Friday, December 07, 2012

How The Blue Lady Became - A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time a princess lived in a castle in a cold mountain land. The castle was very warm inside, but the princess longed to explore the beautiful mountains, even though everyone in the castle told her she would freeze to death if she went outside, as her mother the queen had done when she left the castle with a mysterious traveller one night so many years before. Yet every day, the princess would sit in the window of her tower and look at the long empty road that led away through the mountains into the lands beyond, and sing a song of longing.

One day as the princess was gazing out at the long road through the mountains, and singing her song of longing, she saw a traveller walking towards the castle. He sat under her window and listened to her song. Then, when she stopped singing, he went away. The princess was sad. The next day when she came to her window and began to sing her song of longing again, the traveller returned, and sat listening to her song. On the third day the same thing happened. But on the fourth day when the princess sang nobody came. Sad, she went down to the banqueting hall for the feast, only to find the traveller warming his hands by the hearth. Her father the king told her that he had found the traveller outside the castle walls while out hunting, and offered him a meal and a warm bed for the night.

The princess sat beside the traveller all night, listening to his tales of the lands over the mountains. The traveller was on his way to a magical island in a deep blue ocean, where it was always warm and where beautiful flowers grew, and every tree was heavy with fruit. The princess had never seen flowers or trees, or the ocean, and she longed to go with him. “Why don’t you?” asked the traveller. But the princess told him sadly that if she ever went outside the castle, she would freeze to death. “Oh no you won’t,” said the traveller, and told her he had a gift for her that would stop her from freezing. He showed her a beautiful fur coat. The princess tried it on and felt warm from head to toe. “What can I give you in exchange?” she asked the traveller. “Sing me a song,” he said. So she did. And that night, when everyone in the castle was fast asleep, she put on her new fur coat, and followed the traveller out of the castle and onto the long empty road. But in her fur coat she didn’t freeze. She didn’t feel the cold at all.

The princess and the traveller walked for many days and many nights, all the way through the mountains to the other side. Every day the princess saw marvellous things she never new existed, and every night she sang to the traveller as he built them a fire and cooked the food he had foraged and hunted along the road. Eventually they reached a deep dark forest and the princess was frightened, but the traveller held her hand and promised to keep her safe. As they walked through the forest they heard the crackle of branches as something came towards them. The traveller unsheathed his knife, but it was only an old lady in a long travelling cloak and hood. “I am all alone and the forest is a dangerous place,” she said. “Please may I travel with you?” But the traveller told the old lady to keep away and leave them alone. The princess was sad, but the traveller said he could only look after one other person, and the old lady would slow them down. He wanted to get to the magical island as quickly as he could.

As they travelled on, the forest got warmer and warmer, and became a jungle, and the princess became very hot in her fur coat. But the traveller wouldn’t let her leave it behind, because it was too precious, and one day she would want to return to her mountain homeland, and then she would need the coat again. So the princess struggled on, carrying the coat under her arm, but it became a heavier and heavier burden. One night as the traveller slept, the princess was woken by the sound of weeping. She followed the sound and found the old lady sitting crying in a small clearing nearby. The princess thought the old lady was crying because she had no food, so brought her some of the stew from their own stewpot. But the old lady said the real reason she was crying was because she was lonely. The princess felt ashamed that the traveller had turned the old lady away, and told her to travel with them to the magic warm island. But the old lady said she did not want to go to the magic warm island, she was tired of the heat. She wanted to go back to the beautiful icy mountains where she came from, but she was so old and so frail that she would freeze to death on the road before she ever reached the castle. So the princess gave the old lady her fur coat. The old lady thanked her for her kindness, with tears in her eyes. The princess slept soundly that night. The next morning she told the traveller nothing of what had happened the night before.

The next day the traveller and the princess reached the edge of the jungle and walked out onto a beach of golden sand. In front of them was a deep blue ocean, and rising out of the ocean was the magic island. They could just see tiny people waving to them on the shore. Eagerly the traveller threw off his clothes and waded into the water, ready to swim across. He held out his hand to the princess. But the princess would not follow him into the water. She had never seen water before and she was afraid. She could not swim. The traveller was impatient to reach the magic island, but he offered to teach the princess how to swim so she could come with him. The princess was afraid, but she followed the traveller into the water, because she had followed him all the way from her frozen homeland and he had kept her safe until then. The traveller held the princess up in the water and showed her how to move her arms and legs, but as soon as she let go she would sink under the water, again and again, and the traveller would have to pull her back to the surface, choking and gasping. All day he tried to teach her, until the princess was so tired and afraid of the water that she could bear no more. So the traveller helped her back to the shore, where she sat shivering on the beach, despite the heat. “Put on your fur coat and warm yourself,” said the traveller. But the princess told him she no longer had the fur coat, because she had given it to the old lady. Then the traveller was very angry. This is why he had sent the old lady away, because she was a trickster and a thief. The princess had concealed from the traveller that the old lady was following them, and the old lady had taken the most precious possession that the foolish, trusting princess owned. If the princess did not trust the traveller to look after her, and did not follow his lead, then he would not help her to reach the magic island. With that, the traveller dived into the sea, swimming to the magic island and leaving the princess behind.

The princess sat on the beach alone, watching the traveller swim away from her, while the tears ran down her cheeks. She sang again the song of longing she had sung before from the window of her castle room as she looked out over the long empty road into the mountains. Then the old lady came to her again, and wrapped the fur coat around the princess’s shoulders to stop her shivering. “Do you really want to reach the magic island?” asked the old lady. “More than anything in the world,” replied the princess. “Then,” said the old lady, “because you have given me a gift, I will give you a gift.” And the old lady gave the princess a jar of blue paste. “This paste is made from the shells of the creatures that live on the ocean floor,” she said. “I have been collecting them for many years, and for many years I have been crushing the shells to paste with my pestle and mortar, but now I have enough, I no longer want to reach the magic island.” “But what does the paste do?” asked the princess. “Cover your whole body with the paste,” said the old lady, “every inch of it. And the blue will protect you, so that you can walk right under the waves and into the water, without drowning.” “Oh thank you!” said the princess, reaching for the paste. But before the old lady would give the paste to the princess she had one more warning. “Once you have covered yourself with this paste, it will never wash off again. You will always be blue.” “What do I care what colour I am,” said the princess, “as long as I can get to the place I long to be more than anywhere else in the world?” So the old lady gave the princess the blue paste, and the princess gave the old lady back her fur coat once more, because now she was filled with hope again she had stopped shivering, and the two women said goodbye.

The princess covered herself in the blue paste from head to toe, and then she walked into the water. Sure enough, as soon as the waves closed over her head, the princess discovered she could still breathe, and she could see everything under the water too. The princess walked along the seabed towards the magic island, and along the way she travelled through the most beautiful world she had ever seen, full of sea anemones and brightly coloured fish. When she reached the island she walked out of the ocean onto the beach, and there, sitting on the shore, was the traveller. He was staring across the ocean to the beach where he had left her, and there were tears pouring down his cheeks. The princess walked over to the traveller. “It’s all right, I’m here,” she said. But when the traveller saw her he leapt away from her in horror. “It’s me,” she said, “the princess!” But the traveller said, “Get away from me, monster!” He did not recognise the princess. The princess thought of a way to show the traveller it was her, so she began to sing. But the traveller put his fingers in his ears. “Stop that ugly sound!” he shouted. “And get away from me!”

Heartbroken, the blue princess walked away from the traveller, through the flowers and the fruit trees of the magic island. But she didn’t see them, because her eyes were full of tears. The blue princess climbed to the top of a rock by the water and she sang her song of longing, as the tears fell down her face. But although the tears trickled down her skin, they didn’t wash off the blue, because the blue was there forever. The blue princess didn’t even try to rub the blue away, because she knew the old lady had been telling the truth. She would always be blue now. It was only when the sun had set and the princess climbed down from her rock that she discovered a crowd of island people gathered at the foot of the rock, all on their knees before her, and offering up trays laden with fruit and garlands of flowers. As she walked among them they lifted her up on their shoulders and hailed her as their blue goddess, who came to them from the ocean and healed their pain with her song.

The island people carried the princess to a beautiful garden palace full of flowers and fountains, music and joy, where everyone danced and laughed and feasted, and where she lived happily among them for many years. But sometimes the princess would dream about the frozen mountain land of her childhood, and as the years went by she began to long to return there. So sometimes the blue goddess would walk alone into the waves and gather tiny blue sea creatures from the ocean floor, then she would carry them back to her palace and crush the shells into a paste, until, after many years, she had a whole jar full of blue paste. Then she said goodbye to her people and walked into the waves, never to return.

When she reached the other shore, the blue princess concealed the colour of her skin beneath a cloak and hood, and walked into the forest. After a few days travel she met a man and a young woman travelling together. The man did not trust her and sent her away, but the woman was kind to her and offered her food, so the blue princess followed them, keeping out of sight. One night the blue princess found the woman crying by herself in a clearing. She asked her what was wrong and the young woman said that she wanted to reach the magic island, but she couldn’t swim. The blue princess offered the woman her jar of blue paste, and the young woman accepted it gratefully. In exchange she offered the blue princess her fur coat, so the blue princess could travel to the frozen mountains. Before the blue princess left the young woman she warned her that once she had covered herself in the blue paste, although she would be able to walk under water without drowning, she would be blue forever, and her companion might reject her. But the young woman smiled. “When you are a traveller,” she said, “everywhere you go and everyone you meet is strange and foreign. So you must accept them all. Or you will always be alone.”

So the blue princess put on the young woman’s fur coat and walked towards her frozen mountain home, knowing that her island people would soon meet their new blue goddess from the waves, and that waiting for her in a warm mountain castle far away was the old lady who had helped her so many years before, and who was also the blue queen, her mother.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tricity Vogue's Ukulele Cabaret - Edinburgh Fringe 2012

TRICITY VOGUE'S UKULELE CABARET returned to the Edinburgh Fringe for its third year in 2012 - 9.30-10.30pm nightly in the Ballroom of Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, from 2nd to 26th August. A star-studded line-up of special guests battled to win the coveted Uke of Edinburgh Award. Each winner chose a topic for Tricity to write a song about for the next show.

You can listen to Tricity's songs on Soundcloud here.


Thursday 2 August
Desmond O'Connor, Ria Lina, Dusty Limits
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Lins McRobie of Edinburgh Uke Hoot (audience contestant)
Tricity's song topic: Bowler Hat

Friday 3 August
Dusty Limits, Audacity Chutzpah, Miranda Kane
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Audacity Chutzpah
Tricity's song topic: Goats

Saturday 4 August
Ben Jones, DeAnne Smith, Emily Scott, The Stillhouse Orchestra
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winners: Ben Jones and DeAnne Smith
Tricity's song topic: Aubergine

Sunday 5 August
Eleanor Morton, Katrina Smith. Bob and Jim, Albert Spink
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Eleanor Morton
Tricity's song topic: Mothballs

Monday 6 August
Ria Lina, Stav Meishar, Myra Dubois, Eleanor Morton
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Ria Lina
Tricity's song topic: Awards

Tuesday 7 August
Sarah-Louise Young, Billy Wagg (Susan Harrison), Howard Read, Molly Beth White
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winners: Billy Wagg and Sarah-Louise Young
Tricity's song topic: A happy song about the death of a pet

Wednesday 8 August
Joby Mageean, Audacity Chutzpah, Josh Richards, Amelia Robinson
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winners: Joby Mageean and Audacity Chutzpah
Tricity's song topic: Nintendo Wii (with actions)

Thursday 9 August
Ria Lina, Jane Bom-Bane, Robert Inston, Jax Braithwaite
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Jax Braithwaite
Tricity's song topic: Alliteration...and Fanny

Friday 10 August
Helen Arney, Mark Wallington, Molly and Me, Gareth and Misha
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Molly and Me
Tricity's song topic: Sunglasses

Saturday 11 August
Lady Carol, Mark Wallington, Ashley Frieze, Sophie Steel
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Lady Carol
Tricity's song topic: Mental Block

Sunday 12 August
Jo Stephenson, Eleanor Morton, Mat Ricardo, Uke Gnome
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Eleanor Morton
Tricity's song topic: Lady Pirates

Monday 13 August
Tim Clare, Jess Guille, Uke Gnome, Formby (Ewan Wardrop)
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Formby
Tricity's song topic: Bells

Tuesday 14 August
She Makes War, Roland Dootsan, Gareth Ellis, Leela Bunce
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Leela Bunce
Tricity's song topic: Harry Potter

Wednesday 15 August
Jonny Woo, Josephine Shaker, Callum Scott, Dan Woods, Mr Mistress
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Mr Mistress
Tricity's song topic: My Drag Queen Wet Dream

Thursday 16 August
Ria Lina, Sh!t theatre, Peter Buckle, Desmond O'Connor
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Sh!t theatre
Tricity's song topic: Funemployment

Friday 17 August
Helen Arney, Ben Jones, Owen Niblock, Amie Amis
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Amie Amis
Tricity's song topic: Pineapple

Saturday 18 August
Holly Penfield, Dan Woods, DeAnne Smith, Bob Slayer
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Dan Woods
Tricity's song topic: 29 Espressos

Sunday 19 August
The Curious Couple From Coney, Tom Harlow, Rosy Rebel, Mat Ricardo
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Tom Harlow
Tricity's song topic: Glitter

Monday 20 August
DeAnne Smith, Dave Bear, Joe Black, Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: DeAnne Smith
Tricity's song topic: Gentlemen

Tuesday 21 August
Jonny Woo, Bethany Singh, John Lane, David (Audience Member)
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Bethany Singh
Tricity's song topic: Paper Cranes

Wednesday 22 August
Johnny Suave (Chris Young), Dave Nelder, Josephine Shaker, Jamie Bowen
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Josephine Shaker
Tricity's song topic: Penguins Drinking Beer

Thursday 23 August
Ria Lina, Cera Impala, Michael Munnik, Jolly Boat, Tom McDermott
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Ria Lina
Tricity's song topic: Alternative Universes

Friday 24 August
Helen Arney, Molly & Me, Miranda Kane, Shit Theatre, Vanessa Hammick
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Helen Arney
Tricity's song topic: Beaker from the Muppets

Saturday 25 August
Lisa Kenny, Johnny Setlist, Ben Jones, Mervyn Stutter
Uke Of Edinburgh Award Winner: Mervyn Stutter
Tricity's song topic: Varifocals

Sunday 26 August
Gareth Ellis, Tricity Vogue, Ria Lina, Amie Amis, Josephine Shaker, Shit Theatre, Johnny Setlist, Ben Jones, Lins McRobie, David (Audience Member)

Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, Ballroom, 38 West Nicolson Street Edinburgh EH8 9DD
AUG 2-26, 2012 at 9.30-10.30pm

Here's the show on the Fringe website.

Tricity also hosted a FREE PAINT AND PLAY UKULELE WORKSHOP every Saturday in August between 1pm and 3pm at Rae Macintosh Music shop. More details on the Fringe website.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Extracts from "An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth" by Bruce Mau

In 2004, while I was staying in Edinburgh, my friend Paul showed me an A4 photocopy of some advice for designers which I liked so much I copied extracts from it into my notebook.

I thought of it again just yesterday, while I was toiling over a cover version of a Tom Waits song, and decided to dig it out and have another look at it.

You might find some or all of these ideas interesting too:

Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it.



Joy is the engine of growth. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

The deeper you go, the more likely you are to discover something of value.

The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question.

Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgement. Postpone criticism.

John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

Ideas need a dynamic, fluid and generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigour. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

Desynchronize from standard timeframes and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

Growth is fuelled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17) _______________
Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven't had yet, and for the ideas of others.

Strange things happen when you've gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you're separated from the rest of the world.

Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

If you like it do it again. If you don't like it, do it again.

Tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

Everyone has it.

You might find something in the morning that you can't see tonight.

Just don't. It's not good for you.

Decrease the amount of information and leave room for your "noodle".

New conditions demand new ways of thinking, which demands new words, which generates new conditions.

Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

The myth of a split between "creatives" and "suits" is what Leonard Cohen calls a "charming artifact of the past".

By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control.

Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires or ambitions, we fold their world into our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV, or the internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic simulated environment.


Don't be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You'll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable.

36) SCAT
When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else... but not words.


Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the pack. We can't find the leading edge because it's trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces - what Dr Seuss calls "the waiting place".

Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. It's our job to jump the fence.

Use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing oruselves.

Without memory, innovation is merely novelty.

Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can't be free angents if we're not free.

Bruce Mau runs a Toronto and New York based design studio. The full manifesto is on his website here:

But I thought it was more fun to copy out the bits I'd written down in my own notebook eight years ago. It looks like I jotted down most of it in the end, but then, according to point number 35, copying might be a good thing to do anyway.