Women in trade

A trade is generally a guy thing. That’s not me being sexist, that’s me getting a conclusion from people asking if that girl I knew is a lesbian because she has to wear a hardhat to work, the general mention that if I didn’t study I would end up dancing on tables, but never making them and the knowledge that there is one single female human in City of Glasgow College’s engineering department.

At least that what I’m assuming from what I saw. I didn’t go inspecting every person I met in the engineering department, declaring they drop their jumpsuits, but there was only one person with make-up on, only one person with her nails done. I think that’s proof enough.

Caera Kimmitt is one of two inhabitants of the girl’s student bathroom in the engineering department. When we were introduced to her we were in this huge manky room that looked like the inside of the Titanic. Metal so big and old it’s not worth trying to dust, everything still and yet a deafening noise coming from the back of the room, the windows so high they become pointless. And out of that, stepped Caera. Hair tied away but well looked after, her nails still unchipped from the party she’d just woke up from, the click of her heel hidden by her smudged white jumpsuit.

The college course alternates between time in the campus workshop and time at sea. Like most of the other students in her department, the plan for Caera is to complete her college course and go on to work on a ship someday, be that with the chubby lazy tourists with their kids that seem to be on ecstasy in the cruise industry or amongst the jaunty sailor boys of the navy is up to her. Apparently her eyes are on the cruises. (I think that’s so she can sneak a cocktail below deck…!)

“So what do you do in the workshop?”

“Filing mostly… You’re given like three bits of metal and you’ve got to make sure it’s all square and cut it and we make a wee wheel and it’s pretty cool in the end … Deck’s a wee bit more boring because it’s data and stuff”

Now I wasn’t sure what to expect from the men around the engineering floor when me and my notepad walked in, so I can imagine her head. When me with two other young women and an adult female entered, heads turned like a meerkat’s. I don’t want to say they’re all perves but that is the stereotype of men, so I guessed either they liked what they saw or they were simply confused and assumed we’d got lost and ended up in the wrong room – or maybe a little of both.

Of course, maybe being the only female in a room full of guys can be rewarding? Not that way! Get your head out the gutter.

“It was quite daunting at first with obviously, me being the only girl, but it wasn’t that bad. We all look after each other so even when we go out of college they all kind of, I’ve noticed them all stand around if there’s someone kinda looking a bit, you know, shifty they’ll get protective.”

In the time it took the three of us to get a quick lap around the engineering floor, the three of us girls were saying the same thing.

“We should’ve chose a trade”

And why didn’t this occur to any of us when we were leaving high school wondering what to do with our Highers in English or maths or whatever that had to be directly applied to our respective careers we were obviously going to find the second we walked out the gates? It seemed to occur to many of the males of my high school, according to Facebook anyway. So why not us?

Is it the wolf whistles or the banter? The ugly outfit? Society’s image of a strong woman not really fitting in with a hard hat? I’d like to think today’s women aren’t so shallow or weak to let any of these issues bother them.

The respective trade for women seems to be beauty, but many guys are infiltrating that now. How come they’re allowed?

For me, it just never occurred to me. Nowadays that seems stupid. In “our economic climate” the obvious thing to do would be to get a long standing job. That means no McDonalds job for the time being but no making-a-name-for-yourself career either, because that takes time, money and energy a lot of us don’t have the pleasure of having – usually getting nothing out of it either.

Engineering is a step between trade and career: doesn’t take as much money or time to get there and gives a lot more back. So surely the image of the idea is outweighted by the prospects.

So what are we waiting for? Grab the big girl boots!

Burn, baby, burn.

What did you do for this year’s Halloween? Dance to Thriller? Take a haunted tour? Maybe spend the night being chased by a man in a hockey mask from the safety of your sofa and blanket?

Imagine going through a massive jungle gym that’s so dark you can’t see the gas mask on your face, in a room that stinks of choking chemicals. Your mission is to find a rapidly fading body, cut off the source of their blackening lungs and melting flesh while flames spew from the walls around you. Your help is protective gear that includes a jacket that feels like a fluffy jumper, boots and a helmet that feel like a child on each foot and one on the head, not to mention dragging the massive hose behind you and carrying a 60lb oxygen canister on your back.

“It’s quite disorientating … It’s very noisy. You can’t breathe…”

Sounds like something Jigsaw would dream up, yeah?

This was a three day training programme designed for marine students. Navy marines are given a break from swabbing decks and are trained to be heroes in three days. As a requirement for their voyages the marines are taught how to enter a fire put out a fire and rescue others, right down to the last detail of how to correctly ascend ladders.

“You show them it, you tell them about it and then you let them do it themselves. That way they’ll have the knowledge of it.”

The programme manager, Alan Currie led jittering boys into an alight building with the purpose of experiencing a real fire for themselves.

“If a young trainee going onto a ship does not have any knowledge of fire fighting and there is a fire on board the ship then you can see how unsafe that could be.”

Here’s another terrifying thought: imagine going through that, already scared to death, wondering what brave Supermen are daring to take on such a heavy burden, such a shocking challenge, and then meeting 20-odd, 20-odd year old, hysterically laughing boys.

To epitomise this horror the childish beings taking on the honourable trial, have drawn an – ahem – “obscene shape” into the ash of a wall in the simulator. A woman’s favourable fantasy of men in yellow hats “cools down”, so to speak, when that’s seen.

Though there’s something to be said for a uniform made up of essentially dull overalls and a duck’s bill on your head. Before the simulation started, though they might deny it, the boys were nervous: jittery legs were shaking, hands were being wrung, bad jokes were being shared, but once they were changed into their gear, the boys turned into men and marched into the fire with some newfound authority and respect.

“They get a grasp of teamwork. They came in probably as twenty individuals from college. Once we put them into their teams, by the end of the third day, they’re starting to work as a team. They’re starting to recognise that whatever their action is, it’ll impinge on the action of somebody else within that team or within the fire.”

Of course when they came out again, they were cheering and posing like boys again.

“I wouldn’t say they’re fire fighters, by any means. They’re not fire fighters after three days”

If joking is how they get through a day – good on them. There’s worse ways of handling training for a career that includes someone’s life in your hands, most are already getting used without that responsibility.

Ultimately, they all passed their training (although failing meant possible death!). It doesn’t matter what motivated them, whether it was their team, an adrenaline rush or a hero complex, they emerged from the smoke of the building in a new light. Watching the simulation provides a renewed sense of respect for not only the students but the marines in general and anyone else willing to put their life on the line for another.

And that was only after a controlled experiment.

Wakolda (The German Doctor)

Based on the book by director Luica Puenzo, Wakolda (English title: The German Doctor) is the true story of a family who befriended Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele in his years spent in Argentina after WWII. Unaware of his true identity or past life or his crimes of human experimentation, the family trust him, with young Lilith (Florencia Bado) keeping close, attempting to make sense of his mutters of “Blood and honour” as she falls for him.

Clever insights into this Nazi’s mind by means of extracts from his notebook read by Lilith break up the growing tension created between the doctor, played by Alex Brendemuhl, and his newfound experiments, Lilith and her unborn brothers. It’s like watching a mad-scientist movie but with the added tension of reality, archaic medicine and an innocent mind to be warped by the words of Hitler.

The twist is as the Israelis move in and the children deteriorate, the doctor is actually needed, though trusting him to stick to noble methods is foolish.

Ultimately, I wondered if this would make a better read than movie. With so much unsaid to create tension, a few things got lost in the transition to screen, such as the nature of Lilith’s infatuation with Mengele, why she was so entranced by him and why her pregnant mother decided to trust this stranger that so often talked of perfection and was very interested in her unborn twins.

The twist does little to help the predictable story of an innocent family around a bad man. A simple history lesson or Wikipedia search will tell you the rest of the film, the interesting aspects being Lilith and her mother pushed back to see what the bad man was going to do next, which we could have guessed for ourselves.

Verdict: 3 stars

Laura Maxwell

Wakolda (The German Doctor) is released nationwide on 8th August 2014.

Watch the trailer for Wakolda (The German Doctor) here:

Certificate: 12A

Twitter: @TheGermanDrFilm


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheGermanDoctor

Website: http://thegermandoctorfilm.com/

Quote: A tense story of an estranged Nazi among innocent faces.

Word Count: 384

Cycling With Moliere

Art imitates life in this gentle comedy about two actors rehearsing for a play. Two struggling actors, and struggling friends, the down on his luck Serge (Fabrice Luchini) and handsome TV star Gauthier (Lambert Wilson) decide to share roles in Gauthier’s upcoming production of their most loved play, about struggling friends. As tensions grow through the rehearsals, so they do in reality.

Director, Phillipe Le Guay’s idea of using play rehearsals to convey true emotion is clever and interesting, but sadly not enough to keep it interesting.

Although there is nothing specifically wrong with Cycling With Moliere, it doesn’t really captivate. Tensions are over petty issues, though that makes sense, since running high on passion may fit more at home in a French-set film. The most drama depicted is during rehearsals and although that may be the point, it makes the rest of the film fall flat. The audience doesn’t wonder “What’s going to happen?” but “Will anything happen?”

The plot was simple enough but predictable, reminding watchers of American high school films. Two boys fighting over one girl, one gets her, the other pretends he doesn’t care, then makes it obvious he cares and embarrasses himself in the process, but even that’s been done wilder. Surprisingly the ending was somewhat fresh, but nothing special happened there either.

What keeps you watching is the chuckle-inducing comedy. Between the “boys” different views on enunciation on stage and nearly drowning in a Jacuzzi, plot is soon just a secondary forgotten issue lost amongst the men’s squabbles.

More than anything, it made me curious of the Moliere play it is centred around.

Verdict: 2 stars

Laura Maxwell

Cycling with Moliere will be released in the UK on 4th July 2014.

A comedy of art imitating life.


Sofar Sounds

Imagine sitting in your living room listening to a band you love. There’s nothing but the music and your mind starts to wander with it. You imagine them right in front of you, playing for you, in your living room. Then – poof! – that dream is gone with a visit to Ticketmaster and their three-digit prices. Because what are you paying for with that three-digit price? The option of either getting so close to your idol that you’re crushed or so far that they’re simply a dot on your radar? The people around you, are they actually paying any attention as they scream and reach or else order their fifth pint?

Well, thanks to a new international experience running rapidly round the world, the flaws of your average music experience can be forgotten.

Sofar Sounds is a new trend of mini-gigs held within people’s living rooms. I spoke to Glasgow-based managers Jaye Brown and Ben Cowie on the idea.

Jaye: “So the basic concept of it is, bands being able to perform in front of an audience that are actually willing to sit and appreciate the music. No one talks through it. It’s a good chance for them to see bands they either haven’t heard of before or bands that they really like and see them in a completely different environment. So from both angles it’s really incredible because it’s such a different experience to watch a band play and the people, yeah, you meet some really really lovely people at the events and they’re all really happy to see a band in a different space.”

A night with Sofar Sounds will generally consist of a set of three or four bands and anywhere between 40-60 music fans sitting in a volunteered living room, listening to music in its most acoustic form: no speakers, few instruments and utter silence as the band gets the full attention of the room.

Jaye: “It’s a unique thing, yeah. I think that’s what’s kind of terrifying for bands because you’re in silence.”

Ben: “Some get really nervous.”

Jaye: “They’ve got full attention and that’s what’s terrifying.”

Ben: “It’s quite often I just forget that bands are like, they get nervous. I’ll be like ‘Why don’t you go and do your thing?’ and they’ll be like ‘You’re making me nervous about this’.”

Jaye: “And being on a big stage people might not notice if they make a mistake, but actually in a room full of people staring at you in silence and they’re listening to every word you say.”

Ben: “And there’s no PA.”

Jaye: “There’s no PA, nothing to hide behind. But it’s really nice. There’s not been one band so far – not that they’ve told us anyway – that haven’t loved it and not come off and genuinely been like ‘It was terrifying but brilliant’.”

Originally starting in London 3 years ago, Sofar Sounds has spread across continents into living rooms in over 60 cities from Barcelona to LA, although is amazingly, generally unheard of.

Jaye: “Basically it initially started because this guy Rafe and this guy Rocky – great names, just first of all – were going to these gigs in London, and then getting really irritated by the noise and people being really drunk and not really paying attention to the band and they were getting a bit frustrated, especially one particular gig we went to they were really excited about, they didn’t really get the same experience out the gig as they wanted to because of all these drunk, loud, annoying people. So they were like, ‘Right how about we just have a gig in our living room?’ and get a couple of their friends who were musicians, got them to come in and have a gig in their living room. It started off with like, less than 10 people there, and they were like ‘This. Is brilliant’ so they then started to have it every month, started inviting more people, and it’s just rapidly grown into this thing.”

Jaye herself first discovered the concept in Australia.

“I was living in Melbourne, working in a café and met this lovely girl, Hannah, and she started on the same day as me and we just started blabbering away and she was like ‘Oh I run this event night thing. It’s like gigs in people’s living rooms. It’s called Sofar. You should come along.’ And I was like new to the city so I was like ‘Oh that should be nice’. So I remember going along and being like ‘This. Is. Amazing.’ I had no idea that it started in London. It wasn’t until I moved back to Scotland, which was about a year and a half ago and I was speaking to Hannah and I was like ‘I would love to start something like that here’ and she was like ‘Oh, you should. You should speak to Rafe, contact him. He lives in London.’ So I did and Rafe was just like ‘Definitely – we’ve been looking for someone in Glasgow to kind of maintain it’. We just had a few Skype calls and I went down to London and they had a big Sofar Festival thing there which was incredible. It was in this massive warehouse and I just fell in love with it and all of them.”

A music video director by day, Ben plays a big part in marketing and finding bands for gigs.

Ben: “It means I get to meet loads of people and tons of bands so I get to be like ‘Whatup? How shall I play this?’ We sometimes have a little bit of a run where I’m making a music video for someone and then I’ll just be like…”

Jaye: “‘Oh by the way what are you doing next Wednesday?’”

It’s definitely a unique experience. One I would compare to an adult Singing Kettle. It gets back to the purity of music in every sense: the absorption of music as though you’re just discovering it for the first time, limited instruments so there’s no layers of whatever a computer has added, and then there’s the idea of the band’s message getting through and knowing that they were heard.

Ben: “I think it’s just a really original thing for the bands because they won’t really have done – no matter what level they’re at – most of the time they won’t really have done anything like that before, you know. Like they won’t have done a gig for a quiet living room full of people.”

The bands also get the benefits of the experience, between a new type of exposure and an intensely listening audience focussing entirely on their music. A night with Sofar Sunds can mean anything. No two nights are the same with the line-up being like a lottery experience: you can guess, but you won’t know until you get there.

Ben: “We’ve had rap, we’ve had electro, we’ve had acoustic, we’ve had punk, we’ve had meow meow, we’ve had Hector Bizerk, we’ve had Fatherson…”

Jaye: “Yeah, we’ve had a wide range of bands.”

Ben: “I wanna do a metal one. I don’t even like metal that much, I just wanna see the look on everyone’s face. We’ll do it in like a posh flat.”

Anyone with a home can offer their place up for the experience. It’s simply a matter of simply clicking “Host” within the website (SofarSounds.com) and anyone with a pulse can turn up.

Ben: “We’ve had some pretty rough flats and some pretty – well some amazing flats.”

Jaye: “Yeah, incredible flats.”

Ben: “The other good thing is that we get a wide range of ages of people coming to an event. So we’ll have 60 year old couples and we’ll have 15 year old kids sometimes. So that kind of brings in another kind of layer of things where we can get other flats or houses or something.”

Jaye: “‘Oh you’re older you must have a nice house!’”

But Sofar isn’t confined to simply living rooms…

Jaye: “We’ve set up Sofar Sounds in other locations that aren’t living rooms and we’ve taken a transportable pop-up living room in the back of a van. So we’ve hired or ‘found’ living room items on the street and found the couch and various other things from local prop stores and we’ve just filled up a van. On the road! Been three times. We done it at the Edinburgh Festival, we done it at Glasgow Punch Studios Christmas event there, which was brilliant. That was like the biggest one we’ve had. There was like 200 people there and we had a big Christmas Sofar and it was lovely. The third one was Valentine’s Day. It was above the Finnieston Bar and they’ve got like this little attic that’s just like this old shack of a room, but it’s beautiful and it’s so pretty.”

And there’s no need to worry about the night resulting in a trashed home.

Ben: “No, no, no.”

Jaye: “No one gets drunk.”

Ben: “Everyone’s very respectful, yeah.”

Jaye: “Everyone’s very respectful and the host as well is very accommodating and well, obviously if you’re going to host between forty and sixty people in your front room you’re going to have to love that close thing. So people do, they go all out. They properly make food and put snacks out and make it comfy and set the living room up and it’s really lovely. Like I said, everyone is really aware that it’s someone’s living room and there’s been no drama so far. Touch wood.”

Becoming part of this unique trend is as easy as going into the website. To find out where the next gigs are, sign up for the mailing list. From there you can apply for a space in the gig you want to see. The bands are a surprise until you arrive and can be anyone from Scottish rappers, Hector Bizerk to super group Prehistoric Friends. Anyone willing to host a gig can volunteer on the website and – shocker – it’s free!

Jaye: “Well we provide drinks for donations and it’s just a nice thing for people to know that they can go out one night during the week and not have to like spend a fortune, but still do something a bit different. “



We Are Many


“I think they were saying, ‘We’ll it’s okay to be for peace, but you can’t be against the war’.”

A riveting and desperately needed explanation of the war of our generation for those of us still lost as to the point of the invasion of Iraq.

13 years, 1,220,580 Iraq deaths, countless troops lost and a black hole in modern history later, people are still reeling from the events following September 11th.

Made up of news clips following politicians and demonstrations and individual interviews with various anti-war activists, this documentary eliminates any misgivings about “needing” to go to war as the politicians speak for themselves. It can be a harrowing and tough watch as you realise these are the people you are supposed to trust most.

Built around the inspiring worldwide anti-war protests following the events of September 2001, director Amir Amirani creates a demonstration of his own by giving the background to the decision to go to war, the unexplained jump between that and 9/11 and the resulting marches for peace occurring across many nations.

Almost 800 countries over the seven continents held protests, some reaching over a 1.5 million people count, including activists, celebrities and corporations using what power they had to come to a solution. It’s a touching story with a bitter pill to swallow, because although they set records on the biggest protests in history, politicians didn’t listen. It makes you wonder if mankind has evolved at all.

But Amirani doesn’t leave his audience with no inkling of hope left. In comparing Iraq war protests to the more recent Syrian war protests, Amir points out that politicians are learning to listen to their people.


Verdict: 4 stars                                                                                    Laura Maxwell

A brutal look at modern government.

We Are Many was released in UK cinemas on the 8th of June 2014.


Whatever I've been working on lately…