing until now with her back to us which they sometimes do. She didn't used to do this but that's ok. It means - perversely - I can try and match her feet more easily as they're pointing in the same direction as mine. And she says "you like my new music, yes?" We nod dutifully though I hadn't given it any thought beyond the brooding.

We caper and dance on.

Few more tracks and she says "I brought this back from Brazil." (It dawns on me that she's just back from a couple of months off. I think I remember her parting class. Suddenly - Latin American holiday plans afoot - I'm alert and interested.) "It's playing everywhere right now. 24/7. It's been translated into many different languages. Spanish. The English version is just out there, right now. But this is the Portuguese original."

And guess what, suddenly, I'm loving this music. Loving this dancing.
So superficial.

The nimble girl has spun round so she has her back to us again. She dances (she's very lithe, beautifully tanned, wearing a kind of lycra strippy top, a lot of skin exposed) and her torso ripples like velvet. Suddenly I'm thinking that I too could look like this (yes, I know) if I dance well and hard. I jump about with more vigour.

Now nimble girl has her eyes shut and sings along with fervent dedication to every one of the words of the (Brazilian) songs.

And I'm inventing a whole tragic romantic backstory for her. Lost love, family tragedy, ripping asunder, all sorts.

A gap between tracks. "You want to see how they dance in Brazil" she cries. "None of this silly formal" she seizes a lycra-clad slightly startled looking woman with a straight body and waltzes with her delicately. "No no! It's like this!" she presses the straight woman to her, planting the poor woman's arms all over her bare flesh, lays her cheek against straight woman's and gyrates around the room. Twenty women in various states of sagging jersey look on, vaguely appalled but flickeringly jealous.

She resumes the class. The romantic tragic story is embellished with scintillating steamy gyrations and red lipstick in steamy seething nightclubs.

The class winds (wriggles) to a close. I, by now, am heartbroken for the girl who's had to leave her love, her ageing mother, 84 children and the beloved family dog behind in the favelas of Rio. Small talk as we gather our things and I offer to the lady next to me: "What must that poor girl feel like? Imagine having to come back from Brazil to Portobello. Portobello!"

The woman stares back unsympathetic. "Yes, I think she had a family break out there." (My backstory starts to wither.) "What I'm more annoyed about is that she didn't do the full hour. I mean I'm not even paying the full price as I'm retired but imagine if you'd done that, if you'd paid six pounds and then you only got 45 minutes. You'd be really annoyed."

Back to earth with a bump.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Oh for god's sake. May I just log here once and for all that I hate blogger??

We're trying to whip up a bit of publicity around Ross' show, Six Degrees of Separation, by looking at his cast's connection to the original film / show cast.

It's the sort of thing that's anathema to me as I know so few of The Famous. But luckily, his lot are well-informed and well-connected so they're turning in six degree connections by the bucketload.

Cari / Kitty posted (days ago but I never look at facebook) her connection to the 'original' Kitty. She's separated by an impressive four degrees.

I curse blogger because I tried to paste her narrative in here but blogger doesn't embrace pasting to my eternal chagrin.

The notable (oh so casual) introduction to the four degrees is this beautifully nonchalant:

Cari massaged Mel Gibson.

A story waiting to be told there, my lady.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oh, btw, if you have a burning and urgent desire to see this book for yourselves, there are several options.

Mr Fisher has a blog here.

Oh my god, look at that.

(I clearly haven't really inspected this site yet.)

It has a facebook page here.

And you can buy it here.

But beware about buying it. You might read something terribly spiteful about yourself.

Although I did tell him not to use my real name. You'll find me always referenced as Pashmina Lady of Leith. Just to protect my secrets, you understand.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Way back when, if you can cast your mind so far, we did a show on a boat.

Feverish with enthusiasm - full of that pallid fervour perhaps peculiar to directors - myself and my favourite Ross trotted along to the Traverse festival launch event. Drank deeply and threw ourselves honourably at people we hoped might be useful.

Suffering from a ridiculous case of hero worship for a fellow called Mark Fisher who writes for The Guardian, I somehow took it upon myself to think that I might go and talk to him.

He was very patient and listened politely as I babbled about this and that show that we'd done. And oh don't you know, you should come and see this show that we're doing on a boat in Leith in the festival. The Tempest, don't you know. Oh how brave and bold and imaginative we are. And so the self-congratulation (slurrily) rolled on. Poor Mark Fisher.

I rued my shameless exhibitionism a little less when he emailed me weeks after the show on the boat had sunk not quite without trace and asked if he could interview me for a book he was writing about putting on shows in the Fringe.

Hmm, let's think about this. Ok.

So we met, one lunch time, I frisky with excitement but trying to appear cavalier. "Do you mind if I record it?" said he, "it'll save me taking so many notes". Oh how we laughed that this was my day job spiel too. Oh how I tossed my hair and simpered and tried to look worldly wise and plump with sense. And oh how I tried to tread a careful political line between what I wanted to say and what I ought to say, given that heaven forfend, it might end up in print.

And then he wends his way away, back to the world of reviewing for a national newspaper. And I wend my way back to my day job and mooning over half-empty squash bottles in kitchen cupboards that reminded me of the show on the boat that hadn't quite sunk without trace.

Fast forward eighteen months and it's now. The publication date is imminent. In fact, Mr Fisher now has a printed copy of the book in his very own hands.

And you know how it is. You're assuming you're cannon fodder. The initial tokenistic research, soon discarded for much sexier stories from people that - you know - people have heard of. I didn't really - in my wildest of dreams - expect to form any composite element of this aforementioned book.

So imagine how I fizzled with delight at this:

(On twitter, for B S Neill's benefit.)

Man oh man.

You know, even if no mention at all ever even in the index or footnotes of this admirable tome is made of me, I feel absurdly happy that my name made it into the same tweet as a Fringe reference, a link to a book and a journalist.

Who'd've thought?

Monday, January 23, 2012

You'll be pleased to know that my local phone repair shop has sold the saxophone.

Or else given up on the range diversification idea.

At any rate, model, Santa suit and sax have all disappeared from the neon window.

What next, we wonder?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This was a delightfully lovely film. The Artist.

At least, I'm pretty sure it was.

I had a few little sleeps as it silently wound its way to its close.

I didn't even mean to.

Whereas I slept quite deliberately in Sherlock Holmes again at the weekend.

But last night, I tried my very hardest to stay awake.

To no avail.

I have no idea how much I missed unfortunately.

Possibly quite a bit.

But the bits that I saw were really lovely.

So don't let this dark truth call into question my otherwise honourable and honest recommendation.

Because it was delicious.

And I wouldn't want you to miss it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Now, I'm no campaigner.


There's apparently a government consultation underway to understand the things that influence national wellbeing.

And it suggests that various factors have a part to play but makes no reference to the lifeblood of this humble blog - "the arts".

Well, I think we need to take that in hand. Deadline for the consultation is 23 Jan.

Get busy. Here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Stantons did their last concert for a little while last night.

Bad Girl wasn't there.

I hated missing it. I love seeing them play. Irrespective of the fact that I'm lucky enough to consider core components of the band as my very good friends, I love their music. And their performances are always cracking fun.

But torn and conflicted, last night also saw the tenth birthday celebration of The Child. And I've been attending these celebrations since they began.

This year's commenced with Sherlock Holmes whatever this one is called at the cinema (yes, yes, I know I've seen it but that wasn't at all the point), was followed up briskly with Frankie and Benny's with the assembled (mostly young) company and then a "sleepover" punctuated with the first Sherlock Holmes and Mean Girls.

I'd firstly fantasised that the cinema might be it so I'd still be able to attend the gig. I then briefly fantasised about sneaking out of the house to attend the gig at an appropriate juncture. But The Child was clearly wise to my lurking sneakery.

She stayed up defiant til 12:45am.

So Stantons, I'm sorry. I hated to miss your (temporary) farewell gig. Please hurry and record your album so I can enjoy your art whensoever I please.

And Child, (as DKPW would say) Respect.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Itchy itchy feet.

I scanned my festival show script this morning.

So when people flood to request it, I'm (illegally) ready.

I think we'll be reading it sometime in Feb so feel free to come listen.

And in the meantime, request away.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - the Hollywood remake, for shame - is a beautifully elegant potboiler.

I admit I was sceptical. Daniel Craig alone - for shame - would have lured me along. But then DG said boldly that he preferred it to the Swedish original and I wondered whether I might want to see it more than I'd originally thought.

It's a rollicking story, neatly squished into two and one half hours. It's very nicely cast. They almost didn't succumb to the temptation to make Blomkvist and Salander beautiful. The pace is nice. Neither too whistle-stop nor too ponderous: it just breathes nicely. The story is - well, I love the story so I'm biased.

But the triumph to my superficial mind is the cinematography. The film must be treated like anything because it's mostly grey-hued but they have odd little snatches of colour here and there to make a point.

My favourite shot of all was absolutely mundane. The innards of Salander's fridge. Which are a lovely shorthand for how little she looks after herself.

Fridge door opens and you get the full inside shelf. I can't even remember what's in there - the point is not much. I think something yellow-y. But then in the midst of all this monochrome, you have a huddle of cans of coke. Vivid red. Gorgeous.

So most well done to the art director. And a bit of a pat on the back for the rest of them too. And go see it. It's fun.

(Oh. But beware though. Whilst I liked it, I don't think B S Neill would like it at all. As with the infamous Trollhunter episode over Christmas, he may possibly think it terribly silly. So don't rush to see it on my account.)
I'm looking for pictures at work. (Yes, my life is hard.) And I found this. Useless for the work purpose but o how pretty.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

There's a "computer and mobile repair shop" on my local high street. You know the sort. The window is too full of stuff to even begin seeing any of it. Neon signage, phone covers, bits of computers and more (needless) gadgets than you can shake a stick at.

In this midst of this array of finery stands proudly posed, for reasons that were never clear, a life-size shop dummy of a man. Seasonally apposite (though now surely inviting endless bad luck for the computer and mobile repair shop), he is dressed in a Santa suit. For less clear reasons (remember the shop's purpose), the dummy clasps within his hands a saxophone. Attached to the resounding end of the instrument is a neon orange cardboard starburst: "only £95!"

The shop owner clearly knows something of his customer's wants and wishes that a less imaginative soul could surely never have predicted.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

I found myself rather carelessly not even agreeing but worse still, volunteering spontaneously without any even small degree of pressure being applied to be the general manager (i.e. producer for normal people) for our April show.

Look forward to the wheedling emails coming your way any day now.

Monday, January 02, 2012

A most happiest of New Years to all my abundant, artistic, absurdly talented and appropriately attentive readers.

May I wish you all the very best of fortunes for 2012.
Edinburgh does do Hogmanay really rather well.

New Year's Day this year served up The New Year Games that beautifully capitalised on one of the things that Scotland does well (gaming) and married it up with a very healthy dose of interactivity (at the kind of low level dose that even a slightly shabby feeling hopelessly impracticalfool such as I could cope with) in some of Edinburgh's finest locations.

We made it to two of The Games. Throw Things at FOUND in the Hub. And The Labyrinth at St Giles' Cathedral.

Throwing things at FOUND involved packs of us being admitted to the balcony in the (beautiful) main hall at The Hub, folding paper aeroplanes like the wind (though sadly none of mine were) and hurling them at a couple of electric guitars and a fancy looking box suspended mid-air part way across the hall. If an aeroplane made it to their proximity, this triggered a portion of music. It emerged after a time that if we, the pack, threw and struck these items simultaneously, all three pieces of music would be activated and we, the pack, got a point.

(All players had to choose a team. Aligning your cause with those of the Uppies or the Doonies. I chose to be an Uppie as I aspire to be their mascot: a silver eagle described as a "high flying adventurer with a taste for surprise". And you then endeavoured to amass tokens for your team.)

Now this throwing game would have been more fun for me myself if any of my aeroplanes had made it anywhere near the appropriate items. More usually, they spiralled up sharply and then dived like a diving birdy thing to the ground on an approximately vertical axis. My skillfully folded aerodynamism clearly wasn't interested in horizontal passage.

But it was kind of thrilling when someone did strike the mark and the music struck up. And it obviously encouraged collective endeavour which must form the foundation of our Big Society. David would be proud. And they gave me a pity token as I left the Gaming Area even though I'd done approximately nothing but waste trees to help us on our teamly way.

But the second game - the labyrinth - was a selfish one and for my token's worth, all the more fun for it.

In the incense-wafted heart of St Giles, they'd created a maze. In the heart of the maze paced a beautifully costumed minotaur. Players were fed into the maze at certain entry points, charged with making it across to the far side of the maze without being 'caught' by the minotaur. If he saw you move, you were dead.

If you fancied a further challenge, the minotaur was adorned with ribbons. If you snaffled a ribbon from his prowling body as you ventured past his lair - and if, still better, the ribbon was in your team colour - tokens for you.

My goodness me, it was thrilling. I crept, I froze, I boldly didn't even meet the minotaur's eye as he trickily stared into my face - he would not catch even a tremor of a pupil, I vowed - I reached, I snatched, I rushed. And a prize silvery ribbon was mine. Huzzah!

I tried to take action shots to capture the moment but they were so shaky (shaking hands the morning after - moi?) that I shan't share them with you. (I also tried taking all sorts of artistic shots of the church that at the time, appeared very thoughtful. After the event, they appear equally shaky. The one half respectable remnant is above.) But two proud tokens became mine. I loved that game.

We deposited our tokens in giant bins in the Grassmarket, alongside a stage from which further team games were being organised alongside giant jengas, connect fours, a hook a duck stall, a hammer bashing show how strong you are stand and periodic musical performers. The samba band were in full tippy tap flow as we passed by.

We missed the judging ceremony and prize giving - steak pie called. But next year, if it happens, I shall be better organised.

The day was beautifully rounded off with all sorts of waltzes, charmingly delivered by the SCO and their bouncy and adorable conductor, Nicholas McGegan. A Night in Old Vienna.

It was so charming that I mostly stayed awake. I trust this is a good omen for 2012.