Sunday, 31 May 2009

Back from CC

Just back from the delights of Cliff Cottage to see that I have a back garden that needs an army of machete wielding navvies to clear it. OK, I’m prone to exaggeration. One machete-wielding navvy would probably do it. Given enough time (two weeks, say) and some sharp implements. Us poets shouldn’t have to do such mundane things. We should be able to sit with our writing tools to hand, staring out into the blue yonder while our servants get busy with all the boring stuff. Like gardening, ironing, the washing, the shopping, cleaning – basically, pretty much most things that end in ING. Apart from eating and drinking, of course. Oh, and I can think of something else, but that’s too rude.
Oh – and can I change the occupation from navvy to Girl Friday? Might as well have something nice to look at as well. Any takers out there? Just think of the job satisfaction. The pay is crap, but I’ve got a nice big smile with all my own teeth and everything.

Aberdeen was fantastic. Big thanks to EG for her amazing hospitality at CC. What a cool lady. The reading at Books n Beans was also a big success. We had a full house, with such luminaries in attendance as the crime-writer, Bill Kirton and up and coming literary star, Gillian Philip (and her equally talented mate, the shoe queen, Ruth). This reading was part of the Wordfringe Festival, an annual, month-long round of poetry and prose readings throughout the Aberdeen area. The guys who run it deserve a medal for organising the whole shebang. To get more than 40 people in a bookshop on a beautiful night – and to do that every night for a month takes some going. What’s more the audience was discerning, intelligent and appreciative. And they laughed in all the right places.

A bonus was the weather, sunshine from sun-up to sun-down for the whole weekend. Which got me thinking. Every time I’ve been up to CC there has been uninterrupted sunshine, whatever the season. The common denominator? Moi. So ladies ... need some sunshine in your life? Geezashout. (remember what I said earlier, own teeth and everything)
While I’m in the praising mode (I was. Keep up), can I just say what a pleasure it is to work with my fellow Makar Press Poets, Rowena M. Love and Sheila Templeton. Classy ladies, who write world-class poetry. We’ve been doing this for around 5 years now and there’s never ever been a cross word, never even a hint of ego and always complete professionalism. Except for the occasional chatting up of select members of the audience. Sheila, down girl.

The two days after the reading I was able to concentrate on some writing. 16,000 words on the work in progress are not too shabby over two days. Read it and weep, Toots.

We had a movie night on our last night up in CC. On the bill was “Dean Spanley” and “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly”. The former had a stellar cast including Peter O’Toole, who was brilliant as the cantankerous old father. The actors had a fantastic script to work with and managed to add nuances that I’m sure the writers hadn’t even considered. A quiet and wickedly funny masterpiece. The other film is about one of the editors of Elle Magazine who suffered from a massive stroke some years ago. All he could move was one eyelid and with this he managed to write a book. No silly, he didn’t stick a pen in his eye socket. He woke every morning at 5am and between then and 8am he decided what he wanted to say and then when his assistant arrived, he blinked out the passages he had stored in his memory. True story. Any writers out there with “writers block” should check this out, see what challenges can be overcome and then give themselves a bloody good shake. Writers block my eye!
(see what I did there?) If I’m being honest, I preferred the actual book, but that is no slight on the movie which had quality written all over it. Rowena would also testify to this – if she hadn’t fallen asleep half way through.

A weekend well spent? Absofuckinlutely.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

I'll Be Back

I’m off first thing tomorrow morning to Aberdeen, the sunshine coast, to appear at the Wordfringe Festival and then to spend a couple of days at my favourite spot. Cliff Cottage, where the words flow honeyed and exact and where the hospitality is legendary.

70,000 words down on the current work in progress and I’m in the home strait. So I will be concentrating on that for a few days. In fact I need to have a rest from this blogging malarkey. I really enjoy the chance to be a bit irreverent, but it diznae pay the mortgage.
This novel is based on fact and set on a prison colony during the middle of the last century. It’s a story of a young man who was sent to the worst prison on the planet. His crime? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If I tell you any more, I’ll have to kill you. With a sharpened teaspoon. While you’re sleeping. You’ll just have to lie very still so I can get some purchase on your jugular. So maybe I’ll tie you up first. With barbed wire. So I might need to waken you up first. And I’ve just taken this too far, haven’t I?
So, thank you for reading my blogging efforts so far and for those who can be arsed commenting, thank you for your comments – I love receiving them, makes me feel less like I’m indulging in a literary form of masturbation. Writing is like sex, much better when there is more than one person involved. To those who don’t leave a message, this is me with my tongue sticking out blowing a raspberry.
I’m having a few days off. But dinnae worry, as the heavily muscled man with the face paint and the Austrian accent said, I’ll be back.
Ps. Weren’t Barcelona worthy winners tonight? Apart from the first ten minutes, Man Utd were barely in it. Iniesta and Zavi were awesome.
Ps. Watching the news with another apologetic MP tonight reminds me of the quote by Aristotle that says something along the lines of...the amount of shame the sinner feels is in line with the number of people who have become aware of the sin. (This isn’t the exact quote, but it’s close enough, ok?)
Ps. The saddest thing I’ve heard recently was Susan Boyle saying that she hopes she makes the final of BGT because that will show she is a worthwhile person. Bless. And shame on Lily whatsername, going for an easy target.
Right, that’s me done with ps’s. Honest. I mean it. For real. See ya.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Bits 'n Bobs 'n Buffy

My Hollywood contacts (aye right) tell me that Kuzui Enterprises, who own the rights to Buffy The Vampire Slayer are considering a new movie...without Joss Whedon. Have they lost their fecking minds? Have they taken leave of their fecking senses? Have they been locked up in a bunker in North Korea for the last 3 fecking years? (Have the writers of Father Ted taken over this fecking blog?) It’s like Ben without Jerry, Jerry without Tom or Tom without Nicole – oh wait, that happened, but you can see where I was going with that one.
I have one word for the chumps at Kuzui Enterprises. Noooooooooooooo.
This is not PC – and should come with the sub-heading Too Much Information - but I’m loving the billboard on Whitletts Road, Ayr. To ensure clarity... and fully establish my credentials as a dirty old man, the poster is filled by a pair of tanned, sumptuous breasts wearing a green M&S bra. Hope there aren’t any teenage boys living in the houses opposite. Having said that, with internet availability these days they’ll probably think it’s lame and way too tame. But for men of a certain age, whose only experience of female nudity when they were teenagers was the underwear section of Kays Catalogue, it's genius. Ahh, makes me come over all nostalgic. Not the kind of nostalgia M&S were aiming for methinks. Or then again maybe they were...
What am I reading right now? “So Brave, Young and Handsome”. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is the authorial manifesto of one Michael Malone, but no, this is a novel by the excellent Leif Enger. He first came to my attention with the totally wonderful “Peace like a River” and when I saw this online I had to buy it. It’s set in the early 20th Century in a North America that is at last learning to deal with its more lawless citizens. Our hero is a writer of pulp fiction running dry of ideas after one big bestseller. Then he comes across an old man who wants to go find the only woman he ever loved. Her name was “Blue” and he was forced to leave her behind when the army were about to arrest him for a killing that happened during a train robbery in his youth. The romance of this man’s quest twinned with the romance of the dying Wild West convinces our hero to accompany him. The two men journey towards Mexico trying to trace Blue, but don’t realise that one Charles SIringo, a former Pinkerton detective is on their trail, determined to bring the only man who ever evaded him, to justice. This is a novel about forgiveness and acceptance with one man running away from his life and the other willing to do anything to face the consequences of his. Enger is an amazing writer, who writes with a truly original voice with a lyrical quality. Beautiful and heart-warming.
Do yourself a favour and read “Peace Like a River” as well. One of my favourite books of the last few years.
A stick insect masquerading as a female of the hominid species ran straight from her aerobic class at the gym tonight, into Subway. She was last seen with a bag of cookies attached to her face as if it was a nose bag. S’no fair. Bet she does that every night and stays skinny. It was all I could do to stop myself from shouting out of the window – ye might be skinny now, hen, but I bet your arteries are like the insides of my furry slippers.

And a final (two) words for the middle-aged man at the gym tonight wearing a too short t-shirt and a pair of budgie-smugglers, sorry, lycra cycling shorts. Gonnae no.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Britain's Got Poetry

If you had gone down to the woods today, you might have got a big surprise. Well, not the woods exactly, beside the the Walled Garden at Culzean Castle. Sheila, Rowena and myself were performing at the Poetry Picnic as part of the Burns an a’ that Festival. What’s more, Sheila was on time. Kinda. She was at the castle gates, Gillian, dead on 12. The afternoon turned out really well. All in all we had around 40 people sitting around us with their munchies as we read poems to them.
Again it was a pleasure to read to an appreciative audience, a good few of whom were new to such an event. One guy approached Sheila after we had finished and I heard him say, ‘I hated poetry when I was at school.’ Then he continued by saying that he didn’t know poetry could be so interesting and such fun and we had given him a whole new perspective on it.

Job done.

For the record, I shouldn’t single out Sheila as the late one. Yes, she was late for the same event last year, but the week before that we were performing at the Whisky Festival in the town hall...and I slept in. I didn’t even have the excuse that I was out the night before.
I heard a knock at the door that morning. I flung on my dressing gown, knuckled the sleep from my eyes as I stumbled down the stairs and opened the door. I expecting the postie to be delivering a book, instead I opened to door to a shiny, bright Rowena. Dear reader I swore. I think my words were along the lines of, ‘What the f ...?’

She had the good grace to laugh, and she told me it was 11:30. She left and I ran upstairs to shower and shave. Apparently, and I find it hard to believe that she would behave in such a manner, Sheila whooped with laughter all the way into town.

Comeuppance, is a word with a lot of vowels, dear reader, but that’s what happened when the very next week, the divine Miss T (Sheila) was late for the Culzean picnic. I was gracious when she arrived. I only pointed and laughed for like thirty seconds.

Today wasn’t the best day for a reading in these parts as it was the last day of the football season. Mind you, given the way it turned out I was glad I hadn’t watched any of it. Gutted. Never mind. There’s always next year.

I finished the day off by watching Britain’s Got Talent. I blame Hughie Green. Growing up watching Opportunity Knocks has made me a sucker for all these talent shows. In any case, I felt the right two got through to the final. The dance group Diversity were fantastic, great fun and a credit to their families (god, I sound like an old fart) and a big two-fingered salute to all of those people who complain about teenagers being useless. They were an absolute pleasure to view and I could have watched them for hours. Susan Boyle gave me goosebumps. I had this horrible feeling that she was going to fall flat on her face – how could she live up to all that hype - but after a “pitchy” start – well that’s what Randy The Dawg Jackson calls it on American Idol – she got into her stride and the bumpy skin stuff happened.

(photo from Brian Craig)

Happy Birthday, Margaret

It’s the birthday of one of my favourite people on the planet, Margaret Thomson Davis. For anyone out there who doesn’t know Margaret she is the author of (forgive me if I get this wrong) 41 novels.

It’s common knowledge that Margaret had a difficult time as a child (detailed in her biography, Write From the Heart) but she refused to play the part of a victim and at the age of 83 she continues to inspire and delight her fans with a new novel every year. Before she achieved publication she had 10 finished novels in her cupboards. She refused to give up on her dream and carried on sending out her novels to publishers and amazingly had 5 out of the 10 accepted at the same time.

Margaret goes to amazing lengths to research her novels and I’m certain if they were included in the national history curriculum history lessons at school would be a good deal more palatable.
I first met Margaret at a writers’ conference at Swanwick in 1996. She was one of the main speakers that year and I was blown away with the breadth of her knowledge about her craft, her ordinariness (if that’s even a word) and her wonderful sense of humour. When she heard that I was driving home and was willing to go via Glasgow, she cadged a lift. How could I say no? And from that moment on we’ve been firm friends. Every year after that I gave Margaret a lift and in the confessional of the car we got to know each other’s stories very well indeed. This was not always a good thing. Following one journey where the discussion turned to IBS (if familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, it certainly makes you put down your guard), Margaret was again giving a talk. From the stage she mentioned how I was kind enough to give her a lift and how we had compared farts on the way down.
She supports other writers as much as she possibly can and in The Clydesiders, and the more recent Red Alert, she made one of her main characters a poet so she could feature some of my poems.
One of my favourite stories about Margaret concerned a time when we went together to the Royal Concert Hall to attend a “Lunchtime Lecture”. The speaker was Sir Jeremy Isaacs, the guy who started Channel 4 and who was at that time in charge of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. He was a fascinating speaker and afterword there was a queue in the lobby to buy his book, which of course he would sign. In the queue with Margaret, she spent the whole time wondering if she should introduce herself to Sir Jeremy. She was a great admirer of his and she had once been on a speaker’s panel with him. Should she speak to him? Should she even wait in the queue or just go home? He wouldn’t want to be pestered. I told her not to be daft and advised her to stay and speak to him; he was bound to remember her.
At this point I spotted a middle-aged couple who weren’t part of the queue, but who were facing us. I heard the woman say to her husband, there’s Margaret Thomson Davis. Should I speak to her? She won’t want to be pestered. I could just give her my book to sign. The husband persuaded her to say hello and the woman tentatively approached Margaret, who was of course delighted to speak to one of her readers.
When it came to Sir Jeremy, he stood up from the table as soon as he saw her approach and gave her a big hug.
Happy Birthday, Margaret. You’re nothing short of a national treasure.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Squirrel Monkeys and Trampolines

Yesterday was an ideal day to go for an outing so I took the wee fella to the Heads of Ayr Farm Park. On the way there, quite unprovoked he started laughing.
-I’ve gotta joke for you, dad
-Go for it.
-This man has a dog called Willie and a house he calls Big Hairy Bum. He loses his dog one day and calls the police. He tells them he’s looked all over his big hairy bum and he can’t find his Willie. Cue giggling dad and child. It’s good to be eleven now and again, no? Wonder where he gets the daft sense of humour from.

We loved the Farm Park, by the way. Loads to do and see – otters, llamas, iguanas, GIANT rabbits and the cutest monkeys you’ll ever see. They’re called squirrel monkeys and they are about the size guessed it, squirrels. The park has also giant bouncy pillows – think of the floor of the bouncy castle without the castle, slides, quad bikes and trampolines. Well worth a visit for anyone with families out there. Lots of kids with smiles plastered all over the faces being the best judge of the quality of the place.

Some of the children there were absolute wizards on the old trampolines. We used to just try and jump as high as we could. Now of course if you don’t have a trampoline in your back garden you’re the odd one out. And it showed with somersaults, flips and spins on display.
This reminded me of my brief career as a world class trampolinist. When I were a lad, the only people who could afford trampolines were t’ council. The list of unaffordables was long and included colour TV’s , football boots and foreign holidays. But hey, wagon wheels were HUGE and mars bars had more than 3 bites in’em. Life is but a series of payoffs, innit? Where was I? Oh, right...there was some trampolines down Barassie shore in Troon. They were rectangular and set up with two rows of five inside a wire fence about seven feet high.

I was about twelve – so that is my defence for what happened next...after a good ten minute session of bouncing I was the only child within the fenced enclosure. Fantastic! I had all these trampolines to myself. So I decided that I would make use of this and jump from one to the other down the line. There was about a foot of grass between each one so with just a little effort I could easily get from one to the other. The big mistake was when I decided that I should only allow myself one bounce on each trampoline, with the grass being out of bounds, on my attempt to travel to the far end. I bounced down towards the end, only realising that I had built up a fair amount of momentum when I got to trampoline number 5, with nothing to halt my forward movement apart from a bloody big fence. I crashed into it head first and crumpled to the floor.
I cried, dear reader and I had a nice mesh effect on the left side of my face for at least 4 weeks.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Poetry Really Does Matter

When was the last time you read a poem? When did you last write a poem? When did you last buy a book of poetry? If you are Mr, Mrs or even Ms Average you probably can’t remember, and yet most of us at some point in our lives are driven to read or write a poem. Many of us reach a point where we need to make some sense of an event, whether that be on the world stage, or our own stage, and we turn to verse or song to find someone or something that helps give us insight or understanding.

And yet most of us have a very narrow view of what constitutes poetry – and I include the so-called experts in that. Someone much wiser than me once said that poetry has such a wide set of guidelines that if I chose to call something a poem, then it’s a poem!

For most of us our first and last meeting with poetry was at school where some poor English teacher had to go through a poem because it was in the curriculum. So there we all sat, kicking the floor under our desks, bored out of our tinies while said teacher who couldn’t tell the difference between a half rhyme and an iamb, tried to gain our interest and ended up turning us off poetry for life.

People’s reactions always amaze me when it comes to poetry. There’s the “But it Doesn’t Rhyme” Brigade - I wish I had a bottle of whisky for every time I heard that Here’s what I say when I’m running a writing class... If you make a list of all of the elements that may go into a poem you will come up with things like, rhythm, arresting use of language, simile/ metaphor, insight, humour etc etc etc,( oh and lest we forget), rhyme. The issue is that many, many poems that use rhyme are so caught up in meeting the rhyme pattern that all they use is rhyme. Everything not rhyme, listed earlier is abandoned in the search for that matching end note. And often with this kind of poem we also get a big message that YOU WILL ACCEPT AND UNDERSTAND BY THE TIME YOU ARE FINISHED READING THIS BLOODY POEM. My response to this is if I want some messages I’ll pick up my re-cycled poly bags and head up to bloody Tesco.

Then there’s the sub-section who thinks that any male who reads/ writes poetry must be of a sexually questionable nature. I almost can’t be arsed contending with this one (see what I did there?) ‘cos I really couldn’t give a flying fuck about this kind of reaction. I’m like, away and grow a brain cell, ya dobber. The hairy root of this idea totally passes me by. If you think of the male poets through the years - Shakespeare, Burns, Wordsworth, Yeats, Hughes, Heaney, Thomas etc etc etc...were ANY of them homosexual. So what, if they were, but I can’t think of a single one. In fact, quite the opposite, many of them were infamous for their womanising, hard-drinking ways. So where does this notion come from? Do “they” think that real men are too busy scratching their balls and drinking lager by the gallon to be bothered with expressing themselves? And yet these same Neanderthals will get soppy over a favourite song. Confused much?

One of the great pleasures I’ve had over the years when we Makar Press Poets are out and about doing our gigs is when we confound people’s expectations. Now the occasion I’m about to recall is not being used so I can brag, just to give you an example. Honest. Really. For real. This particular events was in Kilmaurs. The room was full – we had an audience of around thirty people. Scanning the room we could see who really wanted to be there, who was mildly interested and who would have preferred to be in the bar next door, bent over the Sun.
Fast forward to the end of the reading and people were queuing up to tell us how much they enjoyed our poems. How surprised they were that they did enjoy them... how they found them to be immediate, fun, humourous, touching and how they made them think. Now I’m not saying we’re in the same league as the poets I mentioned earlier (although we are gooooood) I think it was more that everyone in the room was surprised by their own capacity to enjoy what we were reading to them. They were surprised and obviously delighted by their ability to run alongside our words and understand exactly what we were saying. It also helped that they were expecting lonely clouds and hosts of daffodils and what they got was cancer, sleeveless dresses and willies. Sheila, Rowena and myself went home on a high and wondering why we weren’t famous.
Ever since we humans first gathered round a pile of burning logs we have felt the need to connect with each other and the world around us. We did this and continue to do this through storytelling and song. And guess what, poetry can combine both of these elements in ways that are powerful enough to tug at our emotions and effect change. That change can be on the world stage, or it can be where we are centre stage with our loved ones.

So, if your answer to my early question was, not for ages – here’s a challenge. Go find a book of poetry. Now. Today. It doesn’t matter if it’s old or modern, rhyming or not, if it gives itself the badge of poetry that’s good enough. Then pour yourself a cup of tea/ coffee/ wine ...curl up in a chair/ sofa/ bed and slowly rub your thoughts across a poem. Who knows you might even like it.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Music to my ears...

Apple Mac Computers announced today that it has developed a computer chip that can store and play music in women's breast implants. The iBreast will cost £499 to £599. This is considered to be a major breakthrough because women are always complaining about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.
(If this post offends your sensibilities, please feel free to send your complaints to our public relations office at

Monday, 18 May 2009

Grated Cheese

I bought grated cheese today in Tesco. This, according to Glyn and She Who Must Not Be Named is the height of laziness and should result in nothing but derision from my peers. In fact, when I told them the other day that I regular do so, you’d have thought I’d admitted to spitting on Santa’s scone.
I am unrepentant. I cannae see what their problem is. The price was the same for the same quantity of cheese in a block. So why not save yourself the time and energy – cos I’m going to grate it anyway – by buying it already grated?
In fact, so unrepentant am I that I scoured the shop for other items that were already prepared and ready for cooking. I found some frozen diced onion. Genius. I love onions, but hate chopping them. This is down to my highly sensitive nature, dontcha know?
Know what? Delia with her cheats...she was on to something there. Just took me a while to cotton on. What else is out there or what else can I come up with to save the nation some time? It’s worth investigating innit, given that we are all so time poor these days? What about apples that are pre-peeled? French wine complete with fly? Mars bars already cut into chunks? And here’s a great time saving idea - alcohol that is so strong you can go from sober to pissed in moments. What a fantastic idea. We’re not talking about saving mere seconds, we’re talking the possibility of saving an entire weekend! I’m off to the Patents website before anyone else beats me to it. And then you can find all the details on

If you have ever been beset with that thorny question of who would win in a fight between a crow and a squirrel, the time to stop fretting is now. The crow, with the evil stiletto beak chased the poor wee squirrel under my car tires this evening. Don’t worry, I jumped on the brakes in time. Which isn’t going to look too good on the insurance claim form.

Angry MPs were having a go at Michael Martin today, says the BEEB website. They were demonstrating the old tactic of deflecting attention somewhere else in order to appear less guilty. Guess what, guys and gals, it didnae work. Here’s a novel thought – if you chumps hadn’t been caught with your sticky fingers in the public sweetie jar he wouldn’t have had a situation to deal with in the first place. Oh right, he helps makes the rules, you just follow them. Horseshit. It’s like a bunch of schoolkids caught stealing. They’ve got one hand behind their backs hiding their swag and the other is pointing at someone else, while they shout. ‘It wiznae me, Sir, it wiz him! He made me do it!’ I wish they would just stop looking for someone to blame, fix the bloody thing and go back to running the country into the ground.

Personally, I blame the scapegoat.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


You’ve been there. The traffic is deaaaaad slow. Your car has barely moved for an hour. Then as you budge forward you see the blue flashing lights. When you eventually get to the scene of the accident it has actually been cleared off the road and there is no real reason for the traffic to be moving quite so slowly. Except we all need to see what is going on. Look at the state of that car! Jeez, I hope nobody died...and as your car passes by you slow down even further to take it all in. You know it is horrible, but some sick fascination takes over and you can’t help yourself.

Never has a popular metaphor been more apt than when the above scenario was applied to the guff that is on our TV screens night after night. Car crash TV indeed.
The thing is we deserve it. We get the TV programming (and news media for that matter) that we are worthy of. These things are all decided on by figures. The more people tune in; the more people who buy the newspaper...the more we’ll get served up with the brain-death nonsense that passes for entertainment and news in this country.
Let me give you an example. Yesterday, the leading article in the Scottish news and front page on our most popular tabloids was the news that Kirk Broadfoot, an average footballer who plays for Rangers, had cooked an egg in a microwave. It exploded in his face. He was rushed to hospital. Now I know it can’t have been pleasant, but surely to fuck there are more pressing issues in this country than some football player quite literally getting egg on his face.
As for TV, I’m a flicker. There are few programmes I’ll watch right through, instead I sit with remote in hand and flick through the channels. It’s a time thing. If I find a programme I really enjoy then I’ll have to commit time to watching on a regular basis. That particular time slot will demand my attention for the next thirteen weeks or so...and I’m uncomfortable with that, so I flick.
Last week I flicked on to a programme on channel 4 called Extreme Male Beauty presented by some scruffy guy with a penchant for getting his genitals out on national telly while calling it his “winkle”. Come on, man, you’re a grown up. Is the word penis so bad? According to Scruffy Guy all of us males are becoming image conscious demanding firmer pecs and abs and bigger “winkles” and we’re going to get it the easy/ lazy way by surgery. Yeah right, whatever. Have a walk down any high street in the country and test that one out. You’ll find a nation with the motto, Amorphous Blobs R Us.
Then there’s that programme fronted by John Barrowman. This is so bad my only response to the BEEB is –what the fuck were you thinking? I also flicked on to a programme where some punter off the street is tested against a celebrity. Question. Why? Oh ran out of money and if a programme features a c’leb, people are bound to watch it
And then there’s the phenomena that is Katie and Peter. Let’s imagine you are trying to explain this to a visitor to our shores, say from Ulan Bator. She’s a stick insect who became famous for getting her breasts surgically enhanced and then putting them on display at every given opportunity. He thinks he’s Australia’s answer to Michael Jackson (check the falsetto and the dance moves and tell me I’m wrong) who had a couple of pop hits in the nineties. And don’t give me the blah about Katie being a successful business woman and author. That’s an attempt at respectability by the spin-doctor to the stars, Max Clifford. C’mon people there must be a better role model for our daughters than someone who gets her tits out. She satisfies our lowest instincts and the books are ghost-written. She’s admitted that the only books she has ever read are her own.
Sorry, dear visitor from Ulan Bator I got sidetracked...Katie and Peter’s story continued when they met on a TV programme where people who are famous for being famous (yeah, that one is lost on me too) are put through trials where they get to eat kangaroo testicles and crocodile penis. Yeah, I know, yum. Anyhow, these two fell in love and cos it happened on telly we, the great British public feel they belong to us and we are hungry for every issue in their life. So guess what, the TV companies oblige and we get to follow their every move. Ad nauseum. A teaser for the programme was shown last night where inter alia the big-boobed one lifted her leg and farted.
Now they’re splitting up and this is where it gets we continue rubbernecking or do we give them the space and time to go through what is one of the most stressful times of someone’s life? Will Katie and Peter allow public access to their grief, and at the same time earn a few more bucks? Will they face a loss more worrying than the loss of their marriage – that of eventual public indifference? Guess what? I for one don’t give a flying foxglove. Jeez, I only meant to mention K n’ P for a few seconds and I go into one.
One programme caught my attention when I was rubbernecking last night. BBC Scotland has commissioned a series of programmes where in each episode two people in different areas of the arts are brought together for the day to, basically have a blether. Last night it was the turn of novelist, Denise Mina and comedy actress, Karen Dunbar. I know, how amazing is that? Two people were on a reality TV type programme and wonder of wonders they actually have a talent for something other than attention-grabbing. If you haven’t read her work I would argue that Denise Mina is on a par with, if not better than Ian Rankin. And Karen Dunbar is the wummin from Ayr with the rubber face and a strong sense of comic timing. There was one clip from her series that was shown last night where she was playing a rude old lady. Said rude old lady was sitting on a seat in a shopping mall. Beside her was a man of generous girth. Rude old lady (Karen in a gray wig) shouted at him, ‘Huv ye never seen a pie ye didnae like?’ Cruel but funny.
The two women wandered about Glasgow shopping and drinking coffee while talking about their work. It was hardly earth-shattering stuff but both women are one hundred times more plausible as role models for the nation’s young girls. They also displayed a warmth and wit that grabbed my attention and made them worthy of this jaded TV viewer’s attention.
So what are we to do? Do we go on giving the providers of meaningless, worthless “entertainment” our money and time or do we actually give our old brain cells a shunt and turn our attention to work that is worthy of the name? Sadly, I suspect I know the answer to that one.
If you cannae beat them join them. Wonder who did Katie’s boob job? Can you see me as the page seven fella with the extra long schlong? From there I could be photographed falling out of nightclubs half-pissed and full-cocked. Then I’d have a turn on I’m A Celebrity, Give Me All Your Money, where I’d meet a fading pop-star famous for her unfeasibly large nipples and a series of love rats. The media would be delighted she’d eventually met a good guy – me, and the nation would fall in love with us. We’d get married and sell the photographic rights to “Howzitgaun” and “Warmer” for ten million pounds and a lifetime supply of Gingko Biloba – my penis would be so long I would need to find some way to compensate for the blood loss to my brain. An after affect that would have the tabloids in endless debate, with headlines like – Malone Faints On the Job and Celeb Burns His Todger in the “Microwave” While Stirring Her Eggs.
Bet the publishers would be falling over themselves to give me a book deal then. And they wouldn’t even need a ghost-writer.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Impressions from London - day 2

(photo -GerhardRichter)

Sleep like a log – a log that’s waiting for a forest fire to catch up with it. I rarely sleep when in a strange bed. Get up sharp for breakfast and despite the feast I worked my way through last night, I eat like it’s the last breakfast I’ll ever have. I am such a greedy basturt. I then take the 10 minute walk to Groucho’s where I’m meeting the gang for a day of culture. On the way there I walk past Boots. A police van is parked outside. Through the plate glass window I can see that the double row of self-service till points each have a policeman stationed at them. There they all are with their white shirts, black stab vests and truncheons buying their “Shaper” sandwiches, mars bars and flavoured water.

At Groucho’s I have a coffee with Edie, Molly, Marilynn and Marcia. We discuss the day/evening before, declare it a huge success and ask Edie what we are going to do today. Edie is an amazing lady, one of Canada’s foremost art experts and therefore the ideal tour guide. As we sit and chat I’m thinking that apart from the Scots, Canadians have to be my favourite nation on earth. They are so polite, charming, interesting and interested. Okay, there’s bound to be a few assholes, but they probably got sick of all the gosh-darned niceness and emigrated.

The ladies go and freshen up before we set off for the galleries. While waiting I chat up the girl at reception. And why not? She tells me that Groucho’s is a member’s only club. You have to work in the media and be recommended by two members. Then there’s an eighteen-month waiting list. I smile as if impressed, as I think that’s what she’s aiming for. Meanwhile I’m thinking, who could be arsed?

We walk towards Trafalgar Square and the National Portrait Gallery. I be-moan the fact that I couldn’t pack another pair of shoes and look down at my leather clad feet. Not suitable walking shoes. It’s only 10am and they are throbbing already.

A memory pops into my head from the day before. During the buffet at the Awards Ceremony I was chatting with a thoroughly pleasant lady. She paused, thought for a moment and asked the question that had been bugging her. With an apologetic smile she asked, ’I know this is a terrible question, but are you anybody?’ The lie bubbled on my tongue, but I knew in the context she was referring to the answer should be a simple no. So I stay silent. Let her sweat a little and then tell her that if you have to ask the price of something you can’t afford it. That look of befuddlement was exactly what I was aiming for.

Everywhere I look there are billboards for “Angels and Demons” and every bookshop I pass has piles of the book at the front of the shop. I’m thinking Dan Brown has enough money. People should give another author their money. Memememememememememememememememememe.

The Gallery has two special exhibitions; Constable is one and Gerhard Richter (above) the other. Mention Constable and most people think of landscapes, but he was also a talented portrait artist. In a time when there were no cameras a portrait was a way to celebrate the life of an individual and record their likeness for all time. My inner bitch – and less face it we all have one – when face to face with some of the likenesses wonders why they bothered. Did they not have mirrors in those days? My inner bitch is also thinking that obesity isn’t just a modern phenomenon. Okay facetiousness aside, Constable didn’t try to glamourise his subjects, preferring an honest likeness. There was one lady, in her overblown Sunday best gear, but instead of looking pompous she looked vulnerable with real warmth in her half-smile.
Gerhard Richter, is an important artist, Edie tells me. His work was striking. The first section is monochromatic – I borrowed that word from Edie. At this stage in his career he was working from “found” photographs. Family snapshots of strangers, clips from newspapers, images that display the faces we want to show the world, but that give little hint of what we hold inside. Richter’s view is that these photographs cannot display reality, and instead our reality remains hidden beneath the veneer of appearance. The next time a photographer tries to accost me near a tourist spot I’m going to throw that line at them.

Talking about old guy clearly doesn’t give a shit about his and would much rather pay tribute to the power of the media – by being the only person in London to wear a medical face mask. Next thing I notice is a CCTV camera and an idea forms. Maybe we could use one issue to deal with the other? Everyone should wear a face mask and make the scourge of CCTV completely pointless! The guy with the mask has me feeling ambivalent. On one hand I love his bloody-mindedness and his conviction in his belief. On the other I want to grab him by the lapels, call him every colour of halfwit and shake him until he gets whiplash.
Having used photographs for his earlier paintings, Richter’s more recent paintings have a photographic quality. In fact there were several where the image was so precise I was convinced they were photographs until close inspection revealed the brush strokes.
This part of the building is called the Ondaatje Wing named after the philanthropist whose money made it possible. Call me old-fashioned but shouldn’t charity be anonymous? There’s something self-congratulatory about such extravagant gifting that makes the “gift” less impressive. But hey, let’s put it to the test. Any billionaires out there who want to make a donation to the Michael Malone fund can do so and I will test to see if fits in with this impression. One can be anonymous and one can be named and we’ll see which I prefer.
The main part of the gallery was also impressive and held a group of portraits of individuals working in the world of the arts today. One woman was given what can only be described as a Marge Simpson make over – bet she loved that. Another guy’s face was faithfully represented but blown up to the size of a bus. Now, when most of us look in the mirror we lock out the bits we don’t like, don’t we? What double-chin? Well the guy this was based on has no place to hide from now on. Every crease, every pore is there and he even has a nice marbling effect on the tip of his nose that made me wonder if he has a drink problem.
Time for lunch. Edie and Molly have heard of an interesting place just off The Strand. Gordon’s Wine Bar is a cave masquerading as a cellar. I’m sure that some Londoners were down here during the blitz keeping safe and getting blitzed in an entirely a different way. The ceiling was low, the light mainly supplied by candles and it was as atmospheric a place as I’ve been in. The food was excellent, it was just a shame I could barely see it. A couple in the far corner were taking advantage of the low light and trying to see who would be the first to suck out the other one’s tongue. Tsk, tsk. Get a room. Or at least wait until I get my camera set up.
Next was the Picasso exhibit in the National Gallery. There’s a name to conjure with. I’d bet not many people in the developed world won’t have heard of Pablo. Love him or hate him what you can’t deny is his commitment to his work. What also struck me was that this wee man had a way with the burdz. He certainly liked the ladies – until they dumped him and then he got his revenge by recreating their images in a less than flattering light for all time and for all the world to see. An artist scorned and all that.
Recession, what recession? The streets are mobbed. Shoppers carry big bags with big labels.
My feet are throbbing like a basturt.
Later, at the airport my flight is late in landing, but not to worry we are told, Ryanair will turn the flight around toot sweet. The reason for their tardiness becomes apparent when the incoming passengers get off the plane and walk past us on the way out of the airport. There’s a group at the back we hear long before we see them. English-based Rangers fans are bedecked in Union Jacks and singing hate songs as loud as they can. A big guy in front of me shouts “Scum” at them, but thankfully they don’t hear. The back two rows of the plane are blocked off. They are full of litter and some liquid has been spilled on the floor and the seats.
I sit down. The big guy who shouted at the Rangers fans sits beside me with his wife. It’s their anniversary. They’ve been in London to see the new stage play of Sister Act. They pronounce it hilarious. And promptly fall asleep. They wake up just before we land. The big guy asks me, was that you snoring, big man? Naw, says I, it was your wife. I instantly regret this quip. Did I say he was a big guy? But they both laugh as if it’s the funniest thing they’ve heard in years.
Don’t you love it when the plane lands and everyone jumps to their feet, puts on their jackets and pulls their hand-luggage from the overhead compartment even before the seatbelt light goes off? What’s that all about? The big guy’s wife is still half-asleep and caught up in this group anxiety she struggles into her jacket. It’s only when they are queued up in the aisle waiting for the door to open (again, what’s that all about?) that she realises that she has her jacket on upside down.

How nice is it to get back into your own bed? Measure the contentment of Larry and one of those happy wee clams and you’ve got an inkling...

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Impression from London - day 1

Not a good start. Getting dressed in the morning (4:55am) and new shirt is too tight across my back. We’re talking buttons popping and a possible wardrobe malfunction here. I don’t even have a suitably pierced nipple. The only other shirt I have ironed is the wrong colour/ texture for the suit I’m wearing, but will have to do until I get to London. Oxford St is just round the corner from my hotel. A quick shopping trip and bobsyouruncle. In the airport I am asked to pack my mini-toiletries into a clear plastic bag and realise I have shaving foam, but no razors. Doh! Once seated (uncomfortably –even for a short arse like me there’s nae leg room) on the plane I realise I have also forgotten my cuff-links for the shirt I’ve brought to change into for dinner. Double doh!
The plane lands, I follow some people into the airport building. The guy in front of me trips up over the first step up into the building. I catch a snigger in my sleeve. I never know the etiquette. I tend to wait until I’m sure the person isn’t hurt and then allow the laugh to escape in a moment of shared empathy/relief that I’m not the arse that people are laughing at. At the top of the staircase I find the stairs stop before I expect them to. For some reason I think there’s an extra stair and leap into fresh air like I’m on the first hop of a triple jump. Totally thrown by this I then overcompensate by landing on both feet as if braced for an earthquake. The gang of people following behind me have no worries on the etiquette issue and laugh their heads off.

Get to hotel, dump my bags and head out for new shirt. It’s raining. We’re talking a downpour of biblical proportions and travelling light as you do in this new era of handluggage- only- flights I have no coat. I run from doorway to doorway like a cop in an action movie. Hot, sweating and soaked I eventually find a plain black shirt. Time is running out. The event starts in Canada House, Trafalgar Square at 11:30. I’ll just have to do without cufflinks later on. Besides I need a new pair like Gordon Brown needs a porn movie detailed on his expenses claim. At last I spot a newspaper stand selling umbrellas for £2.99. I buy one. Two minutes later the rain stops and the clouds clear, highlighting the best way to prepare for British weather. Get yourself kitted out for storms and you will get sunshine.

At Canada House it’s great to see everyone. Morgan, as I mentioned in an earlier post has decided this is the last event in the Petra Kenney Poetry Competition and he is anxious that everything goes off as planned. Being a perfectionist and knowing EXACTLY how he wants everything to be, he tends to make it work. We start off with an intro from Morgan who explains why he feels it is time to move on, he gives thanks to all of those people who have made it special for him over the years and then the winning poets read out their winning poems. As you would expect, they are of the highest standard.

Then its buffet time. I love to watch people at these things. There’s the nibblers, who are overly polite and shy about taking freebies. They take tiny bites and manage to swallow without chewing while still in mid-sentence. There’s the normals. They are a relaxed group and they manage the trick of biting, chewing and eating modest amounts while maintaining a conversation – no mean feat. Then there’s the wee woman in the hat who clearly hasn’t eaten since she was here last year. She’s all bug-eyes and elbows as she squeezes through the group in front of her. She is almost militaristic in her focus. She will eat as much as possible and if anyone gets in her way she will quite possibly eat them as well. But only after she's finished that last mini-chocolate eclair.

In the afternoon we have a poetry reading from each of the judges, any one of whom would draw a crowd. Danny Abse, Ian Blake, Alan Brownjohn, Alison Chisholm and John Whitworth. Class. And what’s even better is that completely unprompted, each of them pays tribute to Morgan and the work he has done over the years. One of them even offers the view that Morgan has done more for poetry than any other literary figure in the last 100 years. Morgan is quite overcome and there’s barely a dry eye in the house. We are always the last to know the impact we have on other people and often what should be said is said when we are absent or even dead. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that Morgan got to hear people he holds in such regard speak of him in such a way.

And breathe...back to the hotel for a shower and snooze before heading off to the restaurant at 8pm. I meet Molly, Edie and Danish Edie in Groucho’s in Dean Street. From there we will get a taxi to Le Gavroche. Some celebrities are noticed. Him off the telly that plays Martin Fowler, Danny Wallace and some young comedian who looks less chubby in real life. William Hurt is also spotted. At Le Gavroche, we arrive before Morgan and as we debate whether to go to the table or wait in the lounge I spot a dapper man entering the restaurant. He seems very, very familiar. I’ve met so many people through the day I’m now on over familiar mode. I say, ‘Oh hello,’ as if this guy is a good friend I’ve not seen in months. He smiles warmly and repeats my greeting. Only then do I realise its Raymond Blanc, chef extraordinaire. To his credit, he then ignores the nutter in the lobby (me) and goes to blether with the staff.

Recession, what recession? The (possibly) most exclusive restaurant in London is mobbed. Every table is full and manned by an army of waiters. Every move of the diner is anticipated; chairs slipped out of the way as you rise from the table, napkin deposited on your lap on your return, water and wine glasses continually topped up and the ladies are even escorted to the door of the powder room. Even such a solicitous group of waiters realise that this is one action people don’t need any help with and they don’t go any further. Mind you, if you were in your dotage, I’m sure they’d be in there wiping your arse once you were done.

Enough with the crudity and on with the crudities (see what I did there?) Food critics have written epics about the Roux brothers and their restaurant so I won’t even try to compete. Suffice to say the food was melt in the mouth, subtle, imaginative and just downright fantastic. I had a wee jolt of excitement as every course was laid in front of me. It was all I could do to stop myself from applauding every time the silver dome was whipped from my plate to reveal a piece of culinary art.

Relaxed and replete, hugs were exchanged in the doorway and promises made to keep in touch. That was just with the waiters. Then I bid farewell to my friends and got a taxi to my hotel. From the sublime to the poky. I could stretch out my arms and touch each of the side walls with my fingertips. But all I wanted was a bed, a pillow and a quilt...whoever Larry is I could have easily matched him in the happy stakes.

(in the photo above are Morgan Kenney and Molly Yeomans his North American director with Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate)

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Makar May

The month of May tends to be a busy month for the Makar Press Poets and this month is no exception. Things have been a little bit quiet over the last few months and I guess we can put that down to the death of Jim Hughes, just over a year ago, which really knocked us off our collective stride. Jim was a powerhouse of ideas always looking for new places in which we could perform our work and even thinking up new ways how we could perform our work. More importantly, he was one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met.
However, he would be well and truly pissed off if we allowed his death to stop the good work and name we had established through the years we have been working together. So Rowena, Sheila and I carry on the good fight...
A month of poetry begins for me on Friday when I will be down in London for the Petra Kenney Poetry Competition in Canada House. This is the last year for the competition which has been running for over 12 years now. The founder Morgan Kenney set the prize up in memory of his wife Petra and he feels he had now achieved more than he could have hoped for and that it’s time to stop while on a high. Morgan is another of life’s good guys (one of my very favourites)and a wonderful ambassador for the world of poetry. He is also one of the most enthusiastic and energetic people I’ve ever met. And one of the oldest. (He’ll love that.) Who knew Methusalah had a Canadian accent?
Next is a Poetry Picnic in the walled garden at Culzean Castle on Sunday 24th of May as part of the Burns an a’ that festival. We, the Makar Press Poets have been involved in the festival for 5 (or is it 6, Rowena?)years now and as usual the reading will start at noon and hopefully lots of people will assemble on the grass around us and munch away at their picnic while Sheila, Rowena and I read out our work. It’s a really cool way to spend an afternoon and amazingly one of the few poetry events throughout the whole of the Burns an a’ that Festival. Now I may have an amazing grasp of the obvious, but you think Robert Burns and you think “poetry” don’t you? Well everyone else does apart from the organisers. They think Status Quo and Ruth Lorenzo.
The following Thursday (28th) we’ll be in Aberdeen at the Wordfringe Poetry Festival. Sheila, being a Dyce lass has read in them thar parts on a number of occasions, but it will be a first for Rowena and myself. The reading will be in Books N Beans at 6:30pm and an extra bonus is that we get to spend a few days at Cliff Cottage where our collective muse will be tickled, fed and watered and looked after like royalty. Cannae wait.

Monday, 4 May 2009


It’s always nice to get a long weekend. Shame the sun took an attack of shyness though. So what did we do? Went to see Wolverine with the wee fella and he gave it ten out of ten, which is on the generous side. I would have given it 9.5. But what does he know, he’s only 11. Actually I would give it 7.5, but the joke wouldn’t have worked then. There’s lots of explosions, the action never lets up and the bad guy gets his comeuppance. What more can you ask for? The Hugh Jackman groupies – i.e. Sheila and Gillian will love it; he runs through the forest in the skuddy.

Now its time to get ready for the rest of the week and I’ve got an ironing that would choke my pal’s chocolate Labrador. Sweartogod, this dog could eat towels for Scotland. I should have enlisted the help of my sister; the Queen of Chaos (QoC) when she was over. As she doesn’t have a P.C. of her own (she’s too busy spending her cash on looking glamorous to join the digital age) I took the opportunity to introduce her to her online alter ego. She loved it. Realises it is all done with affection and besides the comparison with Kylie appealed to her vanity. After reading a few postings she paused and pursed her lips – will I make any money from this, she asked? Only if you get the puppies out and we set me up as your online pimp, was the answer. Her response to this suggestion was in the negative, no matter how much I told her Kylie lookalikes could make on the web.

Whenever we meet up again after a few days of absence her capacity for speech astonishes me afresh each time. I mean, how could I possibly forget how much she talks? She even chased me into the kitchen at one point when I made a move to put on the kettle, just to make absolutely sure I didn’t miss a word. An hour later I had to stop her following me up to the loo. It truly is a wonder of the world. And quite exhausting. Also quite fatal, when combined with her inability to edit the words that stream from her mouth.
For example...
...we enter the living room. We sit down. She looks around herself still talking about whatever she was yakking about in the car. I expected some kind of comment, because me and housework is like me and watching TV while celebrities dance/ skate/ drive/ date/catch swine flu. It just ain’t going to happen. Now your relative might run a finger along the fireplace and look pointedly at the dust that is now masking their fingerprint. Not, QoC. Without pausing for breath she seamlessly changes the conversation.
- I’m so jealous, she says.
- How’s that, I ask.
- The way you can leave your house in the morning when it’s like a hovel.
- Was...hovel... really the word you were looking for, I ask while looking round at the melee that is my living room, trying not to be offended.
- Yeah. Hovel, she answers while watching some boy bland on MTV.
I’m now thinking that this could be the blueprint for future interactions with people. It can only be easy being totally honest when the reaction of the person you are speaking so bluntly to doesn’t reach you.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Carol Ann Duffy

A new Poet Laureate who happens to be a female and gay...times they surely are a’changin’. However it’s a mark of the mindset of our media that this particular job situation will get so much airtime. Ordinarily a new face in this job would get two seconds in the news, a mention on page 8 of The Times and then quietly fade into the media hinterlands, only to be wheeled out for the hatches, matches and despatches of the Royals.

However, the sexual leanings of this individual make her much more interesting to the salacious members of the press. A woman! First lesbian in the role! Grow up. Who cares if she’s a scissor sister, she’s an excellent poet; arguably the finest in her generation. And if it means poetry gets more attention, more people read it or write it, or godforbid buy it, then that can only be a good thing. But I’m realistic enough to realise that this increased profile will only be temporary before we all go back to wondering about what Peter and Jordan did next...

People Watching

Great fun, innit? Watching other people fair passes the time of day. It’s something all of us are guilty of, without exception, and it’s something that I would argue is vital for those of us who write. How else are we to populate our writing? So if you catch me watching you, it’s not that I’m a nosey basturt. Honest.
I find the gym a great place to do this. As a writer, it’s the contrasting facets of someone’s personality that interests me. We are all much, much more than the persona we present to the world and at the gym I often get a glimpse of another side to people. I get characters for my stories/ poems and a workout at the same time. Bonus.

...he was mid to late fifties. He had hairy shoulders, carried a paunch and the broadest part of his long legs was his knees. He was on a stationary bike, eyes fixed on the telly wearing a “somebody gonnae just shoot me” expression. He looked liked an ordinary bloke, at the edge of a mid-life crisis and completely out of his comfort zone. However. In the changing rooms, showered and dressed in expensive clothes and filling his pockets with two phones, a thick wallet and a set of car keys with a premium badge he looked as if he could step in front of the Dragons in the Den and blow their Hugo Boss socks off.

...the big girl on the treadmill. In her mid-twenties, she ran as if she had dodgy hips and couldn’t bend at the knees. She was carrying enough weight that her boobs nudged her chins with every step and it looked like Russell Grant was wrapped round her hips. One word for traditionally built ladies tempted to wear crop tops. NOOOOOOOO. It’s on a par with men wearing lycra shorts. If you saw this young lady out on the street you could be forgiven for thinking not only did she eat all the pies, but she ate all the sausage rolls as well. However. In the gym, she worked her roly-poly ass off. She must have been running on that treadmill without a rest for at least 50 minutes. An example of sheer stamina that some of the “muscle” working out in front of the mirrors couldn’t replicate. Respect.

...talking about “muscle” there was a guy who could be a front-runner in the Weirdest Hair Style of the Year award. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, it says in the good book and as someone who has issues in this arena I feel I am suitably qualified, nay obliged, to comment. Anyway this guy had a handsome face, and the physique of an athlete. Women in a night club would be stabbing each other with their stiletto heels to get at him. However. Once close enough they would take one look at his barnet and shuffle off to the nearest bar, thinking maybe after another six vodkas and red bull.... How could I describe his hair? It looked like someone had taken an orange “See You Jimmy” wig as immortalised by Russ Abbott in the eighties and then given it a Tintin makeover. If I was him I’d be on my knees praying for the early onset of male pattern baldness. Or he could simply save himself the time and years of rejection by taking a razor to it now, this afternoon.

I’m going into town with my son later on this afternoon. Wonder what I’ll see then. People be warned something you say or do may be taken down and used in a piece of fiction.