Glue Dot Bow Jim…bo

This was the photo display I was referring to on my video the other night. The bow was stuck on with a glue dot and it kept popping off – almost like the power of Jim’s mind through the ephemera of the photograph was protesting β€œI am NOT wearing this kind of tat, woman!” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

There was a photo of Fibre Optic Snatny too. I thought I took some video of him groaning away as well. And I did try and get footage of the Jim-bow popping off but never managed to capture it, as it was very much a random thing of when it would pop off and fall on the floor.

Parliamo Glasgow – Lesson One: NOtP

In case it’s needed (duh!), translation as follows: “Hi, I’m Jim – and I’m Charlie – and we’re really looking foward to playing later on this year in the Proms and that.” (I had to play it several times over to get the wording right. Not because I couldn’t understand him, just…he speaks so fast!!!) Lol. I’ve never heard him a) Sound so Scottish, and b) Talk so bloody fast!

The “and that” is the bit that cracks me up the most. Lol

Reflections in 2016 – May/June/July

AWell, for starters, I was happy to be home away from the scorching weather! What happened in the final couple of months when I was in Oz, made me realise why I hadn’t been there in the summer for 17 years! My trips home had always been in the autumn/winter. I had been back a few times in April, but don’t remember ever experiencing an April quite as warm as this one. So, yes. I was glad to be home and feeling cool.

May, I started to move the art along. Days in May revolved around art and staying active. Doing lots of walking. Like…LOTS of walking! I spent quite a bit of time adding to my Simple Minds collection, adding magazines (featuring articles of them in it), more vinyl, more cds, and general merchandise and memorabilia to the mix.

The second of the art pieces I had done that Jim was willing to sign had come back. But he had mistakenly signed it for me, instead of my friend, Janis. So I quickly sent another copy off (I initially just sent two…one for Jim to keep and one for him to sign for Janis. I didn’t feel worthy of a signed copy for myself, so I didn’t ask). He was gracious enough to rectify the mix up and sent a signed copy for Janis back to me, which I subsequently sent on to her International signed-for (there’s no way I wanted that to get lost in transit). It made its way safely to her.

In June I really started to make steps at trying to turn what I was doing with the art into making a living for us. I opened a shop called Free Wonder Style on Etsy. Etsy is an online market for handmade arts and crafts. It seemed the right place to start. I selected some pieces that I hoped would not infringe on any copyright and had them made into A3 prints. I also had some designs printed as mugs and t-shirts. I had a very limited stock to begin with and built it up over the following weeks.

I hit the ground running! The shop had barely been running a week when I had my first big sale. An order from Japan of three prints and three mugs. I was AMAZED! A huge sale like that straight away. I thought maybe this thing had real legs! But…It has been a struggle since. There have been some sales, and some friends have been really amazing…and you guys know who you are (thank you!)…but hopefully it’ll be all on the up again (but that’s for a future “reflections” piece).

The momentum I had, being buoyed by that first sale was great. I plugged and plugged the site. I gave away freebies and everything, to try and drum up interest, but it flatlined after a while…and I stopped pushing it so much. The great thing about social media is you can use it as a cheap…almost free…advertising tool. But if you don’t keep up the momentum, it call fall away. I was treading a thin line of trying to get my stuff seen and get people interested, but always mindful that I may piss friends off by “overselling”. I tried hard not to do that.

I by no means want to make a fortune from it! I just want to be able to support myself, doing something I love. I’ve probably chosen one of the most difficult things for myself to make a livelihood from. There is so much competition out there! And so many more talented people. More talented than me. But that can be the case with many people in the arts. Some people can be the most talented people ever, but they just don’t have that (a now tainted term!) “X factor”, that extra “spark” or something different about them. I am by NO MEANS saying I have that! I am merely hoping I do. That maybe it’ll go somewhere.

July saw the highly anticipated boxset release of New Gold Dream [81-82-83-84] and, oh my days! It did NOT disappoint. It was the most beautifully packaged thing, ever. And aspects of why Jim was enjoying my art pieces so much fell into place! As it was all being put together, he must have been seeing this stuff, and quite a few of my pieces…the fab ones, were based around songs from New Gold Dream, just by coincidence. So that was probably a big factor as to why he was liking my pieces so much (perhaps I am selling myself short? I wish!).

I do think NGD is kind of the pinnacle of Jim’s songwriting ability. Of course he has written many beautiful, sexy, emotional, and joyous songs since….and before that…but all the elements that show him off to be the most excellent lyricist that he is are all there. It is just the perfect amalgamation. Romance and yearning in Someone Somewhere In Summertime. Playful and seductive in Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel. Poppy and catchy…yet with a slightly dark heart in Promised You A Miracle. Melancholic and haunting in Big Sleep. The joyous and optimistic effervescence of the title track. And that joy and optimism carries on into Glittering Prize, but is rejoined by romance. Possibly the most sensual, yet enigmatic songs he’s ever written in Hunter And The Hunted, and then ending on an almost political note with King Is White And In The Crowd.

I sent a letter to Jim in which I just…pretty much did what I had done there. Extolled its virtues and thanked, not only him, but all those involved in bringing the album out, and it being repackaged in such a glorious way.  
I always say that Empires And Dance is my favourite Simple Minds album, followed very closely by Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. But whenever I write about New Gold Dream, I always praise it so highly, I sometimes wonder if I am kidding myself, and should have done with it and declare NGD as my favourite.

The song for this period has to come off the boxset. There are many bonuses to be had on the boxset. Quite a few came out from the X5 boxset, but there were still new gems to be had. Full durations of songs, from the beginning of the tape recording and some early versions of songs and different mixes.

The two I found most fascinating and worth investing in the boxset for was a Monitor Mix of King Is White, the other was an early version of, not an album track, but a B side to Someone Somewhere In Summertime called In Every Heaven. The version on the B side is sunny, joyous, optimistic…celebratory. The early version is an entirely different beast. Slower paced…Jim has no lyrics for it at this point other than the title. It’s more haunting…but not melancholic…just…ephemeral. Listen for yourself as I wrap up this part of the look back to my year…

(Considering we “Brexited” in June…perhaps the song should have been The Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way?)

Reflections in 2016 – April

Things were winding up in several ways.

I seemed to have had my run with the Minds art…well, at least Jim’s attention with it. Such a mercurial man. I think I quickly bored him. Maybe I got a little too heavily invested? I’m sure I am very guilty of that. It was the most amazing ride though. And how special it made me feel. It will leave an indelible mark on my first trip back to Oz in 8 years. I mourned it gradually and naturally winding itself down. I missed those highs. It all started out of my love for them. The music. Jim’s amazing song-writing. It was my way of showing my love and devotion. Expressing just what these songs mean to me. I did have the goal of making one for every single song in the Minds canon, and I got about one third of the way there…maybe I’ll take the challenge back up in the New Year? We shall see.

I wanted to cram in some other special experiences before I left as well. I didn’t want to leave mum too much in those final 3 weeks, so my two very special things were…taking in a ballet at the Opera House! That was real “bucket list” material! And one final gig at The Metro – my favourite concert venue in Sydney, seeing The Stranglers, no less! And going with my best mate, Steven. It was wonderful having the time with him that I had this time round. And meeting his two beautiful daughters, Kristen and Jessica. We’d been mates for 25 years. Amazing! We’d had our ups and downs, but our friendship survived and is stronger than ever.

The ballet was AMAZING! I love ballet but have only ever seen it on TV. This was my first ever live ballet…and what a venue! The SYDNEY BLOODY OPERA HOUSE!!! I’d seen a couple of plays in there…but not anything musical…no pop concert, no opera or ballet. I saw Swan Lake and it was wonderful! I was fighting off a cold when I went, but still had the most wonderful time.

And The Stranglers!!!! What a gig that was!!! You can read my review of it if you use the search bar on the blog and look for The Stranglers. Suffice it to say here, they were FUCKING AMAZING!! Steven really only just came along for company…but we both had a whale! He loved it as much as I did. It was a fab night out to end on.

I had just a few days left to go and I didn’t want to leave mum. I didn’t want to come back home yet…but I thought I needed to. I thought I was going to be needed for something here. As it turned out, I wasn’t, and could have extended my stay out in Oz like I had wanted to. I was going to extend my stay until at least June. Hindsight, eh? It’s a bugger! The shitty thing is, I knew it was going to happen…but I couldn’t chance it. Oh, well.

My goodbye with mum was painful. As much as we drove each other nuts, she didn’t want me to go…and I really didn’t want to leave! She had a lovely lady caring for her, coming to see her 3/4 times a week, and so I consoled myself and convinced myself she’d be ok (not so).

By April 25th I was back home and worrying about her while being back to being 12,000 miles away. I felt helpless enough BEING WITH HER, let alone being back on the other side of the world.

The end of April felt like it had all the goodness sucked out of it, but I took comfort in it being (apart from the odd slip – a BIG one, losing Bowie) one of the most amazing starts to a year I had ever experienced.

Song of the month? Skin Deep!

Reflections in 2016 – January

The year started well. I was in Australia. I was with my mum. The weather was unseasonably cool. And then I created a little piece of fan art that blew my socks off! I had been doing these little pieces of “art”, just little highlights to Simple Minds song lyrics that particularly struck a chord for one reason or another, or I thought could look really good if I applied a visual interpretation to them.

Just a few days into January, I created the work below. I took a beautiful painting of a Kyoto snow scene (artist unknown to me. I had just Googled “Kyoto in the snow” and that image seemed the most fitting) and blended it with a picture of Jim from the cover of Melody Maker of him standing (but bent forward) side profile in front of a Canadian flag. Okay, that bit bugged me, that what I would be using was a Canadian maple leaf rather than a Japanese maple leaf…but I had NO faith in my skills as a…”visual artist” to create any of it truly from scratch. But what I saw in my mind’s eye was pretty damn close to what I achieved.


I posted it on the visitor wall, and it was overlooked. Perhaps because the first time I posted it, I just linked to (what was then) my Tumblr blog. I was so proud of how it came out, I really wanted Jim to see it. Two days passed and nothing happened. I expressed my disappointment to my friend, Moonie. She said “post it again”. “Just put it up there again. Keep posting it until Jim sees it!”

And so (with a little bravado!) it went up again on what was the Monday night/Tuesday morning in Oz. When I awoke the next morning, I turned on my iPad and was bombarded with private messages and notifications. I can’t remember the figure now…30s…40s? A lot! Lol. PMs saying, “LARELLE! Wake up! Go to the Simple Minds page!!”, and me half asleep still thinking, “Why? What’s gone on? What have I done now?” Lol. (In amongst those notifications were likes and post notices from SMO.) And when I get there…my heart pounding in my chest a million beats per minute…this is what I see!


I do believe I feared my heart would give out! It was beating so fast. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was on a cloud!

I never expected THAT. I just hoped he’d like it, or even just leave a comment to say he did. What he did went far beyond that for me and it will remain one of the most amazing things ever.

A few days later, it was David Bowie’s birthday, and as he had done with his previous release two years earlier, he released a new album, Blackstar. To say I was excited was an understatement. I listened to it on Spotify on the night it was released. It was a winner for me, with a couple of exceptions. Of course, I had to ask Jim his thoughts on it. He was gracious and wordy in his reply. Again, not something I expected but immensely appreciated, especially given the gravity of what was about to happen.

My days of joy at this glorious start of the year came hurtling down with a crash upon the news of David Bowie’s death less than 48 hours later. I don’t think I had ever cried over the death of someone “famous” before. Well, that is not entirely true. I cried over the death of Elvis…not because Elvis had died, per se, but because my sister was upset and I thought my mum was going to be upset when she heard. I cried at the news of John Lennon’s death. Again, not so much because he had died, but because of the outpouring of grief from fans. And the same happened when Diana died.

But with David…it was so different! I cried because he was MY David. I never knew him personally, but I knew him through his music and I loved him. Not in a way that meant I was “in love” with him, or infatuated with him…but a love for what he stood for, what his music meant to me, how important he was in my life. I had lost my brother just a little over 12 months prior. His name was David also. When Bowie went, another of my David’s was taken away.

Oh, and how much more did I appreciate Jim taking the time to reply to me with his Blackstar review.


To be honest, the rest of January is a bit of a blur…stolen by grief. The first month of the year defined the pattern of the whole year, really.

Song of the month has to go to David Bowie…

You And Only You

After this BBC Radio 3 broadcast of the Florian Hecker work we’re going to on Saturday, the next gig will be this amazing lady at Kings Place on December 17th. It is going to be wonderful and I’ll be taking a copy of this with me to be signed by Catherine. Thank you, lovely, lovely lady!