FeaturesWhat's in the mind of Pete Martin, mostly

Jul

13

Beautiful Ghost

How famous men were the death of the world’s greatest sex symbol: After poet Edith Sitwell met Marilyn Monroe she described the star as a ‘beautiful ghost’. It’s an image we’ve all grown up with. Sensual and innocent, tough and fragile, the icon is out of all proportion to her talent. But the image also […]

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Jul

12

The financial and emotional cost of cancer

Outside, the wind blasted through the trees, raging and rustling through the branches as it wound its way up from the mouth of the Tay. Inside the hospice, like a fading echo of the living world, the storm seemed all but over. Hushed tones; the sound of impossible kindness. Flowers in still life; the scent […]

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Jun

12

IT’S MURDER BEING SCOTTISH

When I lived in New York I never really got to grips with the TV ‘news’. The nightly round-up made the Dundee Courier’s mythical front page for the Titanic disaster – Dundee Man Lost At Sea: Giant Turnip Found in Forres – seem like universal insight. The square-jawed anchormen and professionally-perfect women did cover international events. But only […]

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Jun

04

Are ye dancing?

“Are ye dancing?” “Are ye asking?” When I was a schoolboy, I saw Francie and Josie deliver this routine at Perth Theatre. Dressed in vivid Teddy-boy suits, the Scots comedy duo – aka Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy – lampooned the Scottish dancehall mating ritual. Fresh from the searing humiliation of Scottish country dancing classes […]

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May

29

A Sobering Train of Thought

It was a journey of two halves and the contrast couldn’t have been more startling. I was on the London-Glasgow train on a Sunday afternoon. Having stood on my headphones, I couldn’t listen to music or watch a movie – so the other passengers passed for entertainment. On the first half of the journey, a […]

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May

23

Big Society

I was sitting in a client’s reception area when the guy came in. He was big, very big, and hadn’t seen his feet in a long time. Probably a salesman, he wore a suit. His stomach didn’t hang over his belt though. You could see it drooped down inside his trousers towards his knees. He […]

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May

13

No sex please, we’re Scottish!

Last week, the Scottish Government published a consultation paper on the licensing of ‘sexual entertainment’. In my whole life, I don’t think I’d ever heard the phrase ‘sexual entertainment’ before. Certainly, growing up in a typical Scottish house in the 60s and 70s, there wasn’t any. At the first hint of hanky-panky on television, my […]

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May

13

Man Smart, Woman Smarter

Have you ever seen the cover for Robert Palmer’s classic album ‘Pressure Drop’? The sleeve features a shapely woman – naked except for a pair of high heels – staring out of the hotel room window while the be-suited singer changes the TV channel. In the famous video for his big hit ‘Addicted to Love’, […]

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May

05

A Sticky End

In case you hadn’t noticed, the makers of McCowans Highland Toffee went into administration last week. However, there may still be hope for the 90-year-old brand and its 200 employees. The administrators Grant Thornton have revealed that there are two potential bidders to keep the business going, one of which is a consortium of Scottish […]

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May

01

How do you sleep at night?

How did you sleep last night? Did you sleep the sleep of the just? Or did you just toss and turn and watch the clock, fretting away the hours till dawn? Or did you simply choose to stay awake watching TV, playing computer games or tapping at some digital device until the wee small hours? […]

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Apr

29

Jazzed up

I don’t like jazz. I don’t like it in the way that The Boomtown Rats didn’t like Mondays and that I, in turn, didn’t like the Boomtown Rats. It’s a personal, visceral thing. Of course, everybody likes Ella and Louis. (That’s Fitzgerald and Armstrong for anyone under 40.) And I love Billie Holiday, mostly because […]

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Apr

15

Technology and Turtlenecks

‘Oh wow.’ Those words have not been uttered by any critic who’s seen the new Steve Jobs biopic, imaginatively entitled “Jobs”. According to his sister Mona Simpson, those were the last words of the late Apple supremo. After his passing in 2011, her eulogy painted the tech billionaire as a humble family man and loving […]

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Apr

14

FROM MADMEN TO SADMEN

No doubt you’ve seen the TV series Mad Men – the beautifully realised soap opera set in the 1960s on Madison Avenue, New York’s traditional ‘advertising district’. Over the past few years, it’s been hard to avoid the sleek style and seductive storylines of this award-laden show, and especially its chisel-jawed hero: the brooding, bed-hopping, […]

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Apr

13

Scotch Missed

How come the great brands of Scotch are not particularly Scottish? That’s one of the great ironies of international marketing. Certainly, it’s true that all brands aim to build on what makes them different. Since all ‘Scotch’ is equally ‘Scottish’, nationality in itself brings no competitive distinction to any individual brand. So, perhaps it’s not […]

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Apr

02

“It’s a drag, innit?”

In Paul McCartney’s house in Liverpool, the wallpaper in the living room doesn’t go all the way round. The room is half-decorated in an exotic Japanesey bamboo print which gives way to a couple of different, cheaper papers. If done up as intended, the effect might have been fairly chi chi for a small council […]

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Mar

23

Scottish Cinema

Hugh MacLeod is a Scots-born cartoonist and former adman. He became famous for drawing sarcastic pictures on the backs of business cards during boring meetings on Madison Avenue. One of his drawings shows two students bickering. “No, I’m more annoying,” says the art student. “No, I’m more annoying,” says the film student. To students of […]

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Mar

23

Geez a Job, Creative Scotland

The trouble with getting older is that life starts to hold fewer and fewer surprises for you. Even if you’ve got all your own teeth, hair and marbles, you can’t keep the same joy of new discovery – the zest of fresh revelation – you enjoyed when you were young. Unless you’re forgetful as a […]

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Mar

15

Hats off to you!

“ONCE I BUILT A RAILROAD…” my Uncle Chic sort of bellowed the song rather than sang it. At family parties, fuelled by a few sherbets, his rendition of the 1931 Bing Crosby classic was always a bravura performance. He’d throw an arm wide, gesturing towards the vast dustbowls of America’s Great Depression and the vanishing […]

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Mar

10

How easy is it to get banned from the BBC?

The BBC is a hotbed of radicalism, isn’t it? The licence-fee funded broadcaster is full of lefties, anarchists and unbelievers, all committed to the downfall of civilisation and right-thinking religiosity. Or so you might think, if you listened to the persistent propaganda from this country’s right-wing politicians and press. Yet, a simple glance at the […]

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Feb

21

The Sandwich Trap

When Scots songsmiths Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan wrote the 70s chart smash Stuck in the Middle, they must have hoped the song would live on and on. They simply couldn’t have foreseen how their pop hit would become forever fixed in the popular imagination with a gruesome scene of drawn-out torture. After all, who […]

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Feb

13

David Bowie Is…

That’s the title of an exhibition of the rock star’s artefacts which opens next week at London’s V&A Museum. Even at £40 a ticket, it’s the fastest, biggest, best-selling show in British art history. After ten years in self-imposed retirement, and two years secretly recording his new critically-acclaimed album, there’s now a frenzied re-examination of […]

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Feb

13

A SOBERING TRAIN OF THOUGHT

It was a journey of two halves and the contrast couldn’t have been more startling. I was on the London-Glasgow train on a Sunday afternoon. Having stood on my headphones, I couldn’t listen to music or watch a movie – so the other passengers passed for entertainment. On the first half of the journey, a […]

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Feb

05

Sellebrity

When he first appeared on TV in the mid-70s, he was a skinny, spotty, sneery youth with spiky ginger hair. He was a last-minute stand-in on the bland topical tea-time show, presented by Bill Grundy. Asked his opinion of Mozart and Beethoven, the young man mumbled ‘a rude word’. Goaded by Grundy, he repeated the […]

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Jan

05

Xmas Hangover

Did you sit there on Christmas Day, knee-deep in ripped, crumpled wrapping paper? For a fleeting moment, your heart may have felt as empty as your wallet. Then, with the snap of a mint thin, it’s on with the jollity before you could even begin to wonder “Well, how did I get here?” For sure, […]

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Oct

14

“Facts are chiels that wanna ding”

‘Facts are chiels that winna ding.’ That’s a lovely, well-worn phrase, isn’t it? Unlikely bedfellows, Alex Salmond and Michael Gove have both wielded those famous words – ‘dinging’ their political foes with the seeming solidity of Burns’ 18th century Scots aphorism as well as its actual impenetrability. I would be tempted to use this ancient […]

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Jun

24

“So, going anywhere nice this summer?”

“Are you going out tonight?” Why do hairdressers assume a new hair-do suddenly makes you one of the party people? Young crimpers appear especially disappointed to discover that both you and this line of questioning are going nowhere. Silence falls around you like hair trimmings till your salonist can stand it no more. Then they […]

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Apr

15

Are you what you wear?

I’ve been watching too much Sherlock Holmes lately. In the BBC’s faithful modern makeover, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the latest denizen of 221B Baker Street. He can reel off your entire biography and what you had for breakfast just by glancing at the egg-stain on your old Etonian tie. My own efforts at deduction have been […]

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Apr

15

Nice work, if you can get it

When you were a kid, and people asked you what you wanted to be, what did you say?  I said I wanted to be a computer programmer, since my most conspicuously successful cousin Jonny was a computer programmer. Or a cowboy. Anyway, I never wanted to be a professional footballer. It’s not hard to see […]

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Mar

27

Goodbye Mr Mackenzie

The note in his hand simply said “I’m sorry”. He was found, in the garden shed at his father’s house, wrapped in a blanket with a family photograph album in his arms. That year, Billy Mackenzie was just one of 655 men to kill themselves in Scotland. Today would have been his birthday. But it’s […]

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Feb

11

Why jailing is failing in Scotland

Many years ago, my mum was in and out of prison frequently. She used to volunteer for a charity and visited inmates whose nearest and dearest didn’t come to see them. Once she was visiting a young man in jail in Perth. He was due for release and told her he was worried about finding […]

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Jun
23

Voter Apathy? Who can be bothered?

At The Derby in 1913, a woman named Emily Wilding Davidson threw herself under a horse to gain the vote. In Tiananmen Square in 1989, an unnamed Chinese man carrying two shopping bags held up four Red Army tanks in a peaceful democratic protest that saw hundreds lose their lives. This year, we’ve seen the […]

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Jan
25

From babies to bams

You know you’re in trouble when your nursery school teacher thinks you’re heading for jail – and there’s an 85% chance she’s right. That’s the grim statistic from a study where nursery teachers predicted which of their little charges would eventually face criminal charges. Started in 1972, the Dunedin Study tracked the children into adulthood, […]

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Sep
06

Vanishing Scotland

Vanishing Scotland It’s a big question. Is Scotland becoming less Scottish? Answer, yes. Bigger question – does it matter? Nationalistically, no. Economically, yes. (I think.) The above illustration depicts the demise of (perhaps superficial) ‘Scottishness’ in Scotland’s culture: from the deep seriousness of Burns and the global caricature that Harry Lauder helped to coin… to […]

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Jan
21

Arrogance Gave Him Up

“Is it time for an outbreak of humility in Scotland?” asks Pete Martin.

1 Comments

Jun
08

Obsession Magnificent

If you recognise the headline, then you won’t need anyone to tell you what this note is about. Baffled? It’s about Billy Mackenzie. Who? The Associates. Nope? Jeezy Peeps, as Oor Wullie might say. You can find a few Mackenzie-esque gems on YouTube – of which this from French TV is my favourite. The video […]

4 Comments

Mar
15

Seconds Out

Boxing in the Depression era. Fairground boxing, also known as booth boxing. The memoir of Johnny Kelly of his life as a professional fighting man in 1930s Scotland.

7 Comments

Feb
21

The Castrol GTX of love and friendship

Or how people go mental Your brain is like a little motor.  Most of the time, it purrs away under the bonnet of your ‘bunnet’, baseball cap, hat or hairdo. Life, on the other hand, is like a bucket of grit and grief that fate pours into your petrol tank, (usually just as you’re going […]

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Feb
07

James Grant – Strange Flowers

James Grant. Strange Flowers. Possibly the best album ever made by a Scottish artist. Buy it now at www.verticalrecords.co.uk

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Jan
08

Marlowe meets Tarantino

Just been re-reading ‘The Reckoning’ – Charles Nicholls’ brilliant account of the murder of Christopher Marlowe. (So titled since the playwright’s final reckoning came about when he was stabbed above the eye in an alleged bar brawl over ‘the recknyng’ – ie who was paying the bill). What strikes you about the real story isn’t […]

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Jan
07

Sadie’s Story Music

Sadie’s Story An excerpt from the beautiful, sad, sweet orchestral score composed by James Grant for the film Sadie’s Story, directed by Pete Martin.

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Jan
06

Tanya Richam Odoi

Tanya Richam Odoi in experimental dance film Last year, I met a Scottish musician called James Grant – who fronted a reasonably famous band called Love & Money in the early 90s. He did the soundtrack for my short film Sadie’s Story, and we discussed possibly producing a short concept film built round one of […]

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Dec
09

Headin’ For a Gig

Here’s the video I shot for Scottish pop legends Hue & Cry (aka Pat and Greg Kane). The tune – Headin’ For A Fall – is a slab of 70′s-Stevie-Wonder-style funk shot through with that same sense of righteous anger Stevie was once able to summon up, before the lurid clothing and schmaltz got in […]

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Nov
13

see me

Just finished two little spots for a Scottish mental health ‘anti-stigma’ campaign called see me. It’s 5 years since I made the first see me commercial and a lot has changed in that time. The campaign has been tracked in widescale public research, and there’s been a definite shift in knowledge, attitudes and behaviour around […]

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Nov
13

Johnny’s story

“Must have been about  3 in the morning. I was spark out. The phone goes by the bed. I’d had a few beers, bit of a hangover coming on, so I was like – what, what? Gave me a fright. It’s never good news in the night, is it? And… And it was him. Garbled […]

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Nov
13

Vince’s story

“It started off as nothing. I met my mate Tony for a beer. I felt great. Really clear in my mind. Hadn’t seen him in ages. He’s got a new wife, kid on the way, doing great. Had a few beers, nothing much, a great laugh, and then, at closing time, we said cheerio in […]

2 Comments

Sep
30

Hue and Cry

Just finished the first of a couple of pop promos for Scottish pop legends Hue and Cry. A strangely prescient slab of 70s Stevie Wonder-style funk from Pat Kane and his bro Greg. Great fun working with two great musicians – tho Pat is at pains to point out that he ‘famously can’t play an […]

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Jun
23

Just a Northern Soul

Northern Soul dance steps. This page contains links to step-by-step dance moves for Northern Soul dancing on video – notably demonstrated by a cool young Japanese cult in Tokyo! If that’s what you want – scroll down the page. Originally, this post was about a Northern Soul video I was shooting. Legendary Scottish pop combo, […]

3 Comments

May
27

Cat in suitcase

I bought an absurdly small suitcase at Edinburgh’s funk fair – a cool name for a mixture between a craft sale, hippy bric-a-brac, retro chic and car boot sale. It’s the perfect size for my mac and I thought it would make an entertaining alternative laptop bag… Our cat Twiggles thought it would make a […]

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Mar
20

Nana’s Eulogy

St John’s RC Church, Perth. Wednesday, 19th March 2008 Requiem for Margaret Martin 29th April 1929 – 12th March 2008 With your forbearance Father, I’d like to start in the Irish tradition and take just a little time to talk about our mum and the great good she achieved in this life. Maybe just one […]

1 Comments

Feb
19

Sell-out Scotland

Brandrepublic reports that a significant Scottish client is searching for a ‘London ad agency’. Which is depressing. In a year in which one well-regarded Scottish agency folded, a few of the more (ahem) senior figures in Scotland’s shrinking adland fell out. The sniping with misfiring antique blunderbusses made playground taunts look like Olympic markmanship. It […]

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