The ‘Family’ and the Black Sheep


I wish I could believe this. I wish it felt this way for me, but it rarely has. There is a distinct and marked bias towards fans that have been around for a long time. To espouse the notion that there isn’t…? I myself don’t see it. 

I entered the Simple Minds fanbase with a LOT of trepidation. I was scared of exposing myself to yet another ‘clique’. I had enough of ‘cliques’ at school. (When I was there.)

I have made amazing friendships! I mean, geez, one of those lasting friendships sees a friend of mine having been living with me for the past several months (and continuing still). Without Simple Minds, we’d have never met. I guess we bonded from both being ‘Johnny-come-latelys’. Birdy didn’t rekindle her love for SM until 2013, and myself, just a year later. 

For me? I was fairweather at best before that. Only ever invested in buying one album (Once Upon A Time – actually, it was a requested gift) and would borrow albums from the library (thank you, Andrew Carnegie!) if I wanted to listen to other things of theirs over the years. 

I have had mixed dealings with other fans. Some great friendships, but also the opposite of that. You can’t like everyone, and you can’t be liked by everyone. This fact I am aware of and accept. And I feel that the band members themselves can blow hot and cold…but I guess that’s fair enough. I’m sure feeling pressured to be “on” all the time gets…wearing. 

Factoring in all of that…I don’t feel much a part of things right now. I have felt this way for several months. I don’t feel keen to input much in any of the fan groups I am a member of – and I am only a member of three these days when I used to be a member of…I don’t know how many! Lol.

I feel ostracised from the fanbase (and the band) and I feel reluctant to push my blog at all – esp. at the moment as the content is such a mixed bag and seems to be veering further and further away from being a Simple Minds blog – and I wish this wasn’t so. I’ve always felt a surge of cringing in pushing my blog, always fearful it would come across as posturing – which I guess it is. You’re excited to share this thing you spend time creating. And if you feel you’ve got a scoop, then you’re excited to share that too. But all that is gone. All that bravado and gallus – it’s just all gone. 

My blog now feels like my retreat. My ‘quiet place’ for expressing my love for this band. For a long time I felt a reciprocation went on – I loved them like no other band, and they appreciated my devotion – but I am just one hen in a battery farm coop. 

I certainly don’t feel the kind of reciprocation Dan feels. But then, why should I? I haven’t been around since…nineteen canteen. I am NOT WORTHY. I can’t travel back in time. I can’t start my fan journey from the point that I wish with all the hindsight in the world I *could* have started it from! 

In Gordon’s post, he asked what our favourite fan images have been so far… there have been a few for me. And one of my own. It’s not even the best photo but it has a significance for me that I feel reluctant to elaborate on. I wanted it to say something to me within the context of what is going on in it. For one – Jim is smiling – I can’t express how important that is because I genuinely feel as if I don’t really give him many (any) reasons to smile. I’m smiling too, but I otherwise abhor the way I look in the photo. I didn’t even care about the photo ops on the meet and greets…they were only ever a means to an end of getting a fleeting bit of time in the presence of someone I wish I could be allowed to have all the time in the world with. 

Other than my own crappy photo, it would be this one (below mine). I just like the atmosphere of it, and the anonymity. It was taken in Porto in April.


Birdsong, Fascination and Friendships

The post I did about “The Walking Experiment”. The one that FINALLY led me to finding the quote about the line from In Trance As Mission? The Alice In Wonderland “rabbit hole” of a post that took me what felt like FOREVER to sort out?

Well it led me down yet another rabbit hole today. Because one of the reasons for that post was prompted by a “conversation” with Jim. Submersing myself in the sounds of Sons And Fascination like I have these past weeks, and especially the past few days, I’ve come to the conclusion that…he was absolutely right.

Despite my response to him at the time (see above), I really didn’t feel that way as such. I was using some diplomacy at the time because really I was thinking “Oh, come on, Jim! The music’s great but…how can you say it’s BETTER than birdsong?!” (Which is basically what his reply amounted to.)

That conversation was on my mimd this morning, as was the MMM post on In Trance As Mission. I awoke early this morning. Around 6am. Too restless to go back to sleep, but still a bit too bleary to get out of bed (and the alarm not set to go off until 7.10am), I decided to listen to some Minds music. Namely, live versions of the title track of Sons And Fascination. Having satisfied that desire and with some time still before the alarm was due to go off, I decided to listen to the instrumental version of Seeing Out The Angel. At the end I’m lain there thinking “he is absolutely right. No birdsong DOES compete!” I miss those conversations with him! I really do.

Original “Midnight Walking” FB post (Click to view.)

When I finally got up and out of bed and got all the little things I do each morning all sorted, I sat at my iPad and wanted to find the post itself. The post from Jim that started the conversation about listening to music while walking and of birdsong. You’ll find the link to it posted above. Things he says, the things he’d say to me would always resonate so much. A case in point that my “walking experiment” post in response to that conversation was almost one whole year later! And I’m STILL writing about it nearly five years on!

Finding it led on to me seeing another post that Jim made just a couple of days prior to the “Midnight Walking” post. It’s a post about the Sons And Fascination Tour in the U.S. – the post actually labelled “In Trance As Mission”. (Click title to view original post.) *P.S. In the comments, Otto is right, the gig advertised was in 1984 not 1982.

And I read the words attached and … I am wishing all over again. Wishing hard. And crying my eyes out, dreaming of a friendship with him like this! Like the time of being at that age and living as a young adult in that place and time would allow. To be deemed his friend. To mean even a SMIDGEN to him as to what he means to me!

Before my eyes go too blurry….

The artwork on the poster. Malcolm Garrett has been telling me about the figure in the artwork. He described the figure as a “marching man”. I did always wonder about the figure. He was very gracious in telling me about it and where the inspiration came from. It’s all very fascinating. And it is wonderful to be in contact with “MX”, but I fear he is much more of an inspiration to me than I ever could be to him. (I mean, as if I EVER would be!) As I say, he has been gracious enough to converse with me and it has been highly appreciated. I feel ridiculously unworthy of any such rapport. And I hardly know what to say to him most of the time because I fear tiring him out with endless Simple Minds talk.

My post about “The Cars Are The Stars – Auto iMaGes”? Again whilst looking for the “Midnight Walking” post and the birdsong talk, I saw this…

Original “Sons and Fascination” photo session FB post. (Click to view.)

Jim saying he loved that photoshoot. MX said the same thing to me. I wonder what Sheila Rock’s memories of it are? One day I might pluck up the courage to ask her. The imagery certainly encapsulates everything the album conveys musically. The “musical landscape” of the album. Such collective creativity astounds me and leaves me in awe. And to feel I have what are even…passing friendships with these people…

That Jim ever even took any remote interest in the things I made or the words I’d leave in the comments – that I get to email Malcolm Garrett and talk to him – that any of them even pretend to give a hoot about me or even take a minute to respond to me just…

That I can genuinely state that Virginia Turbett is my friend…

That they don’t flick me away like a pesky little ant…

I genuinely can’t see the screen for the tears…

Neon Lights – The Cover Of The Covers – Which Led Off The Beaten Track

I have over the past few days found myself super intrigued by the artwork of the Neon Lights album.

I suddenly started to wonder who designed it, and more importantly, who wrote out the tracklisting on the cassette cover. It didn’t seem like it was Jim’s writing but I couldn’t help but think how awesome that would have been had he written it out. It’s one of the things I love about the cover art of Life In A Day, that Jim has hand written the credit notes.

So that had me thinking about what a great choice for a cover design it (Neon Lights) was and who had been behind it.

I was surprised (and somewhat disappointed) to learn that, looking into it, it was a team of artists at a design and marketing firm in The Netherlands that came up with it.

As a consequence of trying to learn more about the cover art, it had me at the Dream Giver site (which turned into me being Alice spiralling down the rabbit hole!), reading an article – and interview with Jim – printed in The Scottish Sunday Times on September 23rd, 2001.

I started to read it. It was a very frank interview. My focus soon turned to something else (though still wanting to find out about the Neon Lights cover art).

I’ll link to the interview at the end of the post, but in it Jim talked about (among other things) his relationships with Chrissie and Patsy and he described them as “women of their time”.

Seems a bit of a pigeonhole to put them in…

Like, they were “flavour of the month”.

That can’t be though.

Then again, he goes on to say… (interview excerpt below)

If the arrangement sounds a bit too cosy, it is. “I might make it sound like there was logic to the break-up of my relationships, but there were periods of disillusionment, fears, chaos and sadness,” he says.

“I was never the one to give in. That’s part of the modern way. People give in, because they can.

“The magazines suggest if you’re not having ten orgasms a night or you’re not having eight holidays a year then you’re not having a great life. Expectations are very high. If it doesn’t happen, then they’re off. But the fallout when it goes wrong is awful. I just thought: ‘I could do without this for a while and it’s better not to get involved.’ I wouldn’t trade those moments or emotions for anything but I’d be wary of them should they crop up again.”

Have they? “No. Marriage is about ‘the one’ and I don’t believe in that any more. It’s great if it works out but it’s a tall order. Now I think if there is a right person, they’re right for you at that period in your life.”

“That period in your life”? Okay, I get the idea of considering things in a finite way. I mean our LIVES are finite and there’s an element of the realist “self-preservation” not to get yourself caught up with the fairies with a rose-tinted glasses view… but…

I don’t know. The article just had me thinking about things. It’s never a thing that I feel comfortable in talking about – even if he did seemingly discuss this in public in a newspaper.

But I admit I have wondered for a while now how you become someone who he holds dear. Really dear. Someone who he sticks by – because it seems quite a rare thing from the outside. Rarer than the veneer seems to give off.

Esp. in terms of the opposite sex. I mean, how many people GENUINELY stay good friends with exes? I know there are children involved – but beyond that, or in spite of that – not many are successful at it.

I mean, in my own very limited experience of ex-relationships…or just…RELATIONSHIPS, full stop… I’ve had one other previous relationship and one rather…intense friendship, I guess you’d say.

My only other lasting intimate relationship, was with a boyfriend I had for about 18 months. I had just turned 19 when we met. We broke up because (in retrospect rightly so) he had had enough of my constant jealousy.

I didn’t see him for a while after we broke up. But then he started to come round and visit me. It became “friends with benefits” even though I knew he was with someone else (the person he broke up with me to be with). And I almost did a very, VERY bad thing. Full, honest, disclosure here – for a brief amount of the “friends with benefits” time – I tried to fall pregnant. NOT to trap him! I had no plan to tell him I was even pregnant. I had no intention of ever telling him I was pregnant and that he was a father. I was at a point where I was so wanting to be loved that I thought having a child would be the way to get love.

I very quickly came to my senses. And luckily before I ever succeeded in getting pregnant! I mean, geez. I’d have loved the kid had it happened – but, other than this brief time – this crazy little window of a few months – I have not wanted to be a parent. I have constantly doubted my ability to be anything like a responsible person and certainly did not want to subject anybody to a world that I feel, for the most part, offers much more bad than good.

Have I ever had any friendships from past “relationships”? Lol. One steady boyfriend and a total of three sexual partners (the boyfriend being one of the three) – no! Not seen or heard of or from any of them for over 25 years.

My longest lasting friendship is with a guy. We met when I was still dating my boyfriend. We’ve been friends (with periods of no contact) for over 30 years. But, he was never an ex. But it is how the first period of no contact came about. He wanted more than friendship. I didn’t. The friendship strained. I loved him. Absolutely loved him. I still do. He was there for me at my mum’s funeral in 2019. He means the world to me! But I was never “in love” with him. I broke his heart. And he still loves me. He still tells me! And he is so strong and so amazing, and he has two beautiful daughters.

It feels very exposing to talk like this. But that is the extent of my “past relationships” experience. An ex-boyfriend and two ex…”lovers”, I guess you’d call them. I dunno. I was never into one night stands, so they were guys I knew, but we weren’t dating. It’s another lifetime ago anyway.

Back to Jim, and the pondering of relationships with exes. I am reminded of “the good ex” comment that a lady left a few years back on a post Jim put up on SM FB. I think it was when Chrissie’s memoir came out and he posted about it. The comment read “You’re a really, really good ex!” And Jim replied with, “True. I am the best ex on the planet…was always an ambition!” Lol.

I know it’s his silly, flippant sense of humour at play to a degree – but he DOES seem to have a point!

I have been pondering this for some time now…what makes a friendship with Jim Kerr endure? What’s the secret? What’s the special ingredient? It’s just a question that endlessly intrigues me that I have endlessly pondered for about…just a little under 5 years now.

From about the time he posted this…

It made a profound impact on me, this post, even back then. I found it very telling. Telling of what, exactly, I’m really sure. I don’t know. I seemed to read something into it at the time, and it has always stayed with me.

Anyway…this has been a very long-winded post that meandered so far away from its original purpose that…geez, I’m not even sure WHERE we ended up, but there you go! It’s Saturday night in mid January in Glasgow – during a lockdown in the midst of a pandemic – what else is there to do?

Anyone with any theories on how to be Jim’s friend for a REALLY long time? Then let me know…

Interview in the Scottish Sunday Times HERE