Picturing the Year

As another year ends time to have a look back through my now enormous Flickr photo stream (now well north of 17, 000 pictures) and pick out some of the favourite shots I managed to take during 2018:

Misty evening in Edinburgh – handheld shot walking home one night, amazed it came out:

Misty Evening 06

This poor chap was a rough sleeper, he had set up a small camp bed in Greyfriars kirkyard, his belongings in bags under a nearby tombstone, just a few feet away from the groups of passing tourists exploring the historic church and graveyard:

sleeping among the dead 01

Autumn but still some bursts of bright natural colours – this close-up was snapped in September in Greyfriars kirkyard, a bloom among the tombstones…

last colours of summer blooms among the tombstones

Another macro shot, playing with the close up facility on the camera, these autumnal berries and leaves came out quite nicely, I thought:

Autumn in the Colzium 09

Taken the same day in the Colzium at Kilsyth, these gorgeously coloured autumn leaves:

Autumn in the Colzium 03

Lady enjoying a burst of warm sunshine on an autumn day:

Calton Hill on an autumn day 06

The Church of Scotland Assembly Building on the Mound, at Blue Hour:

Church of Scotland Assembly Building, autumn evening 01

National Gallery of Scotland at dusk:

The Mound, autumn evening 05

Union Canal at Blue Hour:

Union Canal, autumn evening 01

The recently refurbished McEwan Hall at night:

Bristo Square at night 04

The brightly painted Victoria Street on a damp evening:

Victoria Street on a wet winter night 01

The photographer photographed:

The Photographer

Lovely young Fringe performer kindly posing for me on the Royal Mile during the festival:

Fringe on the Mile 2018 0121

Really pleased with how this came out for a quick street portrait, taken of a Fringe performer on the Royal Mile. It went onto Flickr’s Explore page, so the views for it went crazy, several thousand views in just a few hours:

Fringe on the Mile 2018 036

My chum Darryl Cunningham paid a return visit to the Edinburgh International Book Festival:

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2018 - Darryl Cunningham 02

Relaxing in Charlotte Square during the Book Festival:

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2018 - Charlotte Square 02

Selfies on the Mile:

Sunny Smiling Selfie Stick Shot

One of the young animators at the McLaren Animation awards during the Edinburgh International Film Festival:

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018 - McLaren Animation 015

Mike Zahs (with the beard) talking after the film festival screening of Saving Brinton, which is one of my favourite movies of the year:

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018 - Saving Brinton 02

Russell Jones reading some of his poetry at the regular Event Horizon evening held most months by the Shoreline of Infinity journal in Edinburgh:

Event Horizon June 2018 018

Some shots from the Processions parade which marked a century since parliament gave (some) women the vote. I took a bunch of photos that day, lovely atmosphere, but these two were my favourites, came out quite well for improvised street portraits taken as they parade walked by:

Processions Edinburgh 2018 051

Processions Edinburgh 2018 019

Found a nest of fluffy wonders: I’d seen a couple of swans with their new baby cygnets on the Union Canal, then a few days later found their nest among reeds by the canal side, the babies sleeping inside while the parent swans kept a watchful eye nearby. The little wonders you can find just walking home from work…

Nest of wonderfulness 03

On a warm spring day, down by Musselburgh harbour, these two little scamps had climbed along the wall – they were pretty high up, and I think their parents would have a fit when they noticed how high they had gone!

Wall scaling monkeys

Same hot spring day, some kids enjoying themselves in the sea just off Portobello Beach, caught the moment just as one jumped from his boat:

fun on the water 012

Woman enjoying the spring weather, changing the music on her phone as she sits in the outdoor cafe in Princes Street Gardens, the sun dappled by the trees creating a nice mix of light and shade that drew me to frame it like this:

changing her tunes

Spring blossoms:

spring petals 02

Enjoying some fine spring weather by the floating cafe on the Union Canal, climbed up on the nearby old Leamington Lift Bridge to get this overhead angle:

cafe on the canal 02

Avengers Assemble!! Cosplayers at the comic con at Easter, these guys were friends of my chum, they had been out earlier in their costumes having their photos taken in some of the Edinburgh locations used in the Avengers: Infinity War movie:

Edinburgh Comic Con 2018 036

Family of cosplayers at the comic con!

Edinburgh Comic Con 2018 014

2000 AD veteran artist Colin MacNeil with Indy comics publisher and creator Colin Mathieson at the Edinburgh comic con:

Edinburgh Comic Con 2018 05

Winter’s night in Saint Andrew Square:

Saint Andrew Square, winter night 04

coffee after dark 01

Crossing North Bridge on an icy, snowy, windy winter’s day:

winter's night 01

Browsing for vinyl at the music stall in the street market:

street market, spring day 06

We were hit by seriously heavy snow storms in March, for only the second time in the decades I’ve lived here the buses stopped running even in the city centre. I ventured out to take a few photos, this was a nearby cemetery – my coat was white by this point from the heavy snowflakes being blown by strong wind, so I snapped a couple of pics then retreated home to the fireside!

Boneyard in the snow 07

More snow, this time on the Royal Mile:

Snowy Edinburgh 08

This was part of the Lumen light art installations, several different pieces that came on between dusk and dawn during the winter nights, brightening up the darkness. This was my favourite of the installation, the strings of light hanging down as ambient music played, you walked through them and let the lights sway around you, it was delightful and magical on a dark, winter’s night:

Edinburgh Lumen 03

This year was the Muriel Spark centenary, and it started with these projections onto the National Library of Scotland:

Muriel Spark Centenary 04

Princess Leia cosplayer and Wonder Woman at the Capital Sci-Fi Con:

Capital Sci-Fi Con 2018 022

Capital Sci-Fi Con 2018 018

Blue Hour on the Royal Mile back in January, sun set but this last smidgen of blue in the western sky, my favourite time of day:

Royal Mile at Blue Hour, winter's night 01

View over Edinburgh from North Bridge on Burns Night:

Edinburgh on Burns Night

The low winter sun bathing the lighthouse on the mighty Bass Rock last January:

Bass Rock at the end of a winter's day 02

Each January the National Gallery of Scotland shows their Turner collection (a gift to the nation years ago on the condition they be shown in winter when the light suits them best), I try to go along each year to see them again. As I came out the early winter night had fallen and the Mound by the galleries was icy:

The Mound on a wintry evening

New Year’s Resurrection – this short story by acclaimed Scots writer Val McDermid was projected onto buildings like the Signet Library at the very start of the year:

New Year's Resurrection 01

Ten years of the Woolamaloo

Just realised I totally missed my own tenth anniversary – the Woolamaloo Gazette traces its roots back to a satirical email spoof newsletter I sent out at college parodying current events and culture in the early 90s (when the internet was still the internet and not even the web yet) and the name stuck when I started blogging in early April, 2003. I was just looking back through that month’s posts and I see multiple discussions of books, from history to science fiction, from Richard Morgan’s then brand new novel to a chat with Iain Banks who  at the time had just told me his next book was non fiction, a book about whisky (and for once he was delighted to do the research needed for his writing!), there was a lot of movie talk, discussion about work and a large chunk of satirical posts about then current political events. Ten years of the Blog They Couldn’t Hang – and oh boy, did some rather unpleasant people (who I still think had their own agendas for their nasty actions) try to hang it and me, but it backfired on them in spectacular fashion, and deservedly so (with no small amount of thanks to many people who supported me during that upsetting period). So over ten years of the Woolamaloo Gazette as a blog and over twenty since I first coined the name for those satirical newsheets I emailed around the college and to friends in other institutions. Feels odd but also a little satisfying.

Change over

You might have noticed a big change in the old Woolamaloo Gazette – it’s now moved over to a full Word Press set up and since WP does things a bit different behind the scenes from Blogger, when it imported the several years worth of posts from the original Woolamaloo blog (which has been going for a good, long while now, after all) it’s more than probable that some things like some links, video and photography emebeds that were fine in the old platform may not work properly in this new one, so if you see some odd looking setting on older posts, that’s why – if it was a link, photo or video you really wanted to see let me know and I will have a look and see if I can update it to work on the new Woolamaloo platform. Many thanks to Darren T for the invaluable help in moving everything over.

Your Woolamaloo Gazette holiday movie guide

Looking for some movies to watch over the Easter break? Here’s the Woolamaloo Gazette handy guide to some recent releases:

Mick-Ass: the tale of one Irish superhero and his forbidden love for his donkey

Butter Island: Intense psycho-drama as Leonardo DiCaprio suffers an allergic reaction to dairy products and takes a dark trip through his deepest fears

Splash of the Fountains: Anita Ekberg digitally reanimated and fighting monsters from Greek mythology in the Trevi Fountain. All now in 3D, including Anita’s enormous knockers coming right out the screen at you.

How to Drain Your Flaggon: a delightful 3D CG animated romp of a young lad’s first foray into drinking mead in his viking village.

Alice in Underwear in 3D: a now grown up Alice escapes a planned loveless marriage by travelling back to Underwearland and becoming a lingerie model.

Treen Zone: Matt Damon joins classic British hero Dan Dare to fight off an invasion by the evil Mekon of Mekonta’s Treen army during the second Gulf War.

4, 000 pictures

My Woolamaloo Flickr stream has just reached the 4, 000 images mark after uploading a few pics taken while out playing in the snow today, including these ones (below) as I enjoyed yomping across deep, almost unbroken snow on the rugby pitch at Meggetland sports centre – it was so nice and deep I could take big ‘Moonwalk’ steps (as in actual Apollo mission ‘kangaroo’ leaps, not Jacko style gyrations) as it cushioned each landing, it was great fun. Still wondering exactly how I managed to hit 4000 photographs and video clips and not sure if its something to be proud of or worried about. Although I am pleased that some have appeared on the BBC website and others have been shared to use on communal news sites by citizen bloggers, online galleries, various other sites and a handful even got borrowed, printed and framed for display at a community art project in Edinburgh. Which I have to say I really like – I’m old school internet, been online since 1991 and like many who started then still cling to at least a remnant of the ideals we had in the early days that it was a medium to empower ordinary folks to give them voice and share work and art online.

Meggetland sports ground, winter sunset 02


a pic from today, the sun settting behind the modern Meggetland sports centre as I was playing in deep snow on the rugger field.
The 4000 photos range from pictures of family and friends…
mum and aunt chrissy
Malcolm and Rhona's wedding 31
… to hundreds of photos and short video clips of Paris…
Rue Saint Andre des Arts by night
Louvre looking out of upper floor
Eiffel Tower looking down to Pilier Nord

…black and white work…
cycling piano man 2
she's been framed 1
Scottish Parliament from Arthur's Seat 2
skating 2
…images of Scotland, city and country and wildlife…
sea horses 8
Waverley at sunset 3
Merlin the owl 3
Iron road to the Highlands 20
Inchcolm Abbey with Saltire
…cute kitty cat pics…
Dizzy in the tulips 2
Cassie by fireside 1
…even the occasional celebrity…
ukulele lady 2
…and naturally lots and lots of pics of my beloved Edinburgh. In fact over 1500 of the city and over 600 of the Festival. Hmmm, guess it all does mount up!
summer sunset from Arthur's Seat 1
Edinburgh Tattoo cavalry horses 6
changing the signs 2
Tornado steams into Edinburgh 4
Edinburgh Castle, November night 2
Royal Scottish Academy Gerhard Richter exhibit
Alley piper and Saltire
Edinburgh Castle Fireworks night 2007 4
I make no pretense to be a proper photographer (sometimes I get very lucky with the odd shot though), I’m really more of a gonzo photographer – I just shoot anything that catches my eye from historic buildings to jugglers to everyday life to famous writers at the Book Festival; I don’t rework them in PhotoShop so what you see is pretty much what I saw, not re-touched, shot purely for enjoyment from the compact camera I almsot always carry with me.

Filming in the Gardens

I was asked recently to do another interview about blogging for an upcoming TV programme. They wanted to avoid the normal static interview so opted for asking me questions while walking alongside me with a camera in Princes Street Gardens, which was fine, except being a sunny, spring day the place was full and, not unnaturally, everyone was looking at us (is it for the telly? Who is he?). I’m pretty far from shy but neither am I a total extrovert (regardless of what some folks think! I think I am a bit of an introverted extrovert actually, which, if it sounds like a contradiction in terms is fine, because I’ve always enjoyed being one of those) but jeez, talk about self-conscious! This is why I much prefer doing radio (plus I have a good body for radio) or being on the other side of the camera.

Anyway, it seemed to go well and I managed to forget about everyone watching us as I got onto my High Horse and discussed freedom of expression in blogging and tried to relate it to the growing culture of censorship we seem to be experiencing from governments and corporations alike. How much of it ends up in the cut I have no idea, although the folks making it did tell me they had interviewed someone at the LSE before coming to see me and he had apparently been interested in seeing my interview because that case still comes up; I quite liked the idea of my overly-opinionated blog posts being referenced in an academic essay, it appealed to the part of me that is the Eternal Student (frankly I’d be happy spending half my life studying one degree after the other if it was feasible, purely for the pleasure of learning and applying it). It does all make me wonder what my old computer mediated communications lecturer would make of it all; I’m sure Mad Dog McMurdo would probably find it amusing.

Apart from some mild embarrassment though it seemed to go quite well and they will let me know once it is all put together, etc. Not sure I actually want to see it since frankly I avoid being in pictures for the most part, but I know my mum will want to see her wee boy on the screen; before anyone asks, I am not available to join other Z-list celebs on I’m A Talentless Twat Get Me Out of Here or Big Brother, although I am available to kiss Shilpa Shetty. Talking of which, how mad was that reaction to a very showbiz kiss? I’m told that public kissing is frowned upon in much of India; I know one shouldn’t disrespect different cultures, but burning effigies because someone kissed in public? Good grief, get over yourselves you stupid, uptight numpties!!! Can this really be the land that gave us the Kama Sutra?!!? And you just know most of the guy burning those effigies and professing outrage at this kiss would bloody love to get a chance to snog Shilpa, hypocritical tossers.

Funny thing was, as we were setting up to film I got a phone call from my Norwegian friend Vidar; by coincidence he and his friend were lying on the grass in the Gardens enjoying the sun and nursing hangovers and had spotted us, so I went off to join them afterwards. When they asked us what it was I told them we were location scouting for a new Scottish porno movie “Tossing the Caber”, but alas these days I suspect I would be relegated to a bit part (mind you, depending what bit it could still be interesting). Since it was a warm, sunny evening I ended up doing the Annual Rite of Spring, which involves paying homage to the return of the Earth Goddess in the time honoured Celtic tradition (we went to the Pear Tree and sat out in the huge, cobbled beer garden for some al fresco drinking).

Blogging anniversary

Bobbie Johnson wrote a feature in the Guardian at the weekend celebrating the tenth anniversary of blogging (ironically just as I was celebrating the fourth birthday of the Woolamaloo blog), running through various events, from the first blogs, to the appearance of Boing Boing, politicians joining the blogosphere, blogs from inside Iraq, regimes trying to censor blog and imprison their writers, the first high profile ‘doocing‘, the recent case in France with Petite Anglaise (who I’m glad to see won her case against her employers) and hey, what do you know, a mention of myself and a certain sandal-wearing Evil Boss at the Bookstore That Shall Not Be Named. Funny old world. The Guardian, along with the Scotsman, was one of the first print newspapers to pick up on that case, here it is a couple of years on still being mentioned there.

Welcome to Woolamaloo!

Welcome to the all-new Blog-edition of the Woolamaloo Gazette (established 1992). Begun as an email version of a newspaper the Woolamaloo Gazette allowed me to take sideswipes at stories from the media, to lampoon those who deserve it and to satirise current events, all while also hopefully making people think at the same time. For this new Blog style Gazette I will probably create a mixture of the traditional Gazette-style ‘news’ feature – which will be obvious by the bold banner headline for the piece – and the normal Blog-type meanderings, ramblings, rumblings, fumblings and occassional alcoholic rants.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION CALLED IN TO INVESTIGATE MYSTERY ASIAN PLAGUE

The WHO – not affiliated with Doctor Who – have been called in to track and monitor the spread of a mysterious new plague which is believed to have begun in the ground zero of the Far East. This new virus, which produces pneumonia like symptoms in victims, has been dubbed SATS, or Stressed and Tested Sickness. Constant stress brought on by rigorous academic exams systems is blamed for the creation of SATS. The extreme stress placed on a person by examinations which may determine their whole future causes the body’s white blood count to drop, leaving the body open to infections of all sort. Young people are especially at risk but with the widespread introduction of standardised interviews and psychometric testing, employers are now fuelling outbreaks of SATS amongst adults.

So far doctors have been powerless to halt the spread of SATS. Indeed, with so many doctors having to sit so many exams the medical profession is thought to be one of most at-risk professions, after civil servants. Your ever-thoughtful Gazette reporter decided to see if he could find some relief for his readers through holistic medicine. We approached Marjory Greenbum of the Happy Herbal Hospital. She told us that the disease was merely a symptom of the way modern society runs and as such could not be cured without major societal change. In the meantime she suggested some ways to use natural remedies to alleviate the suffering cause by SATS. These include yoga, massage, long holidays and recreational sex and/or drugs.