Contains the movies Scotland should be making, a night out with Eddie the Eagle, Daylight Saving gadgetry, the power of marmalade
A version of this appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail on March 22 2016
What is that odd staccato crackle? Has someone lit a string of firecrackers and set them off in the road? No: it is the sound of the world laughing at the news that Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg are to make a new Indiana Jones sequel set for release in 2019. Indiana Jones 5 will be like the other movies except that when the emeritus Professor cracks his whip, the sound actually comes from his knees.
I know: it’s pretty rich of Scotland to poke fun at movies. After all, the main business occupying our film industry is arguments about the importance of a Scottish film studio.
At the time of writing, there are two schemes on the scene: one in Cumbernauld depends on Outlander deciding it would like to stay in Scotland for a third series. The other, in Straiton, awaits a council ruling and perhaps some interest in how anyone can lay their hands on £140m of private money in these austere times without whipping around Hatton Gardens with a pal called Basil.
In order to succeed, both schemes require joined-up thinking from a government that appears to prefer kicking complicated arts ideas into the long grass. Meanwhile Northern Ireland forges ahead without the need to wait around for yet another feasibility study, independence, or the arrival of unicorns. Belfast is now building its second film studio, opposite the Game of Thrones set, powered by Northern Ireland Screen, a standalone film agency dedicated to drawing the movie business to its door.
It would be unfair to blame the SNP for our lack of studio. It’s probably much fairer to point out how uninterested most politicians are in film.
Unless it is Brave.
Boy, did Alex Salmond love that 2012 Pixar film. He went to its premiere in Los Angeles. He hosted a dinner at Edinburgh Castle. VisitScotland invested money — maybe at much as £7m — in its marketing campaign.
This is puzzling, because Brave was an american animated movie which merely imported drawings of Scottish locations and a few authentically celtic accents. What could it have been about the story of a fiery red-haired Scottish princess who decides to fight for self-determination and independence that so beguiled our First Minister of the time?
So could the Scottish film industry lasso more attention from the Scottish government if they were based on some of our best loved cultural touchstones?
Balamory the Movie. The showdown between Batman v Superman looks benevolent and chummy when the residents of Balamory are forced to choose sides as PC Plum and Ms Hooley head for the divorce courts and custody of Archie.
Katie Morag: Everyone’s favourite red-haired tyke has now grown up into Struay’s first BBC Alba presenter, with a sideline in stiff letters to The Herald about the need for dogfood labels in Scots.
Super Gran: the mild-mannered septuagenarian becomes an ass-kicking weapon of the state as Granny Smith sets out to enforce the government’s Named Person policy, one child at a time.
The Singing Kettle; a lavish new opera offers a gruelling, three day marathon of singalong rhymes, and garish dungarees. Concludes in much the same vein as Gotterdammerung. Includes guest vocals from Peter Mullan “Even more miserable than Les Mis” — Fiona Hyslop
After suggesting cooking lamb in ginger beer, Sainsbury’s has started pushing bacon in a hot cross bun. Bacon and currants together in one mouthful? Someone in Sainsbury’s has been making Martinis with gin and Toilet Duck.
Somewhere in the house I still have my Butlins medal for coming third in the front crawl. Despite the swimming style of a drowning cat, even an 11 year old could grasp the key concept thatif there are three medals, and only three of you sign up for a race, there’s quite a strong chance of winning bronze.
This may not be quite the Olympic spirit, but I was reminded of my single sporting achievement when I met Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards, the British plasterer-turned-ski-jumper who came in last at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, but still won hearts as the ultimate unquenchable underdog.
Eddie was in town for a special preview of a new film which gives a sunny account of his long haul up the piste to Olympic fame, amidst an avalanche of feel-good tunes.
I hosted a question and answer session with Eddie, which was quite exciting, especially when Eddie told us that after the Olympics he did a law degree, and I got to say “So you’re also a legal eagle”. He was so delighted he punched me on the arm. Quite hard.
The film never admits it, but a lot of it is pure invention, even though Eddie’s story is bizarre enough without embellishment.
Eddie had to pay his own way and cobbled together his equipment from pretty terrible second hand gear, including a helmet given to him by the Italians, held together with string until it snapped on a 90meter jump. And when, inevitably, he did break his jaw, he simply tied himself up with a pillowcase and carried on.
Thankfully we’re now in an age when athletes have access to trainers, doctors and top equipment, but Eddie’s fearlessness seemed to strike a chord with one teeny 10 year old girl in the audience (the film is a PG) who shyly revealed that she had just been in a skiing competition, and beat boys and girls two years older than her. Fly Erin!
How is it that an air bag knows exactly when I’m going to get into an accident, but my car can’t figure out how to go forward an hour this week for British Summer Time?
In future every appliance with a clock should also come with a Daylight Savings button you can activate. You’d only push it twice a year, but that’s two time more than I use the “Num Lock” button on my laptop.
At the weekend Scottish Labour held their conference in an IMAX cinema. Because when your membership can fit into a cinema, you need all the help you can to appear bigger
If you want to see Australian actress Elizabeth DeBicki being smart and sassy, you could do worse than check out her villainous turn in the recent remake of The Man From Uncle.
But then you might wonder why she’s so wasted in the Night Manager as Hugh Laurie’s girlfriend Sophie. Despite a general updating of leCarre’s novel, each week this series feels more and more dinosaurlike in the way it treats DeBicki. We’ve had whole scenes dedicated to her changing her pants, or sulking in a bath and at the weekend she moaned about being the only woman on a secret army base, whilst whilst dressed in her signature wardrobe of a small, sheer hanky.
A smarter woman might have wondered how long that Iraq base can stay secret after setting off a Napalm fire that is visible from space
Marco Rubio has pulled out of the Republican race after losing Florida to Scottish golf entrepreneur Donald Trump by almost 20 points. Still, he has left us with a great example of the American Dream, where the son of poor immigrants can grow up in America, run for president…. and get bumped by a billionaire who names everything he can, from vodka to towers, after himself
Bitter news for patriotic marmalade lovers. For years, Dundee has laid claim to inventing the pithy spread favoured by James Bond (served on wholemeal toast, spread not shaken) and Paddington (stored in hats). However now food historian Ivan Day has described the story of Janet Keiller cooking up a boatload of stranded Sevlle oranges and inventing thick citrus jam as “nonsense”.
To be fair, even the Keiller family have been trying to set that record straight: they may have perfected the intensely bitter chunky preserve that gets boiled up today, but marmalade was originally made from quince or apple and the name actually derives from the Portuguese marmelada, meaning quince jam.
However Dundee marmalade remains the peel deal. It may not cure seasickness and stomach upsets as previously advertised but Winston Churchill steeled himself for war with a serving beside his morning flute of Pol Roger, and D. H. Lawrence wrote novels on it. It has character, unlike fatty peanut butters or fruity French conserves. It is to the Scottish breakfast table what Vegemite is to Australians.