Friday 30 September 2016

Melvyn Bragg Edinburgh book festival 2016: Now is the Time

Melvyn Bragg gave a highly informed and entertaining talk at Edinburgh book festival 2016, when he occasionally digressed from his historical tale of intrigue, romance, betrayal, injustice and ignorance. Bragg has written a timely book and we might draw parallels to today.

He spoke of the background to the story and of how much control religion had in those days (I wondered is this the control that Murdoch’s media outlets and others have today) and that people were scared to disobey the church. Since 1066 French was spoken, but English came back and the Bible was translated into English – there were writers such as Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales written in Latin, French and English. God spoke Latin apparently and the Bible was not to be touched.

The Great Plague of London killed 47.3% in one year and they thought the plague was a punishment from God. The Black Death of the 1340s reduced numbers for labour – wages were fixed and there was feudalism.

Bragg told the story of the Peasants Revolt in England in 1348. This was not a ‘peasant’ rebellion at all  He said and it has been air brushed out and totally ignored mostly. This was the biggest mass rebellion ever in England and it is never talked about. There was a three to four months build up and the rebellion lasted over two weeks in London.

The Hundred Years war in France was not going well for the English and the taxes needed for the war were  far too high. The people could not afford to pay the high taxes and refused to pay. This spread to Essex and to Kent.

 **The Main Players in this story were –
The Preacher John Ball;
The Queen Joan, Princess of Wales, known as the Virgin of Kent was most beautiful. She had five children and became rich from the Crusades. Later she married the renowned warrior the Black Prince.
Wat Tyler - The people voted for him to lead the rebellion. He had fought in France and was a skilled artisan;
The Young King Richard; People believed the king was sacred and spoke with God.

The rebels took the enormous Rochester castle, Canterbury, Suffolk and then London. The young king met them at Greenwich and promised to give them freedom to fish and to reduce the taxes.

Born changed the game though - he said that the state must be changed and give away its wealth. The Queen sent a ring worn by the Black Prince to King Richard to spur him to take back control. Richard was no warrior and he liked music. (power does not like to give up power). Tyler trusted the King and rode to discuss with him – and they assassinated him.

He also said that Insurgence happens when it ready and that today technology has to catch up with our imaginations.
“Book festivals are anti-dumbing down”and where "audiences go to be informed and widen their knowledge.”

Stuart Cosgrove at Edinburgh book festival 2016: Young Soul Rebels

Gave an impassioned talk at EIBF of his fond reminiscences of Northern Soul of his youth. He spoke of those exuberant nights that reenergised the young people of northern England – and continue to do so today. He was asked about his favourite soul tracks.  He read passages from his new book, which tells of these experiences and spoke movingly about loosing his dad at a very young age. Cosgrove is from Perth Scotland.

Stuart Cosgrove is a Scottish journalist and broadcaster. He served on the NME and The Face1980s, before joining Channel 4 in 1994, serving as Controller of Arts and Entertainment and currently as Head of Programs (Nations and Regions). Cosgrove graduated in Drama and English from Hull and has studied at Harvard. He has a Ph.D. in Media (the thesis published as part of the book Theatres of the Left, 1880-1935) and a Doctorate in English and American Studies. He has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts by Dundee and honorary professorships by Stirling and Liverpool universities. In Scotland, Cosgrove is probably best known as the co-host of BBC Scotland’s radio program popular comedy football phone-in Off the Ball

Emeli Sande returns September 2016!

 Emeli returns with her second album Long Live the Angels.  Her 2012 album Our Version of Events brought her great success as the top selling UK artist 2012. She went on to perform at both the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. She won two Brit Awards 2013, British Female Artist and Album of the Year.

Emeli Sande Royal Albert hall
 In December 2007 I went to see Emeli Sande play her debut gig at the Oran Mor for the launch of her first ep. Back then she had big dark hair and was known as Adele. She had a top band backing her and we thought she had an impressive voice. Little did we know she would go on to have such huge success. I took photos at this gig and her manager was in touch a few months later to ask for the use of images for her promotions. I met Emeli at her King Tuts gig in 2010 and took photos back stage there. Emeli was friendly and chatted about her music and her time at university. She was studying medicine at Glasgow university and she was travelling to London on her weekends to work on songwriting.

Adele Emeli Oran Mor 20017

 In 2012 she did gigs at the Old Fruitmarket and also Oran Mor in Glasgow.
I am sure it must mean a great deal to her to be back at the Oran Mor this Sunday for the first gig to promote her second album Long Live the Angels. I am excited to hear her new songs. My biggest thrill in 2012 was to take photos at her Albert hall gig London! I can only imagine how excited she was to sing there. It was one of those sunny clear November days. I waited in the back stage room – I saw the photo of Frank Sinatra on the wall taken back stage, met Professor Green as he entered, and then we ascended the narrow stairs that took us straight to the front of the stage and the lights and sounds of the iconic venue were set behind us…..


 Adele Emily Sandé, better known as Emeli Sandé, is a British recording artist and songwriter. She first became known with the top 10 single the track Diamond Rings with the rapper Chipmunk (2009). In 2010, she featured on the top ten Never Be Your Woman by the rapper Wiley. Sande had two number-one singles UK with Read All about It with Professor Green and Beneath Your Beautiful, a collaboration with Labrinth. Her album Our Version of Events spent ten weeks at number one and became the best-selling album of 2012 in the UK, with over 1 million sales.

Saturday 17 September 2016

Black & White PHOTOS Edinburgh book festival 2016

Mark Beaumont
Sara Khan
Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Rowan Hisayo
Sarah Leipciger
Martin Cathcart Froden
Marathi Prasad
Joanne Harris

Thursday 15 September 2016

Is there A NEW Scottish Writers Museum

I saunter through the energy of the Fringe performers on the High Street. I walk along George street, on up the Mound and on down the high street.  I eat at  Bilbos on the corner of Chambers St.
I stopped in at the very small Scottish writers museum up a small winding stair in a hidden close at the top of the High street. There are exhibits to Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Walter Scott. Apart from a few Burns paintings and a display of the  Kilmarnock first Edition of his Poems - there is not a lot here.

I asked the lady there about a possible new museum. I said I had visited the Irish Writers museum which is housed in an impressive Georgian mansion and is 50 times bigger
There was talk of putting a decent size Scottish Writers museum beside the National library.

There are no modern authors or women writers or any of Scotland’s great philosophers of the enlightenment; Where is Robert Fergusson who wrote of Edinburgh and inspired Burns to write in Scots? Where is Adam Smith, David Hume, Allan Ramsay, Arthur Conan Doyle, Hugh MacDiarmid, James MacPherson or JM Barrie?

At an Irish concert at Celtic Connections I mentioned to an Irish lady beside me about the interesting Irish Writers Museum – she said perhaps there weren’t enough good Scottish writers!  I hope one day she might be proved wrong and we might have as Scottish Writers Museum that truly reflects not only this great city of Literature and  also the MANY great Scottish writers and artists.

In 1786 Scotland’s greatest poet – and one of the world’s greatest poets – made his way on a borrowed pony across the lowlands from Ayr and on into Edinburgh. At the time they were building the Georgian new town. He came in order to try to get the second edition of his poems published. He went to find the grave of the poet Robert Fergusson, who also wrote in both Scots and English. He stayed in a close near the castle and met many of the great and good of the capital – it was all a New World for him.

And where is any Edinburgh statue to Burns?
There is no a statue to Robert Burns, one of the greatest poets and songssmiths who ever lived in the centre of Edinburgh. I learnt recently there is a statue to Burns at the bottom of Leith walk, I used to pass every day only way to secondary school in Newhaven, near the Forth river. It really is a shocking state of affairs which makes me think Burns (while he tried) wasn’t considered unionist enough by the powers that be – not compared to the tall Gothic spire to Walter Scott in Princes street anyway. And A Mans a Man for A That as too egalitarian and feared by upper classes….. (votes for all was not until after WW1).

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Famous authors Edinburgh Book festival 2016

Alan Cumming
Jonathan Dimbleby
Steve Beaumont
John Doyne
Vince Cable
Joanne Harris
Paul Mason
Paul Morley
I look forward each August in August to the place for contemplations, introspection, literary collaborations, thought-provoking conversation, famous faces, - the imaginative landscape that represent creative liberty and literature at the book festival. The stories we will hear, famous faces, new books. All the characters – Philosophers, individual free thinkers, dreamers, creative, artists, academics,
Some of the famous writers who gave talks this year at EIBF 2016.

Historical and cultural author Melvyn Bragg talked of  - that it is not language but our being able to ‘Imagine’ that makes us better – mostly IMAGINE BETTER.  The Book Festival is truly international with over 800 participants from 55 different countries coming together to share their books, ideas and stories.

Sunday 11 September 2016

Alan Cumming Sang 'Sappy Songs' at the Hub

The Seductive charmer!

Cumming has come out the other side – and used the tragedies as his strength.
 The Edinburgh Hub venue was set for a Late night Cabaret show with soft lights and drinks tables encircling the stage. The consummate performer, his first dramatic song Somewhere Only We know and Annie Lennox’s Why, set the tone for an evening of high drama with strong passions and a voice of character, sincerity and depth. His story ranged from deep tragedy to comedy relief, good humour and the fun of being on stage.

His song choices expressed the rich variety of his life, from showbiz nights with Liza Minnelli to his drama school days in Glasgow.  Some songs were from our most famous, inspired divas, others were from artistic and less well known men!

 He sang Miley Cyrus song The Climb, Adele’s Someone Like You, Goodnight Saigon, Mother Glasgow and other musical numbers. Also Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know, Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory, Kate Perry’s Firework. He said they were actually all one song!  He was well accompanied by a 3-piece band, with cello, piano and drums.

He sang Michael Marra’s song, Mother Glasgow, before which he explained Scottish words to his diverse audience. He also sang a French and a German song

Interspersed with his songs, were tales of his show biz life – of growing up in Aberfeldy, of Glasgow and his rocky family life.
He spoke of his maternal grandfather Tommy Darling, who had been a war hero, suffered PTSD disorder and died tragically in  the Caribbean, where he had a street named after him. He told fondly of these memories and said he felt he owed a great deal to his mother and to her father.

In 2015 he wrote a moving autobiography entitled, Not My Father’s Son, and tonight the pain of his bullying father was expressed with torn emotions in the Billy Joel song, Dinner at Eight.
Cumming spoke of how he began performing in Musselburgh. Thirty two years ago he played Victor and Barry show at the Fringe when he was a drama student ;Of The Café Royal NY and the Cabaret Show Broadway and of Studio 54 in1998.

He sang with drama, passions, full on emotion and sincerity, even Scottish shyness at times, with his neon sign CLUB CUMMING flashing behind him. Each song told its own vivid story. Liza told him to think of ‘every song as a play', and to have both show business and authenticity' - no mean feat. When he performed 8 shows a week he started Club Cumming in his dressing room and that is where we were tonight at those after show parties.

So where was the song for his mother? In the last song about all those special ladies and also all through the set perhaps? He spoke and sang of the importance of how we all connect – his tattoo says ONLY CONNECT, from the book Howards End. He sang for all the broken souls. 
Cumming at Edinburgh book festival