“You don’t learn how to be an artist by going to school. It’s something you’re born with. It’s about observing the world – but laying down your own truth.”
The quote above was at the end of Jim’s post today, credited to Bob Lefsetz. Before I continue on about Lefsetz I want to say that I could clearly see what Jim was trying to achieve with his post but by heck did he go about it the wrong way!
I believe it was Jim’s response to a ‘fan’ on SMOG having a bitch about Berenice’s ‘inability’ (in their eyes) to play the keyboard parts to Simple Minds songs correctly or fluently. The criticism was harsh and quite frankly unjust. All a guise for another “please can we have Mick, Derek and Mel back” endless fucking moan. I’m not going to get onto that topic – been there, done that…sssoooo fucking over it it hurts!
Rightfully Jim highlighted that by listing her talents, Berenice is a more than capable musician and musical artist. Her parents are musicians, her brother, etc. She’s worked with countless others and produces work used on scores for television series, and collaborates with Glenn Gregory on the project Afterhere, among other things. If I listed all her work and credentials, this part of the post would go on for some time.
What brought it all crashing down for me (Jim’s post) and got my hackles up was the fucking Lefsetz quote! To me, it instantly sabotaged the whole reason why Jim was highlighting Berenice in the post in the first place.
Let’s break this down. I believe someone can have a natural aptitude for something – especially when it is something that’s creative. Those that have it can find their development of their creativity ‘easier’ – ie: less strenuous, less methodical, less complex (perhaps), less developmentally difficult to achieve than those with seemingly no natural aptitude for the creative arts. But to say we’re ‘born with it’? Like an elusive “ta daaa” – just magicked up to you from…God…? No! It just isn’t true.
I AM GOING TO LEARN HOW TO ARGUE THIS POINT IF IT KILLS ME! I want to put my counter argument across effectively and coherently, so the outcome is that Jim reconsiders ever quoting Bob fucking Lefsetz ever again!
I feel let down on Berenice’s behalf with that quote because it takes away the hours of learning. The hours and hours of artistic development that has happened to get her where she is now. It takes away Jim’s counter argument to Mr Bring-back-Mick-Derek-Mel that Berenice has a rightful place in the band right now as the keyboard player as she is more than qualified to be there.
Bob Lefsetz – a man who studied Art History at Middlebury College in Vermont (Wikipedia, 2022), really should know better from that education of his that artist development is LEARNED and you are NOT ‘born with it’.
You can develop art without schooling, yes, granted. But you are not born with these skills. Much like you’re not born already walking, talking, being able to use a toilet, knowing how to feed yourself, or cook, do mathematical equations, or write words down on a page, or draw a cat.
My last week of study was REALLY hard. What I write here on my blog comes (mostly) naturally to me. It’s lovely when people tell me that I write well and I have a good way of expressing myself but I want to build on that. That is why I am doing this diploma at the OU. I want to progress. I want to GROW. I want to develop artistically. Because TRUE artists DEVELOP – THEY ARE NOT BORN WITH IT – THEY LEARN IT AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!
What I was learning with my study this week – none of that comes naturally to me and it never has: creating characters, scenes, imagery, developing plots, etc, etc. I ended the study week feeling that it was something, with time, that I could develop and possibly end up having some grasp of and maybe even be good at…with a lot of practice.
I was ssooo scared of this week of study. Scared and, to be honest, somewhat cynical. Because we have this wonderful, romantic notion that writers just spew forth their work. That it’s already all just there on their heads and they write it down. NO! The most incredible thing I learned this week was just what an incredibly hard graft it can be for some writers to get a novel produced. The many, many hours it takes, especially with redrafting and editing.
Towards the end of the week of study we were invited to (as we are during every week of coursework) take some optional further study. I generally always work through some if not all of the optional further study each week as I have the luxury of time on my side that a lot of my fellow students don’t. This week there were some audio clips to listen to with writers talking about the creative writing process and how they go about character development, genre of writing, narrative and structure (plot and story arcs), and lastly about redrafting and editing. One of the writers speaking was Tim Pears and he spoke about there being two types of writer; those who were good at redrafting and editing their own work, and those that needed help from an editor. Initially he felt that he fell under the first category and that he was quite adept at editing his own work. After a time he realised this was NOT the case and produced much better work with an editor helping him. Before we listened to the final audio clip, we were asked to think about how long we would think the writing of a novel would take on average. I thought I read somewhere some time back that it took about four months. For a first draft at least anyway. Some tweaks, etc…maybe six months, possibly eight. Published within a year, right? Well…Tim Pears said it would take him EIGHT MONTHS to get a first draft together and the redrafting and editing would take another TWO YEARS!!!!!
Lastly, I just want to mention Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘10,000 hours rule’, playing Devil’s advocate as I do so because Gladwell’s theory has by and large been debunked, but – the fundamental piece of it is – that it takes MANY HOURS of practice to develop skills is the key. Okay, we can also bring in the thing about giving chimps typewriters and after X amount of time they’ll produce the works of Shakespeare, ya da ya da – but the point of it all is – NO ONE IS BORN WITH IT!
If you’re born with it, why would you need to practice? Why would you have to hone your craft? Why would you produce some great work and some not-so-great work?
And Bob Lefsetz can kiss my ass! (What is it they say about opinions and arseholes? 🤔😜)
And…I should reference this all properly, get my referencing skills honed…but this is for my blog and I cannae be arsed. Having said that, the Wiki reference to Lefsetz’s schooling is a clickable link.
Jim posted a photo of himself and Gordy – looking for all the world like a coupla Glesga gangstas – a great image, really, esp. as it was given more menace by Jim’s face being obscured by shade. Despite it feeling much like “pissing in the wind” these days, I left a comment. These days my comments tend to be off-the-cuff things I give very little thought to because…I don’t see much point. It’s not as if there are replies that happen these days so…you know…one has to get on with one’s life and suchlike.
Having said all of that, no one was more surprised than me to later on in the day get a ‘like’ for my comment. Well, more to the point – a ‘care’ emoji.
I thought “How very odd!” The comment I left was this…
“Would you trust these men if you met them in a dark alley?” Glesga gangstas! 😂😂😂
Now THAT is an odd reaction emoji for such a comment, don’t you think? So then I go into “over analyse” mode – because despite what I just said above, all of this shit still means more to me than I feel comfortable admitting to (esp. on here!). Now, this said emoji is called ‘care’. And so I was thinking about how that word sounds and how Jim…who “doesn’t have an accent” says his own surname…
Yes…this is the kind of over analysing crap I do! Care = Kerr??
Before I got ahead of myself I went and checked this comment reaction out. Was it actually left by the official SM FB page? Well, it seemed to. I’m sure I clicked on it and double checked that it actually went to the band page – ie: that it wasn’t some bogus duplicate account and I was pinning so much on something so … stupid.
I even saved the bloody notification I got because at the end of it, this is still all what it means to me!
But this is where it then has me second-guessing. Later last night, I went back to the post and then I could still see the reaction emoji but it was no longer showing as left by the SM page…
So now I am thinking that, despite my checking, I was taken in by some bogus duplicate account and all my “Care – Kerr” pondering and hopefulness was just me clutching at ever increasing intangible and desperate straws!
Ah, well. There we go. This is a rather sad, ridiculous and pointless post, eh?
And to top it all off, I couldn’t go queuing for 14 hours to get myself a copy of the 5×5 Live vinyl – so I am feeling particularly sorry for myself today.
At least I have Creative Writing study to look forward to again today…yay! 😒☹️ (So far, it is feeling like everything I was dreading. Nothing has changed for me AT ALL about how I would feel when tasked with “writing a story” at school to 40 years down the track…)
I haven’t shared very much about the tour here in all honesty. Unlike with previous tours where I felt very much a part of things most of the time, with the Acoustic Tour and then – with a sticky moment in between – the Walk Between Worlds tour, I was in “the heart of the crowd”. Even to a lesser extent I felt very much a part of things during the Big Music Tour – even though I only went to two gigs in 2015 – it was the early days of my fandom and my enthusiasm was…infectious…and feeding my own hunger for more.
This blog started in 2015…starting its life on Tumblr and then moving here to be a fully fledged website in its own right, carrying the “Priptona Weird” URL. Rather cringingly it started as pretty much a visual Jim Kerr “drool wall”, thinly veiled as a “Simple Minds” blog.
After a time I wanted it more and more to move into more “serious” territory. Still have some FUN, of course – I have never been trying to compete with Simon’s Dream Giver Redux site, nor did I ever want to! I was a mere cub in no way equipped to compete with a roaring lion and I knew that. I always wanted to have my blog have SOME of me in it. Present it as MY Simple Minds world.
I had been happy with where I had taken it and where it was going in recent years. Diversifying somewhat to have more generalised musical input – gig reviews, new album release reviews, interviews – all of that side of things makes me “proud” (be careful using that word, kiddo!) – hmmm, okay…”gratified” (there we go, that’s better!) with the state the blog was in during 2020 and 2021 and the couple of years preceding the pandemic. The work I put into the Minds Music Monday posts celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call feels like the pinnacle of it all. Little did I know that as I was putting all of that together, Graham Thomson was writing Themes For Great Cities. I felt like all my work was a precursor to his amazing book.
This new year promised to be so great. The book I just mentioned was due for release in January and I felt I had scored myself a bit of a coup for this blog in being able to get hold of a copy of the book before its release date and review it here. I was delighted to also be given the opportunity to have a couple of copies of it to give away.
The release of Act Of Love was also a fantastic thing to happen early on this year.
I was counting down to Paris, the first gig of the recommencing of the tour – for me personally. In actual fact I think the tour WAS meant to recommence where it had stopped – in Copenhagen – but one last minute reschedule meant that Paris would not be until May and the new start of the tour with my personal run of gigs would be in Aberdeen.
Over the past six months, particularly within the past three months – more than ever before – I have felt on the outer. Being a “social butterfly” never really comes comfortably to me. I have spent many years sheltered and comfortable in my own company. Perhaps it is part of continued undiagnosed neurodiversity? Even when I do engage in social situations, I have ALWAYS felt inept. These recent weeks have felt no different. In fact, they have only compounded my feelings of awkwardness and ineptitude even further.
My retreat is here. This blog. Even within the online social network these days – a place I felt initially much safer in “socialising” in, I once again feel on the outer fringes. I’m not really having any involvement with any of the Simple Minds group pages. Just the odd thing that I may feel particularly vocal about or eager to express – like yesterday with sharing the review of Sarah’s album in Mojo magazine on SMOG. These days my interaction is an exception to the rule.
The work I did for this blog last year for the Sons/Sister 40th Anniversary I wanted to emulate for New Gold Dream. I was looking forward to that. But now it’s April and if I want to do something I know I should be starting NOW with the release of Promised You A Miracle as the first single release for the album. Minds Music Monday was put on hiatus for the tour – but frankly since I started my study, MMM has been neglected by and large.
The tour has been going since March 31st, and the band just played their first mainland European gig last night at the Ziggodome in Amsterdam. They continue with the arena leg of the tour through Europe until near the end of May. Paris is in 16 days time and I am frightened to fuck about it. I don’t travel well internationally at the best of times but just all the extra logistics involved in what really is such a short journey is positively freaking me out. I have so few gigs left to enjoy though I really don’t want to miss it. And…I have a meet and greet AGAIN. And one final chance of a NICE photo with Jim and Charlie. Don’t get me wrong…I love that one from Aberdeen. It has a personal significance to it for me that I really love – I just wish that Jim and Charlie had been framed in it better and not look like they are suffering from epic cases of jaundice! Lol. And I am ssoooo bummed that they lost the Newcastle photos and I couldn’t take advantage of going to another UK gig as compensation. So…a lot hinges on Paris.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I haven’t shared much of any of this tour so far here on this blog. I haven’t even shared all of my own photos from Newcastle as yet (rectified above). You know…the web is AWASH with stuff – especially on the SM group pages on Facebook. There’s plenty to see there. I feel little need in sharing any of it here. Which in turn is starting to make this blog feel…surplus to requirements. A combination of my continued concentrated attention to my studies as well as just feeling less and less part of it all.
So where does this blog go? It’s called “Priptona’s Simple Minds Space” after all! It’s not “Larelle Read” – my own actual personal blog has lain abandoned for YEARS – and it is rightfully the place I should be writing about my academic endeavours on but I guess I started talking about my academic pursuits here as a way of highlighting why things might be a bit “Minds light” on the blog at the moment.
Truly, I know the only person who cares about this blog is me…and even I’m worried that the enthusiasm is dying. At least for it to be the kind of thing it had been for the past, say, four years. A good blend of lots of Simple Minds stuff, with broader music based features, some fantastic posts (if I can blow my own trumpet for one nanosecond) and pretty darn good interviews – for a rank amatuer.
Again, where do we go from here? I don’t know. I really do hope I’m just feeling a dose of PGD (Post Gig Depression) and things will pick up again. Perhaps after Paris?
We’ll see. Until then, thanks for listening and reading and continuing to visit this old mishmash of crap that is “Priptona’s Blog”.
But over seven years of producing the art though. Writing and study have taken over in recent months. I’m not sure when I last made anything. It has always been my own “Act Of Love”.
The “art” always expressed the things that I wanted to say when words failed me. Mostly “I love you, Jim” is pretty much what every single piece said. Well, perhaps they more accurately said “I love this song, and I love the words this man has written for it.” That’s what I really hope they all said.
The page will continue to exist. And now and then there still might be the odd giveaway. Perhaps there still may just be a new piece of artwork from time to time – never say never – but I feel my creativity is moving in another direction. Perhaps in the direction it was always meant to go? Who knows?
Thanks to everyone who ever took an interest in what I was making and producing. Those who followed the FB page and gave me feedback. Those who took time to enter competitions and giveaways.
Biggest thanks of all to Jim, for being an inspiration, a muse and for…creating a monster by giving me such a wonderful gift of that Hunter And The Hunted post. Lol. I’m sorry I subsequently made a complete tit of myself for the proceeding seven years.
In reply to James Clear (and James Kerr, for the matter. Lol).
Jim’s post today. I do miss those kinds of posts! These would be the kinds of posts we’d get from him fairly regularly “back in the day”. Posts with a philosophical slant.
“All good things come to an end.”
“Nothing lasts forever.”
“You can have too much of a good thing.”
“The past is a forgien country.”
All that guff.
I miss the philosophical debate. I just miss feeling like I could talk to him…in general…in greater detail. And that he was listening. And mercy me if he replied.
I STILL MISS IT! I always will.
Today’s topic had me pondering – and that’s what I like about it most. I went and had a look at the linked article.
I want to respond to James Clear’s piece here:
THREE: IDEAS FROM ME (James Clear)
“Define yourself by your effort, not your suffering.”
Given the subject matter I had been studying the past week, that seems timely. Van Gogh. To me it seems as though he tried incredibly hard to be measured by the amount of work he put into his art. He did not want to be seen as the “suffering artist” in any way, shape or form. I know that sounds ridiculous, given he painted a self-portrait of himself with a bandaged ear but his reasoning behind that, I think, has been greatly misinterpreted. There is definite evidence to show that he suffered greatly in spite of his art, not because of it. He used it as an outlet to heal, not as a vessel for continued and sustained suffering.
I really like this statement and it is something that I want to adhere to myself. It is very much a learning curve and it is why I am doing what I’m doing now.
“Marrying well makes everything easier.”
Pfffft! Good luck with that! I’d say “never marry”. I never wanted to. It was a necessity. It was a means to an end. I have nothing else to say on that. I think it is an INCREDIBLY simplistic statement on a very complex issue. How does one “marry well”? What an absurd notion. If you feel you’ve “married well”, you’re bloody lucky. Or deluded.
“Charity can be a lifestyle, not merely a gift.
Read charitably. Give the author your most favourable interpretation.
Listen charitably. Donate your undivided attention.
Work charitably. Be generous with your expertise.
In this way, you make charity a daily habit.”
Well, that’s quite profound. When it comes to reading, I need to be charitable whether I like it or not. It’s the nature of my ability to read that defines that.
I think a LOT of people these days could do with a lesson in listening charitably. This is why when I am out and about, unless I am on my own, you won’t hear from me on social media. When I am in company, I DO NOT take my phone out! It is, in my book, common courtesy to do that. I just don’t do it. And it is one way in which I feel I listen charitably.
Working charitably? I’m not sure what I can say there. If I felt I had ANY expertise on ANYTHING…well….
TWO: QUOTES FROM OTHERS
Mathematician Paul Halmos on what distinguishes the best from the rest:
“I read once that the true mark of a pro – at anything – is that he understands, loves and is good at even the drudgery of his profession.”
That reminds me of the question I posed to Graeme Thomson in my interview with him. I asked him how he was able to write about subject matter he wasn’t particularly interested in. The crux of his answer was “you just find a way”, and that if you are doing something that you love, the way through it will be easy.
Writer Doris Lessing on how to choose what to read:
“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag – and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty-and vise versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.”
Doris obviously did not take English Literature at university then! Lol. There are definitely books one has to read during it that one is not interested in. Again, it’s about what you want and what the end result will be.
I only just read Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol for my study. Reading it in March made it feel out of context…especially before I started reading it, with the preconceived ideas I had about it. I had to wash those away and I had to remove the driving Christmas theme of it and pick up and concentrate on the heart of the story. I came away with views on it I was surprised by. I wish we’d have had the time to have read something else of Dickens, but I guess had we read something else of his, it’s out of time anyway so what would it matter?
“…and never, never read anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement…”
Isn’t that just making you contrary? Contrary for contrary’s sake? Why do we bother to have “best sellers” lists, and book prizes and the like if that should be the case?
What is required for study aside, I don’t think I’ve ever chosen to read a book because I felt I ought to. Then again, having said that…would I have read The Master And Margarita? Or, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea? Most likely not. And I certainly derived great pleasure from reading the latter. The former was tougher going, I won’t lie. But I enjoyed certain elements of it. And I believe the elements that didn’t stick with me would make more sense with a second reading. But that second reading I am not ready for right now.
ONE: QUESTION FOR YOU
“Nearly everything in life has a useful zone, a desired dose. Ten minutes in the sun can energize you. Ten hours in the sun can burn you. This concept applies to many things: work, relationships, hobbies, exercise, food.
What is your desired dose? What do you need right now? A little more or a little less?”
Well, James. Firstly that is THREE questions you asked, not one. Lol
To quote Gina G, “oooh-ah just a little bit, oooh-ah a little bit more”. I need more sun – and thankfully that is on the way.
“What is your desired dose?” That is such a broad question! It has to be quantified. I’ll let Iggy Pop answer on my behalf.
What does one do when the creative writing well seems dry? Find a topic? Pick something?
It’s nearing the end of the first week of January. I could talk to you about howJanuary feels to me? It feels like a month of 62 days! Most of the time…
But this time may just be different. We are almost one week in to this (usually) most arduous of months. At this rate it will sail by! But that is the trap January usually sets. It starts out fleeting and then seems to grind to a laborious halt around midway through.
It’s definitely a northern hemisphere affliction, the long, arduous January. I have no recollection of Januarys lagging while I was growing up. In fact it was very much the opposite. Januarys were all too fleeting. It’s the height of summer in the southern hemisphere and for kids on the east coast of Australia, it’s summer holidays. Schools break up a few days before Christmas, and when I was growing up we had a six week break from school. We didn’t return to school until the second week of February. Yay!! It’s a little different down there now as there is an extended break over Easter that didn’t happen when I was going to school. At Easter back then it was just Good Friday and Easter Monday off school. Now there is a full week off school which means summer holidays are now generally five weeks long and the school year starts at the end of January in New South Wales, at least.
So, as you can appreciate, the Januarys of my childhood felt like they were only maybe a week or two weeks long. And the end of January was dreaded! It meant the return to school was imminent. Now – the end of January is to be celebrated! The days are getting incrementally longer and, at long last, the month is done with! There is light at the end of the bleak, mid-winter tunnel. Hurrah!
This January is different. There are things to look forward to! My university study begins in just over two weeks time. And a few days after that, the new book on Simple Minds – Themes For Great Cities gets released. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone else’s thoughts on that. Also, Sarah Brown is releasing the debut single off her new solo album. That will be fantastic to hear.
What other news to come of Simple Minds? I pray there are some! March quite literally marches on and we are still quite deep into this Covid thing. Is the fear of it now vastly exceeding its threat to our lives? I feel we have turned that corner due to the vaccine rollout. It is very obvious the vaccines have done an incredible job by and large by reducing the severity of symptoms and effects, of not necessarily severity and rate of contagion.
I am as doubtful of the prospect of seeing Simple Minds in Paris in March as I was by mid March of 2020. But then I had the gratitude of having just seen them in Copenhagen and the blind optimism that the Covid pandemic would be over in a few months at worst.
April is a more promising prospect. And all within the UK, so perhaps even if on a personal level Paris proves a no-no, I am…mildly confident I will see the band come April.
But what else is there on the horizon to look forward to? Jim’s posts of late have been more on the personal, or of band history, not much of what’s to come – which is incredibly odd for a forward thinker like Jim. I guess he’s just as flummoxed as the rest of us about what the imminent future holds? There was talk of new music last year, but little of that has been discussed since. No news (from the next world) is good news? We’ll see in due course, I guess.
Perhaps I am better at this “writing from scratch” with a blank page in front of me than I give myself credit for?!
It bodes well for the study. Over the weekend I looked at the breakdown of my course. I could see what the whole academic year looked like. The topics we’ll be covering every week and what is required for each assessment during the year. I am excited. The Arts and Humanities is so broad. We’ll be looking at many things, from Cleopatra, to Elizabeth I, Gothic Architecture, painting and Greek and Roman sculpture, Mozart, The Blues, Philosophy, poetry, art from central and southern Africa. I am champing at the bit to dive in.
Today, January is flying by and I am welcoming its end for vastly different reasons than I normally would be.
I would have liked to have written more in relation to Jim’s post yesterday, but I had just written my waffling blurb about Space (or more accurately what the song Space means to me) for MMM and I didn’t have that much writing left in me. So I left it for today.
I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to write today. I had my Covid vaccine booster and my flu vaccine yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve had the flu jag. I woke up feeling fine. Other than a sore arm from the jags, I felt okay. I slept okay. A bit intermittent, but quite soundly when I did actually sleep. I think now it is catching up with me though as now I am here at my PC, ready to exercise the old brain and writing muscles, I can feel my energy draining away. I’m yawning and feeling quite lethargic now. I’m hoping it’s just for today that I’ll feel like this. I have a gig to go to in Newcastle on Thursday and I want to have my energy up for that!
Anyway! On with the “reminiscence bump” that Jim wrote about yesterday.
I really loved that post. I didn’t know that his knowledge and love for Wichita Lineman went back that far. But I guess why would I? I always think the melody in Wichita Lineman sounds like Grace Jones’s La Vie En Rose, or vice versa (that would be more accurate). Jimmy Webb is an overdue postponed gig I have to go to next year.
I don’t have any recollections of ever having heard Wichita Lineman until the first time I saw Jim writing about it.
But that “reminiscence bump”? There are plenty of songs that do that. And there was no way I could list them and the images, feelings and settings they transport me back to. I just as succinctly as possible spoke about the memory and “bump” Boys From Brazil now gives me. Nana Mouskouri and a coach ride home from London on a dark and dreary night.
But there are other songs that give me experiences of deep “bumps” when I hear them. ELO’s Hold On Tight gives me the vivid memory of a car ride home from my siblings paternal grandparents house. They lived way out of Sydney. I can’t quite remember where it was now. I think it was south of Sydney, in a town called Nowra. A beautiful part of the state of New South Wales, actually. Anyway, the car radio is on and it comes on on the radio and I find it a really hopeful and uplifting song (there’s Jim thinking “you find ELO uplifting? They’re dross! To each their own, Mr Kerr. To each their own.) and it had been a nice day at my siblings’ grandparents house. I went there with my eldest brother, his wife and my sister. I usually felt “the odd one out” the few times I went to their house as…well…I wasn’t their grandchild and their grandma wasn’t the most warming of ladies, but that day she was quite nice to me and seemed to want to engage in conversation with me. So my memory of the day is a good one. And the ride home in the car was full of lovely music and everyone was in good spirits. So I see my brother driving the car at the front, his wife beside him in the passenger seat, me in the back seat directly behind Roy, and my sister, Cheryl, sitting next to me to my right. The sun was fading. It was a winter’s day, so it was quite cool. And I can see that lovely scenery of Southern yet not quite coastal New South Wales out the window.
So there’s one example.
Another is hearing the Skyhooks song All My Friends Are Getting Married. It was a newish song at the time. I’m sure I’m maybe only 5 years old. Perhaps maybe a little older, as I am in my brother Quince’s (real name Gary – hasn’t been called Gary by anyone in I don’t know HOW long – 40+ years? I was the last person to doggedly stick to calling him Gary, and I finally stopped in the mid 1990s) bedroom playing records, using his Technics turntable…so I HAD to be older than five! But I wouldn’t have been much older. But the visuals the song gives me are vivid. I am in Quince’s room (we were always alternating rooms growing up – but at this point Quince had the first bedroom down the hall, the smallest of the bedrooms) and I am playing the Skyhooks album Ego Is Not A Dirty Word and I absolutely ADORE All My Friends Are Getting Married…as young as I am. I can appreciate it for the lamenting song it. The chorus goes “well, all my friends are getting married / yes, they’re all growing old / they’re all staying home on the weekend / they’re all doing what they’re told”. There’s a kind of melancholy to it I could appreciate. But I misconstrued the lament as a kid. I thought it was a lament on missing out on the married life when in actual fact it was a lament that all your single friends have buggered off and settled down! Lol
Anyway…the “bump” is a visual of home. Of Quince’s bedroom. Of a dull, gloomy day. I could see through to the laundry room from Quince’s bedroom and can see out the back door to a (rare) dull, gloomy sky. I was always looking skyward as a kid. Always looking up – literally, if not metaphorically.
Some of the “bumps”, as exemplified above are very fleeting snapshots, but no less vivid.
Another one is another car journey. I am with my sister and brother-in-law. REM’s Losing My Religion is on the radio and we are driving through the back streets of Busby – the place I grew up in. An outer south-western suburb of Sydney. Busby was quite a sprawling suburb. All of that area of Sydney, those outer south-western suburbs was farmland and then was turned into council housing developments in the early 1960s. Had the Kerrs ended up emigrating to Australia and landed in Sydney, I am pretty sure an area like Busby or its surrounds is where they would have ended up. The car is actually travelling long South Liverpool Road. There you go – get your Google Maps out and have a keek! Lol
One final one I’ll share is a “bump” – yet ANOTHER car journey – that is a vivid recall when hearing the Tin Tin Out version of Here’s Where The Story Ends. It has real symbolism to it, and very personal, so I can’t share much of it – but the song’s title is a fitting meaning to why this particular car journey was happening. I’ll say as much as the journey was an outpatients hospital visit to Leicester. And it was the ending of one story and the beginning of another. It’s a vivid recall of trying to find the hospital and getting lost (pre-Google Maps and GPS navigation – having to locate the place the old fashioned way) but eventually locating it after going around roundabouts and driving round in literary circles for a good half an hour.
Other memories get sparked by curtain songs. Certain Bowie songs have me back at home “deep in your room / you never leave your room”. Iggy Pop songs do that too. Bjork songs do. Grace Jones, U2, INXS, Spy vs Spy, Pretenders, Icehouse, Sherbet, The Carpenters – all of them conjure up memories, vivid visuals of me listening to the music either in the livingroom on the crappy “family” sound system, or in my own bedroom I had later as a late teen/early adult.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, I am sitting around in the kitchen with my mum. We’re usually drinking, playing trivial pursuit or some other board game, getting merrily drunk and just having a fab “girls night in”. We loved doing that. Just having a night in together, getting pissed and listening to music. She loved old crooners too, so I’d borrow things from the library to listen to. Nat King Cole or Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong or Ella Fitzgerald.
Anyway. Enough of the nostalgia for one day. Geez, I keep myself deep within the clutches of nostalgia enough as it is – I don’t need any more excuses to wallow! My arm and shoulder is frigging aching to f*** anyway, and my head is starting to hurt a little.
And because it’s vaguely relevant, I’ll end on this…
I’m sitting at my PC today wanting to continue with the exercise of writing. And I have things swirling around in my head. Bits and pieces of this, that and the other and just wanting to try and blurt all of these things out and try and do that in a quick manner before I lose all train of thought. But my mind is such a jumble of so many things I don’t know where to begin! And I would love to write to someone directly…but…you know, it’s a pure fantasy to think he would ever come to this blog to read what I would write.
Today I can officially deem myself a university student. I am now fully enrolled in my Higher Ed. English diploma at the Open University. Never in a million years did I think I would end up studying Higher Ed. ENGLISH! Science, Maths…all the biological, chemical, astrophysical – all the sciences were where my interests lay when I was growing up. Never felt good at art. Never felt good at English. The humanities, I felt, was where my weaknesses were. Not that I by ANY means felt capable in the sciences either. I just had more desire to want to be good in them.
History was the bridge.
It’s taken so long for me to realise there is so much more to English than just storytelling. That it does open up things I am interested in – like history, research, working in a library, being a museum curator, and so on and so forth.
I am ssooo eager to get started. Literally champing at the bit! And I don’t want to quelle my eagerness. I want to capture it. Bottle it! Give it an outlet in the meantime. So if for the next eight weeks or so this blog drifts wildly “off topic”, please forgive me! It’s a great creative outlet for me – but it can’t be 100% Simple Minds based. I mean – Jesus – some NEWS to actually write about would be grand right now!
So, I am currently an OU student. I am enrolled in my first module – A111: Discovering the Arts and Humanities. I have already invested in purchasing the books that we’ll be studying during the module: The Faber Book of Beasts, Sophocles – Antigone, and A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Books. I have applied to have access to the University of Glasgow’s library as an OU student. And I have also applied for a part-time student fee grant – something I believe is only available to students resident in Scotland.
It is now a waiting game. And this is the part that is playing havoc with me. Deadline for applications of enrolment on the course is January 13th. And although I am enrolled, it is still pending on my fee grant application being approved. It can take 28 days for the fee grant to be approved. Allowing for staff to be off over Christmas and New Year, it will take me right up to the application deadline. No problem if I get the grant. But if I don’t get the grant? One, I’ll be devastated! Two, I’ll be de-registered from the course and if I still want to do the course and somehow pay the fee, I’ll have to reapply to the course! So it really does all hinge on me being given the grant.
I have to “sit tight”. I’ve never been good at sitting tight. And I really don’t want my enthusiasm to wane! So everything that will go on at this blog in the interim that isn’t Simple Minds related will be me just wanting to keep at my creativity and writing and brain activity and…all of that.
I have been wanting to discuss The Beatles documentary, Get Back – but I feel that every man and his dog has reviewed it now, or passed judgement on it. What else do I have to add or offer? Short of being brief and saying it’s a LONG documentary but well worth the effort, there isn’t much else I can add. Perhaps when I am a little more focused I can discuss it in more detail. After the initial dust has settled and there’s a bit of time elapsed from half of the world having just devoured it over the past week or two.
I didn’t even think Jim was going to brush upon it at all. But lo, there he was this morning talking about it, mentioning his mum, his brother and a “mongrel dog” called Ringo. I love when he shares memories. I know not everyone in the fanbase wants that. Some just want…I don’t know what they want! For Jim not to talk from a personal angle, basically. Which I find perplexing, I have to say. Why don’t you want Jim to talk/write that way? It would be so…analytical and perfunctory on their social media if he didn’t. Jim may as well not be involved in the FB page at all in that case!
I absolutely LOVE the way he writes and interacts (when he actually did do so) with us! It is the most special thing there is about Simple Minds having a presence on Facebook. Every other official band and artist FB page I have seen is, by and large (there are a few other exceptions – Gary Numan, for example), devoid of any real connection with their fans.
I want band news, of course I do! To hear about new music on the way would be extremely welcome right now.
Jim’s writing inspires me. And I don’t mean his songwriting, but of course that does too, in a more fragmented way.
There is something else I’d love to say here but conversely, I don’t want to discuss it. Suffice it to say I had an epiphany recently about my writing and its cathartic benefit to me. That is as forward as I can be about that.
I have been writing A LOT since July and not all of it has been posted here. I guess not all of it needs to be posted here. But an element of my writing is not just the feeling of expression that comes from it but wanting it to be read! The want of having people read what I am saying and feeling. And that is why now it is feeling like art. People in the visual arts – painters, graphic designers, sculptors, photographers, dancers – whether they realise it or not desire an audience. Desire their work to be seen and appreciated. I have felt that with my digital art. Always made it for my own enjoyment in the first instance, as an outlet of expression but then beyond that wanting it to be shared. Then, with any luck, liked and appreciated by others.
So this is why I will be writing – off topic – here on this blog. I went to type “my blog” out just then. But I find myself reluctant at times to call it “my blog” because I still see it as a Simple Minds blog. And as a Simple Minds blog, I feel it shouldn’t be personal. But it always manages to seep in somehow. I actually don’t know what this beast of a blog is! It’s like liquorice allsorts.
I used to do this with the video blogs (aka vlogs) last year. There was a series of them and I ended up referring to them as the “Sunday Waffle” for, as the name suggests, I’d post the vlogs on a Sunday. Of course I would post other vlogs on the days inbetween too! But the Sunday vlogs tended to be the most “waffling” – on any subject. Not just Simple Minds based.
I do have a personal blog but I haven’t used it for a long time. I just keep invested in the domain names for it. But something I want to talk about today *IS* Simple Minds related, but I’ll talk more about that shortly.
Firstly I want to talk about the “off topic” subject of catfishing. This word started to be used more liberally in the early 2000s, after the release of a documentary about a woman “catfishing” a guy she was interested in. The connotation of catfishing in this first instance was that you deceive people into thinking you are living a life that is false. That you’re successful, you have money, you have children, etc, etc. It’s a very toxic thing and in that context should be taken as an absolutely abhorrent, deceitful thing to do to people. I would never do that myself! And I am not condoning anybody else doing that.
Conversely, I will say that it isn’t black and white and people who feel compelled to do these kind of things deserve some level of compassion and understanding. Unless armed with the full details of individual cases, it’s very easy to judge and make assumptions.
More and more at the moment I see the term “catfishing” being used to describe women who use makeup to alter their appearance. I think the term is being used erroneously in this respect. The original use of “catfishing” had a far more deceptive and toxic definition to it than merely making yourself appear different and “better” in an aesthetic sense.
It’s a reflection of the world we currently live in, one in which women deemed “ugly” use makeup to make themselves appear as they are not (supposedly). But this isn’t in any way a new thing! And women have been using makeup in some form or other for HUNDREDS of years.
Here is a case of “catfishing” that happened centuries ago. A well known case, if you know your history, esp. your history of Tudor England. And it goes right to the top of the monarchy. I daresay that EVERY PERSON in Tudor times would be deemed to have “catfished” under its current broad definition. Portraits made of the monarchy were deceitful. Nobody was ever portrayed as they actually were back then.
Ever heard of the term “warts and all”? It was attributed as being used by Oliver Cromwell when he was having his portrait done. He is reputed as saying to commissioned artist Sir Peter Lely, “Mr Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.”
Back to the Tudor case of the catfisher being catfished.
Henry VIII took MUCH liberty in how he was portrayed. Painted most times to look taller, thinner, more athletic, healthier, and more attractive than he actually was. At the time I am about to refer to, he is 49 years old. That is quite an age in Tudor times! And he’s had some hard and fast living by now. He is not going to be looking ANYTHING like Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who portrayed Henry in The Tudors television series made during the 2000s), okay?! (Meyers today is only 44 years old.)
Jane Seymour has passed away, and after a very, very, VERY brief time of grieving, Henry is on the lookout for wife number four. He is told of Anne of Cleves and is assured by his courtiers that they’re an exemplary match. Anne is a young maiden of 25 years of age. Henry’s already sensing doubt as to be 25 in Tudor times and unmarried – something has to be up with that, right? They show him a portrait of Anne. He is smitten! He cannot wait to meet her! He’s literally married himself off to her as soon as he sees her portrait.
Come the day they meet face to face, Henry is outraged! As far as he is concerned, Anne is NOTHING LIKE the portrait he was shown and he makes it known quite emphatically what he thinks of Anne, referring to her as a “Flanders mare”. Nice one, Henry! Never mind what Anne must have thought seeing the sight of you for the first time, given the portraits she’d have seen of this unbelievably ageless, athletic, virile “studmuffin” when the reality was you’re a badly aging, gammied leg, portly hypocrite! And you probably haven’t had a bath in about 7 months on top of that!
Yes, it’s the monarchy and there was obviously more to it than that. The courtiers were making Anne look, particularly aesthetically (because they obviously knew that Henry likes a “hot chick”) attractive to Henry because they (and he) wanted to secure a political and religious alliance between England and Protestant western Germany.
In the monarchy then NOBODY married for love. Everybody was catfishing the heck out of everyone else. Powerplay.
I despair that the word “catfishing” is being used to now make women feel and appear even MORE untrustworthy than they are currently being portrayed in the media. I have little sympathy for the men being “catfished”, if all their attraction to a woman is based entirely on her looks. Good! Get fucking catfished, you superficial asshat!
I know when meeting someone for the first time face to face our first impression is the way a person looks. It is, by nature, our first marker. We SEE someone first before we speak to them or anything else. But that is why anyone with a modicum of self-respect and decency would not just think, “She’s fit. Shagging her later.” And if it is what you think and you get your stomach turned by what you wake up to next to you the following morning – I don’t pity you. You are far more abhorrent than you THINK the person next to you is.
So can we stop using “catfishing” to describe women who want to make themselves look more attractive? I wish we didn’t live in a world where this kind of stuff has to go on! Where women could actually feel like they deserve love no matter how they look. That people could see beyond the superficial and the aesthetic! I’m not saying we’re not allowed to appreciate those things. I mean, geez, how hypocritical is my blog, with all these pictures of Jim all over it?
Anyway, let us move on.
This is going to be a more personal aspect of today’s waffle. And it is Simple Minds related because it’s about Jim, and my “letting go” of this desire for friendship that has been churning away within me these past two years especially.
There were two distinct markers of when this became something that became incredibly “all-consuming” within me – Jim sharing his dad’s cancer diagnosis with us, and my mum passing away.
I am still very disappointed with myself for allowing myself to get so…dependent and needy. For holding on SSOO tightly to all the early (early in my fandom) interactivity that I had with Jim. That I SSOOO misconstrued what it was and how long it has taken me to “let go” of it.
I need to talk about the past few days. Enrolling (still not confirmed yet as I have to do some initial part of the application process first before I can actually enrol in the course I want to study) in the Open University and my readiness to “fail better”.
Last night I suddenly remembered that Jim had quoted the Beckett words in a post he did some time back. So I used the search feature on Facebook to see where and when. And there was part of me convinced he must have interacted with me on that post because I had such a strong recollection of him using the Beckett quote. I would usually only remember something like that if it felt it impacted on me directly.
I find it. Posted to the SM page on July 11th, 2019. It’s a post about … well … failing, funnily enough. But Jim’s first own personal example was when he first felt “failure” in a major way, playing football as a young boy. Playing for the local Cubs and losing HUGELY to a rival team of, quote “hairy-legged” older boys. He then lists other perceived “failures”. Leaving school with no formal qualifications, being divorced twice, investments in failed businesses. And then things that are now not even seen as failures, but initially were – Simple Minds’ early releases not being commercially successful. I’ll link to the post HERE so you can read it all for yourself.
Then he asks us about our “failures”.
At this point, before reading the comments, I was convinced he must have responded to me. Possibly one of the last times he ever did respond to me. I read the comments. I try to find mine first. I had left two. One was me asking for clarity on what he meant by “no qualifications”. Was he implying he left school without a single O Level? And, you won’t be surprised to hear that I waffled. And even apologised for “waffling”. Lol. Then there was my actual reply to his question about our failures. Or more accurately, our perceived failures. My reply was basically – “How long have you got, Jim? How long is a piece of string?”
There were no responses from him as I had imagined. Nothing, on either comment. Not even a Facebook “like” on either of them. Sometimes a “like” I would deem an acknowledgement from him that he had at least read the comment. Nothing. For either comment. No like. And certainly no reply comment. And it was at a time when he was still around. Many other comments received “likes”.
What I do see in one of my comments is a response from people who I now have no dealings with. One person I had already had that cutting off with, but the other person I didn’t realise had any involvement with what the crux of the matter is, so I had naively responded to them not knowing any better at the time. Perhaps Jim saw that interaction and thought it best to avoid my comment altogether? Or…he just wasn’t interested in responding to me. Which would happen sometimes. But I would usually get a “like”.
But there was nothing for either of my comments.
This morning I was thinking about “Jalopy”. It was one of the last “interactions” I ever had with Jim on Facebook. The final one being one I had to try and backtrack to and find via looking back through my blog.
It’s been over a year now. The very last token piece of interaction I had with Jim via the Simple Minds Facebook page was a post he did about the release of Heart Of The Crowd – the book. He said he felt “misty eyed” and I had replied saying was he sure his “misty eyes” were from the book being released rather than the Scottish football team having just secured their entry into the Euros? He replied with a “They’ll be coming!” and a link to YouTube of The Tartan Army singing “We’ll Be Coming Down The Road”.
I can’t tell you how happy that made me! Well, I probably could. But this post is getting VERY long and I must get on with my point. Whatever my point is.
It’s this. I think I am FINALLY, slowly, coming to terms with not wanting to seek reaffirmation from Jim for every single damn half-decent thing I feel I do. There are actually not many things I feel I do well. Very few things at all! But I got ssoo caught up in wanting to impress him and wanting to keep this ever so deluded sense of a “bond”, of a “connection” – I lost myself. And I lost the ability to “let it go”.
I was also thinking about the story I shared about Rodney Johnston and the dog bite. Of my first “serious” relationship. Of my first and only “long-term” boyfriend. The memories of them are really, really strong. And although I am holding on to certain aspects of those relationships – I really did let them go quite successfully.
I’ve never mentioned him by name before on here. I usually give him some coded name. But the guy I had my first “adult” relationship with was called Brendan McDonagh. It was a relationship I kept going in the hope it would turn into something else. For him all it ever was was sex. And sadly I was the instigator every single time. No self-worth, see? Convinced that if I kept sleeping with him he eventually would want to be with me. It wasn’t until I met my actual first and only “proper” boyfriend, Roger, did this very tenuous “relationship” with Brendan end. I didn’t miss him. I didn’t even think about him. I totally moved on. Roger became my focus.
I don’t even know when I started thinking about Brendan again. Long after my breakup with Roger. It took me a long time to get over the breakup with Roger. But I was able to walk away in the end. I mean, there were complications. After a time, Roger and I were “seeing” each other again but it was short-lived. And I don’t really want to go into a lot of detail about that here. The point of it is – despite how it sounds typing this out – I could let them go. I could let these relationships go.
I feel really disappointed in myself with just how much emphasis I have placed upon seeking all this reaffirmation from Jim. I feel sick from it. That I have felt so little of myself that I have spent the past two years just PRAYING for this man to like me, wanting him to interact with me, wanting him to make me feel like I was his friend, making me feel like I was “worthy”. I shouldn’t have to beg. And if I genuinely meant something to him…then I wouldn’t be needing to beg.
It’s been the hardest these past two years. I think it’s because of mum passing away. I don’t think I knew what to do with my grief. And I think I didn’t feel like I needed to grieve? Like, I thought I was viewing her death rather pragmatically and came to terms with it very quickly. On the other hand there were things like Falling Leaves. Not remembering to tell my sister that mum wanted it played at her funeral, it slipping my mind and not remembering until the day after the funeral.
I’m thinking about next year and my diploma and how much study it is going to take and how much focus I need. I need to start concentrating on me!
Next year is going to be a test. My course will start in February. Weeks later, I’ll be at a Simple Minds gig in Paris (all being well and good with international travel by then – I must admit, I have my reservations about getting to Paris even coming to fruition right now). And then a month after that, another bunch of Simple Minds gigs. Then another in June, and one final one in August.
I admit to still grappling with the “he’s just a man” aspect of Jim. I really wish I could see him like that! But in some ways I think it is probably better that I don’t. That I see him as completely out of reach. Completely in another realm.
It’s hard because…it’s those things – it’s the things that reveal that he is “just a man” that make me wish for the impossible. It’s the “ordinary” within the extraordinary. It’s him being just Jim. Just “the normal guy” that brings the yearning.
But I shouldn’t need him to like me. And … he doesn’t have to like me. He doesn’t have to like me for my life to have meaning and importance. I know!!! That should be a REALLY EASY concept for me to master, right? But it hasn’t been. It really hasn’t been. And I am ssooo disappointed and perplexed with myself about that. Bordering on angry. But I have to be kind to myself! To heal. To overcome it. To conquer it. I need to be kind to me. To accept it. To say “Hey, it’s fine. You’ve been dealing with a lot of shit these past two years. And this man sparked up so much positivity in your life. It’s okay that you wished for an attachment that wasn’t there. That you desired a bond. We all hope to be liked. We’re social animals. Our ‘raison d’etre’ is to make bonds, friendships, and to love. And to want acceptance.”
I’m working on it. I’m working on not dwelling on it. I’m working on it not taking up so many hours of my day. And it’ll be hard because aspects of it keep me going. This is a case in point! Writing! The joy and catharsis I take in writing. And so much of it over the past five years has been either directly or indirectly involving Jim. He has sparked so much creativity in me! But that is what it is – a spark. And I need to be mindful to accept it as a spark. The catalyst. The spark- not the whole damn fire! Not the whole nuclear fusion! That the actual fire comes from within me!
But, Jim. Thank you for the spark.
Interesting that I should close this with the talk of a “spark” because when I was initially looking into study for next year, I was looking at doing a Creative Writing course at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Strathclyde. It was broken down into modules that were titled “Kindling”, “Ablaze” and “Inferno”. Jim has been an inferno for too long. Kindling. Back to kindling. The spark.
A spark is enough.
Lastly – this has been the earworm for the past few days, particularly as I awake in the morning. Make of it what you will…
But I feel like I mostly learn nothing. Nothing of any worth. The things I wish I felt capable of doing! If I could back myself. If I could believe I had it in me. If I had the intelligence and the strength. The resolve. The fortitude.
If I could be free of the shackles of my inner demons and my own self-induced limitations….oh, what then?
I am possibly capable of love.
Of loving this man far too much.
Of loving posts like these. As he tries to give me hope. And tries to instill good things in me.
A very wise friend of mine told me I need to be better at accepting compliments. That I need to be able to…if not necessarily believe them, then just to be able to accept them. To just say “thank you”, when someone gives me a compliment because to throw it back in someone’s face is an awful thing. That nobody offers a compliment without wanting to. And so to not accept a compliment graciously is then hurting the giver.
So I tried. I tried to accept compliments. But my reactions are so ingrained within my psyche, my acceptance didn’t last very long.
I hate myself so very much. And I know that if I can’t love myself then…