The Specials, Beltane, and the Man In The East

The Specials, Beltane, and the Man In The East
Image: News of the World

The last few days have been incredible. Fast moving, exciting, fulfilling, emotional – all of these and more. To begin, I have to return to the start of the week, but I don’t have much time so I’ll stick to the finer points.

As you know, on Wednesday I was away through to Glasgow to see The Specials, which meant the fulfilment of a 29-year dream of mine. Prior to the gig I was asked by a journo friend if I would like to write a review of the gig for the coming weekend’s News of the World (NotW). Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

The gig itself was extraordinary. The band were over half an hour late in coming on, so when they finally launched out from behind the curtains I was practically feverish wish anticipation. Seriously, I was that hyped and the gig lived up to everything I hoped. They played all the great songs, and I spent the entire night in the mosh pit, coming away with some seriously sore ribs (suspected crack in one), aching head and throat from fists and head contact, and a cricked neck from all the crowd surfers.

It was simply awesome.

The following day, and after a much needed Full Scottish Fry-up in Ludovics, I got down to writing the article for NotW. Initially the remit was for 250 words, but after the first reading they asked for more and advised they had upped it to the main feature for that weekend, i.e., it would spread two pages in the music supplement.

I wrote more and sent it in, and after the copy editor did his bit (the NotW have very specific requirements), the end result was published yesterday in the News of the World printed supplement, A-Listed. You can also read The Specials Gig Review Online at NotW here.

With no time to rest I found myself on top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh by 8pm on Thursday night. The annual Beltane Fire Festival was taking place so Gail and I thought we would go for the first time to see what it was like.

I suspected it would be nothing like my expectations and I was right. There must have been circa 12,000 people there and it really was quite impressive, with fire displays, green and blue painted Elf-types, White Witches, naked men and women doused in red (I liked them best), a remarkable bonfire, lots of drinking and tom foolery, free condoms, strange noises, and of course, a wide mix of people wandering around in the pitch black following what was happening.

The whole thing felt like a cross between Narnia and the Wicker Man, but despite my tiredness, aches and pain, I enjoyed the experience. And it’s all for charity, so our money went to a good cause.

I have access to pictures from both The Specials gig and the Beltane Festival but none of them are mine. Once I get clearance I’ll post a selection on the blog.

Over the weekend a couple things worth note happened. My contact at News of the World sent me the final layout of my review but also said he would be happy to do more, and that I could be the paper’s “Man In The East”. Not an offer one can turn down easily, particularly as it has a lot of potential benefits.

And finally, Twitter continues to amaze me. Elspeth Murray, the eminent Edinburgh poet, saw a message I sent to someone and wrote to me asking if I was the same Colin Galbraith who was included in a Guardian quiz on literary Edinburgh a few years back. The question had been, ‘Who is the Poet Laureate of Edinburgh?’ and we were both wrong answers.

I was totally stunned that she even remembered who I was.

What with things like that happening, and the fact that hits to my site have gone up 30% on a daily basis, I’d say Twitter is paying off dividends I hadn’t expected. It’s easily the best networking option around.

In between Twittering, writing and reading, I did the garden up (finally, says my wife), threw out a load of garbage, ate a superb Indian meal, enjoyed an empty house on Saturday evening (hooray!), and got round to writing up my GDR Review for April.

Monthly GDR Review

* Complete 2nd draft of Greener is the Grass – not complete, but almost done.
* Write at least four new flash/short stories – half done!
* Re-submit any rejected/recalled short stories – not done.
* Enter at least one writing/poetry competition – not done.
* Consider the future of Hunting Jack – decided to place ‘on holiday’ for now.

* Write at least one poem per week (7/5 – 27/52 overall) – done.
* Consider re-publishing chapbooks with new front covers for Amazon – decided not to do new covers until stock further depleted.
* Produce small chapbook for PSH Free-For-All on 1st May – Selektion re-released.

* Stay on top of RR submissions – could have done more on this.
* Complete RR issue 7 for June – first batch contracts out; issue 70% complete.

* Complete amalgamation of web design and freelance writing sites – ditched; compass to be website work only with specialised work for existing/specialist writing clients.
* Carry out updates for property client – done and paid.
* Carry out transfer and updates for B&B client – Still IP.
* Carry out updates for photography client – none came through.

Marketing and Promotion
* Publish April newsletter – done.
* Prepare May newsletter – IP.
* Publish April GDR Plan – done.
* Prepare April GDR Review – done.
* Prepare May GDR Plan – done.
* Keep website(s) up to date – done; Twitter widget added to blog & website; PSH FFA added.
* Keep involved in EP’s company promotion scheme – not much to involve with right now except intros
* Work on Stella marketing plan – done some work. Waiting to hear from EP.
* Bring Podcast ideas to life – not done. Need better sound card.
* Bring YouTube ideas to life – not done. No excuse.
* Record MIS sound bites – not done. Need better sound card.

Reading & Learning
* Day by AL Kennedy – done
* The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid – IP

* Keep diet going (-4/14lbs as at 17/3/09) – not weighed-in lately – too scared!!

Things That Turned Up
* First guest blog on Freedom: Sage Cohen interview
* Offered gig review in News of the World.

Submissions Made


8 short stories on sub.

* Gig opportunity in News of the World
* Paid off major chunk of debt
* April SDR published

* Sniplits rejected Daffodils
* Wanted to have completed Greener is the Grass

Cheap and free e-books:

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About Colin Galbraith

Keen runner, thriller author, Madness fan, Mets fan, St Mirren fan/owner, rabbit tamer, outstanding fake faller. Loves cannolis & espressos. #LFGM
This entry was posted in Edinburgh, Editorial Comment, Food, Drink and Bevvy, Freelance, Glasgow, Music, Publishing and Marketing, Scotland, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Specials, Beltane, and the Man In The East

  1. Diane says:

    Wow. The News of the World, eh? What a fantastic scoop. Wish I’d known, I would’ve gone and got a copy.

  2. What a great week! I love the Beltane Fest on Calton Hilll — wish I could go every year. I’m usually staggering home as the sun comes up.

  3. Stevie Ward says:

    The review was great, just how I remembered the Tuesday night gig. It’s taken me a while to catch up on everything after being away last weekend. And congrats on being ‘The man in the East’ that could become a great gig.

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