Well, here’s the thing. I could discuss today’s warning of impending war, courtesy of the unbridled, psychotic, feral dictator who is Vladimir Putin – or not. His determination to don the mantle of a latter-day Hitler is blatantly clear and, with roots of evil, why wouldn’t he? Nobody has made any attempt to stop him – it would appear – since he fired up his tanks of destruction and devastation and, to date, he has succeeded in laying a country bare while killing thousands. The spirit of the Ukranians, however, cannot be extinguished – like that of the persecuted Jews of eighty years ago, or more. Physically, they may fall but, in the words of Edith Eger in The Choice, ‘Just remember, no one can take away from you what you’ve put in your mind.’ So it is that the strength and courage of Ukraine and its people will prevail while Putin moves ever closer to karma and his final resting place in hell.
But I’m not going to write about that … Instead, I could unleash my anger, once more, regarding Nicola Sturgeon’s embarrassing announcement today apropos IndyRef2. Surprise me. Westminster is not going to grant her the legal powers to hold a second referendum in what she seems to have, unilaterally, decided is the best of three. That has been made abundantly clear. The Supreme Court, too, will block the untimely proposal despite her plan to bypass Boris and go straight there! Regardless, the deluded Ms Sturgeon is obsessed, refusing to be derailed in her bid for ‘glory’ while the country she purports to lead languishes around her crying out for some kind of focus on the plethora of immediate problems: cost of living crisis, NHS crisis, a crumbling education system further weakened by her ‘woke’ gender agenda, drugs, transport, the list is, at once, astonishing – and daunting. What does she do with her days?! One can only question the lucidity of a First Minister who is intent on inciting – once more – the divisiveness of 2014, manifest in the aggression of her far-left henchmen. Furthermore, one who has named an actual date, regardless, like a spoilt child unable to grasp the concept of the word ‘No’. I suppose, in reality, one should feel sorry for her. With little chance of it ending well, all she is doing in the meantime – besides neglecting the job she was elected to do – is embarrassing herself and, by association, Scotland (and me!). Why can’t she just give it a rest and look beyond herself and her blinding ambition? I suggest she ditch the stilettos, lock the door, pour herself a pint of Irn Bru and watch wall-to-wall River City while waving her giant Saltire!
Bored. Don’t worry, I shall give the subject no further credence. Funnily enough, though, tonight I watched someone else whose rampant ego cannot be contained. Serena Williams, now aged forty, was beaten in the First Round of Wimbledon by Harmony Tan, an up-and-coming young French player competing on the hallowed turf for the first time. A sad ‘end’ to a glittering career? I doubt she will be back. She is forty years-old, for goodness sake, and has won the coveted Venus Rosewater Dish seven times. At least, retire with some dignity. Not Serena. The desire to win, for glory, is her oxygen. The ego requires stroking, blinding her to the reality of life: time waits for no man …
On the subject of Wimbledon, this is to be Sue Barker’s last year in the hot seat. I cannot imagine it without her. She has become Wimbledon as, once upon a time, Dan Maskell before her. Thirty-one years on, I still miss his genteel voice and a belief in standards synonymous with that little corner of SW19. Who, though, shall fill Sue’s shoes? Clare Balding, I should imagine – not the end of the world. However, I found her final words tonight on Today at Wimbledon just slightly inappropriate. Harmony Tan was ecstatic following her win over Serena Williams – and deservedly so. An upset of sorts, granted, but it was her moment. Not according to Clare who saw fit to sign off with this image: ‘I am going to go to bed tonight dreaming of having a heart like Serena Williams.’ A fan, she may be – and I understand the sentiment – but a touch biased and even slightly creepy. Just me?
Something I do wish to write about is last Wednesday night and the Eagles concert at Murrayfield … I can’t believe it has been and gone. Often, the things one looks forward to the most can end up being a disappointment but I never doubted the Eagles – and they didn’t let me down. Murrayfield, on the other hand? Not the best. I, actually, saw them in that very stadium in 1996, twenty-six years ago now. Sitting high up in the gods in the stand farthest from the stage, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit might just as well have been The Muppets for all I knew – mere dots in the distance – but for the music. There was no mistaking the guitars and harmonies, the unmistakeable Californian sound of the Eagles …
Older, wiser and better prepared, this time I made sure we had good seats – and they were excellent – but the stage was huge, black, very high up and they were still dots! As a stadium, Murrayfield is not designed for concerts. Neither is it designed for the ‘growing’ population of today, thus Becca’s comment as we squeezed into the seemingly tiny turnstiles: ‘It’s a good job the Eagles weren’t playing in a month or two!’. Then, there’s the seats! Who the hell are they designed for? Midgets, as Pop would say. How he would have thrived in this ‘cancel culture’!
You know, I planned to write at length about the concert. I have loved the Eagles since my teens, Lyin’ Eyes my favourite song ever. I only have to hear the opening bars and I’m right back in the summer of ’76 … I tried to memorise it all. Not the incessant queueing for t-shirts, then drinks, in a backdrop more reminiscent of a gypsy encampment – never mind our fellow concert goers – but the music … and the dots! No big entrance, they just wandered on and, hilariously, I hadn’t a clue as to their first song. Soon rectified as the hits flowed, the sound absolutely perfect. Mind you, when I look back at the video snippets, all I can hear is me singing. Ironically, I thought I could. Once, I know I could! Oh, well … Of course, Manny nipped out to replenish our refreshments and on came Deacon Frey (son of the late Glenn) to sing Peaceful Easy Feeling, Tequila Sunrise and Best of My Love. Way to go, Man! Thankfully, he returned for the final two – Desperado and, their last, Already Gone.
‘Just a bunch of guys with guitars’, Don Henley promised no frills. There was no chat, just two and a half hours of utter nostalgia and the best music. Dots, they may have been – personally, I wouldn’t have worn a black shirt on a black stage the height of Everest – and I was sad that they didn’t play The Last Resort (those with me and around me, eternally grateful) but I loved every single second of it. An absolute privilege and a memory I shall treasure forever.
Treasured memories. So sad, last night, to hear the news of Dame Deborah James’ passing. Of course, I never met her but her courage and zest for life couldn’t fail to inspire love in abundance. She was unique and her eyes positively shone with fun – and great kindess. I cannot bear to contemplate, today, the aching pain of her family but at least, now, she is at peace. She will be watching over them all, of that I am sure, and, in time, the immense pride they must feel for her and everything she achieved – and all the treasured memories – will help them to heal. How privileged they were …
‘… but the pathos and the gift of life is that we cannot know which will be our defining heartbreak or our most victorious joy.’
Alexandra Fuller, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness.
Feeling sad today.
This is Trish, signing off.