Unknown Pleasures #19: Duncan McKay

I know Duncan through his fellow love of the greatest football team on earth. Hibernian Football Club.

With the greatest team song in the world.

We;’ve been to several, mostly heartbreaking events together where we have inevitably Hibsed it.

Aside from that I bump into him from time to time at gigs.

He also works in my industry on the PR side and our paths have crossed here too.

He’s probably best known, though, for his most excellent podcast The Terrace that has spawned a hit TV programme on BBC Scotland.

Duncan is nothing if not enthusiastic, an avid buff in music, football and literature if not more.

He’s an enthusiast, a statto and a thoroughly nice bloke who I wish I could have spent more time with over the years. His best mate, Mark Atkinson, also happens to be the son of one of my best mates, Will Atkinson.

So all things considered he’s the very man to share his cultural secrets.

My favourite author or book

A few authors who I will read anything by: Simon Kuper, Wright Thompson, Erika Fatland and David Keenan.

This Is Memorial Device | Faber & Faber

The book I’m reading

I annoy my fiancée Sarah because I never just have one book on the go. I’ll have one in the lounge, one upstairs, one on the Kindle. So currently I’m reading Michael Crick’s biography of Alex Ferguson, a book about the final season of football in East Germany and Kelman’s The Disaffection.

The book I wish I had written

To be able to write like Gay Talese would be a privilege. Imagine being able to do profiles like Frank Sinatra Has A Cold?

Frank Sinatra Has a Cold: And Other Essays (Penguin Modern Classics):  Amazon.co.uk: Talese, Gay: 9780141194158: Books

The book I couldn’t finish

Gorbachev’s memoirs. Maybe it was the translation, maybe it was my age, but gave up a fifth of the way through. I’m getting more ruthless as I get older, why waste time reading bad books when there’s so much good out there?

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

Oh plenty. Only in more recent years have I started to read more and more fiction. So a lot of the classics are unknown to me.

My favourite film

Probably 24 Hour Party People. If I could bottle how I felt leaving the cinema after seeing that age 17 I’d be solving the world’s problems.

My favourite play

Not the world’s biggest theatre goer but very much enjoyed Mary Stuart when it ran at the Duke of York’s Theatre a few years ago.

My favourite podcast

Feels indulgent to include one I’m involved in, so I won’t. The podcast I’m most excited to see show up in my feed at the moment is Puck Soup, an ice hockey podcast. I find the three voices on that show both really soothing and entertaining.

The box set I’m hooked on

Spiral. French crime drama. Moody Parisians. Slowly watching the final series as I don’t really want it to end.

My favourite TV series

Arrested Development Seasons 1-3. I don’t think I’ve watched a show as much as got more enjoyment on every viewing, finding jokes I’d missed. And let’s know acknowledge what happened to the show when it went to Netflix ok?

My favourite piece of music

Probably the piece of music I’ve heard the most in my life and still love is The Weight by The Band. My dad was a massive fan and we used to hate it as kids listening in the back of the car on long trips to Elgin but suddenly as a teenager something clicked and I’ve loved it ever since.

My favourite dance performance

Sorry to be a philistine but I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a dance performance.

The last film/music/book that made me cry

Finding Jack Charlton. I think I cried about four times watching it. Having lost a grandparent in the last year to dementia it hit close to home too.

The lyric I wish I’d written

“When I finally find the words,

I’ll be coming back for you.

If I decide to rule the world,

I’m still coming back for you”

Somewhere Across Forever by stellastarr*

The song that saved me

Music means a lot to me, but I don’t think I’ve been saved by a single song. It’s helped me immensely and get through things, but nothing has “saved” me.

The instrument I play

The guitar, badly and not for several years.

The instrument I wish I’d learned

Piano. Or an ability to sing well enough that other people would want to listen to me rather than put fingers in their ears.

If I could own one painting it would be

It’s not very sophisticated but The Runaway by Norman Rockwell. It’s one of my enduring memories of my grandparent’s house in Elgin. I was fortunate enough to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts and see the original in the flesh. It was a lovely moment.

The Runaway

The music that cheers me up

The day I can’t be cheered up by Hey Ya by Outkast will be the day I shuffle off this mortal coil.

The place I feel happiest

Waking up anywhere on holiday, anywhere in the world with Sarah.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

I’m against the notion of guilty pleasures, but undoubtedly mine is professional wrestling. Yes I know it’s contrived, problematic nonsense but it fascinates me.

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

I’m always wary of meeting your heroes and idols but I think it could be fun to have Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and the McIlvanney brothers for company. And it will be in a lighthouse.

And I’ll put on this music

A deliberately curated playlist from my iTunes catalogue that I’d spend many hours agonising over more than the food that was being served.

If you like this here’s some more…

Claire Wood.

Morvern Cunningham

Helen Howden

Mino Russo

Rebecca Shannon

Phil Adams

Wendy West

Will Atkinson

Jon Stevenson

Ricky Bentley

Jeana Gorman

Lisl MacDonald

Murray Calder

David Reid

David Greig

Gus Harrower

Stephen Dunn

Mark Gorman

The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathan Coe: Book review. (An accidental revisitation)

The Rain Before it Falls: Amazon.co.uk: Coe, Jonathan: 9780141033211: Books

Clearly my taste has changed over the years because as I sat down to rip this piece of shit to pieces I searched ‘Jonathan’ Coe on my blog and found out that I had read, and reviewed, this in 2011. (i didn’t really rate it all that highly but I rated it a lot higher than I do now.)

I honestly do not remember a word of it.

Which is a shame because it’s actually a turd disguised as a paperback novel, and if I’d remembered it I sure would not have poisoned my brain by reading it again

It’s written by some old fucker (protagonist, not author) who’s about to top herself and runs through about twenty photos describing them to her blind niece, or a dog maybe. Who fucking cares.

Anyway, in these descriptions she gets right down to what fucking colour the vicar’s Y fronts are and which cunt took the photo, Who fucking cares who took the shit photo THAT WE CAN”T ACTUALLY SEE as it’s not fucking Maus or something.

And they are non-integral to the plot, even though they are the plot.

Does this book have a plot anybody? Does anybody give a flying fuck when this old twat tops herself? Sooner rather than later I wished so I could be out of this torture.

He writes ‘in character’ that is, slow as fuck, tortuously boring, all Queen’s English and “oh my dear” and “goodness” and “Did I mention that I was a lesbian in the 1950’s?”

Yes, she (the boring bastard central protagonist, who the book isn’t actually about) was an actual lesbian in the 1950’s. Now this could be thrilling, risqué, dangerous, but it’s just boring.

The title is a deep philosophical treatise on the fact that the rain before it falls…isn’t rain.

THERE. PLOT SPOILER. I RUINED IT FOR YOU.

Well. That. Is. It.

That’s what it’s about. Rain that isn’t rain.

Being Gay.

Being Boring.

And it’s not even the Pet Shop Boys.

Fellow readers. This is wank. And Number 11 wasn’t much better.

Jonathan. Stick to comedy mate. Please.

Unknown Pleasures #18: Claire Wood

May be an image of 1 person and smiling

And so to Claire.

Now, to start with, I have to declare an interest here. Claire is actually my client. She’s a strategist in the Scottish Government’s Marketing Team, although she never signs off her emails with her title so I don’t know what she is called formally.

So I’ll just caller her what I think is my biggest compliment for clients. A clear thinker. A brilliant mind and a thoroughly lovely person to work with that gives back huge amounts, that inspires all those around her and that makes her agencies eager to do their best work.

But I’ve known her a lot longer than that. Primarily as a Strategic Planner at The Leith Agency and secondly as a director of Edinburgh University’s alumni theatre group. However, because my shows and hers at The Fringe clashed every single year, neither of us has seen the others’ work. My assumption is that it will be brilliant.

Claire is just such a wonderful enthusiast and that ticks all my boxes. She really is a genuinely pithy thinker and original expert in positioning brands, services and now behavioural change of the masses. If you’re being asked to change your behaviour in Scotland there’s a good chance Claire has had a hand in it somewhere.

When I was a freelance consultant Claire always had an open door. We’d meet for coffee and a chat, often, no usually straying off topic and that’s what I love about her and the few that are like her.

No ego. No agenda. But plenty of time for me and other human beings. And for that I thank you Claire.

And now, on to her likes. Many of which I share. A great selection of stuff to get your teeth into and a lot of it pretty accessible so dive in and follow up folks.

(David Greig – an earlier contributor – will be pleased with her most excellent theatre choice, a show I’ve seen in Carlops Village Hall myself.)

My favourite author or book

I’m rubbish at favourites. I love Arundhati Roy, Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood, Donna Tartt, Hanya Yanigahara, Mary Beard, Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, John Irving, Robert Harris, J. R. R. Tolkien and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’ve just finished How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue which is beautifully heartbreaking. 

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue – Canongate Books

The book I’m reading

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. 

The book(s) I wish I had written

The Handmaid’s Tale and / or The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones. This last is a children’s book but contains the character I’d sail off into the sunset with, if he wasn’t in love with Millie, Chrestomanci. 

The Testaments': Margaret Atwood's urgent new tale of Gilead

The book I couldn’t finish

The memoirs of a survivor. Doris Lessing. Recommended to me by a wonderful English teacher when I was 15. It sat on my bedside table for considerable years. Moving it to the bookshelf was the kiss of death. I must try again. 

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

I haven’t read any Sylvia Plath or Virginia Woolf to my shame. Nor any Germaine Greer though I’m a bit less troubled by this. I’ve barely dabbled with the classics though enjoyed a teenage love affair with nineteenth-century Russian writers. Sadly not in Russian. 

My favourite film

Life Is Beautiful. A glorious tribute to the power of stories to make shit things, a bit better. 

Watch Life Is Beautiful (HBO) - Stream Movies | HBO Max

My favourite play

As a script, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. As a production (and script), David Grieg’s The Strange Undoing Of Prudencia Hart. As a moment in theatrical history, National Theatre of Scotland / John Tiffany / Gregory Burke’s Black Watch. As a spectacle, The Drowned Man by Punchdrunk. For clutching at my heart, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. I’m looking forward to The Lyceum’s audio play, Sophia, by Frances Poet. 

My favourite podcast

Shit Town. Tremendous (if dark) story telling. And anything by History On Fire

The box set I’m hooked on

The Bridge. I can always tell when I’m properly obsessed with a show as I start imagining (wishing) that I see the characters in the street. Saga is an awesome character for all sorts of reasons. Call My Agent was a gift in lockdown. 

My favourite TV series

The Simpsons.  

My favourite piece of music

Totus Tuus by Henryk Gorecki. Or Suburbia by the Pet Shop Boys. Both whisk me back to teenage freedoms. The former was me wishing I was cultured and cultivated. The latter, fondly imagining I was rebellious. 

My favourite dance performance

Crystal Pite’s Emergence, performed by Scottish Ballet in the EIF in 2016. Or way back to my teenage years, Rambert’s Little Red Rooster. Somehow, maybe the first time I’d heard the Stones. Electrifying. 

The Last film / music / book that made me cry

Yerma with Billie Piper by the National Theatre, currently available online. It was filmed with a live audience. That usually makes me cry. She was also awesome. 

The lyric I wish I’d written

Many of Stephen Sondheim’s. (See Liza Minelli’s version of Losing My Mind. Or Judi Dench and Send In The Clowns.)  For suckerpunch-ness, the Pet Shop Boys: “I love you, you pay my rent.”

The song that saved me

Paint It Black by the Stones and Amy Winehouse feed my self-indulgence pretty well. And I’ll listen to Stand On The Wordby the Celestial Choir on repeat. 

The instrument I play

Chopsticks on the piano. I aspire to play Bach.

The instrument I wish I’d learned

Clarinet. One day, I’ll play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

If I could own one painting it would be

Actual paint? Anything by Alison Watt would do me nicely. 

Sabine | National Galleries of Scotland

The music that cheers me up

All sorts. Jazz. (Kansas Smitty have been doing wonderful things online during the pandemic.) Handel. Mozart’s Requiem, perversely. 

The place I feel happiest

Theatres. Right now, any theatre that was open and about to serve up a show would cut it. If I’ve got my pick of all of them, the Traverse, in no small part because of their bar. 

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

Does Jilly Cooper count as culture?

Sexiest books ever | What to read | Erotic Fiction | Culture

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

Zadie Smith, Mark Ravenhill, Clare Barron, Neil Tennant, Laura Bates, Tennessee Williams, Greta Thunberg, Alan Rickman. I’d need a big table. 

And I’ll put on this music

US3. Air. Nouvelle Vague. Charlotte Gainsbourg. Kings of Convenience.

If you like this here’s some more…

Morvern Cunningham

Helen Howden

Mino Russo

Rebecca Shannon

Phil Adams

Wendy West

Will Atkinson

Jon Stevenson

Ricky Bentley

Jeana Gorman

Lisl MacDonald

Murray Calder

David Reid

David Greig

Gus Harrower

Stephen Dunn

Mark Gorman

Looking back at how racism has changed. To Kill a Mockingbird: Book Review.

Cover of the book showing title in white letters against a black background in a banner above a painting of a portion of a tree against a red background

Like me, you possibly read this book at school. In my case over 40 years ago.

I recently joined a book club at work and we specifically read books either by Black writers or books about racial prejudice. This clearly falls into the latter camp and the choice to read it came from a a left-field suggestion by my wife that we revisit the past.

So we did.

It’s much lauded, selling over 30million copies and winning the Pulitzer Prize.

A morality tale for the times (1960 but set in 1936). It tells the story of black oppression and racial discrimination completely through white eyes, worse, children’s white eyes.

Not one single page features a contribution from the central (struck mute) protagonist Tom Robinson – frankly even the character’s name is redolent of hokey deep southern central casting – but, hey, maybe that was the idea.

It paints the picture of an Alabaman township where a strange resident (Boo Radley) lives holed up in his house next door to brother and sister young Scout and wise Jem Finch. Boo scares the bejesus out of them (is that why he’s called Boo?) by simply being reclusive.

He’s the first harmless Mockingbird of the title.

The second is an uneducated Black farmer (Tom Robinson) enticed into a trailer trash home by a seductive young hick who, having been stumbled upon by her paw, screams the house down accusing him (completely falsely) of rape.

He’s taken to the local kangaroo court, tried for the fake rape and is defended by Scout and Jem’s dad (oddly known to them by his given name, Atticus).

Atticus, Jem and Scout seem to be the only open-minded folks in the town which quickly earns him the reputation as a “nigger lover”.

The use of this word is liberal and the polite version (negroe) was clearly the acceptable version of the time, but its repetitive use is also quite startling.

It’s a very odd read indeed, terribly trapped in time with much outdated language and a dreadful naiveté. Maybe that’s deliberate, I suppose, because Harper Lee chooses to make the young Scout the author in a bid to open the eyes of the reader to the illogical nature of the inherent prejudice of the town.

But it also serves to make the book uninsightful and frankly, quite boring.

The structure is clumsy with the two mockingbird stories only loosely related and with no real link other than as a storytelling device.

But it’s the lack of a Black voice that most troubled me in this. Tom Robinson is cast as stupid (stoopid and ign’rn’t) and has no way of repositioning himself. The only Black voice is of another lovable central casting character, the cook and housemaid, Calpurnia who looks after the motherless Scout and Jem as her own.

Sure, it’s a coming of age novel with a purpose, but I found it banal and patronising.

The characters are wholly unrounded and the entire conceit naive and unsubtle.

It wasn’t a good experience.

I think it’s long had its time. Avoid.

Unknown Pleasures #17: Morvern Cunningham

Morvern is one of the most creative, most ambitious (in a good way) and most democratic people I know.

She sees creativity through a lens that brings people together in a way that improves their lives. Ordinary people largely. That’s why she’s been involved with Leith Creative, led the Leith Shutters project, where she put amazing street art onto the shutters of closed shops, The Mural Project, which had a similar ambition of bringing street art to Leithers, and, of course, she founded the fabulous Leith Late 10 years ago and, pandemic aside, has nurtured it through a wide variety of forms with often little or no money.

Also a lover of unorthodox cinema, her KinoKlub has delighted many with its surrealist movie screening, often, but not always from the horror genre.

She’s a thorn in many sides because she won’t ever, take no for an answer. Her co-curated Blueprint for Leith was citizen-powered and asked the questions the City Council daren’t and therein lies many of her face-offs. Deeply respected (probably feared too) by our ‘City Fathers’ she has succeeded in drawing support from them for many of her ambitious projects.

You’d assume from all this that Morvern was a proud Leither, and she is, but only as her adopted home because she’s 100% Glaswegian, and sounds it.

I’m so delighted to have Morvern share her cultural inspiration with us. I’m also proud to know her because I consider her by far the most proactive, imaginative and effective advocate of art and culture, outside of the pantheons of culture that dot my city, that I know. Her influence is massive, her ability to articulate her belief in the power of art and culture tremendous. But underneath it all she’s just a really lovely, caring person that does what she does for all the right reasons.

And its the reason she gets the respect and admiration that she does. Including from our City Fathers.

My favourite author or book

My three favourite authors are Ursula le Guin, Shirley Jackon and Octavia Butler, but it has been Octavia’s work in particular that has really helped me get through the various lockdowns of late. Butler was the first recognised Black woman author in the science fiction genre, a genre she dubbed ‘speculative fiction’. It was by harnessing this she was able to explore the following scenarios: ‘What if?’ ‘If only?’ and ‘If things go on like this’. The latter has been highlighted most recently in the public consciousness by her 1998 novel Parable of the Talents, which features an American President despot who presides over an increasingly chaotic and destructive country, using the mantra “Make America Great Again”.

There are so many great places to start with Butler, but my favourite of her characters is Lillith Iyapo from the Xenogenesis trilogy who we meet in Dawn, with the start of a new kind of human race after the demise of Earth. My great sadness is, since Octavia is no longer with us, the novels we have of hers are finite so therefore I eke out the experience of reading her work and savour every novel and short story available.

The book I’m reading

I’m currently reading Into the London Fog, subtitled Eerie Tales from the Weird City and published by the British Library under their ‘Tales of the Weird’ series. There’s lots of great stuff in it, including entries by Edith Nesbit who wrote a significant amount of ghost stories alongside her children’s fiction, and Arthur Machen, a great proponent of the weird literary genre. Editor Elizabeth Dearnley talks in her introduction to the collection about the feature of fog in the city making it both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, an eeriness I think we’ll all be familiar with now when wandering around our emptied city centres as a result of the pandemic. My only point of reference to the historic London fog is of course the Edinburgh haar, which is less inherently mysterious and more of an eerie character itself!

The book I wished I’d written

I don’t wish I’d written anything already out in the world, as each book is a product of their time and of the circumstance of the author. However, I would love to edit a future contribution to the British Library’s Tales of the Weird series, or something of a similar ilk. I recently attended an online talk by Elizabeth Dearnley (editor of Into the London Fog), who described putting the book together as a dream project, which I can well imagine. I believe there must be a vast array of uncovered weird and gothic gems in the collections of the National Library or the University of Edinburgh, that could be given a whole new lease of life in a shiny new edition. Edinburgh is the city that spawned Blackwood’s Magazine and other similar periodicals of the 19th century after all, so there must be plenty of fine homegrown bogie tales of yore out there to sift through! 

My favourite film

I couldn’t possibly single out any one film in particular, but the film genre that I’m most fond of is horror. Unfairly diminished and looked down upon, the horror genre has existed since the genesis of film. It provides a safe space to explore societal fears and prejudice, to observe life’s inhumanities, to vicariously experience the limitations of the human body and our ideas of what might happen after death. There is some evidence to suggest that horror, while always popular, has increased in popularity as a result of COVID-19, with stay at home audiences keen to watch pandemic-themed dystopias as a means of helping to cope with everyday reality. Perhaps it’s like wild swimming – the more you subject your body and mind to cold sharp shocks, the easier it becomes to cope with real-life trauma. A few recent recommendations worth seeking out include: Midsommer, Tigers Are Not Afraid, His House and Host.

Favourite podcast

I have to confess I’m not much of a podcast person, so I’m just going to mention the handful of podcasts I’ve ever spent time listening to. First up is the Persistent and Nasty podcast, (@PersistentNasty on Twitter), a collective of Glasgow-based female creatives who regularly interview a variety of cool and interesting guest speakers. (Dunno why I’ve not been invited on yet tbh!) I’m also a massive fan of adrienne marie brown who has written, amongst other things, the inspirational Emergent Strategy. It’s a radical self/society-help book inspired by the work of Octavia Butler and her writings on the subject of change, and has been really influential to my thinking and writing about creating our collective futures. (See Edinburgh Reimagined: https://sceptical.scot/2021/04/time-to-rebuild-edinburgh-reimagined-part-2/The Emergent Strategy Podcast has grown out of the teachings of the book of the same name and is well worth a listen. During 2020, adrienne also launched the podcast Octavia’s Parables with Toshi Reagon, which explores Butler’s The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents chapter by chapter. I’m yet to properly dive in, but it’s sure to be amazing. 

Persistent and Nasty – Civil Disobedience

Favourite TV series

I don’t tend to binge on TV series, tending to stick to film instead, but this sprung to mind so I’ll run with it. One surprise TV hit of the pandemic was BBC series The Repair Shop, a programme centred around the careful and sensitive restoration of beloved family items to their owners. Filmed at Weald and Downland Living Museum, the show features a regular roster of expert restorers in their field, working in the areas of fabric, leather, wood, metal and mechanics. Antiques Roadshow this is not, with the heart of the programme not based in what something is worth financially. Instead, the focus lies in the emotional attachment we have to objects of personal significance, and the powerful feelings that are involved in bringing these items back to life, often evoking loved ones that have been lost in the process. Indeed, some of the items so lovingly brought to life are pretty worthless and potentially irreparable to an outsider’s eye, but priceless to their owners. Each project is a reminder to us to care for what we already have in a disposable society, plus it makes me greet regularly!

How to contact The Repair Shop - how to apply to be on the BBC 1 show -  Radio Times

The last thing that made you cry

The last thing that made me ugly cry over and over again was Russell T Davies’ Channel 4 miniseries It’s a Sin, following the trials and tribulations of a group of queer teenagers descending on London for their first real foray into the world. Their arrival and beautiful emancipatory evolution of selfhood also coincide with the early days of the spread of the AIDS virus, and we watch broken hearted as AIDS rips through our group of friends, leaving none unscathed by its effects. A cultural masterpiece by Davies, who also directed Queer as Folk and who has admitted that he always avoided focusing on the AIDS crisis till now, perhaps intimidated by the overwhelming mark it has left on the queer community at large. What Davies and his queer cast have since created is a vital, vibrant and celebratory tribute of those lives we have lost, those continuing to live with HIV, and to all the young queers coming into themselves today. I’m tearing up now…

The instrument I play

I had violin lessons at primary school, which I wasn’t very fond of tbh. I then discovered Scottish traditional music around aged 10 when I joined the Glasgow Fiddle Workshop and suddenly a whole new world opened up. I started referring to my instrument as a fiddle and, long before being of drinking age, would pitch up to trad pubs like Babbity Bowsters and The Vicky Bar in Glasgow to join the sessions that took place there. It was great, the musicians would take up a whole section of the bar, with fiddle players, guitarists, whistle players, bodhrans, the lot, and we would play tunes all day as the crowd jammed in around us. It was my first taste of the traditional culture we have in Scotland, and the great community that can grow up around an artform. Celtic Connections was a key time in the trad music calendar, with all the local pubs full of musicians during the festival, and folk pitching up to the Glasgow Concert Hall to find a session. The Festival Club which took place afterhours was and still is an amazing place. I started going when it was at the Central Station Hotel, which is also where the performers and a lot of the out of town audience were housed at the same time, which made for a great atmosphere and lots of room parties! I’m a bit out of practice now – I must get back on it so I can join a session sometime.

Instrument I wish I’d learned

I always quite fancied playing the spoons as percussion, but never quite got the knack.

Music that cheers me up

Funk and soul is generally my go to most days, my personal soundtrack is generally upbeat. I also like a song with a message – some songs have turned into personal mantras at different points in my life. I moonlight as DJ BUTTZ (check me out on Insta) and recently put together a playlist for Emma Jayne Park’s Daily Dancing resource (you can find out more about DD here, it basically does what it says on the tin: https://www.culturedmongrel.org/blogs/2021/3/22/daily-dancing-turns-one).

All the songs on the playlist have been important to me at some point in time, and it was great fun to put together. I recommend everyone puts a similar playlist together, as it’s guaranteed to cheer you up if you ever feel things aren’t going your way. Link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0yWFZaqW7Ml5BfRPk53dys

Place I feel happiest

I love being by the sea, and like many people over lockdown, recently took up wild swimming. It’s amazing seeing how the water changes from day to day, week to week, even minute to minute sometimes! There’s something about being close to water that brings out a calmness and retrospection in people. Wild swimming as a practice generates an inner happiness too. The experience of regularly immersing yourself in cold water can generate interesting results – you’d be surprised at the levels of cold your body can tolerate – and as a lifestyle it’s meant to be really good for your health. There’s nothing quite like watching wildlife from the perspective of being in the water as well!

if you like this here’s some more…

Helen Howden

Mino Russo

Rebecca Shannon

Phil Adams

Wendy West

Will Atkinson

Jon Stevenson

Ricky Bentley

Jeana Gorman

Lisl MacDonald

Murray Calder

David Reid

David Greig

Gus Harrower

Stephen Dunn

Mark Gorman