Pay Per Post

If you had to pay to read this post then would you? Is that a Yes I am hearing? No! Oh well!

I expect of you your time, your energy, your attention, your engagement and if you also blog likewise you of me?

But no filthy lucre shall change hands between us!

If we were to place our blogs beyond a paywall our viewing figures would likely fall off a precipice. We would very likely be left writing to ourself. Or we might fear.

But how about it on a per-post basis? If prior to publishing there is an option for us to ask for a payment for the post to be read in full? We can still ignore it and publish it free as per usual, acknowledging that in the main we blog just to be paid in Likes, Comments, Social Media shares and general Karmic good-will.

But if sometimes we could ask for cash?

I thought I would start a post about in on the WordPress Support Ideas forum – see screenshot below. As I write this it has already received one very brusque and dismissive response so perhaps I have not struck the chord that I thought I may have, but clearly such a sample of one is no guide either!

Wordpress Forum payment proposal

If you would like to see the post on the forum itself then click here.

I would be interested in any of your thoughts, here or there!

David McCue…Trumping Donald on Canvas

Donald Trump Red Money

Warning: Not for those of a sensitive disposition. This post contains many images of Donald Trump.

Each year Single Malt Whiskey distillers Glenfiddich host a Spirit of Scotland Awards. It has a number of categories including for music, screen, art and writing.

Glenfiddich 2012 Spirit of Scotland

For the 2012 awards there were some controversy. Not for the music award which went to Gaelic folk-singer Julie Fowlis, or for screen which award went to actor Kelly MacDonald, not for art, awarded to the owner of Edinburgh Arts hub Summerhall, Robert McDowell, or for writing where the author Ewan Morrison took the award.

It was for the prime award itself, the Top Scot, which was won by Michael Forbes. You may not have heard of him but ask Donald Trump about him, mmm on second thoughts do not do that. Beyond the expletives and the bluster you will not be enlightened much.

Michael Forbes viewing Michael Forbes

Michael Forbes viewing Michael Forbes

If you don’t know who Michael Forbes is then the Glenfiddich web page detailing these awards describes him thus:

a farmer from near Balmedie in Aberdeenshire,

who became known after his refusal to sell his home

to billionaire Donald Trump for a luxury golf course development.

So you can at least understand Donald Trump taking a personal, very personal affront at this award.

He had previously described Michael Forbes as ‘living like a pig’ and his land as ‘a slum’.

Michael Forbes on land, photo courtesy of the BBC

Michael Forbes on his land, photo courtesy of the BBC

There had been considered Compulsory Purchase Orders (a UK legal statute that allows public authorities to buy land that they believe is in the public interest such as for roads and housing developments without consent of the owners) to remove his and others homes so as not to spoil the view for those visiting this golf course development (titled almost inevitably Trump International Golf Links), a sort of class-cleansing. Apparently Trump thinks golfing holidays for the wealthy are in the public interest!

His response then to the award and Glenfiddich came in the form of a tweet on December 5 ‘We are getting rid of Glenfiddich garbage alcohol from Trump properties’!

Only problem with this is that the Top Scot Award is not chosen by a behind-closed-doors select committee of Glenfiddich staff but by public vote! The Scottish public sided with feisty Farmer Michael Forbes over belligerent bully business-man Donald Trump. As we also saw with the 2012 US Presidential Election in a democracy the people will not always vote the way of wise Donald!

By coincidence at the time of Trump’s Twitter Diatribe against Glenfiddich I was watching You’ve Been Trumped the 2011 British documentary directed by Anthony Baxter and described by IMDB thus

In this David and Goliath story for the 21st century,

a group of proud Scottish homeowners take on

celebrity tycoon Donald Trump as he buys up

one of Scotland’s last wilderness areas to build a golf resort.

It was released August of this year and broadcast by the BBC in November causing Trump to Tweet ‘No surprise that BBC is in a major scandal for shoddy journalism. Any network that air’s Anthony Baxter’s garbage has zero credibility’ – conflating a whole range of issues in typical Donald style!

You've Been Trumped Poster

But this post is not a review of the documentary (but you should see it!) but of an artist, David McCue, whose work was featured in the film and the film’s poster. He is a Scottish painter and was commissioned to host an art event detailing Trump’s golfing resort development and various residents resistance towards it. It was titled pithily Triumphant? The Art of the Deal and took place on the farmland of Top Scot Michael Forbes, in July 2010.

David McCue Triumphant ExhibitionIn addition to McCue’s oil paintings the event included a crazy-golf sculpture, selected written correspondence and other related artefacts.

Donald Trump Crazy Putting Golf Sculpture

Donald Trump Crazy Putting Golf Sculpture

The oil-paintings were of both Donald Trump and Michael Forbes and even had I no knowledge of the events inspiring them I think the context would be very apparent! I  find them very striking.

Michael Fobes by David McCueThis first oil painting ‘Local Hero’ makes reference to the 1983 film by Scottish director Bill Forsyth of the same name in which an American oil company seeks to buy up an entire Scottish village so as they can build a refinery without local opposition – very obvious parallels to real life! Burt Lancaster plays the Trump role (Hero or Villain – a rhetorical question!) of oil billionaire Felix Happer.

And I should add many of the locals are in favour of the project as with Aberdeenshire residents today, as it promises jobs and money after all. The resistance comes from a hermit, known only as Ben, living on a beach who also owns that beach, the Michael Forbes figure as it were, played by late Scots Actor Fulton Mackay.

And as with Donald Trump the Felix Happer character believes his great money can persuade everything only to be disillusioned of this notion.

Donald Trump New York Clown

On David McCue’s site though I could find no other work of his beyond this Triumphant Art of the Deal commission. Perhaps it was his first work but I would think it is doubtful that an unknown artist would get such a commission, but possible. I would have to explore further.

Googling did not reveal much about him at all contending as he does with a much more documented American businessman of the same name – perhaps an unintended irony!

There is a very brief article in the Aberdeen Voice which describes him as a ‘Glasgow artist’ and in an interview on his own website he describes Andy Warhol as an adult hero. But much of the rest of that interview is about the Trump project including possible future developments

It is possible that the art works may be recontextualised in the future

His words, not mine! He is meaning that this Donald Trump Golf Development story is not over yet.

But nothing much forthcoming about him or the rest of his works.


Michael Forbes Local HeroDonald Trump - Trump StakesMichael Forbes No More Trump LiesDonald Trump Think Big and Kick Ass



Proofreading (Photo credit: lamanyana)

This post is not my usual fiction or review rather I am using this blogging space to tout my skills.

I am establishing a proofreading business.

To that end I will proofread any document of yours at no charge. Materials should be no longer than thirty-pages. I will return pages to you with corrections in Microsoft Word, tracking changes.

In exchange, subject to your satisfaction with the work, I ask that you allow me to add your name and the title of your work to my résumé. I will not plagiarise your work or share it with anyone else but may feature a sample of it in my portfolio.


Incidentally I am also considering approaching unpublished authors and offering to proofread their work.

I wonder though how you prepare your blogging posts? Leaving aside any pen/pencil and paper preparations, in respect of computers – do you type up your work in a word-processing program first such as Microsoft Word and then export it to WordPress or do you go straight into WordPress and type away using its Save Drafts feature until you are ready to hit its Publish button? (This latter approach is my own approach).

The reason for this last question is that clearly both Word Processing and Blogging software provide quite a gamut of proofreading options already and I wonder therefore what space is left for the third-party human proofreader?




Four Rooms – Deal or No Deal? – Deal!

Four Rooms Channel 4Four Rooms the new Channel 4 show in which members of the British public chance their valued – and they hope valuable – goods with four professional dealers. A sexed up Antiques Roadshow (unless you had a soft spot for Michael Aspel and now Fiona Bruce!) – where there is no pretense here that the seller is deeply sentimentally attached to their family heirloom or prize purchase and is only there to find out about the item’s social history and with only a very vague passing interest in its current market value, and then only for insurance purposes!

No, those showing their wares on Four Rooms have come to sell and will be asking the highest price they have the chutzpah to chance. Likewise the valuers in Four Rooms are dealers and if they like what is being hawked they will be making as low an offer as they have the brass for. The catch in Four Rooms is that the dealers can only be seen one at a time – each in a separate room – that’s right four dealers, four rooms – and if no deal is made there can be no returning later, tails between their legs, if they don’t get a better offer from subsequent dealers

Four Rooms Emma Hawkins

Emma Hawkins

The earlier comparison to Antiques Roadshow is also off the mark in that much of the items are not antique – though at what age does something become an antique?! All mod cons are on show too, antiques for an age yet to come – they hope.

In addition to the standard antique fare of furniture, jewellery, ornaments and paintings are toys, stuffed animals, fashion, pop art memorabilia and complete off the wall items like mummified mermaids and Ghanian coffins!

Also are items that would otherwise have far less value were it not for the fact they were once owned by someone of fame or infamy. One episode I saw included a suit worn by Sean Connery in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice followed by two jackets (couture at that by Moschino and Dolce & Gabbana) worn by Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley in the 1990’s born British fashion comedy series Absolutely Fabulous – a show incidentally long overdue a repeat run. Neither of these sartorial items sold.

Four Rooms Jeffrey Salmon

Jeffrey Salmon

The Channel 4 website for Four Rooms details all the items featured and the prices fetched for the successful deals.

Before the bartering begins the seller preambles with an explanation of the item/s on offer and why they are now selling. Sometimes they try to pull on the heart-strings advising they have lost their income or had an accident – alas this is wasted breath as the dealers have lizard hearts. Some contestants are more upfront such as one selling a collection of Vivienne Westwood couture hats to finance a new bathroom of gold plated taps and rococo stylings!

And the four reptiles – sorry dealers! – are Gordon Watson an ex-Sotheby’s auctioneer, with a stated interest in 20th Century Design and perhaps the most conventional of the quartet. Next up is Andrew Lamberty a Chelsea dealer with an interest in furniture and also 20th Century Design. Then there is Emma Hawkins a glamorous young dealer with an interest in taxidermy. On her website she styles herself as Taxidermist/Interior Designer – in that order! Finally there is Jeffrey Salmon a forthright art and design dealer with an occasional penchant for whipping out a pair of dice and offering you a ridiculous choice – one price high and fantastic for the the seller the other price low and fantastic for the buyer.

Four Rooms Andrew Lamberty

Andrew Lamberty

The haggling proceedings are all watched over by the show host Anita Rani.

Four Rooms has enough legs I feel to be commissioned for many more series. The dealers are telegenic, as are the items on offer. Both vie to be the star of the show.

The star though is the buying and selling itself – the venal haggling masquerading as polite negotiation.

Often we witness the line between need and greed crumbling. Whatever a seller initially states as a price they would be happy with, if that price is offered they will usually decline it now thinking to themselves they could get more. Usually they don’t which I guess is a poetic justice – certainly enjoyable TV for the schadenfreude in us the viewer!

And if on the other hand they are first offered a price lower than what they were wanting and decline it and subsequent offers are even lower they will often end up settling for a price much lower than the original higher offer. All in a day’s trading!

Antiques is now a genre on TV, so numerous are such programs, that it is to Channel 4’s credit that they have in Four Rooms commissioned a show that revitalises it. Antiques Roadshow may inspire you to look for one of your antiques to deal, Four Rooms may though inspire you to become an antiques dealer.

Making Scents

Jean-Paul Guerlain at home

Jean-Paul Guerlain at home

Perfumery is a multi-billion-dollar global industry which Perfume a new series from BBC 4 sets out to explore – witnessing perfumers, scientists, marketers and other industry-insiders as they go about their scented business.

Any series about perfume rather like a 3D film equips its viewer with a pair of matching 3D Glasses should provide its audience with a sniff and scratch card of all the perfumes featured in the series?! Alas this was not the case and we are left reliant on the florid descriptions of the perfume critic whose palette of pongs from the pretty to the putrid is matched and often exceeded by their tight-rope vocabulary used to capture those olfactory sensations – often so profuse they would make a poet blush.

Thierry Wasser & Jean-Paul Guerlain

The New and Old Guerlain Guards

In doing so it looked at French perfume-house Guerlain and its outgoing head Jean-Paul Guerlain (the Fourth Generation of the Guerlain family to head the company) whose own son decided not to continue in the family business and so it is being passed to Swiss perfumer Thierry Wasser. Jean-Paul Guerlain close to retirement hastens that with several racist remarks given in a French television interview which, as with another infamous racist outburst from John Galliano, saw him very quickly sacked by his company and which followed street protests showing Guerlain products being set fire too – none of which is good PR for Guerlain!

Veronique Gabai-Pinsky

Veronique Gabai-Pinsky quietly ponders Loud

The program was also notably quiet that the Guerlain House had in fact already been acquired back in 1994 by French Luxury goods makers Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy going by the easier on the tongue initials LVMH.

The Guerlain section also included a rites of passage moment rather like a Dad taking his son to see his first football match here we witness a Parisian mother taking her twelve year old daughter to a Guerlain store for her first bottle of perfume – and perhaps even more significantly for Guerlain with the business philosophy ‘get them young and get them for life’. A scent called ‘Insolence’ saw this pre-teen likely ‘gotten’.

This second strand of this initial episode saw USA Fashion Designer Tommy Hilfiger putting his name to a perfume LOUD (bottled blue for men and pink for women) – aiming for a younger customer (Gen Y in their words) and aiming to marry perfume with music. Or in their words mixing perfume with the ‘genre of music’! That genre of music which includes Kings of Leon, Mozart and Miles Davis – yeah, that genre!

Guerlain perfurme rites of passage

Mother and Daughter rite of passage

More specifically they were aiming to capture the spirit and smell of rock’n’roll (smells like teen spirit seemed an obvious remark yet surprisingly no-one made it!) – the smell of rock’n’roll should not be pleasant – it should be urgh! – it should not be something you want to shell out dollars for an over-packaged box to then smell it in an equally over-ornate bottle!

The person responsible for this sell Veronique Gabai-Pinsky (president of  Estée Lauder designer-fragrance division) eventually sited English band The Ting Tings as capturing the spirit of Loud – I love these Mancunian pop-art sound sculpturists as much as the next boy and girl but rock’n’roll is not an adjective that I foremost associate with them.

The perfume though did seem to go down well with the younger would be customers though one of the UK retail chains promoting it, Debenhams, were a little coy about the volumes sold.

Chandler Burr at work

Perfume Critic at work

The third strand in this opening series was the perfume critic – the one featured Chandler Burr of the New York Times – and whom it seems spends a good part of his day opening the door of his apartment to a cornucopia of Couriers bearing various sized and shaped perfumed packages. One but wonders the chaotic aroma of his apartment.

While in his apartment we witness him opening some of the packages and testing them out – which involved him dabbing them on to various parts of both his arms – then when there was no more arm-space he went on to his legs – which did resemble a junkie looking for an available vein! And if I must continue with this dark metaphor – and I think I must! – (and indeed Chandler Burr himself refers to it as an addiction and of shooting up and chasing the high) I did wonder rather like an addict with so much inhalative exposure to perfume if his nostril-palette was not well and truly sated no longer able to distinguish creosote from lavender let alone the infinitesimal degrees of smell from perfume to perfume. His sense of smell though clearly remained unjaded with enthusiasm expressed for a number of the scents on all four of his limbs.

I was prepared for the verbose loucheness of the perfume critic having a copy of perhaps its Industry Bible ‘Perfumes – The A-Z Guide‘ by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez – and indeed I am still expecting an appearance of at least one of Turin or Sanchez in the remaining episodes.

The next episode is ‘Bottling the Memory’ which promising title I await with pleasure this second venture into the often secretive world of the perfumier. And knowing now the critical language of perfume I am expecting at least one reference to a certain literary work by Marcel Proust…

Britain’s Next Big Thing

Theo Paphitis

Britain’s Next Big Thing from Maverick Television hosted by Dragons’ Den’s Theo Paphitis recently came to the end of its seven episode BBC 2 run.

The proposition was for designers to come up with products to pitch to three British High Street businesses – Liberty, Habitat and Boots. This time they would be the judge not the Dragons in their Den. Theo would instead play the Evan Davis role presiding over the show and its budding designer-entrepreneurs.

The focus too would be retail products and we would see them not just to the pitch but beyond – through their manufacture to their final store display and sales promotion.

It was a fascinating process and series. Like ‘Dragons’ Den’ itself reminding that you have to have a good idea yet even that may not be enough.

For some the issue was of scalability – their products that work small-time may flounder both technically and as a business when produced on a more industrial scale.

Weston Scarf

And then your product in on display in Liberty yet it may not sell. And the problem of demand not just being its lack but its opposite – your very success may overwhelm you and prove the final nail of your undoing.

And if you should survive all that – well then no time to rest, the process starts all over again with your next product.

A designer’s life may be a romantic one but certainly not a sentimental one – warm-hearted perhaps, hard-headed most definitely.

I particularly enjoyed the Professor of Architecture, Richard Weston, and his beautiful silk scarves, which are based on mineral, fossil and stone designs and which are then digitally reproduced and then printed as sheets of silk.

But Britain’s Next Big Thing – what is with that title? Often my eyes would glaze past this on the schedule considering this must be yet another talent show dedicated to acting, dancing, singing – certainly not the talent of designing. It is just too generic and gives little indication of its subject matter. This caused me to miss a few episodes even when I had watched earlier episodes of the series!

Perhaps instead Britain’s Next Big Shopping Thing? Britain’s Next Big Entrepreneur…

Do you agree with me about the current title? And if so any suggestions of your own?

Meanwhile I am looking forward the next series whether it is called Britain’s Next Big Thing or not!