Monday, 28 July 2014

Blog 6

On a not too sunny day in May, I found myself on another odd pursuit as I generally do these days. Craning my neck up to the doors of those big white houses in Earls Court trying to find the right door number


...was it door number 3? Is it number 3? Mum..mum... Was it number 3?

Knock, knock. And an odd looking bloke with MASSIVE eyes peeps his head round the door. We'll call him Bambi.

Me: Good day sir. We are on a quest to find complete and utter inner peace like when you can steady your mind and take yourself 'under' you know, mind control thinking right...we read from your leaflet that apparently the mind naturally wants to go in the direction of happiness it doesn't have to be forced that it wants to go there and that all it needs is a gentle push just like the imagery that you used in your leaflet that you don't have to force a river to the sea it just naturally flows there and I just wondered if like you said in your leaflet that you could give me that simple push sir cos me thinks I'm going a bit bonkers.

A stunned silence.

Bambi: Sure, yer. Remove your shoes. 

Oh shiiiit. I hate taking my shoes off in public. I've got wonky ankles and hammer toes even though I always had perfectly fitting Start Rite shoes. I always wore the right sized hats, helmets and headbands too but it seems my heads gone a bit wonky as well. Goes to show, size isn't everything. 

I step into the bland white as white front room. And I'm concentrating so hard to 'feeeeel the peace' the tranquility.. breeeeathe, breeeeathe in the clinical white of the walls..mmmm...white paint...mmmmm.. I let my wonky bare feet splay on the lumpy off white rug and before I know it I'm walking in a strange duck-like fashion and the class hasn't even started yet. 


Bambi: Hello everyone.

 (AND I'M UNDER. breeeathe, breeeeathe CLINICAL, WHITE, PAINT, WONKY, TOES!!!!!!)

...Maybe I'm concentrating too hard. ...Maybe that's the initial problem. 

Bambi: the gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature and so find the stability and confidence you will need to live and die well. Meditation is the road to enlightenment.'


That's a big ask. So not only will this teach me the beauty of life, it'll teach me the beauty of the rain that pissed on my new haircut, the beauty of the scent of somebody else's dog shit that I scrape out my shoes, the beauty of my 'oh so wonky toes' ... And above all it'll TEACH ME HOW TO DIE WELL!!!!!!! I've gotta get me some of this apple pie! 

How the HECK do you die well? 

 So I stayed.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Blog 5

Now here is a man who aways tells it like it is. I don't always agree with his snide cynicism and uninspired view of the world yet he does tell the truth.


The problem is you're not paying.

Every day I'm spammed by bands. Acts that want my attention. That are bitching how the system is unfair and they can't get paid by Spotify.

But the truth is in the past they'd have to pay to play. I'm not talking at the gig, but in terms of publicity.

Now that publicity is free, it doesn't mean much. The fact that you can send a zillion e-mails does not mean anybody will care. Because all your competitors can send said e-mails too. Everybody on the receiving end is overwhelmed. Art may still be king, but money is second.

What does money buy you? A push from people with a reputation, one consumers and tastemakers will pay attention to. In other words, when you get that TV slot I'm impressed you did. Anybody can have a YouTube clip, not anybody can get on television.

Not everybody is signed to a major label. They pay you and then they spend. And not only does this spend get people to pay attention, it has the imprimatur of quality, because the major label does not take a shotgun approach, it releases very little, less than before, because without the push, nothing gets noticed.

Which is why we know Coachella and not your band that went on at noon. Coachella is spending a ton of dough, lost a ton before it became profitable. The investment was in the festival name, not your band.

In a world where everybody's equal, with overwhelming noise, he who can rise above triumphs. And now, more than ever, that involves money. Not only in art, but politics and business.

Used to be everybody sat at home and consumed, didn't play. They may have had a fantasy of becoming a rock star, but they knew it wouldn't happen. The road was long and hard and fraught with pitfalls. But today, everyone believes that gap has shrunk, that they can hop right over it. But the truth is with all the lemmings hopping, it's the pros, with money, who triumph.

You lament that no one wants to come see you live.

Because money is tight and they only want to see proven acts. Furthermore, in the old days you could play in the local bar at best. And now that bar's switched to canned music or deejays. Because it's cheaper and it makes them more money.

Just because you made it, that does not mean anybody wants to listen to it, that anybody cares.

The music game is harder than ever before, just like life. The winners are rolling in dough and everybody else is worrying about buying a hamburger.

Even the middle level acts, who don't have a label anymore, the one that used to get them on the radio when very few had that privilege, which got them to rise above.

Used to be if your major label release didn't get on the radio, you knew you had a hard slog, as we entered the eighties, it oftentimes meant that your career was dead on arrival. Make money? You were already looking for a day job.

But today people with no radio airplay and no major label effort keep complaining that they're not making enough dough. As if the game didn't change, as if they had risen above and the rug was pulled out from under them.

But the truth is no one's got time for these acts except their fans, everybody else doesn't care. If you don't have a hit, not only do you have no money, you've got few fans. But somehow it's not your fault.

So if you want to win at the music game know that it requires not only time and effort, but money. You've got to do what most other people won't. And that does not mean a publicity stunt. You've got to legitimize yourself.

The truth is EVERYBODY deletes the spam e-mails about the unknown bands. The musicians feel good sending them, but there's absolutely no impact, zero. Because everybody knows that you did it for free.

Most YouTube clips are barely watched.

Most music is barely listened to.

But somehow, as opposed to yesteryear, everybody believes they're entitled to attention and riches.

The truth is Google and Facebook are so damn rich they can provide all these spamming services for free. E-mail is free. Everything is free, including your music!

How can you complain your music is free when you're taking advantage of all the free services to make it and spread the word about it?

The truth is the money is elsewhere.

And it's always about the money.

If you're making none, it's your fault. Stick around, get really good, tweak your act and get someone to invest in it and then maybe you'll have a chance.

Otherwise, stay in school.

Now, I never want any single post of mine to leave a bitter and defeatist taste on the tongue. My response to this is... Grit. 


Grit is defined as perseverance and passion for long term goals (the important word here being passion. You know the kind? 

The 'there's-absolutely-nothing-else-in-this-world-I-can-or-want-to-do' kind. Or similarly the passion that 'there's-no-ONE-else-in-this-world-that-I-can-or-want-to-love' You know the type.  The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon and her advantage...? Stamina. 

 I hope you can read this. My handwriting is silly.

So lets all of us, in whatever you do...get ready for a marathon.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Blog 4


I have no idea of what to say to you. 
Absolutely no clue. I'm paralysed.  
But I love you, I know that much.

And It all starts with an idea of 'us'. A knee jerk, a spasm of excitement, a sense that I'm finally in the right place at the right time. I can remember it in my brain, recreate the feeling right now. 

Is this what butterflies feels like? It doesn't feel like butterflies to me. It feels like something far greater, far more beautiful than butterflies. Like when you've over indulged, eaten too much but you fucking enjoyed every, single mouthful. And it sits there in the very depth of your stomach. 

Next thing you're holding hands and the forever lonesome "I" turns to "we", the words stick in the throat initially, find it hard to make their way to the surface but when they do!...  

When they do I'm introvertly singing at the top of my lungs, standing on the street where you live, looking upwards towards that moon you told me about as everyone jostles and shifts around me and but i just really don't care that I'm going to miss the bus. 

"Yeah you might have caught the bus and got home before me but you're missing it!!!" 
You're missing "it"... "It"... Whatever "it" is. 

But we've found it. 

And "it" carries on. And "it" carries and it carries. Carries me, carries you. Carries us to places we'd never seen before, beautiful places but also places we didn't wanna go but we went there anyway. 

And I really hope that's ok because there are some things I will carry and not really forgive myself for. 
And the next thing I know it I'm carrying something that is only ours and it's a shock to my system. A 'smack-me-sideways' shock that I daren't engage with at the time but I swear to you I never missed a meal since that day and I never will. 
It was too precious. And inevitably after too much heavy lifting comes dropping. And the dropping gets heavier. 
I hate the word drop. 

It's so final and shit. Drop a tab, drop a bomb, drop a's all sounds the same. 

Can we not think of it as a 'plop'.
In any case, I like to think of it that way because at least with a plop there's a chance that it'll bob to the surface one day and just float. Find itself. 
Not like a drop. Because like I said its so final and shit.  

I really hope you float. 

I hope to god I float. 
Sometimes it just doesn't feel like I am though and I'm sorry. 

It's like I'm swimming and I'm swimming I've got armbands on and they're this treacherous thing because on the one hand they keep me afloat but on the other I CANT FUCKING MOVE ME FUCKING ARMS!!!! ...DO YOU KNOW HOW IT FEELS??? ...ITS SOUL DESTROYING!!!  
Yes yes I checked, check, check, check..All the components are there, they just won't FLOW. Everything's connected to within an inch of its life, the electrical current JUST WONT FLOW. 

What's your armband? I never knew. Is that bad? Was it me? Did I rub off on you like sun cream? Did I drag you down into the wet sand? I have a sneaking suspicion that I may. Made you feel like something your not. But I know you're not.  

I really love you. Always have, always will. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Blog 3

Edinburgh-born writer Irvine Welsh came to fame with his first novel, 'Trainspotting' in 1993, which was turned into a cult film directed by Danny Boyle, starring Ewan McGregor. If you haven't seen it, that's madness and I suggest you make it your priority for today. 

YOURE BETTER OFF HAVING FORTUNE THAN FAME. Fame is a kind of weakness for people who have nothing. You don't see rich businessmen trying to get their picture in the paper. People on TV talent shows are on top of the world one day, open a supermarket the next; then they're just a bum on a barstool. That sort of recognition is a horrible tax.  

YOU DONT HAVE TO BE OFF YOUR TITS TO TALK TO PEOPLE. Turns out you can just have a cup of tea and a laugh. 

LIVE EVERYDAY LIKE ITS YOUR LAST AND ONE DAY IT WILL BE. In my drug phase I was out of my brains, but if I woke up the next day it was as if it never happened. When you're young you don't have a sense of your own mortality. You wake up when your friends start dying. 

IM NOT A CRAZY WEE MAVERICK. I'm just no good with rules and regulations.  

DRUGS ARE IN A LOT OF PEOPLES EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY. The people I knew in the drug scene often suffered from depression or abuse. Addiction was a way of covering the problems up. Those people tended not to get over their drug addiction in the way that the people, like me who took them for reckless adventures, did.

YOU CANT BE AN IMPOSTER ALL YOUR LIFE. I wasn't good in school, or with authority, or with being told what to do, but I learnt how to approximate how other people thought I should behave. It's a useful skill. 

WRITING CAN BE TAUGHT. The desire and the will to do it, cannot. 

POLITICS IS ABOUT DIFFERENCE. It's a shame so many people have become inured to that. You don't have that in England at the moment. In Scotland, the independence debate has been a positive creative force because the country has been reinventing itself.  

I HAVE MANAGED TO REMAIN SATISFYINGLY IMMATURE. My formative years were in the paste seventies and eighties. I had a longer gestation period than most. 

EVERYONE HAS OBSESSIONS. I've always veered from one extreme to another, from waister to fitness fanatic. Life's about learning to manage these obsessions.  

LIVING THE LIFE OF A WRITER MEANS YOU'RE EITHER STARVING IN A GARRET OR YOU'RE LIVING ANVERY LEISURED LIFE. My lifestyle isn't middle class; it's upper class. I don't mean that in a smug way. I don't have the burden of getting up and going to work. Writing is what I'd be doing anyway. That makes me feel very, very rich.  

SOME PEOPLE THINK I'VE SOLD OUT. If someone's born working class and they've done well you're either going to think "Good on them" or "Fuck them". When I go home to Leith, Edinburgh and I go out, I get the piss ripped out of me for half an hour. If I get into it and give it back, everyone's relaxed. 

PITY IS THE WORST REVENGE. I spotted Margaret Thatcher at the Dorchester a few years ago. I was going to take the piss out of her, but she looked like a ghost. This woman was lost. I pitied her. She would have hated that more than hysteria after her death. 

I'VE BEEN EVERY CONCEIVABLE KIND OF DRUG. After 'Trainspotting', fans used to slip me drugs at book readings. I guess they wanted to get fucked up with someone they perceived to be a celebrity to validate their lives. What are you going to do with a big pile of drugs if you're staying in a hotel room by yourself? Take a bunch and hit your head against the wall? No, you flush it down the toilet. They don't do it anymore. I'm glad they've stopped.  

Irvine Welsh's new novel, The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins was published May 1. 

Hell yer.