Monday, June 12, 2017

Fond memories

After the funeral of a friend we all sat about remembering him.  It had been years since I had seen him but some heartwarming stories were told.  One of these stories involved him altering the lyrics to various classic rock songs to include the words 'your maw'.  On one occasion, when we were all on a bus home after a wedding he altered the lyrics to 'Rock n roll' by Led Zeppelin.

He led a singalong using the alternative lyrics 'been a long time since I shagged your maw'.

In a lot of ways it was perfect.

RIP

Sunday, June 11, 2017

UK politics

What a mess.  I've spent most of the weekend laughing at the hung parliament that Theresa May created.  Political arrogance has resulted in egg on her face and much less of a mandate for the 'hard Brexit' nonsense she was demanding.

May is now trying to run a minority government with the DUP after spending a lot of time talking about the alleged 'terrorist links' of Jeremy Corbyn.  The hypocrisy is blatant.  Tories will do anything to stay in power and because of that they will soon betray May and replace her with their next new hope.

Unfortunately we are stuck in the Brexit process.  A sensible government would try to delay or cancel the process but I fear that the Tory party under May is not sensible.  Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

art classes

learned how to paint over a photo in art class today.  much politically motivated fun ensued




Monday, May 15, 2017

the death of a friend

I heard about the death of a friend today.  He was too young, much younger than my dad, a couple of years older than me.  He went to my school and hung about with my group of friends.  I haven't seen him for some time and I can't remember the last time I saw him.  We used to go swimming together and we used to go to the job centre together.

He had a problem with drugs and I guess that ultimately led to his death.  He started using bad drugs when he was young and even though he tried to get off the drugs many times he always slipped back. He fell in with other people I don't know and sadly he eventually died.  I'm waiting to hear more about how he died but it doesn't matter too much.  He was too young and it should not have happened.

I feel sorry for his parents and for some of my other friends who were closer to him and had known him since he was younger.  I feel sorry for him too.  His heart was in the right place.

RIP

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

things we have lost

I lost a lot when I lost my dad.  I guess one the biggest thing I've lost now is the possibility of shared experiences with him.  I've lost the possibility of talking to him about stuff that I know he would have liked.  Not big stuff, just small stuff that would have entertained him briefly.

His last few months were slow and he couldn't do what he wanted to do.  He missed out on a lot of things that he would have enjoyed, even in that short time.  It was immeasurably sad.  What happened to my dad could happen to anybody.

I guess a good thing to do is stay healthy and live life as much as you can.

Jerusalem by Alan Moore

I've just finished listening to the audiobook of Jerusalem by Alan Moore and I'm a bit blown away.  I chose to listen to the audiobook because of the sheer size of the book.  The hardback is 1200 pages long and I think the word count is more than a quarter of a million.  The audiobook is 60 hours long but at least I could listen to it on the train, in the bath and while I was doing housework.  The audiobook narration also helped me get through some of the more challenging sections such as the bit about the daughter of James Joyce.

I will read bits of the book again.  I will dip in and out.  I really want someone to write a book about this book and I look forward to character guides and websites becoming available on the internet.  What a ride!

I wonder if Jerusalem is a reworking of Big Numbers, his abandoned collaboration with Bill Sienkiewicz.  That work was to be set in Northampton and the plot was intended to rotate around the building of a new shopping centre.  Even if the two works were not destined to tell similar stories I am sad that we don't have the complete Big Numbers to compare with Jerusalem.  I will need to dig out my old copies and have a look.

I was also reminded of Voice of the Fire.  This is not unreasonable as both books mythologise Northampton and are written by Alan Moore.

Moore deals with life, death, existence and time.  The book is funny and full of supernatural elements.  There are moments of horror and you worry about what fate will hold for the characters.  The narrative is also complicated by multiple viewpoints and multiple identities for some characters.  A few diagrams and annotations would add a lot to this book and I feel that multiple re-reading will pay off (although a kindle copy will probably be much more portable).

This book could be Moore's best work.  It's a different beast to Watchmen.  At times he appears to have thrown everything into the mix, possibly even the kitchen sink.  At one point the KLF even appear, burning a million pounds.

Much of the book is thinly veiled autobiography.  Alma Warren is a cypher for Moore, sharing the same year of birth, the same eye problems and much of the same style and characteristics of Moore.  Her brother Mick shares a name and a year of birth with Moore's younger sibling.  Melinda Debbie, artist and partner of Alan Moore is a character in the book.  I believe that other parallels with the reality of Alan Moore's family history in Northampton exist.

Should you read this book?  If you have the time and patience, yes.  It is rewarding.  I got a lot from it.  It resounded with me emotionally and it cheered me up a bit shortly after the death of my dad.  I wish he could have read it.  The audiobook is a good way to tackle the book.  People will pick this apart for years.  I know I will.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A sunny day in Glasgow

We've had some cold weather this week and as you may imagine it has been a tough week as we held my fathers funeral a few days ago.  I'm still a bit tired but getting on about as well as expected.  After snow just a few days ago it is very pleasant today with sun in Glasgow.  I didn't need a jacket when I was out earlier.

I bought my mum lunch in a posh local hotel.  She's been spending some time in the garden and she's trying to catch up on sleep.  She's looking better.  Looking after a loved one as they die is hard.  I'm glad I'm close to home.  I started this blog when I lived in England over a decade ago and I made a clear decision to return to Scotland to be closer to my parents.  I'm glad I made that decision now.

Adult life involves a lot of responsibilities and balancing things.  Some people just walk through life avoiding things but that doesn't always work.  Duty is important and if your parents have been good to you, you should be good to them.  My mum needs space for her own grief but it is important to be nearby if she needs me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

putting together bits of a life

I'm thinking a lot about my dads life now.  He did a lot of stuff.  He worked hard in some areas and he achieved a lot.  I have learned more about him over the past couple of weeks and some things about my mother too.  I wish he was still here and I had a chance to ask him some questions.  None of these questions would have been life changing but it would have been good to have talked more.

We often don't talk enough in life.  It's often down to personality.  Sometimes people can talk too much and share too much.  Like most things you want to get somewhere in between.

There are many viewpoints on a life.  Many people have different opinions on how things have been and on how events happened.  In truth we are all unreliable narrators thinking we are movie stars when we are really just bit part players in the world.  We pick our own truths.  That's probably OK when you are remembering your dad but maybe a bit less OK if you are the president of the USA.

We've done most of what we need to do to prepare for the funeral.  Hopefully we will give him a good send off.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

reflections

My dad won prizes for art and poetry at school but he never did anything with it.  He was offered a place at a prestigious training institution in England but he didn't take it.  He had potential that was at one time almost unlimited and with the years all those possible bright pathways narrowed down to the one that was his life.

That in itself is not a bad thing.  He had a good life.  He travelled a lot.  He saw much of the world.  He spoke 4 languages.  He was able to spend time reading.  He had a son and a wife and a house and careers.  He achieved a lot of good stuff.  I think he helped people too.

We all make mistakes in life and none of us are perfect.  We can all, always reflect and we often realise that we could have been better or done things differently.  We should not regret though.  If you must regret something, it is better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done.  The space between thought and expression can last a lifetime.  I'm mixing the wisdom of the Butthole Surfers with Lou Reed but both are true.

I miss my dad.  He wasn't perfect but he was my dad.  He had some gifts and some talents.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trainspotting 2

I went to see the new Trainspotting film today.  I remember seeing the original film in the cinema when it came out.  I had read the book as well.  I've attempted to read some of the various sequels and prequels to the book but the film Transpotting 2 is really its own beast.

It didn't really capture the adrenaline buzz of the original film but it still had something to say.  It's a film about growing older, regrets, death and family.  Given the death of my father earlier this week some of those themes really hit home with me.  He liked watching DVDs and I think he would have liked to see this film.

I'm glad I saw this in the cinema although I'm not sure I'll rush to see it again.  Great soundtrack from Young Fathers amongst others.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

death

My dad died a few days ago.  He had been sick for a while.  He had suffered while he was sick so in a way his death was a release but it's still sad.  I wish I could have made him better or got him out of hospital or somehow fixed him but all of that was impossible.

His health care was varied.  Some health care professionals were good and kind.  Some were ignorant, dismissive and borderline cruel.  I would not want to be admitted to the initial ward he was on.

I got time with my dad in the last 6 months.  I was able to talk to him a bit and say some things to him.  I didn't manage to say absolutely everything I would have like to say but I probably said the most important stuff.  I would have liked my dad to have been around for longer.  I'd have liked him to see me buy a house with my partner, I'd have liked him to see me get married and I'd have liked him to be a grandfather.  Sadly those things will be missed by my father.

My dad gave me a lot in life.  He gave me a great early childhood in many ways and I had many opportunities that other children do not get.  He encouraged me to learn and read and seeded many lifelong interests in me.  He protected me and my mother.  He was not perfect but nobody is.  I will miss him.

RIP

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Drawing

I used to draw a lot when I was a kid.  I guess this was because I was an only child and I didn't always have much to do where I grew up.  I was also a massive comic book fan so I drew my own comic books as a kid.  I was never any good but I did it a lot.  It was always something enjoyed but I knew I did not have the ability to make a career out of it.  I always fancied myself more as a writer but life eventually got in the way and I put my dreams away in a box and got a real job.

Bills need to be paid and I have expensive tastes.

Recently I saw an advert for a course on creating digital comics at a local college and I decided to give it a whirl.  It's on the night when my partner has her yoga class so it gets me out of the house and it doesn't interfere with joint plans.  I had the first class this week and it was great fun.  I still enjoy drawing, just for my own pleasure and I don't mind if anyone else is interested.

The class was an interesting mix.  There are young kids, still at school, who seem to be into manga and pinky stuff as well as older blokes, some in their mid 40s, who are comic book nerds just like me.  The class is run by a bloke who has an art school degree and used to play drums in a sort of Godflesh style metal band.

We did stuff on basic drawing techniques as well as an exercise where we had to create a comic against the clock.  It was fun.

I'm looking forward to next week.  I'm not going to be Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko or anyone like that but I will have fun.  And hopefully draw some angry and bitter comic strips.....

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Best stuff of 2016

2016 was a big year for many many reasons.  I know I'm a bit late but I'm going to list some of the stuff I loved most last year.

In no particular order (even though I've numbered them)

1 - Iceland - I'd never been to Iceland before.  It's an amazing place.  Reykjavik is an amazing city, the buildings are brilliant, the sky over Iceland is amazing, the landscape is amazing, the Blue Lagoon is brilliant.  I just loved it.  It's ridiculously expensive, especially now that the UK is a banana  republic and the pound is worth fuck all but I really want to go back.  I was half thinking about moving there.

2 - Star Wars films - The Force Awakens was an emotional moment for me at the end of 2015 and Rogue One was just as good this Christmas.  My obsessions at the age of 40 are the same as my obsessions at the age of 4.  It's sad but at least I'm consistent.

3 - Tenerife - for a long time I hated the sun but now I like the sun again.  Also whales.  Like Iceland. Mount Teide, another volcanic landscape, is amazing.

4 - Blackstar by David Bowie.  Bowie released one of his best records just before he died.  A great bit of music that is worth listening to.

5 - Ocean Beach by the Red House Painters.  I had never really listened to them and I picked up this record.  Great.

6 - getting paid and not working crazy hours

There was more good stuff too.  Also bad stuff but I'm going with the PMA today

This blog is now 12 years old

I started writing this blog in Coventry in 2005.  I am now writing it in Glasgow in 2017.  I am older and the world has changed in some ways.  It's always difficult to say if things are better or worse.  Back then we had terrorism in London and a government that was doing things I don't like.  Right now we still have a government doing things I don't like.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In 12 years I have managed to do a lot of stuff.  In 1999 or 2000 I decided that I wanted to do some stuff and now I have almost done everything on that list.  I do not see myself as career orientated but I have managed to get myself where I want to be.  Beyond that, I have found a great partner and I've been with her for a couple of years now.  I hope that we will achieve a lot of other stuff together in the future.

I was talking with my partner last night.  We both wish we were 25 physically but we both enjoy the stuff that maturity brings you.  Experience helps you deal with life.  Life does get better in a lot of ways when you get older, if you are lucky.  As always I see myself as lucky.

Sometimes one contemplates the future.  We look at our parents and we see what has happened to our parents and we are scared.  We don't want the same stuff to happen to us but we know it might.  It is important to remember that our parents are a lot older than us and that our futures, if we are lucky, may not be written in our genes.  I don't think I would ever want to know my future.  If a blood test could predict my future I would not want that blood test.  There can be a freedom in not knowing the future.

Now that I'm older I like the sun more.  I crave daylight and sun.  I crave green places and the outdoors.  I like watching the sea.  Sometimes I even like rain.  In Scotland we never get much sun.  I am lucky that I have been able to see so much of the world.  I hope that stupid politicians do not stop the younger generations from seeing as much of the world as I have.

Next week I'm going to see some sun.  If I'm lucky I might even see some whales.