Day Two Hundred and Ninety Seven: Hip Hop Mixers

A new Monday Mixtape from me where I share some of my favourite hip hop tracks of the year.

There’s been a lot of amazing records released this year and I’ll be playing a selection of my favourites on the radio show tomorrow. But for now, to hear the hip hop stuff (which I can’t play on the show due to swearing etc) click on the image above.


Day Two Hundred and Ninety Six: Every Day Horror

Here’s a nice wee bit of flash fiction by one of Glasgow’s finest writers, James Kelman. It’s called ‘Acid’ and all rights belong to the author. It’s truly brilliant.

In this factory in the north of England acid was essential. It was contained in large vats. Gangways were laid above them. Before these gangways were completely safe a young man fell into a vat feet first. His screams of agony were heard all over the department. Except for one old fellow the large body of men was so horrified that for a time not one of them could move. In an instant this old fellow who was also the young man’s father had clambered up and along the gangway carrying a big pole. Sorry Hughie, he said. And then he ducked the young man below the surface. Obviously the old fellow had had to do this because only the head and shoulders – in fact, that which had been seen above the acid – was all that remained of the young man.

Day Two Hundred and Ninety Four: Summer Is But a Memory…

Summer may very well be long gone but it doesn’t need to be summer to enjoy this poem. Courtesy of the brilliant Norman MacCaig who had a way with words unlike anyone else. It buzzes in such a brilliant way. Copyright etc belong to the author.

Summer Farm
by Norman MacCaig

Straws like tame lightnings lie about the grass
And hang zigzag on hedges. Green as glass
The water in the horse-trough shines.
Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines.

A hen stares at nothing with one eye,
Then picks it up. Out of an empty sky
A swallow falls and, flickering through
The barn, dives up again into the dizzy blue.

I lie, not thinking, in the cool, soft grass,
Afraid of where a thought might take me –
This grasshopper with plated face
Unfolds his legs and finds himself in space.

Self under self, a pile of selves I stand
Threaded on time, and with metaphysic hand
Lift the farm like a lid and see
Farm within farm, and in the centre, me.

Day Two Hundred and Ninety Three: The Second Person

I haven’t came across this a lot myself, but apparently writing in a second person perspective is uncommon. It’s pretty striking, actually, when you realise that you’re being addressed almost intimately and intensely. It almost has an accusatory tone.

In creative writing yesterday I wrote this. It’s a first draft, and I will touch it up, but see what you think.


You’ve been ignoring the feeling all day but finally you can ignore it no longer. Standing on the side of the stage with three other band members, you can see the crowd waiting anxiously for your arrival. They chant your band’s name alongside other things like “Here we, here we, here we fuckin’ go!” and this does nothing to dispel the nerves. Or the excitement. You exchange some last words with your compatriots but you can’t remember what they are, all you can remember is the butterflies in your stomach and the cool feeling of a beer in your hand. From beyond the crowd someone flashes the stage lights three times; that’s your cue to hit the stage. The lights go out and darkness engulfs the room, three hundred people hold their breath as you walk on stage. It takes approximately five second for the crowd to notice you’re on stage but when they do, they cheer. Sometimes you introduce the band before you start the first song or sometimes you tell the band just to launch right into it. Tonight, you decide you’re going to just launch right into it. You walk over to your amp, pick up your guitar and strap it on, turning round to sea of faces, the front row crushed against the barrier, arms in the air, cameras and phones like little lighthouses in the sea of darkness. To your left the lead guitarist plays a chord to test that his amp is on. The crowd continue to hold their breath. The drummer starts hitting things indiscriminately then nods to let you know that he can hear everything just fine. For now. You take a slug of Stella and place your bottle on top of your amp, hands trembling, stomach shaking, heart pounding. You look to your right and the bass player is standing with his back to the crowd because that’s his thing – he turns round the moment the lights go up. He looks over and nods to you; he’s ready. You turn the volume knob on your guitar up full and the feedback from you amp begins and becomes louder and louder until it’s deafening. You barre the fifth fret and finger a D chord with your left hand then put your right arm up in the air and bow your head. This has as all taken place in less than a minute and for the next forty five of them, there’s going to be no other feeling like it in the world. The atmosphere is palpable. The crowd continue to hold your breath as you shake, and quake and stand and stare. The drummer clicks his drum sticks together four times, the lead guitarist slides his pick along the guitar strings creating a sound not unlike a chainsaw starting up and then the lights explode all around you. Those faces you could see so clearly before are now washed away in a flood of noise and that D chord becomes your birth. The first song contains four chords and more than a few passages of twiddely notes. For the next three and a half minutes this song is your entire existence. You clutch onto your guitar neck like it’s all you have to stop you from being washed out to sea, your right hand thrashes at the strings, picking out chords and notes in perfect unison with the three men around you. Your timing is impeccable, so much so that you can improvise and never lose it. You strut to the front of the stage and stand on the speaker in front of you, gurning out at the faceless crowd that make up the line on the horizon. They cheer and they scream, their bodies moving together and into one another at the same time. You’re alive. You’re really alive. Born from darkness and slung out into the cacophonous world of red hot stage lights, there’s no going back now. The intro to your set finishes and you launch head first into the opening number, you walk back and grab the mic and start to sing. You don’t need to think about the words, you don’t need to think about the chords, you don’t even need to think about the song. You don’t think about anything, you just do it. You’re now in a world where instinct and instinct alone propels you. Your mind is a blank canvas. After about a minute the butterflies take flight and the stage lights turn you into a demigod, bathed in red, green and blue lights. Whenever it’s called for you throw out a guitar solo or two. You didn’t record it like that but you know as well as anyone that every performance is different. The songs maybe the same, but the way you express them depends on your mood. Tonight you’re happy because the crowd are happy. You reach the middle eight and look at your lead guitarist, he’s gone. Absolutely lost in his own world. The bass player to is now standing next to you, posing next to you with his guitar, so you join in then you suddenly become very aware of the intermittent white flashes coming from the space between the stage and the front barrier. Whilst the lead guitarist extends his solo, you catch the eye of one photographer and peer directly into her camera. You hope it’s a good photo. Your return to the mic for the final chorus and it’s over. The crowd show their appreciation and you introduce yourself and thank them for coming. You’re dehydrated, sweating through your clothes and your throat aches like burning coals. The next forty minutes or so are absolutely crucial to your entire existence. Some people mediate for clarity, others pray so that their mind is silenced, you just step on stage and any thought you ever had vanishes. Your mind becomes a void. You’re at peace. You’re at home. And you wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. All the sleepless nights, hangovers, bar brawls, country lanes, dodgy promoters, boos, lack of record sales, dusty old sofas, sticky venue floors and broken down vans are worth this and you only have thirty eight minutes to go. The drummer counts you in and off you go, ready to bleed for others until you can go on no more.

Day Two Hundred and Ninety One: Genesis

Poetry is everything. Without it, I have no idea what I’d do which is funny really, because about a year ago I was none the wiser.

This changed everything. This piqued my interest. The first poem that turned my head. It’s by Edwin Muir and as ever all rights belong to his estate.

Orkney - August 2006 - Copinsay and lighthouse

by Edwin Muir

Long time he lay upon the sunny hill,
To his father’s house below securely bound.
Far off the silent, changing sound was still,
With the black islands lying thick around.

He saw each separate height, each vaguer hue,
Where the massed islands rolled in mist away,
And though all ran together in his view
He knew that unseen straits between them lay.

Often he wondered what new shores were there.
In thought he saw the still light on the sand,
The shallow water clear in tranquil air,
And walked through it in joy from strand to strand.

Over the sound a ship so slow would pass
That in the black hill’s gloom it seemed to lie.
The evening sound was smooth like sunken glass,
And time seemed finished ere the ship passed by.

Grey tiny rocks slept round him where he lay,
Moveless as they, more still as evening came,
The grasses threw straight shadows far away,
And from the house his mother called his name.