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Frankie S

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About Frankie S

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  1. As restrictions are set to tighten once more, and a winter-long cycle of increasingly ineffective and widely-ignored lockdowns, punctuated by half-arsed occasional relaxations, looms, with the daily telling off from headmistress Sturgeon creating a feedback loop - an infinitely regressing mise en abyme of monotonous chastisement - it’s important to cast away negative thoughts and surf that second wave with a positive attitude. Reasons to be Cheerful Part 1: As someone whose businesses fall exclusively within the most badly Covid-affected sectors (hospitality, live music, nightclubs and events services), at least I can console myself with the fact that I don‘t own a ****ing soft play centre.
  2. Lost Highway is probably my favourite Lynch movie, and Robert Blake’s Mystery Man is Lynch’s scariest villain, just edging out Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth in Blue Velvet for that accolade. His performance was retrospectively given an extra layer of menace by his 2001 trial for the murder of his second wife - he was acquitted, but lost a subsequent civil action, where he was found liable for her wrongful death. I’ve seen all Lynch’s films and Lost Highway, Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me, Mulholland Dr. , Inland Empire, Blue Velvet and Eraserhead are my top 6, with Wild at Heart and The Elephant Man not far behind. The only Lynch films I don’t care for are The Straight Story (excellent performance by Richard Farnsworth, but ultimately a rather dull film), and Dune, which was a complete mess. Just hoping Lynch (who’s not getting any younger) has at least one more movie in him, or at least another TV series (rumours were rife that he was in consultation with Netflix about a new show before Covid hit.)
  3. The wholly unnecessary background music ban, which doesn’t apply in England, has sucked the life out Scotland’s bars and restaurants, and as long as it stays in place its grim logic will stifle any realistic prospect of reintroducing live music or reopening live music venues. The indicative date for reopening of the live music sector was predictably pushed back from 14th Sept to 5th Oct, and the can will doubtless be kicked even further down the road in a few weeks, ensuring live music venues remain shuttered after furlough ends. However, the ban on background music is no longer, as Joanna Blythman claimed in The Herald yesterday, the ‘final straw’ for the hospitality industry in Scotland. It’s just been relegated to the penultimate straw. According to recent reports, 75% of hospitality outlets were already facing closure due to current restrictions. Just in case these weren’t quite draconian enough, Scot Gov has just introduced a new one - maximum group size of 6, taken from a maximum of 2 different households, which becomes law on Monday. Some might think this merely reflects Westminster’s newly-introduced ‘rule of 6’ policy, and we knew Scotland having a marginally more lenient regime than England for all of a day or so would never last, but needless to say Scotland has taken it just that one step further. In England it’s 6 from 6, not 6 from 2. 6 from 3 would have been ok (more restrictive than England, but not so materially different from the 8 from 3 rule that our bars and restaurants have been enforcing to date), but 6 from 2 effectively restricts drinking and eating out to pairs, couples, pairs of couples and families. It ends the brief illusory period of quasi-normality when you could meet a couple of friends or colleagues for lunch, dinner or a drink. For the 25% of hospitality outlets who thought they might just about struggle through these difficult times, I’ll wager most of them are already revising their cash flow forecasts (and prospects of survival) downwards. it’s hard to see why the science that compels 6 from 6 in England diverges so strongly from the science in Scotland that compels 6 from 2. I’d like to see the workings, though I doubt we ever will. By comparison with our English counterparts, the Scottish hospitality sector is subject to much more onerous restrictions. I’d hate to think this was just another example of oneupmanship from Scot Gov, further differentiating the ‘caring, safety-first’ SNP from the ‘reckless’ Tories, at the expense of the rather-too-easily scapegoated hospitality industry. ’Pubs v schools’, ‘close the pubs’ - this sort of facile thinking and sensationalist rhetoric has not only been mirrored by the overwhelming negativity towards the sector emanating from Holyrood, it’s been fuelled by it. Reductive adversarialism is the SNP’s modus operandi, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see it peddling more simplistic claptrap. The stigmatisation of the young, positing them as antithetical to the interests of the elderly, is a profoundly destructive narrative that should be resisted, but Sturgeon seems worryingly keen to pitch her tent in this reactionary minefield. Where is the evidence that well-run hospitality outlets are the driver of the recent uptick in cases? Should be easy enough to produce as we’re the sector that’s been obliged to institute a track and trace system on behalf of the government these last couple of months. I suspect it doesn’t exist, or we’d have heard all about it by now. Enforce the (mainly sensible) regulations where they’re not being observed. Crack down on the cowboys, but don’t make it impossible for responsible operators to trade profitably, as is happening now. Hospitality is the fourth largest employer in the U.K., well it was before Covid at least, but the First Minister has rarely missed an opportunity to scapegoat it. Sturgeon’s puritanical worldview has certainly come to the fore of late, and we’re constantly reminded that we’re trading under tolerance, and each new restriction, however arbitrary, should be met with equanimity as we’re lucky to be trading at all. Her barely-concealed antipathy towards the sector is likely to bear fruit, as very few pubs, particularly small independent operators (I’m sure Tim Martin will be fine), will be left standing at the end of all this. I’ve voted for the SNP for years, and for Independence, but it’s a monolithic party in a near one-party state, and the complete absence of credible opposition ensures there is little effective scrutiny and they rarely get held to account. There are few voices of criticism as, despite growing discontent within the business community, relatively few people are prepared to stick their head above the parapet and criticise the First Minister (as she constantly reminds us in her daily party political broadcast, ‘now is not the time for politics’). I’ve a feeling that might be about to change.
  4. Considering I’ve voted for them for years, and for Indy for that matter, it’s more nuanced than that.
  5. In general though can you imagine the outrage here with those sort of measures yet we are held up as "most severe in Europe". There is very little you can't do here you can do in England. They have just had their first crowd test events and our are next week. As always it's a week or 3 behind. Now being compared to other outliers in Europe for that very reason. NHS has to be the priority as I said earlier, it needs to be ramped back up to full normal operational capacity. There is quite a lot you can’t do in Scotland that you’ve been able to do in England for a while. England reopened theatres, live music and arts venues from 15th Aug, with social distancing and mitigations. Sturgeon went the other way, she banned background music in pubs and restaurants (it had previously just been one of a long list of advisory mitigations), suggesting that Scot Gov’s indicative date for reopening live music venues (Sept 14th) is unlikely to happen without a rapid about turn, as, logically, Scot Gov can’t permit live music if recorded music is banned. I’ve spoken to colleagues in England about the ban on recorded music, and the general reaction is incredulity. There is no credible scientific basis for the ban - low level background music is no more likely to make people lean in more or talk louder than general background chatter - in fact some of the noisiest pubs I’ve been in pre-lockdown were Weatherspoons outlets. This draconian ban, which has rendered pubs and restaurants soulless and sucked any remaining atmosphere out of them (less than half full as they already are because of social distancing), costing the industry dear in terms of lost revenue, was clearly a knee-jerk reaction to local spike in Aberdeen. Sturgeon said, when she introduced the ban just over couple of weeks ago, that she would consult with the hospitality industry to see if an agreed safe decibel limit could be introduced, but that now seems like an empty platitude, as no such consultation has yet taken place. In fact there is now a Change.org petition urging the lifting of the ban, being promoted by a number of the people Sturgeon should have been consulting with, showing how little confidence there is within the industry about the ban being overturned any time soon. Scot Gov have painted themselves into a corner over this, as furlough is already winding down and the hospitality, live music and nightclub sectors are deciding now whether to retain staff or offload them. The ban on background music gives no-one any confidence that live music venues or nightclubs will open again soon, even with SD and extensive mitigations. At this stage, the signals from Scot Gov are so overwhelmingly negative that jobs are not just on the line, but are already being shed and will continue to be shed in large numbers over the next couple of months. At first I thought it was just brinksmanship. Sturgeon’s modus operandi has always been to move a few weeks slower than Westminster, missing no opportunity to castigate the Tories for their recklessness, while reinforcing Scot Gov’s ‘safety first’ credentials, but her continual calls for the extension of furlough, long past the point where anyone genuinely thinks its going to happen (Sunak dismissed this suggestion months ago), now looks like buck-pushing and political point scoring. Scottish hospitality, events, arts, theatres and live music sectors are dealing with much more onerous restrictions than their English counterparts, and an ever-widening lag in terms of reopening for those sectors still closed. There is now very little optimism that Scotland will catch up before the end of furlough, so jobs will be lost and business failures in these sectors will be significantly greater than in England. WM will get the blame, and much will be made of the fact that Scot Gov would have been able to save all these jobs and business if only it had greater fiscal powers, or indeed independence, but the jobs will be lost and the businesses will be gone all the same. There is clearly some political capital to be made here in terms of the independence debate, but at what cost? Sturgeon is playing a dangerous game. I’m not sure if Sturgeon has a positive vision for the future of the Scottish economy, and particularly for the embattled hospitality, tourism, retail, entertainment and arts sectors, but if she does, it’s well past time to start outlining it.
  6. I remember seeing Dykes in one of his early games for Queens in the League Cup at Easter Road in Aug 2016. He scored and played well in a 3-1 victory for Queens, and was a constant nuisance to the Hibs defence. I remember thinking we’ve got a real prospect here, and a few of my Hibs-supporting pals were hugely impressed. He’s got a real presence - strong and physical but surprisingly good touch too, and a turn of pace. He always had the raw materials. If I’m honest it took him a while to fulfil his promise at Palmerston. The one thing that let him down was his finishing - he never really looked like a natural goalscorer, but then again he was playing in the same team as Dobbie, who’d make anyone else look bad in that respect. Dykes might have played second fiddle, but he was one of the main reasons Dobbie scored 43 goals in all comps in 2018-19, and his assist stats were up there with the best in the league. I believe Dykes was a multi-sports player growing up, and was fairly late to specialise and choose football. At times it looked like he was an athlete learning how to become a footballer. I suspect he hasn’t yet reached his ceiling and still has room for improvement. I do think he improved hugely at Queens during his time there, and clearly significantly improved again (including his goalscoring) when he was with Livingston. He’s a confident guy, and I suspect the English Championship will suit his style. He should do well at QPR. My gut feeling is he’s one of these players that takes a step up in level in his stride, as he’s clearly a hard worker with a positive attitude, and is eager to learn. I think he’ll be relatively unphased by the transition to international football and become a valuable component of the squad, in a position where we’ve been weak for a while. He may never be a particularly prolific scorer, but he’ll give 100%, work opposition defences hard, and create opportunities for others. He’s a team player, and his confidence should be an asset. Fingers crossed for him. I hope he does well.
  7. I remember the halcyon days of live music - like a dim and distant memory from another era, before the Ministry of Nae Fun took over.
  8. In a fitting tribute to the absurdity of Scot Gov’s ban on background music in bars and restaurants, at my pub we’ve been surreptitiously playing John Cage’s 4’33’’ on a loop for the last couple of weeks. Just doing our bit to help out the beleaguered PPL / PRS in these unprecedented times...
  9. I had a meeting on Zoom with colleagues a few weeks ago about purchasing 2 metre social distancing signage for our outlets when they reopen. I said at the time, ‘Hold off for now, it’ll be down to 1m soon enough. The virus is in retreat and the economic imperative is far too strong for the government not to default to the WHO guidelines in due course, and where WM goes the Scottish government will inevitably follow.’ Sure enough, the 2m signage that loads of pubs and restaurants (and shops) have already invested in can now go straight in the bin - a complete waste of money for those businesses that committed funds too quickly on the basis of quickly-outmoded guidelines in a rapidly-evolving situation. Within 5 mins of Boris standing up in the Commons today, I was getting spam emails from the same Covid-19 ‘industry specialists’ (that up until today tried to sell us 2m signage) advising that their new 1m social distancing-compliant stickers and signage was already in stock and ready to order, all at ‘highly competitive’ prices. Suffice to say no refunds offered on all the 2m crap that is going straight to landfill. It’s fair to say I’ll be almost as glad to see the back of the parasitic Covid-19 ‘health and safety’ industry, which has been on an even steeper exponential growth rate than the disease, as I’ll be glad to see the back of the virus itself. On the issue of football crowds, given recent developments, and having just watched John Swinney pirouette faster than Darcey Bussell on the whole ‘blended learning’ bollocks, it looks we’re now moving towards a more realistic view of risk assessment, even in Scotland. If things keep moving in the right direction, socially-distanced crowds in football stadiums won’t be very far away.
  10. I’ve been pro Indy and voted SNP for years, but surveying the ‘talent’ across the SNP’s Holyrood contingent is a painful business, and their collective lack of competence has been thrown into stark relief by the Covid crisis. I’m not sure I’d put Jeane Freeman in charge of the cake stall at a school open day, let alone make her Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport. TBF, same goes for the Westminster govt. Sunak aside, who I think has done a decent job under the circumstances, the Conservative cabinet seem to have been assembled purely on the basis of their compliance with the Brexit project: a bunch of nodding dogs; a ministry of none of the talents. I’m still reeling from the revelation that our Foreign Secretary thought taking the knee came from Game of F***ing Thrones. Raab, Patel, Williamson, Hancock, Shapps.....it’s a dismal list of nonentities promoted well beyond their abilities. There’s been a vacuum of talent and lack of leadership on both sides of the border during this crisis.
  11. Insurance has absolutely nothing to do with it. I’ve heard the myth repeated many times that because the government told businesses to close they’re somehow covered insurance-wise. As it happens, I closed my outlets (a pub / restaurant / live music venue and a club) shortly after Boris recommended that everyone stay away from pubs and clubs, on the basis that if it wasn’t safe for customers, then by implication it wasn’t safe for staff, and several days before we were instructed to do so. That was also long before the furlough scheme was introduced, so there was no safety net. As far as insurance goes, we wouldn’t have been covered either way, so it made absolutely no difference whatsoever. Pubs and clubs who waited to be told to shut are not in receipt of bumper insurance payouts I can assure you.
  12. I know Nicola Sturgeon is getting widely praised for her cautious approach to easing restrictions in Scotland, but I’m starting to wonder if the cure won’t be (much) worse than the disease now. Given the comparatively low, and consistently-reducing, Covid stats in Scotland, negligible community transmission, and the fairly clear retreat of the disease, allied to the absence of any evidence of a second wave in countries that have already relaxed restrictions, I’d have expected a more positive vision for the future than that currently emanating from the Scottish government. Given the overwhelming imperative to restart a moribund economy, and the huge cost in Covid-related trade offs - in reduced health provision for non-Covid patients, and sacrifices in education for a generation of students, Sturgeon’s strategy is starting to look decidedly myopic. Today’s pleading to Westminster for an extension to furlough for an additional 18 months to two years is not only wholly unrealistic, it’s surely evidence of a lack of resolve to make the tough decisions required to kick-start the economy. For a while I’ve thought her strategy was to position herself as the sensible antidote to the ‘reckless’ Tories, but of late I can’t shake the thought that it’s not so much a strategy as an evasion of responsibility. Putting health first is laudable, but the huge cost of lifting restrictions too slowly has to be factored into the equation too. Sturgeon seems to have dug herself in deep on 2 metre social distancing, despite the WHO (and most other countries) advising 1 metre, or 1.5. 2 metres is simply unworkable in business, from the travel and retail sectors to the hospitality, theatre, cinema and live music industries. Everyone knows it. It doesn’t work in schools, as Scotland’s plans for part-time schooling in the Autumn suggest, and it doesn’t work on planes, in shops, in bars, theatres, cinemas, restaurants, or any business that is dependant on customer footfall. Increased costs (due to Covid protection measures) and hugely reduced income streams is a sure fire formula for business failure not success. Provided there is no second wave, and the preliminary signs from our European neighbours are surely positive in that regard, the UK government will climb down from 2m sooner rather than later, that is fairly clear. And where Westminster goes Scotland will have to follow, whether Sturgeon likes it or not. The backlash from business if Scotland sticks with 2m as England reduces social distancing will be immense. Kicking the can down the road for 18 months or 2 years is not an option. Government support won’t be forthcoming. We have no control of the purse strings, and there would be almost nothing left of the economy to return to in 2 years time anyway. Business needs certainty, decisiveness and positivity, to retain employment levels and to ensure there is an appetite for the fight ahead. Today's message sounded passive and uninspiring: a meekly dependent Scottish government won’t inspire confidence. Scotland needs to stop extending the begging bowl, and start taking responsibility for its own future. We have to make these tough decisions now, and outline a positive vision for the future, having due regard to the enormous multi-faceted challenges that confront us. None of this is to diminish this horrible disease, but we have to get a broader perspective, look dispassionately at the bigger picture, and take urgent action to avoid the economy, and the futures of our children, being destroyed for generations to come. We can’t mothball the economy forever, or put our lives on hold indefinitely.
  13. I put on a gig with Body Count supported by The Exploited at Livingston Forum in December 1993. Good night.
  14. For a substantial minority of Scotland fans, any player born in England, who has the temerity to choose to play for Scotland, will never be any good.
  15. By nature I’m not given to making gratuitous complaints, but WTF has happened to these boxed Queens centenary tops? When I bought one for my son before the Alloa game at the end of Aug, little did I think he wouldn’t even have it for Christmas! Handed over my cash, and more than three months later, heard nothing. Not great tbh.
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