About

 

Shanachie  — an old Scots/Irish Gaelic word meaning the skilled teller of tales — especially Gaelic ones.

On these pages, you will find stories of ordinary and extra ordinary people. Some are real, some are fictitious- although perhaps based on real people. Many are sports related, such as Lee Trevino, Ille Nastase, Mohammed Ali and people who are far less famous.

Some are actors or politicians – note how these two professions naturally come together.

Some are singers or musicians or artists of one form or another——- and others– well they just come from the daily mix of life.

Some might just have a connection to Glasgow Celtic Football Club and its extraordinary history and story.

Me?

I am a bozo!

To be fair, I am a professional bozo — by that I mean I have professional qualifications ( I used to be a lawyer, but I am alright now ) and in the main I spend my day providing business advice to others, sitting in meetings, looking at business plans, and generally speaking to folk about business things. Basically– telling a story about business.

However, at the same time I am a cowboy boot wearing twit,  who loves a good story, good food, fabulous cities, a glass of wine and whose only real talent — if it is a talent at all– is to be able to see magic in the things other people do— and a good story.

So these pages are no more than an attempt to share some stories about people and the things they do or things they have done.

Hopefully anyone reading them will enjoy them– if so, then  please pass them on– and if not, then no harm done.

Some of the things I have written have been published both in print and online in various places and  I co-wrote The Heart of a Lion- The life and times of Willie Wallace which can be found in most book shops and online places such as Amazon.

The photograph at the top of the page is an impression of the Circus Maximus which once stood in Rome— The Eternal City. For something like 600 years it was the greatest “sporting” stadium in the world — although today we would not necessarily accept all that went on there was “sport” as we would define it. The Circus held up to 350,000 spectators, and many a story was played out in and around its environs.

As for the name STRANDSKY — well it comes from a 1973 song written by Bryan Ferry and is the first track on the second Roxy Music album aptly entitled…… For Your Pleasure.

 

 

The Strand and the “Strandsky” in the title is many a different thing at one and the same time. Essentially it is a dance, a feeling, an emotion, an undefinable state of mind and soul which has been experienced by many throughout the ages of history. It is also a mystery, a muse, a puzzle, maybe even a legend that might or might not exist at all.

At the time, Dr Simon Puxley described what was meant by the feeling of “Doing the Strand” as follows:

The Strand — First and foremost a dance, depicted as a new craze (‘new sensation’, ‘the new way’). However in the dictionary ‘strand’ can mean ‘walk’ (verb), a place to walk, a stretch of beach, or ‘to leave high and dry’. ‘Strand’ was also once a brand of cigarette. And the Strand is of course a famous London street, once highly fashionable: this is the meaning that the title immediately calls to mind, if any.

BUT the Strand is none of these things. It’s without precedent and unique. It’s not even a dance-step. It is, as the lyrics demonstrate, everything; or more particularly it is – to use inadequate platitudes— where it’s at, whatever turns you on. The buzz, the action, the centre, the quintessence, the energy. The all-embracing focus, past present and future, the ineffable. The indefinable. And in the context of performance the Strand is also something else the here- and-now, i.e. the song, the music and the atmosphere themselves.
The song metaphorically conceives of the Strand as a dance. No ordinary dance, but an eternal, universal or a tangible image of an indefinable aesthetic and emotional perfection. Interestingly the dance was exactly such an expression of an ideal state in much fin-de-siecle and early twentieth- century art; it was an obsessive image, for example, for the poet W.B. Yeats:
“O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,’ How can we know the dancer from the dance? (‘Among School Children’)

 

fabulous creation i.e. ‘creation’ as in a fashion-show; hyperbole but- as the rest of the song insists – also literally ‘fabulous’ like a fable, magical, incredible.

Quaglino’s place or Mabel’s — Quaglino’s: long-established, exclusive London restaurant with dance-floor, frequented by aristociacy – Mabel’s: suggests a cheap cafe or brothel, in direct, bathetic, contrast to Quaglino’s. Highlife or lowlife, it makes no difference with the Strand.

Louis Seize King Louis the Sixteenth (Seize) of France, guillotined by revolutionaries in 1793. ‘Seize’ is a double entente: French for ‘sixteen’, it’s pronounced identically to English ‘says’. ‘Louis Seize’ is a conflation, then, o ‘Louis Seize says’; ‘he prefer’ is the ungrammatical English a Frenchman might use.

Laissez-faire French phrase used in English to mean ‘free trade’, and more generally ‘no restrictions’ therefore freedom of expression, ‘anything goes’, ‘each to his own’. A literal translation is ‘let it be’, or ‘you have leave to do’, so the sense of these lines is that Louis approves of the Strand because it has no limits, or that he prefers the Strand laissez-faire rather than otherwise, or even that he gives state approval (‘you have leave to do’) to the Strand.

Tango… fandango Spanish-American dances. The tango became an established ballroom step; the fandango a wilder routine, became a synonym for a shindig.

Quadrilles Quadrille: a square dance, origin France.

Madison A dance done in formation which was a short-live fad, mainly in America, in the early sixties.

Mashed potato schmaltz A play on words to create a contradiction. ‘Mashed potatos’ is intended literally, to describe the slushiness of schmaltz (sentimentality and oversweetness in music, films, etc.); and is also the name of a ‘sixties dance which appeared in the wake of the twist and in its rhythmic and vigorous lunges is anything but schmaltzy’.

Rhododendron Large evergreen shrub which flowers annually, cultivated all over the world but especially in the grounds of large houses in England.

The Sphinx and Mona Lisa Two all-time great enigmas. The Sphinx was a creature in both Greek and Egyptian mythology with a human head and a lion’s body. The Greek version strangled those who failed to solve a seemingly unanswerable riddle: literally enigmatic. The most famous example of the Egyptian Sphinx, the massive stone figure (240 feet long, 66 feet high) still recumbent at the side of the Great Pyramid, is more mysterious: it actually exists, but what its exact purpose was is unknown.
The impression, anyway, is that it guards the pyramid’s secrets, as the Greek Sphinx guarded the answer to the riddle. The ‘Mona Lisa’ is probably the most famous painting of all time. Painted by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), the smile on the face of the portrayed woman has been the scource of endless speculations. Her expression is said to be deeply profound with a magical effect which no analysis of the painting can explain
The Sphinx and Mona Lisa represent not only the arcane and mysterious but also – by implication -the ancient and immortal.

Lolita and Guernica Two outstanding artistic portrayals of never-ending human frailties – love and war respectively. Vladimir Nabakov’s novel masterpiece (1955) describes a man’s obsession with a pubescent girl, a ‘nymphet’. The opening words of the book are: “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul”.
Guernica was a Spanish village massacred by Mussolini’s bombers in the Spanish Civil War. Pablo Picasso – Spanish by birth – immortalised this Fascist genocide in a painting – called Guernica – for the Spanish pavilion at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in1937.
Perhaps Picasso’s most well- known single work, the name Guernica has become synonymous with monstrosity.

Beguine A rhumba-like dance-step from the islands of St. Lucia and Martinique. Introduced to American dance-floors in the 1920’s (viz. the song-standard ‘Begin the Beguine’), but has never established itself.
Samba Much-favoured ballroom dance from Brazil, which actually originated in Africa and has spread to the palais of England.

Lido A fashionable Italian beach, just outside of Venice; or any pleasure-ground borrowing the name.

Who’s Who The annual directory of anyone who’s anyone (currently).

Lagoulue Celebrated Parisian dancer at the turn of the century. So named because of her immense size (‘goulu’ means greedy), she was immortalised in countless Toulouse- Lautrec pictures. Has also lent her name to a fashionable New York nightclub.

Nijinsky Vaslav Nijinsky (1892-1950), Russian ballet dancer who, under Diaghilev’s direction, created a sensation in the early years of the century with his technique and expressiveness. Generally regarded as the greatest of all male dancers. The ‘-sky’ at the end of his name is jokingly supposed, in cornmon lore, to end all Russian words: thus ‘Strandsky’ in the next line.”

Do the Srand(sky)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2RTq4OBxcM

2 Responses to “About”

  1. TheBlackKnight October 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    ABOUT TIME YOU STARTED PULLING TOGETHER YOUR MOST EXCELLENT WORK SIR!

    CHAPEAU

  2. Alastair Logan April 3, 2017 at 11:28 am #

    “Life after Life” by Paddy Armstrong of the Guildford Four is a human and humbling story of a man who spent 15 years in jail for an offence he did not commit. It is a vital addition to your excellent article in July 1991 on his case.

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