Monday, 1 August 2011

Don't stop believing...

Okay, that was a different kind of journey; this one's called I-Journey and it's where I'm at with the blogging right now:

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The latest Wordle...

Hope I die before I get old...

Jings, it's a thought isn't it? Not the Who per se but the dieing and getting old bit.

I was having a shave in the shower this morning on my new wet'n'dry electric shaver thingy and was struggling to get anything resembling the closeness of a blade. Victor Kiam, where are you when I need you? Anyway, I I was trying to get the thing to take away that tricky bit under the chin, just at the top of the neck I was reminded of a visit, many many years ago to the old folks home my maternal grandfather was in.

My dad and I had gone along to see Grampa Michael - who used to drive a white beetle and wore a beige Harrington jacket (not always at the same time) - in a council run care-home in the South Side of Glasgow. He was getting on by this stage and had started to have real difficulty with the day to day stuff. He was in need of a shave so my dad got out Grampa's wee battery shaver and suggested I do the needful. I'm not sure how I old I was at the time but I remember finding it really tricky and dad & grampa having a wee chuckle to themselves about how you needed to get the skin taut and maybe press a wee bit harder with the shaver than you perhaps felt comfortable with. It's only now as an adult I realise how tricky shaving someone else actually is - it's hard enough doing me. But once again I'm digressing. The real point I was getting to is one which came to me under the water jets this morning as I remembered the episode: there's no way you're getting me into an old folks home. The reek of piss, the smell of cooking, the slow decline and the lack of thanks.

I'm not suggesting the live fast, die young, leave a good looking corpse bit - though two out of three as Meat Loaf reminds us ain't bad - but maybe a wee "dodgy handbrake near a cliff" moment might be called for when the time comes...

Friday, 15 April 2011

It's the vinyl countdown...

.Woah! Getting seriously excited about Record Store Day tomorrow. Heading down to Glasgow for the duration in anticipation of seeing Iain Shaw, Admiral Fallow and Frightened Rabbit all doing their live thing.

I know it's the night before and therefore hasn't happened yet but it's so good to be able to get excited again by music and the communal enjoyment of it. Music has been my overriding passion for as long as I can remember. Certainly I was hooked long before acquiring Guns n Roses' Appetite For Destruction way back in 1987. Johnny Cash on dad's car stereo was almost certainly to blame.

Now, almost a quarter of a century later I find myself - in the style of a grumpy old man - lamenting the passing of 'all the good stuff'. Though to be fair I'm not sure if I mean Britpop and indie or the 1960's.

Over the last 18 months or so I've become completely absorbed by the music of Admiral Fallow and Frightened Rabbit. Their lo-fi, folk tinged melancholia, very much like the old Heineken ads, reaches the parts other music cannot; reflective, thought-provoking and uplifting in equal measure. The only problem with these guys is that they're not internationally famous yet. For reasons I've yet to fathom. I know, as well as anyone, how subjective musical tastes are. Indeed they must be. But I'm staggered that neither the Rabbits or Admiral Fallow have yet penetrated the 'mainstream consciousness'...maybe it's better that way.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

I don't know which way to turn...

*a reposting from my Tumblr account*

I blogged, some time back, about my plan to maybe, possibly enter a short story competition. At that point I already had the bare bones of the story - I’d extended a very brief piece I’d done at the writing workshop mentioned in that earlier post.

The theme of the competition is “A Wrong Turning” and, alas, it appears that’s what I’ve taken. Certainly I’ve reached something of a creative cul-de-sac, if not a complete dead-end. Though arguably they’re one and the same thing.

I digress…indeed I should probably be spending time on the story rather than doing this, but I’m stuck. I’m loathe to extend the turning/journey/road analogy further but I really am at a bit of a crossroads with the thing. I’ve got around 1500 words. Many of which I like, I even like them when they’re put together into sentences and paragraphs! The trouble is, as I often find with any story writing I do, it strikes me that the words would be better spoken or read aloud - a play, or a screen play perhaps.

Entering the competition has, somehow, become important to me. Not necessarily because I want to win, nice though that would be, but because I’d like to try to see through a story or piece of work from start to finish.

With blogging, whether that’s been about music, campervans, teaching or whatever, it tends to be more diary-like: events happen, they’re digested and discussed, something else happens (or not) and that’s that. They are in and of themselves and because they’ve actually happened (gigs, trips, etc) it’s easy enough to recount them and to try to make them interesting, perhaps even humourous. The problem I have with story-telling is that I tend to become,as one of the workshop leaders put it, “elliptical” in my narrative: i.e. I ramble on all over the place without ever necessarily getting to any particular point and it all goes a bit stream of consciousness-y. I like to think of that as the Irish ancestry coming out there, if not trips to Ireland itself: wandering off on the back roads and byways (perhaps stopping here and there for a Guinness and a packet of cheese and onion ‘Tayto’) before getting to somewhere nice - a second hand bookshop, say, or a convent-run delicatessen in Clonakilty - without necessarily having set off in that direction.

The more observant amongst you will notice that I’ve done it again.

Where does all this get me then? Surely a story needs a beginning, a middle and an end? Especially if it’s a short story - even more important to get in, do the business, tie it up and get back out again quickly. Much like a bank raid or a Buzzcocks single. Short stories aren’t, it seems to me, about copping out with a “dot dot dot” type ending, a “to be continued” vibe hanging over the whole enterprise like a coldly calculated Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks animated series…

Or maybe that’s just me? Maybe it’s okay to leave things up to the imagination of the reader. I know that, personally, I’m always hugely disappointed by an unsatisfactory conclusion. I can moan to my other half for days when a book - or film - ends in what I’d consider a half-arsed, careless, lazy or just plain lame fashion.

Starting, now there’s another problem. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” - that, for me, is poor. A well-known, for sure, starting line but a poor, indeed lazy and meaningless one as well. “It was the day my grandmother exploded” from Iain Banks’ The Crow Road on the other hand, now there is an opening line. I mean, you just have to read on after that, don’t you? What kind of soulless monster would stop reading after an opening sentence like that?

I know the beginning has to be carefully considered but if I even attempted a start like Banks’, I’d just be off into the realms of the contrivance…never mind the fact that I’ve now done over 650 words on this displacement posting alone.

Ach well. I suppose I should really get back to it. I know! Got it at last! “It was the best time when my worst grandmother exploded…”

Give us this day...

Well, that's something I wouldn't have found myself doing five years ago, voluntarily eschewing the delights (sic) of the nearby mini-market (!) and heading to the kitchen to actually make some bread rolls. From scratch. Without using the breadmaker.

It's an experimental recipe, I grant you. Indeed it's one that I'll not share until I see if it's worked, lest I receive a host of messages saying "you put what in it?!" Let's just let nature and yeast take their respective courses.

I'm working on the principle that, since I understand the basic science behind the bread-making process, I can adapt it a wee bit to suit my mood and purpose. Here's hoping anyway, otherwise tonight's burgers are going to be served minus their jackets!