Sloshed

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I joined Hospital Radio Lennox when I was 16, primarily to complete the community service section of my Boys Brigade Queens badge, but I’ll admit the idea of being a ‘DJ’ tapped into my love of music. That plus the fact that a friend was already doing the same thing which brought a level of comfort knowing that there would be a familiar face there.

A few years later, long after I left the Boys Brigade behind me, I was still going along to do the request show on a Thursday, occasionally covering other timeslots and, even better I was starting to help out on Friday and Saturday nights doing discos! As Hospital Radio was a charity we were a reasonably cheap alternative to the usual local DJs (the ones who yak over every damn record at the party!) and I have to admit, I loved doing them.

We were mostly hired to do birthday or engagement parties – with the notable exception being the local school Christmas disco where we got to play chart music! – and after a few of these you start to get a sense of which records to play and when to play them, and more importantly what tracks to chain together to keep people on the dance floor.

For example, what you play BEFORE the buffet doesn’t really matter all that much but AFTER the buffet is when you break out the disco tracks, the Abbas, the soul classics, and 70s rock standards; I’m still amazed how many people will dance to the Stones (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

My post-buffet track of choice was always Disco Inferno by the Trammps, from which you could head to ABC by the Jacksons, or maybe crank it up for some RESPECT (Aretha or Erasure depending on audience age) and so on until it was THAT TIME OF THE EVENING.

THAT TIME OF THE EVENING was the point towards the latter end of the night, when you’ve got a constant stream of people bopping away and you’ve spotted that the Aunties (it was always the Aunties!) had already had a few dances and had sat back down for a few songs to get a wee rest, THAT was the moment you reached for the dog-eared copy of a Daniel Boone album, and cued up Beautiful Sunday…

Memories of those nights came flooding back to me last weekend at a wedding reception I was attending, as the opening bars of that song belted out I was hauled up to dance along, and within a few seconds I was lock step with everyone else on the dancefloor, doing the Slosh.

After the song ended I returned to my chair to the utterly bemused looks from a friend and her partner. I can’t recall exactly how she phrased it but I’m pretty sure it was something along the lines of “What was THAT?”… it was about then I realised that the Slosh is not a UK wide phenomenon (at least not any more).

Now, if you are from the West of Scotland (or perhaps Central Belt?) then even if you don’t recall it, you’ll no doubt have seen this odd little line-dance style performance to the aforementioned track. If not, you are going to the wrong parties…

After a bit of googling it turns out that the dance originated back in the 70s (which matches the timeline for the Daniel Boone track it’s associated with), and apparently there is a Belfast version as well, called The Slush (I kid you not).

Quite why it has persisted for so long in certain parts of Scotland – but not others as a highlander friend of mine confirmed – is beyond me. It’s not that great a song, nor that interesting a dance, and if I had to hazard a guess I’d suggest there is something to do with social class involved as well – dance as an outlet of joy amidst poverty, the weekly outing to the Barrowlands when it was still used as a Ballroom etc etc – but regardless it remains a staple of wedding receptions and parties across the land.

Still confused? Here it is being performed in its traditional setting.

Edinburgh Fringe

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Every year I head through to Edinburgh for a day or two during the madness of the festival season. Ostensibly I’m there to catch up with my friends as one of them works at the Tattoo every year, and it’s a good excuse to enjoy some beers and random fringe shows on his day off.

And so it was that we came to find ourselves heading to Underbelly to watch Knightmare Live. Remember Knightmare? The ITV kids show that followed the young adventurers on their quests.

Where am I? You are in a room.

I wasn’t an ardent fan of Knightmare but I remember the basic premise of it; one adventurer is in the ‘map’ (think Dungeons and Dragons style scenarios) with an opaque helmet on, they are then guided through each impenetrable stage by their team mates who are watching everything unfold thanks to some (back then) state of the art computer graphics.

That’s about all you needed to know to watch the Live show which, as it’s on during the fringe, has a more grown-up attitude. The adventurer is plucked from a list of volunteers in the audience, and the team mates are two comedians drafted in to help. Whilst it has the same basic structure, it pulls on improv and whilst I was skeptical going in I thoroughly enjoyed it in all its silly glory. This is not high-brow entertainment, but that’s part of the fun of the fringe, especially when they craft a costume back stage based on audience suggestions for a fearsome monster… which turned out to be a mushroom picking spider (it was funnier than it sounds!).

After that we partook of some more light beverages then made our way down to the circus stage and – after bumping into some friends because Scotland really is that small a place – we took our (ahem comp’d) seats for Acéléré by Circolombia. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but what was delivered was a writhing, muscular, sensuous display of high flying acrobatics and salsa driven funk. Utterly captivating performances, with some spellbinding artistic moments, it was a corker of a show throughout which the audience, myself included, was frequently heard gasping in astonishment and making ‘ohhhh my god no they aren’t going to do that….’ noises.

Whether flying through the air in a tumbling mass of limbs, slowly spiralling high above our heads on pieces of rope, or slowly raising and contorting themselves around a large metal frame that was balancing on someone else’s head, each different act held us rapt. It’s a rare fringe show that can make an hour pass so quickly, letting us forget our numb bums and crammed limbs, but I lost all sense of time whilst we watched in awe at these beautiful, strong, and graceful individuals who all seemed to have as much fun in-between the acts as they salsa’d across the stage, as they were serious and focused when it came to performing their own feats.

Their standing ovation was both prompt, heartfelt, and very very well earned. Definitely not your average circus acrobatics show!


A sampling of Circolombia, and a reminder of Knightmare

Weekend Reading

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  • In Defense of Rachel and Joey (with tweets)
    A well reasoned argument about why Joey should’ve ended up with Rachel (and why Ross is an asshole). 100 tweets in Storify format.
    Interesting reading this so long after Friends aired. I’m more aware now than then and WOW, Ross is a dick.
  • Sorry, Google memo man: women were in tech long before you
    James Damore’s controversial manifesto says women are genetically unsuited to tech roles. Doesn’t he know they were the original computer programmers? We’ve all met him.
    Men are dicks.
  • Why Are There No New Major Religions?
    The story of one imprisoned prophet illustrates the difficulties of getting a “baby religion” off the ground. Cipinang prison stands like a huge fortress in East Jakarta, its massive walls and guard towers separating the city’s bustling traffic from the criminals held within its gates.
    Isn’t social media the new religion? Nuances abound but this is fascinating (for a non-believer)
  • The Loveliest Living Fossil
    The ocean of ideas, teeming with words and numbers, is underpinned by a vast tectonic plate that’s powerfully transforming the language. It’s the force that gives rise to new continents of meaning, while it inters the remains of countless extinct species.
    This weeks ‘If you only read one post read this’ entry.
  • Letter of Recommendation: Gum
    Chewing gum usually comes in two forms, either small, pillow-shaped pellets or flat, oblong sticks.
    Juicy Fruit though, yay or nay?
  • I’m a Google Manufacturing Robot and I Believe Humans Are Biologically Unfit to Have Jobs in Tech
    I, a manufacturing robot at Google Factory C4.7, value diversity and inclusion. I also do not deny that machines are sometimes given preference to humans in the workplace. All I’m suggesting in this document is that humans’ underrepresentation in tech is not due to discrimination.
    Ha ha ha… except this is an article from the year 2076 and it’s ALL REAL.
  • MIT scientists created “living” jewelry that moves
    Scientists from the MIT Media Lab believe that future jewelry should not be static, but “living objects on the body.” So they developed Kino, a line of jewelry that can move and interact with the environment.
    AKA tiny little robot death ninjas that will kill you in your sleep.
  • How to turn off Facebook Memories
    Sadly, not all the memories Facebook throws up in its On This Day feature are as happy as the one in the publicity photo above. Inspired by this incredibly sad post, we want to show you how to turn off Facebook Memories if you don’t want to see the posts anymore.
    Useful for many reasons.
  • A comprehensive guide to the new science of treating lower back pain
    Cathryn Jakobson Ramin’s back pain started when she was 16, on the day she flew off her horse and landed on her right hip. For the next four decades, Ramin says her back pain was like a small rodent nibbling at the base of her spine.
    I occasionally get back spasms but at least they only last a day or so.. constant pain is a horrible horrible thing.
  • 20 Essential Truths That Women Over 50 Want To Share With Younger Women
    Do you know that there’s something that happens to a woman when she turns 50? Call it an awakening of sorts; or, for so many, a tipping point.
    Lessons for all genders in here.
  • 11 Ways That I, a White Man, Am Not Privileged
    1. I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon. That’s right, I had to work for what I’m given. When I went to college, I worked hard for those grades. I didn’t get in on nothing, I took school seriously! I worked each day to pay my rent and my tuition. 2. I earned my job.
    YEAH! PREACH!! Finally a voice for us white men that … uhh… wait, what? OH SHIT [this is sarcasm people]

  • Notoriously Dapper’s Kelvin Davis is Inspiring Body Confidence in Men
    Kelvin Davis is a body-positive men’s fashion blogger. He is a model for Chubbies, an admin for Eff Your Beauty Standards, a dancer, a modern-day gentleman, a style icon, and a celebrator of body positivity on Instagram.
    As a larger gent I’m looking for more of this. I need some body positivity in my life that reflects me.
  • Uber’s “next chapter” won’t include Travis Kalanick as CEO
    Uber’s “next chapter” won’t include Travis Kalanick as CEO, co-founder Garrett Camp said in an Aug. 7 email to employees. “It’s time for a new chapter, and the right leader for our next phase of growth,” Camp wrote, according to a copy of the memo obtained by Quartz.
    Good.

  • An Algorithm Trained on Emoji Knows When You’re Being Sarcastic on Twitter
    Scroll through Twitter and you’ll find plenty of sarcastic comments—not to mention lots of cases where sarcasm apparently went straight over someone’s head.
    Yeah right, as if! [this is not sarcasm, I just watched Clueless recently]

  • How to win every sexist argument: an 11-point guide
    This. This this this this this. I might even print each one out a few times so I can hand them out accordingly. “Ahhh point 5.. here you go”.
  • I work in a tech company and started talking about feminism — this is what happened
    It all started with our HR manager suggesting a new knowledge sharing format on our intranet. The aim was not to talk about our daily work or our products but to discuss non-work-related topics we know and care about.
    Talk is good. Always. ALWAYS. (Except in cinemas, and at the theatre, and … ok GOOD TALK at APPROPRIATE TIMES is good… whatever).

  • The Left’s Supporting Role in American Hate Theater
    On the second Saturday in July, more than 1,000 people showed up in a small Southern city to shout down the Ku Klux Klan. That very same afternoon, up North, left-wing counter-protesters chased a band of alt-right Proud Boys out of a public park where they’d tried to rally.
    The battle continues in joyless, horrible, self-perpetuity

Let the gigs begin

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I mentioned the upcoming run of gigs I have and last Friday was the next on the list. I’d been off work a few days beforehand and if I’m honest I probably should’ve stayed at home and rested, but sometimes you just have to push through. YOLO!

And so me and a couple of friends found ourselves enviously eyeing up the clever people who had brought cushions whilst we sat on cold hard concrete and waited for the ever entertaining KT Tunstall to appear on stage at the Kelvingrove Bandstand.

I love this venue (but must remember a cushion next time!). It’s a wonderful little outdoor amphitheatre in the middle of Kelvingrove park, and even though that usually means you have to be prepared for a shower or two, it feels small enough to be intimate but that wide open space to the sky above you that makes everything a little more magical.

We got there in time for the last few songs from the support act – Pictish Trail – who, whilst having plenty of energy, seemed to have forgotten about some slightly more important things like melody…

It was as the sun started to head to the horizon that our tiny hero of the evening strode on stage and after a quick hello launched into Saving My Face. I mention this only as part apology to my friends, on whom I’d foisted a Spotify playlist of tracks in preparation for the gig, as I entirely missed this one!

The full setlist is here but I think she hit the mark with each choice and remains one of the better artists at mixing old songs with new, ohhh and check out that cover version which had everyone screeching their way to those top notes (and my sincerest apologies to Andy Bell for utterly butchering that song in my attempt to mimic his falsetto).

I’ve seen KT a few times, although mostly solo, and it was nice to hear more of the back story of her breakthrough appearance on Jools Holland where she hilariously explained her ‘costume choices’ that day…

And it’s here where she shines. The in-between moments, the casual banter, the bringing together of a disparate group of people – as she points out, never before and never again will that exact group of people be in the same space at the same time – into one big shared experience. Her gigs are all the richer for it and, similar to Guy Garvey, you get the sense that she would be just a cool person to hang with over a pint or three and ohhh boy would there be a lot of laughter!

Personal highlight for me was watching the realisation on the faces of my friends when they figured out what was going on when KT brought out her kazoo during Black Horse and the Cherry Tree (no spoilers but if you’ve seen her live you’ll know!), and I have to admit that during a couple of her slower songs as dusk set in and the spotlit trees behind the stage slowly cycled through a rainbow of colours I felt a real sense of pride and happiness. There I was, watching a talented Scottish artist performing in my dear green place all in the company of my closest friends.

Not a bad way to start off gig season, not a bad way at all.

Writing less to write more

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This year, as some of you may have noticed, I’ve managed to stick to a schedule on this ‘ere blog by posting something every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

The aim was to keep myself writing, regardless of quality or length, in the hopes that it would carry over into my other creative writing exploits elsewhere.

Alas, in the latter regard, it hasn’t really worked.

I think because the process I use to craft (ha!) a blog post and how I approach longer fictional writing differs quite dramatically (pun intended) so, despite them being essentially the same sort of thing (write some words), I don’t seem to get any flow from one format to the other.

In hindsight, it should’ve been obvious. I mean if it was just about churning out words then surely tweets should count and be part of the contribution? Not to mention the countless (endless!) emails, presentations, and documents I produce at work. Alas no, there is a different focus, a bigger world I need to step into when it comes to writing creatively and no amount of cheap words will do.

I say that not to cheapen what I offer here (I doubt anything I say here could do much to cheap the bulk of what I have published!) but the process I use for each format is telling.

Most, if not all, of my blog posts this year have been quickly drafted whenever thought and keyboard collide. I’ll revisit and re-edit most of them once, occasionally twice, and will happily reach for ideas wherever I can get them. For a random focus-less blog that’s just fine, the writing is allowed to vary in style, pace, prose, and content as much as I want (although inevitably it’ll all come out sounding like me anyway). Yet for a longer piece… say, a chapter for a novel… well things get a little more complicated.

Lessons learned abound and I now know that leaping straight in to writing a long piece of fiction with the barest bones of an idea is probably not the best approach for me. It works to a point, and discovering the characters and their traits as I write about them was oddly beguiling, almost maternal as these strangers emerged into people before me. But once I’d bashed out 50,000-odd words (thank you NaNoWriMo) I realised that whilst I liked the premise of the story I was trying to tell, it was falling short of how I wanted to write, and that’s not to mention the style I had seemingly adopted which on reading sections back felt oddly foreign at times. Did I really write that LIKE THAT?

I wrote a lot of words but as I’ve started to pick my way back through that first draft – which will never see the light of day, so don’t ask – I find myself peeling everything back and staring at what’s left in utter bemusement. Eventually I start to re-write, filling in the gaps as best I can until the shape of the very thing I’m trying to sculpt has twisted into something entirely else. All well and good for one chapter but slotting this newly carved piece into the jigsaw of the whole soon becomes a matter of futility, so it’s on to the next piece, and then the next, and soon you aren’t building a jigsaw at all but learning how to water-ski. It’s very off-putting.

Which means that returning to the short form simplicity of a blog post becomes very freeing and the next thing you know, despite starting out to write about how you might be taking a wee break from the blog for a week or so, because you have utterly no idea what to write about (and your recent vomiting bug is very much best left un-discussed) you find yourself realising that you’ll always have something churning about in your brain, you just needed to coax it out into the light and (still) the best way I have of doing that is to just start writing.

And lo I did write, and waffle, and meander through a topic that is specific to me but may be familiar to some (and hey maybe even helpful to another? I can but dream!).

This all goes to say, in as many words as possible (although I do end up boring even myself at times) that I want to congratulate you if you’ve made it this far. God knows I’d have given up several paragraphs ago. Maybe think on it this way; only the few (fool)hardy souls who have ventured to this point will know that I’m now taking classes and learning how to water-ski properly.

Weekend Reading

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Short this week due to spending a couple of days sleeping, vomiting, sleeping, vomiting…

  • Winamp’s woes: How the greatest MP3 player undid itself
    As many of us are busy crafting the perfect playlist for grilling outdoors, most likely such labor is happening on a modern streaming service or within iTunes. But during the last 15 years or so, that wasn’t always the case. Today, we resurface our look at the greatest MP3 player that was—Winamp.
    Ahhhh them were the days. The joy of sorting ID3 tags…

  • For decades, Western culture touted self-esteem. It got the most important thing wrong
    What would you guess people are most stressed out about in their careers? One might assume that hating your job, or dealing with the frustration of finding a new one, would top the list.
    Standard, file under ‘duh’ article that still needs a quick read.

  • The sound illusion that makes Dunkirk so intense
    Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is a nerve-wracking film. Three separate storylines tell the famed World War II tale — where 330,000 Allied forces, surrounded by the enemy, were evacuated from the Northern beaches of France — in a way that feels tense and visually stunning.
    Explains so much. Never felt quite so on edge throughout an entire movie, regardless of what was happening on screen.

  • Palantir: the ‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google
    Peter Thiel’s CIA-backed, data-mining firm honed its ‘crime predicting’ techniques against insurgents in Iraq. The same methods are now being sold to police departments.
    [insert Minority Report references] – that’s some clever, scary, tech.

  • How Scared Should I Be of Macaroni and Cheese?
    Being a first-time father to a 1.5-year-old child means addressing unexpected questions from the first-time grandparents of a 1.5-year-old child.
    Answer: about as scared as you think!

  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge: ‘I felt strongly there was no such thing as a slut’
    Her comedy Fleabag was a bleak and honest depiction of female sexuality that made her an international star. She talks about being a ‘terrible actor’ in her 20s, why women should all go on strike and how success has proved that she’s not crazy.
    IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED FLEABAG YET THEN FECK OFF AND DO IT NOW!!

  • The Golden Age of Bailing
    It’s clear we’re living in a golden age of bailing. All across America people are deciding on Monday that it would be really fantastic to go grab a drink with X on Thursday.
    Ugh. Guilty of this at times, despite knowing that I always feel better after socialising.

  • LEGO Ideas Third 2016 Review Results
    Over the past several months, the LEGO Review Board has carefully reviewed 12 projects that reached 10,000 supporters between September 2016 and January 2017, our third review qualification period of 2016. Sanne, our Project Manager, shares the results from LEGOLAND in Billund:
    HUZZAH!

  • Why We Can’t Have the Male Pill
    The trouble began, as it so often does, with a bottle of Chivas Regal. Back in the 1950s, scientists at Sterling Drug, a now-defunct pharmaceutical company, synthesized a class of chemicals that made male rats temporarily infertile.
    tldr; it’s cos we produce so much sperm every damn day (also the source of many other problems)

  • We Analyzed 1,000 Fortune Cookies To Unlock Their Secrets
    I’m a bit obsessed with fortune cookies. I, an otherwise non-superstitious person, have no fewer than five incidentally meaningful ones stashed away in special places.
    If the internet didn’t exist, would this have happened?

July in Review

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Lived

Highlights

  • TRNSMT Festival: Radiohead
  • Six by Nico: Route 66
  • Attended the Death Do Us Part Danger Show – including getting up on stage and pulling a sword from the mouth of Rachel Atlas
  • Pizza at Paesno with some BootCampers (and Paesno continues to make me ‘meh’)
  • Survived a Subcrawl!

Bootcamp is going ok, my injured knee not withstanding as the guys have been great at giving me alternative exercises. Other than that I’ve started looking for a new job, my current contract ends in October and whilst there is talk of an extension I’ve still not gotten anything in black and white. Daily meditation is continuing, and of course little Lucy continues to be a source of wonder as her personality grows.

Stepcount: 276,079.

Read

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
A re-read for Book Club. I don’t normally re-read books but as I started to get back into this I remember why I enjoyed it the first time around and why it annoyed me towards the end. All about pacing, something the film version handles much better, as some of the scenes in the middle to end sections of the book start to get tedious. That said, I do love the opening section as it’s so easy to place yourself as the young Piscine, wandering the zoo, imagination running riot. However I am starting to see a trend with Booker Prize books, take a solid story arc and pepper it with far too much visualisation and description?

Also good

  • The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith – one year in the early life of what would become a hugely successful Chicago Bulls team, written by a sports reporter, a fascinating look into the inner workings of an NBA team and the massive ego that is Michael Jordan.

Watched

Dunkirk
Where to start. A taut tight tension filled movie that takes a different approach to the visceral opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, instead slowly ratcheting up your heartbeat throughout with some clever pacing, overlapping timelines for the three main ‘stories within the story’ and that soundtrack is something else (check out the next Weekend Reading for why).

It is beautifully shot, utterly bleak and horrifying, taking us into the crux of a war, where sacrifices are made for the greater good. I don’t recall a movie where I felt quite so sucked in to each moment as the movie switches across three different characters.

I didn’t leave the cinema for a few minutes after the final credits rolled. Not because of the tears streaming down my cheeks, but because I was emotionally wrung out and exhausted. If you have an ounce of empathy in your body, this movie will affect you. If you are a lover of a beautiful crafted piece of cinematography and direction, this movie will affect you. If you want a stark reminder of what happened in Dunkirk and just how utterly terrifying it must’ve been to be on that beach, this movie will affect you.

For me, this movie should be shown to children as part of a WWII trilogy (Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List being the other too).

Also good

  • Spiderman: Homecoming – who DOESN’T love Spiderman, right? Thankfully now they’ve sorted out the legal nonsense, Spiderman is brought in to the Marvel/Avengers fold to great effect.
  • Scandal – Starts slow, and is utterly ridiculous at times but very watchable. Think West Wing meets 24..
  • Moana – Yay for Disney! Safe to say that the merger of talent from Pixar is helping them produce some sumptuous looking movies
  • Nocturnal Animals – what’s not to like? Missed this at the cinema but more proof that Amy Adams is surely due an Oscar soon

Listened

With several gigs lined up in the coming months, a lot of my playlists are starting to bend towards those specific artists. However a couple of new albums/artists have snuck on to my radar:

  • At the Drive-In – supporting Royal Blood later in the year, I’m wondering why I haven’t really heard more from these guys. RAWK!
  • Big Thief – who doesn’t like some lightly ethereal vocals and guitaryness?
  • Sleaford Mods – VERY late to this party, but there is something wonderful about the stripped down anger of this that really resonates
  • IDLES – a nice companion for the Sleaford Mods
  • Perfume Genius – undecided… I think I like this a lot, but very mood dependant

Subcrawled

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Not everyone is aware that Glasgow has a subway system. It doesn’t have the cachet of the London Underground, the Paris Metro, or the sprawling NYC system, but it’s been shoogling people around since 1896. And I do mean “around” as there are only two lines on the Glasgow Subway, Inner Circle or Outer Circle which as their names suggest, confirm that the system is one big loop around Glasgow (technically one line, just two tracks!).

There are 15 stops on the Subway and all except one have a pub near them so naturally, as we Glasgwegians are fond of a shandy or three, it has been known for groups of people to attempt to circumnavigate the Subway, stopping for an alcoholic beverage at every pub on the way. AKA The Subcrawl.

There are variations that include not sitting down on the Subway itself, and often fancy dress is involved, but the basic goal is to have a drink at each stop – Shields Road being the exception – and so it came to pass that last Saturday saw me meet up with a band of merry idiots as we set off on not only a Subcrawl but a Stagcrawl!

So at midday we ordered the first drink to mark the beginning of the loop at St. Enochs with the plan to go south of the river first, towards Govan and Ibrox, before crossing back under the mighty River Clyde to the West most point of the subway at Partick.

Like most big cities, there are some parts which don’t have the best reputation (the aforementioned Ibrox being an example due to ties to a certain blue football team, and orange coloured walks) but equally this is Glasgow, a place known for it’s friendly nature and, as if proof were needed, our smiles were returned in each pub and we were welcomed in warmly by the locals who are, no doubt, well acquainted with Saturday Subcrawls. It was great to see these old boozers still going in the face of the onslaught of Wetherspoons et al!

Around the same time as us there were two other groups doing the Subcrawl so, if nothing else, there were always a few (increasingly drunk) faces in each pub anyway!

I loved it, exploring parts of Glasgow I wouldn’t normally visit, and I don’t think I’ve laughed so much for so long, which explained why the most painful part of me the next day was my stomach muscles! In fact I am still, a couple of days after the event, waiting for the hangover to kick in..?!

It was a great day with a fab group of people, all there to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of the equally fab Rob and David. The banter was random, the laughter frequent, and that’s before we get on to the inflatable guitar, the tiny rocking horse, hair dye rainbows, and shots of dubious nature.

So, for (my own) posterity, here are the pubs we visited at each stop:

    St. Enochs – Hootenannys
    Bridge Street – The Laurieston
    West Street – Lord Nelson (plus a shot)
    Shields Road – skipped
    Kinning Park – The Bellrock
    Cessnock – The District (to make up for skipping Shields Road) and The Kensington
    Ibrox – The Loudoun
    Govan – Brechin’s Bar
    Partick – Deoch An Dorus
    Kelvinhall – SparkleHorse
    Hillhead – Curlers Rest (and food stop)
    Kelvinbridge – The Doublet
    St. George’s Cross – The Carnarvon
    Cowcaddens – Jacksons
    Buchanan Street – Drury Street (until closing!)

Given we stopped in the last pub for a while, I reckon it was about 20-21 drinks across 12 hours. We only got caught in the rain once and we didn’t lose anyone! All I can say is roll on the Wedding Reception in a couple of weeks time!

Weekend Reading

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  • It’s A Very Muppets Controversy!
    In October, parent company Disney fired Steve Whitmire, the man who has voiced and handled Kermit the Frog since creator Jim Henson’s death in 1990. While Henson was alive, he was the sole voice of the famous frog.
    Men and their egos ruin everything, even the damn Muppets!

  • Why is hyperfemininity expected of fat women?
    When I’m in a group of fellow fat women, I often catch myself mesmerised by the attention to detail they have each put into creating an outfit. It is not unusual for us all to be rocking full faces of make-up.
    Guilty of this. A good read if you have any fat friends.

  • Rugby ref Nigel Owens reveals ongoing bulimia battle
    Rugby union referee Nigel Owens reveals his struggle with eating disorder bulimia nervosa is not over and remains an ongoing battle. There have been a number of “firsts” in my life.
    He denies it, but this is a brave man.

  • Ancient Avocado Toast Recipes Suggest This Generation Didn’t Invent It After All
    Though avocado toast — the complicated culinary concoction in which mashed avocado is placed atop a piece of heated bread — is used as shorthand for everything that’s wrong with the 2010s* boom time bubble.
    NOTHING IS NEW! I bet hipsters think beards are new too… *rolls eyes*

  • Is Surfing More Sport or Religion?
    Even hardcore devotees disagree, though many acknowledge there’s something profoundly spiritual about catching waves—a feeling scientists attribute to the power of being in the water.
    Large stretches of water are so powerful for many reasons, but I can see why surfing elevates things to a spiritual level

  • Hear the 150 Greatest Albums by Women: NPR Creates a New Canon of Albums That Puts Women at the Center of Music History
    What is it with all the trendpieces on great women artists, writers, directors, singers, etc.? What, indeed. To ask the question is to acknowledge the premise of such pieces.
    I’ve been through all of this list yet but there are some fantastic albums but artists I’d never even heard of. (mind you, there is a band headling the largest gig venue in Glasgow soon that I’ve never heard of so I’m maybe not the best barometer!)

  • A new way to love: in praise of polyamory
    Polyamory isn’t monogamy and it isn’t swinging, it’s being open to having loving relationships with different people of different sexes at the same time, and in that way learning to love yourself, too I have never enjoyed typical monogamy.
    One of the better balanced and nuanced pieces on polyamory I’ve read for a while.

  • England’s Mental Health Experiment: No-Cost Talk Therapy
    England is in the midst of a unique national experiment, the world’s most ambitious effort to treat depression, anxiety and other common mental illnesses.
    Granted I live in Scotland but I had NO IDEA this had been happening. Where’s the publicity? Is there something similar in Scotland??

  • Meet the Man Who Has Lived Alone on This Island for 28 Years
    Is this where my stripping back, reduce clutter, simplify my life journey ends? Might not be so bad.

  • How a Lack of Touch is Destroying Men
    In preparing to write about the lack of gentle touch in men’s lives, I right away thought, “I feel confident I can do platonic touch, but I don’t necessarily trust other men to do it. Some guy will do something creepy. They always do”.
    Linked to by a friend and I’m still processing this. A lot of it resonates, some of it seems a little over-reactionary, but… yeah for a lot of this article, it me.

  • Stephen King on The Leftovers
    There’s not some finite amount of pain inside us. Our bodies and minds just keep manufacturing more of it.
    I am a huge fan of his writing style (if not of some of the stories), so here is a book review by Mr. King.

  • The Poisoning
    My first taste of gin made me sick. I was fifteen or sixteen, and, on a night I’d been left alone, and for reasons now lost to me, I drank down a great deal of my parents’ Tanqueray.
    Gin lovers ASSEMBLE!!

  • In defense of puns
    Some guy once besmirched the play on words by calling it the lowest form of wit. Which speaks to a time-honored tradition in the literary community of running smear campaigns against things that whoever runs the campaign can’t do very well.
    Who doesn’t like a pun? (bet you were expecting a pun here, right?)

  • Being Neurotic May Help You Live Longer
    Neuroticism isn’t generally considered a desirable attribute, and many studies have linked the personality trait to poorer health and an increased risk of mental disorders.
    Tomorrow: Being worry-free and upbeat may help you live longer.

  • The Alternative to Thinking All the Time
    One evening last week, I was sitting on my front stoop waiting for a friend to come over. I brought a book out with me, but instead of reading I just sat there and let my senses take in the scene. There was also a scent that I only recently learned has a name: petrichor.
    Not ONLY linking to this so that damn word – petrichor – might stick in my head for once, but because it’s got good advice in there too!

Thanking myself

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It feels a bit like I’ve dropped through a trapdoor into a different world.

Or I’m that guy in a movie, standing still in the middle of a busy street, the world moving around me in a fast forward blur.

From detached to detached, pole to pole, I have walked. Finding my way and working towards being able to be here, to be now. Sometimes at least. Most times I hope.

This is not a permanent residency I know but now I’ve been here I know the way, and the more I visit, the more familiar the path will become.

Self-revelation always makes me ‘prose’.

Self-compassion always alluded me.

I had no idea. Literally none. Every day I was failing. Every day I did nothing of note. Even the firsts were passed by without mention or pause. Why would I congratulate myself on THAT when there could be a better version of it tomorrow?

These are the self-learned behaviours, decades of being how I thought I should be and lest anyone think otherwise, it is very clearly how I thought it, I built this world view, I built these habits and practices. I honed them, finessed them, perfected them (pun intended, said the perfectionist). I embraced them as good things, flawed things perhaps I knew that deep down, but not bad things. Unable to see the trees as night descended on the forest. Daytime brought the odd ray of sunshine through the dark clouds above.

I am not the failings of my parents. They did not fuck me up, far far from it. No no, this is all me, which makes it both harder to comprehend and, notionally, easier to change. It’s me. Just me. No-one else.

It’s not been easy, re-tracing my steps, circling inward to the core, the driver, the centre of every interaction, every moment of my day. The one eyed daruma that will never be filled. But maybe, maybe one day it will be. Not now, but soon? I have hope, things are changing. People are noticing. I am noticing.

A glimpse then into how I used to live.

Break every moment of your day into good and bad. Where good is something done on time, something done to illicit a smile, or praise, or compliment. A job well done, a task completed. Except the praises from others never land, they slide off and drift away, meaningless the instant they are uttered. No self-congratulatory moments, do not give yourself a break, do not ever accept ‘well done’ as there is always better to be had, more to be done. Plan to be busy, plan to be quiet, but above all plan. There is no flow or spontaneity, not really. Whims are crushed so often they cease to exist and nothing, NOTHING, you do is every good enough for yourself. Now time all of this. 30 mins are your building blocks. Plan around that. Wonder why you are always early. Cannot be late. If I’m late they won’t love me, will think less of me, I’ll think less of me, why? because I’ve failed at TELLING THE TIME. Ridiculous when written down, achingly painful to discover. Every day. Over and over. EVERY DAY SINCE I WAS 9 YEARS OLD. But you build around it, protect the lie that this is how you should live and soon it’s just how life is, without much thought, it’s automatic. Behaviours driven from the core. Failing is bad. Failing means I am not loved. Failing because I was made redundant, failing because I got divorced, failing because I was late, or didn’t bring biscuits. Same thing regardless of magnitude. FAILURE.

And no, no-one said that to me. Not one person articulated it that way, but there is no need. I built my world around that belief, my own religion. Thoughtless and blinkered. This was my life.

Then the trapdoor opened. Counselling, a focus on me. I pulled the lever last year. Unaware of why I was pulling it, not really, not fully. And odd thing to find yourself unhappy whilst you laugh and joke. Except not really, with a few decades of practice you can fool anyone who is looking on. With that much practice you can fool yourself without even realising it.

And now?

Self-compassion. Pausing. Reflecting and praising. A whole world of strange habits to explore, practices to embrace, to cling to. Rebuild. Challenge. Slip. Catch. Rebuild. It’s an odd thing, realising you are slipping back, grasping the frame of the door, determined to remain here, determined to remain now. Determined to care for yourself, to congratulate yourself, to note your achievements, no matter how small.

There is a core part of me that is built on a lie. It will take time to diminish, to lessen, to shrink away until it isn’t who I am anymore. It will be with me for a while but it is shrinking. I am making that happen. Every day. Relearning how to be me.

“You seem happier” said a colleague. In the past my response would’ve been swift dismissal, but now I look up and agree.

Close your eyes, breathe, stop. Smile. Climb through the trapdoor again. Choose your world, then stand still and let it spin and blur around you, it’s ok to be that person, it’s ok to be this person. It’s ok to be you. It’s ok to fail.

I watch myself and I can see it too.

Yes. I am happier.