One year later…

This time last year I’d just returned to Glasgow from Bristol to recuperate, recover and take stock after a stroke/cancer/slipped disc/general falling apart. Basically I was in a mess this time last year and needed time out to get things together which meant doing things like learning how to deal with post-stroke pain, a slipped disc and everything else which made my first few months back in Glasgow hard.

I’d essentially fooled myself last year I was in a fitter state than I was. I was, to put it bluntly, fucked. Readjusting to the darkness of a Scottish winter didn’t help either, as mornings are a glum vision of twilight.

But thanks to the doctors, nurses and physios of the Scottish NHS I was able to pull enough of myself together to make the idea of living a life viable again. The mornings are still dark though.

So a thank you to Bridget, Hal, Andy, Mike, Lauren, Sloane, Steve, Janet and dozens of other folk that’ve made the last year easier than it could be as I now start to work out where to go next. I’ve not posted much on my current events as nothing much has happened barring being in work since July but with the comics side of things being slowly ramped up I can start to think about the future.

Loads needs still to be done. I’m still in lots of pain, and the phrase ‘pain management’ is an affirmed part of my lexicon. and my walking is slow but I’m walking which is something this time last year I couldn’t do without heavy painkillers. Rebuilding hasn’t been easy but once I work out exactly where I’m going I’ll be sure to let you all know…

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Attack of the pub singer

Many of us at some point have encountered a pub where a pub singer is in full flow and been amazed at the beautiful awfulness of them. Vic Reeves used to make pub singing part of his act as the good pub/club singer is that rough diamond where the terribleness of them becomes transcendent and becomes something so glorious it becomes the best thing you’ve ever heard.

The other week standing by the statue of Donald Dewar in Glasgow I heard the greatest, most transcendent pub singer I’ve heard doing a version of the theme from Flashdance.

Yes, I managed to get ‘Donald Dewar’ and Flashdance into a sentence…

Anyhow, this is the greatest thing you will hear. I wish I could have recorded more but I was busy giggling like a loon so wandered off before the singer realised I was recording him, but seriously, this is genius!

Enjoy.

Attack of the West End Trendies

I live in a nexus of places in Glasgow. One of those places is the West End of the city famed for people with accents that pay homage to the idea of being from Glasgow and ‘West End Trendies’, that is people like this that Limmy takes the piss out of in the below video.

Or indeed, now trendy and famous comic artist Frank Quitely in his Electric Soup days with his Wendy the West End Trendy strip.

About a minute’s walk from my flat is Finnieston, the trendiest of all West End trendy areas where one can quite literally wade waist deep in people drooling about this week’s new craft ale or that antique dress they saw. It displays the sort of pretension that makes Stokes Croft in Bristol look like Chelmsford on a Saturday night when Chelsea are at home.

On the whole these slaves to fashion are relatively harmless, but I’ve been warned of the ”ironic’ Buckfast drinker since coming back to Glasgow, and today on the train home from work I saw one in the wild for the first time.It was a sight to see someone in their best hipster jumper sip from a bottle of Buckfast while braying at his equally repellent friend brayed back at him. Fortunately I had to get off before I threw up my pelvis but seriously, if you’re ‘ironically’ drinking Buckfast then you’re just a bit of a dick. I can just about tolerate all the other bits of wankiness, but this whole ‘let’s play at being poor’ shtick is a game for pricks.

Next time I get sniffy at people who stand around by entrances looking lost while blocking the way in/out. Grrrrr…..

The hell of a daily commute

Since starting back at work I’m getting used to the daily commute, and not just that, getting used to a commute in a city (Glasgow) I’ve not done a commute in simply decades, and for years in both Bristol and Leicester I’ve lived within walking distance of work so things have changed. Not for the best either as negotiating on and off trains at Queen Street station is essentially like this.

Though with less lunatic Glaswegian cannibal punks trying to kill you.

Kill or be killed seems to be the mantra. Having spent so long in the terminally blasé setting of Bristol it will take some time to adjust to Glasgow’s more energised lifestyle as long as the cannibal punks don’t get me first…

We can get there by bus…

This is a short companion to my story of brutal murder. As I’ve mentioned I’ve started a new job, but because of the stroke recovery my walking pace makes glaciers look like The Flash which can mean walking is painfully boring, or a chance to take in things others rushing to get from A to B quicker than a Donald Trump lie.

One of the nicer things I’ve registered is I’ve walked past Killermont Street every day, which for those of us of a certain age means a certain Roddy Frame/Aztec Camera song going through my head…

There could be far worse things stuck in my head, but because Glasgow has changed so much since I last lived here it didn’t actually dawn on me I was walking through Killermont Street til this morning where this song stuck. I hope I can share this with you and do the same because the song is one of Frame’s lost wee classics…

Today I saw and heard a murder…

I saw a brutal, horrendous and probably uncompromisingly painful murder committed by two people today on the way home, and nobody did anything about it. The victim as still twitching and kicking when I lost earshot, so there may well have been life left in the poor thing, but as I just drifted out of range I heard one last death rattle so the murder was complete.

But before I explain, I should say I’m settling in back into the world of work. Today our wee group started probing each other’s lives and I got told I was aged between ’35 and 45′ so I’ll take this. Also just a wee note that my reviews of comics, etc will be found from now on at That’s Not Current, and this week you can read what I thought about Calexit #1. Anyhow, so far no major issues barring the morning smell of bleach outside the lifts at Queen Street Station, and oh, the brutal murder I witnessed this evening.

It was at Buchanan Street steps, a Glasgow landmark where I saw two men armed only with slightly out of tune electric guitars brutally wield them as they bludgeoned Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb over the head, neck and testicles til it couldn’t take any more pain or agony as it tried to crawl free to mercy, but these two lads were merciless as they garrotted this song (which I may remind you was finely covered by the Scissor Sisters) until it couldn’t breathe.

I’ve seen and heard brutal things in my life but the cold callousness here is something that shall live with me forever, and to make it worse as I drifted out of distance I’m sure I heard them round on Life on Mars.

The murderous bastards!

What I thought of Glasgow Comic Con 2017

I’ve attended more comic conventions and marts as an ordinary punter rather than a dealer or publisher in the last three months than I have for the last 35 years.The latest is the Glasgow Comic Con (GCC) which is a well established con having started in 2011 and seemingly growing every year.

I’ve discussed often on this blog the state of British conventions and how they split into two; the San Diego multimedia type and the one where comics are still the primary focus. GCC falls firmly in the latter type which is good as the former comes with issues which I’m not going to spend too much time on but the main one is that there doesn’t seem to be much love for the comics medium itself at these shows. This cannot be said of GCC where creators ranging from small press to established creators rub shoulders, and they do rub shoulders as the venue (Royal Concert Hall) is simply impractical as the convention has simply outgrown it.

Take the dealers room. Not a huge selection of dealers but getting through the aisles was a chore, especially if you’re disabled as I am or if you’re in a wheelchair. Now this wasn’t anything as bad as the Bristol Comics Expo in 2014 which was frankly, fucking recklessly planned on part of the organisers but put it like this; I had more people bump into me nearly knocking me over in a day than I did during the week I was at Glastonbury. Now I don’t know if they can find a hotel, and I don’t know what the place is like since the refurbishment, but the Central Hotel did us right when we organised Glasgow’s first comic convention 32 years ago. Whether it can be got for the right price is another matter but I can’t see the current venue being practical in the long term.

This aside, the convention is astonishingly professionally run. Far too many cons have staff who seem to have no skills in actually dealing with people, but this wasn’t the case here as a one-day con fairly rattled through a programme of talks featuring 2000AD creators such as Pat Mills and Fraser Irving, not to mention signings from John Wagner, Jamie McKelvie and Keiron Gillen.

The small press row/room endured the usual sub-superhero nonsense or elves (bloody elves!) I’ve been seeing in small press rooms going back decades but there was enough originality not to mention talent on display to suggest some of the folk there have a career in an industry which is utterly unforgiving and brutal. Look though to Gillen and McKelvie. I remember the Bristol con in the early 2000’s where they launched Phonogram as a sharp injection of thrilling originality from two talents who were ahead of the game. it was a breath of fresh air to see creators try hard to make something new and that for me is your gold standard if you’re an aspiring creator in the 21st century. Superheroes and fantasy are genres where you wade through them but if you do use those genres make it personal and most of all, good!

Highlight of the day was former UKCAC organiser Frank Plowright interviewing Pat Mills about all the things Pat likes talking about, though I must say Pat was very chilled when mid-90’s 2000AD was brought up.

Overall this is a nice medium sized one-day event that’s grown out of the venue and the one day and we need comics conventions that are still about comics, rather than media or cosplay. Let the megacons soak up that market and it’s nice to know all these years after a load of us kicked off Glasgow’s comic marts/cons in the 80’s that they’re still going strong today.