Review: Newly restored “Gregory’s Girl”

Out on blu-ray for the first time thanks to a BFI restoration, Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl has a golden reputation; a key film in Scottish and UK cinematic history, it’s also an indie darling that’s still talked about and quoted today. But in 2023, it’s also a problematic film that’s of it’s time and needs a little unpacking. It’s a tale of a lovelorn Cumbernauld teenager named Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair) who loses his place in the school football team to Dorothy (Dee Hepburn). He fancies her, of course, but life has other plans for Gregory.

Gregory’s Girl was made back in 1980, and bridged the gap between Forsyth’s debut, the enduringly pawky That Sinking Feeling about a Glasgow sink heist, and his best film, the accomplished Local Hero. Gregory’s Girl does a good job of getting inside the head of a young West of Scotland male; perhaps too well at times. We start with a group of boys spying on a nurse’s changing room at a local hospital; using binoculars, they watch a girl undress, and we share the view. There’s nothing wrong with the human body, but enforced voyeurism isn’t such a great look, and scenes like this aren’t subtext, they’re the text.

Similarly, it’s seen as a great gag that when Dorothy scores a goal at football, not only do her own players land congratulatory kisses on her, but the opposition do as well. In the light of the on-going Spanish football scandal, with a male official resigning for doing the same to a female player, it’s a joke doesn’t play so well today. And while the badinage in the school staffroom is well caught, particularly Chic Murray’s brief but iconic turn as a CGAF headmaster, there’s also a suggestion about a potential paedophile teacher that’s also treated like just another what-are-men-like? joke.

1980 was a year awash with crude, sexist comedies, and despite the issues listed above, Gregory’s Girl is more wholesome and honest than any leering Porky’s could aspire to. There’s a cheerful, summry attitude to life, with compassion for Gregory’s predicament, and some faith put in the women who collectively act together to release him from his self-appointed dwam. For all it’s flaws to the modern mind, Gregory’s Girl is a remarkably wholesome film; the bigger picture is that it sees beyond a limited male POV and evokes a wider, humanist picture of life, and that’s why it struck a chord with audiences worldwide.

At over four decades old, Gregory’s Girl is still a classic, well worth reviving and looking better than ever before in HD; you can practically smell the fresh cut crass as Gregory strolls around Cumbernauld in the evening. If Forsyth’s examination of sexism requires a few trigger warnings today, then fine; it’s a film of a specific moment. But Gregory himself is not a thug, a Neanderthal or a sexist, but a young, growing boy afflicted by chronic self-consciousness, and his lessons learned in growing up are ones that many young Scottish males are still struggling to come to terms with.

Gregory’s Girl is out on blu-ray from Sept 11th 2023. Thanks to BFI for access. 

Source: Gregory’s Girl

19th century Scottish village pub up for sale

A South Lanarkshire pub dating back nearly 200 years has been put up for sale at offers in the region of £625,000.

Located on the suburban edge of East Kilbride, the Auldhouse Arms has been extended and refurbished in recent years but maintains many of its original characteristics. There is seating for 40 in the bar and up to 80 in the restaurant.

The pub is currently operating on limited hours, and the restaurant has been closed due to personal circumstances. Estate agents Christie & Co said the property is a “great opportunity” for a chef proprietor to operate both, or the restaurant could be leased out to trade independently.

The property, which also has a two-bedroom owners accommodation, is located near the Langlands Moss Nature Reserve and is said to attract visitors from walking and cycling routes in the area.


The property, which also has a two-bedroom owners accommodation, is located near the Langlands Moss Nature Reserve and is said to attract visitors from walking and cycling routes in the area.

“I am happy to bring to the market the Auldhouse Arms,” said Simon Watson, hospitality business agent at Christie & Co. “This is a tremendous opportunity to acquire a long-established and very popular bar restaurant that has been upgraded to the highest standard.”

Source: 19th century village pub up for sale

Karine Polwart “Wild Food and Medicine”


The Equinox has just passed and the turn is palpable here in Pathhead, thank goodness. Don’t get me wrong, I love the hunker down creep into winter dark but by this point in the year, I’m craving birdsong and blossom and light.

I’m marking this Spring with some fresh learning via Grassroots Remedies, an Edinburgh and Glasgow based workers’ cooperative which is rekindling the tradition of herbal community healthcare. Or, as they put it: Folk Medicine for All Folk! That’s folky enough for me.

One of my favourite late summer and autumn season pursuits is gathering fruit. I make elderberry syrup (I’m down to my last bottle in the fridge now) and sloe gin and I boil up jellies and other concoctions using brambles, crabapples, haws, hips, rowans and sea buckthorn. I love it, but it requires a degree of seasonal awareness and timekeeping organisation that sometimes escapes me. I miss the raspberries every year. And beyond the summer and autumn harvest, I always mean to do something with the wild leek and garlic, the wood sorrel and the dandelions.

I’m enrolled on Wild Things: A Year of Wild Food and Medicine. And I’ve signed up for a series of local Edinburgh based herb walks that begin this Friday. I’ve put all the dates in my diary, and carved out some learning time, which feels great.

Plant Medicine has a long history and much if it is bound up with the knowledge and of care and women whose contributions have largely been erased from history. But there’s a striking link to one of Edinburgh’s most beloved institutions too.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was founded in the grounds of Holyrood House in 1670, by Robert Sibbald and Andrew Balfour, two of the leading physicians – and botanists – of the era. It was designed as a ‘Physic Garden’, a collection of fresh plants for medical prescription and for the teaching of botany to medical students. Sibbald was inaugural Professor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but he was also keen to ensure that plant knowledge was not confined to the privileged.

In 1699, in response to ‘The Ill Years’, a series of successive crop failures and widespread hunger across Scotland, he published ‘Provision For The Poor in Time of Dearth or Scarcity’, a 24-page plant field guide to foraging. It is subtitled ‘Where There is an Account of Such Food as May be Easily Gotten when Corns are Scarce, Or Unfit for Use: and of Such Meats as May be Used when the Ordinary Provisions Fail Or are Very Dear’.

The connection between plants and health has been somewhat breached by the industrialisation and compartmentalisation of modern medicine. I’m deeply grateful for the modern NHS that we have. But I’m fearful too. We’re in a period of history when we, as ordinary people, will need more knowledge and agency around how to look after ourselves and each other. And whilst we’ll still need specialist expertise and care, for those that can access it, we’ll need much more than that too. And we’ll need to share what we know, and what we have.

Next month, I’m hoping to do a day of solo filming with the brilliant Ormiston-based videographer Sandy Butler. Let’s just say my own house is not quite for this purpose right now! So, I’m reaching out to folks locally in Midlothian, East Lothian or north Borders who might be willing to host me for a day in a spacious, quiet, bright living room or studio space in exchange for a bespoke wee household song offering and two free tickets to my next Edinburgh show (which will be in November – more on that next time).

If you’re free during the day on April 21st, all you’d need to do is take some phone snaps of your room to give an indication of size and feel and let me know where you are!



Thanks so much to everyone who’s bought tickets for my solo tour south of the border in June. Shoreham is sold out already and several dates are shifting towards limited tickets. So please don’t leave it too late!

I’ll also be playing three dates with Dave Milligan – What A Wonderful World Festival in Alnwick in June, and Milton Keynes International Festival and Yn Chruinnaght Celtic Gathering on the Isle Of Man in July.

The Incredible String Band on German TV’s Beat Club

By Johnny Foreigner

Here’s a three song playlist from The Incredible String Band’s performance on the German TV show Beat Club, recorded September 1970 but not broadcast.

Beat Club was a German music program that ran from September 1965 to December 1972. Co-created by Gerhard Augustin and Mike Leckebusch, the show premiered in 1965 with Augustin and Uschi Nerke hosting.

By the time the Incredible String Band performed, the series was known for incorporating psychedelic (read: cheesy) visual effects during the taped performances. This one is no exception.

The band is in fine form here, still having fun  -despite being recently introduced to Scientology and the crooked music business. As the Scotsman will toast, “To honest men and bonnie lassies!” Well, the lassies were bonnie, anyway.

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