© Stereogum

Do you love being single? Find yourself scowling at candy heart sweetie messages? Is red the colour of love or rage?  Do you yearn to escape Valentine’s Day?

Don’t worry, you are not alone.

Anti-Valentines Day invites people to rise up, reclaim the streets, bars and restaurants and celebrate being sensationally single.

On Sunday 13th Feb, Claire Daly, the Edinburgh jazz diva, hosts the 3rd Annual Anti-Valentine’s Jazz Gig at Edinburgh’s finest Jazz Bar.

The first event was a surprising triumph.  When called upon to perform on the fateful day Claire’s lip curled at the prospect of crooning for the smoochers.  While not “twitter and bisted” about being single, she didn’t want to join in with the cheesey love-fest.

Instead she chose to celebrate being a sassy singleton in the face of the romance-aholics that annually invade the city.

Rather than being an anti-cupid bash though, Claire does describe it as a fun, anti-Hallmark retaliatory, ‘we don’t have to be coupled-up’ event.

This Sunday, you will hear Close The Door On Your Way, Never Will I Marry, Amy Winehouse‘s Love Is Blind and a jazz arrangement of Beyonce‘s All The Single Ladies.

Although not single this year, Claire does not feel like an imposter.  “I’m not anti-romance, or anti-love. I’m just anti the commercial bastardisation of love”. 

Couples are not banned and singles are more than welcome, especially if they have GSOH, a vague interest in jazz and WLTM other like-minded folk, or even just enjoy the cosy Jazz Bar with Claire’s torch songs for the liberated.

Here’s a list of songs and films to celebrate your independence this weekend.

Top 10 Anti-Valentine’s Songs

  1. Bang, Bang, My Baby Shot Me DownNancy Sinatra
  2. Don’t Call Me Baby – Voice of the Beehive
  3. It’s Too Late – Carole King
  4. Bye Bye Baby – Bay City Rollers
  5. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
  6. F**k You – Cee Lo Green
  7. I Hope You’re Happy Now – Elvis Costello
  8. Foundations – Kate Nash
  9. I Never Loved You Anyway – The Corrs
  10. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2

Top 10 Anti- Valentine’s Films

  1. To Die For – Husband (Matt Dillon) tells wife (Nicole Kidman) to give up career so she convinces boyfriend (Joaquin Phoenix) to get rid of him

    © Zazzle

  2. In The Company Of Men – Two men (Aaron Eckhart and Matt Malloy) romance then dump a deaf woman (Stacy Edwards) as revenge against women in general
  3. Carnal KnowledgeJack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel have a series of bad relationships over three decades and fail cos one is too cruel and the other is too idealistic
  4. Far From Heaven – Your husband (Dennis Quaid) divorces you (Julianne Moore) for another man, ouch.
  5. Reversal Of Fortune – He (Jeremy Irons) marries her (Glenn Close) for her money, yikes
  6. Suspicion – Husband (Cary Grant) plots to kill wife (Joan Fontaine) in the Alfred Hitchcock classic
  7. Boxing Helena – Boyfriend (Julian Sands) doesn’t want girlfriend (Sherilyn Fenn) to leave so amputates her
  8. Eyes Wide Shut – Wife (Nicole Kidman) admits cheating so husband (Tom Cruise) goes on a sexual odyssey
  9. Closer – Two couples hook up and it all gets complicated
  10. Hard Candy – 14 year old girl (Ellen Page) takes it upon herself to expose a pedophile (Patrick Wilson)

The Claire Daly Quartet, featuring Paul Kirby, Jazz Bar, Sunday 13th Feb 2011, 20:30. Tickets £5/£3. Check out a selection of Claire’s songs here

© Fin Wycherley

Many thanks to Stereogums for the fallen cupid image and also Zazzle for the anti-valentine card

This article was Guest Blogged on Guardian Edinburgh here


Further Suggestions from the Twitterati


Natural Born Killers – Boy (Woody Harrelson) meets girl (Juliette Lewis) and they become psychopathic serial murderers – recommended by @catmacphee “Greatest love story ever 🙂 (wi’ loadsa blood murder & insanity to boot)”


Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac – recommended by @skyfulofscars who did an open mike anti-valentine’s set at The Parlour, Leith

The One I love – REM …”a simple prop to occupy my time..” “not appearing on a card near you…” – recommended by @skyfulofscars


Greg McHugh aka Gary: Tank Commander

Greg McHugh, the writer and performer of the hit BBC comedy show ‘Gary: Tank Commander‘ gave a revealing interview prior to the Traverse Theatre’s Gala performance and party for Class Act 21.

You first got involved in The Traverse Theatre‘s Class Act while at school. Was it fun?

At first I couldn’t believe it.

I was at at St Thomas’ and the drama teacher, Lucy Dalgleish announced to the Drama Higher class that we were going to write our own play with a famous playwright and have it produced at the Traverse. It blew me away!

I’d already seen David Harrower‘s ‘Knives in Hens‘, at the Traverse, one of the best shows ever, still is,  and it blew my mind at that age.  Then to learn that David was going to be giving us feedback on our ideas was incredible.

Do we have to thank Lucy Dalgleish and David Harrower for ‘Gary: Tank Commander’?

Yes and No.  They helped but writing comes through different experiences.  You learn from everyday experiences.  I’d been writing loads throughout my school time, then at Uni, then at Drama school, then as a stand-up so I’ve been writing for years. You could say they were more like a catalyst.

When I first asked David what it was like to be a full time Scottish playwright, he said it was a very lonely job and nobody should do it. At the time I thought it was a joke but more recently I’ve realised how true. I’ve just finished 6 months alone writing another series of ‘Gary’ and his words have really hit me.  I need to get to the gym.  No more ‘chups’ for me.

On the other hand, maybe they helped more than I realise.

Some people describe you as a comedian, playwright and actor. How about you?

Actor first, then writer, then comedian.  But I don’t really consider myself to be a playwright. That will probably take years.  A writer, yes but I’m not ready for playwright.

What was your inspiration for ‘Gary: Tank Commander’?

People in Edinburgh, a guy from school. I used the voice once in stand-up and the character just grew from there. I’ve been working with ‘Gary’ for many years now, since 2005, and he’s very different from when he started.

You do amazing home-movie, lip-synch takes on Lady Gaga and Beyonce, which one is your favourite and is it hard to learn the choreography?

Storm is our choreographer and certainly puts us through our paces.  I can’t decide which ones are my favourites. They’re both pretty good.  It takes ages to learn the steps but when you’re working with such a great bunch of guys it doesn’t feel like work.  Journey is also one of my favourites but it wasn’t choreographed. That was just me mucking about.

You are obviously a connoisseur of fake tans.  Can you recommend a particular brand?

Well I can’t really advertise a brand cos it’s the BBC and all that.  But we do have to go for a full spray job once a week.  Stripped to our pants in the van we manage to raise a couple of chuckles from ladies in the production team. I can’t imagine why.  Sometimes we have to go very dark depending on the timeline of the story.

What advice would you give young people thinking of getting into the writing game?

Do it, do it, do it!  Keep believing.  And have patience.  Not like me.  I don’t have any.  It took me a long time to get here.  You have to believe in yourself.  And get feedback from people you trust.

If you want to write, then write even if you think it’s bad.  Keep going.  I wrote for years.  Mostly rubbish.  But you keep going and you eventually get better.  You begin to watch TV and plays with a different point of view, looking at the quality of the writing more.

And if your Drama Teacher asks if you’d like to get involved with Class Act, bite their hand off!

© Fin Wycherley

Watch ‘Gary: Tank Commander’ Series 2 on Mondays on BBC One at 22:25 and on Saturdays on BBC Two at 21:00 – Scotland only!  Or have a look on BBC’s I-Player

Class Act 21

©Alan McCredie

Have you ever been a Class Act?

Did you know that the ‘pure dead brillyant’ Gary: Tank Commander started his career as a Class Act (originally known as ‘Writers About’)?

The Traverse Theatre is celebrating 21 years of schools playwriting: engaging and inspiring school pupils from across Edinburgh and Glasgow to write their very own short plays.

Professional playwrights like Gregory Burke, Oliver Emanuel, Catherine Grosvenor, Lewis Hetherington, Nicola McCartney, Lynda Radley and Alan Wilkins have been parachuted in to senior Drama and English pupils to help them write their own short plays.

To celebrate this fantastic achievement the Traverse is holding a Gala performance hosted by Greg McHugh (writer and star of BBC 2 Sitcom Gary Tank Commander and alumni of Class Act).

The Gala will include one play from each of the 21 years. It will bring the funniest, darkest and most moving Class Act plays back to the Traverse stage.

The performance will also include some of the professional playwrights, actors and directors who worked on the project through the years. Following the performance the soiree will continue in the Traverse Bar Café with an after-show party, woo hoo.

Have you ever worked on the project as a playwright, actor, director, stage manager or Project Co-ordinator?  If so – the Traverse theatre wants to hear from you!  Contact Noëlle O’Donoghue: 0131 228 3223 / noelle.odonoghue@traverse.co.uk

Here’s a list of all the schools, productions and playwrights that have been involved since 1990.  If you are, or know somebody connected to any of these productions in any way, please retweet or contact Noelle at the Traverse.

1990 Fresh Air Freak – Julie Dunleavy, Jacky Spence, Louise Smith, Michael Martin, Elouise Norns, Amanda Cuthburt & Amanda Paget – Craigroyston Community High School

1991 Last Exit to the DHSS – Paul Harkins – Holyrood RC High School

1992 Height – Steven Vass – Craigmount High School (Is he the Deputy Business Editor of The Herald?)

1993 Passing of Time – Sally Runciman – Galashiels Academy

1994 Café – Natalie Blair, Elisa Laing & Jane Tierney – Linlithgow Academy

1995 A Dream come True – Billy Sommerville, Kristian MacAulay & Cameron Wishart – Firrhill High School

1996 Get Up and Go! – Emma Waugh & Alana Walder – Holyrood RC High School

1997 What Goes Around Comes Around – Dionne Walker & Shirley White – Drummond Community High School

1998 Flies – Jennifer Millar & Leroy Harris – Boroughmuir High School

1999 Sugar Mummies – Steven Christie – Musselburgh Grammar School

2000 The Coming Of The Aliens – Alison Farmer and Katharine Calder – Queensferry High School

2001 Geoff – Euan Alexander – Balerno Academy

2002 To [Beep] Or Not To [Beep] – Hannah Baker, Scott McCue and Nikki Summers – Liberton High School

2003 Escape – Ben McKay – Trinity Academy

2004 The Sack – Azadeh Darvishadeh – Drummond Community High School

2005 Old Love Can’t Die? – Deike Borchardt – West Calder High School

2006 Armaneddon – CJ Cook – Broxburn Academy

2007 The Outsider – Steven McMahon – Broughton HS (Part Of Trinity Academy group)

2008 Banana Split – Katie Arnott, Marc Campbell, Nicola Robertson, Danielle Smith and Kayleigh Wilson – Tynecastle High School

2009 Chantelle – Claire Grant – Balerno Community High School

2010 Thirteenth Night – Conner MillikenHillpark Secondary


Question: Can anybody tell me why Musselburgh Grammar School and Broughton High Schools don’t have websites?

Quiz: Which year did Gary: Tank Commander become a Class Act?

©Fin Wycherley

Podcast: 19th December 2010

Posted: December 20, 2010 in podcast

You can listen to the latest Leith Tonight podcast here.

Musical comedian Helen Arney called in from backstage at the Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless people to tell us all about her fabulous Christmas Album It’s Going to be an Awkward Christmas Darling.

Slim City Architektz were in the studio to share their plans for revolutionise the Edinburgh hip hop scene and to play some tracks from their new EP.

The Best of Arts Culture and Entertainment from Scotland’s Capital With Andrew Moir.


You can listen to the latest Leith Tonight Podcast here.

Jo Buckley from the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union called in to tell us all about their upcoming festive season including Christmas with the Choral taking place at St Cuthbert’s Church on Lothian Road on Tuesday 14th December.

We were joined in the studio by Richie Noble to tell us all about his Four Day Turnaround project as he tries to create a brand new EP in just four days all in aid of Alzheimer Scotland.

The Best of arts, culture and entertainment from Scotland’s capital with Andrew Moir

The Snow Queen ©Alan McCredie

When I was young(er) all the usual role models for little girls were lame.

Their function was to be vacuous receptors of praise about their looks, cooking, cleaning and being a great mum.

It was a type of mass hysteria on behalf of the male hegemony (thaim wot got the power, likes) who commissioned, created, manufactured and published those ‘lovely liddle women’.

But fiest will out.

Instead, many of us underground tweenie feminists found our radical inspiration in unusual places.  The Snow Queen was a favourite, along with Cruella DeVille and Baba Yaga.

These characters were single, powerful, rich and witty, oh and beautiful. Despite our need for power and wit, us proto-feminists still cleaved to the beauty myth.

These characters were also evil: stealing children, cooking them and skinning cute animals.  But us pre-pubescent radicals did not buy it.

We figured it was just bad PR and propaganda by the enemy. Men were spiking our heroines to make sure they were thoroughly unlikeable and not role-modelable.  The same way witches were castigated for being single childless women with property needing to be confiscated.

But those days are over. We can find role models of women-with-power wielding it responsibly all around us. We don’t need to turn to the evil ones for inspiration.   Or do we?

I was fearful about taking my 7 year old daughter to see the Lyceum’s new Snow Queen.  Not for her, but for womankind.

After all, if wee Zazou had chosen the Snow Queen, it would mean we had not progressed one iota.   Who are the role models for the noughtie girls of today?

Thankfully, reporting from the gender wars frontline, I can report to the troops that she chose …dugh dugh … dugh dugh … dugh dugh… (giving it an X Factor delay) … COBWEB SPIDER as her favourite character, yay.

Or does that mean more bad news?  Cobweb Spider works for the Snow Queen but when he (yes, he’s a bloke) doesn’t get sufficiently rewarded for his labours, decides to support the goodies.  On the one hand, a chancer, on the other, a turncoat and opportunist.

Go see the production and take a young girl, or even a boy, for that matter.  There is a full range of characters and role models to chose from. Pantomimes and children’s theatre are the best introduction to theatre.  Find out their favourite character then analyse at leisure.

A brilliant show full of lovely scenery and music, great acting, most of the panto conventions (he’s behind you, oh no she isn’t …), great humour and especially the lovely special effect of falling snow on the audience just before the break.  As a tribute, I’ve done the same for this blog.

The Snow Queen continues till 31 December. You can hear Zazou’s brief review on Leith Tonight radio show – the arts and culture centre of excellence in East Central Scotland here.

©Fin Wycherley

Other Related Articles

Four and Five stars from the media in Scotland

Edinburgh based artist Trevor Jones joined us in the studio to talk about his recent sell out exhibition as well as his work with the Leith School of Art and charity Art in Healthcare. In order to aide the charity Trevor has painted a special Gibson guitar which has now been signed by a multitude of musical greats which is to be raffled soon. Find out more on his website or drop in to the Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh to see the instrument itself.

Mara Menzies from theatre group Toto Tales joined us to share how they are bringing traditional African stories to the masses of Edinburgh and their latest production The Legend of the Bone which takes place at Pilrig St. Pauls Church on 10th December. We also got a review of The Snow Queen at The Lyceum from seven year old Toto Tales Member Zazou.

The Best of arts, culture and entertainment from Scotland’s capital with Andrew Moir

Listen here.

©Vivienne Edgar - Overdose

Tonight’s show on Leith Tonight, presented by Fin Wycherley, features Edinburgh Royal Choral Union‘s Jo Buckley and Colin Wilson, followed by Vivienne Edgar and Michelle Williams – artists with a dance passion – and closed with local unsigned soft metal band Two Steps to Envy.

Listen here

Listen here to Sunday 21st November’s  Leith Tonight radio show on Leith FM.

Writer and broadcaster Roddy Martine joined us to talk all about his travels and the people he met while researching his latest book  Haunted Scotland.

Andy Gonzales of Edinburgh-based psychedelic punk rock band Acid Fascistswas in the studio to tell us all about their recent work and the release of their new EP Groovy Slices, Acid Twists.

The best of arts culture and entertainment from Scotland’s capital with Andrew Moir.


©Mark Wallinger

While the bitter winds of arts cuts scud menacingly over the Scottish horizon, and the good people of Somerset watch their £345m arts economy get flushed down the lavvy, we have to ask if this is the beginning of the end of public sector funding of the arts.

As citizens of Europe, we have grown accustomed to the state providing bread and circuses in order to stop us revolting. Arts for all – rather than arts for the elite – has been the rallying cry for 60 years.

But we are in a public sector recession. Our access to sustainable arts jobs and quality art consumption is under threat from a cadre who preach the benefits of big society and the munificence of corporate sponsorship.

However, it’s not the arts sector that has been under-performing. The financial sector has dragged us to the brink of this arts armageddon. Yet these plucky free market buccaneers, who have raided pensions, forced the demise of the property market and quashed any hope for young people living without debilitating debt for generations to come, are being touted as the new saviours of the arts industry.

You only have to look at ‘big society’ in South Africa and the USA to understand that the odds of the average citizen accessing the arts are slim to nugatory. Or closer to home, check the wonders of the big society during the Victorian era.

In the largely privately financed US arts world, the average consumer spends £32 per week on entertainment including restaurants, cinema, sports and the arts. In the UK however, the average spend on recreation and culture is £60 per week. Add the £700m in arts subsidies from the state and you can see why our UK arts are considered world class.

The arts in this country are a major financial success story. Between 1997 and 2006 the creative economy grew faster than any other sector, accounting for 2 million jobs and contributing £60 billion to the economy each year, 7.3 per cent of UK GDP.*

Arts and culture are central to tourism in the UK: this was worth £86 billion in 2007 – 3.7% of GDP – and directly employed 1.4 million people. Inbound tourism is a vital export earner for the UK economy, worth £16.3 billion to the UK economy in 2008.

During the Edinburgh International Festival, with concessions, the best of world art can be at your feet for a mere £6. During festival season, restaurants, bars, taxis and hotels are fit to burst. The taxi driver may not be a direct consumer of opera but she certainly won’t turn her back on the extra money a great piece of art brings to her business.

The arts unite and inspire individuals and communities. They feed the soul. They inspire us to outrage, contempt, rapture and quiet reflection. In the hands of a great artist / performer / musician, people can escape the humdrum mundanities and are transported to a world of challenging ideas, engaged emotions and fresh perspectives.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

Maybe it’s an age thing. In my youth I was happy to consume mass-produced art that didn’t touch the edges. Now, I yearn for complex characters, intriguing dance, bold visual art and demanding music.

And I don’t want it half-baked and mediocre. I want it affordable, ground-breaking and world-class.

Not much to ask, right? Well, it is to the free market world. The free market dictates that great art is funded by the elite for the elite while the rest of us eat the scraps of what our dwindling purses can afford.

To Europeans in general, and Scots in particular, it is our cultural heritage – nay, our cultural inheritance – to expect access to the greatest art at reasonable prices.

The suits have raided our pensions, our jobs and are about to ransack our sense of who we are.

I’m revolting, who’s with me?

©Fin Wycherley

This post originally appeared in 38 Minutes – the place to bask in modern media

Please comment, I’d love to hear your views.

*If the link for ‘creative economy 7.3% of GDP’ does not take you straight through to the original document, please search for it as “Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2008) Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy, London, DCMS.”  It seems it’s been mothballed (archived) already despite being less than 2 years old.

Or try: http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/DCMS_Annual_Report_08_01.pdf