What have the Common Weal Team been up to?


My wife and I had a wee theatre night with a trip to the King’s in Glasgow to see Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I always love a good faerie story about our good neighbours behind the hedge so this was right up my street though beyond the story itself, the themes of grief, family despite strife and friendship despite differences were played out powerfully. Special credit goes to the black-clad stagehands who did double duty of prepping scene changes and playing the actual boundary between the fabric of our world and the one that lies behind and beyond. Unfortunately, the play’s run has ended but do keep an eye out for a return should one happen. Or pick up the book!


Sometimes it seems like everything is about politics and that’s not always a happy place to be, so I’ve been trying to make a special effort to do things that aren’t related.

I’ve rediscovered the joy of my local dog club. We recently had a seminar in the village hall in Broughton that was a great example of a useful community meeting place. I was really impressed with the facilities that allowed us make to teas and coffees to go with the birthday cake brought along by the celebrant. No cake for the doggos though! 

Life’s been busy at Wiston Lodge where I’m a volunteer.  We had a very successful Halloween event although the Scary Night Walk might have been a bit too scary for some! Next up will be the Winter Wonderland event and I’m looking forward to our Green Santa handing out trees in pots instead of plastic toys. I’ll let you know how that goes.

And after regularly falling asleep while reading in bed, with my phone bashing my nose, I was delighted to come home from Perth to find my husband had installed a phone holder on my bedside table. It looks a bit odd, but so far it’s working really well.


My highlight since the last Recreate is easily seeing PJ Harvey live at the Barrolands. It was a stunning set with powerful art design from the artist who for me has been consistently the most vibrant popular musician in Britain for nearly three decades now. You can’t relive the live concert but the first half was a full play-through of Harvey’s new album I Inside The Old Dying Year, itself a wonderful work which sets some of Harvey’s poems (she really is a polymath) to a fascinating musical soundscape in a series of genuinely memorable songs.

Other than that, musically take a shot at wonderful US female rapper Noname whose latest album Sundial is as much poetry set to gentle jazz as it is rap. And on the TV front, if you can cope with the horror try The Changeling on Apple TV+ (literally, this is one of those TV series which is more awful because of what it doesn’t show). It isn’t perfect – it can meander at times. But it is most certainly unforgettable – if you can cope with the inconclusive cliff-hanger at the end (this is a two-series adaptation).


Something to read: I’m trying to get back into the habit of reading for comfort, but have struggled to find the right book to reel me back in. I’ve just started (and I mean just started, I’m only 10 pages in!) Alexandra Potter’s ‘Confessions of a Forty-Something F***k Up’, about a woman called Nell whose picture perfect life hasn’t quite worked out the way she planned by 40, a feeling a lot of people can relate to. I hear it has the sort of comforting vibe I like to seek out, and if a book can make me laugh by page six, you can bet I’m already looking to purchase the sequel.

Something to do: with the rise of streaming services affecting conditions in the arts and film industry, I like to do my part and try to visit my local cinema when I can. Even if I don’t have a particular feature in mind, I’ll try and find something in a genre I enjoy.

This month I picked a small-budget indie-comedy feature, which was released to very little fanfare in part due to the WGA and SAF-AFTRA strikes. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype my friends online claimed it to be. We’ve all seen a bad movie in our time, and I won’t name it so as not to affect it’s already low revenue. But with the experience of cinema going projected to become a rarity, I would choose to see it fifty times over in a cinema over the next big-budget-superhero-blockbuster streamed into my living room any day.


Something to watch: 

I’ve really been enjoying going back through old ‘classics’; I’m gripped by Cary Grant as an actor – he carries such on-screen presence, stylish and suave; a favourite in particular being North by Northwest, a Hitchcock thriller with a genius plot – genuinely one of the best plots I think I’ve watched in a film; the end I think lets it down a little bit for the strength of the rest of the film, but the self-fulfilling prophecy of the investigative/caper film ventures it up there worthy of the all-time classic tagline. Likewise, I’ve always loved Michael Caine’s performances, (now not many people know that) gritty and yet still diverse. I watched Get Carter for the first time recently, and found it another compelling watch, Caine is so iconic in the gangster role, and the soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment – you can see why it spawned such a strong revival gangster of the gangster genre and its clear influences on Guy Ritchie in particular. And what a shock ending!  

Something to read: 

I’m afraid I’ve been a bit lax with my reading of late, but in light of events in the Middle East, I’ve revisited Chomsky and Papé’s On Palestine. Published in 2014 I think, the commentary is as prescient as ever, almost predicting the way in which Israel would act, and the way the (Western) international community would respond. I think it is essential reading not just for these times, but for any school syllabus.

Somewhere to visit:

A couple of weeks ago my partner and I enjoyed a jaunt up the East Neuk of Fife. We started out in St Andrews, grabbing a coffee, enjoying the beach, and then popping into the Wardlaw Museum which currently has an extremely fascinating exhibition on the Isle of Mingulay, a formerly inhabited Hebridean Island, home now only to the sheep there. It looks at the Isle through the lens of three individuals, a university researcher, an anthropologist, and a photographer, each in different time periods, and through different mediums (camera, film, poetry, interviews, song) explores the history and culture of the island. It’s on through until February 2024 I believe so get up there if you can, I’m already dying to go back. We then journeyed back down through Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem and St Monan’s, where we got some gorgeous harbour views, enjoyed some delicious food, and caught a beautiful sunset over the water. A hidden gem, if only for its lack of public transport!


I have to say I’ve been very lucky this past month having holidayed in Italy for a week. We split our time between Verona and Milan, which I have to say was a perfect mix. Verona provided that classic Italian feel, with the roman structures, painted shuttered houses and quint streets, while Milan offered the hustle and bustle of a major city, with still a mass of beauty and history (also inflated prices). A day didn’t go buy without a bowel of pasta, a Negroni or some delicious gelato. Although this isn’t your everyday recommendation I would recommend visiting these two places for a feel of Northern Italy, visiting in October also helped keep the costs low.

Something to Read- A little late to the party on this book but I am half-way through ‘CHAVS- The demonization of the working class’. Although when I began reading this book I was well aware of the mistreatment of the working class and those from disadvantaged areas. Yet it has still provided some jaw-dropping examples of how in both popular culture and politics we have been so cruel. Which has helped to create our current system that doesn’t seem to care.

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