Monday, 5 September 2011


Ironically, last night we watched ‘The Social Network’ on DVD. Ironically because, just before signing off at midnight, I visited Facebook and discovered a thoughtless but no doubt well-meaning third party had set up a community page on Facebook, without our knowledge or consent. The page, under the title of our family name (as in ‘The Smiths’, but not that), included a detailed map showing the location of our house. There was provision for the creator or unconnected third parties to add further information, such our telephone number, but not to alter the title or amend or remove the map.

This was worrying, because links to the page appeared on posts on the family’s (and other) FB pages, which also gave details of my daughter’s gigs. Effectively they said, ‘This is where we live, and this is when we’ll be out”. In the case of a burglary, it would have been enough to invalidate our contents insurance. As she is a young, female performer, we have also made efforts to ensure that information useful to stalkers was not readily in the public domain.

With advertised gigs coming up, I wanted to get rid of it pronto. However, getting the page removed appeared almost impossible. Facebook supply no means of direct contact, address or telephone number. The only option was to click ‘Report’, which led to a series of tick boxes, none of which were appropriate. I ticked the ‘Not a public place’ option as the closest, but a disclaimer made clear that, while FB would consider the report, they was no guarantee that the page would be taken down. I guessed it would take many reports to trigger a response.

Eventually I found I could claim ownership of the page, which allowed me first to change the address to a local government office in Edinburgh and make the page only available to Facebookers in Slovenia (in case, as rumour has it, even deleted accounts remain dormant), and then to delete it. There are signs that in so doing I may have also deleted the personal FB account of the person who originally posted the page, which is embarrassing but, frankly, tough luck.

I’d like to pretend that I achieved this through 1970s computer savvy and hours of machine code hacking, but no. Invited to suggest a contact for the owner of the page I gave my own email. The auto-response email from FB provided me full access.

Apart from the invasive facility to set up FB pages in other people’s names and reveal sensitive information about them, this exposes a laxity in Facebook’s access protocols which takes one breath away. Apparently an unconnected individual can take control of a community page and alter or delete information in it, without any evaluation or consent by either the original owner or Facebook.

Caveat redemptor.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Playing for Change

This video is so mellow and so inspirational, it brought a lump to my throat.

Playing For Change | Three Little Birds

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Winter Sun and Summer Rain

It's a red letter day.

Daughter Kirsty's first album arrived this afternoon. In a big lorry. When the back was opened, it was like the Albert Hall inside, with a single pallet at the back.

But what a pallet! A thousand copies of 'Winter Sun and Summer Rain' - ten cracking original tracks, hot from replication in France. Tears, commitment and joy laser-burnt into plastic. Expertly mixed by the awesomely talented Nick Wilson at Dave Neal Studios (Dave Neal was Suzi Quatro's drummer).

Yes, I know. A thousand? It's the economics of the business. Less than 500, and you get duplication, not replication, which isn't half as good. Beyond 500 the unit cost drops radically, and it just makes sense to cover yourself.

That probably won't help, when we still have 900 bending the floorboards in the spare room in 2021.

Faute de mieux, I've been acting as her manager. It's a steep learning curve; drafting press packs, designing album graphics, arranging photo shoots and mail shots, negotiating with labels. BA (Hons) courses in Town & Country Planning don't prepare one for this, and it's one reason I've been such a rotten blogger. Not to mention the horrific overheads which make being an independent musician more of a calling than a career.

So here's the deal, loyal remaining bloggers. If you would like to be in at the start and invest in this limited edition indie album, it's £10 plus £2 P&P, and for you guys I'll include one of the real wood propelling pencils which are included in the press/DJ packs (apparently you have to include freebies to get anywhere), because you're special. And if you ask, Kirsty will sign it for you, ready to sell on eBay when she's famous.

Contact me at RMacleod at aol . com, and I'll give you the details.

And if you're in Maidstone on 18 August, she's playing a set at Pizza Express.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

No place like Ddedwydd Nadolig

Just had my mother-in-law on the phone, much exercised that her Christmas Cards haven't been reaching a relative in Wales. Put the address she was using through a free Welsh-English translator. Turns out she'd been sending them to 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year'. Fail.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Hannah Scott

Achieved a small ambition last night in finally hearing Hannah Scott live. We weren’t disappointed.

Actually she had a mountain to climb. Neither the venue billing nor the tickets mentioned the supporting act, so she came as a complete surprise to the audience, who were there to hear Spiers and Boden (of Bellowhead), full stop.

It was a full house, not a spare seat, and they were full on folk fans. So full on that someone in the front row was stitching a hat whilst waiting for the show to start. I thought I’d be the oldest there, but most of us were. Very Sevenoaks.

I read somewhere that Hannah believes her live performances deliver something extra, and that’s true. You get the soaring vocals and the subtle lyrics and the skilled guitar and piano instrumental, but there is more. It’s the passion, I think, and the directness of connection. That voice which cries out, and then drops almost to a whisper. The intimacy of confidences shared and guards dropped.

We wanted it to go on, and I know she won converts.

I’m ashamed to say we sneaked out before Spiers and Boden were done. No disrespect; they are as good as it gets. But the SS had an early start, and we’d had our money’s worth with Hannah, and it’s just...I don’t know...Folk should be hot and sweaty. Three pints of cider and sunshine in a field or a tatty back room, a dog under the table and a crush at the bar. It’s a foot-stomping participation sport, not a performance art. Where under forties are allowed as well.

It was good to have heard her live and good to say hello (trying and failing not to come over as a pervy middle-aged stalker). She has a charming smile.

Thank you Hannah.

(Watch out for her new album, which she’s about to record in Italy; it’s going to be a good one).

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Burn it to the Ground

And another (I did warn you!). This girl writes songs quicker than Ernie Wise wrote plays...

New Song

More to come...Plus K's first CD is due for release shortly.