Monday, October 23, 2006

Museum, mountain, work

I've been a bit lazy about posting, but I've been getting out and about quite a bit in the last few days.

On Thursday, I finally managed to get to the refurbished Kelvingrove Art Gallery. It deserves a longer post, but basically, I'm relieved that they haven't broken it. I do have a few reservations about some of the thematic displays, but everybody's doing it like that now. Like many, I was delighted to find some of my much -loved objects from childhood. There's the Dali, of course. Then there's Fulton's Orrery (not moving, alas). And I recognised a lot of the arms and armour from a school project in about 1985. I even found the skeleton of the wonderfully named Baron of Buchlyvie, the champion Clydesdale horse from 1911. My favorite of all eluded me for a while, until I went to see the Italian art gallery, which now contains the fantastic Avant armour. This was first pointed out to me by an art teacher at school for its coldy functional, yet oddly beautiful lines, and fits nicely in an art gallery.

I spent a damp weekend in Torridon (is there any other type?) with a certain mountaineering club that I have been vaguely meaning to join for a year or so. Fun, but quite awkward when you don't know people. I did play a couple of games of pool in a pub for the first time in years.

And today was the first of my new job in Glasgow. It rained this morning too. I'd forgotten that Glaswegian paving slabs always seem to be so badly laid that they squirt jets of muddy water over your feet when you step on them. Mind you, I'd also forgotten the fine Victoriana of the centre of town, with its red sandstone chambers. The job seems fine, but what can you tell from one day?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Great wee bus

I'm beginning to like the MacEwan's no. 100 bus. It skirts the Pentlands on its way South, making it very useful for walking trips. It has friendly drivers who chat to the passengers. It is obscure, only anouncing its presence most discretely at the bottom of the signs at selected stops. This gives the whole experience an air of freemasonry.

I was more adventurous than before, taking the bus to Biggar, there to ascend Culter Fell. The back seat was occupied by four pensioners sucking on boiled sweets. The waft of Murray Mint and the clack of boiling upon denture reminded me strongly of elderly aunts who used to feed me such sugary Scottish treats when I was wee.

On the way back, when I stepped off on Morningside Road, somebody asked me if it was a special bus, or if anybody could get on.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Saw the Queen last night. The film by Steven Frears, that is. It's enormously enjoyable, with well-observed performances from Helen Mirren and others. I wonder what Michael Sheen will do when he stops looking like a young Tony Blair? But he seems well supplied with other parts.

My own experience of Diana's death was quite odd. I was on holiday in Poland. At breakfast, Mrs Slawinska tried to explain the situation to myself and two other Brits. There was the word "Paris", the word "Diana", then she crossed herself. We weren't sure what to make of this, but managed to get an English language paper later, which confirmed what had happened. I missed all the "show us you care" stories in the press and flew back the day before the funeral, getting to Ipswich quite late at night. I was thus rather unprepared for the frenzy that greeted me next morning as I searched, hungrily for breakfast. Everything was closed, and a group of people were watching a big screen in the middle of town. Sometime after midday, I got fed.

So I'm afraid I can't quite forgive her for leaving me hungry that morning. But go and see the film, because its great.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Eternal student

When buying some art materials earlier today, I was given a discount by the nice lady on the till, with no prompting of any kind. Maybe my unshaved appearance and denim jacket made me sufficiently studenty. Anyway, my opinion of Millers Graphics has gone up.

Doors Open Day

A belated post about Doors Open Day, that fine and very British institution. This is my third time in Edinburgh, and I don't think I've repeated myself yet.

Highlights included Riddle's Court, just off Lawnmarket, which for some reason I hadn't heard of. One painted ceiling from around 1590, reminds you once again that the past was often brightly coloured.

The Scottish Arts Club was ridiculously civilised, complete with pianist. I could have stayed for lunch, but settled for Greggs instead.

Later, I took a bus down to Leith and tracked down the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, in its pleasingly post-industrial setting. It won't quite be the same if they ever get round to putting up their new building. I enjoyed the pretentious self-descriptions of the various occupants of the studio. Fit for pseuds corner in most cases.