Wednesday, 28 January 2009
A Scot in London is not a member of the above illustrious establishment so I had the choice between a few tartan ceilidh, some extremely overpriced Burns suppers or a concert called Burns Eclectica. The latter is part of a series at the Barbican called Eclectica and seems to have the remit of ‘whatever we haven’t really thought of putting together before’ ranging from Jazz to opera singers singing blues songs.
Last week the organisers had asked Ayrshire composer James McMillan to curate an event. He invited Shetlander Chris Smout and Dundonian Catriona Mckay (although for some reason he insisted on calling her Catrona) to play on the fiddle and harp respectively and then afterwards he had Salsa Celtica.
I had seen Salsa Celtica before at the Fruitmarket in Glasgow and at the time I was stunned. The combination of pipes, banjos, timbales, fiddle playing and son left me thrilled and delighted, although I took it as a sign of my increasing age that it was the first time I had been to a concert where the only drugs anyone was on were actually prescribed by a doctor.
I have a general aversion to folk music, my first phrases in schoolgirl French were J’aime la music pop et la musique classique mais j n’aime pas la musique folklorique. I have images of bearded men in Arran jumpers singing about the massacre of Glencoe or red haired ladies with kilts down to their ankles strumming on harps in some 1970s time warp.
I was fully prepared for the above experience from Chris and Catriona as the last time I had seen Salsa Celtica I had endured their support band stoically as some boy band from Uist with a median age of 70 whistled and wailed their way through one of the longest hours in living memory. I was extremely pleasantly surprised. Catriona arrived in a short dress knee high boots and a sequin jacket – no tartan to be seen, and proceeded to get sounds out of a harp that I didn’t know were possible. It was at various times a guitar, a banjo, a drum and seemed to be on many occasion at least two instruments. Chris, dressed all in black, played the fiddle without recourse to the stereotypical droning so beloved of 70s folkies. They both looked as if they were doing their favourite thing in the whole world and that their only hope was to infect the audience with some of their genuine pleasure. From the sounds of the applause and the nodding of heads they succeeded. I now have full faith in the demise of the Arran jumper and the floor length kilt.
Salsa Celtica were as enjoyable as I expected, but I don’t think they will be saying the same about us. The venue had no bar during the show or at the interval, the floor just below the stage was covered with tables and chairs. The Venezuelan lead singer explained that they were used to no chairs and people dancing and drinking. Having an occasionally rather shell shocked audience who appeared to have been expecting Jean Redpath and My Love is like a Red Red Rose applaud very loudly and happily but not move any which way was a real disappointment to them.
The evening started with the Edinburgh conga player telling us the songs they were about to play were from Burn’s little known tour of South America (well he was planning to go and work as an overseer in Jamaica before his poetry was published). To the complete incomprehension of a large section of the audience he went on to say that it didn’t matter as we would have a good time and as Burns was mostly steaming anyway, he would have approved of the event.Salsa Celtica were playing a sold out gig at the Fruitmarket on Saturday 24th with a well stocked bar and no seats. I am sure Burns would have approved far more.
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
While I still officially have one of the most boring jobs in the world I have just been banned from using earphones at work. I think that three of us have been told this and it is my fault as I got caught watching the inauguration yesterday by my boss who is the type of person likely to ask ‘who’s inauguration and why is this such a big deal?’
Not allowing your staff to listen to music or the radio or have earphones during work might, at first glance, appear to be a good thing. However I, for example, am now looking very industrious typing away on a Word file which is in fact this blogpost. Had I been left alone I would be listening to a radio 4 programme on child trafficking in
Rather than actually dealing with these speadsheets I have now googled (is anyone elses life becoming so virtual that it isn’t very different from the Matrix?) How to Deal With Boredom At Work.
According to careerknow-how.com if boredom is left unattended (ie if I don’t get my earphones back) it can get so intense and last so long that it will leads to burnout which is a costly and potentially dangerous threat to my life and my career, To cut to the chase I will end up a depressed alcoholic selling the Big Issue on your street.
However professional speaker Michelle Yozzo Drake at michelleydrake.com (the time that woman must have spent thinking up her URL) on her blog tells us to face the facts that some jobs are just dead boring and we need to look on balance at the benefits and see if it is worth the boredom. For example they may offer you health insurance so that when you do become a depressed alcoholic you can go to the Priory instead of an NHS psychiatric ward. You may be the only person you know in your social circle who isn’t facing redundancy, that is a positive. On the other hand you may be bored, burnt out and facing redundancy- the good thing about that is you will be so busy saving in case you get made redundant that you won’t be able to become an alcoholic, just depressed but you can still get Prozac on the NHS.