“Joy Division Transmissions”

“Joy Division Transmissions” by Manchester Heritage Orchestra deliver an electro-orchestral reworking of Joy Divisions work. Joy Division has sadly fallen prey to the hipster fad in recent years, with their album covers stamped on t-shirts and becoming more of a fashion statement. Thankfully, Transmissions strips Joy Division back to its soulful core. It deftly combines classical orchestra, electro-beats and laser-visuals and reintroduces Joy Division to a 21st century audience.

Transmissions does not imitate the band, it creates its own sound. It delves into the kind of music Ian Curtis would probably create if he were alive today. But it still creates an atmosphere – not a pun I promise – that stays true to Joy Divisions potent theme of human heartache.

Some fans may grumble of the lack of Curtis’s presence – with the exception of a incredibly cool laser visual of his famous dancing –  but that only made his only vocal performance saved to the very end, all the more powerful. The finale is a symphonic version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. Curtis’s hollow voice and visceral, somber lyrics are softened by the classical score; yet the song sounds just as, maybe even more haunting.


Transmissions brings Joy Division’s distinctive work and Curtis’s brooding poetry back to life.


“Zombies are the new Vampire”

The dead are rising. Zombies are now rife within the media and are trampling over the once prevalent vampire. The ravenous undead are making a comeback in literature, film, video games and television. zombie films are dominating the horror scene, novels like World War Z and Warm Bodies are climbing to the top of bestseller lists, Resident Evil 6 has sold more than 6 million copies and the television series The Walking Dead has become one of the most-watched shows. The dead are even overrunning the social media scene. But where has this surge of popularity emerged from?

Zombie’s are one of the modern and least sophisticated of “monsters”, particularly compared to vampires. They do not have the debonair of Dracula nor the sexual appeal of Edward Cullen. They are just vacant, rotting corpses with an endless desire to consume flesh. Nothing chic or sexy about them at all. Although perhaps that is why they are so popular? Zombies are raw, primitive, relentless. So dissimilar to the old fashioned vampire.  They are bringing something fresh to the table, a new sense of terror and gore. Vampire’s horror image has lessened over time. Twilight and True Blood, Vampire Diaries are romanticising the myth of the vampire.  Creating a sympathetic anti hero rather than the past where vampires where portrayed as malevolent and vicious. Whereas the lowly zombie is just as dangerous as ever. Devouring civilisation with their unrestraint savagery. Despite all these disparities, zombies and vampire’s have one essential similarity – they are dead and feed on the living in order to survive, furthermore symbolize and express our fear of death and conveying human’s mental and physical frailty.

The reason for this abrupt rise in zombie popularity appears to be our worlds very own apocalypse. The zombie of social media; gnawing at our brains with it’s addictive nature. The recognition of  the Zombie is largely sourced from social media. The Walking Dead was the first real step into mainstreaming the zombie culture and consistently the hit TV show is making it’s way to the top of all twitter trends and Google. The show has over seven million likes on facebook and 300, 000 followers on twitter, a web show “The Talking Dead, countless apps’ and online chat rooms. The Walking Dead has created an all encompassing experience for their viewers. Adding an extra layer to viewers who can not only watch but can also interact socially, allowing them to feel a part of the struggling survivors in their ruined, zombie infested lives. The executive producer of the show Robert Kirkman has even commented on the matter:

“Still, there’s definitely something to the subject matter that lends itself to gaining worldwide interest. It’s very much about the fall of civilization and people banding together in order to survive. ”

There is also the creation of “Lost Zombies”. A “community generated documentary”. The website creates an imaginary world where zombism has plagued. Users are able to create profiles for themselves and can create their own photo’s, short clips and stories of their zombie apocalypse experience. Eventually the submissions to the site will be put together to create a single, cohesive mock documentary. The popularity of zombies may be growing simply because people can become more involved than they would a simple vampire story. The standard vampire narrative is either the love story or it is a protagonist defeating of just one or few vampire’s. Zombie’s are the whole of humanity. Allowing an all encompassing involvement in a zombie narrative, which can be achieved through social media. Zombie’s are taking social media into an entirely different direction. Franchises like Twilight took twitter by storm on the great debate of “Jacob or Edward” or True Blood’s “Eric or Bill”. But show’s like “The Walking Dead” are taking it tweeting or facebook groups into deeper, darker territory. Fans debate the lives of characters, survival strategies, deaths of zombies. The show’s twitter directly asks questions to its viewers. For instance it asked viewers of last weeks episode  “The Walking Dead AMC: Do we think Rick is hallucinating this phone call!? #TheWalkingDead”  Sparking thousands of tweets, favourites and retweets.

The battle of vampire vs zombie is overwhelming via facebook, twitter, youtube videos and online forums. Examples of facebook posts on the debate are:

“Definitely vampire! they are so much more useful! really strong, fast and awesome senses. What does a zombie have? a vampire would totally kick it’s ass”

“Zombies every day of the week. I welcome the possibility of a zombie apocalypse, it would be awesome”

The camps of who’s top dog appears to be split. The dispute is sure to sustain for years and via social media will allow more opinions to be heard. Keeping the magic of these monsters well and truly alive.

Social media strategies are encouraging and increasing the fan base of zombism. But could be just another boom? Zombies have thrived and then faded. While vampires have been able to sustain popularity for over 100 years and this is unlikely to change. Either way there deathly creatures resonate with us living. For the reason that, well, they are us. A mutated, horrifying version but one that is yet true. Death continues to fascinate and rouse our greatest fears.  So will vampires survive this zombie apocalypse? Will zombies overrun the once vampiric infatuated world? Or will it not be long until we get our teeth stuck into another vampire’s only more and zombies will be dead and buried. Only time will tell.

The rise of the Labrapoodle!

“I released a Frankenstein,” this was the claim of Wally Cochran, creator of the first designer dog.

The demand for delightful pups is ever-growing and a new type of canine is dominating – the designer dog.

Designer dogs are a deliberate cross between two purebreds, for instance a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle create a Cockapoo.

Over the past 10 years crossbreeds like Labradoodle’s and Puggle’s have become all the rage with celebrities and pet owners alike.

As cute as these fancy pooches may be, they are fuelling an already severe overpopulation in dogs and furthermore are being exploited by cruel puppy farms.

The new designer dogs are pushing the undesirable, old purebreds to find new homes in shelters and unfortunately when these dogs cannot find a home they must be put down.

Twenty dogs a day are put down in the UK – that is nearly one an hour.

So what is a designer dog?

Another lovable breed or another product of the now commercialised pet industry?


The first designer dog was the Labradoodle, a cross between a Standard Poodle and a Labrador Retriever.

The breed first began in 1989 in Australia, vet Wally Cochran began crossbreeding to create a guide dog for a blind woman who was allergic to dog fur.

He produced low allergen pups that possessed the best qualities of both breeds.

Thus, the Labradoodle was born and this set off a crossbreed craze, which was heavily popularised by celebrity endorsement.

Celebrities such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Mischa Barton and Jessica Simpson all own designer dogs.


The overpopulation of dogs has become a crisis in the UK.

According to Dog’s Trust an estimate of more than 6 thousand dogs were put to sleep for want of a home last year.

The popularity of designer dogs are one of the many driving forces of the problem.

Commercial breeders are breeding the fashionable dogs to satisfy public demand.

However there are plenty of dogs already in need of a home in shelters.

Vicky Fyfe of the Edinburgh Cat and Dog Home which facilitates more than 100 dogs said: “There are more dogs because people are breeding them just for the money… Unwanted dogs are just being tossed everywhere…Shelters all around the country are full. Crossbreed or purebred it doesn’t matter you should adopt. There are plenty of loving dogs in need of a home…In my opinion designer dogs are just mongrels and we have plenty of mongrels.”


Designer dogs are provocative subject because some say it has generated an increase in puppy farms in the UK.

Puppy farms are similar to factories, where dogs are bred solely for profit.

The dogs are made to squander in deprived conditions, are bred too regularly and are born with serous physical and mental health issues.

The puppies from these farms are separated from their mothers far too soon and are sent to away to be sold.

Many of the puppies are left traumatised by the transition, and many do not survive.

These puppies – many of them designer- are given the worst possible start in life.

The RSPCA estimates more than 8 million dogs come from puppy farms in the UK.

Laura Quickfall a spokesperson for The British Kennel Club said:  “The Kennel Club is concerned that some unscrupulous breeders may be breeding these types of dog simply for financial profit, rather than with the health and welfare of the dogs in mind. This can mean that they will mass produce puppies to meet the latest celebrity-driven trend and will sell them on to people who are buying the dog as a fad rather than based on an educated decision… Buying a dog is a lifetime commitment and they should not be purchased to go along with the latest fashion.”

Shelters are constantly dealing with unhealthy dogs from puppy farms.

Ms Fyfe of The Edinburgh Cat and Dog added: “We can tell if a dog has came from a puppy farm from their health problems. Especially females because their skin on the stomach is really saggy from the over breeding…They’re not healthy dogs”


Despite stirring such a controversy in the dog-breeding world, designer dogs have brought a positive outcome.

As the crossbreed’s popularity continues to rise, so are the numbers of happy pet owners.

Margaret Foster is the owner of three-year-old Labradoddle Effie, she said, “I love Effie so much, she has the perfect temperament. She is so loving everyone wants to play with her. She has so much personality and she’s quite nutty. …The reason we bought her was because of my daughter’s asthma and Effie’s hypoallergenic coat was perfect. So she became one of the family…. Of all the dogs I’ve had which were all pedigree, the Labradoodle is the best I’ve had. The stigma against mongrels is horrible.”

Many hybrid dogs such as the Labradoodle have given owners with allergies and disabilities the chance to own a dog.

It has also been proven that many designer dog are healthier and longer living.

This is because when two different dog breeds are mixed, it produce a variety of characteristics and the dog’s DNA is enriched; this is known as Hybrid Vigor.

An example of a healthier dog is the popular ‘jug,’ a cross of a Jack Russell Terrier and a Pug.

The Jack Russell is a particularly healthy dog, whereas Pug’s are often susceptible to health issues.

The combination the two creates a dog that still retains the distinct look of a Pug but is healthier than the purebred Pug.

Although this crossbreeding is creating healthier dogs, another hitch is that because many of the breeds are so young it is unknown how the dogs are going to develop physically and what their temperament may be.

They are exceedingly unpredictable.


Some may say that dog breeders are becoming their very own Doctor Frankenstein’s, moulding what they believe to be the perfect pooch.

Designer dogs may be better or worse to a purebred, that is for pet owners to decide.

But the message of buying any dog remains simple.

Every dog bought has a significant cost.

If you buy a dog -designer or purebreed – another animal will lose its chance of a home and may be put down.

For every puppy bought from a breeder another homeless dog is euthanized, according to PETA research.

Regardless of this, the demand for the elaborate canines persists.

Every dog has its day and it appears that this day belongs to the designer dog.

Travel Piece: Florida

Be Our Guest

Florida’s Famous Theme Parks provide incredible meals as well as rides.

“Elbows off the table missy” “Auntie Sue” sternly said in a Southern drawl, the dreaded finger wagging was out in force as she gave a harsh talking to. Her strict persona was a paradox to the pleasant floral vintage shirtwaist dress and crisp apron she was wearing. No, I had not somehow transported myself into a Lucille Ball sitcom. I was enjoying a meal in the 1950’s themed restaurant the “50’s Prime Time Cafe”. A restaurant where you can return to the era of the suburban paradise. You sit in your very own 1950’s living room (with its very own classic black and white oblong television) and enjoy a hearty home-cooked meal, served up by your very own smiling, apron-clad “Auntie”. The scarily authentic atmosphere had me transported immediately into this surreal Fifties reimagining. I pulled my red leather vinyl chair up to the shining Formica table and tucked into a succulent “Mom’s old-fashioned pot roast”. The traditional atmosphere was so convincing, it had me – one of the only people dressed for the right era – feeling misplaced in my clothing.  I wish I had worn a frilly poodle skirt and put my hair in a ponytail, rather than my ripped up jean shorts. I do not think “Auntie Sue” was very happy with me looking more “Rebel Without a Cause” than Sandra Dee. “Prime Time Cafe” left me with a smile on my face. A smile not only glowing from an incredible meal, but an outstanding experience too. But then I realised; I the self professed dining snob, who boasts to her friends of the refined dining experiences enjoyed in Paris, New York and Rome, had to admit that one of the greatest eating experiences of my life was in kiddie heaven, Disneyworld. Mickey Mouse, the ultimate symbol of commercialism, cooked me one hell of a meal. “Prime Time Cafe” left me a changed woman…. and with a doggy bag of leftover meatloaf.

My expectations of paradise Florida were like most. Leaving behind me  wistful memories of sun, roaring rollercoaster’s and sinking my feet into the, smooth white beaches. I did not think the memory that lingered most however, would be the theme park restaurants. I naively believed the food was just going to live up to the unhealthy American stereotype. My expectation was that for the next two weeks my diet would resemble “Supersize Me”, feasting only on the national greasy emblem – the hamburger. Thankfully, I was wrong. Florida’s famous theme parks are more than meets the eye. They not only create thrills and screams but provide a unique take on the traditional restaurant and turns it on its head, making it into something far more memorable.

When it comes to Disney-World and Universal you do not just sit down for a nice, straightforward meal. You are transported into a themed world that takes “dinner and a show” to the extreme. In one week, my meals consisted of reciting my best Forrest Gump impression to a waiter in Gump’s shrimp shack, to enjoying “Sun is Shining” chicken in a replica of Bob Marley’s home in Kingston, Jamaica, whilst listening to a live reggae band and finally to my Greek meal being interrupted by a belly dancer who climbed on my table, began throwing napkins around and exclaiming “Opa!”. That was certainly not what I ordered with my grilled hallomi.

Kimberly LaPaglia the editor of the official Disney Food Blog believes theme parks such as Disneyland are at the forefront of great cuisine. ” When I go to Disneyland I’m more excited about choosing restaurants than choosing rides. Disney excels at restaurants with a theme…One of the most important parts of your trip is eating. Disney knows this and they’ve created a dizzying array of dining options – everything from ultra upscale haute cuisine, to restaurants offering incredible themed experiences.”

When it comes to the Disney and Universal restaurants in Florida, the meals are as much a ride as the roller-coasters. An entertaining and delicious meal in a theme park puts every fancy meal I have had with screeching violinists, food smothered in a million spices, and bland candlelight dinners to shame. So, begone you stuffy Parisian gourmet chef with your beef bourguignon and give me “Moms pot roast” any day.

Homeless Scottish Veterans

When night darkens the streets of Edinburgh, John Strachan uses dank cardboard for a bed. Five years ago however, John was bedded in the fighting holes of Afghanistan.


Following a life of being under constant enemy fire in the deserts of Afghanistan, John returned home to safe Scotland and celebrated his brave return with his loving family.


However, he found complete displacement in the home he once had yearned to return to. For John there was no more job, team of men depending on him, structure and purpose that the army gave him.


Every night he was plagued by the horrors of war in his nightmares. He still felt the slice of the shrapnel that cut though his stomach, he saw the maimed and dead friends he fought alongside and he still heard the cries of Afghan children.


John was unable to adjust from the disciplined life of the military to civilian life.


He began heavy drinking as the only way to suppress the memories and the stress of being unable to find a job.


John’s mental health deteriorated due to his underlying post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


The PTSD caused him intense anxiety attacks, to become aggressive towards his family and to be detached from his own emotions and the world.


His family could not cope with his erratic behaviour and this led to a family separation.


With no where to go, John became an alcoholic, sleeping rough.


The once proud soldier, now called a bed of cardboard, alongside alcoholics and drug addicts in murky alleys where the stench of urine hung in the air; home.


The nightmares that haunted his empty hours were now not only of the terrors of war but now the hard hitting reality of what is now his life.


John, estranged from his family, attempted to kill himself.


This is the true story of a British war veteran and there are unfortunately many others like it.


According to Shelter Scotland 5,000 Scottish war veterans do not have the basic necessity of shelter.

Many soldiers come from fighting wars to fighting a new war of returning to normal life back home.

Alison Watson, Head of Services at Shelter Scotland, says: “Compared to their English and Welsh counterparts,  Scottish soldiers are 10% more likely to become homeless”

In the UK, over a fifth of serving personnel report common mental disorders such as PTSD.

Young men leaving the armed forces have a suicide risk up to three times higher than the average population.

In 2012, more soldier and veteran deaths resulted from suicides than fighting in Afghanistan.


Charities like The Scottish Veterans Residences help support veterans to make the transition back to independent housing and living and take on the challenge of building a civilian life.


Susie Hamilton head of fundraising and marketing at SVR (Shelter Veterans Residences) believes the devastating effects of family break-ups, addictions to drugs or alcohol are the causes of homelessness in soldiers.


“Sometimes people go to the army to leave an unstable background but then return to that unstable environment on top of now having mental health issues. Many families are not able to cope”


SVR can currently only accommodate 126 homeless veterans at its Houses in Edinburgh’s and Dundee. They say they cannot cope with the number of veterans seeking help.

“The Scottish Government are aware of the issue and have supported us but the help is simply not enough”

Walter Hamilton of the Scottish charity “Soldiers off the Street”, said more is needed to be done urgently to help the homeless veterans.

“They leave the services and get forgotten about. Once they leave the Army, they should be followed up and seen every six months to see how they are doing.”

For more information in homelessness in Scottish veterans visit Soldiers of the Street: http://www.sots-scotland.co.uk/winter-2012-appeal/homeless-veteran-glasgow

Bones found!

IRON age bones unearthed on edge of Edinburgh, yesterday morning.

Remains were found during maintenance work on the oldest golf course in the world Musselburgh Links, in Musselburgh.

The bones including a skull were discovered underneath the bunker at the fourth green known as “The Graves”, around midday on Tuesday.

The site was cordoned of by police and investigated. Lothian and Borders police and found the bones to be non suspicious.

Lothian and Borders police media officer Robert Turboyne said: “The matter has been investigated by the local police and the remains that were found, where found to be of historical value. It is to be treated as an archaeological dig.

The bones were found by groundskeeper Alistair Paterson who has worked at the golf course for more than 30 years.

He said: “I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was a bit of wood. Because it’s was a brown and orange colour. It wasn’t until I found this skull popped up that I realised they were human bones. So I put it back and called the police….I didn’t think they were suspicious because old bones like that are scattered amongst the grounds”

The bones were analysed and found to be over 2000 years old.

Andrew Robertson of the East Lothian archaeological department added: “We sent them up to Dundee University Archaeological department and they discovered the bones belong to a girl between 17-18 years old, suggested size of the skull and the teeth. We believe it dates from the Iron Age. It was found in a foetal position. ”


The Golf course will continue as usual and there will be nor further search. Despite the likelihood of more bones underground the course.

Henry Bentley, the Musselburgh Links secretary said of the matter of a larger excursion: “There’s not going to be a larger search. Unless another bone in uncovered  again…The finding of the bones has not affected the club negatively in any way.”

The 2nd hole on the course where the bones were found is known as “the Graves”. It is believed that those who died in the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh were buried there in 1547.

It was a very populated area during that time, and periodically bones and historic findings from similar periods are uncovered in the Musselburgh area.

Much of Lewisvale park in Musselburgh is protected due to the amount of Iron age and Roman settlements.

Musselburgh links golf course is recognised as the oldest in the world by Guinness World Records.

Evidence shows that golf has been played on Musselburgh links as far back as 1672, although Mary, Queen of Scots reportedly  played here in 1567.

The bones are currently in the hands of the EastLothianCouncilMuseum service.

Leith Waterworld

A group of Leith residents fighting to reopen Leith Waterworld receive backing from City of Edinburgh Council, yesterday.


Splashback! a local group who have campaigned to reopen the leisure pool accomplish the first step into making their dream a reality.


The council have agreed – if money should be found by the campaign – to work with the local group over the next 11 months to secure a future for Leith Waterworld.


The council will provide £100,000 to look at the viability to reopen the pool and to supply expertise and sport and leisure officials to support work on the plan.


Leith Waterworld closed on the 8th of January 2012, by the City of Edinburgh Council.

It was originally supposed to be sold and help fund the refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

The council believe the pool was costing too much money to run. I was losing £360,000 every year.

Johnny Gaily of Splashback! said: “Yes it was losing money, but every pool in Scotland loses money. It’s an investment, into our children, the future, health and wellbeing. Libraries lose money. Hospitals lose money. Schools lose money. But you can’t look at it as losing money. You have to look at it as investment.”


The cost of the pools reopening is only an estimate.


Initially the council stated it would cost £155,000 to reopen and would require 2.2million worth of investment over 10 years.


However it will try to raise around £400,000 to add a cafe, soft play area and new entrance to enhance the amenity.


The group are benefited by the fact they are community group and have access to funding such as £eith decides and the Big Lottery, which local authorities can not access.

The local residents want the children’s pool to be reopened for social reasons.

Leith was identified as a deprived area by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, and the Greener Leith campaign.

According to Mr Gailly, since Leith Waterworld’s closing 72 per cent of families that were regulars at the pool now swim no more.

Mr Gailly of Splashback! added: “When the pool closed it unfairly impacted Leith, Leith’s children and the disabled. Waterworld provided local, healthy, non expensive fun for families. But now these young, some poor families now have to get a bus to the Commonwealth, paying £5 more for a swim in a up long pool, with no fun. It’s not fair and it’s not worth it. In Leith a third of children are in poverty.”


Charlotte Enecome Founder and Chair of Greener Leith said of the reopening: “It would be great for it to reopen. A great asset for the community. We don’t want to lose such a unique and valuable pool in a relatively poor area. We need this.”


Roland Reid Leith Central Community Council secretary added: “It’s very nice to see it reopen. But I think a more cost effective way would be to improve the kiddie pool in the already open Leith Victoria pool.”

Since the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth more leisure pools are now being created in Scotland, such as Dundee and Perth.

But there are no leisure pools in Edinburgh.