Milky Way a bar to artistic integrity?


How big a part does context play in determining aesthetic merit? This was the conundrum I had to consider on this morning’s North Beach ramble with Bella my seashell-crunching terrier. And all because of a discarded Milky Way wrapper.

 We had barely stepped on to the familiar strand and the tension of the most recent battle to get my young teenage daughter out to school in time was dissipating with every soft scrunching step on the familiar carapace of crushed shells and sandy grains. 

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Scared of Trump but terrified of Bannon

trump bannon.jpgFuelled by the double black coffee at my elbow and nearly a full bumper pack of Custard Creams, I am trying to get my head around all that has been happening since the Trump regime hit the ground kicking in America.

More particularly my heart is in my mouth as I ponder the role of Steve Bannon in it all.

Trump, that half buffoon, half genius, I am scared of. Bannon, that eminence grizzly of the alt-right, frankly has me terrified. And munching those Custard Creams — the coffee is nearly gone already.

I fear the very democracy America is always crowing about is under attack. Not so much from Isis, or any extremists from without, but from the extremists within. And none more extreme than Steve Bannon.

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If only is a wish too late — the real story

From a Cure lament to goodbye to the pal I failed to meetbilly-mackenzierober-smith

I had an interesting Twitter correspondence the other day with the intriguingly  twitter-handled Yoor Woolie. Has to be a Scot, you’d reckon? Just call me Sherlock ….

It also brought up a guilty incident from my own past, which I will come to later.

Woolie had originally tweeted: “20 years ago today, we lost one of the most unique vocalists this country has ever produced, Dundonian, Billy Mackenzie”

Mackenzie (above, left)  was perhaps best known as the man with the lovely soaring falsetto vocals on songs such Party Fears Two, with the Associates, but to me, he was the tragic musician who died by suicide and was the subject of one of my favourite Cure songs, Cut Here.

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Sarcastic Dad strikes back

(Another piece inspired by the frustrations of dealing with a young teenage daughter)


“Okay, darling, just letting you know it’s half-seven. You don’t have to get up now or anything like that but it is a school morning ….

“And don’t bother gathering up your pencil-case and all that stuff you left all over your brother’s desk when you did your homework there last night. I know I asked you six times last night to do it, but like you said, why should you?“

 The expression on my 13-year-old daughter’s face as her tousled head pushes against the pillow towards me and her eyes blink open is one of complete bafflement. I leave her to it. 

Good morning, it’s Sarcastic Dad!

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My own quadrophonic seaside symphony

The lightness of being on a deserted North Beach

crowBack on the beach. The tide is but a distant swoooosh, a faintly pulsing thrum that draws you in to listen for its intermittent soothing surges. The light is low and the air is grey and heavy but throbbing high and low with trills, tweets, warbles and whistles.

The sounds are coming from every direction and none in this sweeping quadrophonic soundscape. So bracing, so full and so invigorating.

The sand scrunches pleasingly beneath my feet as I make for a low square rock to sit and take it all in for a moment.

I sit. The acrid whiff and tang of sea air assails my nostrils in such a good way. Breathe it in, sucking it up, up, up until it fills my skull and permeates my very being. The ultimate saline solution!

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Pop psychology revisited

My latest Daddy Homily gets shorter than short shrift

fullsizeoutput_22f8Maybe I was being a bit Daddy Cool. That might be it?

There I was, walking my 12-year old daughter and my 11-year-old son down to the bus stop to meet the school bus. We were in good time, the sun was shining bright on one of those pet winter days, and I just felt good. With my kids, a bounding Bella pulling on her lead all set for a good walk on the North Beach afterwards.  Life is beautiful.

I’m looking at my gorgeous daughter so tall and blossoming, in her navy Superdry hoodie and skinny jeans, her tawny hair up in a ponytail to stop her fiddling with it in school. And driving her teacher nuts. Coming to the end of primary school and thoughts turning with trepidation and excitement to secondary and the changes ahead.

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Tripping along the magical Blue Nile

Ken Sweeney’s In Search of the Blue Nile documentary a must-listen


Steeling myself for a bunch of mindless but necessary ironing, I put on something for the soul. A Facebook-flagged podcast on The Blue Nile. It’s called In Search Of The Blue Nile,  and  was made by  music journalist Ken Sweeney, who also narrates. I believe Ken lives just up the road from me, in Skerries.

It’s dark and dreary outside but my rainswept window becomes a time-bending portal to a brighter, higher world. The gently ruminative and rhapsodic world of The Blue Nile. Over the hillside beyond the sodden wasteland I am wandering in the whimsied mists of other days … ha, you see, that’s what it’s like, giving yourself up to the magic of The Blue Nile.  A diffident magic created  by three Glaswegians, of uncommon synths and sensibilities, who transformed that hardest of hard cities into Tinsel Town in the rain.  Paul Buchanan, Robert Bell and PJ Moore.

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