Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Ghosts of the Christmas Market

For many years the citizens of Edinburgh had enjoyed a Christmas Market on the plaza outside the art galleries. People gathered in the winter dusk to browse the stalls, drink mulled wine and enjoy the Christmas lights.

However, trouble has been brewing.

The evil moneymakers from XS Xmas want to expand the market. Without seeking planning permission, they have erected scaffolding across the whole of East Princes Street Gardens, covering the lawns and removing the memorial benches. Many citizens of Edinburgh are shocked, but the evil moneymakers rub their grubby hands with glee as the cash strapped city council cave in to their demands and give them retrospective planning permission.

'Of course you can bury our beautiful gardens in cheap market stalls all selling identical products and overpriced food and drink' say the council officials.

But underneath the gardens, something stirs.

Many years ago, where these gardens now stand, there was a stretch of water known as the Nor-Loch. Criminals lurked on its shores, broken-hearted damsels threw themselves into its dark waters and innocent women were branded witches and drowned in its stinking depths.

Their ghosts have long haunted the gardens biding their time.

As XS Xmas and local dignitaries take to the podium to officially open XS Xmas Edinburgh, the scaffolding begins to shake. At first people applaud, thinking this is a special effect of the type XS Xmas are known for. But the shaking continues, a thunderstorm unleashes a deluge, unearthly screams are heard from the ground and the crowds flee.

As the scaffolding gives way and the Christmas market disappears in smoke, the broken hearted damsels, the wrongly accused herbalists and those who had been pushed into crime by poverty mass onto the podium. Before the dignitaries realise what's going on, they have been driven into the rising waters of the stinking Nor Loch.

On Christmas Day, people are once again enjoying mulled wine in the traditional Christmas market area, looking across the gardens, now restored to their rightful glory. At night, eerie wails are heard, that sound strangely like 'we only wanted to make lots of money!'

Inspired by true events

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Last chance to vote for your favourite Scots word!

The Scottish Book Trust are asking people to vote for their favourite Scots word!

You can see the shortlist and vote here!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Through the shadowy gate

late summer shadows on the entrance to Saughton Park, in Edinburgh, which recently reopened after a period of refurbishment. You can read my blog post about the recent opening event held in the park here on Crafty Green Poet and also see more recent photos of the park on my Crafty Green Poet blog here and here.

For Shadow Shot Sunday.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Marching for the EU and drinking Turkish Apple Tea

Drinking Turkish Apple Tea on the shady verandah of Cafe Truva in Edinburgh's Royal Mile after the anti-Brexit, pro-EU march.

  (We also had slices of the delicious Cafe Truva orange chocolate cake).

You can read more about the pro-EU march on my Crafty Green Poet blog here

for Shadow Shot Sunday.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Architecture in Shadow

It's a beautiful sunny day today, offering some great shadows on the buildings in the centre of Edinburgh

For Shadow Shot Sunday.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Treacle - film review

Treacle is a new short bisexual drama from award winning director and actor April Kelley

Friends Belle (April Kelley) and Jess (Ariana Anderson) go on a trip together to help Jess get over a difficult break up. The two get drunk together and end up sleeping together. The next day they struggle to recapture their easy friendship. 

Bisexual Belle feels that Jess (who is straight) only got together with her as an experiment, thinking that as a bixesual woman she (Belle) would be up for experimentation. Would Jess have behaved the same way with a lesbian or with a man? Or would getting drunk so soon after a break up have meant she would have had sex with anyone who happened to be nearby? Jess can't or won't answer any of these questions.

Beautifully shot and acted, the film leaves the viewer wondering whether the two women can repair their friendship and supports the 'notion that bisexuality isn’t just a phase or an experiment nor is the ‘B’ there to just help the acronym roll off the tongue'.

This film premiered at BFI Flare: London LGBTQI+ Film Festival and had its US premiere at Frameline43: The San Francisco International LGBTQI Film Festival. The film will screen at the Underwire Film Festival (the UK's only film festival celebrating female film making) on Thursday 19 September as part of the Best Friends shorts screening.

Disclaimer: I saw a free online preview of this film in return for a review.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


I sit locked out,
my nose pressed against glass
only I know about.

You sense my distance
but cannot understand
the why of it.

The space I cannot cross.

I watch you dance
with strange disjointed steps
to music I cannot hear.

A ritual to which I can never belong.

You laugh to see me sit alone
as it I made a foolish choice
I am too proud to own.

But I cannot join
this thing that makes no sense
this thing that for me is so unreal.

I must dance to a lonelier beat.

Originally published in Spume magazine.and first published on this blog in January 2007.

I'm delighted that I have a 50 word story up now on the 50 word story website. You can read it here (and if you like it, click on the like button too!).

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tell it to the Bees - film review

Set in a small Scottish town in the nineteen fifties, Tell It To The Bees is the story of Charlie (Gregor Selkirk) whose father, returned from the war a changed man, walks out on his marriage. Charlie's mother Lydia (Holliday Grainger) works all the hours she can in a mill to try to keep a roof over their heads.

Jean (Anna Paquin) has returned to the village to take over her dead father's medical practice. She treats Charlie after he is hurt by bullies at his school and introduces him to her bees. She encourages him to tell his secrets to the bees and he starts keeping a nature diary based on his observations of the hives. 

Charlie's friendship with the doctor leads to his mother becoming friends with Jean too. When Lydia is threatened with eviction, Jean offers her a job as her live in housekeeper. The two women find themselves drawn into an intense friendship which develops into a sexual relationship. But gossip travels quickly in a small town and lesbian relationships weren't considered normal in the 1950s so the new household that the three are creating together is threatened right from the beginning. 

The bees are present throughout, as confidants to Charlie and playing an important role in the plot at one point too. 

It's in many ways an excellent film, the main characters and their relationships are believable (though Paquin's Scottish accent slightly less so) and the story sheds a light on the repressive attitudes of a 1950s small town community.

This is based on the novel by Fiona Shaw, though the ending has been changed (If you've seen the film, you may like this excellent article by Shaw about what she thinks of the ending).

Tell it to the Bees is screening at the Filmhouse until Thursday 25 July. 

Cross posted to my Crafty Green Poet blog here.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

New Testimonials: The Bi-Ble Volume 2 (essays on bisexuality)

 bible vol 2_3D cover.png
New Testimonials: The Bi-Ble Volume 2 is a stand alone follow up to The Bi-ble Anthology of Personal Narratives and Essays about Bisexuality (which I reviewed here). It contains a range of new essays on various aspects of the bisexual experience, from writers from across the UK and overseas.

These essays and personal stories about bisexuality come from a variety of viewpoints and covering topics including bi-erasure, race and sexuality, disability, and popular culture (including Flash Gordon, St Vincent and Janelle Monae). There's nothing however about goths and bisexuality (and nor was there in the first volume), which seems like an area that could be explored in an essay.

The pieces are well written and interesting, sometimes amusing and often moving. Some are very much personal narratives and some are definitely essays, some of them quite academic in style (but always accessible to the general reader) Whether you're bisexual, questioning, or just curious, this collection will open you to new perspectives. There isn't a lot of bisexual literature out there and the two volumes of the Bi-Ble help to fill that gap.

The Bi-Ble volumes 1 and 2 are available to buy together or separately from Monstrous Regiment, a great new feminist independent press based in Edinburgh. You can visit their online shop here.

New Testimonials will be launched at an event in Edinburgh on Friday 19 July, find out more and book your place here

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Two SF films at Edinburgh International Film Festival

Edinburgh International Film Festival ends tonight and here are my two final reviews. 

The Vast of Night

The debut from director Andrew Patterson, The Vast of Night, framed as an episode of The Twighlight Zone, is set over the course of a single night a small town in late 1950s New Mexico. Most residents of the town are at a basketball game, except for radio presenter Everett (Jake Horowitz) and switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick), who hear mysterious sounds disrupting their lines and broadcasts. This leads to an investigation involving a veteran who phones into the radio station to recount his experiences and an elderly lady who shares snippets of a language she has heard that seems connected to the other strange sounds.

It's a beautifully made film which feels to very realistically evoke the era. It's a very low key drama, with the story developing slowly and there being little disagreement between Fay and Everett despite what must be trying events. A burgeoning romance between the two is very slightly hinted at but doesn't develop at all, avoiding the obvious sub-plot (though possibly decreasing the amount of engagement for some viewers?). 

Definitely worth watching, it should get at least a restricted release in the UK in the next few months.

 Time Crimes

Going back in time (in more ways than one) Time Crimes is a 2007 Spanish film featuring Hector a middle aged man who finds himself caught in a time loop and tries to keep going back to correct what went wrong last time he travelled back in time. It's one of those films that messes with your brain, specially if you think about it too much. 

One of the great things about the Edinburgh International Film Festival is that it includes well curated retrospective strands that include films like this, that might otherwise be forgotten. 

Disclaimer: I received free press tickets for the public screenings of these two films. 

 You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?

Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.

Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.
Chef Diaries Scotland: Spanish Chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland

 Up the Mountain - a year in an artists' studio in the Chinese mountains.

The Amber Light - a cinematic ode to Scotland's national drink

Aren't You Happy (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a writer searches for the meaning of life while not actually writibg anything

The Deer - a Basque language film following two poachers in a national park on the outskirts of San Sebastien.

Hurt by Paradise - a poet keeps searching for a publisher and an actor keeps trying to get a role

Photograph (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a street photographer in Mumbai invents a fiancee for himself....

Endzeit - an ecofeminist road movie with zombies. 

Vai and Venezia - 2 films from sinking worlds. 

Hamada - (on my Shapeshiting Green blog) life for young refugees of the Sahwari people in the Sahara. 

 Volcano - a photpgrapher gets lost in Ukraine

Black Forest - a dysfunctional family holiday in the German forest  

Carmilla - a gothic tale.