Thursday 31 July 2014

Are the Commonwealth Games Political?

I believe it is impossible to separate sport and politics. The Commonwealth games were initially called The British Empire Games.Even the flag waving is political.

At the Opening Ceremony for Glasgow 2014 there was controversy over the Red Arrows flying the red, white and blue colours of the Union jack amid the debate over the Scottish Referendum due in 2 months time in September. The organisers believed they would fly the Scottish flag of blue and white but in a last minute change the Red Arrows team were told no. It would have been a more generous gesture to allow the blue and white colours – after all the Red Arrows have flown the colours of many other flags.

The Queen attended the opening ceremony and we sang God Save the Queen at Celtic Park – quite a strange thing in itself.

Of course the Games are political.
With the Referendum hanging over the proceedings the crowd cheered the English athlete, perhaps surprising the international audience. 

Scotland's imperial past is evident in the names of some of the Jamaican athletes - and with Jennifer Stirling who carried in the baton to the Opening ceremony. 

The song Freedom Come All Ye by Hamish Henderson, which was sung at the Opening ceremony, was a fitting choice as the song speaks of winds of change and sweeping away exploitation and imperialism - and looks to an inclusive and co-operative future. The song is a product of the 60s Scottish folk revival. 

Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens at Ibrox

Ibrox proved a perfect stadium for the rugby with it’s intimate tiered seating bringing the rugby closer.
There was a great atmosphere here with the packed crowd with the load roar of the crowd and the chanting for U-gan-da and Barbados – Scotland always loves the underdog! 

Celtic Park meanwhile proved an ideal setting for the Opening ceremonies. Glasgow had taken the games to heart and the events have enjoyed packed and enthusiastic crowds.

Hampden (normally a football stadium also) has been ideal for the athletics offering ideal views and atmosphere.    
Another memory is all those volunteers who gave up their time to support the games in their red and grey outfits. 

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony

A Few Images Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony
Glasgow's golden summer begins!

An event for all on a perfect sunny July day there were many festivities at the Glasgow opening ceremony – headlined with Rod Stewart, Susan Boyle, Nicola Benedetti and more to welcome all the athletes to Glasgow’s games..

I caught this fun photo of a young Scot enjoying the occasion with his Scottish flag just outside Celtic park! All great fun!
Highlights for me were Nicola Benedetti, the Scottish pipers and the Scottish ballet dancing to the Proclaimers song ‘I Would Walk Ten Thousand Miles’ and more Scottish flavours with Julie Fowlis who sang a beautiful Gaelic song

The event ranged from twee musical to everyday busking and singing on Glasgow’s city streets. There was also nostalgic pageantry and historic symbolism from Scotland’s history and of Hamish Henderson's poetic words of equality for all with Freedom Come Ye All, along with a mention of Glasgow’s being the first city to offer Nelson Mandela the freedom of the city. Film director David Puttman mentioned that in 1835 the women of Glasgow marched against slavery. An event on this scale also made history and asked those attending to text to UNICEF which raised million as the lights lit up on phones. 

The ceremony included a few firsts – the first time having the countries enter the stadium by continents worked well and each country was led in by a wee Scottie dog with their short legs racing and this was a hit with everyone!   The Queen read out the Queen’s Baton’s message which had travelled through all the Commonwealth countries since last October with a message of  friendship and hope. 

The choices of symbolism and those taking part was all to ensure a carefully thought through quilted patchwork of Scotland's image, both present and past, to the wider world. 
Music is one of Scotland's biggest exports and the concert included contemporary music such as Calvin Harris and new band Chvrches. I might have wished to see Biffy Clyro or Dougie MacLean or the Proclaimers - perhaps they might rock the closing ceremony? Scotland's imperial past was made evident in the names of the Jamaican athletes - and with Jennifer Stirling who carried in the baton.  

The song Freedom Come All Ye was a fitting choice as the song speaks of winds of change and sweeping away exploitation and imperialism - and looks to an inclusive and co-operative future. The song is a product of the 60s Scottish folk revival.  

For me a downside was that at times each segment felt so fleeting and fast, if you were not paying enough attention you would have missed it - for the generation of the short attention span!  All in all quite an occasion though.

PLUS - 23rd July Opening Parties -  
PARTY Glasgow Green – Lulu, Rab Noakes, Eddi Reader,
Kelvingrove Bandstand – Belle & Sebastian.

ALSO 31st JULY, Glasgow Green – King Creoste, album From Scotland With Love released 21st Jluy. Film of the same name with live musical accompaniment, part of CULTURE 2014.

25th July - New Music Biennial with Lau and other composers – Royal Concert hall .

Glasgow's Miles Better

Glaswegians have had a big chip on their shoulders over many decades which hopefully today is in the past. Glasgow is the city that built the ships with its great shipbuilding yards. On the Clyde river there are now abandoned buildings and ghosts from the past.  They helped build an Empire and then as a reward had their industries closed and with no  investment in future businesses

In the 80s Glasgow Provost Kelly knew something had to change and taking from New York city's drive to rebuild the city with 'We Love New York', the slogan 'Glasgow's Miles Better' was introduced on a yellow Mr Happy background and was then followed by 'People Make Glasgow'
Glasgow saw the importance of investing in sport and culture in defining a nation.
This has helped to shape modern Glasgow which has regenerated and re packed itself successfully and the city believed it could successfully bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. 

I discovered a Glasgow rich in culture, character, music, and with outstanding venues and many small venues for new artists. In the 50s American sailors brought in their blues and rock records (just as they did to Liverpool) and resulted in Scottish sounds mixing with country and rock and roll. 
I have travelled many extraordinary journeys in Glasgow in the grey light over the Clyde river, by the university's imposing spires, the tall graceful elegance of Rennie Mackinotosh’s art school, the long shadows on Sauchiehall street and across the city's steep hills. 

I originally come from Edinburgh and have lived abroad many years in America and I now live north of Glasgow.  My children all attended Glasgow University. In my teens I used to travel over to Glasgow clubs and it often seemed a rather dark place. Now the buildings have been cleaned up and rejuvenated. It is a city of great heritage and surprises and you never know when a building of impressive architectural merit will appear as if from nowhere. 

I once covered a fashion event at the imposing Corinthian on Ingram Street along from the Italian shops, the charm of the Merchant city, the City halls and the Old Fruitmarket venues. If you look there are many hidden treasures on Glasgow's side streets. Both the Concert hall and the Theatre Royal have been under going recent building improvements. 

Glaswegians never take themselves too seriously though and there is a true creative freedom of expression here where nothing can possibly be too wacky or off centre!  It may once have been the city of fallen hopes but it seems today there is a rebirth of dreams and renewed confidence once again.     

 The city of fallen dreams

The city of fallen dreams
Of no tomorrows,
Of ancestors rich homes,
Cathedral spires
And the fast
Highway of speeding lights.

On the hilltop sits the proud university
Solid and tall
A small cloud on its rooftop.

Far off in the dull distance
High-rises of fallen flats
Boxes of lights.
I watch the clear slow grey of the Clyde river
As it winds slowly through
Momentarily its story shifting,
With every bend
Every look.

Beside me the modern, the new,
Tell of the future,
Fast, ever changing
And the old faces the new.

Thursday 10 July 2014

SAY Award

2014 -  Young Fathers - Tape 2
2013  -  RM Hubbert - Thirteen Lost and Found
2012 -  Aiden Moffat & Bill Wells - Everything's Getting older 

Scottish artists and musicians no longer need to travel and live in London, perhaps because the world wide web brings us all closer than ever before. 

This Scottish Album of the Year Award is for some of the top innovative new music in Scotland.
The style ranges from indie, hip-hop, rock, electronica and flamenco guitar.

Nominated Scottish Artists in 2014
Edwyn Collins – Understated (4AD)
Biffy Clyro – Opposites (14th Floor)
Chvrches - The Bones Of What you Believe (Virgin)
Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest (Warp)
Hector Bizerk - Nobody See Nothing (self released)
Mogwai - Les Revenant (Rock Action)
Steve Mason - Monkey Minds in the Dark (Double Six)
The Pastels - Slow Sonnets (Domino)
Young Fathers - Tape 2 (Auticon)