Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Love And Marriage In Brig O'Doon

Unpredictable weather accompanied Gail and I on our journey to Ayrshire. When we stopped off at Portobello promenade for lunch it was sunny and warm. By the time we hit the A77 to Ayrshire the rain was so torrential we couldn't see to the end of the car bonnet. When we arrived in Aye itself, the weather had turned pleasant once again.

So we were left hoping that the day of the wedding of Ian and Emma had been a success weather-wise.

We checked into the hotel, kindly booked in advance for us by the Mrs. C (Groom's mother) whom I have known for many years, including her family. Indeed her youngest son was Best Man at my own wedding.

I digress. Our accomodation was the Ellisland Hotel and it was a beauty. Spacious gardens, large rooms, even larger beds, and beautiful facilities; we couldn't have asked for more really.

http://www.costley-hotels.co.uk/ellisland/index02n.htm (click on scenic tour)

We went to out room to start to get ready for the reception. I ordered a pint of lager and long vodka for the room to help the journey into being "kilted up" be all the more pleasant. I chose the cooler variety of kilt-wear, opting for the ghille shirt as opposed to fully regimental Bonnie Prince Charlie suit. It proved to be a good choice as it turned out to be a very warm evening.
I enjoy wearing a kilt, though it can be such a pain to get it all sorted and fixed correctly.

Gail on the other hand looked absolutely stunning in an all black, low-cut dress and I still thank my lucky stars that she agreed to marry me. I'm a lucky bloke!

We finished up getting ready and headed down to the bar for another drink before ordering a taxi to the Brig O' Doon Hotel for the wedding reception. One small note is that this hotel is one of the first places my own father brought my mum to on a date many, many....many years ago.

http://www.costley-hotels.co.uk/brigodoon/index02n.htm (click on scenic tour)

The wedding meal was still in progress so we waited in the bar with some drinks until they were ready. The hotel itself was beautiful. It's small and cottage-like from the front but inside it grows majestically with wooden beams and lush carpets. We could see into the restaurant and the food looked delicious.

When the wedding part were ready we headed into the main hall and met up with some friends, old and new. Some old face from my bachelor days in Glasgow had made the trip, which brought back a whole load of long-forgotten memories. But Mikey P and Paul Stewart were there with their wives and it was good to see them again.

As for the bride and groom; what can you say? Emma looked stunning and Ian looked unflustered. It was a great do and much dancing and drinking took place under a calm summer night's sky. Which is what we had been hoping for all day.

When we retired to our own hotel it was going on 2am but me and Gail sat up for another hour just enjoying being alone for the first time in a while. In fact, this was our first big night out together on our own since our 1st wedding anniversary last August.

It was a great setting and a great night; one I wanted to last forever.
Colin 9:44 pm | 2 comments |

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Skittering About

Cloudy in the morning again, but my money was on it brightening up again into another beautiful summer day. I started the day off in a good mood. I got up earlier than normal and had a nice cup of coffee and watched some TV while I drank it; Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens and The Morning Report from At The Races.

When I got into work my mood was surprisingly chirpy, so I ordered a delivery to Gail's work; a single red rose and box of chocolates. I'm such a romantic.

I actually had a bit of work on today what with me being the only member of my team actually present. Everyone else was on holiday so it was up to me to hold the fort. How exciting. I'm surprised I kept up with all the invigorating action going on around me.

Most of my thoughts were turning to this weekend's annual Blackpool trip. A time for reflection, touching base, laughter and of course, drinking. More on that later.

With snooker in the evening I got little writing done apart from what I achieved over lunch; some more words on Whisky Snatching and a new poem formation. I had to leave early from work and collect my kilt for tomorrow's wedding.

Then it is onto Blackpool, and the annual beano.

PS - It was pouring by lunchtime.
Colin 12:09 pm | 2 comments |

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fronds Of Thought

Thankfully it was cooler today and the blue skies of late were replaced by some welcome cloud-cover. I needed the respite before I gave in to the heat once and for all. Global warming just isn't what it's cracked up to be and I welcome the proposed change to a new ice age. Ahem. :-)

As I sat on the bus on my way to work I saw the oddest thing. A lad about 20'ish was kneeling on the ground next to a lifeless body of a boy about the same age. They were both dressed similarly; jeans and t-shirt, and as the boy held his friend he was sobbing up towards the heavens with his arms held aloft.

Naturally, I thought I was witnessing the demise of an innocent young lad and was about to get up from my seat to disembark and help out, when I noticed the tripod.

Fastened to the top of the tripod was a video camera and it was pointed straight at the two actors. Whether it was a student film, Fringe rehearsal or Jackass-type stunt, it looked realistic enough to me and I suspect may have scared more than a few elderly bystanders.

Speaking of the Fringe, 40,000 tickets are already gone after the first week. I got the email today - the first of the season - and it's packed as usual with loads of things I would love to go to.

Unfortunately, cash and time are the obstacle and I would much rather keep my cash for the Edinburgh Book Festival anyway. But, there may be a few acts I will want to fit in to the schedule and after I've had a proper look at the programme I will type up any bookings in this blog.

By lunchtime the clouds had parted and it was another gloriously sunny and hot day. So much for respite. The air-conditioning in the office did its best but it wasn't enough.

I re-edited my episode of the KIC Soap for submitting later. It's about 1900 words so I hope it's not too long. It's kind of difficult to bring a short story in for a low word count especially when you are trying to cross-breed to separate entities like this. We shall see if it passes the QA test. To be honest, I'm looking forward to the character sketches coming back more than anything else.

Gail went to the theatre with her Mum in the evening, which left me time to work on some stories while Laura was out playing. I gave my KIC Soap episode another read-through then sent it off. I hope its okay. I also spotted a couple of missed points about Jackie McCann's character sketch so I sent that off too.

My Ed at KIC has me in for a live internet chat on Thursday, August 25th. Hopefully, with a bit of pushing I can get some people to come along. I'm scheduled several weeks into the plan so if it doesn't work out before me it may get cancelled. I'll certainly do my best to support the other authors as well.

After Laura went to bed (it is going to be such a long summer), I got to work on a story I started writing a few weeks ago. I think it's ideal for another of Writing Magazine's competitions. The story is about - section deleted - you can read it later when it gets published. All I will say is the title; it's called Whisky Snacthing. I had a few great ideas how to tie it up and I wrote a lot on it.

I also wrote the first brief plot outlines for the e-book that is to accompany Hunting Jack at KIC. The deadline for this is July 15th and I was beginning to worry I might not have the desire after finishing the serial. I know I can though, and I started work on it.

The last thing, and by far the most exciting of all the projects I am working on, is the 13 Traveling Journals Project. Devon Ellington invited me to participate - though after reading up on it I would have offered anyway - and after reading about what it entails I was only too delighted to jump on board.

13 journals are going to wing their way around the world and be owned by different artists and writers for a period of up to a month. During their time with the journal they are free to record their thoughts, sketches, photography, writings, poems etc.

Tonight I received my contract and I completed it and sent it straight back. It won't make the journal arrive any faster, I know. But it keeps the ball moving and is an expression of my enthusiasm for this.

I think it is the fact I will be contributing to something that is on such a large scale, that will be unpredictable in its final state, and that because it means so much to Devon, that has got me so looking forward to starting and being involved.

And of course, anyone is free to join!

The URL for this project is: http://13travelingjournalsproject.blogspot.com
Devon Ellington's website is at: http://www.devonellingtonwork.com Her blog is at: http://inkinmycoffee.blogspot.com

Expect to hear more about this project in the coming six weeks because I'm first on the list to get one of the journals.

Here is a description of the journal taken from the 13 Journals website: "Journal #2 - Fronds of Thought. This is a wire-bound journal. It has a black cover with a cut-out of a palm tree. The pages are a deep green, unlined. This journal will start in Edinburgh, Scotland, with Colin Galbraith."

As a writer, if something like this doesn't turn you on then you need to empty yer heid of mince. :-)

Fronds of Thought. Picture fronds in your mind; green, sharp, soft, blowing in the breeze. A hot climate comes to mind; sandy beaches, cloudless skies, transparent blue oceans, coconuts, Jamaica, crickets singing in the twighlight. The wilderness; jungle tracks, leapoard's eyes, the Amazon, survival, Eden, Adam and Eve.

Man! This is gonna be good!
Colin 11:34 am | 0 comments |

Monday, June 27, 2005

Ups And Downs

It is a day of sad news.

First, I woke to the news over the radio that Richard Whiteley OBE had died. He was the 'Face of Channel 4' and seemed to have been around forever presenting Countdown; a programme popular with students and grannies the UK over. His jokes were awful and his ties sometimes doubtful, but he always came across as a humourous and reliable man. It was a bit of a shock when the news came over and one or two radio presenters were choked at having to read it out. Terry Wogan was too upset to speak.

Richard Whiteley Tributes

Then, after having missed the Irish Derby at the Curragh yesterday, I read in the paper that Gypsy King was put down after the race after receiving a shoulder injury and falling out. Gypsy King was a popular horse and one I have backed several times of late so it is a real shame.

Irish Derby Report

The heat is still unbearable, as it has been for the last three days. It is stifling, my skin is burning up and I am sweating constantly. I must be attracting flies. It was too warm to sit inside, yet too warm to go outside in the sunlight.

There was work to be done around the house so I got no writing done other than some e-mail. Now that Laura is getting older she is able to stay up longer. Coupled with the fact it is almost the summer holidays and the nights last long, it is becoming impossible to find anywhere suitable to write and even harder to be able to start writing until after 10pm. Tonight was one of them nights and it is very, very frustrating.

I went to bed late and enjoyed the cool breeze of the warm summer night blowing through the curtains, and it occurred to me the amount of work I want to do, want to get through and experiment with, is cluttering my mind again. I think I'm not managing my time well enough. Apart from the obvious - getting the office completed - I need to create more hours in the day.

I'm more creative in the morning, yet I struggle to get up. So in response I write long into the night, thus making it even harder to pry myself out of bed the next day. Ideally, I would like to be able to survive on just a couple of hours sleep a night. I would get up at 5am and write until 9am. I would have my breakfast then go to work. I would then get some writing done in my lunch hour and when I come home I could spend time with the family (when they are in - I can hardly remember what Laura looks like she is out playing every night as soon as she gets home). Then after dinner I would chill for a bit, maybe read or watch the TV then write until about 3am.

I wish.

Maybe there's more than time issues going on here. Now that I think about it, could I be jealous of the time my wife and daughter have to themselves?

Gail has a good time; she does what she wants and I would never say to her she could never do something. She does her own thing and that's healthy. I want her to be happy. My only complaint would be that we don't get to do enough on OUR own but that's a story for another blog.

Laura has swimming, Brownies, dance classes and a huge group of new pals in the street, which makes her pretty much non-existent most of the time until either dinner is ready and you have to persuade her not to swallow the plate by accident, or when the ice-cream van comes and she wants money.

Socially, I can't complain much. I get a bevy with the lads on a Friday, watch the racing and have a laugh in Clark's Bar. The weekends away with the guys are always special - more so now because they hardly ever happen - so I tend to make the best of them when they do arrive. It's just that I am not getting enough time to myself to write, read and think about writing.

Part of this rant relates to one of the goals in my GDR for the year; to make people take me more seriously about my writing. It comes in waves but it's not there yet. Not by a long shot. The people who do take me seriously I talk freely and open with about it. The others, I close up when the subject comes round.

This blog is still in question too. Some people are still under the impression that my whole life and emotions are poured out onto these pages. Not so and I'm thinking about putting a disclaimer or something in the links section.

This blog is not a personal diary. It is the blog of a writer. It is the blog of someone who wants their life to be about nothing else. It is the blog of someone who doesn't get to talk enough about writing. Everything, is from a writer's point of view.

I do not talk about personal stuff, except for those things that infringe within my writing life or that are so personal they will remain so forever thus.

In short, just like the television, if you don't like what you see, then tune in to something else. Nobody is forced to read these words.

Now - on with the good stuff.

Project X. I thought long and hard about it and ended up confusing myself with it. I realised I am trying to force a character to come to life in my head, which is a complete waste of time. I have to wait for him or her to come to me. I believe that when they do, it will fall into place so I might as well get on with other things and bide my time. I have faith I will know when they arrive - it happened with Jackie.

Speaking of which, I sent off my character description of Jackie for the KIC Soap artisits sketch. I know it sounds odd, but I am quite nervous about the thought of having Jackie look back at me. He is going to be brought to life and I will see his face. I must finish the story tomorrow.

So much to do. So little time.
Colin 11:10 am | 4 comments |

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Recovery Day

When I woke there were cyclists meandering past and horses clipping along the tracks. The sun had broken enough to warm up the clearer parts of the forest and when I went down to the loo the stage was almost dismantled by the stage crew.



We left for our 5-hour drive home, happy but sore. Macdonald's, I have discovered, making a surprisingly good cup of coffee.



I got home to a house full of people, which did nothing for my pounding headache. Eventually I fell asleep and it stayed that way pretty much until Monday.

I think I'm maybe getting too old for this kind of thing. Ask me was it worth it?

TOO RIGHT!!! :-)
Colin 3:46 pm | 2 comments |

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Forest People

Today's entry comes courtesy of my old pal, Treigh N Spottagh.

The journey down the A1 took 5 hours, but myself and Colin Ross made our own entertainment in the form of an advance copy of the latest Madness album, due out in the shops next month.

We left a gloriously sunny Edinburgh and arrived just outside Mansfield in the spitting rain. Thoughts of the images beamed from Glastonbury yesterday sprang to mind and we began to wonder if we had come prepared well enough for the gig.

As it turned out the weather cleared warm and humid. This meant our stay in the car park was made all the more pleasant as a few of our friends turned up: Tony and Sarah Elliott, Chiggsy and Lewis and a few others. The two crates of beer we had brought with us went down well and we had a mini-party in the car park listening to Madness on the CD in the van over the sound of the support bands further inside the forest.

At around half past eight we made our way into the venue, down the slopes and through the trees and into the clearing where the stage had been erected along with an array of white tents. Most of them were beer and food tents and the merchandise stall was so pathetically small it wasn't even worth looking at.





We made our way through the crowd just before nine, avoiding the campers and people picnicking out of hampers and with glasses of wine and at one point I really had to question if this was a Madness concert or a concerto by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Though it did reinforce the wide demographic that Madness hold over music loving people of this great land.



The thick trees of Sherwood Forest suddenly came alive to the infamous track of its beloved hero, Robin Hood.

"Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
Riding through the glen,
Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
With his band of men,
Feared by the bad, loved by the good,
Robin Hood! Robin Hood! Robin Hood!
"

Then a sullen silence fell over the trees. Darkness fell. All went quiet apart from the buzz of excitement from several thousand Madness fans.

A solitary light shone onto the stage and seven of Robin Hood's men walked on and brought the crowd to life.

The crowd settled, and then in trademark power of volume and passion, Mr. Chas Smash sent birds scattering and trees swaying with the immortal lyrics:

"Hey you! Don't watch that watch this,
This is the heavy heavy monster sound,
The nuttiest sound around.
So if you've come in off the street,
And you're beginning to feel the heat,
Well listen Buster, you better start to move your feet,
To the rockingest,
Rock-steady beat,
Of Madness.
One Step Beyond!"





And we were off. Madness worked the crowd up into a frenzy, then lowered them with classics such as The Prince, Embarrassment, My Girl, The Sun and the Rain and Wings of a Dove. Then they dropped the tempo with a superb version of Grey Day, One Better Day and Take it or Leave It. They came to a climax with Baggy Trousers before encoring with Swan Lake, Madness and Night Boat to Cairo.



If there's one thing you can always rely on with Madness is that they always send everyone home happy. There's something for everyone and with a back-catalogue of 23 top ten hits and another fifty stomping classics to choose from, it really is no wonder they are still packing out venues around the world.

Tonight's gig saw the finale of Madness' summer tour in association with the Forestry Commission. Shortly, they will be touring France and Holland as well as more gigs in London, and this, in their 26th year, proves they are as strong as ever.

Stand back Coldplay and Oasis, you may play good music and know about rock and roll, but when it comes to squeezing every last drop out of a crowd, bonding with them and creating an atmosphere of happiness and delight, there really is no other alternative. Nobody has ever been to a Madness concert and not been able to stand still. Fact.

You don't even have to be a fan to have a damn good night's fun and entertainment. As Suggs welcomed everyone into his fold, nobody was left in no doubt that Madness really are one of the best live acts around in this era of processed music and dubbed miming.

Madness new single Shame and Scandal is out on Monday 14th July, and their new album The Dangermen Sessions, Volume 1 on August 1st.

Pre-order them here:
Single: http://tinyurl.com/9docq
Album: http://tinyurl.com/94kg3

The rest of the beer was finished as the car park slowly emptied and the troops of Doc Martin's and weary nutters and nuttettes left for home. Soon the forest was deserted all except for one blue van and two Scottish die-hards.



Sleep was hard to come by due to the sudden drop in temperature in the forest as well as the fact I had to lie across the front seat of the van, which included gear stick and seat-belt clips. Eventually, I think I managed a couple of hours.
Colin 3:28 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, June 24, 2005

Oh So Quiet

At last we had some drizzle and cloud cover to cool the streets down. It was getting too much and I was practically frying in my leather brogues.

When I woke I thought I was lying next to a large crustacean on my pillow. I leapt up in fright only to realise my scab had fallen off my forehead during the night, and now it lay there like an upturned crab.

I made my way to work feeling loaded with energy, yet apprehensive about something not related to work. Couldn't put my finger on it so decided to log into under "Wait till something crap happens during the day".

But nothing did happen.

I ran through an edit of the KIC Soap story and not much else. It was a quiet day. Work was reasonably busy with me being the only one in my team present and so it went quite smoothly.

I met Dave and Tom in Clark's for a couple of pints after work but it wasn't to be a late one. I got home and checked my email then write out some notes for some short stories that have come to mind.
Colin 11:08 pm | 3 comments |

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Park Life

It was so warm last night I had to sleep with no covers or clothes on and with both windows open. This is almost unheard of in Scotland since records began (last week). Yet I still woke in a pool of sweat and gagging for water.

It's just not on. One of the benefits of being Scottish is you get used to the cold and rain. I'm just not acclimateised to heat and have no clothes to wear that are suitable. It's a total pain. I want it to rain. :-)

I do appreciate the warm weather; really I do. But I am just not built for it. I seem to retain the heat like some kind of large insulatory sponge. The best thing about these hot days is the twilight period; when the sun starts to set and shadows lengthen, insects hatch and the birds twitter brightly and the cats come out on the prowl. Even Smashie, my goldfish, is feeling the strain. I'm having to replace a third of his tank water every couple of nights just to keep the temperature low enough for him.

Soon he will get a new tank. Once Laura's bedroom is complete she can move in, which will release the spare room for me to decorate. I don't intend to take long about it either. I am going to get a new desk, a new carpet and new wallpaper and light fittings. I'm also going to get a futon for when guests stay and a cabinet to keep other books and papers. It will be my own private writing den and I won't have to live out of boxes like I am doing just now. Nothing is available and finding notes is a struggle. It will be perfect. I'll be organised and professional.

My new aquarium will go on top of the cabinet. I have always wanted one, preferably tropical, but with Smashie growing day by day I want to give him a good tank in which he can grow and be happier. That means a larger freshwater tank. Just now he is in a simple round bowl with a wee bridge and coloured stones. It's crap and it's getting too small for him. He's bored.

The new tank will be up to a meter in length, have dedicated fluorescent lighting, water filter and air pump. Inside I will cultivate real freshwater plants and add in some rocks and features for him to hide and play. It will be just like the real thing. And to top it off I will introduce some more fishes for him to get to know and muck around with.

This is all in the future though, but I have been reading up on it in more detail and a visit to Leith's aquarium specialists (http://www.aquatic-rooms.co.uk) is in order soon. They have hundreds of fish and tanks and equipment so it is the best place to start. I could just sit and watch the fish all day.

Anyway, since the weather was warm and sunny today, I left the office just after noon and went to the shop for a roll and bottle of water. I walked round to the Botanic Gardens and found a bench in a nice quiet spot in the shade and ate my lunch.

My mobile went off and it was my sister. We spoke for a few minutes and then I went back to my lunch. My mobile rang out again and it was my Dad who had heard I was in the park from my sister (as they were having lunch together). We spoke and then I turned off the phone.

Bliss.

I took some notes for the KIC soap that I am going to write this evening after work. It's a good structure but I'm worried the story might not be strong enough. There are other options if I don't like it when written so it isn't a problem. I also took some notes of what I saw around me, which form the next couple of paragraphs you will read here.

I sat back in the bench and appreciated the shade from the sun. The ancient trees around me blew in the wind like seashells secrets and the leaves on the branches swayed with waves of easy calm. In the distance, rivers of traffic flowed past, stopping and starting and congesting, reminding me how lovely it was to be sat in this oasis of calm, removed from the rat race.

A pigeon landed with its mate in front of me and together they wobbled along the path searching for morsels of food. Their feathers shone warmly in the sun reflecting oily patterns and rainbow colours. A squirrel scampered across the grass, stopped, and scampered into the green bushes to the right.

It was a wonderful scene and the silence and calm just what I needed. So much so, in fact, that I didn't want to go back to work. But I had to and when I got there, found I was already in an improved frame of mind.

I was shattered when I got home; a combination of a couple of late'ish nights and the heat getting to me. I was determined not to lose a night though and I wrote my episode of the KIC Soap opera. It's still rough and needs aligning and tidying but it's there and I quite like it. It came in at a whopping 2000 words.

I was glad to get it done - something - anything. I don't want this month to go to waste because of a sore head.
Colin 10:33 am | 2 comments |

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Bells And Whistles

I saw Star Wars: Episode III last night. No matter what age I am, when I see and hear the 20th Century Fox introduction my metabolism knows only one thing is about to happen; "A long time ago...".

Seeing Vader being born and masked, then breathing his first life-supportive breath brought the hairs on my neck standing to attention. All those unanswered links from the two sets of movies came clear in a film I got totally lost in.

To some it is childish nonsense, but to others it forms part of the fabric of their lives. Bravo on a wonderful set of films.

Busy day today. I attended the Doc's for a check-up on my burn. Everything is fine and the skin is healing nicely - but slowly. It still looks freakishly odd to first-sighters - I can tell by their glances - but I'm getting used to it.

I took the opportunity of the morning off work to head up to the West end and book my kilt out for next Thursday's wedding. My best mate's brother is getting married in Ayrshire and Gail and I are going to the evening reception. I selected my favourite tartan (outside my family tartan) - Black Watch.



Time for a moan: to the bloke who walks about my office allowing his right heel to catch the ground first as he strides forward, before landing heavily on his left foot as if to compensate, thus giving off an irregular and annoying walking sound pattern to anyone within ear shot. It's a kind of titty-boom sound, and it is really quite irritating.

It's not cool and you are not a VIP for doing so. I know you think you are, but please spare us this display of higher staff grade bravado. Nobody is impressed.

It was 8 years ago today I made my first trip to London to see Madness. It was the summer of 1996 and it was Madstock 3 - a festival that saw several bands play during the day and Madness topping the bill at around 9pm. If memory serves me correctly, that day we saw King Prawn, Space, Wilko Johnson, Mike Flowers Pops a little-known band called Catatonia, Squeeze and the James Taylor Quartet.

The sun beat mercilessly down on Finsbury Park as thousands of Madness fans and a few Scots left over from the England v Scotland match at Wembley the week before, piled in through the gates and made for the sanctuary of the beer tents.

I remember listening to England beating Spain on penalties in the QF of Euro '96 and you couldn't help but get into the mood. When Madness came on it was the highlight of my Madness career to date, although since then, things only got better and better.

When I have bad writing weeks - weeks where I am prevented from writing and not that what I write is crap - I don't enjoy going to play snooker on a Wednesday. I feel like I should be in making up for it with every spare minute. I squeeze in what I can but in relation to some advice I received on this blog yesterday, I have made a decision to try and balance this out.

Weather permitting, at lunchtimes I am going to get my lunch and eat it in the Botanic Gardens along with my notebook and pencil. It doesn't need to be there - it can be anywhere - I just need some peace and quiet. No wait; that's not strong enough. I need - solitude. There is too many things around me annoying me that normally wouldn't and I need to clear everything out my head and reassemble it in order.

I often get like this when I am taken from writing. I start to feel ratty and irritable and like a drug, I must get my hit in the form of words.

This is me.

So the short of it is I couldn't be bothered with snooker with Ian tonight; my heart was not in it and I was glad to get home. When I did get home, Gail was already in bed and the house lay in darkness.

Then something very strange then happened.

I made a nice cup of strong hot tea and a bread roll with beef slices, took it into the conservatory and sat in the dim light with only my thoughts. It felt good to be alone and surrounded by silence.

One of the windows was slightly open and it allowed a welcome breeze to swirl around my skin, cooling it after what had been a very hot day. In the distance I could make out the sound of what appeared to be a large aircraft approaching. Our house is under the flight path of planes approaching from the south before the circle the Forth Bridge and land at Edinburgh Airport.

The rolling noise slowly got louder and seemed to be crawling through the sky causing me to doubt whether it was even an aircraft. I thought it might be some kind of security vehicle being brought to town in preparation for the G8 summit but when a horn sounded and bells started ringing I knew there was no way this was a plane.

The nearest main road to us is Seafield, but that was too far away for the sound of this vehicle. It was coming from over the other side of the hedge towards the walkway, and the glass in the conservatory windows started to vibrate under the enormity of the beast's tremors as it trundle past close by.

I went out into the garden and realised it sounded more like a train or a large convoy of those kind of trucks that carry cranes or large machinery about. But with no main road nearby or in that direction, I stood under the moon's glow confused. The only possible explanation was the disused railway track, now used as a bicycle track/walkway.

The bells on the monster rang, the horn sounded loud and the metal crunched and screeched as it rumbled by and began to disappear as slowly as it had came into ear-shot.

Something stirred inside the house and when I went in Gail was standing in the kitchen getting a drink of water.

"Did you hear that?" I said.

"What?"

"That noise - something going past the house with bells and stuff. It sounded like a train."

"No. I'm tired; see you when you come to bed."

"You never heard it? The house was shaking?"

"Maybe you imagined it," she said and left the room.

I went back outside and heard the beast disappear into the blackness and suddenly it was gone. I was alone again, standing with the sound of the city night gathering around me and making me shiver.

I went back inside and finished my tea, contemplated what had just transpired and decided to use it in a story somewhere.

I still have no idea what it was.
Colin 11:42 am | 4 comments |

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Community

It's the Summer Solstice; the longest day of the year and the final turning point as we head back down the slope into the golden season. It also means there are more hours to enjoy in the nice weather, and more daylight time available in which to bugger oneself up.

Yes, you guessed it - I had another mini-disaster this morning. I forgot to turn the iron off after ironing my shirt, and when I reached over to get my coffee, I burnt the top of my hand. An inch-long scar is swelling as I type and it's most uncomfortable.

In other news, I got lost in one of The Company's newer buildings and missed a meeting as a result. I shed no tears over the loss of a mind-numbing hour for a project I have pulled out of anyway. "Doctor's orders" means no overnight shifts for a few weeks. They complained. I told them to ** **** **********!

One of the benefits of publishing my blog a day in lieu is that I can comment on what other bloggers say who publish on the same day. Devon Ellington - http://inkinmycoffee.blogspot.com - said in her entry for today about the Solstice, "Enjoy it. And take some time to connect with your community."

I like the sentiment in this and wanted to follow it up, but instead it threw up a problematic question I found hard to answer: Just what is my community?

I couldn't answer, so decided to go the start and look it up in the dictionary. It had 5 seperate definitions:

1. A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government. The district or locality in which such a group lives.

This could mean several things: the new cul-de-sac we live in, the people in our street, Leith, Edinburgh, Midlothian, the Central Belt, Scotland, the UK. It could grow bigger (to Europe?), but the point is do I feel part of any of these communities? Do I feel like I fit into their way of life or should I be trying to?

I have to ask myself, "who am I?" to get any further. The answer in this respect is simple. I am Colin Galbraith and I am, first and foremost, a British Subject. I am Scottish and within that domain I am a west-coaster. I don't consider myself to be an east-coaster - at least not a Leither or member of the Edinburgh swashbucklers - and I am certainly not European, but I am part of the new family that has moved into an already-established community in our street.

This, to me, is all pretty vague and doesn't help me answer the question of what my community is though.

2. A group of people having common interests: the scientific community; the international business community. A group viewed as forming a distinct segment of society: the gay community; the community of color.

"Interests" and "segment of society". This is more like it as things are getting broken down to see what is inside. This is not things I like or dislike - you won’t see "I am a movie fan". That doesn’t tell you who I am. This list is the things that I AM.

I am a writer.
I am a poet.
I am a husband.
I am a dad.
I am a computer worker.

You try this - it's hard when you have never considered it before.

Things I also am, but that don't really matter, I have mentioned here only because they were given in the examples in the dictionary as being "segments of society". Such as:

I am straight.
I am white. (actually, I'm pale blue. This IS Scotland!)

Has this helped define MY community? It's moving in the right direction.

3. Similarity or identity: a community of interests. Sharing, participation, and fellowship.

I am a member of a wonderful writing group.
I am a member of a fantastric poetry group.
I am a member of Leith's local artists and writers community by virtue of our interests.

4. Society as a whole; the public.

Again, this is too vague. I can't be compared with the rich folks living in the penthouses overlooking Leith's fashionable Shore district. Nor can I be compared with the homeless bloke who sits outside the record shop on Elm Row.

5. Ecology. A group of plants and animals living and interacting with one another in a specific region under relatively similar environmental conditions. The region occupied by a group of interacting organisms.

I am not a plant.



So, who is my community? The strongest feeling I get after having written through this and thinking all the way, has to be my fellow writers and artists, especially in cyber-world and in Edinburgh.

But I am also a member of a group of men who love their families, their wives and children.

Therefore, in order to respond to Devon's blog and "connect with my community", I think by the mere process of carrying through this exercise and writing it down, and from you taking the time to read it, I have, unwittingly, accomplished it.
Colin 12:28 pm | 3 comments |

Monday, June 20, 2005

Cruel Banana

There are no words to describe how depressed and empty I feel the closer I get to my place of work in a geographical sense. I feel like I am wasting daily opportunities to write and learn and contribute something worthwhile. I feel I am losing out on being able to spend my life doing something that I want to do, not what I am told is what I should be doing.

Which is why I get so hacked off sometimes in the evenings when I am unable to write because of all the things that need to be done. Gail nipped out for a while so I tidied the house, fed Laura, did her homework and got my own dinner sorted. I finally sat down to write at 9pm - just when Ian showed up to work in the house.

So with Laura just in her bed, the drilling and sawing started and if I couldn't concentrate downstairs I don't know how Laura managed to sleep in the room along the hall.

Then of course he came down looking for a cup of tea and a biscuit. Not a problem but it was now 10pm and I still had yet to write a single word. One of the traits that run through Gail's family is the ability to talk. And I mean talk!

It was after 11pm before Ian finished talking and his second cup of tea.

I'm fully aware all of this may sound somewhat selfish and rich considering he is doing work on the house, but the other side of the coin is as a result of having this arrangement, I don't get to do what I want even in my own home. Further, I can't remember the last time me and Gail actually sat down together and alone to watch a film or something, because Ian is always there or Gail is out or I am out or just something gets in the way.

My writing may seem trivial and amateurish, maybe childish to some, but to me it is my life. It is what I am and how I want to earn a living if possible. As such, I approach it with the importance and commitment it deserves, and not just a hobby. Which is why it gets on my nerves when I am compelled not to go into my world to write and entertain instead. This happens every week and we haven't finished one room yet. Is this to tbe the norm for the next 10 years until the house is the way Gail wants it?

If I was writing full-time, how could I expect to make any money when I cannot get peace to write even at such a late hour in my own home?

But, I can't be seen to complain as we are saving thousands on labour costs. But where is the balance to be struck, between privacy and having your in-laws saunter in the door whenever they feel like it because they are doing you a favour or talking to you for hours when you are trying to work - however meaningless and comical it mugth be to them.

Just as I was falling to sleep the phone rang. It was work and the time was 00:50. I haven't been called out for months so it was typical it had to happen tonight. By the time the problem was resolved and I began to wind down again, it was approaching 2am. And they wonder why I love working for them so much.

I had taped a show about London's landscape as seen and told by Suggs (singer from Madness). I ended up watching ot to get tired again; his take of the streets of Soho to Camden was fascinating; the colours and the people of the city that inspire much of the lyrics in his songs. It made me want to visit London again - I miss it.
Colin 11:47 am | 4 comments |

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Back In The Saddle

Hello my lovelies. It's good to be back.

The last two weeks of my life have been hectic to the point that I was unable to blog. My full and hearty apologies to you each and every one of you, and even though the literary genius that occasionally oozes in short spurts has been in short supply, I hope you will accept my apology and forgive me.

To everyone who expressed concern and went out of their way to find out if I was okay - thanks and love to you all.

The truth is, I fell and knocked myself out. Yes, I cracked my head against a radiator, which then burnt some skin from the right side of my face. It sounds worse than it is.

Those of you who know me well are bound to ask, "But what about those ruggedly handsome good looks you are famous for, Colin?" Well fear not, for I am assured by Edinburgh's finest Doctors and Nurses, (and believe me, the nurses were FANTASTIC!) there should be no scarring once the injuries have healed.

Despite my being laid up and drugged beyond belief with various kinds of pain-killers and antibiotics, there has been some movement on the writing front, most of which, occurred only in the last few days.

I read Porno by Irvine Welsh - a review of which shall appear here in due course.

Heart of a Child was rejected by Gorlan Publications because it has - stopped publishing!

I am signed up to do an Internet chat for KIC in the next couple of months.

KIC have also signed up PR personnel who are taking on the job of promoting serials and authors. Should be fun as some of the ideas are exciting.

KIC are also starting a soap opera with the characters from various serials. I started working on this last night in fact once I figured out what the spec was. It's not in fact a soap, but a series of stories for a set of four characters, and each episode takes place in a different serial. So the heroes will find themselves in Jackie's world and from their point of view. Exciting stuff!

I have started work on A Friend To Die For. This is still a working title for a novel I started writing prior to Hunting Jack. I stopped work on it because HJ was contracted but now I have returned to complete it.

The first thing that stood out as I read over it was the diabolical standard of writing. It is a measure of how much my writing has improved, because the grammar, structure and plot arcs are all over the place. It is in need of some serious work to it and I will need to use the same methods I used for HJ to make it work but right now I'm submerging into their world.

I have also decided to approach it in another way. At the moment it is in 3rd person pov, but I am going to re-write it so that it is in 1st person pov - for each character. This will not only be a challenge but an exciting format, which will add to the story's excitement.

I'm not going to go back over the whole of the last two weeks, suffice to say the first 10 days was spent healing and the rest wishing I could batter my head every week so I wouldn't have to come in to work. I missed the entirety of the Leith Festival - totally outwith my control - but other marketing ideas have come to mind for the future.

In the meantime, I will give you a run down of my weekend.

It was a family orientated weekend. I was back through in Glasgow on Saturday to meet up with my Mum. We used to get together on Saturday afternoons for coffee but since I moved to Edinburgh this came to a stop. So we have decided to start them up again, and my Dad and youngest sister also joined us for lunch in Ingram's Bar in the city centre.

It was a glorious day and at times too hot but it was good to be back in Glasgow - as it always is - but I was happy to get home too as I was tired and exhausted from the heat. I'm just not a "hot-weather" person; I much prefer the freshness of a new winter.

Today is Father's Day and Laura gave me some aftershave and a Homer Simpson card. Not quite sure what she's trying to tell with that. We went down to her Dance School Award Ceremony in the morninig where she got her award for Tap 3 (some tap dance level for Juniors) and then in the afternoon we packed some stuff and headed down to the beach at Gullane on the east coast. It was a cracking day and we had a nice picnic and buried Gail's legs in the sand while she was sleeping.

I started work on the KIC soap; getting to know the characters and decide on a suitable point in which to write my chapter alongside Hunting Jack. KIC also going to do character sketches, which means I will be able to see Jackie's face for the first time in black and white and not just in my mind. That could be weird!

The Soap has thrown up a problem. One of their characters is called Katie, and this is also the name of one of the most important people in my serial. Obviously there are differences, but it might make it confusing to the reader to have two of them. So I'm not sure whether to include her in my contribution - but I would like to see a sketch of her. It all depends on what story I come up with. I sketched down several ideas last night and need to think about them some more before deciding.

That's about it. My head is almost healed but it will be a few weeks before the skin is back to normal. I'm recharged and believe it or not, the time away from the office was marvellous because, well, I wasn't IN the office. I didn't miss it, think about it, wonder what was happening, or divert my mind in any way to anything remotely related to it.

If only every day was like that. It could be of course, and I aim to do my damndest to make sure. If there's one thing I am going to work towards passionately - one small piece of non-fictional work - it is the writing and submission of my resignation letter. To get there I need to write, and write, and write, and then maybe one day.......
Colin 1:14 pm | 5 comments |

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Delays, Delays

This blog will return on Saturday, 18th June 2005.

Apologies for the lack of posts of late.
Colin 3:05 pm | 5 comments |

Friday, June 03, 2005

Crumbling Walls

The city was in a good mood this morning - I could feel the vibe. People were smiling; the bus driver stopped outwith a bus-stop to collect an old lady; a taxi driver helped a woman with directions and walked away smiling; people weren't getting in each other's way and a general feeling of happiness abounded.

Cities have feelings of their own. There are days when something exists in the air, caused by too many people having bad days all at once and you feel glad to get home and out of the angry mist. But days like this are good, and you know you are going to have a good day.

I suspect the good natured feelings won't last, however, as I refer to a matter that I've kept silent on for long enough. A situation, that is winding me up more and more and I feel compelled to respond to in this medium - Bob Geldof, Midge Ure and Live8.

I think it's very honourable for Geldof and Co. to stand up to the people who govern the planet - it's everyone's right in a democracy. But the man's "couldn't give a shit about anyone else" attitude is really getting up my nose.

He is actively encouraging hundreds of thousands - a million - people to swarm on Edinburgh and protest to the G8 leaders about their handling of certain world affairs. He is asking the people of Edinburgh to "open their doors" and provide accommodation to these people and for us to welcome them with open arms. He is asking us to bend over backwards and put up with several days of over-congestion in the name of a good cause.

All very fine, but has anybody asked the people who live here if we actually want this on our doorstep? Everyone I've spoken to doesn't want it. Personally, I'm not comfortable with the prospect of thousands of sporadic campsites popping up on my doorstep, smashing up MacDonald's (as much as I dislike the food) and getting drunk and behaving violently. We've all seen the previous G8 summits with the violence and destruction that accompanies them.
These so called protesters have a reputation for not giving a shit about anyone else because their cause is bigger than anything else. So they think this gives them free reign to cause mayhem, behave ignorantly and cause destruction and inconvenience to the thousands of law-abiding tax payers of this city. It is us who will foot the bill for these people while they are here and when they leave.

Leaving my own personal political persuasions out of it, I really cannot blame our government for warming up for the occasion with Apache helicopters and for Bush bringing over an aircraft carrier.

I hope I'm wrong, and if I am, I will reassess my opinion of Geldof and his followers. But if anything goes wrong - and we are waiting for it to happen - his head should roll as should the pillock that decided to have the G8 summit in Scotland in the first place.

Here's an idea. Why not have it in Hyde Park next time - or is that too near to the heart of the establishment? In fact, why not have it near Geldof's mansion? Then all the protestors can pitch their tents and cause mayhem in his back garden? Or is that too close to home Sir Bob?

At lunchtime I couldn't face another afternoon drinking iced-water in Clark's so I nipped out to the shop to get some lunch with the intention of only being away from the office for five minutes. I had things to take care of so it looked the best thing to do.

I passed Clark's on the way to the cash machine and looked in; very appealing, I thought. I phoned Dave and asked if he fancied a pint. He was over in two minutes..

In Clark's, I had a pint of coke. Not the end of the world, but as I finished it off and saw how much Dave was enjoying his Guinness, I felt the walls start to creak. It was my round and I went to the bar. The wall caved in.

I returned to our table with a Guinness and a pint of perfectly chilled Tennent's Lager from the new font installed only last week. It was perfection and as I tasted it's sublime coolness and allowed the lager to run down my throat, the bubbles spoke to me in a little understood language of desire and love. I surmised that I although I need to lose some weight, why should I deny myself the smaller privileges in life - like a pint on a Friday afternoon. Life's too short. I could be dead tomorrow.
Colin 10:45 am | 6 comments |

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A New Energy

Pouring with rain again! The weather more resembles October-time and not summer. It did nothing to raise my mood, especially when I went for the bus to work and it came early, thereby causing me to miss it and have to walk the half-mile to get another bus. I was soaked by the time I got to the office.

I got through some work over lunch and evening. I have started to chop up and reorganise the Robert Louis Stevenson article. Paragraph to paragraph is disjointed and I'm trying to inject some personal thoughts and feelings into it to help make it a more natural read. In places it seems like a fact listing essay, which is not what I want. I want it to be a tribute to a writer who I'm growing to admire daily the more I research his life and works.

I can't help but feel connected to Stevenson, though I'm not sure in what way. Possibly, it is the inspiration he got from Edinburgh, which I am finding is more and more the case for me also. Maybe it's the style of writing in both his poetry and stories; The Strange Tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Body Snatcher being two of my favourites. Or perhaps it is just empathy toward a genius who loved his hometown but was exiled for reasons out with his control, and then died far too young.

Heart of a Child is now on it's sixth submission, this time to Gorlan Publications. It would be easy to say I wish I had kept it with Wild Child, but in the end I'm happier I pulled it even though it is doing the rounds big style on the subbing circuit.

Loaded was fired off to the editors at The Barcelona Review. This is my first time sending anything to this organ and their estimate is a four to five months turnaround. Maybe I'll get lucky.

I moved my Hunting Jack research and work from the Serials directory to the Novels directory on my PC. A small, but momentous gesture. It will remain there untouched for a couple of months or until I am ready to novelise it. My energy's are recharged and refocussed and new projects are on the horizon. I don't see any reason on working on it just yet when I want to give it a break for a while. There are fresh and new exciting things on my mind just now.

I dug out the existing manuscript for my first novel. It was conceived and started at the tail end of 2002 and it's pretty poor by my standards today. It stands at around 43,000 words and was my first attempt at a novel. The advent of Hunting Jack meant it was put on hold, but now it is ready for completion and screaming at me for attention.

Many of the issues I had with it are not insurmountable any more, and much of the structure is obvious where it is lacking - as is the grammar. If nothing else, scanning over what I have written so far provided a graphic illustration of how my writing has improved over the last couple of years. I have a strong hunger in my gut over this, and I feel much more confident about being able to complete it.

I did some catching up on the phone in the evening. Spoke to my folks who have a wedding down in Irvine tomorrow and my sister. I've hardly spoken to her since she started training to be a schoolteacher. She's been mega-busy but it's all paid off with straight A's and a posting to a school near her home. Tomorrow is her last day in the school she is placed at, and then in a few weeks she will be earning a new kind of pay packet - teaching the youngsters of our nation.

I spoke to my old buddy Bobby Mackerel. He was one of the ushers at my wedding and we've not seen each other for quite a while so we're going to get a date organised for the summer. He just turned 36 and he's having a birthday bash on Saturday but unfortunately I can't go due to babysitting duty. I know he's a regular reader of this blog so - have a good one big man - ya old fart! :-)
Colin 11:16 am | 2 comments |

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Chipping Away At The Stones

The rainy season has arrived. It poured all morning and never stopped until late afternoon. This is June! I can only assume our summer was that weekend in May when we all got burnt down at The Shore.

My back is starting to hurt. The top feels tight and the base has a dull pain. I think it's caused by the way I sit at my computer at work. I have a high-back chair I got in from Health and Safety a while ago but I still tend to hunch when I've been sitting for a while. I also tend to type into the laptop instead of my PC at home. This means I can sit with Gail in the evening while I write but it also means I sit at the edge of the couch with the laptop on the coffee table. It's not ideal.

A wee while ago Laura told me she was telling her pals that her Dad is a writer. When she told me about it, she said one of her new pals in the street who is a bit older than her, said she had read some of Hunting Jack. I was a bit suspicious, and put it down to childish nonsense.

Today, Gail picked me up from work with Laura and her new pal. Laura mentioned it again and her friend confirmed she had read some of it. I asked where and she said it was in school on a website.

Then I remembered. My second press release was picked up by the School Library Association (SLA). I liaised with my editor and the SLA publisher to to arrange a deal where schools could buy a 'site license' for the story if interested. They've not picked it up on subscription yet, but it's weird to think that my daughter's pal knew what it was when mentioned to her.

First proof, that Hunting Jack is out there to a wider audience without me knowing it. The possibilities are endless if I keep chipping away at these stones.

The Leith Festival is approaching and it has a full and varied schedule of events. There are a couple I want to go to such as the tour of Leith Police Station, the Slam Poetry night and a reading with authors Zoe Strachan, Laura Marney, Rodge Glass and Louise Welch. One event NOT publicised is Irvine Welsh appearing at a so far undisclosed event. It's a first come first served situation with tickets so I'm going to get in touch tomorrow and see if I can reserve a couple.

A new writing project has begun formulating in my head. I'm not ready to announce it but it may involve the use of several interests; writing, fiction, photography, journaling, imagination - you get the picture. It is inspired by a couple of blogs I have been reading recently. A germ was planted in my brain and is now growing daily. I don't have a name for it yet, so until I announce the project I shall refer to it as Project X. That is much as I know myself. When I know more - I'll let you know.

No writing tonight since it was snooker night. On the downside I drank pints of water all night and the waitress slagged me off. On the upside I hammered Ian 7-2, scored my highest ever break (24) and highest ever frame score (82).

And now, it's time for June's GDR To Do List

GDR - June 2005

Fiction
* Submit Monday Mornings to WM competition
* Complete Whisky Snatching and submit
* Resubmit Heart of a Child
* Resubmit Loaded
* Write 2 short stories
* Write 10,000 words of novel WIP

Poetry
* Write 4 new poems minimum
* Edit and complete 3 poems in WIP (Boxes, In the City and Life)
* Write more Haiku

Non-Fiction
* Travel article on Edinburgh Literary Figures (priority) - complete. Needs smoothed out.
* Submit above article to intended market.

Marketing and Promotion
* Look at getting business cards made up
* Press Release for last six months of HJ

Reading and Research
* Read more poetry and fiction
* Keep up to date with KIC e-zines
* Project X

Technical
* Complete first draft of Web Development manual.

Colin 11:21 am | 0 comments |