In Uncategorized on April 17, 2015 at 8:21 pm

“I cannot conceive of a life without you.”

Belle is a film loosely based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle who was raised in the household of uncle William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife Elizabeth. As a mulatto she would not normally have been expected to be free and educated. At best she might have been used as a companion to Lady Elizabeth Murray who was also the niece of William and Elizabeth. However the importance of Belle to her uncle is clear in the writings of the time where she seems to have been an accomplished support with his papers in the way that a male secretary would normally have been and she also had domestic duties associated with being a gentlewoman. In real life she lived in her uncle’s house for thirty years and received an annuity, which although less than Elizabeth’s would have raised her social standing. The portrait of both girls now hangs in Scone palace after having hung in the home of Mansfield house for generations.

It is clear from the portrait that Belle was given an elevated status over black women in England at the time. Slightly behind Elizabeth and dressed more exotically she is still bejewelled and carrying fruit suggestive of plenty.

The film itself mostly concerns Belle’s place in society and the concept of whether slaves were cargo in a case between an insurer and a slave trader. The position of Belle within the household causes a problem for William Murray as he has to be seen to be ruling on the law in an impartial way.

The secondary theme is the position of women within society where marriage is essential even within the privilege that money bestowed.

Must not a lady marry, even if she is financially secure? For who is she without a husband of consequence? It seems silly – like a free negro who begs for a master.

Belle is attractive enough in the film to have two suitors and the human interest comes from the exploration about which beau she will end up with.

Britain’s historical trade in slavery is a shameful period. Belle’s place in its eventual dismantling may be embellished but at a piece of theatre it will leave you satisfied in the denouement.

Bill’s, 22-24 West Nile Street , Glasgow

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2015 at 9:42 pm

Bill’s is part of a well known chain in England. They have been open for a short while in Glasgow. There is an industrial vibe with exposed metal in the ceiling space/ brickwork etc. and this is juxtaposed with shelves of expensive olive oils and other kitchen gifts on sale.

They have an early evening menu but for some reason we were not offered this even though we arrived at 5.45.

We had one starter of pate with crusty bread. The pate was served in a reclaimed babyfood jar which was cute and certainly a good way to store pate without it going darker in colour.

We also had two Aperol Spritz drinks as “refreshments” and then proceeded to the mains. I had the sirloin with a cup of fries and my companion had a burger. This was followed by a scone, a chocolate brownie, a coffee and a tea.

To be honest I was surprised that this came to £71 including the compulsory tip. It seems a tad expensive for tea.

I also particularly object to being forced to give a tip of 10%. Don’t get me wrong, I used to work in the industry and so always tip well but that is my choice. I think that compulsory tips can lead to a blase performance by staff who know they will be rewarded no matter what the standard they provide is. Just me, or do you agree?

That gripe aside however, the food was tasty and the place was very busy. Whether it can continue to compete for early evening end-of-work-day clients remains to be seen.


In Uncategorized on April 9, 2015 at 11:22 pm


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