Fail Again. Fail Better!

Today I am trying to enrol in a Open University course. A diploma of Higher Education in English. It will lead on to Creative Writing then…who knows?

It SHOULD be a straightforward process online shouldn’t it? I wish I could just enrol and pay the fee and get on with it, but I can’t.

I need to call. And I need help. And I feel like if the enrolment is this perplexing and difficult and it has me doubting myself already, then how will I cope with coursework and study and all of that? What makes me think I can do this?

Two incredible people do, for one.

Scott, you get a shout out again! I honestly don’t know what brings you to this site day in and day out, but your engagement, continued support and faith in me, and your friendship, means the world.

My other dear friend when I told her last night of my steps to enrol told me she was proud of me. She actually said that! That she is PROUD of me. I am crying my eyes out now typing this, incredulous still that somebody should say such a thing! And I don’t want to let her down! I don’t want to let anybody down.

Last night talking about it, I was bubbling with excitement. Today, I’m scared. Just a small stumbling block and I am petrified.

Last night we spoke of Beckett. Of his words on failure.

I am determined to get stronger. I am determined to finally do the thing I have dreamed of doing for years. I am determined to try again. To fail again. To fail better!

Day one may already feel a fail. But I tried. And I will try again. Day two if I fail, I will fail better!

Sardonically Speaking…

I know that from seeing the Velvet Underground documentary my feeling on Lou Reed was left being quite….disparaging. There was little positivity to be gained from how he was portrayed in that. A remarkable writer and intellect, yes…but not a person you could imagine yourself wanting to spend much time with.

Jim talking about the paradox within the construct of time – a minute feeling like an hour, and vice versa? I could imagine a minute in the presence of a “not in the mood” Lou Reed would feel like hours.

Then I watched this this morning. And yes, he is being a sardonic asshat but he is also being very humorous in a good way. He’s incredulous at the amateurish nature of the interviewer. Poor guy! I feel for him. But unless he got this interview right at the very last minute – WHY hadn’t he done his research?!

It left me feeling … and I feel awful almost for saying it – because there is a sense of schadenfreude watching it – warming to Lou. That he obviously did mellow somewhat over time. That is very apparent to me watching this clip.

The title of the video is slightly misleading…

You Never Know Who You Could See At Keppoch Park

Just read this article. (Link HERE)

So, okay, it’s one thing to think that SOME day Rodders would be over the road watching a game – but even MORE exciting prospect to me is the idea that, literally just over the road (see photos below of the view of the pitch from my bedroom window), OOR GORDY could be over there watching the game with his pal! ERMAGERRRRRD! That would be awesome! (Because I am pretty damn sure that the Gordon Goudie mentioned in the article is OOR GORDY!)

A side point that has always made me curious – WHY is a fitba team based in Possilpark called PERTHSHIRE FC?! Explanations welcome.

Better Write? (Off Topic Yet Somehow Relevant)

When does a hobby become a career? 

Today I have been looking at the University of Strathclyde site, looking at courses – and all of it, every single bit of it feels so out of reach!

I looked at undergrad courses. Pipe dreams! I looked at the Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. I looked at what was required for entry (yikes!), fees, etc. That one really is shooting for the moon!

The next one I looked at is English and Creative Writing & Journalism, Media and Communication. That needed quite a level of education as well. But could I achieve the “baby steps” it would take to get there? 

Yesterday I was at the site looking at the Centre for Lifelong Learning. There are online courses in Creative Writing. Starting at the beginner “Kindling” stage, progressing to the “Feeding the Flame” stage, then on to “Ablaze”, then finally “Inferno”. Each course is online and lasts 10 weeks. But the progressive classes don’t seem to follow on in stages through the year, so this would be year by year. It’s a drawn out process. If I was to enrol in the “Kindling” course and really enjoyed it and gained something from it, I know I’d just want to move on and on. Not wait until the next year, then the next year and the next.

Adult learning terrifies me now. It’s been a long time since I stepped into anything like this. Especially in a way like this, that requires study – with your brain engaged! The last adult education course I did was a photography course and that was over 15 years ago now.

I cried this morning looking at the course. Wanting to take the plunge but feeling no confidence in my ability to do it well at all. The whole social side of it terrifies the life out of me! Even in an online way. Talking with other students via Zoom style meetings. I’ve tried distance learning in the past (pre-Internet) and I didn’t do very well at it. 

The tears were because…it just feels so massive already! It should be an exciting prospect and fun! But to me it feels like this is my last chance to try and DO SOMETHING – and if I fail? I feel defeated before I have even begun!

There’s a testimony of the course from a lady named Mary Elizabeth Wylie. She’s 88 years old and has just published her first book. She started the Creative Writing course at 75. Seventy-Five! I should feel inspired by her story, but it still just sounds like a glorified hobby.

It just feels like folly. Another one of my dreams that’ll go nowhere. How do I justify spending out “hunners” of pounds for each of these short courses? For it then to be 2025 and I am enrolled in a full-on university degree in English and Creative Writing & Journalism, Media and Communication. And then that is “hunners” times ten!

To feel able to string some words together on paper is a vastly different thing to where all this could go. And it is PETRIFYING! I feel almost physically sick at the prospect of it. Study. Focus. Deadlines. Submitting work to be scrutinised and graded. 

Currently I am a happy but disillusioned amatuer. Do I want to be a professional? Perhaps turned careerist? 

Aspects of the course that I hope I’d gain from it are appealing. To feel much more competent AND confident in my writing would be fabulous. To potentially feel more adept at working to a deadline and handling the pressure that brings. 

I am in “serious pondering” mode. I am considering it. And I wish the idea of the leap didn’t make me feel so sick to my stomach. I should be filled with enthusiasm! But, perhaps it is as David Bowie suggested?

Minds Music Monday – This Is It

Sometimes for me the songs that should sound the easiest to decipher are the ones I struggle to gain clearly defined meaning from. This Is It is a case in point.

For as clear as the lyrics are in the song, there’s enough ambiguity in the meaning for me to question whether MY interpretation of it is the right one? I guess that’s where Jim would come in and say (perhaps) “it is whatever you interpret it to be. It doesn’t matter what I think it is.I just wrote it. As soon as it is out in the public for consumption, it’s no longer mine to dictate terms.” I think that is how most artists have to be, right? To feel able to see their work out in public, they have to do that public “letting go”? Ah, if only he were here to confirm it or redefine my interpretation. Alas…

Anyway, I digress.

I guess the thing I glean from the song is – change is a coming, prepare yourself. Embrace it! It COULD just be the “game-changer” you’ve been waiting for. When all seems lost, here comes change just when you need it. Make the most of it! Don’t be scared of it, embrace it!

And that really is an outlook I can do with embracing. Because, let’s face it, change IS scary – but it generally leads to better and more exciting things, so it is best to tackle it with an optimistic view, right?

Charlie’s guitar as the song is coming to its end? Wow! And during the fade out, it wailing away. That soaring screech of optimism. “They call it the new change”…. here it comes!

I find this song genuinely uplifting. A feel good tune.

And I really enjoyed doing this new piece of artwork with the song as the inspiration for it on Saturday night. I hope you like it too.

The Billy Breakdown 20/11/2021

I don’t know how long this new idea will last, but this is the start of a new concept for a weekly post here. It’s going to be called the “Billy Breakdown” and will basically be a short (or long-ish, depending upon how much I feel needs to be discussed) discussion about the previous evening’s edition of the Billy Sloan Show on BBC Radio Scotland.

There was no interviewee this week so the show was fairly crammed full of music this week, which was great. 

There were some really great tunes played this week. Standouts for me were the Wet Leg single, Chaise Lounge, which has now been a constant earworm for me over the past few days. I find the song absolutely SEXY AF. That part of the second verse “hey you, over there / on the chaise lounge in your underwear / what are you doing sitting down / you should be horizontal now” – I mean…come on! It doesn’t leave much to the imagination, does it!? But then there is also “hey you, in the front row / are you coming backstage after the show / because I’ve got a chaise lounge in my dressing room / and a pack of warm beer that we can consume.” Goddamnit, I wish! And no surprises as to who with, either. Bejaysus! 

Anyway, enough of Chaise Lounge and my sexual fantasies. 

Other things about the show this week that I loved:

Inwardly dancing like a loon to Magazine’s Because You’re Frightened. What a tune! And to hear Billy describe John McGeoch as “a beautiful man” – that was lovely. I wish I had got to know of John further back in time than I have done. Malcolm Garrett spoke very kindly of him to me also. He told me they shared a flat together for a time. He is greatly missed by a lot of people.

Hearing the new Johnny Marr single, Tenement Time again – that’s a catchy fucker too! He’s making some cracking music right now. Wish he could share some of that Halloween Scorp magic with me so I could become some super stellar, amazeballs person. 

The Associates – The Rhythm Divine. Another person greatly missed by many is Billy McKenzie. What an incredible voice – and I sat listening, captivated. Stunning. 

Loved the Wings songs played during the “Live and Dangerous” part of the show. It has made me want to hunt down and listen to Wings Over America. 

Then the Skids’ TV Stars. Never heard that before. That’s fab. 

Highlight and surprise of the night? – Highlight was the Lola In Slacks track Strawberry Locks. Wow – what a hypnotic kind of thing that was! It was bloody braw! Surprise of the night was The Scars’ Your Attention Please – and Billy giving me an education, name-dropping an Australian poet I had never heard of in my life! A man by the name of Peter Porter, who had written the poem The Scars track is based upon. Wow, it had some clout, that!

The topic for this week was to choose a song that has a list within the lyrics, be it placenames, items of food, clothing, people… whatever. As long as it listed things. The songs I enjoyed hearing on the topic were producer Gregor’s choice of Adam And The Ants’ Christian Dior, and the other was Ian Dury And The Blockheads’ Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3. I’ve heard the song a few times over the years, but never really took any heed of the lyrics until last night. He was always great with words. My fave line? Unsurprisingly enough is the line “being in my nuddy” – not that I go about naked – just …. Certain imagery that I conjure up thinking of other persons (hint hint). I don’t need to elaborate any further on that, either, I don’t think! 

My choice for this week’s topic came to me quite late. I saw Billy ask the question as I was putting myself to bed on Tuesday night. And I went and had a look at the choices people had left on Facebook on Wednesday morning and saw that someone had chosen Up On The Catwalk. Nothing immediately sprang to my mind on Wednesday morning so I left even trying to think about coming up with a song. Then last night when he asked the question again shortly before going to air – like a shot John Grant’s Marz came to my brain. Marz is basically a list of ice cream flavours that he turns into verses of the song. Marz is meant to be about a place he’d go to as a kid. An ice cream parlour and they had all these fantastical ice cream flavours. It was one of his favourite places to go. For a song about ice cream flavours, it’s really quite beautiful. And I have that silly memory of being in Oz, and Jim writing a post about St Patrick’s Day, choosing a John Grant song and then him posting a link to Marz for me in the comments. Me forever associating the line “you’ll get your heart’s desire, I will meet you under the lights” as a wish to meet him at the stage doors after a gig as a wish that may by fulfilled sooner than I think, if I have the gumption to stand about and wait. Oh, Bridlington…

My choice wasn’t read out this week. Probably got lost in the deluge. 

Along with Up On The Catwalk, I Travel was also chosen by a listener. 

Billy played another track from Peter Capaldi’s St Christopher album and he said they had one of the most amazing responses ever to his interview the previous week with Peter. He said “I’ve interviewed some big names over these past years on Radio Scotland”, and Jim got mentioned amongst those “big names”. That’s Billy making sure he stays on Jim’s Christmas card list! Lol

As for next week he said “I am hoping to get a guest for next week, but nothing has been finalised yet.” Hmmm, a mystery! I wonder who it could be? I kind of wondered with the couple of name-drops that Jim got and that next week’s show will be on November 27th as to whether it might be Charlie on the show? That could be quite fab! 

We shall see!

Link to the show on BBC Sounds HERE

Write Something!

Almost every day I feel the need to write. But I need to have a purpose. A reason. An objective. I’ve never been good with a blank page. Sitting at a piece of blank paper, pen in hand. Or sitting at a computer with a blank word processing page staring back at me.

It’s taken a long time for this writing seed to germinate within me. I was so very bad at writing stories at school. When we were asked to write stories at school – I hated it. Sitting in a classroom, waiting for inspiration to come. For, although we might have been allowed to write an essay or piece of fiction at home, we were usually asked to start it in class. And that was usually in primary school, where you had the same teacher all of the day. So, there could be an hour we were given to start writing. Well, I usually sat at a blank page for almost half that time, guaranteed. Then I would eventually come up with a rather bland and matter-of-fact account of something. My memories of school are all but non-existent. That “trauma” thing of wiping out all the bad from your mind. It means I tend not to have the clearest memory of school days. Just vague snapshots of things. So, perhaps we were given a particular subject, say “taking a bus trip”, or “visiting the zoo” – some kind of topic to write about but for it to be broad enough to allow for the kids with the best imaginations to concoct magnificent stories.

I was NOT one of them.

And I never associated good writing not being about story-telling or the fictitious. Either I had really shitty teachers or I just wasn’t at school enough, but I don’t ever remember a single teacher explaining to me that good writing didn’t have to be about “a story”. A piece of fiction. And because I wasn’t very good at creative writing, per se, I believed for such a long time that I wasn’t any good at writing. 

And that feeling – those things you believe about yourself when you’re young, at least for me anyway, have stayed locked in my mind. I feel…adequate with the written word. I feel I can express myself far better with the written form. I have felt that way for some time now. 

The thing that blows me away. The thing that has been a revelation to me is feedback from others about my writing. The genuine positive feedback and acknowledgement I receive from people reading posts on my blog. Or reading things I post on my Facebook feed. And they come from learned people. People who had much more schooling than I did. People with more education than I. Ones with university degrees. One person in particular with a degree in English literature for heaven’s sake! 

And that makes me want to believe I am actually GOOD at this writing malarky. 

I feel so…defeated. Beaten by everything. I sit here and think about my age. And I try to think of it objectively. “Fifty is the new forty”, and all that guff. That, in essence, I am potentially only half-way through life. Or even when I consider logically the age of the people I have known who have passed away in recent years, my mum, my parents-in-law – into their 80s – that I am two thirds of the way through my life. My mum was 81 when she passed away. If I live to a similar age, I have 30 years left to go in this thing called “life”. 

If I think about that expanse of time since 1991, that’s a lot of time. And a lot of time to go for someone to have “nothing in particular” going on in their life. Which, in the grand scheme of things, is how the past 30 years have been for me. Oh, I could make it sound a lot, sure enough. Getting married, moving to the other side of the world…nah, that’s basically it. Apart from the past five or so years, not a lot has gone on. Really not much at all. Do I want the next 30 to be like that? No. My life feels wasted. I feel ssoooo unworthy of every breath I draw. But I am scared of trying to give it significance. To try and find a purpose. WHAT’S MY PURPOSE?! To make people feel better about their own predicament? “At least I’m not Larelle. What a waste of space and oxygen she is, fuck me.” Yet, I know deep down the only person that actually feels that way about me is me. Except – I AM LARELLE! Lol. I am me! And I can’t escape myself. 

I talked to a friend about university. About what it was like for them and what happened and how they managed to study and find the focus, etc, etc. And they tell me it’s not too late and I am not too old and I could do university if I wanted to. That I could be good at learning and enjoy the experience. “You’d walk through it.” That I could take my time.That it doesn’t have to be a race. But…time is ticking! And I am already “old”. 

Twenty eight. That was my “golden age”. That’s the age at which I found that the core fundamental makeup of my psyche feels like it hasn’t altered. I still feel essentially the same way, I think, since that age. That’s my marker. 

Did I want to write at 28? I think I must have done. I had been working for a couple of years by then in the most stable job I had ever had in my life. It wasn’t a glamorous job. It was white-collar work, but low grade. I wanted to advance but the opportunity didn’t come my way and then I left the job. Before I left the job, I made a major financial purchase. I gave myself a choice of two options. It was either buy a car and get my driver’s licence, or it was buy a home computer. I thought about it rationally. Tried to categorise the pros and cons of both options. I decided on the PC because I felt it meant that the whole world was open to me. That I could travel the world with a PC, rather than be confined by the “from A to B” travel that a car would give me. That is how I perceived it anyway. 

And to some extent that is what happened as a result of that PC purchase. Had I not made that one financial investment, then I doubt I’d be sitting here where I am now, in a room in a house in north Glasgow, typing out this dialogue. 

I enjoy it. I love it. I love the feeling of catharsis it gives me. I feel purged every time I write. I feel like it helps make sense of MY world. My own inner thoughts. How I then make that…insightful, thought-provoking, entertaining for others? I don’t know. If I tried, if I was consciously trying to do that, then I’d fail. I wish I felt I had the tools to write better as a story-teller. I guess that’s what creative writing classes are for? Has every writer that has ever written a piece of fictional work gone to creative writing classes? Is that what is needed? 

I can’t judge my own writing objectively. I’d like to feel because it feels such an outlet for me, that it gives me that sense of the purged and the cathartic, that it will mean I am (at least) moderately “good” at it. That, because I enjoy it so much that the expression that comes from it is a tangible result that others feel. That my enjoyment in the expression comes across on the page. That is all I can ask for right now. 

And here we are. Some ninety minutes later from looking at the blank page on the PC screen and there are over 1300 words written. (The “word count” feature is my friend!)

I wrote something. And it feels good!

Thank you for taking the time to read it.

Reflect What You Are

I wish I was everything he is reflected right back, but I am the antithesis of all that he is.

He is light, and he is beauty.

All those Halloween pieces of work I made? They were just bits of fun. Meaningless guff! He’s not the devil, or DraKERRla, a fallen angel, or any of that nonsense.

Not an angel fallen – but one with wings to fly. Heaven sent.

Light in the dark.

Air.

Sunshine.

Beauty.

Intelligence.

An inspiration.

Pure joy.

A smile. A laugh. The sun. Radiating beauty….everywhere. But especially in my dark heart.

T-Shirt Day 2021

Today is the debut of this fine bit of merch! Wasn’t expecting this on Sunday night. Very lovely of Steve to offer me one of these fab shirts. Had their gig been going ahead, I’d be seeing them tonight in Glasgow. I’d have loved nothing better! Alas, it was not to be.

Roll on December 16th and my trip to Newcastle and a Warm Digits Christmas.

Happy T-Shirt Day, everyone!