Sheena McDonald suggests ways of achieving Christmas Cheer.


It‘s a sign of-

' well. let‘s call it maturity. when you wise up to the fact that you can‘t actually have everything. Children start learning it before they stop believing. ‘PS‘ they write. ‘A combination of any four of the above would do. Santa. as long as it includes the Casio Portable Synthesizer (with New Proclaimers AcoustiSound Function) . . .‘ Well,l think they still believe. I‘ve actually tried confining it to a single item for several years running. Viz. One Pair Long Slim Brown Legs (Female). but it hasn‘t worked yet. I‘m going to try putting out two stockings this year. I still believe.

The Editor hasn‘t achieved this— well. let‘s call it age. ‘Everything, please.‘ be said. ‘Review ofthe Year. New Year Resolutions. Party Games. Alternative Plumduff Charms. Seasonal Advice the lot. OK?‘ Sure. But to be quite frank, it hasn‘t been that memorable a year. Yes. there have been a few surprises. like the mystifying and provocatively premature appearance of A White Hair. I tolerantly give it headroom. and call it Moby. in the hopes of persuading it ofits uniqueness. But. externally. nothing that will make 1987 stand out. Not a Best Film. or Best Book. Not even a Best Joke. although there have been some good ones. None ofthem fit to print. alas, although I‘m happy to share. on personal application. the one about the man with the very small head and the mermaid.

So: Most Immemorable Year: 1987. Next?

Seasonal Advice: start shopping for Christmas in February. There‘s not a lot else to do. the sales are on. and you might just avoid the pickle you‘re in now everything‘s sold out. the wrong size. or only available in our Marble Arch store. madam. Ofcourse. I‘ve only got myself to blame. Once again. I‘ve failed to meet the challenge ofsending everyone a homemade recycled brown paper potato-printed Christmas card explaining I‘ve decided to send the entire goodies-budget to Saint Geldof. and am looking forward to sitting down in front of my seasonally-decorated pot-plant (a sprinkling of Persil can look surprisingly festive) to a slap-up Yuletide trencher ofspam and rice-pudding. Cold as charity. I remember. and compromise yet again with a desperate Christmas Eve credit-card blowout, dolefully enclosing the receipts to enable tactful exchange.

Alternative Plumduff Charms?

Interesting. this one. Clearly. getting the horseshoe is a gloomy omen. for women at least. given the current tax disincentives to doing the honourable thing. How about a silver heart. betokening a whole year to come when nobody will call you ‘luv‘ without meaning it? Ah. fantasy. It‘s different for boys. of course. A silver key. maybe. indicating that someone else will always drive home. A note of caution here: the man who leaves his car at home almost inevitably ends of staying too long. drinking much too much. overpaying the taxi-driver. and driving to work the next dawn with a Babylonian hangover and a distinctly illegal residue in the old veins and arteries. My advice: say no. unless it‘s champagne. This has accomplished a remarkably sober 1987. Also immemorable. ofcourse. Hmmm . . .

So. Party Games? Now you‘re whistling Dixie. as our beloved premier likes to quip. Ever since those innocent days when we though ‘necking‘ meant passing oranges via the Adam‘s appple down the line. I‘ve been a games addict. Ofcourse it doesn‘t kill conversation (unless you insist on attempting the appalling Botticelli) it creates situation which will be recalled. happily and scandalously. long after the participants have gone on to play Public Life. No.1‘m not going to tell you which leading burghers I‘ve played Spin The Bottle with in my day (or night). but I do proffer this treasure ofa game: The Poetry Game. It‘s safe. but saucy.

On your piece of paper. write a noun. fold it over. pass it on. On your new folded sheet. write a question any question: is Glasgow Culture an oxymoron? Are you now. or have you ever been a practising member of War On Want? Who were you with last night? Does Billy Connolly exist? Fold it over. Pass it on. Now unfold your piece of paper. All you have to do is write a verse. poem or doggerel which answers the question. incorporating the noun. Of course you can do it. You‘ll find that everyone can. You‘ll also find that the ludic muse is almost inevitably scatalogical. unprintable and dangerously memorable.

I‘ll start you off. The noun is ‘perestroika‘ (NB doesn‘t rhyme with anything or does it?) The question is: Where will you be this time next year? This could be a competition. Ed.

And while you‘re masticating that one. let‘s just slam in a few Resolutions: Dance more. Sing more. Because tomorrow we well, let‘s call it reminisce.

Merry merry festive season!

MEL enoxs

An audience with Mel Brooks is such a guarantee of laughter that it saddens one‘s heart to have to report on the paucity of genuine belly laughs in his latest comic extravaganza Spaceballs. Funny man. shame about the movie.

Spaceballs is a $32 million mickey take of science-fiction films in general and Star Wars in particular. After shamelessly satirising westerns (Blazing Saddles). horror classics (Young Frankenstein) and Hitchcock (High Anxiety). Mel considers himself a fully qualified genre spoofing specialist. ‘Parody allows you to make fun of anything. A genre that is ripe for satire should fall into your hands and alter4 Star Treks; 3 Star Wars; 2 Aliens; Beneath, Beside. Under. to the Left olthe Planet of the Apes it occurred to me thatthe timing was absolutely right. You do it hopefully with affection and some homage but the western meant more to me as a genre and certainly Hitchcock meant more to me personally as a filmmaker.’

With the blessing of Star Wars' supremo George Lucas. Mel hastransformed Darth Vadar info Dark Helmet. the wise Yoda becomes Yogurt and chum John Hurt drops by fora side-splitting reprise of his Alien characterisation. Mel feels he is genuinely giving the public what they want. ‘I'm pandering to the public when they want a Mel Broks crazy picture. within it ltry to do things that will please me but I generally wantto give them a lovely and grand entertainment. That's :ny lob. I don’t look down on ' O

.The more serious side of Brooks has surfaced in productions like The Fly.

- Frances. and The Elephant

Man. made for his company Brookstilms and he does

have more dramatic ambitions of his own. ‘There‘s one thing thatl would love to do. They made a movie called Lady Sings The Blues. lousy movie. We’ve got 130 great records of Billie Holliday singing and she‘sthe greatest singer who ever lived. I would seriously like to direct a movie called Billie. about Billie Holliday

and her early days inthe whorehouse that she worked in in Baltimore and her emergence as a veritable singing genius.’ (Allan Hunter)

Spaceballs opens at the Ddeons in Glasgow and Edinburgh on 11 December.


Perhaps better known as author of the DearBill letters in Private Eye and his portrayal of Denis Thatcher in Anyone for Denis. satirist and playwright John Wells makes his opera directing debut with Scottish Opera and their Christmas production of foenbach's La Vie Parisienne. opening at the Theatre Royal. Glasgow on Friday 11. As to be expected though. itwill

. not be without Wells‘ own brand of humour. ‘Itwas

written by Meilhac and Halevy, who were very much in the Private Eye line' says Wells ‘one a cartoonist and one a more serious ioumalist and is a really topical satire of its day. I suppose ofall Dflenbach's operas it was the one principallythought of for actors ratherthan singers. being written fora company in Paris who had only one singer. I think it's got some of Dflenbach‘s best tunes and really, it'sa farce with music. It‘ll be my contribution to try and get the farce moving'. Apart from directing. Wells is also responsible for the translation into English. first heard in Scottish Opera's 1985 production. ‘All I‘ve done really is find

the exact equivalent lorthe puns and double entendres. Most of the comedy arises from who‘s on stage with who and who‘s trying to go to bed with who. And I promise you. I‘m being faithful to the text'. And what about Denis. will he be there? Wells doesn‘t think so. saying ‘He has a very well known track record of being upset by art in general. and opera and ballet in particular. and the idea of having an audience of Denis Thatchers watching anything would be enough to drive anybody into a monastery'. All a bit tongue-in-cheek. perhaps? ‘Hot so much tongue-in- cheek' says Wells. ‘it‘s tongue fully extended.‘ (Carol Main)

Scottish Opera‘s Christmas production of Dflenbach’s La Vie Parisienne runs for 10 perfonnaces at the Theatre Royal. Glasgow. opening on Friday 11. See Classical listings.

LARRY CDRYELL In a year when World Music has been much in vogue. Peshkar offer a fascinating musical combination. The concert will feature classical music in both the North and South Indian modes. and Indo-Jazz

fusion. which Is where American guitarist Larry Coryell comes in. As the sole non-Indian musician in a band which includes Zakir Hussain on tabla and the remarkable violinist Shankar, how does he approach the delicate combination of forms?

‘AII Indian music is based on respect for a particular scale. and I think about it in jazz terms as switching off the part of me thatthinks about harmony, and lust concentrate on melody and rhythm. That works very nicely, because you really don't know how the improvisations are going to go— the important thing is to organise enough ensemble passages to make It sound like a band, then just let it go. I love the drumming. and because it is so swinging. so crisp and lively and has such a bounce to it. I lust go with my jazz Instincts. The virtuosity of Shankar Isa thrill to behold. but he is sensitive enough to the way I play to interact with me at

2The List 11 Dec 1987-7Jan 1988