The Alasdair Gray Archive – Off Topic

Lately the blog has been really focussed on Simple Minds and in particular the 40th Anniversary of Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call, Rightly so. I do run this blog primarily as a Simple Minds (ie: Jim Kerr ogling) blog, with broader music topics – general album reviews, gigs reviews and interviews, etc.

Anyone who has spent time here in the past – even in the fairly recent past, knows I love art as well – photography, painting, drawing. And I love books too, though I don’t read much these days (more due to suffering narcolepsy when I read and also being a very slow reader. It makes for an awful combination!).

One of the last books I managed to read in its entirety was Lanark by Alasdair Gray. I even went on and bought a Kindle copy of 1982 Janine and still haven’t read it!

I initially caught the Gray bug due to His Kerrness referring to Lanark in an interview he had with Muriel Gray (no relation, as far as I am aware) in 1984. An interview that I only saw for the first time in early 2020. I looked into Alasdair Gray and sought out a copy of Lanark to read. I decided to go “old school” and bought a copy from a seller on eBay. The book made its way to me from the Isle of Lewis – but the way I held it to read it, the adhesive wore away from the spine and the book fell apart. In the end I borrowed a digital copy from the library to finish reading it. I had to keep borrowing it week and week after week.

Needless to say, not only did I fall in love with Lanark, I fell in love with Alasdair too. And not just his writing. Lanark is still the only thing of his I’ve read so far – apart from an open letter he sent to The Scotsman newspaper about how perhaps we are too hasty to tear down, demolish and rebuild, but perhaps there should be more consideration given to restoration. He talked about Sighthill in particular. I can’t help but wonder what he would make of all the redevelopment work that has gone on and continues to go on around Sighthill right now. And even what he’d make of the housing estate that has been given approval to be built upon the old Ruchill Hospital grounds. Right now, when I look out my bedroom and living room windows, I see a living Alasdair Gray painting. That view is going to change in its appearance in years to come.

And so, yes, I love his paintings, murals and illustrations as much as his writing. I particularly love getting out at Hillhead subway station to view the spectacular mural that spans the wall of the subway’s entrance. If you search my blog you’ll find photos and video of the mural at Hillhead. I’ve still yet to go to the Ubiquitous Chip and the last time I was at Oran Mor, I was not even aware of Alasdair, or his amazing work there.

Sadly, Alasdair passed away at the end of 2019, but he has left such an amazing legacy.

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting the Alasdair Gray Archive, located at The Whisky Bond, just off Possil Road, overlooking the Forth and Clyde canal between Speirs Wharf and Applecross. It really was a wonderful hour I had spent there. I had the space to myself with the curator of the archive, Sorcha, as my personal guide. It is only a small space – not much larger than our living room (if any larger at all) and was arranged to show Alasdair’s office/writing space at one end, his art space at the opposite end of the wall, as well as a display of his bookshelf and illustrations, artworks and prints on the wall opposite.

I was allowed to view certain things and could view the massive “work-in-progress” folio in the top drawer of his artist’s bureau, which was incredible. One hour just was not enough.

I hope to return sometime in the near future to get lost again. I look forward to future “Gray Days”.

You can learn more about the Alasdair Gray Archive by visiting: thealasdairgrayarchive.org

I’m thinking this is a dungeon where all the naughty boys of Glasgow get put.
Below is the layout of archive, showing how Alasdair’s workspaces were laid out in his Hillhead home. Click on the photos to get enlarged viewing options.

Ideas To Overcome A Creative “Impasse”

Maybe setting limitations would work to do it? Having a set amount of time in the day? Some of these things I have tried before. Let’s doit again and see. But we’ll implement some different things this time. Anyway, ideas are worth sharing too…hence this post.

Click the image to see a video from BBC Ideas (in collaboration with the Open University).

The Blog That Nobody Follows

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It was never the reason I started this blog. Not to gain followers. It was never about that. If nobody read it, I would STILL be posting here. If it never had “an audience” it would still be going.

It has always been about self-expression and showing my passion and love for this band.

It didn’t even start seriously! It started on Tumblr – which is a very image and gif rich social media platform hybrid. It’s much more a visual based thing. Just a big excuse to share lots of gorgeous images and gifs of Jim (and the rest of the band). A big excuse to ogle. (Oh, how I like an ogle.) For a time I even had a secondary Tumblr page solely dedicated to Jim’s left ear! Lol. This is how frivolous and silly it all started out as!

If I had wanted followers, I’d have stayed on Tumblr. In my short time on there I gained about 300 followers and it would have kept growing exponentially as that’s what most social media platforms are about. Equally, if I wanted my blog to have followers, I’d be sharing posts and going on about it here, there and everywhere. Endlessly sharing links and posting stuff to Simple Minds groups on Facebook and retweeting links to Twitter users, etc, etc. Basically spammed people to death with my blog.

Blogs are different to other aspects of social media. Yes, they can have that element to them as well but the overriding reason someone creates a blog isn’t really about gaining a fanbase or followers, as such.

Tumblr did have its limitations. It’s very much its own community there. And it wasn’t really the place for more serious contemplation or expression. I felt anyway. I felt as if I was outgrowing Tumblr. I wanted something more. I didn’t want to completely come away from the fun stuff. The ogling of Jim and the silly things that went on at Tumblr, but the move away from Tumblr was a great reason to start to bring in a more serious slant to stuff.

It took time. Time for the love of the band to really develop into something that I felt I could try to articulate and express more.

Over time I have introduced several “themes” to the blog. Not completely leaving the fun side behind at Tumblr, I coined “Kerrsday Thursday” for the blog. A weekly ogling session of all things Jim. I had written pieces titled “Why I Love…” in which I would try and go in depth and explain why I loved a particular Simple Minds song and therefore why it was in its place in my Top 50 Simple Minds songs. Nearly five years down the road, and I STILL haven’t finished all 50.

The weekend whiriiGIG was coined in which I would share a live performance from YouTube that I enjoyed. Mainly bootleg gigs. Before it was the “weekend whirliGIG” it had been on the blog as a TARDIS dream gig wish. A gig that I would wish I had been able to go to but…due to age, distance, non fandom, it didn’t take place for me.

And it eventually came a space to share band news and things and a place for me to feel free to comment and talk about those things.

A place for my art too. The digital fan art being a huge aspect of that…but also painting and drawing that I would do – not necessarily of the band, either.

The joy of gigs and seeing them live. And then just….expanding on that and started to give reviews of other gigs I started to go to. In the past three years in particular, I have been to see more live music and more gigs than I had ever done in the previous near 30 years (as of then) of my adult life.

And this year – my 50th year – was going to be the most gig rich year yet! Until Covid-19 had other plans. My calendar of events had just started. I had been to a Poliça gig to see my guys, Warm Digits, as their support. A gig wish was fulfilled by seeing Bryan Ferry at the SEC Armadillo the week prior to flying over to Copenhagen to see what was meant to be the first of THIRTEEN Simple Minds shows for this year. And there were so many other gigs lined up besides! More Warm Digits gigs, as they have just released a new album. Then there was meant to be King Creosote on the day we were due back from Copenhagen. And beyond that…John Grant, Jimmy Webb, Crowded House, The Stranglers. One of the Warm Digits bills had them at the Stag and Dagger in Edinburgh and I was looking forward to getting to see other bands on the bill there. Perth band Parliamo, in particular.

I had started to conduct the odd interview as well. I had interviews with Simple Minds original lighting technician, Jaine Henderson, former band manager, Bruce Findlay and just recently an interview with Warm Digits’ Steve Jefferis.

I have been trying to make something of it. Not just have it be a Jim Kerr ogle-fest or a sycophantic endless declaration of love and admiration for him. It always runs the risk of falling back to that.

But, hey! I am human after all. I have feelings, thoughts, concerns, worries, hang ups. And at the end of the day MY blog is MY outlet for things. I really try not to drag it down with too much personal stuff. But if it happens…I shouldn’t really feel the need to apologise for that. At the end of it – it IS a personal blog. It isn’t in any way monetised. It doesn’t exist to make money! It doesn’t exist to gain followers.

But, you know what? It DOES have followers. A small number of them. But the fact it has any at all astounds me. And at times, it embarrasses the fuck out of me! A lot of the time, in fact.

And I have regular readers too. And then new comments coming in too. And I have had wonderful acknowledgements from people I admire and hold in esteem and these things feel very unworthy.

So, to all of you who visit and/or leave a comment, to Scott, (and to the other Scott as well that I know visits too) and to recent visitors leaving comments, Catrine and Gavin. To Stuart as well. And to the new followers who’ve subscribed, thank you.

To Gordon Machray of Simple Minds International on Facebook, to Simon Cornwell – who runs the sublime Dream Giver Redux – the absolute Simple Minds online bible, to Paolo Viani – who runs Simple Minds Historical on Facebook, and to Ronnie Gurr of Hanging Around Books. For all your nods of acknowledgement, I am humbled and thankful and feel it very undeserved.

Vive la Simple Minds!

The Beat Of Time?

I suddenly found myself intrigued by the picture Jim chose to use for his post about age. The problem was, how was I going to search for it? How did he find it? How did he search for it?

So I put in “butterfly watch age” and there it was in amongst the image search results. A tattoo design, no less!

So…what is the symbolism behind it? A butterfly and a pocket watch…what does it say about age? They are symbols of contrasts, really. A pocket watch – to me – represents time, obviously. And time moves forward, and waits for no man. It takes no prisoners.

A butterfly? Well, unless it is a monarch that metamorphosed at the end of summer and hibernates through winter, it will have a short life span. Butterflies can cram a lot into their brief lives…a butterfly that actually MIGRATES thousands of miles from north to south America. How amazing is that?

So, is he talking in juxtaposition? How does a butterfly and a watch equate to age? I love how this man makes me think. Wish I could talk to him. But, as always, he’d run rings around me and my brain would explode. Lol. I’d be happy to let him try…and would pray for the day I could respond with confidence.

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Trying Again…

And already have that sinking feeling. How long does one persevere? Is a belief that you can master it enough? And at what point do you just admit defeat? Do you just keep persevering and persevering, despite the continual and resounding negative feeling that you will NEVER be any good?


Horrendous self-portrait No 2.

Lyric Of The Day – Celebrate

A long, long time ago I did one for this – but it was ssssooooo basic! And for the longest time, I have wanted to try and create a visual for the “she rag doll” line. Even tonight as I started, I thought it would end up looking amateurish and crap. I drew the rag doll first off…then took a picture of her so I could then use her digitally. Here is how she looked originally…

 

She kind of looks a bit pissed off. Lol. Or at least, not the most friendly rag doll you’ve ever seen. But she’s firey and feisty! It’s how she “keeps him warm” :-)))

Anyways…here’s the end result of about 3 and a half hours work. Enjoy! This song is SEXY AF!