Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Uncut's Album of the Year Award

As a subscriber to the Uncut music magazine, I was more than interested to read over its Album of the Year “long list.” Such lists always give people, like me, a chance to cast a critical eye over the choices and also to reflect on my purchases over the same period.

Four CDs I have bought are on the Uncut selection here: The Duke And The King with “Nothing Gold Can Stay”; The Low Anthem – “Oh My God Charlie Darwin”; Wilco – “Wilco (The Album)”; Bob Dylan – “Together Through Life.”

Of that quartet, I put The Low Anthem at the top of my list.

Some others nominated by Uncut I have sampled on various sites without wanting to add to my collection. There are CDs listed I have not listened to but I’ve just caught up with White Denim’s “Fits” and it’s a ragged, daft collection of tracks.

I’m surprised The Felice Brothers’ “Yonder Is The Clock” or Sam Baker’s “Cotton” have not made it on to the magazine’s list. Both yield moments of great music, lyrically as well as melodically. Both would have been worthy winners.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, and with no knowledge of the Uncut judges’ tastes or musical preferences, I’ll predict that either The Duke and The King, or The Low Anthem or Grizzly Bear’s “Veckatimest” will win outright with White Denim an outside bet.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Age issue

Plenty of media coverage about age issues at the moment, have you noticed?

Retirement at 65 is not OK for many 65-year-olds, the BBC wants to hire an “older” female newsreader, which is surely in breach of equality legislation, and Man Utd’s Ryan Giggs is being widely praised for still being brilliant at his stage in his career.

I am firmly in the “what’s age got to do with it?” camp. I am not defending me, or may age group, far from it.

Fair enough, I will not ever be pulling on the boots for Scotland at Hampden or be short-listed for a young journalist of the year award, but that’s fine and perfectly understandable. I was never short-listed for a young hack’s title in my journalistic youth and that was fine.

But, as a young man starting off my career in local newspapers and then progressing to the nationals, the “old guys” - the professionals - were endlessly supportive, helpful, critical and gruffly caring. Of that, there can be no doubt.

Today, being my age - 56 since you all ask - isn’t a barrier to anything, although ticking the final box in surveys that ask your age always slightly un-nerves me.

I became a dad again three years ago, I still go to a gym three or four times a week for a vigorous work-out, I play tennis as often as I can, I still have all my own teeth, knees, hips etc. I believe I am young at heart, with a big heart.

Of course, when I turned 40 and 50 I did that reflective bit but my life is good, the people in it are just wonderful and I think getting hung up on age can be a bit of waste of time.

I set up my own business just over 12 years ago so new learning has been part of my growing up in another different way.

I was asked by a chum, who is a year or two younger me, a few years ago when I would give up going to live music. No plans for that, I told him as I still love going to gigs with my older brother who is 62 and my grown-up sons, aged 30 and 27.

On that note, Neil Young, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen played gigs in Edinburgh last year and each was memorable, absolutely brilliant. No problems with their ages, I suggest.

Workwise, I reckon I bring experience, maturity and a healthy dose of reality to my clients through my PR business. I feel sorry for people facing the job chop at 65, especially those who are in good health, have plenty to offer, are enthusiastic and fit for it. I reckon I’m not alone with these views.

I like to think I’m grown up, not old.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


This, my second blog, has been written on the day I attended a social media event in Glasgow city centre. It was interesting and certainly opened my eyes to all sorts of communications’ possibilities. I had been aware of most of them but a closer look is essential, clearly.

Clearly, keeping a blog alive and up to date is important, so no pressure. Since my first effort earlier this week, I have been pleased with the positive feedback but now I must master ways of extending the network of people able to read it. Not going for mass circulation or anything like that but sharing a few random thoughts is a pleasing idea, although I suppose that’s for others to judge.

The appearance of my blog also comes during a landmark period for the Ritchie household. My darling wife, Maggie has become a student again as she’s started a part-time Creative Writing course at Glasgow University. It’s something she’s long considered so I really hope she’ll enjoy the experience and, of course, write that best seller.

And our three-year-old son, Adam has completed his first two weeks at nursery, which, apart from natural separation anxieties, he seems to be enjoying. With Mummy at Uni, it means I’ve been flying solo when it comes to his teatime, bath-time and bedtime activities this week - and it’s been fun with hardly any “where’s Mummy?” questions.

Highlight? This definitely came on Wednesday evening when I went to the kitchen to make our pasta pesto, leaving him in the sitting room in the company of ‘Fireman Sam” on DVD. Adam suddenly appeared at the kitchen door to tell me he was “missing me” although I’d only been away from him less than a minute. Huge hugs followed. A happy note to end on, I think you’ll agree.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Food For Thought

This is my first blog submission so it seems natural to start on a subject I enjoy - food.

Having just returned from a family break in Majorca, I am astonished at the great value lunches we enjoyed there. Not only great value but also very satisfying.

Paella, followed by fresh fish (whole sea bass, one day) then a pudding, a bottle of wine and a litre and a half bottle of still water cost NINE Euros per head, yes, equivalent to £9 each. You can't buy a bottle of wine in a restaurant here for nine quid, can you? Bottles of water are pricey here, too.

The food was always served piping hot, our three-year-old son was welcomed with open arms and departed licking a free ice cream most days. Not surprisingly, the family-run restaurant was always busy with local residents, in particular. Prices went up at the weekend, but that's understandable. One Sunday lunch table was set for 50 folk.

It makes me think that bit harder about going out for a meal here in Glasgow, where there are some excellent restaurants but they come at a price. There are also some less good establishments with charges they don't merit.

So, it will be sometime before we venture out to eat in the city - the pleasant dining hangover from Majorca hasn't worn off yet.