Category Archives: adolescence

Sad Day for Hyperlocal Edinburgh

Everyone has a paper, don’t they.  I don’t mean the local one that you sort of have to get, for births and marriages and news of jumble sales, I mean the national one that you actually choose to read.

In my house, it’s always been The Guardian.

I appreciate it’s crap for news of stuff that’s going on in Scotland, but the Graun has always been good for features.  I’ve found tons of columnists there whose styles I admire and would like to emulate – Charlie Brooker, Grace Dent, Jim Shelley, Alexis Petridis, Hadley Freeman, Lucy Mangan, Zoe Williams, Stuart Heritage, Tim Dowling, John Crace and Mil Millington, to name several completely off the top of my head.

They also seem quite willing to do things that other nationals don’t – support the Liberal Democrats, for example, or pioneer hyperlocal news websites.

I’ve wanted to work for them since I decided I was interested in journalism about a decade ago, and the closest I’ve got thus far was being interviewed for the job of the Edinburgh Beatblogger on November 27 2009.

I remember I got there ridiculously early (I was worried about going to the wrong place) – early enough to see the candidate before me leaving, actually.  It was a man, a bit older than me maybe, with brownish cords and reddish hair.  I was later able to identify him as Tom Allan, and it was he who got the job.  I did however receive easily the nicest rejection letter I’ve ever had from Launch Editor Sarah Hartley; commending my community knowledge and saying she was hopeful there would be ways we could work together in the future.

I’ve followed the project with interest since that point – or rather, since the site was formally launched in early March 2010.  Whilst the Leeds and Cardiff pages remained in the hands of John Baron and Hannah Waldram throughout, the Edinburgh page was curated first by Tom, then for a few weeks by Nick Eardley (who I believe was just finishing a journalism degree before taking on a job at The Scotsman), and finally by Michael MacLeod, who opened up the page far more and made it many people’s first port of call for local news every day.

I say finally, because as you’ve probably already heard, The Guardian has decided to wind the project down.

According to the paper’s Head of Social Media Development Meg Pickard (who lulled me in to a false sense of security by complimenting my shoes at interview, the cad), “the project is unsustainable in its current form.”

On one level this is understandable.  The pages are free for the public to access, but the paper still has to pay three hacks and an editor to maintain them.  Although one wonders whether they looked at advertising in any serious way – using the notice board on the page is £10 for a week, but the likes of Facebook charge more like $20 a day for an advert the same size.  And inevitably the decision prompted mutterings that if the paper can afford to expand into America, surely it could find a bit of cash for this.

Pickard also pointed out that the project was always experimental.  Now, I knew that, and the people doing the blogs presumably knew it too – but I don’t think it was explicitly stated to the general public.  Which is a little bit insensitive, given those were the people using the service. 

Still, you can’t argue with fact, and these are the notes I wrote after the interview:

As you can see in the middle, I wrote “they have no idea how it would progress – ttl speriment (‘total experiment’ for those who can’t grasp my shorthand!).”

Unfortunately, it seems like they didn’t really take into account the fact that the experiment might work, and that people might be really upset that The Guardian would start up this great resource with amazing potential, then take it away again without warning.  Several readers commented that this would stop them reading the main site again and I can’t say I blame them.  The success of the project has encouraged several other groups to throw their hyperlocal hat into the ring too, supported and publicized by the Guardian bloggers, so it’d make sense to decamp to them.

The page has been used in a variety of ways; from publicising campaigns to save Blindcraft and The Forest Cafe to covering council meetings and student protests.  It’s acted as an umbrella linking to many local sites, including Greener Leith, the blogs of local councillors, The Broughton Spurtle, Tales of One City, Edinburgh Spotlight, ReelScotland, Song by Toad and countless others.  It has given a platform for local authors, journalists and campaigners to get their voices heard in the form of guest posts.  Rather than trying to do everything alone, it has very much been used as a community resource, signposting existing articles, events and experts rather than rewriting stories in a slightly different way. 

It seems odd to me to close the project on grounds of unsustainability, given that so much content has been generated for free via networking and goodwill.  I also can’t help thinking that they knew from the beginning that they were putting money into a model that wasn’t going to make a return. 

I can’t pretend to know the ins and outs of the advertising world, but surely the logical thing to do would have been to employ a marketing person from the start, whose job it would be to generate income from local advertising?  And it wouldn’t have hurt for the blogs themselves to get a bit of promotion – on the Guardian’s main page, at the very least.  There certainly weren’t any posters or bus shelters or events publicizing the thing in Edinburgh, so the success of the site was pretty much entirely down to the networking skills of the individual journalists.

And yet the site was and is known and popular, a testament to the tenacity of those involved (she said, alliteratively).

But even more than making me and other residents aware of a whole host of events, resources and websites across the city, Guardian Edinburgh has helped me develop on a professional level.  Being re-tweeted on Twitter and included in the morning roundup of what’s going on has raised my profile and generated traffic for my own sites, as well as introducing me to other contacts.

It was an RT by Guardian Edinburgh that put me in touch with The Edinburgh Reporter, and contributing to that has given me the opportunity to attend the Film and Television Festivals, to interview a whole host of interesting people, and to help cover an historic election.

My inclusion in the Literary Blogosphere, whilst slightly baffling at the time, was hugely flattering and gave me the impetus to concentrate more on fiction and features – so maybe some of the blame for 12 Books in 12 Months even lies there!

And it was Michael from Guardian Edinburgh who encouraged me to write guest posts, which means I can tell people “I write for The Guardian” just like I wanted when I was a teenager.

It was, from my point of view, a very successful experiment – good enough to continue, in fact.  Hyperlocal Edinburgh, saturated with content though it may be, will be a darker place without it.

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Filed under 12booksin12months, adolescence, adulthood, Community News, Edinburgh, edinburghreporter, EIFF2010, GuardianEdinburgh, limitlesspotential, scotland

Let’s Get Lyrical #34 – last.fm

To wind down my lyrical posts, I thought I might have a look at snippets of lyrics from each of my top 10 most listened to tracks on last.fm. These are the songs I have listened to most over the past four years.  A lot of them are ones I had on repeat during my last couple of years at university.

1. stellastarr* – My Coco (203 listens)

This is a bittersweet song of love lost, which is great to dance to. There aren’t any lyrical zingers, but I quite like the notion that the singer is upset but not angry about the enigmatic Coco vanishing without a trace.

You were gone when I came through, and I’ll remember you oh oh oh!
Well some day I’ll dance with you
When I’m dreaming, my Cococo.

2. Modest Mouse – Float On (193 listens)

Float On is good because it’s chilled.  It reminds me of indie nights at the student’s union in St Andrews.

I drove my car into a cop car, the other day.
Well he just drove off – sometimes life’s OK.

What a nice sentiment.

3. Aereogramme – I Don’t Need Your Love (149 listens)

See previous post for thoughts on this!

4. The Postal Service – Such Great Heights (146 listens)

This is just a nice love song.

I am thinking it’s a sign
That the freckles in our eyes
Are mirror images, and when we kiss
They’re perfectly aligned.

Aw.

5. Aereogramme – Inkwell (144 listens)

Humble, callous one
I call you Inkwell

He isn’t the best in the world at nicknaming, clearly.

6. Hefner – The Day That Thatcher Dies (116 listens)

This is out and out brilliant, but my two favourite bits are:

It was love, but Tories don’t know what that means (IFBIT, LOL)

and

The playground taught her how to be cruel,
I talked politics and she called me a fool,
She wrapped her ankle chain round my left wing heart.

For some reason this puts me in mind of Adrian Mole.  Not sure why exactly.

7. Aereogramme – Barriers (115 listens)

See previous post again!

8. Idlewild – El Capitan (110 listens)

I hope you take your camera
To photograph my tears as they hit the ground

What an emo tastic notion!  A good tune though.

9. Arcade Fire – Crown of Love (108 listens)

I carved your name across my eyelids
You pray for rain, I pray for blindness

Violent, but it stays with you.

10. The Rapture – Whoo! Alright – Yeah… Uh Huh. (105 listens)

People don’t dance no more
They just stand there like this
They cross their arms and stare you down
And drink and moan and diss

It’s true.  Not like the old days when people broke out in dance at the drop of a hat.

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Let’s Get Lyrical #32 – Heat Magazine, and she loves Smash Hits

I can’t believe I forgot about this when I was talking about lyrics that tell a storyKid Canaveral‘s first single, Smash Hits.  It’s literally the lead singer telling an anecdote.

You met her at the 13th Note
She was there to see her brother’s band
I saw you try to chat her up
I even saw you try to take her hand
I just laughed to myself
Stood at the back and I had a drink
That’s when you staggered up,
Said “She’s fit but her music taste’s shite”
And
When I telt you it didn’t matter
You tell me
She likes the McFly
And you like Erase Errata

[chorus]

You saw her for a second time
You took her out to the UGC
You thought it would shut her up
The conversation turned musically
You’d called her an idiot
She showered you in her popcorn
She said
“Stick it up your arse, I don’t care if you think my music taste’s shite!”
And
when I tell you it didn’t matter
You remind me that you like John Martyn
And she hearts Neil Sedaka

[chorus/claps]

I don’t really know what to tell you about this song.

– It piqued my curiosity about Erase Errata, and I own their album Other Animals as a direct result.  It’s alright.

– “Stick it up your arse, I don’t care if you think my music taste’s shite,” encapsulates the end result of countless arguments I have been involved in/witnessed over the years. 

– I actually think that a degree of overlap in musical taste is a pretty useful thing in relationships – although it seems that this girl was nothing if not eclectic in her listening choices, so she might’ve been open to John Martyn and Erase Errata.  If only the subject of the story had made her a mixtape, how different things might have been.

– Hand claps are an excellent addition to any song.

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Let’s Get Lyrical #30 – Unrequited Lurve

A lot of the lyrics I’ve written about come from songs that I don’t have a particular emotional connection to. This is probably because I’ve always found it harder to write about music I like than music I hate. I tend to worry that being effusive or sycophantic makes for dull reading, whereas pointing out the shortcomings of Paul McCartney and Wings is of course hi-larious.

But Let’s Get Lyrical is kind of meant to be about the lyrics that you love, so I think it’s time to post a few of those bad boys on here.

One of my favourite songs at university was Aereogramme’s I Dont Need Your Love, which was my companion during a period of unrequited love.  Specifically I like the part that goes:

Honestly?
We shouldn’t be
Here.

‘Here’ for me at the time was the awkward phase after confessing my feelings and being told they were not reciprocated, thank you very much, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Honestly?
We shouldn’t be
Here.

We were good friends, and got on really well with one another, and I was a bit concerned I had ruined it.

We should be dancing

Not on our own, particularly, but as part of a big group of mates at the alternative music society’s bi-weekly club nights (at which we were both DJs).

We should be friends
Celebrate our victory
All over

We weren’t not friends, but it felt a little strained for a while.

Maybe time will tell
Only time will tell

It did – we’ve now been together for nearly three years.  Even though my favourite part was:

But I know
I don’t need your love
I don’t need your conscience
To base my life upon

I was very conscious at the time that I didn’t want to be one of those girls that wasted time by pining for some guy when they could be doing something constructive, like drinking gin and writing satirical news stories.  I was – and am – a strong and independent woman.  I didn’t need his love to validate me!  And anyway, I had love from all kinds of sources.

Perhaps I had a small case of ‘the lady doth protest too much’, but it’s a lovely song regardless.

I also found ‘Barriers‘ pertinent to my situation, particularly:

‘let me tell the truth/let me come alive/let me build bridges/into your life’.

Listening to these songs now makes me feel very nostalgic for my bench looking out over St Andrew’s East Sands on a starry night.  How pretentious of me.  But it made me happy.

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Let’s Get Lyrical #28 – Screaming Heebeegeebees

It has occurred to me that the seventies were a time of disco, a strange and terrible medium indeed. This is a song from an LP my dad used to have by The Screaming Heebeegeebees, a Bee Gees spoof band consisting of Angus Deayton, Michael Fenton Stevens and Philip Pope. Technically it was released in 1980, but it sums up the bygone era reasonably well.

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Let’s Get Lyrical #25 – A Song That Tells A Story

Today, Let’s Get Lyrical have been asking, what are your favourite lyrics that tell a story?

As it happens, I sort of collect songs like this.  Unfortunately, very few of them seem to be from the 70s, but I’d like to mention a few.

Frinstance, who could fail to love The Drunken Driver by Ferlin Husky?  It tells the tale of a man who RUNS OVER HIS OWN CHILDREN in a drunken episode, and it’s all Ferlin can do not to cry as he recounts the story.  Unfortunately, this was recorded all the way back in 1954.

I also love Our Last Summer by ABBA – or I did until I saw Mamma Mia, at any rate.  I found it hard to reconcile my crush on Colin Firth with his antics in that particular montage – he seemed to be doing his best to destroy the affection I’d had for the track since I was nine.  Anyway, I like it because it encapsulates a story of summer romance without getting either mawkish or bitter.  But I can’t write about that one, cause it came out in 1980.

In 1996, Peggy Scott-Adams released Bill, an anguished tale about a woman finding out that her husband is gay – “I was ready for Mary, Susan, Helen and Jane… When all the time it was Bill who was sleeping with my man.” It gets worse too – Bill is god uncle to their son!  It’s like an episode of Jerry Springer in song format.

The following year, a superhero ska band called the Aquabats wrote an altogether more lighthearted ditty, Captain Hampton and the Midget Pirates.  This follows the adventures of young Jim, who goes to sea to fight the fierce Midget Pirates of Willygoat, who are heading towards the Sandwich Isles to pillage the giant Ham Farm.  “And unlike normal midgets, who are bright and clever and fun to be around, these Midget Pirates with their beady little eyes and sharp teeth bore down on us like fierce sharks in a feeding frenzy of blood!” Everything you could want from a pirate adventure and more.

Oh, and then there’s The Rake’s Song, by The Decemberists, which tells the story of a rake who marries too young and kills his children so he can get his life back.  A murder ballad for 2009 – I love it.  And don’t even get me started on Charlemagne: By The Sword and the Cross, a concept album released only last year in which Christopher Lee tells the entire history of Charlemagne in the form of a symphonic metal opera.  This includes immortal rhymes like “he has taken offense / and its too late to make amends!” and is entirely amazing.

But wait!  I know a seventies song that tells a story!  It’s not a particularly happy one, but even so…
“I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday…  Parking by the lake, and there was not another car in sight.  I never had a girl looking any better than you did, and all the kids at school were wishing they were me that night!

Our bodies were so close and tight – it never felt so good, it never felt so right.  We were glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife, and I felt like I had to hold on tight!”

“Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night,” Patti said throatily.

“I can see paradise, by the dashboard light!” Marvin replied.

“Ain’t no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed. ‘Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed,” Patti would tell her friends, years later.  “Ain’t no doubt about it, baby got to go and shout it!  Ain’t no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed.  ‘Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed.”

Encouraged by this response, Marvin ventured, “baby doncha hear my heart?  You got it drowning out the radio!  I’ve been waiting so long for you to come along and have some fun.  And I gotta let you know, no you’re never gonna regret it – so open up your eyes, I got a big surprise, it’ll feel all right, I wanna make your motor run!”

“You got to do what you can,” Patti agreed, “let Mother Nature do the rest.  Ain’t no doubt about it we were doubly blessed.  ‘Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely-“

“We’re gonna go all the way tonight,” he interrupted, “we’re gonna go all the way tonight, tonight!  We’re gonna go all the way tonight we’re gonna go all the way tonight’s the night…”

At this point they were interrupted by a radio broadcast, discussing an important baseball game.

“OK, here we go,” the announcer began.  “We got a real pressure cooker going here.  Two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth.  There’s the windup, and there it is, a line shot up the middle – look at him go!  This boy can really fly!

He’s rounding first and really turning it on now, he’s not letting up at all, he’s gonna try for second; the ball is bobbled out in center, and here comes the throw – and what a throw! He’s gonna slide in head first, here he comes, he’s out! No, wait, safe – safe at second base, this kid really makes things happen out there.

Batter steps up to the plate, here’s the pitch-he’s going, and what a jump he’s got, he’s trying for third, here’s the throw, it’s in the dirt-safe at third! Holy cow, stolen base! He’s taking a pretty big lead out there, almost daring him to try and pick him off. The pitcher glances over, winds up, and it’s bunted, bunted down the third base line, the suicide squeeze is on! Here he comes. squeeze play, it’s gonna be close! Here’s the throw… Here’s the play at the plate… Holy cow, I think he’s gonna make it!”

“Stop right there!” Patti squeaked all of a sudden, “I gotta know right now!  Before we go any further!  Do you love me?  Will you love me forever?  Do you need me?  Will you never leave me?  Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?  Will you take me away, will you make me your wife?”

When Marvin failed to respond, she said again, more urgently this time, “do you love me!?  Will you love me forever!?  Do you need me?  Will you never leave me?  Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?  Will you take me away , will you make me your wife?!  I gotta know RIGHT NOW, before we go any further, do you love me?  Will you love me forever!?”

Marvin thought about it for a while, but was reluctant to answer.

“Let me sleep on it,” he suggested at last, “baby, baby let me sleep on it?  Let me sleep on it and, I’ll give you an answer in the morning.”

This was not enough, though.

“I gotta know right now,” Patti insisted, “do you love me?  Will you love me forever?”

Marvin remained reticent.

“What’s it gonna be boy?” she asked again.  “Come on!  I can wait all night.  What’s it gonna be boy?  Yes, or no?”

This hectoring was overwhelming, but she could see it working, so she continued, “what’s it gonna be boy? YES, OR, NO??”

“Let me sleep on it?” he tried again.

“Will you love me forever?”

“Let me sleep on it?”

“Will you love me forever?!”

And at that point, Marvin snapped.

“I couldn’t take it any longer,” he was to explain to his mates down the pub in years to come, “Lord I was crazed, and then the feeling came upon me like a tidal wave – I started swearing to my god and on my mother’s grave that I would love her to the end of time.  I swore that I would love her to the end of time!”

So now they’re praying for the end of time to hurry up and arrive.

“‘Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you, I don’t think that I can really survive,” Patti has been heard to scream, as Marvin shouts,

“I’ll never break my promise or forget my vow, but God only knows what I can do right now!  I’m praying for the end of time, it’s all that I can do!  Praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you!”

This of course was long ago, and it was far away, and it was so much better than it is today.  Still, at least they aren’t another divorce statistic…

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Let’s Get Lyrical #24 – Donny Osmond

Happy Valentines.  Today I thought I’d share some lyrics from super sweet tween heartthrob Donny Osmond, on the subject of lurve.  You should definitely write these inside any cards you might be sending.

Won’t you go away little girl

… fair enough, you don’t want little kids hanging round cramping your style with tha laydeez, you are after all the king of cool.

Wish you wouldn’t stay little girl

Alright, no need to be mean about it!

Won’t you go away little girl
Wooo ooo go away.

Who is this little girl, anyway?  Is Donny Osmond proving himself as the shittest babysitter ever in a bid to convince someone he is in fact a rebel without a cause?

Go away little girl
Go away little girl
I’m not supposed to be alone with you

Hang on a sec – why not?

Oh yes I know that your lips are sweet


But our lips must never meet

I belong to somebody else and I must be true.

Ooooo-kay then.  Glad you cleared that up, cause for a second it sounded like… Well.  Nevermind.

Please go away little girl
Go away little girl

It’s hurting me more each minute that you delay

That‘s not appropriate subject material for a conversation with a small girl.

When you are near me like this
You’re much too hard to resist
So go away little girl before I beg you to stay.

Does his self awareness make this any less creepy?  I lean towards no.  Although this girl must be pretty dumb if she’s not gone yet.

Won’t you go away little girl

Apparently not, no.  Maybe you should turn it up a notch?  Really traumatise her by alluding to the disastrous consequences some more.

Wish you wouldn’t stay little girl

Aye aye.

Won’t you go away little girl
Wooo ooo go away.

This ineffectual attitude towards discipline showcases all that is wrong with this country today.  If she’s not leaving, don’t pussyfoot around – show her you mean business.  Call the police, perhaps, or maybe even her parents, and have her forcibly removed.  It sounds as though she’ll thank you for it later.

Go away little girl, go away little girl
It’s hurting me more each minute that you delay

Ew.

When you are near me like this
You’re much too hard to resist

It’s not the best defense, is it.  You’re essentially saying “she’s asking for it” merely by being in the same room as you.  Who would have thought that Donny ‘those can’t be his real teeth’ Osmond would stoop so low?  Well, nobody.  This is a cover of a song that came out in 1963, an altogether more innocent time than what we live in these days.

So go away little girl
Call it a day little girl
Please go away little girl before I beg you to stay.

Still don’t like it, though.  “I actually can’t see another woman without wanting to cheat on my girlfriend” is not an attractive quality in a partner, whatever way you slice it.

Happy cynical commercialization of the concept of love day, everyone!

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