Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sophia's Eurovision Preview 2014...



Happy Eurovision Week!


*pits oan a funny hat, lets aff a party-popper an blaws a...* er, whit dae ye cry thae things ye blaw? Party-blawers? *shrugs, an blaws yin in yer face onyway...*

Ah'm aye gratified when we get tae this pairt o the year, Eurovision Week, cos tae me it means ye've survived anither winter, an ye've made it through tae the summer weather when ye can chuck open yer windaes, blaw yer cobwebs awa, an gie yer rugs a guid beatin...

*looks oot the windae at the low-slung damp greyness...*

Ach weel, ye cannae hae it guid every year, that wid jist spoil ye intae expectin guidness when, like aw things, the weather can be gey uneven at times. Ye cannae hae "Taps aff!" unless ye've had "Christ it's Baltic oot there!", nae dry withoot the soakin, nae calm withoot the wind knockin yer perm aw skellie...

An ye ken, *pits oan a I. M. Jolly face...* in a funny way, Eurovision can be the same sometimes. Ye cannae hae a Fairytale withoot a Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley, there's nae Jade Ewen withoot a Scooch, nae... get ma drift yet? Whit ah'm tryin tae say is that some Eurovisions are great, an some arenae... well this yins no yin o the greats, it's yin o the isnaes...

Mibbe that's cos there's nae stand oot winner, there's a couple vyin fer a lead, but nae sure-fire, unlike the past couple o years. It feels a wee bit like nae country's tryin really hard tae win - ah'm sure aw the artists individually are, but ah'm no sure winnin is whit maist o the participant backers are wantin. Mibbe it's cos, efter a couple o really contemporary winners everybody seems tae hae updated their styles an there are fewer comically parochial entries, tho yin or twa come close. Ah dinnae ken, mibbe it's jist me...

Anyhoo, oantae the previews an predictions. This year ah've pit aw ma mini-reviews up oan pearltrees. They're in three trees, Semi-Final 1, Semi-Final 2, an the Grand Final. (The Semi-Finals are in performance order but the Grand Final pre-entrants arenae)

In Semi-Final 1, ah'm hopin that Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Belgium, San Marino an Portugal get the bum's rush, maistly, tho no purely, fer musical reasons. Ah'm a bit worried aboot Russia an Portugal tho... an if they scrape through ah'll only be really upset if it's at the expense o Sweden or Netherlands really, an ah think they should baith be safe enough...

In Semi-Final 2 ah'm hopin that Israel, Lithuania, Belarus, Macedonia an Slovenia get their mairchin orders. Sadly tho, ah imagine that Belarus will get through an Georgia willnae. Ma favourites here are probably Greece an Romania, tho tae be honest, ah'm no gaunnae be too fired-up oan Thursday... ah hope Conchita Wurst's frock cheers me up...

Strangely, ah think the best entries are awready through tae the Grand Final this year. France, Spain an the UK can be pleased wi their efforts this year, though Germany really need tae go hae a wee word wi thersels...

Oot o aw 38 entries then, here's me pittin ma neck oan the line... In nae particular order...

CLUNKERS - the yins that sound like stanes bein rubbed th'gither...

Lithuania - This wis obviously written by a committee, it's got awsorts o noises shoved in an battered aboot, which is how ah felt efter listenin tae it. Ah wis like aw "Make it stop! Make it stop!"...

Portugal - Aw Naw, aw naw hen! This is jist like aw the worstness o Eurovision crammed intae 3 minutes. Portugal hae been hopin tae win this thing fer centuries noo, an yet they keep pittin in a Portuguese entry! Ye'd think they'd learn... Weel, ah'll no be Wah-wah-wayin we ye come Tuesday, an ah sincerely hope ye'll no be Wah-wah-wayin wi us come Saturday!

San Marino - Wid somebody tell Valentina Monetta tae go an get a proper job, an stop abusin her faither, who obviously owns the San Marino telly...

Belgium - No. No. No...

Germany - Ah really don't know whit's possessed the Germans this year... ah could join this bunch oan stage an make fartin noises fae ma oxters an it widnae sound oot o place... really, ah ask ye...

DARK HORSES - Me bein awfy perceptive an predictive, or me hedgin ma bets..?

Austria - Ah didnae rate the bearded lady tae begin wi, ah thocht aw here we go again, as a Eurovision phenomenon it awready feels sooo last year, so whit she's got a beard? it's the flamin 21st century! an aw that manufactured outrage feels even mair tired than the 'bearded lady at a circus' gig dis! Tae tell the truth, ah didnae rate her that much that ah didnae even notice the song creepin up oan me, much like ye'd expect James Bond tae in fact. It's a sinister song that's perfect fer a lady wi a beard in a bath fu o rose petals that ah imagine'll turn up in a big frock, somethin tae dae wi flames... she'd better!

Belgium - Europe, jist dinnae. please, dinnae...

Armenia - Ah suppose ah should stick this here, seein as ah dinnae rate it an it's the bookie's favourite... search me why...

CLINKERS - the yins that sound like gold coins bein rubbed th'gither...

Sweden - Painful an raw, ah love a sair song, an this yin's stood up tae a guid amount o rubbin an pokin ower the past few weeks. If Sanna can haud her nerve at the quiet bits an pour aw that emotion intae the wails, she'll be a difficult wumman tae beat...

France - Even ah want a moustache noo, an it's no aften ye'll hear me say that! As usual the French add some joie de vivre tae Eurovision, an ah'll hae some o that...

Spain - Probably the maist straight-doon-the-line trad Euro-ballad in the show, but if Ruth Lorenzo can inject some o her personality an gie the vocals laldy she should gie Spain their best showin fer years...

Greece - Jump around! Jump around! Fight the economic slump with dance! Keep smilin! Pour me anither!

Romania - Second bites at the cherry dinnae usually work, but ah'm gled OVI an Paula came back fer mair, cos fer some reason ah really like them. Ah hope her throat's up tae the high note, cos ah'm no sure ah'll be able tae help...

An regardless o whit onybody else says...

Georgia - This song is a miracle in itsel, cos ah'm sure it's an entire concept double-album squeezed intae 3 minutes. This complex, multi-layered music's too guid fer Eurovision, an ah wish mair countries wid try that, try tae outflank ithers, try tae come up at their soft underbellies, try tae attack oot o the musical sun, try tae confuse them... er...



Friday, 17 May 2013

Sophia's Eurovision 2013 preview...


Ah wisnae gaunnae this year, but... ach weel why no?



Ah hae tae say ah've no been as excited this year as ah usually get, maist years there's nae livin wi me in the weeks runnin up, but listenin tae this year's songs ah wis mair Meh than Yeah if ye get ma drift...

Untill the semis that wis. It jist goes tae show ye how great performances can transform mediocre Eurovision songs, an efter haein ma appetite weel an truly whetted ah'm gettin masel intae quite the tizzy fer th'morn's night. So here's the deal, ah'll quickly run through them, then ye can watch me stick ma neck oot an nail it tae a mast, er...

Nothin much tae see in the first half-dozen...

France - fairly forgettable...
Lithuania - underwhelmin...
Moldova - musical run-o-the-mill, but a lovely frock an great hair, awfy arrestin...
Finland - Trash. Next...
Spain - Completely uninterestin...
Belgium - No great, an the dancers made me feel a bit no weel...
Estonia - Really auld-fashioned balled, heard it afore...

We get a bit mair uptempo, an nearer the meat...

Belarus - Gaun fer the Greek vote this year, but no the greatest Greek entry...
Malta - Nice enough, but a bit twee...
Russia - Big happy song wi a peace thing gaun oan, should dae awright...
Germany - Actually really unimaginative, an their 'big name' disnae bring big chances ah fear...
Armenia - How did this get through? Wet pants so it is...

Purple patch comin up...

Netherlands - Beautiful song, as deep as ye get in 3 minutes, hope everybody sits doon an listens...
Romania - Whit can ye say, crazy song, crazy guy. 11/10 stagin an a bit o a Lordi-dark-horse...
UK - Weel we aw love Bonnie, even if she is singin a ditchwater-dull song...
Sweden - Great uptempo tune, no a winner, but should end up near the top...
Hungary - Yin o ma fave songs, but ah dinnae think it translates tae a stage, sadly...
Denmark - The favourite, but no mine. Disnae stand repeated listenins...

Then the last section starts low but builds tae a nice climax...

Iceland - Another surprise qualifier, gey depressin tae hear an tae watch...
Azerbaijan - A pit-ye-tae-sleep song, but the choregraphy weel worth watchin...
Greece - Ach ye've got tae let the Greeks hae a wee laugh this year, it's only fair...
Ukraine - Cannae understand this bein a favourite, an the giant cairryin her oan, er, whit?
Italy - Anither quality ballad entry fae Italy, if ye like that sortae thing...
Norway - Ah think she'll win the frocks stakes, an it's a bangin, if hollow, song...
Georgia - Huge ballad cut fae the same pattern as Azerbaijan's Running Scared...
Ireland - Great placin fer a top dancer that ends things oan a high, as gay as it gets...


This year the producers decided the order, barrin a first-half/second-half draw, an ah think it shows, guid pacin an variety should help aw the songs tae stand oot. Kindae obvious tae me that the winner's gaunnae come fae the last few, maist likely Norway or Georgia, wi Italy no a kick in the erse aff it...

Ma Top Ten (pre-performance mind, that can be crucial) in the order that they sing...

Moldova
Russia
Netherlands
Romania
Sweden
Denmark
Italy
Norway
Georgia
Ireland

Clunker at the bottom - Belgium or Iceland

Special mentions tae - Netherlands, which might dae surprisinly weel, an Ireland comin up oan the ootside...

And the winner is - Georgia by a nose ower Norway...

An there ye hae it, neck firmly nailed... ah hope that disnae interfere wi ma drinkin th'morn... ;-)




Monday, 6 May 2013

Cast yer mind back...



Jist cast yer mind back fer a meenit, tae the Sixties if ye can, an mind how different life wis, fer abody. Mind coal fires, mind men at work an wummen daein messages, or spendin an entire day washin claes, mind weans gettin hammered, mind makin parritch the nicht afore, mind... weel mind yer ain life, whit wis it like fer you personally 50 year ago? How different wis it fae the life ye hae noo?

Ah'll bet, like me, it wis a different world, an no jist oan account o nae washin machines an haein tae soak yer lentils, it wis hugely different oan a political level an aw. We were at the height o the post-war British welfare state project, we were still bein reminded daily o whit we'd been through tae get that, aulder fowk had seen real sufferin baith afore an durin the war,  an how if we worked hard fer the country, through times that were hard, it wid gie us somethin that fowk really valued, it wid gie us security..

It's the mark of the enlightened society ah want tae see that offers that tae abody that bides here, basic security. An that's whit's bein whittled oot o the system since Maggie took office an steered this country taewards bein a neurotic 51st State. Every man fer hissel an deil tak the hindmaist, untrammled markets, makin money oot o money, an haein fowk in unemployment an underemployment, in poverty an ignorance, in worry an anxiety an fear, bein judged a price worth payin, so's that the same corruptin greedy interests can stack their profits withoot a care... That's no the country ah want tae bide in.

But think back again tae whit that meant fer us aw, fer a while we aw committed tae the same consensus. That pact wis broken in 79 an hasnae been fixed. We've had a generation o right-wing governments pursuin free market policies an their thirst isnae yet sated. Gied free-rein the Etonian cabal we've currently allowed tae sit in government wid turn this country upside doon wi neo-liberal outrages, think aboot it, an the best that can be said o the Westminster alternative is that Milliband probably widnae dae much but he'd slow the process, he's certainly no a socialist, an oan the sidelines there's a pale-blue Liberal rump wi twa faces an a brass neck haudin the coats...

er... ah lost ma threid there... ah wis thinkin, oh aye, ah wis jist thinkin aboot how much has changed in 50 years, it's like anither world really int'it? An whit we've got tae think aboot noo is the 2060's... we've got tae think aboot how we pit oor mark oan the future, whit sort o a country we want tae gie the 60's weans tae bide in, the yins tae come. It'll be as hugely different tae them as the 60's wis tae us, er, is tae us, er... d'ye get whit ah'm gettin at?

We cannae influence everythin, ah've nae doot there'll be mair channels oan the telly pumpin oot mair keich, fowk'll no ken a twin-tub if it came up an hit them, an aw stovies'll come in a wee sachet, but we can influence the things they write in the history books. We've  got a choice tae make atween twa futures. We can stick wi a system that's gettin dragged ever further right, where a bunch o fruitcake teapartyists can get a quarter o the vote an the Tories reaction is how far wid ye like us tae lurch? An an opposition that frankly breaks yer heart, where goeth the Labour party? ... We can stick wi that, or we can choose a different path, an we can build a new consensus, tae tak the powers that we can wi independence tae build a better nation...



Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Are we hell...

Somethin that's been botherin me o late, an it wis brocht tae ma mind again by the post fae Bonningtom Mill jist roond the corner fae me yesterday, lookin at the creaky an frankly undemocratic apparatus o the dyin state we find oorsels in, is a thocht ah've lang been mullin ower anent oor representation in the Palace o Fools oan the Thames. Anne lays oot the lie o the land perfectly an so ah'll no repeat her. She refers tae oor representation as bein 59 oot o 650 MPs, or 9% oot o the entire Hoose o Commons, roughly in line wi oor population share. But that only tells half the story...

See, back afore the war, Scotland sent 74 MPs tae Westminster, oot o a total o 615. By ma reckonin that's 12%. That fell efter the war tae 71 oot o 630, or 11.2%, 72 oot o 659 in 1997 or 10.9%, then doon tae the 9% it is noo. The plan wis tae further cut that tae 52 oot o 600, or 8.6%, a plan currently abandoned, but mark ma words if we say nae they'll be back at that again gied half a chance, they, an ah mean ony an aw o the three anti-independence parties, 4 if ye count UKIP, they wid aw love tae cut Scotland's numbers further. Noo, ye may say 'Weel, that's cos we've got Holyrood where we didnae afore' an ah can see where ye're comin fae an aye, Holyrood's daein great an the mair powers tae it the better, takin the hit oan the chin o sendin less MPs doon tae London, weel we'll jist hae tae manage an onyway they figure less in oor minds noo onyroads, an they'll hae less tae dae, jist the reserved powers really, that cannae tak aw their time, so they're really jist part-time MPs (ah nearly said party-time MPs there... D'oh!) in fact we'll jist club them aw th'gither like hale-time equivalents an cut yer numbers slap bang wollop...

But that's Defence... That's Foreign Affairs... an Welfare... an the Economy... an the 'Constitution'...

That's big issue stuff, real man-the-barricades stuff... an we've let oor representation in the Mither o Parliaments, that's bound us in sic a lovin an big-bosomed embrace fer 3 centuries, we've let oor representation oan aw the Great Matters o State faw fae 12% tae 9% in the last century (that's a decline o 25%, ah'm gettin guid at this eh?) at a time when we're supposedly #bettertogether?

Are we hell...


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Mission creep...


Like a lot o fowk roond here ah ken next tae bugger aw aboot Mali. Ah ken where it is, like, an Timbuktu's there ah ken that, but that's it. Why we're even sendin sodjers there ah've nae idea they say they're jist gaun there tae watch, but like a lot o fowk ah'm worried that they might jist be gaun there tae watch but ye ken whit sodjers are like yince they see a fight they jist want tae join in they cannae help it it's whit they dae efter aw... so, like a lot o fowk ah'm worried aboot mission creep, aboot gettin drawn in, the mair we talk aboot the war in Mali it becomes oor war in Mali ken? the mair we discuss it the mair real it becomes...

An that's whit's pittin the Unionist neb oot o joint th'day, we're makin it aw become real the mair we talk aboot it. The mair we discuss the mechanics o how Scotland becomes an independent nation, the mair real that 'new' Scottish nation becomes...

The Westminster Government disnae want tae hae talks wi the Scottish Government aboot whit happens in the event o a Yes vote cos that involves bringin the 'Constitutional Commissioners' oanstage, this body, these people, these brains, whitever... ah imagine it'll be people an no jist actual brains but are ye wi me? The step forrit th'day wis that (inevitably) an independent electoral body said that in a modern democratic country like oors, there's a proper way tae dae these things an that means that we aw hae tae prepare fer the fact that maist o us might want independence. We aw hae tae accept that. Ma government has tae accept that. That is tae say ma government in London, Cameron's government, has tae accept it. The UK has tae act in ma best interest, in oor best interest, an prepare fer the fact that we in Scotland might vote Yes in Autumn 2014. We want oor government tae at the very least provide some idea, some certainty aboot oor future road, whether that coincides wi theirs or no...

An so they hae tae show us that road, whit it'll look like, whit's oan it? who negotiates? wi who? when? where?

They hae tae agree aw that wi the Scottish Government, an in agreein it they make it that bit mair real, an they take us that bit further doon that very road. That's whit ah cry mission creep...an it's excitin...


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Yin last Hurrah!

Here's ma take oan the Olympics, it'll be quick...

Ah enjoyed watchin it, despite the smell...

But then, ah cannae mind an Olympics or Commonwealth Games that ah didnae enjoy watchin. Ah like the Ceremonies wi their fireworks an human art, ah like tae see fowk winnin efter pittin in sic hard work, an ah like tae see 'ma team' daein weel. Like maist fowk ah've been able tae switch 'ma team' every twa year atween supportin a TeamGB an a TeamScotland, mainly cos ah've had nae choice. But gied the choice, ah'd raither support TeamScotland at baith Olympic an Commonwealth Games, an soon we'll hae that choice...

Of course, despite the sudden appearance o summery weather, whit sets the London Games apairt fae the pack has been the torrential doonpour o constitutional debate that's drenched us aw, soaked the airwaves an nearly drooned the competition. Whether or no an athlete draped the flag aboot their shooders, sang God Save The Queen wi gusto or jist mumbled the words (or even worse jist kept their mooths shut) wis discussed every bit as much as the competitors times or scores. Heavy meanin engulfed the Games like floodwater, an it's a surprise ony o us survived at aw! Successes under that flag, that anthem, an that TeamGB were of course leapt upoan by certain commentators as evidence o a strong Union an an indicator that Scotland wid vote 'No' in 2014...

But here's a thing, if aw this Union-flag-wavin wis supposed tae propel us tae a 'No' vote, whit will the next twa year bring? Ah'll tell ye whit. Fae noo oan, it's TeamScotland aw the way, fae noo oan aw thae young athletes will be trainin tae represent their country an tae compete under the Saltire, an wi luck plenty o them'll be drapin the lovely blue an white cross aboot their shooders in Glesca in 2014. An aw thae commentators that celebrated 'British' achievements in London will be hard-pressed no tae gie the same enthusiasm tae celebratin Scottish, Welsh, Irish an English achievements in Glesca. If 2012 wis the highwater mark o the Union then get ready tae see that concoction o the past get swept awa in the Scottish deluge o 2014. That's why there's been that smell in the air, it's the smell o desperation comin fae the No-sayers as they squeeze oot yin last Hurrah! fer their dyin Union.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

There wis a cooncillor...


(tae the tune o A Scottish Soldier)


There wis a cooncillor, a Labour cooncillor,
she had been oot aw day, this wis a Saturday
She wis a cooncillor, this Labour cooncillor,
She'd focht oan pollin day, an focht an won...

She beat the Tory, an loved tae bore ye
wi tales sae spurious an mak ye furious,
but noo she's silent, cos she wis violent,
an lamped the long airm o the law...

An she wis reelin, she wis squealin,
"Ah'm a cooncillor! Ah'm a cooncillor!"
Oh she wis reelin, she wis squealin,
"Don't you know who I-ee am?"

An noo this cooncillor, this Labour cooncillor,
who had been oot aw day an drinkin hard aw day
tho nearly fallin, heard music callin,
wantit tae dance away until the dawn...

She hailed a taxi, doon tae the Palais,
where she could dance away, an pit mair drink away
but when she got there, there wis a queue there,
an there the long airm o the law...

An she wis reelin, she wis squealin,
"Ah'm a cooncillor! Ah'm a cooncillor!"
She wis reelin god she wis squealin,
"Don't you know who I-ee am?"

Noo see this cooncillor, this Labour cooncillor,
been oan the lash aw day, an actin flash aw day,
So up she goes there, richt tae the door there,
she thocht that she could go walkin in...

They widnae let her, an that upset her,
mind she wis stocious, behaved atrocious,
an noo she's silent, cos she got violent,
an lamped the long airm o the law...

As she wis deckin him, she wis threatenin him,
"Ah'm a cooncillor! Ah'm a cooncillor!"
She wis abusin him as she wis bruisin him,
"Don't you know who I-ee am?"

Oh she wis reelin, she wis squealin,
"Ah'm a cooncillor!" Ah'm a cooncillor!"
She wis freakin an she wis shriekin,
"Don't you know who I-ee am?"