Back Wynd of the Mind

Chip papers jostle for attention on a windy wynd

And taxicabs are few and farther between.

We watch the gravestones in St Nicholas

Floodlit angels in silent solitude

Stand sentinel, listening…

For the music of the night.

 

 

Saplings

(Westburn  Park 1977)

 

Stretching skyward

Stick thin saplings

Chickenwire covered

Spiky as punk.

 

Used as goalposts

Makeshift coat hooks

As we played football

On parched grass.

 

The Office Runs Itself

Since the Lockdown started, what was it, five, maybe six weeks ago, Alan had lost all track of time, each day seemed to merge into the next. Like all of the working population , he had always looked forward to Friday, the start of the weekend, when people went on nights out to pubs and clubs, met friends for coffee ,that sort of thing, in it what seemed like another life , in another time that had receded into history, because of the Coronavirus.

He now looked forward to his daily Exercise Time of 3.30pm, and today it was even bright and sunny which was a bonus in late April in the North-East of Scotland.

This was when he escaped the claustrophobia of his flat and walked as far as he could within an hour or so.

After being cooped up in the place most of the day, it was an absolute delight to be out in the open, in the fresh air, and to gaze up at the wide expanse of pale blue sky high above him.

It really made him feel glad to be alive, to appreciate things that he had previously taken for granted, like bird song, the smells of flowers, the heat of the sun’s rays.

This, he thought was also a great chance to reignite memories and mull over ideas for stories, poems, and articles which he would publish on his website, which was slowly becoming more popular since the advent of the Lockdown.

An amateur writer, he had been writing daily since being furloughed from his job, with no real end to this on the horizon. He was working on a novella, a piece of autobiographical fiction describing his life in the 1980s, he had written 8900 words, and was almost there.

It was going well, it was a question of getting it right and editing out the stuff he did not need, separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

His next project, was going to be a supernatural horror story, he had done this successfully a few years ago, but wondered if the public who visited his website would want anything of this nature now, given that the Virus which was upon the world really embodied the ultimate horror.

Which begged the question, which direction did  a writer of this genre go now, did they return to the ghost story style of the late 19thcentury, ghost stories of an antiquity, like M.R. James or to the ‘weird’ and ‘elemental’, what had become known as ‘folk horror’ style of Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood, those guys from years ago?

Alan was not at all sure, but was willing to give either option a try, after all he had the time, lots of time on his hands.

He preferred the understated weird stories of Ramsey Campbell and Thomas Ligotti to other  authors who seemed to deal in vivid description of gratuitous bloodletting, and gushing gore which were not his scene at all.

Anyway, on his afternoon walk, he would let his mind wander and the ideas for writing would come to him, rushing headlong at him like idiots flouting the proscribed social distancing laws.

Every day for the last two weeks, he had walked past the empty office blocks of the oil industry which had once made Aberdeen a proud city, the oil capital of Scotland, if not the UK, back in the halcyon days of the 80s.

These vacant husks of concrete, steel and glass which once been hubs of the industry, now lay empty, serving as mausoleums in memoriam to an industry in decline, which like everything else was currently on hold.

There were no longer any vehicles in the car park, only a congregation of corvids holding court in their place.

He walked up towards the office blocks and could see that one of the fire escapes was open.

What the hell, there were not going to be any security staff in the place, so he would go in and have a look around, he was not a housebreaker or anything, he was simply curious, as a child might be.

What could possibly happen?

What got him first was the eerie silence in the place, and how cold it was.

How old was this building, maybe late 1960s ?

It was not just ancient decrepit buildings that could be haunted, he had read about this, he thought, maybe this could be his story idea.

He was surprised at how light it was inside the building, there were lots of windows, and skylights.

A smell of disinfectant permeated the corridor, as it had Alan’s own workplace, the cleaning staff had been working overtime, and effectively all the time, to sanitize the buildings once the onset of the Virus was confirmed , just prior to the Lockdown .

He walked along a corridor festooned with signs relating to safety during Coronavirus, the carpet was gaudily patterned and gave rise to images in his mind from some old horror movie.

He opened a door with a start, as it squealed in protest at being opened after weeks of disuse.

He walked up a flight of stairs, the stone steps and banisters reminded of school back in the 70s, his footsteps echoing in the void of the stairwell.

He opened another creaking door and walked into the offices, a nice open plan office suite, which looked like the staff had left in a hurry , as if the fire alarm had gone off ; one of the computers was still on , pens and pencils and other office stationary lay out as if their owners were to be returning.

There was a rustling from behind him, just the wind, he said to himself.

Sure enough, someone had left a window open and the blinds were blowing slightly.

There was nobody in here, was there?

At the end of the corridor he had entered from, he could have sworn that the door moved, as if someone had gone through it , or opened it to see who was in the building, maybe a security guard still patrolling the place?

But then, why would there be anyone in the building if it were closed due to the contagion?

He walked back into the office , looking at the office paraphernalia on the desks, a book caught his eye, by Edgar Allan Poe, the book was opened at the ‘Masque of the Red Death’ , wasn’t that a story about a contagion? It was accompanied by a couple of others, Lost Girl by Adam Nevill, and the Journal of the Plague Year, by Daniel Defoe, someone in this place had being reading about contagions, would Google not have been an easier option?

Alan wondered momentarily about the owner of these books, but they were not around he would swipe them for himself, he liked horror, so Poe and Nevill would be great, Defoe he would keep anyway, what the hell.

He fumbled them into his side pockets of his jacket and heard the rustling sound behind him again.

‘Hello?’ he said to the silence.

He left the office and walked along the corridor he had entered by, the door was moving again, there was a swishing sound as if someone had just gone through it.

He ran up to the door and opened it, no evidence of anyone there.

Hello? he said once again to the silence.

There was no reply from the silence.

Satisfied that he was imagining things, he had been on his own too long during the Lockdown, living on your own was a good thing most of the time, but sometimes it made you doubt yourself , imagine and escalate things in your mind.

For a moment Alan had been doing just that.

What the hell, he would have another look in the office, what harm would it do?

He returned to the desk where the computer was still on. He tapped the keyboard, and clicked the mouse, bloody hell, he thought, the computer at the desk where the books had been ; there was a story here, the person with all the books about contagions, plagues and things was writing a story about it also, a fellow writer.

Wow, there was a coincidence, the character in the story was called Alan, and he had just entered an empty office in a city during Lockdown.

He looked around, hearing the sound again, they were someone in the room within, wasn’t there?

He heard the rustling sound, and the room had become a tad warmer.

Hello? he said again, panic stricken, hoping that the presence, whatever it was in the room would show itself.

The keyboard started clicking unbidden, and was continuing the story, and there was nobody visibly typing though the words were appearing on the screen.

 

‘Alan walked back into the office where he had stolen the books, and was filled with horror at the fact that it appeared that someone or thing unseen was in there with him, he walked up to the computer which had been, he heard the rustling sound, the rustling sound again.

 

The rustling sound was coming from the wastepaper bin in front of Alan, paper crumpling itself up, or some creature making a nest in the bin?

What was coming next?

Each computer monitor lit up and Alan could hear the clack of ten keyboards in the office typing at the same time, the building was getting warmer, and the lights were switching themselves on, pens were rolling off desks, desk fans switching on.

Alan looked on in disbelief at what was enfolding before his eyes, and wondered was this what a breakdown was like?

The printer at the door clicked into life and started regurgitating A4 sheets of paper which bore the title of the story each user-less keyboard was typing , the title was ‘The Office Runs Itself’, some sheets of paper spewed relentlessly into the feeder tray, and others flew out  in all directions.

Alan retrieved some of the sheets from the floor looking for the conclusion of the story but could not find it.

He had heard many a colleague in his working life saying that the ‘Office Runs Itself’ but has always taken that to be the height of sarcasm , but here it was, that statement come true, an office that ran without staff.

The rustling came closer to Alan as the bin tipped over its contents, and the doors of the office clicked home to locking him in.

He ran for the doors, and shouted for help, of course, there is no staff, but the office will always run, said the ghost of a memory in Alan’s head, as he banged vainly against the door, pleading for mercy in a last desperate effort to escape.

What was scarier, this or what was going on outside with the potential for catching the Virus?

Alan’s last thoughts were drowned out by the buzzing of what he thought was the fire alarm.

Then…. the noise, the buzzing, it sounded like a ring tone, the ring tone of his mobile.

He was not dead after all, he was back in the flat, the living space, the garret, his phone alarm buzzing to remind him of his Exercise Time, which was in ten minutes.

He pulled on his trainers, put on his fleece jacket and baseball cap, grabbed his keys, and walked out into the most beautiful afternoon in late April, full of ideas for stories in his head.

 

 

 

 

Musical Musings- Bob Dylan- Bringing It All Back Home

Way back in 1984 , on a Saturday afternoon browsing session in the legendary 1-UP Records in Rosemount Viaduct , Aberdeen, I bought ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ by Bob Dylan. I was no stranger to Dylan’s music , having  recently purchased his new live album, ‘Real Live’ , and his eponymous first album on cassette.  (I was also no stranger to 1-UP Records on Saturdays , as many of my generation in Aberdeen were ; other buys about the same time were  Nick Cave’s ‘From Her to Eternity’, The Blasters first album and Robert Johnson’s ‘King of the Delta Blues Singers) . I brought the album back home, took it out of the sleeve , placed it on the turntable and turned up the volume as the house was empty. I savoured the sound of  ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ filling the front room of my parents’ house,  a rich and  relentess brew of words, music and whooping harmonica, I loved it , I played the whole album  track after track, not something I often did with a new LP back in those days.

A lot of classics here, I thought, ‘Maggie’s Farm’ , ‘Outlaw Blues,’ ‘Love Minus Zero/No Limit’,  and ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, which the Byrds had memorably covered , and I had  heard on juke boxes in various hostelries throughout the city.

It was produced by Tom Wilson, who also produced ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’ , so the sound had a similar feel, except Dylan played the harmonica and the music had some quieter acoustic moments , which the VU didn’t really have.

This was just one album that had a big influence on my musical taste as an adult.

The back of the record sleeve had a untitled poem , a long rambling stream of consciousness piece which if read out loud didn’t make too much sense, but which was something that I really took on board, it was Dylan, so it was cool to me ,  it was like  writing of the ‘Beat Generation’ authors, of which Jack Keroauc was one.  I had recently discovered Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ , and anything similar really appealed to me, I liked the long rambling rhythmic sentences which reminded me of the chattering of a child or teenager who has never learned how to be quiet, maybe akin to my younger self, though I may be doing myself a disservice by saying that.

Oh , and of course , it was set in the U.S.A which was totally outwith my own experience.

I look at this sleeve almost 40 years later to see that the names of Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, and Hank Williams and the words ‘psychic explosion ‘ , have all been underlined in blue Biro by me , I suspect for future reference, though my memory is somewhat sketchy on this.

I did read both Mailer and Ginsberg decades ago , and I still listen to  Hank Williams from time to time, so I suspect that was it, for future reference.

Anyway, Dylan’s songs were also covered by a lot of bands coming up at this time, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the Triffids, U2 , The Waterboys and a lot of newer bands from the USA, like Green On Red,  the Dream Syndicate and Jason and the Scorchers who all were no strangers to playing a Dylan cover.

The likes of Dylan, Jim Morrison, Patti Smith, Tom Waits and Lou Reed , all became part of my staple musical diet, as I saw all of them the poetic lyricists they undoubtedly were. I preferred their music to what was going on at the time musically, as at the time , I saw myself as an aspiring poet, or at least , someone who scribbled down the odd poetic line here and there and believed  it to be poetry.

I was regularly borrowing books from the library , ‘No One Here Gets Out Alive’ by Danny Sugerman, about Jim Morrison and the Doors, ‘Up Tight’,  the story of the Velvet Underground, by Gerard Malanga , poetry by Patti Smith,  and old fashioned poetry I didn’t quite understand by the likes of W.B. Yeats and William Blake, maybe this was as we say these days , a steep learning curve, but not one I had the patience for at that time, that would come later.

It feels strange when you think back to the  first time you heard a song by an artist that embedded itself  in your mind, I seem to recall the first time I heard  Bob Dylan was when I was leaving the Royal Athenaeum in Aberdeen about 1981/82, during a work leaving do .

I recall this song on the jukebox with the swirling keyboard sound , and the hoarse voiced singer going on about how it felt to be a rolling stone.

I didn’t know, yet, but I guessed that I would one day.

Over the years, I have seen Dylan live several times, but I always return to this album and to those others of the 60s period, though I do have a soft spot for those he recorded in the 80s and 90s.

Musical Musings – Rory Gallagher – Live In Europe

1980 was a good year for rock music, Motorhead, Rush, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest all had good albums on the go, and Aberdeen had  a fair few gigs that year, I have mentioned Motorhead’s ‘Ace Up Your Sleeve ‘ tour already , but another gig that really caught my attention,  was one by the Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher, who played at the legendary Capitol Theatre on 27th September 1980.

He was promoting his latest live album ‘Stagestruck’ , which had recently been released, I hadn’t really heard much of his work before that gig , apart from the 1972 live album ‘Live In Europe’. This music was  something  a wee bit different to what I was used to in those days , ‘blues-rock’,  evidently was the label going around for this type of music, it wasn’t heavy metal, it wasn’t blues , just somewhere in between. I already liked Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top,  both of whose first albums were typically  blues-rock. A couple of guys from school played guitar , and they always went on about ‘Gallagher being as good as Hendrix’ , I wasn’t sure I agreed with that one. I would say , with the benefit of years of listening, to music that Gallagher was maybe the nearest in style to Johnny Winter,  equally adept switching from electric to acoustic guitar, like the old masters he emulated.

Anyway, the gig in 1980 was excellent,  with the usual crowd surging forward as often happened at the Capitol. It was a great gig showcasing songs old and new, with several encores, I recall a guy behind me shouting out for ‘Pistol Slapper Blues’ repeatedly, and Gallagher came back onstage to rapturous applause ; he said ‘ a tune by Blind Boy Fuller, Pistol Slapper Blues’ playing a mandolin accompanied by the stomping of his foot . I knew this one from ‘Live In Europe’ , and revisited that album many times that week, I was also the proud owner of a Rory Gallagher ‘Stagestruck’ T-shirt and badge also, this was part of the ritual of being at a concert back then.

Here was a new music for me to latch onto , blues not blues rock, but blues which originated in the USA , the roots of rock, I suppose.

This was music which came originally out of slavery and extreme poverty in the USA during the early 20th Century, and expressed the lives of the people of those times, a lot of these musicians had been rediscovered by younger musician fans  (Canned Heat,Ry Cooder and others) and by academics in the 1960s.

Later on, my generation would discover these musicians, the likes of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and  John Lee Hooker for ourselves, through the music of bands like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and Cream, and musicians like Rory Gallagher and Van Morrison, if we heard someone play a song, we would search out the original to see how it compared- the record collector mentality in action.

I saw Rory Gallagher live once more, but in a more intimate club setting, in the Aberdeen Venue at the Douglas Hotel in August of 1986,  and it was a cracking gig, a short set from the band, and a solo spot from Rory playing National Steel guitar, on Walkin’ Blues, the Robert Johnson tune, and a Leadbelly tune.

After that , he produced some fine music, notably the cds  Defender (1987) , and his final studio album  Fresh Evidence (1991), and also the posthumous Box set last year Rory Gallagher Blues, which is well worth the investigation.

But it  was the ‘Live in Europe’ album that opened my ears to the  blues in a big way, and from that time onwards I have been a huge fan of blues , and also blues-influenced music.

 

 

Musical Musings – Hawkwind- Warrior on the Edge of Time.

Back in the long hot summer of 1981, I had a temporary job at Mostyn’s , Rosemount Place, Aberdeen.

I hadn’t managed to get into the course I planned to study, so I was knocking in time before finding myself a ‘proper job’ , for the meantime, I was selling shoes to the populace of Aberdeen.

The location of the shop was quite handy for me as it was just across the road from the 1-UP record store.

I would spend my lunch break browsing the racks in search of  new bands and music that interested me, in the same way as I had done in my schooldays.

Post ‘Ace of Spades’ , I was searching for other bands that Ian ‘Lemmy ‘ Kilmister had been involved in, Hawkwind were to become the first band I would search for.

I  also knew he had played bass for the Damned at one point, and a psychedelic band called Sam Gopal, I had seen the Pete Frame Rock Family Tree in one of the music weeklies, so those were on my ‘to buy’ list, if they ever came my way.

In those days rare records were just that , rare,  something you searched for , not just something that was one click away on a website.

Anyway, I had the record collecting bug and that meant looking out for all sorts of rarities of the band ; I had a friend who bought the 12″ and 7″ singles of certain bands to get the live track on a B-side or something similar, not to mention the picture disc or coloured vinyl version; you wonder these days what the sense in that would have been, but back then, this was what record collectors did, and still do.

One lunchtime in 1-UP I bought the Hawkwind single of ‘Motorhead’, which was really good, if a little slower than Motorhead’s version of the same song,  and with Dave Brock rather than Lemmy on vocals; then I spied this weird looking album cover, like the cover of  a 1970s sci-fi book, which I discovered folded out into the shape of a shield – a collector’s item if ever there was one ; the album ‘Warrior on the Edge of Time’, the band Hawkwind. This was Lemmy’s last album with the band prior to his being sacked.

I bought it and the single and returned to the shoe store a happy man. Hawkwind weren’t a band I knew anything much about, and that would change over the course of the next few years.

I was aware of  their big hit , ‘Silver Machine’ from back in 1972, which was played at a lot of the church hall discos I occasionally attended, but apart from that Hawkwind were new to me.

I looked at the inner sleeve to discover that Michael Moorcock , the sci-fi writer , was a guest of the band on this one and as it turned out, a few albums subsequent to this. I was familiar with Moorcock’s work, as I had read some of his ‘Elric’ novels from the library. So that was good for starters.  I liked the rockier songs, ‘Kings of Speed’ and ‘Magnu’ at first, they were cracking, as was the weird instrumental ‘ Spiral Galaxy 28948’, the other longer songs , like ‘Assault and Battery’/’The Golden Void’  and the instrumental  ‘Opa Loka’ , were what we might call ‘immersive’ these days, and the haunting almost folky ‘Demented Man’,  is similar in style to Nick Drake or maybe the very early David Bowie.

Moorcock intones his two poems /spoken pieces ‘The Wizard Blew His Horn’ and ‘Warriors’ in a very theatrical way, and its compelling stuff inspired by his ‘Eternal Champion’ stories , and the band are on form , with a real mixed bag of music which is pretty much uncategorizable, was it psychedelic, proto-punk,  prog- rock, jazz-rock, space-rock?

Probably all of those labels, which have lost meaning with the passage of time, its Hawkwind music.

It was certainly weird and otherworldy when you hear it  for the first time, but I grew to love their music, so much that I have amassed a veritable library of Hawkwindiana over the years,  and I think their influence is still out there , in my opinion, in bands like Primal Scream , Moon Duo and and the music of singer-songwriter, Jane Weaver.

They are still on the go, 50-odd years after their inception, incredibly, and released a new album earlier this year.

Musical Musings- Bruce Springsteen- Nebraska

Up until 1982, I had dismissed Bruce Springsteen’s music , I suppose at the time I was too young to appreciate it, it wasn’t loud and heavy enough, and maybe didn’t fit in with what my peers liked, then Nebraska changed all that for me.

I was starting to diversify my musical tastes, going to the Aberdeen Central Library (Record Lending Section) and borrowing random music to see if I liked it, things like Jimi Hendrix, and stuff from the 1960s. I liked Hendrix and album called ‘Immediate Blues’ ( the Immediate label, which featured various Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck ), and early ZZ Top , but was as yet unaware of the uncharted waters of American music, of blues, country, folk, whatever.

Then I was invited to a party by an old school pal, this was at his neighbours’ flat , they were an American couple called Scott and Susan, I think they were based in Aberdeen due to the oil, but that doesn’t matter; what does was that they had the biggest record collection I had ever seen, hundreds of albums , a lot from the what they called British rock bands, like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, the  psychedelic hippy era, blues, folk, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, you name it , they had it. As I was early to the party they allowed me to rummage through the albums. Wow, an opportunity not to be missed, I thought.

I found Jimi Hendrix ‘Are You Experienced’ , and stuck it on the turntable of their expensive stereo, a Bang and Olufsen, I think, with speakers which dwarfed my own Boots Audio speakers at home,  I was in seventh heaven, what a classic, great guitar style, I really  enjoyed that one.

I rifled through the collection of Deep Purple- The Book of Taliesin, Made in Japan, so much to look and listen to, so little time.

Anyway, by this time the other guests had started to arrive so I took a seat and picked up a magazine to leaf through as I waited for the people I knew to come in. Here was the ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, not one I had come across before, an American publication, I flipped to the review section to see if there were any reviews of bands I liked. There were none , but there was a review of  new Bruce Springsteen album entitled ‘Nebraska’, evidently it was an all acoustic album, which was inspired by the music of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams, I had no idea who these guys were , but was intrigued by what was said in the review.

I had never really heard much acoustic guitar and harmonica music , so I thought I would take a chance on it. I bought my copy at the legendary 1 -UP record store in Rosemount Viaduct, and took it home, it took a while to get into, it was very sparse, there were no guitar solos or anything, the only other instrument being a harmonica, and you could actually  hear what Bruce was singing about.

The songs were little stories about small town American folk, set to music, their narratives were quite dark in places , some bleak , and some uplifting and positive.

His characters reminded me of people from books I had read by John Steinbeck and Stephen King, ordinary people doing their best to navigate their way through Life, with or without a light at the end of the tunnel . Here was something new to me, was this folk music? I suppose it was , certainly folk influenced . Maybe Springsteen was like Woody Guthrie or Hank Williams, two musicians I had yet to discover, but whose names, at that time, sounded to me like characters in a John Wayne western.

Nebraska  was also a great thing at the time of its release, here was someone who wrote songs that told a story, something that spoke to me , as opposed to  the vapid synthesizer based pop that flooded the pop charts of the time.

Meantime Nebraska took pride of place in my collection along with all my rock and heavy metal albums, and provided another strand to my musical taste. This proved to be my route to discovering Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Woody Guthrie, Steve Earle and Hank Williams, and the roots of the rock music I grew up with.

Musical Musings- Blue Oyster Cult- Agents of Fortune

I was given a challenge on Facebook to name 10 LPs which have been influential on my musical taste.

As I have a large and varied collection of music , I decided to go for the ten which I believe have over the years influenced my musical taste in some way, whether they influenced me to seek other bands which were similar or even authors who were name-checked in sleevenotes or lyrics.

This was before the days of the Internet, and you really had to find out things for yourself , rather than Googling on your phone, computer or device of choice.

A lot of musical discoveries came from word of mouth or the music papers of the time, Sounds and NME.

Blue Oyster Cult’s Agents of Fortune was the one , which I would say started me on my journey of musical fandom.

It was in the summer of 1978 when I first heard (‘Don’t Fear)  The Reaper’ with the jangling introduction reminiscent of the Byrds,  and the screaming guitar solo in the middle of the song.

I recall hearing this while sitting out in the back garden of my family home, sipping my Soda Stream Cola on a hot summer day, ‘turn that racket down‘, someone said. I wasn’t  listening to that , I was in words of the disco song that came a couple of years later on, ‘lost in music’.

It  was played on the radio on a Saturday afternoon, yes folks, back in those days, we sat in the sun playing music on radios back then, when times were a lot simpler than they are now.

I loved this song, I bought the single , which was a big hit in the UK at that time, and as we tended to do at the time, bought the album on the back of ‘the single was good, so the album will be too‘ idea, which was something my school friends went along with.

My two paper delivery rounds , one in the morning and one after school , financed my album buying habit, and concerts which I would come to later.

Of course, as I have said there were the music papers of the day, if the critics of ‘Sounds’ said it was good, it was bound to be good.

Years later, I have the cd of the album  (with bonus live tracks) , which I feel is still really good , and to these ears, stands the test of time, with a mixture of rock and pop, what I recall was known as AOR on American radio back then.

I recall a music critic in the 80’s critiquing their album ‘The Revolution by Night’ and  compared them  musically to a cross between the Beach Boys and the Doors.  I’m not sure about that, but they do have vocal harmonies on some songs like the Beach Boys , and write about the darker aspects of life , as the Doors did, but their sound is more rock based that the aforementioned others.

The lyrics were a bit different , maybe a bit more intelligent than other ‘heavy metal’ bands of the day, and Blue Oyster Cult were later  to collaborate on songs with Patti Smith, Jim Carroll , and Michael Moorcock , all famous names in their own right.

BOC , as they were known to the cool kids in the school playground, were just one of the many bands spoken of at that time, we all had badges of our favourite bands, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, bands who had really come on the scene a few years before , but who some folk became acquainted with through elder siblings record (or tape) collections. Bands who became part of our lives, for better or worse.

My poem ‘1978’ from ‘Back Wynd of the Mind’ perhaps captures the moment.

In the washed-out

Pre-shrunk days

Of seventy -eight

 

Just after punk

Before we got drunk

And learned to smoke

 

On the cusp

Our teenage minds

Not yet corrupt

 

Floyd full volume

The B-side of ‘Dark Side’

the screaming ‘axe’ sole in

‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’

 

Our future was rosy

With bands of all colours

Our Floyd was pink, but

Our purple was deeper.

Walking Impressions

As I walk quickly , I am reminded of the speed at which my Dad walked when I was small, how I struggled to keep up with him, and how I probably walk equally  fast now.

I walk down Fountainhall Road , avoiding a runner here, a walker there in the interest of social distancing.

The soundtrack to my musings is Mike Scott’s ‘City Full of Ghosts’ from his first solo album, I often think of songs when I walk, rather then wearing headphones, which is not for me.

Maybe ‘City Full of Ghosts’ is something you would say about all cities in the world at the moment.

I see the vacant buildings in a state of disrepair with weeds sprouting from gutterings ,  the multiplicity of ‘For Sale’ and ‘For Let’ signs,  the litter blowing in the streets, the abundance of birds; jackdaws, crows, magpies, and the ubiquitous seagulls.

The streets are empty as on Sundays when I was a child, when the shops didn’t open, and its also reminiscent of Christmas Day or New Year’s Day when there is rarely anyone about.

I find that sounds are clearer as there is a lack of traffic; the howl of the wind seems omnipresent, the sound of birdsong,  the whirr of an approaching bicycle, the echo of footsteps from runners or fellow walkers.

As I walk down Albyn Place, I notice the trees branches look like gnarled limbs growing on grotesque figures , some of them look like they have faces albeit not faces you would like to meet on a dark night.

I promise myself that I will photograph some of these for artwork during the Lockdown.

As I return to my home area, I notice familiar streets which I have walked for 40 plus years, since I was a paperboy, a lot of these houses looks much as they did back then, but there are lots of additions to them, conservatories, garages, giant sheds, its amazing what you notice when you have time.

Views

Swans skimming

Skew the surface

Tinfoil river in

Dark autumn sky

 

 

Billboards beckon

Proffering products

Urging lone walkers

To buy-buy-buy

 

Sunlight leaks

Pours goldish -yellow

Lights up the stillness

At dawn of the day.

 

( From the booklet ‘Canvases 1-12′ – Aberdeen Poets on Art and Artists’ – Malfranteaux Concepts- 2004)