Monday, March 2, 2015

Dirty Gaelic, the Black House and crap telly


After a winter hiatus indulging in the above while also allowing myself to become bewitched by the ironic Tartan Noir that is Kezia Dugdale's online presence, I've finally found time to praise and to bury.

First up is Outlander. I had read all about this expensively made thriller - a Scottish Game of Thrones apparently - and the notable inclusion of Scottish/ Gaelic in its script. I usually prefer Nordic Noir to mystical American stuff like GoT but the Scottish angle hooked me. It seems that even though it was filmed here and has received a fair amount of attention, it wasn't to be released this side of the Atlantic or the North Sea - both American and German audiences have so far been eagerly lapping it up. A spot of proletarian browsing online came up with the goods though.

What a disappointment. As the credits rolled, I spotted the name of the writer - Diana Gabaldon and various doomladen bells rang in my heid. Having run it past die Frau, I learn that her translated novels of horny Scottish clansmen and willing ladies are hugely fucking popular. It's basically Mills and Boon in the heather with groins moving to a port-a-beul. Minus the midges in the pubes and ticks on your scrote.

Outlander - rach air muin?

It's pretty shit to be honest but the gist of it is this - a posh English lady and her typically effete and stiff lipped husband find themselves in a post-war Inverness where pagan rituals are still commonplace. The lass goes to stone circle and the tursachan quickly spirit her away to the same spot but 200 years distant and in the midst of a skirmish between hairy Highlanders and Redcoat villains. The Gaelic Jacobites are portrayed as they probably were - hairy, smelly and plaid-wearing. All except one who is inexplicably clean-shaven - even his 18th century torso is hairless - and handsome. Nuff said.

Though tax-dodging pirates Amazon have announced it's release online, I am not inclined to watch the remaining episodes - one dose of romantic slush is enough though Outlander is not without its attributes. The excellent Bill Paterson is in the cast somewhere down the line and... there is some attempt at authenticity by having the Highlanders speak Gaelic, at least some of the time. To be fair, the Gaelic spoken is not bad though it is a tad wooden and forced coming from the mouths of non-Gaelic speaking actors. Some bits threw me - trobhad (come here) was pronounced as 'trew-ad' and not trow-ad for example but that's a minor gurn. Especially when everything else was so, so bad...


Unlike the Black House by Peter May. I always thought the Western Isles would make the perfect place for some Tartan/ Nordic Noir. So did Peter May, who has now produced a trilogy. This is the clachan a' choin. It's got gore, sex, authenticity (May knows the Isle of Lewis and her culture very well indeed), the Gaelic, the culture - warts and all, dour Presbyterianism and intrigue.

This is what BBC Scotland/ BBC Alba should be producing and exporting to the world...

...instead of cac like Bannan. Like Outlander, the PR lie-machine was busy grinding out comparisons to whet the appetite. This one was 'Gaelic's answer to the Killing'. It's like comparing Thomas the Tank Engine to  Steven Seagal's Under Siege 2 simply because of the locomotive angle. Except Bannan doesn't have any killing in it - only a jealous boyfriend lamping his love-rival. The only other crime to speak of is an underage quad bike rider escaping from the cops over the machair. Seriously.

No Nordic Noir here...
Nordic Noir - not the Skye Bridge

The Killing was dark - in all senses. Loads of night scenes, always raining, the vile excesses of human nature on display and no simple solutions to complex, multi-faceted issues. Bannan on the other hand was just a tourist advert - stunning scenery, no rain (in Skye??!!) and a transparent plot with too many lightweight characters. At best, this was a mid-evening soap opera filmed in a wild location. Strangely, it was given a slot after the 9pm watershed - perhaps it was thought that the one illicit kiss between the main character and her ex-boyfriend would cause a spike in teenage pregnancies amongst young Gaels?

Sadly, Bannan has been given a second series. Could BBC Alba's budget not go on something a bit more gritty?

To be frank, lift your dogshit.
If you want 'salty' language in the tongue of the Gael then one could do worse than purchase 'The Naughty Little Book of Gaelic'. Unfortunately, it is a slim volume but I hope it's one that will be added to in future editions. Indeed, an online 'Urban Dictionary' of everyday filthy Gaelic would be excellent.

Some delicious dirt I encountered included:
 Buinneach o'n teine ort - May you suffer diarrhea from the fire
Tòn air eigh dhut - may your arse hit the ice

Some good ones from the nether regions:
Pit air iteig! - Flying vagina!
Bod ort! - A penis on you!

The language also covers terminology for decadent or frowned-upon habits such as drinking and smoking. Responsible drinking is very much a new-fangled idea... from 'The Four Drams of the Morning' we have -
sgailc-nid - a nest-dram (sgailc = a slap or thump)
friochd-uillin - a nip of the elbow, taken while beginning to arise...

There is a healthy section on genitalia in which such gems are to be found:
bodach beag a' bhàta - little old man of the ship, i.e. the clitoris, stupid!
cirean-coillich - the rooster's comb, vagina
dos - the bagpipe drone, penis

For a French kiss, go to Sgalpaigh, Harris - pòg Sgalpach

The brevity of the volume may be down to the sources, most of whom seem to be of the academic nature. Perhaps, someone should fund an indepth study that travels the Highlands and Islands to interview fishermen, crofters, bar-workers, labourers, hotel workers and the like?

While not claiming to be an authority on the matter, I would, off the top of my head, add my tuppenceworth...
cuir corrag nad thòin is leig fead - put a finger in your arse and whistle
goc(an) - (little) tap, penis
rachamama - motherfucker
ith bod - blowjob

Someone pass a volume to the producers of Bannan please.



Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Winterval from Scottish Labour


If the real life Tony Blair Xmas card wasn't bad enough - they seem to be impersonating some of the cast of Hellraiser - Scottish (or was it London?) Labour have decided the way to tackle the SNP in Scotland and to win back the working class pro-independence vote is to move to the right. Labour's answer to Johann Lamont's leadership-suicide note accusing the London Labour machine of dictating to Scotland is to... parachute in a right-wing Blairite who doesn't yet have a seat in Holyrood.

The fact that he was the only candidate for the job who form cohesive sentences doesn't say much for the wealth of talent in Scottish Labour. The 'left wing' choice Neil Findlay is relatively more traditional Labour but in a shambling interview on BBC Scotland radio, he didn't seem to know his arse from his elbow.

Murphy though has had his fingers in many dirty pies over the years and more than likely has a cupboard full of skeletons waiting to appear. He's rumoured to be a millionaire which leads one to ask, how can someone spend nine years at university - at our expense - before leaving without graduating to 'forge' a career in the Labour Party machine and come out 20 years later as a millionaire? I wonder if his expenses claims have helped a little?

Did Murphy know?

More importantly though, as a Blair loyalist and supporter of the illegal Iraq war, just what did holy-willie Jim Murphy know about the CIA torture of prisoners? Where did he stand on the rendition flights that used Prestwick as a stepping stone?

We look forward to those bones being revealed.

These are interesting though...

Jim Murphy, Torture Apologist

Jim Murphy – the wrong answer to the wrong question

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Grandmaster Flash knew.



(Pipeline) pure as the driven snow
(Connected to my mind) and now I'm havin' fun, baby!
(High fry) it's getting kinda low
(Cause it makes you feel so nice) I need some one-on-one, baby!
(Don't let it blow your mind away) Baby!
(And go into your little hideaway 'cause white lines blow away)
(Blow)

Let's face it, if most of us turned up at work in this state, we get our asses handed to us. George Osborne is different though. Remember too that 55% of Scots voted to retain this guy as our overlord. His shaking hands are 'managing' our economy.

I like it how some have euphemistically referred to Osborne's 'hangover'. A hangover from what? Anally-ingested horse tranquiliser with a whisky chaser? Or has he been down Leith chasing some legal highs? A night with 'Higella' Lawson perhaps - daughter of a former chancellor herself and aficionado of controlled substances?

I'm sure Dode Osborne is old to remember the fine Grandmaster Flash of Sugar Hill. Though maybe the Sugar Hill sounds were banned from Eton. Who knows.

Here's a trip - ho-ho! - down memory lane. Listen and learn George.


A billion magic crystals, painted pure and white
A multi-million dollars almost overnight
Twice as sweet as sugar, twice as pretty as salt
And if you get hooked, baby, it's nobody else's fault, so don't do it!


A street kid gets arrested, gonna do some time
He got out three years from now just to commit more crime
A businessman is caught with 24 kilos
He's out on bail and out of jail
And that's the way it goes
Raah!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Back in the DDR


The former East Germany is a Cool Place. It's so cool that even the 'Wessies' are discovering the attributes of the their former Eastern Bloc countryfolk. In the 25 years since the 'wall' came down in Berlin, it's amazing that it's taken so long for those in the rest of Germany to realise that the DDR wasn't just state surveillance and repression of those who disagreed.

In recent years, 'capitalist' Germany has come to accept ideas such as a right to free childcare as normal when only a few years ago they were ridiculed as 'communist'.

In the east, the people have their 'freedom' - i.e. they can travel wherever they want. The right to work and a decent wage though is another thing. In some towns of the east, a take home wage can be as little as 500 Euros a month. Mind the right to free at access healthcare? That's communist too.

Little wonder that more people seem to be turning to Die Linke - the Left - for a political solution not to mention reviving formerly discredited 'communist' ideas that had quickly been dumped after reunification. Die Linke apparently includes many members of the former East German Socialists much to the horror of some on the centre-right.

I like this example from the Guardian's take on things regarding education:

 ...when poor results in OECD school rankings led to call for reforms of Germany’s education system at the turn of the millennium, a delegation was sent to Helsinki to study Finland’s top-ranking system. The Finns told them that they, in turn, had taken their inspiration from East Germany.
Frau Tocasaid's mother testifies to this. When East Germany was annexed re-united with the West - and the EU - everything that the DDR regime had built was swept aside to make way for the 'superior' ideas, methods and institutions of the West. Little by little over the past 25 years people have come to realise the error of that thinking.

Die Famillie Tocasaid was fortunate to set off to the eastern state of Saxony to re-unite the bairns with their German grandparents a few weeks back. The nearest airport is Pratha.

Having made this journey many times over the years, I still take a morbid interest in the flat and grey environment that seems to make up much of the Czech Republic. Greater Prague itself is horrible - like Glasgow's infamous 'grim hinterlands' times ten.

Sexy cabaret
The Czechs too have grasped their 'freedom'. It seems to manifest itself in out-of-control and garish roadside advertising. Fuck, it's everywhere.

Another manifestation of Czech freedom seems to be the market for 'erotic dancing' and establishments that offer that kind of adult entertainment. Their names amuse me on the long drive north: 'Sexy Club', 'Extasy Cabaret' and 'Darling Cabaret' which always amuses me as it reminds me of our very ane and sexless Alastair. The clubs and enthusiastic attempt at English obviously aimed at those Yankee and Brit pioneers of freiheit who come to live and play in Prague but who can't or won't learn the Slavic tongue. The Czech language indeed, seems to be held in even less esteem than our own Scottish. At least Scottish Gaelic, as it is presented in our cultural output and television - see the dire Bannan - is deemed worthy to present to those Engerlish speakers who stumble by and wish to look in.

The drive north towards Germany takes you past the hulking grey behemoth that is Cerny Most. This is not the socialist past at its best. A sprawling grey expanse of municipal housing erected in honour of Edinburgh's St James Centre and Leith's Banana Flats. The CM scheme is also home to a large retail park which includes the Republik's branch of IKEA. The Czech or Prague government obviously sees retail as a shining path to a better future and has rewarded the Czech slum dwellers with a rainbow coloured neon sign that welcomes drivers to CM and diverts the eye from the glum surroundings.


Not far from the German border is the city of Liberec - or Reichenberg as it was to the Germans before 1945. Close to Liberec is the Jested mountain on the top of which stands a huge pointed tower. This part of the socialist past seems welcomed by Czechs after a hard-day's skiing even though the monument is obviously the world's biggest middle-finger to Western civilisation.

The visit to the former-DDR is as pleasant as ever but is enhanced by the visit of Dutch punks Bambix to the Emil autonomous centre in Zittau. We head to the Emil and take in the punk rock, ludicrously cheap but excellent beer and salad-leaden vegan burgers. First up in Inner Conflict from Koln. Tuneful hardcore with female vocals - entertaining with good riffs and quality tunes. The guitarist requests than some folk in the crowd stop smoking as the singer is pregnant - it seems as if the anti-smoking laws in Germany have some wiggle room.

Emil, Zittau

Next up is Johnnie Rook from Berlin, who I have heard of courtesy of a split EP with Bambix. They kick more ass than Inner Conflict do. Not only that but the singer is pregnant with twins. This lot are great - bags of energy and a charismatic singer who owns the stage. Like a high-octane AC/DC playing hardcore punk.

Bambix do not disappoint. A Dutch band, speaking German and singing in English. The singer is a tunesmith and the first non-pregnant female-singer of the night. I resolve to see this lot back in Scotland if the chance comes along.

Back in town the next day, local municipal buildings are presenting exhibitions on the 25th anniversary of re-unification. As much of the east has died in the past quarter century, here's hoping that a move to the left can see the old towns and cities rejuvenated. There's a lot of the socialist past that's worth reclaiming.


Peace. Likes.


Can't we remember without the hypocrisy of glorifying our martial present?

Here's a wee tune by a working-class guy from Peebles called Eric Bogle.




And I can't help but wonder oh Willy McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause
Did you really believe that this war would end wars
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing and dying it was all done in vain
Oh Willy McBride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again

Friday, October 24, 2014

Banned from the Mòd


Well, not banned. But Na Seudan Ura were given a stern dressing down for daring to put a dreaded 'modern' slant on their Gaelic folk music. Apparently one of the 'judges' for the 'Royal' National Mod managed to remove his or her head from their nether region just long enough to look down their nose at the group of teenagers and chastise them for their 'lounge jazz'.

It does nothing to dispel views of Scottish/ Gaelic speakers as old-fashioned and dour Presbyterians of the 'no sex as it might lead to dancing' mould.

It also does little to present Gaelic as a living modern tongue.

An Comann Gaidhealach, who have organised the National Mod for more than a century, have presided over the death of the language over much of the Scottish mainland. In 1892 when the first Mod was held, Gaelic was still spoken by local families and communities in places such as Caithness, East Sutherland, Easter Ross, Inverness-shire, Strathspey, Perthshire, Stirlingshire, Arran, the Angus glens and on Lomondside. Despite the pomp and pageantry and despite the Royal patronage, An Comann Gaidhealach did little or nothing to make a stand for Gaelic and to protect it in those communities. Comparisons with similar societies in other small nations are like chalk and cheese.

Cultural and political can be merged but not if you're too feart to offend the Royals and the lairds. Not if you're still doffing your cap and mustering a few words of gratitude to those, and their kind, who happily saw our glens emptied of people with the remaining men used as cannonfodder and any remnant 'native-speaking' children punished for that crime.

Sadly, in Scottish Gaelic culture, the world-views and words of long-dead poets and a vanished society hold more value than a vibrant and forward looking future.

Meanwhile, in the Basque Country, the local punks have a new CD out. The good news for An Comann Gaidhealach is that it isn't lounge-jazz. The bad news is....



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Let's do it. Vote Yes.




Watch and share. We know what a no-vote looks like, we're living it already. Some are doing fine but tens of thousands are mired in poverty. Can't we use our wealth more wisely?

Nach dèan sinn nas fheàrr na th'againn ceartair? Bi misneachail agus thoir sùil air adhart. Saor Alba. Thoir air ais an cumhachd.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Its twins! Royal babies to take power!


We are privileged to reveal that the Royal Baby is not one but two! They are very premature but in a panic to avert Scotch independence, Princes David and Nigel will be installed on the Downing Street throne. Though young, Downing Street PR gurus with help from Gordon Brown, have advocated a 'back to basics' approach to the coronation. Brown is said to have alluded to the sorry tale of the Maid of Norway who became Queen of Scots at the age of seven.

The previous heir to the London throne, Prince Boris, is thought to be considering a reality TV show which he would co-host with the reputed anti-Semite, George Galloway.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Scotsman censors itself...

 

Was alerted to an amusing story of Johann Lamont's woes today in Govan. However, the link to the negative 'off the no-message' story in the Scotsman was... not there. Instead, would be voyeurs got this:


So, the Scotsman is now censoring its own stories?! Fortunately, some evil hackers swiftly organised by Alex Salmond himself on behalf of Yes Scotland's IT squadron were able to access an archived copy. Archived after 3 hours? Wonder why....? After all, it was billed as a 'top story'.




Whose ass is on the line for this one then - the author or the sub-editor? Even worse, they let slip that working-class Govan, home of The Rangers no less, is now an 'SNP heartland'. Expect a call from Darling sometime soon.
SCOTTISH Labour leader Johann Lamont got the wrong No vote today when she took to the SNP heartland -- and was met with closed doors.
The MSP for Glasgow Pollok made a ‘behind enemy lines’ visit to Govan, in deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon’s Govan constituency, to argue the pro-Union case with voters.
But despite an army of Labour supporters knocking doors, only three residents engaged in conversation with her - while several even came outside to return the leaflets pushed through their letter boxes.
The weak response from SNP voters got worse when a pensioner refused to even discuss with Lamont how she would be voting on the 18th.
But Lamont later insisted it had been a successful exercise and not a waste of her time.
She said: “I’m very positive about the response that we got. It’s reflected the response that we’ve got across the country in Labour areas.
“Labour people are committing to vote No whilst the SNP’s supporters are committing to vote No as well, because they recognise they can get the benefits of devolution.”
But she claimed she did not see the local residents only come outside to give back the Labour leaflets.
She said: “Well I didn’t see that.
“Everywhere you go you’re going to have some people who are not going to be happy to see you, but right across the country I’m getting a very warm response on the doors because people know that for us this is not about what our party is saying, it’s what’s in the best interest of the people of Scotland.”
The Scottish Labour leader also said she was not concerned about an increasing number of women Labour voters apparently moving towards independence.
She said: “It’s not what I’m finding on the doors. I think particularly women are recognising that actually you wouldn’t put your family’s future at risk.
“They’d be expected to deal with a £6 billion black hole from day one and we know that’s a real problem and women recognise that.”
Source here.
Headline image from this excellent blog.





Friday, August 29, 2014

Jim Murphy over eggs his pudding


Tocasaid is only too pleased to join the chorus of disapproval at the disgusting and mindless violence that befell Jim Murphy yesterday in a Fife town. We trust that Police Scotland are throwing all resources behind identifying the man that catapulted Murphy's sorry tour into the headlines.

It is indeed shocking that Murphy used a microphone to bellow over an old-age pensioner who challenged him on Gordon Brown's lies on the NHS.

It is indeed shocking that one of his Labour colleagues told a woman recovering from cancer to 'get a job'.

It is indeed shocking that in places, Labour councillors wearing their council name tags were wheeled out to provide an audience.

It is shocking that many think Murphy has engineered this stunt to take people's attention away from the paucity of his arguments and that after supporting the Iraq War and the Tories' Welfare Cap that people now think of him as a 'Red Tory'.

Delivery for Mr Murphy.