Eureka Day! The Assignment Breakthrough

I’ve had a breakthrough today. A ‘Eureka’ moment, so I’m thinking about this (pic below) right now….just for now. I’ll have to erase it from my mind shortly and get on with the task at hand. I feel ssoooo driven today now. And soooo capable! I can actually feel it. Almost a CONFIDENCE that I can do this assignment now. It’s only taken SIX WEEKS! Jeez-o!

EUREKA!

A Friend Of Frank

What a difference a week can make, eh?

I tried to shield the blog from it as much as possible, although it didn’t escape unscathed as my mood last weekend was probably at the worst it had been all year – culminating in a complete anxiety attack and me considering chucking in the whole uni thing.

A combination of things, really. My appalling low self-opinion of myself, and my capabilities and the massive comedown from Paris… just all the things I do to myself combined with the PGD (Post Gig Depression). Just how ‘anti’ ME I am. If there happens to be any haters out there visiting this blog right now and are reading these words – TRUST ME – you could not hate me any more than I hate myself. Rest assured!

But this time I battled through it. Sunday and Monday were the worst days. Sunday I was feeling the worst anxiety I have had when approaching an assignment. I looked over the two options I felt I had for my assignment – The Blues or Writing Stories (ie: Creative Writing). I kept dismissing the writing stories topic because I am petrified of it. It was a hard week of study and only towards the end of it did I begin to enjoy it. I really enjoyed the blues week so it had always been the much stronger contender.

Anyway, I can’t go into too much more detail about it but suffice it to say that I was wracked with indecision and felt frozen with anxiety to even begin the assignment.

Things didn’t improve on Monday. I emailed my tutor in a cry for help. I explained all that was going on. A prompt reply with reassurance was the first step. A phone call followed the next day. That helped further.

I made a start on Tuesday. It all still felt so overwhelming but I was tackling it head on. Trying to look at it positively. Reassured by words from good friends. A good day of progress on Wednesday. A tutor session on Wednesday evening. More headway on Thursday. Inspiration from Graeme Thomson at the Mitchell Library on Thursday night. A lot more headway on Friday – all of this, slowly but surely lifted the weight and the clouds to now where I can clearly see and breathe, more relaxed yet still focused. Still apprehensive about the assignment – but at a point where if I really DO get a crap mark from it, it wasn’t through lack of trying!

ANYWAY! Short story is, as the week has progressed well and my mood has lifted day by day. We are halfway through the course, so I guess that was the time to have that massive ‘crisis of (no) confidence’ point nearly every student goes through.

I was smart enough to cry for help. To contact my tutor, instead of just trying to be this person who lets the blackness, anxiety and pressure overwhelm them.

Last night I had some fun. I won TWO Scrabble games – one pretty resoundingly – and just allowed myself to properly relax for the first time in … more than two weeks.

Frank’s hot pal.

Frank Gallagher posted this photo of Jim with the words “Sent ma pal some swag. He seems to be enjoying it.” It’s a nice pic. In an exercise in fun and frivolity and letting my hair down, I left a comment…

“Hey, your pal is hot – can I have his number?” with a couple of cheeky grinning winking emojis. Ah, why not? It’s not as if I am confessing anything new that NOBODY knows! Lol. I’m sure even that hermit guy they made that film about knows that I am a bit ‘gone’ on His Kerrness.

Frank is always up for a fun response anyway…and he didn’t disappoint… “Aye. How much you got $$$$”

Serious note…don’t I wish I could actually TALK to this man for longer than a constrained two minute window in the middle of a meet and greet? I guess I can just keep on wishing with that one…oh, well.

And…that smile! I wish that was for me too. I’ll pretend it is. “Good job on getting that assignment done, Larrrrrelllllle – you can do anything you put your mind to. Nae danger. Dinnae fash yersel!”

Fake it til you make it…

Cannoli Get Better?

Good news from His Nibs today in his latest post. A number of good news pieces, for him – Villa Angela has once again opened its doors (just in case that whole “being the frontman for the best live band in the world” suddenly starts to go all pear-shaped after 40+ years, like). Whilst it remained closed to the public during lockdown(s), the space didn’t lay dormant, as he went on to explain. The fruits of it in summary – new SM music making its way to the general public imminently. 

If the things I have been seeing bandied about in the fandom are to be believed, somewhere around October is the projected ETA. (Or should that be ETR – estimated time [of] release?) Just in time for my birthday…the final Friday of the month falling on October 28th. That’ll do me just fine, thank you very much! 

With that I am assuming there will be a plan for a tour next year to properly unleash it to the world in a similar vein to how Walk Between Worlds was thrust upon the world? Usually with new music comes a new tour, so I am very much hoping this will be the case. I already have targets in sight for where I’d like to see them play – somewhat dependent upon the venues chosen and my state of health and availability next year. As well as the old financial impact with such things! 

I’m already bringing my mindset back to being of the feeling of ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’ – so, all being good I’d like to do Amsterdam (must be the Paradiso venue though, otherwise…meh) and Berlin. At the moment I am seeing that, from Paris, the tour’s schedule takes them on to Berlin and it’s killing me! Berlin has been my ‘bucket list’ destination for more years than I care to remember now. So, Amsterdam would be nice, but Berlin is a must! And I’m not even fussed by the venue.

Pre-Covid, I could have just thrown caution to the wind and at this late stage had tagged on going to Berlin straight after Paris, but I can’t do that now. After Paris all I have left is Blenheim Palace and the two Edinburgh Summer Sessions shows and they’ll have to suffice this year. I’ve gone to fewer gigs this year than on previous tours, but only by ONE GIG – it just feels so much less this time. In real terms, and if I factor in that I had at least gone to Copenhagen before the tour halted in 2020, I haven’t gone to any less shows on this tour. Actually, with Copenhagen being my own personal SAF/SFC accumulative tally dilemma (ie: do I count it as two gigs or one? Two distinct and separately billed gigs, just on the one night – and a largely separate audience at both gigs, etc, etc – I count it as two) it could be argued that I will have been to TEN gigs on this tour and therefore it will have been my biggest tour yet!

I’ll have to be more concise and restrained next time. A few shows here in the UK, Berlin as my main overseas jaunt – possibly Amsterdam if it’s at the Paradiso…if not then maybe somewhere else in Germany…Hamburg or Cologne? We’ll see. I’m getting ahead of myself. Before moving away from the topic though, I need to factor in where I will be study wise as well and try and work around that also. I’ll have another module of my course to complete next year before I actually DO get my DipHE in English. Then I will be thinking about moving forward to getting an actual undergraduate degree. 

Briefly on that note – I had a ‘school day’ yesterday. Online tutorials taken as one long block like this, instead of the broken up evening options are referred to as a ‘school day’ as it is a day long set of tutorials starting at 10am and finishing at 3.15pm. I have really enjoyed the previous two school days I had attended and was highly anticipating this one but it left me a little … deflated and unmotivated, sadly. The first tutorial was good. The tutor is very engaging and likes to be very interactive with the students and that’s great. I personally found the topic of this block of four the least ‘interesting’ for me. I don’t know why? Perhaps because I studied the week prior to the block of SM gigs I had coming up, maybe? I should have found it quite interesting as I do love the visual arts, but of the visual arts, sculpture is something that I love most in its modern form and we were looking at Greek and Roman sculpture – from the Archaic Greek (used in its purely academic context), through to the Classical Greek, to the Roman style and only just coming into the time of CE (after the birth of Christ) – to the first and second centuries CE. So…very much NOT modern sculpture. It was enjoyable enough though. 

The next was ‘The Blues’ and this was where my interest lies the most especially for working on my next assessment. I am still weighing up whether to work on my assignment topic as being this, or whether I take a flying leap of faith in myself and take the ‘Writing Stories’ topic and hope for the best? The tutor was engaging but … I didn’t feel like I was getting good guidance or being instructed with much clarity and there were some technical issues that were hindering the tutorial so I came away from it feeling somewhat disappointed. 

We took a break for lunch. The creative writing (ie: Writing Stories) tutorial was next. It was a really tough study week for me, this topic. I didn’t feel any more confident about it being the next tutorial as I took my lunch break. I was dreading it in actual fact. The reality was ssooo different! The tutor scared the crap out of me at the beginning of the tutorial by saying “I am going to give you all time to write something out today”. I had flashbacks of the rare days I’d be in school and we would be given writing tasks and there’s me, staring at a blank page as the minutes tick by and I am paralysed with indecision and inability to put pen to paper on command. 

I embraced it when it came time. We were at least given a starting point. I ran with my starting point and wrote out nearly 200 words in the 10 minutes we were allotted to continue on with one of the story arc options we could choose from. When the tutor returned, we were given another 5 minutes to develop the story from a different perspective. I then wrote out another 80 odd words in the 5 minute allotted block. Both pieces were fluent, linear pieces of imagery and dialogue. Proper scenes. I was really pleased with that. Whether I do anything with it? Whether it becomes part of what I produce for my assignment? At this stage I am unsure. The next assignment is just over three weeks away and although I have done some minor planning (producing a plan is part of the mark for the next assignment), I am still weighing up on deciding my topic.

I seem to have to keep reminding myself who I am. A psychiatrist would have a field day with me, I’m sure! Also…nothing REMOTELY embarrassing revealed in some of the scribble, eh?

Finally, the last tutorial was on reading poetry. I have not studied the unit yet. I will be doing that this week (before Paris!). The tutor was not very engaging and got bogged down on the details of what was required and expected of students if they choose to take the reading poetry unit as their assignment topic. About halfway through I was losing the will to live! I was not engaged with this tutorial at all and I started doodling on this large brown cardboard backed envelope I have on my desk. (See the photo above for all the gory details.) We finished a little early – just after 3pm. I was ssoooo grateful!

Anyway, this was meant to be BRIEF! I’ve taken up half the post with my uni crap! Sorry! It’s the current grapple I have with this blog! I keep wanting to keep this current and fresh with Simple Minds news – but my own personal stuff is occupying my time.

In summary – THERE IS A NEW SIMPLE MINDS ALBUM(s?) TO LOOK FORWARD TO! And…with a new album comes a new tour (one would pretty much guarantee to assume).

YAY!!!

Summer Punch – Creative Writing Coursework

Yes! I am going to talk about study on my ‘Simple Minds’ blog – sorry. Take no notice of it if it doesn’t appeal. There will be more on this to come tomorrow and you can ignore that too, if you so wish – but in between running this blog and being ‘obsessed’ with all things SM – this is what my days consist of.

This week has been on creative writing and taking the first steps in learning the craft. One task we were given was to write out a scene that would be placed within the broader scope of a short story or novel. It needed to have some fundamental elements to it and to the best of my ability I gave it a try. I’ll elaborate more on this tomorrow, but for now, I just wanted to share my attempt at writing the scene out on here. Not sure why? Just so it could be viewed by other sets of eyes other than my own – but not many. I think fewer people look at my blog than they do my Facebook page so I feel a little less …. vulnerable here. Anyway…here goes…

This is the second draft. The third draft I removed the first paragraph as ‘dead wood’ but it might actually still work and be needed in the context of a broader story.


Wishaw Street is a short, steep street with a steady incline at one end and a steeper incline at the other. Edwina’s house was located near the apex on the steady incline end of the street, while Leonora’s house was closer to the apex at the steep incline end. Their houses were on opposite sides of the street. 

Today Edwina was feeling happy. It was the summer holidays and she was proudly riding around on the street with the new bicycle she had been given for Christmas. The handlebars gleamed shining chrome in the bright, warm sunshine. She loved her new bike and the sense of freedom it gave her as she rode around with it. 

At first Edwina hadn’t noticed Leonora at the side of the road until there was a shout of ‘Your bike is crap and so are you. Go home!’ Leonora and her family had now lived on Wishaw Street for four years. Edwina could barely remember a time since they arrived in which she didn’t feel confined to her own back garden through fear of Leonora’s bullying threats and cruel intentions. 

Today Edwina had had enough. Leonora’s latest insult was the straw that had broken the camel’s back. It was one thing to insult her personally, but to insult her wonderful new bike was a step too far. Leonora had mouthed her final insult. 

Incandescent with rage, her cheeks burning red hot and nerves churning away in the pit of her stomach like Jupiter’s Big Red Spot, Edwina dismounted her bike. Abandoning it in such a haste that it fell to a heap on the curbside. A sharp pang of guilt striking Edwina as the audible thud of the bike hitting the curb reached her ears. ‘My precious bike!’, she screamed inwardly. 

Edwina was now trembling, not from fear of what she was about to do having any repercussions but from the despair of having been driven to take such drastic action. Crying uncontrollably. Tears streaming down her face. Salty water trickling into her open mouth as she gasped for breath and inner strength, Edwina walked up to Leonora and punched her on her left cheek. 

Still crying inconsolably, she turned around, collected her disregarded bike and walked with it the short way back to her front garden. Once again disregarding her bike near the porch by the front door, Edwina opened the screen door and ran into the arms of her mother standing in the living room.

Mozart Music Monday

Mondays to me now are very much study days. And as I settle into a rhythm and routine pattern of study, Monday is the “get back to it!” day.

Saturdays are technically the start of a new study week and I am trying to keep ahead of time and not allow myself to fall behind on my coursework. I am in a very fortunate position to do that, I know, and so I intend to take full advantage of it.

My new study week begins on either Thursday or Friday. I allow myself a day off any study at all on Sunday and then are able to take enough downtime away during the rest of the week not to feel overwhelmed by the whole thing.

In this way, Sundays are a complete no-no for any study at all. And so Monday is “Right! Back to it, girly!“ – which now means that Monday morning my mind is filled with all the stuff I have been taking in on my subject of study so far and that Minds Music Monday is becoming somewhat of an after thought. I know!!

This week the study is on Mozart and I am absolutely loving it! Whoever organised this module (I think it’s a man called Richard Jones…? I’ll have to check that…) knew where my mind needed to be at after the stress of submitting my first assignment – with music.

I feel more in my comfort zone this week, which I know is not where you should be if you want your mind open to learning and expanding but I am not ENTIRELY within my comfort zone. The zone itself – music – is a comfort, but I have never, EVER studied ANY classical music like this before. Or Mozart either. My knowledge of classical music would leave plenty of space left on a postcard in all honesty. But the subject also plays to my strength, or what I hope is a strength, or one that I really would LIKE to be a strength – interpreting music and defining it.

I am loving listening to the music we’re being asked to listen to and to describe it and understand it in construct and contextually. To understand the tie between the music and Mozart and his reputation. As a consequence, Mozart’s Piano Sonata No.11, 3rd Movement, “Rondo Alla Turca” has been a constant earworm since I heard it as an identifiable Mozart piece (as I am obviously familiar with some classical pieces, but from Chopin, Arvo Part and the odd piece here and there, I don’t know which piece of music belongs to which composer) on Friday.

This whole block of study for the next four weeks really has me excited, for instead of historical figures, we’ll actually be looking at the arts and certain people within the arts – Mozart, Mary Wollstonecraft, Charles Dickens and Van Gogh.

Anyway! All of this is a preamble to say that for this week, because I sat here this morning thinking “OH BUGGER! IT’S MONDAY – IE: MINDS MUSIC MONDAY!” and I had nothing other than Mozart in my head, I decided to turn it into Mozart Music Monday instead. Lol

And I am sorry for all the student talk! I will try and be a bit less “my student days” and more “Oh, yeah, this site is about Simple Minds, eh?” here. But for now, enjoy this off-topic earworm.

Review: Warm Digits – The Cluny, Newcastle – 16/12/2021

What can one say about the year 2021? Not a lot. It started out quite abysmally and it took quite a few months before things slowly started to feel like they were getting better. We deluded ourselves we were getting on top of Covid. The vaccine roll out happened and the FM (First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon) seemed pretty driven to get the Scottish population fully vaccinated as quickly as possible. Even now, statistically, compared to the rest of the UK, Scotland has the highest rate of vaccinated residents in the UK (I believe). As good as those stats are – a new variant has come along and now there is a new “evil” word joining Covid – Omicron! Covid cases are on the rise once more and there is a drive for booster vaccines to be given to as much of the population as possible in the quickest time.

This year I have been to as many gigs as I got to go to in 2020 before the Covid shit hit the fan – ie: not many at all. A couple of gigs I had chosen not to go to due to my own concerns still. Two gigs at Barrowland Ballroom I didn’t attend were John Grant and Manic Street Preachers. My list of gigs I went to is: Scritti Politti, Field Music (they were also one of my 2020 gigs), and Warm Digits (also on my 2020 list). I should have been going to one final gig this evening – to see Memes at McChuills. I had already decided I wasn’t going to attend it. I had taken enough risk seeing Thursday night’s Warm Digits gig. The good news is that in light of the Omicron variant and new restrictions coming into place, Memes have rescheduled their gig to April 1st next year.

The Warm Digits gig I have been concerned about for weeks. After the previous gig of going to the Stag and Dagger in Edinburgh to see them, and the disappointment of them having to cancel their Glasgow gig – and not being able to go to their gig in Manchester, it was all hinging on Newcastle. It had been a long while since I saw them play a full set and I really, really NEEDED to see a full set!

But with everything that hit with Omicron, I had my doubts about if I should go? Everything else I had put in place, determined to get there. I had purchased return train tickets straight after the Edinburgh Stag and Dagger and booked a room at a hotel nearest the venue. 

Other things were also playing on my mind. I actually thought the Covid things would be the thing of lesser concern. Vaccines were happening. Precautions were in place. I was worried weather would be a factor and had there been snowfall then that could stuff up the running of train services, etc, etc. Then about a week or so before the gig, this Omicron variant was spreading like nobody’s business around the world and I started to freak out. Esp. once Boris started talking about potentially going into lockdown again! I started to have my doubts that I would even be allowed to travel. And what happens if I end up going to England – will they let me back into Scotland on Friday? 

On Thursday morning I received a letter from SAAS about my application of my part-time fee grant. I was awarded the grant! Yay! But because this was my first time applying for the grant, I wasn’t sure how to interpret the letter other than I had been granted partial funding because the award was only for so much of the fee. So that left me believing I would somehow have to stump up the rest. I wanted clarity on this though and contacted the OU. They said I needed to specifically speak to the Scotland region of the OU, as they directly handle the fees and grant awards for Scottish OU students. During busy times though when you call the OU in Scotland number and the lines are busy, the calls are filtered through to the main OU phone lines in England. My call got filtered through to England twice. The second time, the adviser on the line said he’d put in a callback request for me so someone from OU in Scotland would call me back. Great. That was all good. But equally I am leaving for Newcastle with this worry that I am going to have to find 40% of the fee for the course! It was casting serious doubt on whether I could go ahead with my study. 

I packed a bag. Had a shower and got ready to head off to Newcastle. 

All the travel was running smoothly. Train into the city from Ashfield was on time. Arrived at Queen Street in good time for the connecting Edinburgh express train. Arrived at Edinburgh just after 2pm and the connecting train that was heading to London was already there on the platform. Found my carriage and seat and got comfy. About 40 minutes later we stop at Berwick-upon-Tweed, which looks like an absolutely STUNNING place, and is somewhere I’d definitely like to go and check out in the future.

Just after we pull out of Berwick, I get my callback from Ou in Scotland. I explained that I received the award letter in the post earlier that morning and had said I had been awarded so much – a partial award and wanted to check what I needed to do to pay the rest of the fee. The person on the phone asked me to clarify the award amount I was given, which I told them. “That is the maximum award they have given you. The university pays the rest. You have nothing to pay.” I don’t think I have ever been so relieved or felt so thankful for a phone call in a long while. I was like “Oh, my God! That’s incredible! I am so, so relieved. This is fantastic! Thank you so, so much!” I was on a cloud! So buoyed by that news. And just…so relieved and able to relax. 

It was pretty dark by the time I arrived in Newcastle. The sun had set and there was minimal twilight left. I decided to get a taxi to the Premier Inn I was staying at. Taxis were straight outside the exit from the station so I grabbed one and arrived at the Premier Inn several minutes later. 

Had a quick drink and a snack and after about an hour, I decided to head to The Cluny. I could see on Google Maps it was a really short walk to there from the Premier Inn. Less than half a mile. But it isn’t a busy part of the city and I was a little worried about the walk. But I knew that it would hardly be a taxi driver’s worth to come and collect me from the Premier Inn to drive me, quite literally, down the road and around the corner. So I walked it. But OMG, I was freaking out doing it! But I made it there safely (obviously!) but there was NO WAY I was going to take that walk back to the hotel after the gig. One, I knew by then my legs will have given out on me, and two, by 11.15pm, those streets will be even MORE terrifying. 

When I get to The Cluny, I familiarise myself with the place again and go to the back of the pub and upstairs to the quiet “lounging” area. I take a seat on the sofa and have been there all of a few minutes when I hear music start up and realise it’s Andy and Steve going through their soundcheck. Not only that, I can hear that they are rehearsing their Christmas song – Good Enough For You This Christmas. From the time of Edinburgh I had been saying “The Cluny is a Christmas gig. You HAVE to do the Christmas song! You just have to!” 

I got up off the sofa and snuck in through the doors of the auditorium in front of me. I stood towards the back, enjoying my little exclusive preview. Andy looked up at one point and I waved like a loon at him, grinning away that they were rehearsing the song. 

Steve was to the side of the stage and couldn’t quite see me from where I was standing, so when the song ended I shouted “YaaaaaaY!!!!” and that was Steve alerted to my presence and, bless him, he smiled and said “you made it! Excellent!”

Not only are Warm Digits bloody amazing musically – but Steve and Andy are just such lovely, lovely guys. They always make me feel welcome and they never make me feel a pest for wanting to hang out with them. They are just so, so fab. Speaking of FAB! We had a bite to eat together before the gig. Andy and I are very much “team Get Back”, the both of us waxing lyrical about what we thought of it and how great it was and how we’re both well up for completely ODing on the notion that Peter Jackson says he will eventually release all 60 HOURS of the footage! 

To the crux of the matter – the gig itself. There were two support acts. But with first support had to pull out of the gig unfortunately. That left Dextro as the sole support act. I really enjoyed his set. There’s quite a kind of “trance” vibe going on with his music. I find it hard to get into music with a lot of space like that and not much of a “groove” as such – more loops and repetition at a standing venue. I feel like it is more a style of music that needs to be enjoyed sitting down. As much as I was enjoying his set, after a while it started to play havoc with me and I feared I was about to have a vasovagal attack so I left the auditorium and went and sat on one of the sofas back out through the far doors. Just to give myself 5-10 minutes to compose myself and get my breathing under control. I was doing deep breathing inside to try and ward off the feeling but I was starting to feel like I better go and sit down for a few minutes while I was able to.

I went back and was able to enjoy the final 10 minutes of his set without the fear of keeling over.

Again, I will say that I enjoyed his set, but I would need to be at a seated venue to enjoy his set fully. I would see him again. I had checked out his music on Spotify before the gig and I liked what I was hearing and was interested in seeing him.

Hear more from Dextro by checking out his bandcamp page – https://dextro.bandcamp.com

As for Warm Digits? FANTASTIC! They sounded great from the off. The Cluny’s acoustics are fabulous and they get great sound guys in, I think. The levels were perfect. Nothing was too loud or distorted – so very different to how Edinburgh was. Crowd wise, despite Steve and Andy’s concerns there might only be a very small crowd, there was about (conservatively) 50 people in, which obviously doesn’t sound much – but given all other factors, it was pretty darn good. And everyone there was really into it and having a great time. It was great to see people enjoying themselves. And it was great for Andy and Steve too because of course they get to bounce off the reaction and appreciation from the crowd and it circles round. It was a lovefest in that room!

And it was just so great to hear a full set! To have things like Frames And Cages, Fools Tomorrow and False Positive (which now seems a wonderfully prescient title for that track!) on the setlist, as well as Flight Of Ideas stalwarts Feel The Panic and The View From Nowhere playing. Replication had been played a few times as well over the past 18 months but Thursday night allowed a great showcase of tracks from Flight Of Ideas. But there was a great mix of older tracks in the set too, End Times was sounding the best I’d ever heard it and Rumble And The Tremor was bloody fab too. Then quite the oldie, playing Connected Coast from their Interchange album. 

After the world’s shortest “end” of the gig was the encore with the much enjoyed (by me especially) Good Enough For You This Christmas and then a finish with the fabulous title track from Wireless World. 

The best. Just the best! Everything I was anticipating this gig to be. Nothing disappointed. The guys played great, the sound was fab. Everything was on the mark. And I was buzzing. And I wasn’t the only one. 

It’s still not been the easiest of years this 2021, but at least live…musically, for me it has ended on a real high. 

Thanks once again to Andy and to Steve for not only being my favourite band in the entire universe (along with Simple Minds) but for also being such wonderful men and being ever so great to your number one fan – in Glasgow, at least. I really hope to see you guys out there on the road again next year.

Pictorial Passion – Musical Years In Review – 2021 and 1982

Last night Spotify revealed my yearly listening stats to me. There was no real surprise to find Simple Minds at the top of the tree yet again! And that Boys From Brazil was my top track for seventh year running. All the SM tracks in my Top 5 played tracks of 2021 all came from Sons And Fascination and given it was the 40th anniversary of the album, that would be of no surprise to anyone.

My latter love for Jonathan Richman shows itself in him being at number five of my Top 5 played artists.

My top podcast showed how much I have been enjoying Frank Gallagher’s Soundman Confidential this year. I love the bit about that yes, it’s okay for you to consider the host a member of your family now. Lol. Never in a million hears did I ever think I’d be having little online exchanges with Frank! I felt that Jim always made him sound intimidating as fuck, but he’s brilliant and is always wonderful. And even comments on my FB posts sometimes…which I find amazing that he’s sitting there in Flagstaff, AZ, reading my complete pap! Just last week he responded to one of my posts about enrolling in the OU for my Higher Ed. English diploma and my endless self-doubt. His response was “drive til they take the keys away”. I responded by asking him to “spread some gallus my way”. He replied back, “you don’t need anyone’s permission to be yourself”. He’s lovely. Just lovely.

Of course there is much more music I listen to outside of Spotify so it isn’t 100% everything I listen to. I have been listening to SM live bootlegs and gigs much more this year and that won’t be reflected on Spotify stats, just as one example.

Here’s the breakdown of it in full visual splendour.

Lastly, today sees the release of Classic Pop magazine’s retro look back to all things 1982 in a dedicated special issue. In amongst the artists and bands discussed is a piece on the art side of music which features Malcolm Garrett. And of course the main feature to do with Simple Minds is a look through New Gold Dream. There’s a part of it that covers the official videos released. They mention the Promised You A Miracle and Glittering Prize videos. Someone Somewhere In Summertime was the third single from the album and therefore should have had a video released but one was never made. Instead the magazine talked about this one (below). I love what is said about Jim’s moves. Lol. You’ll not be surprised to learn that I adore this video and quite a bit of art from me has come from it. I will leave my favourite example of that at the end of the post.

Click to play Someone Somewhere In Summertime video.

Better Write? (Off Topic Yet Somehow Relevant)

When does a hobby become a career? 

Today I have been looking at the University of Strathclyde site, looking at courses – and all of it, every single bit of it feels so out of reach!

I looked at undergrad courses. Pipe dreams! I looked at the Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. I looked at what was required for entry (yikes!), fees, etc. That one really is shooting for the moon!

The next one I looked at is English and Creative Writing & Journalism, Media and Communication. That needed quite a level of education as well. But could I achieve the “baby steps” it would take to get there? 

Yesterday I was at the site looking at the Centre for Lifelong Learning. There are online courses in Creative Writing. Starting at the beginner “Kindling” stage, progressing to the “Feeding the Flame” stage, then on to “Ablaze”, then finally “Inferno”. Each course is online and lasts 10 weeks. But the progressive classes don’t seem to follow on in stages through the year, so this would be year by year. It’s a drawn out process. If I was to enrol in the “Kindling” course and really enjoyed it and gained something from it, I know I’d just want to move on and on. Not wait until the next year, then the next year and the next.

Adult learning terrifies me now. It’s been a long time since I stepped into anything like this. Especially in a way like this, that requires study – with your brain engaged! The last adult education course I did was a photography course and that was over 15 years ago now.

I cried this morning looking at the course. Wanting to take the plunge but feeling no confidence in my ability to do it well at all. The whole social side of it terrifies the life out of me! Even in an online way. Talking with other students via Zoom style meetings. I’ve tried distance learning in the past (pre-Internet) and I didn’t do very well at it. 

The tears were because…it just feels so massive already! It should be an exciting prospect and fun! But to me it feels like this is my last chance to try and DO SOMETHING – and if I fail? I feel defeated before I have even begun!

There’s a testimony of the course from a lady named Mary Elizabeth Wylie. She’s 88 years old and has just published her first book. She started the Creative Writing course at 75. Seventy-Five! I should feel inspired by her story, but it still just sounds like a glorified hobby.

It just feels like folly. Another one of my dreams that’ll go nowhere. How do I justify spending out “hunners” of pounds for each of these short courses? For it then to be 2025 and I am enrolled in a full-on university degree in English and Creative Writing & Journalism, Media and Communication. And then that is “hunners” times ten!

To feel able to string some words together on paper is a vastly different thing to where all this could go. And it is PETRIFYING! I feel almost physically sick at the prospect of it. Study. Focus. Deadlines. Submitting work to be scrutinised and graded. 

Currently I am a happy but disillusioned amatuer. Do I want to be a professional? Perhaps turned careerist? 

Aspects of the course that I hope I’d gain from it are appealing. To feel much more competent AND confident in my writing would be fabulous. To potentially feel more adept at working to a deadline and handling the pressure that brings. 

I am in “serious pondering” mode. I am considering it. And I wish the idea of the leap didn’t make me feel so sick to my stomach. I should be filled with enthusiasm! But, perhaps it is as David Bowie suggested?