Let’s Rock!

A wonderful friend of mine in Oz – Wendy – has done these amazing rock paintings for me.

When she showed me the progress of the New Gold Dream themed one a few days back, I cried my eyes out. I knew she was working on a silhouette of Jim but I wasn’t expecting that amazing NGD cover background on the rock. I was overwhelmed.

Today she shared photos of both completed rocks with me and I absolutely adore them both.

They will take several weeks to get to me all the way from sunny Queensland, but they will find the most loving home here when they arrive in not-quite-so-sunny Glasgow.

The Longterm?

How does one define how ‘long’ the longterm is? I ponder because in Jim’s post today he talks about the “Book Of Brilliant Things” or whatever it’s going to end up being called. The fan-based SM compendium.

“….we are looking to create something to which all longterm Simple Minds fans will hopefully want to contribute their stories.”

Well, that wording makes me feel precluded from it immediately. “Longterm”. How long is longterm?

To me it by its very definition means a substantial number of years. And given that, my not quite six years of fandom would hardly qualify as “longterm”. Thirty plus years, perhaps? Had I stayed with them from 1985, definitely! I have certainly tried cramming 30+ years of fandom into these past near six years. I have probably got a bigger collection of memorabilia and been to more gigs than a lot of “longterm” fans.

But that is by the by, I guess. Because the yardstick seems to be a measure of time. Not money, emotional investment, affinity….or some deluded sense of affinity one felt they may have had.

I’ve told the story so many times now, I’m not even sure I have the heart to tell it any more in all honesty.

It’s all there in my art anyway. And if any of THAT was used or printed? Well…that would be the most amazing thing ever. But even to have had Jim share it on the SM FB page back in the day when he liked it and he wasn’t sick to death of me….

That will always be a treasure. It means more than just about anything else I’ve ever done in my sad, pathetic existence on this sphere.

He replied to someone today about needing a hair cut. “Cut mine and I’ll be your penpal.”

Jesus! Can you just stop being a tease?!

*sigh*

Better still…I’ll try and stop being a “try hard” and go away. Shuffle off…well…at least the SM planet, as someone suggested (and not just of the SM planet, either!) I do some time back.

End this silly “affliction”. I blame John Francis Lawson and David leaving me far too soon.

I need to find that self-worth I had found for myself somewhere along the line. As fake as it was. Sadly some of it came from you, Jim.

An “enthusiast” is good…but an over-enthusiast, no matter how else it appears to the contrary is, ultimately, undesired.

An Independent Socialist – A World In Gray

Please do not be fooled by the blurb you see attached to the video! There really isn’t too much talk about the then imminent Scottish Independence referendum. It really is all about the remarkable Alasdair Gray. A man I wish I had been aware of, learned about and began to have some kind of – albeit without any actual personal interaction with – affinity for while he was still living.

There is a sadness I feel that, having moved to this amazing city just a few short weeks before, that Alasdair left us at the end of December in 2019.

Yes, you have to pay to watch the film – documentary – but if you love art, love the murals around Glasgow, have ever read Lanark or 1982 Janine and loved them – see that mural at Hillhead subway station each day (I can’t tell you how many times I have passed it by already and never realised it was there – with great shame) …

Just watch it.

Even as I am still finding my way through Lanark, I take in all the places I recognise. A number of them are local or not very far away. I even found myself reading a letter to a local paper he had submitted about wondering what was to become of Sighthill (the general area, not the cemetery – that wasn’t the topic of Gray’s letter) It is literally just up the road. Just go down to the end of the adjacent street, past the bowling green, round the corner, past the speedway track – up Finlas Street turning into Carlisle Street, until it meets Keppochill Road – and there you are. Sighthill Cemetery. Three weeks ago I didn’t even know it existed! There is NOTHING to mark it out on Google Maps. A few times coming down the A803 from the city centre by car or on public transport I could see there were some graves but I had assumed it was attached to a churchyard – not an actual full cemetery. A cemetery so vast that – as far as I am aware, only the Necropolis is larger (although trying to confirm this with research would indicate Sighthill is larger in acreage so I am a bit confused). Needless to say it is a large expanse and perplexing not to be revealed on a map!

Gray within the pages of Lanark seems to mention a street nearby, Ashfield Street. There is only one Ashfield Street in all of Glasgow. A few Ashfield Roads but no “street”. Only this one. It must be it! And there is talk of Riddrie where he grew up and the area that is now know as Robroyston but was once Garngad – all not terribly far away, further over to the east and north of us on the other side of Bishopbriggs.

But I shall stop waffling and let you watch it! I found it enthralling.

Pete Still Photography – Simple Minds 1982 London Gig Photo Set

A few other fans in the groups I am on mentioned this set of photos being sold on eBay. A photographer named Pete Still is selling a set of 30 photos that he took during a gig at the Lyceum Theatre in London on December 8th, 1982.

I’m not sure what kind of kit he had at the time, but I’m guessing it isn’t anything too pro. The photos aren’t from the press pit but way back and up in the rafters.

Given that and they have been printed on 6 x 4 inch Fujifilm quality paper, they look pretty fab and are very reasonably priced (you can also buy individual larger copies).

Photos by Pete Still Photography

I’ve laid out a montage of the photos here just so you get a sense of scale and quality. For just over £10 including postage (UK), I am very happy with these prints.

You can order your own by clicking on the link HERE

He also is on Facebook at – https://www.facebook.com/PeteStillPhotography/

Fan Folllies

That Folllies performance of Factory back in 1980? It was such a great inspiration for a spate of art. I think I just got mesmerised by the way Jim performed in that clip.

I’m always in awe of the young Jim. Just…that self-belief he possessed is…intoxicating. Silly, because I find myself both wanting to be him (not a singer, as such…but just to have the balls to pursue that artistic thing) AND be *with* him.


When I look at the images I am working on, or I look over at my walls, I just find myself saying over and over again “he’s beautiful. He’s just so beautiful. Beautiful. He’s beautiful.” – like a mantra.

Takeaway Tat

Some of these prints were done to give to Bruce Findlay when I went to the Rip It Up talk he did with Ian Rankin and Vic Galloway in Edinburgh a couple of years back. I also made one of Premonition as well, as that is Bruce’s favourite SM song and I wanted to give him a print based on his fave.

He ended up with three in total. I was so excited about presenting him with them, I insisted on showing them to him there and then. I think he thought I was expecting him to make a choice on one but I said “No! I want you to have all three. I just wanted to show them to you now just to see what you think.”

I think he liked them. Well, I hope he did!

These are rejects from the printing process anyway. One of the colours was running low on ink so the CMYK balance went askew. The magenta range of colours are more prominent in these prints but they still look good – so I am giving them away.

Anyone interested? Get in touch. Leave a comment on the post, or contact me via FB on the post I’ve done there. Let me know which one is a fave.

Lanark Last Night

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I have just started Lanark. Only just. I’m not the fastest reader and I started much later than I wanted to, which meant my eyelids already were starting to get heavy barely one chapter in. I managed two. Lol. And am already attributing the identity of Sludden to a certain someone. Lol. And I would be any of those hangers on – apart from Gay – I should be so lucky! Or Rima (she has standards – it seems so far anyways). So I guess it only leaves me to be Frankie – most likely – or the other one whose name escapes me (irony!).

Anyway! Early days.

But I am already wanting to explore the world of Alasdair Gray so much more already as a consequence of those couple of chapters of Lanark.

So very later last night, after listening to a new episode of The Archers (now caught up with the real world – Ambridge is now in lockdown too) – and a very emotional yet beautiful Desert Island Discs with Charles Hazlewood as the castaway – highly recommended listening by me, not always easy, granted! (I still keep wondering when the frig they are going to get Jim on there!). I then put in Gray’s name in the search wondering if the BBC had done any adaptations to his books, etc, so thought I’d see what a search of him would bring up.

Well, it brought up this in the search results. A wonderful interview with BBC Radio Scotland’s Janice Forsyth. I didn’t know what to expect from it when I started listening. I had assumed Gray would sound very dour and “Weegie” for one – but I found his voice mesmerising and beautiful. He has such music in his voice. A beautiful burr and lilt that I just was not expecting – almost as if he sang as he spoke. As a consequence, as enthralled in the interview as I was, I found myself drifting off to sleep halfway through, to awake again for the final few minutes and the talk of the hardships of making a career from art – making a sustained paid professional income from artistic pursuit.

His final goodbye was pure music, and rather poignant for this must have been one of his final interviews. He passed away at the end of December last year.

I fell in love with him. He sounded like a magical being. Like a pixie or elf or something. Little did I know my flippant little line to Jim the other day about “starting a book at chapter three – seems like my kinda guy” would ring so true.

You can listen to the interview via BBC Sounds HERE