Friday, 28 August 2009

A (temporary) farewell to Alison

Curious mix of emotions this week. My second oldest daughter, Alison, sets off for Japan on Sunday morning. She's studying Japanese at Edinburgh University and it's compulsory for her to spend third year abroad, so she's going to university in Tokyo for ten months.
She's always been lured by Japanese culture and it's been her ambition to travel there since she was in Primary School. Or even earlier. In my mind's eye, I can still see her sitting in front of the TV as a three or four year old, watching the Japanese animé Dragonball Z. She's been hooked ever since.

So - safe journey, Alison. Bon voyage and when you think about all the loved ones you've left behind, remember the metaphor from that John Donne poem I sent you - 'Our two soules therefore, which are one, Though I must goe, endure not yet A breach, but an expansion, Like gold to ayery thinnesse beate.' (A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning)
Or, hey - why not think of Leonard Cohen's words? 'You know my love goes with you, as your love stays with me. It's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea.' (Hey, that's no way to say goodbye).
Looking forward to hearing all about it and seeing all the photos!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

I'm very pleased about the new Gutter magazine, partly because it looks so ... literarily respectable (?) but also because my story is the first, immediately after the editorial! That feels very special and is a great boost. Thanks, Adrian Searle and Colin Begg!

The launch night went well. Loads of people were there and Mono was buzzing. I actually saw a couple of friends, too, which was fun. In particular, I saw David Bell and Catherine Baird, two writers I've worked with through the OU and North Lanarkshire Council. I also chatted briefly with Elizabeth Reeder but couldn't stay for a long catch-up.

On another note, last week brought lots of other good news. My seventeen year old twins, Liane and Mairi, got their exam results. Having already secured their places at university through their fifth year (Higher) results, their sixth year (Advanced Higher) results were less essential but of course if you put in the work, you want to do well. Anyway, Liane got Advanced Higher Music and Advanced Higher French, both at band A, and she got an A for Latin Higher, too (and passed philosophy and classical studies 'units'). Mairi got A bands for Advanced Higher Maths and Advanced Higher Physics, too. She also got an A for Higher Chemistry and for Higher French at the same sitting. So, their results couldn't have been any better and my heart couldn't be more happy for them. Well done, girls!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Looking forward to Thursday because that's when the first edition of Gutter Magazine comes out and my story Frozen Waste is due to appear in it. Launch is to be held in Mono, the vegan café-bar-restaurant in King's Court in Glasgow at 6.30pm. Big names like Scar Culture writer Toni Davidson and Ewan Morrison were asked to write stories for this first issue and people like Alan Warner, Kirsty Gunn and Kathleen Jamie are on the editorial board, so here's hoping the mag attracts lots of critical attention. Freight Design are publishing it and they do a great job with everything they touch. They did the 'Knuckle End' anthology a few years ago, too.

Anyway, the launch will have some free drink and nibbles, some short readings and socialising. Looking forward to it. 'Frozen Waste', incidentally, was written as a first draft about six years ago but every now and then I pulled it out of the drawer and tidied it up, cutting it down from its original 4000 words to try to squeeze it into various shapes of magazines and competitions. When I saw Gutter's mission statement and requirements, it struck a chord with me as it fits a lot of the themes and socio-political issues I'm interested in so I gave the story another little spring clean, slimmed it down to 3000 words and sent it off.

Here's the Gutter website:

Monday, 3 August 2009

Hey, well, here we are. Summer 2009 and I've finally got round to setting up this blog, which I signed up for months ago. What does that suggest for the future? Regular posts or what?
I've chosen this photo because it looks like a kindly me, maybe a slightly granny-ish look, and that's probably appropriate. But never judge a book by its cover!
Over the next wee while, I hope to be able to use this blog to keep in touch with friends old and new, including former students from my classes with The Open University. So, if you're reading this, why not get in touch and let me know how you're doing? I'd love to hear.