Monday, 28 January 2013


Much to feel good about this week... well, in my little world... and it isn't always so (I don't always tell you the bad stuff!).

Firstly, I survived another birthday. Had a lovely time, thank-you very much (and had a lot more cake than just the above but I like the picture... thanks to the Anchor in Johnshaven for a lovely lunch, with added, unexpected cake).

Also the new blog is working out wonderfully. So far I have posted four contributions (two from Scotland, two from New Zealand) and I have more in the inbox ready to go so please, please spread the word about this project. I think the more people post to it, quite simply, the more interesting it will get (all ages, all interests, all perspectives...). I've been wondering to myself why it felt like the right thing to do right now and I don't have one answer but I think some of it is to do with wanting to really explore the idea of what hopes and dreams are and how they help or hinder us in our daily lives. I get very tired of the reality show "it's like a dream come true"/"it's always been my dream" clichés* and the more I hear lines like that the more I wonder about what it is we really, really want (no Spice Girls reunions for a start... sorry ladies) and about what it is we really, really get too. And remember... even though most of the contributors so far have been writers this is absolutely open to all and everyone (and contributions can be in any form I can post!). Contributions can be under an alias/anonymous too... so think on. No rush either as I'm hoping this will be a long-term friend, somewhere to visit and know you'll always find something interesting to read/look at/listen to (and all previous contributions there in the archive too of course... no-one goes out of fashion in my book...).

Finally I have a poetry moment coming up in February that looks really exciting. Remember the Onion Club music cabaret event I reviewed here back in November? Well, they have another event in Arbroath on 23rd February at Hospitalfield House and myself and another poet Kevin Reid will be part of the evening too (doors 7.30, start 8pm). It's been a while since I did poetry business at an event where I know anything is allowed (indeed encouraged... this is cabaret in the true sense of the word...). So, Philip Larkin and the nipple rings... this could be the chance to dig you out and shake you all about (that poem's about to appear elsewhere too... so I believe...)! Oh, I do love those Onions... and here they are a bit closer-up than some of the other vids online:

Song is "Lady Grinning Soul" by one David Bowie.

Anyway, there is more to tell... but that will do for one blog post.

*And we only really watch one such show... what must it be like for people who watch lots of them? Maybe they enjoy clichés... we do all like different things...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

all our hopes and dreams

Montrose beach, 16th January 2013. I've been seeing the sunrise more than usual recently - it's so much easier to catch it in the winter!

For more reasons than I can tell you I have been doing a lot of thinking about hopes and dreams of late (don't cringe, cynics, just stay with me... there is no life-coaching on the cards, I promise!). It's possible that I'm always thinking about hopes and dreams in some way or other... certainly I wrote a hopey-dreamy poem a few years back and put it in a prime position in my first poetry collection ("A dream is a song of hope"... you can read it here). That wasn't any kind of sensible poem to write then and nothing has changed in that regard. I mean, it rhymes... and that title... and I have publicly admitted (more than once...) that I wrote it after watching a Celebrity Big Brother final in 2006... well, none of this is "take your ticket for the T.S.Eliot prize" material. And it's not even that I live in some rainbows'n'unicorns kingdom either... despite the recent outbreak of sunrise photos on this blog. No, I have been quite cynical about the inspirational business too (see here)... but still, I think about hopes and futures a lot... I just can't help it (and not in relation to my own life particularly... or at any rate, less and less so). I think, for example, that every time I meet someone these days I am at least partly wondering (a) what their hopes and dreams were when they were younger, (b) how that has all worked out for them and (c) what they hope for and dream about now. I'm interested in lots of aspects of this subject... what has changed and what has not (in terms of general expectations and ideals, in terms of what is achievable), how things will continue to change, how much our hopes affect us. It's all linked in with mental health too (and that's always been a topic close to my heart...). Plus my Mum was always fascinated by other people and I suppose, now she is gone, that interest has passed to me more and more. I'm not saying I like all those other people all of course... some things are beyond idealism!

So what of it? I don't know really... I suppose I just wonder if you'd like to think about it with me... and to this end I have opened up another blog (oh no! oh yes! oh yes!) and it is to be a collaborative/contributor-led/no-one makes any money but it might be interesting kind of a thing... and I would like it to focus on hopes and dreams. Maybe you'd like to contribute?  If so all you have to do is email me a contribution (in any form... poem, prose, photo, song, story, notes...) to

Contributions will be added each one in their own post... and here are some guidelines:

You can use your own name (full or shortened) or any kind of alias you like.

Contributions can be as personal or as impersonal as you like, as fictional or as non-fictional, as run-of-the-mill or as abstract as feels right to you. 

I will edit basic spelling errors (unless you really don't want me to). My punctuation's pretty... personal to me so I'll probably leave you yours too unless it just seems confusing. Like that sentence!

I will link to your blogs or sites if requested.

I reserve the right to not publish/post pieces that seem to me hateful or potentially harmful (there is quite enough hate online already...).

Remember that whilst specifics and details are interesting (yes, please to those) just going on and on for ages because it's the internet and space is unlimited can make for very dull reading (so no, thank-you to that).

I would really like this to be something lots of different people join in with too (not just those of us who think of ourselves as writers) so please, forward this blog/post to friends, family, workmates, anybody and everybody — the more contributions the more interesting the whole project will be.

All ages welcome... but if you are under 18 remember not to give too much of yourself away online! Once out you can't take it back...

If I get lots of contributions I will never post more than one person's set per day — it's best to take at least some time to consider them all carefully, don't you think?

I think this will be an interesting exercise in considering our lives and what they have been and will be and I hope you agree and join in. I hope you get others to join in too.  
If you have any trouble getting prompted here are some questions to set you off thinking...

1. What were your hopes and dreams when you were a child?

2. Did any of them come true in any sense?

3. What are your hopes and dreams now?

4. Do you really think any of them are possible?

See you, I hope, over there. There's no rush (no rush at all!) but at the same time... don't leave me on my own too long now will you? If there's no interest at all I'll just delete the blog... easily done.

ADDED LATER - first contribution is now up over there. First of many I hope.


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Songs and suns

Montrose sunrise, 9.01.12

Still pretty quiet here... recovering from busy times down south and just getting on with this and that. Managed to catch the beautiful snap (above) one morning after dropping a girl and her saxophone at school (it's a big case, she's still a small girl). Managed to catch up with some great bits of recorded TV whilst doing what seemed to be a neverending pile of ironing (an old Arena with Amy Winehouse, an old Imagine with Jeanette Winterson, an excellent live show from comedian Simon Amstell called "Numb"). Here's a bit of the latter:

It looks like the whole show is on youtube though I imagine not for long. I loved it... maybe not all of it... but the bits I loved I really loved... and, on the whole these days I find stand-up comedians fairly tiresome. Amstell even makes a poet joke in this show - excellent!

Been listening to a lot of music too... a lot of radio. Enjoyed this song on the Lauren Laverne show on 6 Music the other day (it was a January Blues special):

The song sounded familiar (it's been covered a lot) and eventually I worked out the version I knew was one by English musician Johnny Dickinson (great guitar player, been very ill of late, played our folk club here in Montrose a couple of times). The above version though is the original by Jackson C. Frank and, goodness, if you want to read a sad story go and read about his life.

Nothing else to share right now... may your January Blues be gentle ones...


Monday, 7 January 2013

Start the year with a rock god

So, here we are, back in January... back to school, back to routines. We went away to visit friends and family in England for the second part of the festive break and did lots of sociable stuff. We went to the panto at the famous Leeds City Varieties theatre (best panto ever... no idiots off the TV just a really hardworking cast of actors/musicians/singers working their butts off to make a great show... online info for the venue's programme is here). As well as that I watched nephew play football... we went to a New Year's Eve party (don't do that much these days!)... we celebrated birthdays with various young folk of our acquaintance... and we went to the movies ("Pitch Perfect"... entertaining but forgettable... has caused a playing-the-cups craze started by these women).

And then we came home again... and lately every time I hear a song I like on the radio it's more often than not by the man at the top of the post here (OK, I don't listen to a lot of current-pop radio...). Jimi Hendrix... was there ever a more beautiful man in rock? In any music? He could play too. Not a bad way to start the year...