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Acceptance of rejection

22 Nov

My friend Fiona Stewart, who founded Foolproof Creative Arts, asked me to contribute a episode to her ‘Foolproof Bites’ mini-podcast series – something related to working in the arts as a Christian. I must have been in a less-than-upbeat mood, because the topic I chose was rejection – specifically rejection as a writer, by the way, lest you think I’m a Norma No Mates.

It’s an ever-relevant topic for a writer, though, and never more than this year. I will say more about this in my review of the year, but I set myself a target for submissions of work, and the only acceptance I have had all year is from Esperanto in Scotland, which doesn’t pay, is always short of contributions, and where I am friends with the editor. So yes, feeling a little rejected.

Anyway, the mini-podcast is actually not that depressing, and features me reading poetry, if that floats your boat. (I did read it, to be on the safe side, but it’s one of a number of poems I can recite in their entirety. Memorising poems without even trying that hard is one of my fun but mostly useless talents. I can also wiggle my ears.)

You can also listen to other episodes by Christians working in the arts, including those by my friends Matthew Todd (filmmaker) and Sam O’Donnell (painter). See, I told you I have friends!

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Robin Hood – the man, the myth, the legend

4 Oct

I am very sleepy today because last night I was up past my bedtime, appearing on the Monday Night Fan Club on Radio 5 Live.

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Five books to make you think

12 Sep

There are a number of reasons for an author to have a website. So that people can get information about my books is the obvious one. So that I can share my impassioned or facetious opinions without inconveniencing my general acquaintance is another. But a third, which is quite fun, is that sometimes people contact you unexpectedly via the website.

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Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care

31 Jan

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things – our vocabulary (go back in time and try telling your past self that you’re not sure whether to take a PCR or an LFT because you may have caught Omicron from an anti-masker even though you’re double-vaxxed), our workplace habits (hello, Zoom), our travel and our priorities. One of the very minor things it has changed is my mind about songs with actions.

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Christmas Mythbusting

22 Dec

I am hoping to get another post written before Christmas about my favourite Christmas pop songs, but with my current workload I’m making no promises. Fortunately, a couple of articles I wrote last month have just gone live, so you can enjoy those instead.

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Copped out

17 Nov

I was going to tell you all about my exciting time during COP26, complete with getting drenched on the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice march (otherwise known as ‘the big march’) and doing lots and lots of smiling with the eyes and gritting with the teeth while helping to host fringe events at my church (climate activists can be surprisingly bad at putting recycling in the recycling bin) but after a slow weekend recovering from all that, I find myself horrendously busy again.

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Not just your basic, average, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum dyslexic

5 Aug

And if you didn’t get the film reference in the title, shame on you.

A few weeks back I was interviewed by Darius Namdaran, director of the BulletMap Academy, for his Dyslexia Explored podcast. He got in touch because he had come across one of my posts on this website about the joys of dyslexia (yes, there are some).

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What I learned at DyslexiFest

12 Oct

This was supposed supposed to be a proper reblog, where the original post appears below, and you can read the first part of it right here, but I’m currently away from my laptop and it turns out not to be so easy on a phone. I’m doing my best, OK?

Anyway, the point of this pseudo-reblog is that I’ve just written a wee piece for Dyslexia Scotland’s blog, A Life Less Ordinary, about four things I learnt at DyslexiFest.

DyslexiFest (which I find ironically hard to spell) was a “celebration of all things dyslexic” that was held in Glasgow last weekend. Don’t think there’s anything to celebrate about dyslexia? Read my previous posts on the subject (here and here) or just have a read of the Dyslexia Scotland blog.

Anyway, you can read about it the event here: #DyslexiFest

Meanwhile, I will think fondly of my laptop sitting obediently on my desk. But with a smartphone (and, importantly, a charger) in my bag, I’m sure I will find plenty of ways to amuse myself while pretending I’m working.

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The Gate of Desire Ajar

21 Sep

There’s a poem on the wall next to platform 10 in Glasgow Central station. posted up there to mark the relaunch of the Caledonian Sleeper service (unfortunately with sharply increased prices, meaning that I will be unlikely ever to sample its comforts). It’s by Alfred Cochrane, an English cricketer and I was rather taken by it, so I looked for it on the web, naturally, and couldn’t find it – well, not apart from a couple of references in old issues of the Oban Times.

It is called “Northward Bound”, apparently (or
“Northward Bound Once Again”), and it beautifully sums up the call of the Highlands, which even the least energetic among us (i.e. me) feel the power of. It has a rather poignant, bittersweet beginning, but works its way up to a much more uplifting ending.

I think it deserves to be more widely known, so as it’s not online, I’m going to put it there. (Don’t worry, it’s out of copyright – just.)

And in case you have difficulty reading from the photos, or you’re using text-to-speech, here’s the full text:

Does your heart still beat with the old excitement
As you wait where the Scotch expresses are?
Does it answer still to the old indictment
Of a fond delight in a sleeping car,
As it did when the rush through the autumn night
Meant the gate of desire ajar?

Or has the enchanting task grown tougher?
Has the arrow beyond you flown?
The hill that was once rough enough grown roughter,
The steepest climb you’ve ever known?
For the forest abhors a veteran duffer,
Sorely beaten and blown.

Ah, the years, the years, they are rusty and mothy;
The flesh it is weak, that once was strong.
But the brown burn over the stone falls frothy;
The music it sings is a siren song
And the pony’ll take you as far as the bothy,
And that’ll help you along.

See! From the tops the mist is stealing!
Out with the stalking glass for a spy!
Round Craig an Eran an eagle is wheeling,
Black on the blue September sky.
A fig for the years! Why, youth and healing
At the end of your journey lie.

Alfred Cochrane

By popular request – a post in Albanian (postim ne shqip)

25 Jul

(Ok, readers who don’t speak Albanian, just skip to the next post – this one’s for the Albanians who don’t speak English.)

Te dashur lexues shqiptarë, ja një postim në shqip me në fund. Do të më falni për gabimet në shkrimin.

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