Friday, 24 August 2012

Shout Out

Today’s Festival Treasure-inspired sestude is about a spiky comb called a ‘heckle,’ used for teasing out the tough fibres before spinning and weaving the flax into cloth. This gave its name to the interruption and debate that occurred among the belligerent workers in the Dundee flaxworks when the daily news was read out by one of the workforce.  Now, I don’t tend to shout-out other blogs, sites or twitterati, but I think today is the right time.

Even outwith the manic month of August, Edinburgh boasts a vibrant spoken-word scene.  Poetry-readings, story-telling, mini-festivals and random literary gatherings occur unerringly throughout the year.  Well it’s no wonder: we are the first UNESCO City of Literature, home of the Scottish Book Trust, and the Scottish Poetry Library 

Last month, I performed one of my short stories at the Storytelling Centre and participated at Red Squirrel’s monthly ’10-Red’ event (here endeth anonymity) I could reel off a handful of other regular events, but the lovely @auntyemily has written perfectly adequately (and less waffly) on the subject:

At a recent poetry workshop, somebody asked if people ever heckle at poetry readings.  The general consensus was, no.  But yesterday, at an event that was part of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace Jackie Kay was, I think it’s fair to say, heckled by our own national poet, the Makar, Liz Lochhead, regarding her pronunciation of the word, “Quaich.”  Quick as a flash, she rhymed it with ‘quiche’ – which made me think she’d read the April entry of this blog  But no. Even so, I hope she reads this.

And if, with all these links, since I’m now onto the 17th sestude of the year, there is any confusion over what constitutes a ‘sestude;’ or if you are unclear about where I got the idea of completing 26 of them, here is the final shout-out:

Anyway, that’s quite enough interruption: here’s this week’s picture-and-poem…

An Epic, Homeric Hackle

Pretty Penelope sits with her heckle,
a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde.
Every day she teases her flax,
combs it and spins it,
winds it onto the loom.
By night she unravels her garment of gloom,
resigned to be left on the shelf,
returns to her former, single self
until somebody shouts,
‘Oi, you with the freckles:
get on with it!’

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Money, so they say

Over half-way through the Fringe, and I have not yet tired of wandering along the Royal Mile and having flyers thrust at me by not-unattractive drama-students shouting out, “Five-star reviews in the…” and there you can insert whatever crappy publication that employs hacks to review things about which they know little. Mostly. 

While I will happily blog, comment upon, give thoughts and feedback, and even my opinions, unless I am writing about something on which I have specific and relevant background knowledge I will not pretend to be a “critic.”  I would urge all people to analyse deeply what a “critic” is saying before choosing not to attend a performance.

But public opinion, even in these days of increasingly discredited journalism, is a real force.  Everyone who has the guts to put on a show during the Fringe, however mediocre or unpolished, deserves applause.  These up-and-coming-or-otherwise-hopefuls need stars, just as they need to learn to dismiss those who pan their efforts. 

If Art is the lie that helps us to understand the Truth, I’m not sure what journalism, steeped in mendacity, hypocrisy, half-baked facts and spurious agendas, stands for.

Morals? Hardly. Art? Nah. Money? Probably. If so, they can keep it.
I believe in Art.

Render unto Caesar.

Pontius Pilate has the best lines in the book:
‘What is Truth;’ ‘What I’ve written I have written;’
and something else about a mango. 
Keen on personal hygiene, he’s always washing his hands;
and – rare for a Roman – listens to his Missus
(though her sage advice he dismisses.)
So why such bad press for the Puppeted Politician?
A fickle thing, Public Opinion.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Busy Times

There’s too much going on at the moment, and not enough days in the week, hours in the day, minutes in the et cetera.  Some sort of Sports-Day thing in London, the Proms on the Radio, and here in Edinburgh: well, where do we start? 

This time last year, amid the Festival Frenzy, the refurbished National Museum of Scotland re-opened its Old Building after many years and was mobbed with visitors.  My only regret (and I feel bad for saying this) was that the Millennium Clock Tower was banished to a siding, like an old train, and now competes with a tacky golden cockroach.

So for the first of my Festival Sestudes, and to wish the National Museum a slightly-belated happy 1st Birthday, I will make a rare exception and venture out of the Scottish Building. Here, slightly perversely, is a before-and-after-time pair of pictures.

Such is Time

I cranked into action. Crowds
gathered as music began.
Two little children ran
like mischievous mice.
“Mum, you’ve got to see the clock:
it’s amazing!”
But time is fleet-footed, ephemeral.
I used to command an audience
the full length of the room –
even the fish stopped to look –
sometimes they’d applaud.
Now they’re gone, and I’ve been
exiled; shunted into dry dock.

Images Copyright M J Richardson. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence.