andrewcferguson

writer, performer, musician, wine drinker

Tag Archives: markheim

Back on the Horse

A late-summer wasp, heady with its own venom, banks round for yet another bombing mission on unsuspecting giant bipeds. In external wall crevices, hunter spiders flex their chitinous legs and begin the long autumnal march indoors. The biomass plant facility tolls the knell of parting day, and leaves the world to darkness, and to me. The nights, as they say round these parts, are fair drawing in.

Those of you who know me best know why I’ve been quiet on the performance front this year so far. However, the two Tribute to Venus Carmichael gigs at the Free Fringe have revived my interest in not making a complete fool of myself in public again; and like the buses, I’ve a few things coming up rather than a single one.

The first thing isn’t actually a live performance: it’s a release on Soundcloud which, for reasons which will become obvious, I’m not releasing till 19th September. Watch this space for that one!

Then, on 2nd October, I don my spangly jacket for MC duties at Slam Factor Fife II. A stellar line up of judges – Miko Berry, Kevin Cadwallender and Rachel McCrum – will be performing as well as judging, and I might squeeze a couple of my own in. If you’re in some loose way associated with Fife, and fancy giving it a go, follow the link for an application form.

Then, I have an event to promote my Dad’s last book, A Huntly Loon Goes To War, at the Huntly Book Festival, on Saturday 4th October at 4.This event will be quite special for me, and I hope you can make it if you live locally.

On 3rd October, just before heading up to Huntly, we’re going to see Randolph’s Leap in Dundee, supported by St Kilda Mailboat and Blood Indians (for the syntactically acute, that’s Randolph’s Leap they’re supporting, not us: I don’t think we could squeeze them all in the back of the car). I plan to review Blood Indians’ excellent EP in advance, so keep the dial here for that.

Also in early October, or maybe late September, Kelly and I will be doing a session at Leith FM as Tribute to Venus Carmichael, on Ralph on the Radio. We’re really excited about this – more news soon!

Finally, on 15th November, I’m putting on a show called Stevenson Unbound. More details soon, but in the meantime, this is the spiel:

Spoken word performer Andrew C Ferguson (Writers’ Bloc, Illicit Ink) presents an atmospheric new show in back room of the White Horse, in the Canongate. On a darkening November afternoon, immerse yourself in classic RLS supernatural stories ‘Markheim,’ and ‘Thrawn Janet,’ as sound effects swirl through the half-lit space.
In the final segment, hear Ferguson’s own Stevenson-inspired poetry and prose, including Hyde’s Last Words, where Henry Jekyll’s worse half finally has his say. Do you dare to stay the afternoon?
With special guest. Part of the Edinburgh City of Literature RLS Day programme.
Stevenson Unbound, White Horse, 266 Canongate, 14:00 – 17:00 Saturday 15th November 14+
£5/contribution

Things are starting to return, slowly, as autumn advances on us, although it’s still more music-based than fiction. On the Venus Carmichael front, the old girl has been busy writing new songs; I’ve a feeling she might have more to tell us of her life story soon too. I still have high hopes of another musical project I’m collaborating on, although it has a missing component at the moment. I even started a poem the other day. There’s a fair chance I might finish it.

In the meantime, like almost every other Scot, I have strong views on a certain question needing an answer on 18th September. However, the necessities of the day job mean I’m not able to express a view, so unlike almost every other Scot, you won’t be getting the benefit of my opinions.

I’m sure the rest of them will make up for me.

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No self-imposed pressure then!

Just two days left for me to finalise both Markheim and Hyde’s Last Words, two audio files that I promised to let loose on the unsuspecting world on August 28th (for no better reason than it’s divisible by 14). The latter, being my own work, is just about there – I faffed about yesterday adding a bit of guitar to the end of it, inevitably getting a (very short) lead part down first take, and then agonising over the simplest rhythm part you will ever have heard. Subject to that being fixed out, it’s done.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Markheim is a bit trickier. Firstly, it’s quite long. Secondly, it’s set in London, so I have the choice of either going for the accent, or, er, not. Mind you, I did hear once that the morningside accent we hear nowadays is the product of nineteenth century Scots trying to ape their posh London counterparts, so maybe it should all be a bit Miss Jean Brodie.

Thirdly, though, there are the sound effects. Boy, are there sound effects you could put in Markheim: RLS uses the background noises in the shop after the murder extensively, and just how much I follow that will be partly down to how much time I have. I might even just put up a beta version on Wednesday, but I’d rather it was the final one.

Either way, it’ll be mid evening at the earliest I suspect. In the meantime, the links above will take you to the trailer versions.

Start all the Clocks

I’ve been thinking about what Robert Louis Stevenson story I should release on my Soundcloud site this August, as part of my Virtual Fringe, for some time. I think now I’ve decided on Markheim, a tale he wrote for the Christmas 1884 edition of the Pall Mall Gazette, but which was too short word length wise for it, and eventually appeared in the 1885 Unwin’s Christmas Annual (even RLS had to scratch about for markets, dear fellow scribblers!)

Other candidates for this year’s story included The Tale of Tod Lapraik, which was in Scots, but to me is not that strong a story – more two stories jammed together. Olalla intrigues me, partly because of its Spanish setting, but partly also because it’s a vampire story that prefigures Dracula (though not the first, of course: Mary Shelley and Sheridan Le Fanu got there before him). However, it’s quite long. The Bodysnatcher would be another obvious choice – on the plus side, RLS knew his Burke and Hare, and I really like the opening scene with the old drunk and the famous doctor; on the minus side, it’s perhaps too well known.

So Markheim it is then: a fine psychological study which owes a lot to Crime and Punishment – although RLS slips in a supernatural element for good measure. Thanks to Russell Gray for the suggestion.

I’ve started collecting sound effects for it: the opening scene contains a lot of clocks. So if I come round your house and show an unnatural interest in how your clock ticks, now you know why…

I also plan to release at the same time a version of Hyde’s Last Words, one of my own bits of RLS-related work.