Category Archives: music

2014: how was it for me?

davidjarman.infoLet’s not use the word ‘resolution’ for my plans for 2014, but a review of what I hoped to achieve returns a mixed scorecard. It won’t take long to run through a bullet point or two…

 

 

 

  • Blogging:
    • My WordPress review of 2014 tells me I posted 25 times to this blog. Once a fortnight doesn’t sound too much, but of course the distribution wasn’t even. There were months with nothing, then a spurt in the middle of the year. I’m glad I put together the ‘10 weeks of summer‘ series, which got me writing again just at a time when there was plenty to say. The intention was to get in to the habit of posting more frequently, on a wider range of topics and perhaps through shorter posts. It’s not really happened that way, but the blog lives on and hope springs eternal.
    • Twitter has been good fun, as usual. 1,390 followers… who they all are I’ve little idea! As the years go by I make more connections with students past and present, which helps keep me in check with the words and pictures I post there!
    • Edinburgh Napier / Edinburgh International Book Festival: I helped lead a project through work where we covered a wide range of Book Festival events, all linked to World War I. The blog is here, with stuff from me, Napier colleagues and students.
    • Podcasts: on the subject of Edinburgh Napier, I’ve posted many podcasts for my students using Audioboo, which renamed itself Audioboom at some point. What’s more I now have a microphone and have started to investigate and use Garageband to record them. The files go up, I embed them in my online teaching spaces and that’s that.
    • Blipfoto: I had a plan to post a photo a day between 17:07 and 20:14. The inspiration for this? They be the dates between the Acts of Union between Scotland and England, and the independence referendum. I couldn’t keep it going, so the Blipfoto project fell by the wayside. It was good while on trips though, so I filled in some days while in New Zealand. Maybe that’s the best way to use that platform, as the basis of smaller projects, with the images then embedded on the blog.
  • Trips and travel:
    • Two trips to Hong Kong, with work. This was teaching based, with the second one unlike anything I’ll ever see again because of the protest camps. I’ve written some of that up here.
    • The first Hong Kong trip fell just before the Easter teaching break, so it seemed reasonable to take the next fortnight off to see friends in New Zealand. It all went very well indeed.
    • Berlin, Riga and the Positivus Festival in northern Latvia: this was a great trip, I loved all these places and would happily do the whole thing over again in 2015.
    • The Netherlands is becoming an annual excursion, where I head to NHTV Breda University and carry out some external examining. It’s a lovely town, they’re all lovely people and it would be a happy privilege to carry on with this in 2015.
    • Walking: there are two plans on the go, both of which could easily have been completed in 2014, but weren’t even attempted. A ‘missing’ day’s walk on the West Highland Way needs to be filled in, then I’ve ambitions to walk from Leith to Milngavie. These things can be rolled forward.
    • Airbnb: I used Airbnb in three capital cities – Wellington, Berlin and Riga. They were all good experiences, so will be doing this again. I haven’t yet organised to have anyone to stay at mine, but it seems silly not to give it a go before 2015 is over and done with.
  • Other:
    • Arthur’s Seat: I had a plan (again) to climb it once a month, every month. I achieved three out of 12 it seems. JFxxMxxxxxxx
    • Running: I wanted to get 52 half hour runs under my belt through the year, but managed ten it seems. That’s terrible.
    • Novels: I wanted to read two novels, but managed only about 100 pages of one of them. (Nick Cave’s ‘The Death of Bunny Munro’.) Again, a terrible performance.
    • Hamonica: having been gifted a blues harp for my 35th birthday (2013) I figured I should learn a new trick or two on it. Not really managed that either.
    • The RSA: I’m still an FRSA, still sitting on the RSA Scotland Team, still enjoying it.

So what went wrong? Did I waste my time? Probably, but hopefully it’ll be a while before I run out of the stuff and I can go again in 2015.

  • Blogging: more blog posts, more ‘journalling’ using Day One and more experimentation with other media that can be integrated with these platforms and Twitter.
  • Trips: more of this please! More Europe. Airbnb again, plus a bit of hosting to fund it.
  • Walking: I’ll get that bit done up north and I’ll make it along the canal to Glasgow.
  • Arthur’s Seat: yes, let’s achieve it this time.
  • Running: I’ll aim for 26 runs, trying out some fitness apps on the phone (maybe).
  • Novels: fine, I’ll try for the same target.
  • Harmonica: maybe I should plan to play a gig on 31 December 2015…

Festivals and events of 2013

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Since the beginning of September I’ve had a small pile of used event tickets, programmes and flyers on my desk, waiting for me to report on my cultural highlights of the second half of 2013. If I don’t remedy this situation my patience will snap, the urge to tidy up will see this paper in the bin and an opportunity missed. To get the job done I’ve had to resort to bullet points, so here goes:

  • Edinburgh’s summer festivals had another good year and I again counted myself lucky to live in a city that friends are keen to visit: it’s a pleasure to put them up and a bonus to see a broader mix of events and performances as a result.
  • During the Fringe this included ‘Chalk Farm’ (relating the personal experiences and dilemmas of those caught up in the 2011 riots) and ‘CIRCA: Wunderkammer’ (an Australian display of strength and athleticism).
  • This was also a summer of music. Beatboxing and hip hop came courtesy of ‘Stanley Odd’ (Scottish) and ‘Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum’ (Australian). On the orchestral side came Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ courtesy of the International Festival Chorus and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the Usher Hall: stunning.
  • The International also ran a well attended series of talks under the ‘Interfaces’ heading. Described as exploring ‘moments when changes and advances in technology enter our lives and affect them in ways we could never have predicted’ there was a roll call of some of the cultural commentators I’m most interested in hearing from. In several separate events these included: Aleks Krotoski, Paul Mason, Ben Hammersley, Emily Bell, Tom Standage and Jonathan Mills. An international festival in full flow is a perfect setting for this kind of cultural exchange, with the topics and discussions ranging far and wide into politics, technology, protest, unrest, identity and the turbulent progress of progress itself. I hope that both the contributors and the audiences enjoyed the events and that the EIF continues this good work.
  • For pure enjoyment nothing topped a night at ‘Hot Dub Time Machine’. Take yourself along, fully hydrated, as anyone who’s had any interest in popular music since the 1950s will have a ball.
  • Sticking with the music theme, I saw Tim Burgess (of The Charlatans) at the Book Festival, talking with Ian Rankin – who looked like he was having as good a time as anyone in the tent. Other EIBF events included Christopher Brookmyre (thank you to EIBF for my ticket) and Alistair Moffat being interviewed by James Naughtie (thank you to Edinburgh Napier, as we sponsored this event).
  • Out with the festivals I’ve been along to some excellent gigs: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (Edinburgh, Usher Hall); Bonobo (Edinburgh: Picturehouse; Glasgow: O2 ABC); and, KT Tunstall (Glasgow: O2 Academy). 2014 may struggle to match that mix, all of which were excellent and great fun too.
  • There’s been some sport too, seeing Scotland’s cricket and rugby union sides fall to Australia (the former in bright sunshine, the latter with the lights off at Murrayfield), with a little more rugby against Japan (a win!) and South Africa (not a win).

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2014 – Scotland’s year of sport, culture, Homecoming, politics and possible independence. There’ll be plenty of events and festivals along the way and perhaps some more regular blogging.

Happy New Year!