Libraries And Learning

I feel I need to write a little more here. It seems it should be a natural progression that while my Priptona Weird blog is on its downwards trajectory that the University & Unicorns blog should be on the ascent – at least in terms of the frequency of my posts and interactions with said blogs, right?

I’ve certainly been more focused on the aspect of my creative writing and uni study than I have with music and more to the point, Simple Minds music.

A sign of things to come (a street traversed heading to the university library. It was missing an R though…)

Certain other struggles abound. I find my mood fluctuating wildly at present. Mostly I feel incredibly insular and I rarely seek the company of others. I have always been pretty comfortable in my own company which makes it very weird that I should find myself permanently craving the attention of one person in particular and I don’t seem to be able to shut this desire off. That I just don’t have enough self-esteem or self-belief to banish that desire and get away from it. I get eternally angry with myself for not being able to let this desire go because I KNOW how unhealthy it is and I know that this person really couldn’t give a flying fig about me….and yet. And yet.

I just needed to air that thing here.

I haven’t been writing any fictional prose over the past 10 days. I’ve entered two writing comps and want to enter a few more before my new uni module starts. I had intentions of writing for much longer entries for a couple of writing comps – ones with entries that required a minimum of 2000 words written but I haven’t started on any of them. I’m not going to pressure myself. The fact that I have actually entered comps is good and I definitely will be entering a few more before uni starts back up. 

As well as making sure I am continuing to write I am making sure that I am reading as well. 

Last Monday (14 August), I took myself to Possilpark library (my most local branch of Glasgow libraries to my home) with an application form that I had picked up a few days before from the Hillhead branch that I had since filled out – and got myself a library card – AT LAST. Because Covid had struck barely three months after we moved to Glasgow (and also bearing in mind I was in Sydney for a month around Christmas of 2019), we hadn’t had the chance to get signed up to the library when the first lockdown happened. We did get temporary access to the library’s online resources but then the branches were closed for extended periods of time, etc, etc. When restrictions finally lifted and life went slowly back to normal, I was in the middle of study and had other things going on and I just didn’t find the time to get membership to Glasgow libraries sorted. Until now.

It feels very surreal to have this. Hate my photo. My head is shaped like a bell(end), but hey ho. Lol. I never wanted to win a beauty prize.

So now, not only am I FINALLY a cardholder of Glasgow libraries and have an ASTONISHING 32 branches across Glasgow at my choosing to visit (with Possilpark, Springburn, Milton, Woodside, Maryhill, the GoMA, The Mitchell and Hillhead branches all within my most immediate proximity for visitation and use) – over the past week I applied to have access to the University of Glasgow library under the UK universities SCONUL scheme. SCONUL access allows students from one particular university to gain access to the libraries of other universities around the country. So, I as an Open University student applied for SCONUL access. With that access granted, I was then able to apply to the University of Glasgow for access to their library – all TWELVE FLOORS of it. I was granted a card, which I collected from the library yesterday. I then spent a few hours investigating the library space. Checking out the various floors, the books on offer, the study spaces and…the views of Glasgow therein. OMG – the views from the upper levels of the library! There is almost a 360* view of the Glasgow skyline from there. And a lot of the study spaces face the window, so…you have that amazing panorama spread out in front of you. Okay, you might have your head buried in books for the most part while you’re studying – but when you need to take a breather, there is Glasgow right out there in front of you.

I began my exploration on Level 9. That’s where the English and English bibliography books were. I had no sense of scale from the floor plan of the library. It seemed as if it was going to not be a very big space with not that many books but OH MY WORD! There are THOUSANDS of books in there. I mean, the majority of books on the shelves are from authors and writers considered to be “in the canon”, with several copies of books of their work. Some of them are very, very old! I used up a good hour just on this floor, scouring the rows and rows of books.

Just one aisle of books from Level 6

From there I went down to Level 6 – this is where the Russian and East European books were meant to be but I got lost trying to find where they were, despite looking at the floor plan. I just could not find where they were. I decided to try again another time. Or to wait until I can book a guided tour of the library (they do guided tours twice a day at 11am and 2.15pm). 

Next I went up to Level 12 as there is a viewing platform up there and I wanted to look at the views of Glasgow. When I got up there though, it seemed as if access was via appointment only which seemed odd  – but I think it was the archival section of the library that was only accessible by appointment only and the viewing platform was accessible around the other side – I just didn’t know how to get there. Bugger! I’ll try again another time. 

Down to Level 3 next and to the “high demand” area and group study areas – as well as the cafe. The cafe had just closed, so my plan to get myself a coffee and take a breather was scuppered. The “high demand” section is CRAZY! These books are deemed to be in such … high demand … that you can only loan them for 24 hours and some of them for as little as FOUR HOURS! Can you imagine? Being able to borrow a book for only 4 hours?!

Lastly, I decided I’d check out Level 4 – which I thought rather strangely, for a university, has junior fiction and non-fiction sections as well as the music section. Well, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked down one of the music book shelves and there were archival folders stuffed with copies of Sounds magazine dating back from 1981! I nearly died of excitement stumbling upon this pot of gold! I turn the corner to walk down the next row of shelves and there’s only bloody NME and Melody Maker mags archived as well! Neither of them date quite as far back as the Sounds archive but still. I was stunned! I even found a little bit in one of them that seemed very appropriate and timely. Little did I think I’d be stumbling across Jim at the University of Glasgow library…in a manner of speaking.

Did I borrow a book? No. I was a little too intimidated by it all yesterday. Overall it was quite the jaw-dropping experience and I will DEFINITELY be frequenting the uni’s library as often as I can.

Before heading to the UofG’s library, I popped into Hillhead library. I had a book to return that I had borrowed from the Possilpark branch that I had just finished reading. I know! I read the book in just TWO sessions! I KNOW! It was only 160 pages long – but yes! Hark at me and my “speedy reading”. Lol

I promised myself I wouldn’t borrow too many books – even though you can borrow up to 12 books at any time with Glasgow libraries, we all know I don’t read that fast! I couldn’t help myself though and came away with 4 books. Two books by Jean Rhys. I enjoyed Wide Sargasso Sea so much that when I saw two of her novels on the shelf, I had to borrow them. The other two I was taken with their titles initially – for very differing reasons. But then they both reeled me in with their synopses. The photo below shows the titles. How could I walk past a title like The Pheasant Plucker – I mean, come on! Lol

So now I have much reading to do!

I am a pheasant plucker…

The Creative Spark

Well, what can I say? 

I am really enjoying learning about the Creative Writing process. I came to it quite apprehensive that I would just be in a constant state of writer’s block as I never felt able to express myself very well as a child when in school and we were given storytelling exercises to do. I was just utterly crap! No imagination whatsoever – or that’s how it felt to me. Other pupils could seemingly write fantastical stories that were exciting and vivid and mine just sounded flat and boring and really uninspired. 

I don’t know what has drawn me to want to do this in all honesty. Well, I do, actually. It stems from wanting to be able to write better. To express myself in a really thoughtful and compelling way. And as much as I can try and continue to be self-taught with that kind of stuff, I felt that Creative Writing may just induce new ways, better ways for my creativity to come out. And it already has started to do that so much!

We started with freewriting – which is basically what we were asked to do at school and I was utterly hopeless at it and so I have never really employed that in my writing – at least, I didn;t think I was. Freewriting is basically a stream of consciousness writing that you do for a set period of time. A short block of time, say 15 minutes to half an hour, and you just let the words flow from you. Whatever comes to mind, whether it makes any sense or not. You just write it all out, chuck it all in. All of it! No editing. No strict sentence structures or anything like that. Just write whatever. 

At this point in time I have found that very liberating and incredibly helpful in sparking my creativity. I have written out so much over the week, it’s been crazy. I’ve probably written out something like 6000 words in little scenes, sensory observations, place setting images, story arcs, deciphering story arcs from novels and short story beginnings and endings that we’ve been given to read…all kinds of things.

The other main element of the study so far that I have found incredibly helpful has been the five-act structure. Setting out a story in five acts, setting out your beginning, middle and end, using various plot prompts to build the process of the story and to flesh it out. I have had sssooooo many ideas for novels that have come to me over the years and have not had any real idea on how to go about doing anything with these ideas and how to build up a story from the little snippets of ideas that I have had swirling around in my brain, but now I am learning how I can implement these little snippets into things. They might not become a whole novel within themselves. They could just end up being a scene but at least I am starting to learn what I can do.

I have true epiphanies taking place with my writing creativity over the past week and I feel incredibly enthused by the whole learning process that Creative Writing is offering me.

A page from my writer’s journal.

And, of course, at the back of my mind is always Jim. I know! But, I can’t disguise the fact of how much he has been a spark in my creativity. For want of better terminology, he has been a muse to me. The art that came from me visually, and what comes through in my writing and how I want to express myself – so much of that has really come out and flowed over the past eight years and there’s no escaping the fact that a lot of that has been down to my being a Simple Minds fan and being influenced by Jim’s songwriting and (as of then) daily musings on Facebook. 

I’d love to ask him questions about his songwriting. I’d love to ask him how he handled letting his words be seen. We are encouraged to share our writing from the very early stages. We’re encouraged to get feedback from fellow students and other tutors beyond our own. We’ve been hearing from writer’s during this block of study and most of them admit to initially taking feedback really badly. Now, you guys (those of you who know me well) know how BADLY I take criticism – it can have a very negative effect on me. I am worried that it could have so much of a negative effect on me that I could end up withdrawing from the course or changing my direction of study. I have to keep telling myself that this criticism will be constructive and WILL help me to improve. I have to grow that thicker skin! I’m gonna need it to get better. 

Songwriting seems like such a different beast. It was for Jim. He seemed to tackle the writing process in a similar way to how every other writer starts – just taking down and keeping notes – freewriting – writing down whatever comes to mind, or interesting things heard or seen, language – curious syntax, things like that – but he kept it all very private. So…how did he know any of it was any good? How did he know when the words to the song were right and at what point did he actually feel comfortable in sharing his words? Did he ever TRULY feel comfortable? I’d love to ask him those kind of things. But…I accept that I am pissing in the wind and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. I will come across many other writers that will impart their wisdom on me and Jim can continue to be Jim.

The thing that has excited me most is that I feel that I maybe could be good at this fictional writing lark after all these years of convincing myself that I’m pants at it and everyone has written every story there is and there is nothing new to be said. In some ways that may be so (ie: every story has already been told), but there are your own unique experiences and impressions and expressions that would make it YOUR version of it, and that in itself would make it unique. 

I actually have the framework for a novel that I would really, really love to try and work on. I can’t actually believe I am saying that! After all these years of beginnings flowing through my mind and me not having any tangible way to grasp on them and trying to do something with them. Not knowing what to do with them so just letting them float on by – I have my beginning, middle and end! Loosely speaking. It would take a lot of building. I literally have just a pile of bricks in front of me. Enough to make a house – but I have to build the house now. It could be a long build! I have to keep studying construction whilst I start trying to build my house. I may have to knock it down midway through. I may have to knock it down and start rebuilding several times over. In fact, I know I WILL have to do that. But instead of being disheartened by that thought – I am excited and inspired by it!

Merry Kerr-istmas!

No dreams of Jim this year. Then that has been the case for a few years now. I used to look forward to those beautiful Christmas dreams – like I’d get my very own Solstice Kiss. About the only chance I’d get for one, that’s for sure! Lol.

Anyhooooo – had I been able to dream about him, a scenario not dissimilar to this one would have been welcome. Lol.

Whatever the season brings to you, I hope it’s kind and joyful and if things aren’t going well for you and the spirit is not within you, I hope you’re able to get through it quickly and safely. 

Be kind to yourself and do whatever you need to do to get through it. Try to obtain some joy and comfort from it. There is ssoooo much pressure to enjoy this time of year that…if for you it means retreating and staying in bed until it’s over – do that. Forget the judgements. Those who judge don’t suffer any mental illness or have never experienced the way you might be. We’re all different and we all have different coping mechanisms. 

All the best for the season and I hope 2023 brings all of you good times and happiness. 

Feliz Navidad!


I feel low today. Demotivated. I feel like I need to do something but I can’t conjure up the energy within myself to do it.

I think it’s a little bit of “be careful what you wish for.” Jim had been quiet and the past couple of days I found myself wishing he’d post something. Especially in light of Terry Hall’s passing. Years ago I’d freak out if he went quiet. I’d start to doom think – begin to worry if he was okay and start to be concerned something had happened. Of course it never had. Then I would be scornful of myself for caring so much and give myself a telling off. “Jim’s as fit as a Mallee bull” as the Australian colloquialism goes, “dinna fash” – as the locals say when appearing to fuss or stress over nothing.

Then yesterday he posted with his review of the year/“best of” kinda post. Mr “I don’t look back” seems to have at least reviewed the past 12 months. I do wish he’d stop with this “never look back” business. It gets a bit tiring after a while. It’s always said with this air of superiority that grates on me. Like, he feels “a better person” for this perceived lack of desire for nostalgia tripping. Except he constantly contradicts himself with it and cannae even see it.

Good luck with “never looking back” while writing your memoir, Jim!

Without even thinking, I replied to his post. It’s something that has been such an unconscious response that I did it without any second thought. Until after I had posted it and thought “Oh, you fool! There you go again. Straight in with a response. As if he’s waiting on your response. HE DOESNAE CARE! WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET THAT IN YOUR THICK SKULL?!” I guess I could have deleted it. Or just responded on my blog instead but the action was so spontaneous – as it has always been that I just initially didn’t stop to think.

Then I keep going back to the post to see if he has liked or responded to anyone else. Feeling a weird sense of relief that he’s responded to no one at all. I don’t feel alone.

I keep thinking about the person who described Jim as “esoteric.” It’s a good description. I think about it in relation to Jim’s previous post in which he talked about the fans being “our tribe.” But there are those who are within an “inner circle.” They’re the REAL “tribe.”

I loved feeling involved. A part of it. If not right within that inner circle, then at least able to delude myself I might find myself in it one day…or something like that.

It was always just that sense of wanting to matter.

Today is the winter solstice and a lot of people are sharing the SM song Solstice Kiss. My mate, Birdy, sharing a photo of her signed CD – “Solstice Kiss Birdy.” A reminder that I was not “worth it.” That, combined with the weather and the disappointment in myself for STILL desiring that sense of exchange with Jim that long passed – eating me up inside.

These days it feels like I write AT him, not TO him. It has ALWAYS been one-sided. It very rarely was two-sided. I have held on to those little exchanges for so many years. It’s ridiculous. And just when I feel like I am getting stronger and getting over it, a few days like these are enough to bring me down into a spiral.

Wishing for a word from Jim. Terry passing away. Telling myself that Jim will be fine – he’s fit as a fiddle! A word about Terry from him would be nice. I think of “Skin” (Tony Donald) and Alan McNeil and the contemporaries of his that have left us and I get maudlin. That time for us is precious. It’s nearly Christmas.

He posts. Present for a moment, then gone. It’s solstice and there are no kisses. Not even a like…or anything. And I have to try and stop myself from wanting to “talk” to him, because it’s absurd and it doesn’t matter. “It doesn’t matter to you, it matters to me”, to quote Bono’s line from So Cruel. I think it is probably just about my favourite U2 song. Certainly is from my favourite U2 album.

I have a Christmas dinner meet-up tonight. Birdy and I are out with our friend, Michelle, to have tea at a local Vietnamese restaurant. And I am trying to get myself in the mood. I don’t want to be the wet blanket tonight at the tea. I have been looking forward to this meal and the “girl’s night out” for weeks…and now that it’s here? I just want to stay home and curl up in bed.

So…in essence, one must be careful for what one wishes for.

Tomorrow is the last Kerrsday before Christmas and … oh, Lord is there something visually splendid coming to the Priptona Weird blog! Look out for that! Other than that, it’s gonna be a quiet old Christmas and I should probably just bury my head in my uni study because, there ain’t nothing else doing.

I wish I could write something good…

First 79, Now 80!

I received my mark for my assignment this afternoon. I honestly was not expecting it until the New Year. I always feel ssoooo nervous when the email notification comes in letting me know that my mark is ready for collection.

I can see the mark before I actually collect my tutor’s assessment and feedback. Again, as I arrived to the page to collect, I see a score of 80 and I’m just bloody stunned!

I can’t really go into any more detail than that. I have to be careful with what I discuss. Once again I am incredibly happy with my mark and fully understand and realise why I was deducted marks – or not scored as highly – for certain things I didn’t do right or shouldn’t have done.

Overall my result is really good and I got very positive feedback.

The tough stuff is to come next year. Tough in that these are the subjects I am doing my diploma for – English Literature and Creative Writing. I have William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre to tackle next with 600 word essays to write on each one of them.

In the meantime, there is some stuff happening with the house that’s going pretty crappy. When one part of your life seems to be going okay, other areas will be crap. It’s always the way!

I must apologise for the disruption to the blog today. I was sorting out my domain linking and changing over the blog’s theme to something I liked more. I hope you like it too.

Lastly, here’s another bit of Kerr Christmas fun. Yes…Jim will feature here now and again…he’s unavoidable. I’m more comfortable with him featuring here than my personal stuff and uni stuff featuring on the Simple Minds/Music blog.

The Relief Of Making It Over The Finishing Line In Time

That’s another assignment completed! Two assignments completed by Christmas! That’s pretty good going. I’m not sure when we’ll get our marks back, but I guess it won’t be until the New Year – probably the middle of January. Maybe at the end of the first week of Jan if we’re lucky. Either way, I won’t be stressing about how well I did. I’ll just relax and enjoy Christmas and think about the next phase of the module to come. It’s all down to the nitty gritty next because we’ll be tackling the English Literature and Creative Writing topics in the New Year and into the spring. I’m feeling quite a bit nervous about it. Will I really be any good at this? Who knows. In the meantime – IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!!

Yes, one fell off the wall and I’ve yet to get the frame sorted out and replaced. And the is paint peeling off the wall. Such a great look! Lol

One thing I will say is that for one part of my assignment we were asked to write a short piece about a portrait that we’d recently come across. With the image above in mind – just one of my bedroom walls adorned with an endless array of Kerr portrait photographs, I seriously contemplated doing this short piece about one of my photos of Jim but I became waaaaay too worried about how that might reflect on me to the other students and decided to make a different choice. All for the better, I think! Which one of the Jims would I have chosen? Well, to have made myself a little less like a woman of 52 acting like a girl of 12, I probably would have gone for one of the photos of him on the stage performing. Our task for this part of the assignment was to write about what we thought the portrait’s purpose was. I’d have had a better justification of explaining the purpose of a photo of Jim on a stage than I would have of one of the promo photos of him.

It’s all irrelevant now anyway but, yeah…talk about spoiled for choice had I gone with my initial idea of choosing a photo of His Kerrness to go on about. Lol

I’ll take a final look over the assignment tomorrow, make sure it’s all reading right, the word count is correct, references are correct and…in she goes! And then the next assignment is just under a whole two months away. Phew!

And When I’m Not Studying….

For uni. I’m studying this fine creature…

Sigh. (This one fell under the “where do I stick it?” dilemma. It was too much fun to just keep it on the SM blog, hence it ended up here as well. Jim Kerr under my tree? Yes, please! And thank you very much!*)

*not gonna happen in a month of Sundays… or Kerrsdays.

So, Why The New Title?

I was just bored of Antipodean – The Right Side Up. It wasn’t really relevant to me any more and I wanted something different. Something that would represent my life as it is right now, with university taking the main focus but also something that evoked being where I am in the world too. In heraldic terms, the unicorn represents Scotland, and with Glasgow being the heart (if not the capital) of Scotland – and it also having MY heart – the wonderful alliterative draw of “University & Unicorns” revealed itself.

Unicorns are also mythical beings. Only looking at the Wikipedia entry did I see this association with “entrapment” and how unicorns are depicted on tapestries in which virgins, fertility and love feature. The poor unicorn is a sucker for a damsel in distress it seems. I guess there was something fantastical and romantic that appealed in the idea of the unicorn, and that heraldic link to Scotland only served to strengthen that allure.

I guess I could have just as easily called the blog “The bird that never sang”, in relation to the city crest of Glasgow, but “University & Unicorns” it is. I like that it blends fact and fantasy. Objectivity and focus with myths and dreams.

Perhaps I should have gone for “The dreamer that wants to move mountains”?

Nah! That would be too much of a nod to Jim Kerr and the stuff he spouts. Although I like the ethos behind “only dreamers move mountains” – I’m pretty sure he doesn’t see me in any way as “kindred” to him. How very dare I?! What have I ever moved? What worthless dreams do I have? They may be worthless to him, but they are not to me. All that I have to do is prove it to myself. The only validation I need is of my own worth to myself. Today, I am worthy! I am “worth it” – and I never needed to hear that from Jim Kerr. I needed to hear that from Larelle Read!

Welcome to… University & Unicorns!

Photo by Nathan J Hilton on

Hello Again – Let Us Reintroduce Ourselves…

This blog has been dormant for some time and…I’m not entirely sure what the impetus for this is…but let’s run with it.

And since this blog has lain dormant for so long, and there may be new people who are coming to have a gander at it, then let us reintroduce ourselves.

My name is Larelle and I run a blog called Priptona’s Simple Minds Space. As you may have deduced from the title, it is ostensibly a Simple Minds blog (*cough* Jim Kerr *cough*) and broader music blog. That “broadness” just kept on creeping into the personal more and more, especially during the pandemic when not a lot was happening in the music scene, especially when it came to Simple Minds. This past year has changed that. My personal life has changed in the past year also. This resulted in so much blending of the personal and the SM fan blog becoming somewhat blurred.

Last December I enrolled into the Open University to take a Diploma in Higher Education in English. Creative Writing was the pull. I want to be able to write better. I want to be able to use language better and express myself better and I am hoping that Creative Writing will give me the tools I need. It may eventually lead me to somewhere else…who knows?

I’m now about one third of the way through my second module of my uni diploma. I have four modules to complete before I get my diploma – roughly another two and a half years to go.

The last time we “spoke”, I was still living in Luton with my Other Half, Em. At the end of 2019 there were some dramatic life changes that happened. Within the space of a few days we moved to Glasgow (after a whirlwind search to buy a property here) and my mum passed away. I spent Christmas 2019 in Australia, praying I would make it out there in time to be with mum. It wasn’t to be and it is something I still probably haven’t fully come to terms with.

At that point I felt relieved for Mum, I still do. The pain she had been suffering for years was over and she was in peace. I was also starting life in a new city, in a new part of the country – a new country! Just a few months into life in Glasgow, Covid struck and the world went weird.

After a year, my coping mechanisms began to falter and … I dunno what happened, really. Shortly after settling into life here in Glasgow, and before the pandemic really took hold, we took in two rescue cats. A brother and sister called ASAP – a grey tabby, and Sultan – completely black (I had wanted a black cat for YEARS). These were the names they had originally been given by their owner, although their foster carer had been calling them Oscar and Sheba. I didn’t like either Oscar (I couldn’t have a cat with the same name as one of my nephews! Lol) or Sheba (I much preferred the name Sultan – especially that she was female and having a female cat called Sultan fucked up with gender norms. Lol), so decided I’d stick with their original names. They had been named after rappers. ASAP was after A$AP Rocky (I think is how you are meant to spell his name) – ASAP being an acronym for Always Strive And Prosper, which I thought was really cool.

I hold my hands up in admitting I rushed in to getting the cats. They were young. Less than a year old, and I told myself I would get mature cats. Cats 7 years+ because they were harder to re-home. But no one seemed to want ASAP and Sultan. They were awaiting re-homing for MONTHS! They had been with Cats Protection since early December and it was nearing the end of February in 2020 and no one seemed to want them.

Long story short we got them and they were lovely but not without their problems, esp. ASAP. After about 15 months with us, ASAP developed a urinary tract problem. The timing wasn’t great. Em was going through a bad mental health period and when ASAP required emergency veterinary treatment, things came to a head. We made the gut-wrenching decision to return the cats to Cats Protection. This doesn’t really explain entirely what happened. And I feel an enormous amount of guilt. I still miss them both so much. I pray they are in a new loving home (I do know that they did get re-homed. I kept an eye on the Cats Protection FB page until I saw they were re-homed) and are having the most wonderful lives. I wish I could have continued to provide that for them.

Those months after weren’t that great for me. I felt relieved that the stress of the babies (I always referred to them as my babies. I still do.) was gone, but Em was in a mess and I wasn’t much better. Other things that used to be a comfort, namely the music of Simple Minds and Jim…just Jim as a kind of focus, muse, someone who would lift my spirits or have me believe in myself and being a force for positivity wasn’t really there for me. And when that happens I tend to start believing that he just HATES me and I stew on it and it just becomes my everything. And I know how incredibly sad that is! Like, for me, as a human being…to express how much this man means to me like that. I was incredibly low. Just sitting here thinking about it. Writing about it. Yeah…it’s not good.

University has been a fantastic diversion and focus. Of course, it doesn’t always work. I still have many of those hang ups. I still think FAAAAAR too much of Jim. But I am working on trying to not have him be the focus of EVERYTHING and instead just be the focus of fun. The man he was at the beginning. The man who rekindled that teenage swooning girl. The one who has the absolute hots for him circa 1979-1984, with particular emphasis on 1981-82. The man I first *really* saw in 2014 (from 1979) and went “Holy fucking shit! That’s Jim Kerr?! Why did nobody tell me how fucking HOT he was?!” Eight years on and….I’m still obsessing! And man…what a journey! Never thought I’d get to meet him a million times over. Never thought, for good or bad…that he’d end up knowing be my name and have a face like a Russian winter every time he sees me, as if he’s thinking “Oh, fuck. Here she comes. HELP!!” In one respect, the notoriety is fun. In another, I miss the days when he seemed happy to see me. But that’s all my doing, I guess.

I can’t regret anything though, can I?

It’s an endless roller-coaster. Just recently I had another massive wobble. It involved the new Simple Minds album and personalised signings. I’ll leave it at that, as I don’t want to go over old ground. It is what it is and whether I have done my usual thing of over-analysing and misinterpreting or Jim really has finally had enough of me and wants me to take a fucking hint (short of a brick being thrown directly at my head, I tend not to see the obvious…but boy can I get fixated on and over-analyse stuff that actually ISN’T there!) – I need to just keep things in perspective and focus on the uni. “Get a life” – as they say.

So, where are we at now? It’s early December, 2022. I am, as I stated earlier, about one third the way through module ‘A112: Cultures’. This module is run through the Arts and Humanities faculty of the Open University. I started study in January, 2022. I have already completed module ‘A111: Introducing the Arts and humanities’ in which I scored a 75% mark, which is a clear pass (10 percentage points off a distinction mark – I can’t tell you how happy I was with that result).

A111 gave us a broad look at the arts and humanities subjects, so we worked through art, art history, classical studies, creative writing, English literature, music, philosophy, and religious studies. My choice of continuing on into A112 was solely for the Creative Writing aspect of it. The first 4 weeks of the new module was focused on Classical Studies and I really struggled with that and didn’t engage with it very well. Also, I was having my latest ‘Jim wobble’ so that didn’t really help. Despite that, I did really well with my first assignment of the module and scored a 79 mark.

And, well…I think we’re pretty much up-to-date. Of course I am hoping most posts won’t be quite this long in future but I may just rant from time-to-time for the catharsis of getting things off my chest. I’m not sure I still want to even call the blog “Antipodean – The Right Side Up” anymore. I used to feel like I was literally “the right side up” for being on the other side of the world. It was a pun I liked as the word ‘antipodean’ means ‘two places diametrically opposed to one another’ or ‘something that is the exact opposite or contrary to another’. My father-in-law, Gilly (Gilbert), used to say I was from “Upsidedownland” and so…. being here I felt I was “the right side up.” These days, I don’t know if I still ‘feel’ The Right Side Up…

What I call this blog instead, I know not. I will give it some thought. In the meantime, hello! Thanks for reading, and please be warned, I may talk about Jim’s nipples from time to time. Lol

Adios, amigos!

Simple Minds and Jim Kerr: Lostboy! Great Times…Early Times.

A short time ago, after going through yet another phase of early 1980s music appreciation (I more often than not find myself tuning in to Internet radio stations for the 80s music that was on the periphery, not necessarily the mainstream), I found myself feeling a stab of guilt that one of the bands I liked at the time, Simple Minds, hadn’t really taken their place higher in my fandom. I wanted to explore why that was.

As a teen I was obsessed with U2 (Bono) and when that obsession began to wane, I took up Bowie fandom, thanks mostly to be eldest brother needing a place to keep his Bowie album collection. I raided those Bowie albums with relish, I tell you!

Between the waning of my U2 fanaticism and the taking up of Bowie, I bought Once Upon A Time. So, yes, for a brief period, I was very strongly a Simple Minds fan.

As the years passed I would dabble in the Minds’ world. Play the hits and enjoy my time with them on the periphery of all the music I had liked in my adolescence. But as one matures and nostalgia takes hold of one ever stronger, one begins to think of what might have been missed.

For me, that happened with Simple Minds. I made a decision to explore the whole back catalogue of their music, hoping to find gems that I was ignorant to and perhaps take on a level of fandom that I thought I lacked and thought they deserved.

The scary thing to me is how closely in time my interest in exploring this world has correlated with the band’s and Jim Kerr’s own exploration of the past, but resulting in my slightly missing the boat. But that is the beauty of producing music for others. Once it’s out there, if people missed it, they can catch up.

And catch up with it all I have been doing so with relish.

A stark admission to begin with, the renewed fandom has developed into a somewhat late crush on Mr. Kerr. My now soon-to-be 44 year old self is agog that my 12 year-old self (and yes, I had SEVERE crushes on much older men at that age already) did not see the beauty in the 22/23 year old Jim Kerr.

That aside, let’s concentrate (with perhaps a small smattering of “OMG, wasn’t he GORGEOUS?! Well, still is.” thrown in now and again, for good measure) on the music.

Several members of the band, including the Minds’ nucleus of Kerr and guitarist, Charlie Burchill, started out in the late seventies in a punk group called Johnny and the Self-Abusers. Kerr under the alias of Pripton Weird (which actually sounds as punk as a Carpenter’s song, IMO, *grins* – but as aliases go, it’s a brilliant name!), and Burchill as Charlie Argue (much more punk!). It was a flash-in-the-pan. The split up the day their one and only single was released. SSooo Punk! Lol. It was fun to explore the very limited number of songs they produced in their brief life. But, let’s face it, EVERYONE was in a punk band for 5 minutes, right?

But, ultimately, it was a catalyst to what transpired into Simple Minds (deriving their name from the lines in David Bowie’s The Jean Genie). Charlie and Jim, bringing along fellow Self-Abusers Brian McGee and Tony Donald. Shortly after Donald leaves, and is replaced with Derek Forbes on bass and while Kerr concentrates on vocals (he was keyboardist for Johnny and the Self-Abusers whilst also being vocalist), keyboardist Mick MacNeil is brought in, making the quintet of the first recorded Minds line-up.

And so, life begins for Simple Minds with the album release in 1979 of Life In A Day.

Life In A Day:

I love being able to listen to things with retrospection and mature ears. Only being 9 years-old at time of the original release, there would have been little chance of me being able to judge the album’s merits, but the passage of time allows it now.

I must admit – I tried this experiment… ooh… what must have been around 8 years ago now. I dismissed the early things quite quickly. I just wasn’t ready to give them time, and again, I missed out because I didn’t give it that time. I dismissed it out-of-hand. And I knew I’d had. Hence, I was here again. Exploring their back catalogue. But this time, with more time to breathe. With a better appreciation that not everything goes to plan at the beginning.

I was initially dismissive ONCE AGAIN of Life In A Day. It sounds immature. The Album, that is. It’s lacking something but I could now hear small pockets of brilliance. The title track began to grow on me and and so had the single from the album, Chelsea Girl. And the first track, Someone, is poppy and sweet (I’m sure the young Jim would have killed me for saying that! Very much not the image he was after then, I’m sure.). It kinda reminds me of a U2 track. It could have been on Boy in all honesty.

What changed in my pursuit of getting into Simple Minds again though has been watching live performances from the time. And those performances can be spell-binding. It is very clear to me that Jim Kerr’s stage presence lends the band an extra depth that doesn’t get captured in the studio. The band is tight, they play exceptionally well live, but the spontaneity and excitement goes missing in the studio. The studio brings a sterility into their sound. Jim says he receives a copy of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures upon eve of release of Life In A Day and says “We’ve fucked it! We sound like The Boomtown Rats!” I can hear what he hears. At times. Especially on my least favourite tracks on the album, Sad Affair and No Cure – they are the tracks I can imagine mostly spurred Jim’s “Boomtown Rats” comparison. I can understand his disappointment because Life In A Day as an album doesn’t sell them for what they were as a live band.

Simple Minds – Chelsea Girl

(Let’s just bypass Jim’s hair at this time, shall we? He ends up with some great hair during the early 80s. Once we get to about 1985 though, we can forget it again…)

Real To Real Cacophony:

Now, this is where things start to get VERY interesting! Here is where the evidence comes in as to how wonderful they are live. There is a performance from New York of them in 1979 with tracks from this album, I find mesmerising. Sadly, Jim’s hair hasn’t quite grown out yet, but if you can overlook it and take on his performance as a whole, it is sublime. Their rendition of Premonition in this New York set is superior (in my eyes) to what goes on the album. There is an improvement in production but something still a little stilted to their work in the studio. Rather than in making it seem you need to be as dismissive of this album as you do with Life In A Day because the live performances overshadow the studio versions, there is less to dismiss. Kerr’s vocals are changing slightly in recording lending more depth, both literally and metaphorically. I love the way he writes during this period. It’s all very abstract. I’m not sure if he even consciously meant it that way or not. The words have matured yet retain a frisson of innocence.

Simple Minds – Premonition

This is, by far, the best live performance of Premonition I’ve ever seen (of the many I’ve seen so far). Jim is ssooo “in the zone” in this performance. Absolutely love it!

Empires and Dance:

Wow! Upon a few listens now, I must admit to beginning to agree with the Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield saying “nothing touches” this album. The production is sparse and industrial, Kerr’s vocals are phenomenal and his lyrics ssoooo atmospheric! It’s like a celebration of the dystopia of early 80s Europe, all dark and brooding with sex (perhaps that’s just me projecting my feelings for Jim and his performing style at this time). It’s industrial and dystopian, yet there are little snippets of perhaps flippancy in things like Constantinople Line “these stations are useful/these stations we love them”. And there is still hope in some – Celebrate, for example “we can live/I can live/celebrate”

I find Jim Kerr at this point in time possibly the sexiest man alive. Just a year before he had an Edmund Blackadder haircut and pocked skin. Now his hair was growing out on top, he’d gotten slimmer and his stage presence was growing. He commanded being watched. He was lithe, exuberant, dripping with nervous energy, yet reserved and palpably sensual. (Just me then on that last point? That’s OK. All the more for me!)

Simple Minds – Celebrate

Anyway *towels self down* – back to the album.

What an entity! JDB also says something akin to it being a stand-alone. That the album appears to come from nowhere. Nothing precedes it, nothing follows. Certainly Empires is quite a way removed from Real To Real, but I CANNOT dismiss what is to come. At least not Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call.

UPDATE (Oct 4th, 2014): JDB has recently had a change of heart, it appears. He’s now not so dismissive of Sons And Fascination, you can read here.

If you consider yourself a Simple Minds fan but have never listened to the whole Empires and Dance album, I implore you to do so. Keep listening to/watching live stuff from the time as well. It really does enhance the experience. Live, the boys at this time are unstoppable.

I’ve never been a big fan of live music – mostly because most of my live music listening has not been from gigs. I’ve only been to a handful of gigs in my life. Fortunately, I grew up in a country where being a great live band was a pre-requisite to having a music career, rather than a bonus, which gave me the opportunity to see some of the best live bands.

Early (and now recent) Simple Minds can be added to the list that, for me, sees them better live than produced in a studio. There is only one other band (possibly a second) that I have ever felt that way with, and that’s Australian group You Am I. They are the band I have seen play live the most. Now, with the Internet, YouTube, and the ability to time-travel (via footage from the past), I’ve seen just as many Simple Minds concerts. I just wish there was more from the earlier times.

I trawl YouTube daily, looking for as much early footage as I can. There’s quite a bit. A full concert from 1982, a fair whack of another from the same year, and a set on The Tube (Channel 4 music programme). But there is scant stuff before that.

I’m also fascinated in watching the progression of Jim Kerr as a performer. Watching the visibly nervous young man of 20 trying to command the stage (and sometimes succeeding) in 1979, to being a force of nature by 1981 but still so painfully shy off stage. I watched an interview with him on Swedish TV in 1983 in which he says he feels far more confident on stage than in intimate situations. He’d rather be performing in front of 3000 people than buying trousers in a shop. Buying trousers was a far more nerve-wracking experience for him. It’s astonishing!

I watch him in interviews now, and you’d never know. He’s genial, funny, accommodating, comfortable in his own skin…

Sometime by about 1984/5 the ego kicks in. It can’t not, I suppose. The band are at their zenith. That shy boy gets lost. That boy focused on the music…intense, brooding, reserved. That boy I’m in love with. He slowly disappears as Simple Minds gain fame. The music changes. It becomes less cold, fragmented, and more about love and romance. Still political, but a different kind of politics. Mainstream.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Again.

On now to what was initially my VERY favourite early album…

Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call:

The production is gorgeous on this album. And we start to get, what are for me, hits coming to the fore. Due to “greatest hits” albums I’ve dabbled in in the past, I’m familiar with Love Song (has always been one of my very favourite SM tracks) and The American, and they are both stellar. I also add Sweat In Bullet and Boys From Brazil to that mix now. And of course, you can’t dismiss the imagery-rich sounds of Theme For Great Cities.

Simple Minds – Boys From Brazil

Killer drums on this track. Always a sucker for a great drum track.

It’s a step on again. Not quite as cold as EAD, but still a little darker than those that follow. There is more light and shade. The brightest of songs is Wonderful In Young Life. The imagery is beautiful. Jim sells us the youthful dream, in voice with falsetto (something he rarely used til this point). It’s a wonderful dream-scape and a sign of what’s coming when we get to New Gold Dream.

And so, it is at this point I must stop. I am up to this point in my rekindling of my Simple Minds fandom. I am finding it hard to move on, for at the moment, I see New Gold Dream (81, 82, 83, 84) as almost the beginning of the end.

I find it telling that all those years ago the first Simple Minds album I bought was Once Upon A Time and I am now avoiding it like the plague. At the moment I just cannot explore NGD, Sparkle In The Rain, or OUAT without believing I’ll cringe. I have listened to NGD already in my renewed fandom but only once or twice, whereas the previous albums are on constant rotation. As well as lots of live material.

I think I’ll probably jump straight to more recent things. Lostboy! AKA Jim Kerr has me very intrigued! As well as more recent Minds’ works from 2005 onwards. I’ve had tiny dabbles but it’s all still new and I’m excited about what I might find. I’m looking forward to finding that Lostboy!