In Full

Lifestyle in Full
Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert

Christmas album reviews: Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert; The Fizz; Engelbert Humperdinck; CeCe Winans; LeAnn Rimes; Rodney Crowell

For lovers of a Christmas-themed album, nothing says humbug quite like the complementary partnership of former Arab Strap frontman Aidan Moffat and acoustic guitar virtuoso RM Hubbert, who turn their attention to the most wonderful time of the year with Ghost Stories for Christmas (Rock Action, JJJ) an album of slightly off-colour seasonal ditties delivered by Moffat in faintly creepy crooner mode with calming, sonorous backing from Hubbert on finger-picking duties.

NTS artistic director Jackie Wylie, third from left, alongside key creatives for the 2019 season, from left: Claire Cunningham, Cora Bissett, Stewart Laing, Nic Green and Robert Softley-Gale

Interview: NTS artistic director Jackie Wylie looks forward to “a year of new work from major Scottish artists”

A couple of weeks ago, at its still-new Rockvilla headquarters in Glasgow, the National Theatre of Scotland announced its programme for 2019 – its 14th since the company began operations in 2006. Launching the programme, artistic director Jackie Wylie said that the company’s 2019 focus would be on “major Scottish artists creating major new works that explore the vital questions facing all of us, both as Scots and as global citizens;” and the list of events – which features ten substantial new shows, two Scottish tours of significant revivals, three international appearances in the US and Canada, and two major community projects – seems as good as her word. Headline productions include adaptations of Jenni Fagan’s acclaimed novel The Panopticon and of Scottish Makar Jackie Kay’s memoir Red Dust Road; and the whole package moved super-cool Edinburgh cultural curators and event-makers Neu Reekie! to declare that with this programme, the NTS had “come of age as a truly national theatre.”

Detail of An Teallach, Dundonnell, 'February 2016 by Craig Aitchison

Books for Christmas: The Best Photography Books

As the years roll by and the internet becomes increasingly saturated with camera phone snaps from every corner of the globe, you might expect photography books to fall out of fashion. Curiously, however, these unwieldy, low-tech artefacts now feel more relevant than ever, first as a means of making us stop and think about the art of image-making, and second as a means of drawing our attention to different places and times in a way that’s far more immersive and meaningful than simply scrolling through hundreds of random images on Instagram.

View of Ben Stack from the North Coast 500

Books for Christmas: The Best Travel Books

Going places? No need to vacate the armchair, unless it’s to fetch one of this year’s best travel books. Faraway places will fly to your lap, with a sight, a sound, a taste, a story to embed you in the exotic, and feed nostalgia for places past or quicken your longing for somewhere new.

When I Was a Child, by Andy Stanton and David Litchfield

Books for Christmas: The Best Children’s Books

0-5 years: Where’s Santa Claus? (Nosy Crow, £6.99) by Ingela P Arrhenius is a fabulous Christmas offering from Nosy Crow’s award winning series of books that includes Where’s Mr Lion?, which won Sainsbury’s Children’s Book of the Year in 2017. With bright, friendly illustrations and soft felt flaps this is a sweet book to cuddle up with and share with a wee one over the festive period.

And the Ocean Was Our Sky, by Patrick Ness

Books for Christmas: The best YA Fiction

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies (Penguin, £12.99) is a collection of short stories, poems and memories curated by Scarlett Curtis in partnership with Girl Up - a frank and fascinating insight into what it means to be a woman and a feminist in the modern world. Each piece of writing is unique and special, much like the contributors that brought them to the collection. From Gemma Arterton’s scathing rewrite of Quantum of Solace, in which her character maintains a professional distance from Bond, to Amani Al-Khatahtbeh’s hilarious “17 Truths about Muslim Women” which teaches us that asking to see “what’s under there” is not a successful Tinder conversation starter. There is a smorgasbord of different voices and experiences in this book, all showing young women (and men) that whoever you are and whatever your point of view you can and should be a feminist.

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