I was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in October 1963, the year Alfred Hitchcock made ‘The Birds’, the same year Martin Luther King Jr. made his ‘I have a dream’ speech and about a month before the JFK assassination (no connection I hope……)
My childhood was a safe childhood – I was raised in a small suburb on the south side of Glasgow, called Clarkston, its most famous son, Brain Robertson, who would go on to join Thin Lizzy, and known too for being the place where a terrible disaster occurred, the Clarkston disaster, in the early 1970’s – it was an anomaly, for otherwise Clarkston was, and remains, a secure place, it’s boundaries and amenities well established and clearly defined.
In my younger years I was to be blessed by momentous (well, to me anyway…) epiphanies; the first was in 1974 when I was taken, on the occasion of my brother’s 13th birthday to see ‘Tommy’, The Who’s rock opera, at the la Scala cinema in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. The film, and more significantly the music and lyrical content, transformed me; to this day I remain a life-long fan of the Who, and in particular the creative output of Pete Townsend. In the years succeeding, and as comfort against a schooling that I abhorred, I would continue to be consumed by music. I took up drumming, another epiphany, and I continue to play and perform, music from the generations which touched me most: the 1960’s and 1970’s. Perhaps inevitably I now play in a Who tribute band: ‘The Substitutes’ (as well as playing guitar and harmonica in another band: ‘The Purple Heart Band’, which performs and records for charity.)
After leaving school, I went to the Glasgow School of Art to study architecture, more at my father’s behest than my own (I really had no idea what I wanted to do, other than be a [Marvel] comic book artist…) – he was a civil engineer, he worked on the Baillieston Motorway Interchange and extension of the dual carriageway that runs up the western edge of Loch Lomond; of more potent significance, he was an avid reader, and both his professional and personal attributes, a gentleman like his own father, together, informed my future, both as a person and as regards my career.
Initially, I failed cataclysmically in my studies, but then, in the fourth year (of five years), the penny dropped – architecture suddenly revealed itself to me: another epiphany! I concluded my studies, and entered the profession in 1988, and from then until the mid 1990’s I hardly lifted my head from a drawing board: architecture, like music beforehand, consumed me – and it still does. The working at it, however, in commercial practice burned me out. I inadvertently drifted into teaching architecture, and since 1996, I have taught at the Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Becoming educator, I realised, then, and at last what it was I really wanted to do; I worked initially as a design tutor, and worked my way through the ranks effectively, to become senior lecturer and ultimately the Departmental Director of Education in 2010. I must admit to feeling a degree of satisfaction to have held such a role – but my proudest moment was the receipt of a Student Union Teaching Excellence Award in 2013, initiated by the student body, because in their words: ‘his methods…tilt our perception of the world.’
I have no doubt that my life would have continued on a fairly steady trajectory, but then, the unforeseen intervened.
Sometime in the early noughties, I was taken ill, quite arbitrarily, with pneumonia – confined to bed, I had nothing to do, so I began to scribble down ideas for a (science fiction) novel. I am still working on it: ‘Lifetime’. It was the spark, though it took a some few years for the flame to properly ignite. I married Angela in 2002, and we had a daughter, Katie, in 2004, and a son, Christopher, in 2007 – and I began to make up stories for my children, and indeed, with them. I made my first forays into actual writing with the self publication of a compendium of children’s short stories: ‘The Beautiful Coat and Other Assorted Stories for Children’ in 2014.
I write pretty much every day – though now with new found impetus: my life turned upside down on the 27th October 2014, when Christopher passed away, suddenly and without warning. He was six, nearly seven.
Writing has since taken on a new meaning, and purpose. In 2017 I published my second book of children’s stories, very much in Christopher’s honour: ‘The Pointless Rose and Further Assorted Stories for Children’, and I am working on a third: ‘The Good Hoover and even Further Assorted Stories for Children’.
I write about the world I see about me, about how it is, and how else it might be, and try and stick to the age old adage: write about what you know. I have supplemented my fictional writing therefore with factual. Since Christopher passed away I have taken up trekking as a means for raising funds for charity (specifically the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity), and have completed a number of challenge treks around the world, including the Great Wall of China, the Canadian Rockies, and the Arctic. I write about these experiences, as well as about my grief, as it has become a comfort to me and perhaps to others to do so.
In many ways the tragedy which has befallen my family has motivated as much as it has disrupted. I am ever more conscious of the time we have, the limitations of that resource – this website is a result of that realisation, a medium through which I might disseminate my better intentions, as writer, photographer but especially as fundraiser and promoter of understanding regarding what it means to grieve and suffer loss.
My hope, which has been severely challenged, is simply to make the best I can from the most awful bad, and to strive towards making a future, brighter……
Thank you for reading.