Chic’s C90

I’m getting involved in the mixtape project on Twitter curated by @perlalaloca

I start with a homage to the past, but in my music dabbling starting in the early nineties, I listened to some blues and I suppose it’s the base from where most popular music stems.

Can you back at popular music without Elvis Presley? Probably not. The King died when I was a kid, but I’ve appreciated his songs as I got older

Can you say you weren’t influenced by The Beatles or Rolling Stones at some point? – I could pick half a dozen by both bands.

The seventies.

Some of these discovered by me in the nineties through student union and pub jukeboxes, the radio, other influences.

I throw in Gerry Rafferty as he’s from my hometown, Paisley and I walk the dog past a street named for him.

Boston’s ‘More than a Feeling’ was taped off the radio one night, but became a favourite for my mixtapes.

The way the electric guitar riff fades into the acoustic guitar softer part is genius.

I’m actually a fan of Wet Wet Wet, the musicianship at times is superb and Marti’s voice conveys so much.

Sadly that Troggs cover for a movie etc..

Big Country – I discovered their music just before ‘The Big Day’ concert in 1990 celebrating Glasgow as European City of Culture. They were amazing live.

I first saw Runrig at Barrowlands around new year 1990. Amazed at the content and I’ve dabbled since, I even sing along to the Gaelic songs as best I can.

Seen them about 5 times more recently and enjoyed Bruce as the frontman as much as Donny. ‘Every River’ is always a singalong at their gigs.

I was a huge fan of late 80’s and early 90’s rock. Both the hair metal and grunge. Again, what to pick, I’ve chosen two mellow ones.

The Black Crowes certainly produced a genius album in the Southern Harmony and Musical Companion.

Guns’n’Roses aren’t for everyone but, for a time they nailed rock music.

Arguably Patience never quite got exposure and airplay that it deserved.

I suppose Britpop did influence me, I was Oasis rather than Blur I guess. Certainly two inspired initial albums.

Difficult one as I could easily have went for The Smiths or Ocean Colour Scene or The Stone Roses as cooler choices for my shoe gazing interlude.

More recently I’ve had a chance to listen to more music.

Life, kids etc.

I like modern country and Kacey Musgraves is fantastic. ‘Follow Your Arrow’ is inspired and inspiring.

‘Goodbye in her eyes’ by Zac Brown Band is on first play the sad country song you might think when the genre is parodied, but the rhythm from hand drums, the backing vocals and the truth and honesty shine through.

I came across Wir Sind Helden by accident.

Yes, it’s German lyrics, but their musicianship and ability to cross nearly all modern musical styles had me hooked.

I’m a big fan of Judith Holofernes too, she’s their guitarist and vocalist. At times genius. This is a pop-py one.

Finally, ‘Begin Again’ by Taylor Swift, I include as it’s my most played and I do like the song and also much of her Red album.

Anyway that’s the explainer..


Letter to The National on GAAP.


Dave Robb’s letter of 8th February on the cancelled Glasgow Airport Access Project made many good points, although stating that ‘airport transport cannot be determined by Paisley commuters’ is off the point.

Glasgow Airport is in Paisley, a necessary fiction that most in Renfrewshire accept. It’s a significant employer for the area as well as an infrastructure asset for the country.

Paisley commuters would have helped fill either the tram-train GAAP scheme or the heavy rail trains proposed in the GARL scheme. 

Arguably, either scheme would have also helped Airport staff get to and from work. 

Any increased frequency to Paisley Gilmour Street would have been used well by these Paisley commuters and Scotrail wouldn’t sneer any increase in passenger income at one of the Scotland’s busiest passenger stations.

Sadly, The issue of the Airport Access Project was always political, one set of politicians pushed it in Glasgow City Deal and another set were, at best, ambivalent over it.

The Airport Access proposal wasn’t part of the previous STPR transport planning proposals and received input from Transport Scotland late in the process, it also wasn’t part of the ‘control period’ infrastructure plans made by Network Rail Scotland.

Without national transport planning support, without any input from the track operators and background research only at regional basis, it was never a surprise that the project was parked and then cancelled.

The M8 continues to get busier, the 500 bus gets caught in peak time congestion and car drop off or taxi will remain the quickest door to door choice for many to reach the Airport.

This new proposal requires to convince travellers to take a guided pod to the nearest mainline station, then contend with which platform for the first train to Glasgow. 

All of which is enough of a stretch without adding luggage or language issues. 

Unfortunately, the time used to develop the tram-train proposal is already gone and we are likely to wait another year on the feasibility study on the pod proposal before the matter rises in the political agenda again.

A long term solution needs a non-partisan agreed position between national and local politicians to come up with a workable and affordable plan. 

One that hopefully can help tackle the congestion issues affecting the M8 between Glasgow Airport, Paisley and Glasgow City Centre and that has ambition to create modal shift away from car or road based transport. 

Renfrewshire, ‘Paisley Commuters’ and the West of Scotland in general can rightly be sceptical about a suitable investment being made in transport infrastructure after this latest debacle.

The above is a letter I wrote to The National newspaper today.

I suppose frustration struck when I realised that the Glasgow Airport Access Project was in ‘development hell’, it looked less and less likely as time went on.

I first realised it was likely to be cancelled when I saw some tweets a few weeks back. Implication being that there was something up.

Much as I found GARL a surprise when it was cancelled, but seeing the location and placing it against the planned scheme, it just seemed wrong and the decimation of St James’ Park wouldn’t have been worth the benefits of a heavy rail scheme.

I also figured the engineering and construction of a viaduct across the park and a structure over two lanes of M8 and possibly 4 joining/exiting lanes seemed a huge task too.

Ironically, it was watching a simulation video created by rail enthusiasts that really drove that home to me.

On GAAP, I had hoped that a tram-train solution on the Karlsruhe Model could be a opportunity to look again at urban transport for the wider Glasgow conurbation, but in terms of UK practice there is only the much delayed Sheffield to Rotherham example and the delays and cost escalations haven’t helped.

It can be an eye opener seeing the Manchester system but much of that relies on former heavy rail routes that have been converted with a centrepiece of City Centre running.

Whether a mini fleet of specialised vehicles could have inter-ran to Glasgow Central with Scotrail’s Class 380’s was a question.

Whether pathing or timetabling was an issue, particularly joining and leaving the Inverclyde line for the section ‘as tram’ was another.

Whether a dedicated airport service would chew valuable time and paths now used by other services.

Could it have been a white elephant?

Not so much an issue in Germany and where the tram-train as a mode was a sensible compromise to keep services running on a network, where the balance could be found and made to work.

Not so much in an environment where heavy rail and trams exist in city spaces and not so much in cities looking at trams as pre-metro and metro solutions.

My thinking on alternatives led to wonder whether a full cost alternative like diverting and extending the Argyle Line after the Exhibition Centre by tunnel to Govan, Braehead and ultimately the Airport.

Expensive in tunnelling under the Clyde and probably needing complex solutions all the way along that sort of corridor. But absolutely future proof.

A cheaper answer is looking at the Fastlink infrastructure as pre-tram and finding a way from the QEUH to the Airport probably via Braehead and Renfrew through extension and upgrade leaving at some point a headache of how you incorporate a tram system into Glasgow City Centre, presumably using a loop around the city centre.

A bastardised GAAP alternative sharing track as far as say, West Street and street running to the city centre and back would share that sort of headache of cost and expense.

Cheaper but uglier options are shuttle buses from the Airport to Paisley Gilmour Street on a high frequency basis.

Possibly easiest to implement and to cut out the current diversions into Shortroods and Gockston would deliver a true link service,but would it pay for itself or be a fresh air carrier when other local services are struggling.

Investment and decision making are difficult but equally doing nothing in this particular case, as I’ve said in the letter to The National, lets down everyone.

I think the worst thing is the loss of time and possibilities from that.

Transport projects have a long gestation period. Route, plans and ideas are poured over.

Maybe GARL or GAAP makes a comeback, maybe there’s innovation in whatever schemes are to come as ‘West of Scotland rail enhancements’, maybe there is a radical tram scheme out there.

For now, let’s see..

Sunday, another Sunday.

Home. Did what was needed. Had to figure out what food I had in and settled on making a cheese sandwich and also a bowl of cous cous.

I want pizza or something that I could order, but common sense six I bought a loaf on Thursday and that I bought a couple of bottles of coke.

I took money out on Friday, I’ve bought some food Friday, used it Saturday with other stuff I bought this week.

I can grumble or moan, but it’s freezing cold outside and after doing what I had to do, I’m home and have stuff to eat.

I know there’s stuff i could if I went out, but I’m not inclined to and I guess it involves spending money too.

I have a plan money wise and I’m trying hard to stick to it, I’d rather not pay as much that I do, but again what can I do? I think holidays, sun on my back, musee d’orsay.

Maybe next year for trying to go out, or friends or doing things.

I said that last year and year before.

I suppose I want something more or better, but I’m not capable of it.

Maybe I’ve accepted something that I shouldn’t, but after the year of hell in 2017, last year was a slow climb out of the pit. I guess it’s a thing and a routine of living, buying, shopping and doing.

The me time is tv watching. Tweeting or reading.

I guess it’s hard to know, it’s a thought and as much as it’s my autistic stuff, there’s a lot of depression, anxiety, lack of worth and things like that in the mix. I know loneliness is a thing and electronic communication and social media don’t make up for all that.

Anyway that’s Sunday. I’ve eaten. Food and bed soon.

Me and the Alp.

Was just reading about Geraint Thomas winning on Alpe D’Heuz today in the Tour De France.

In 1997, I took a fortnight’s leave from my work. I was 24 and sorted myself a flight to Paris and with a euro domino ticket literally headed south on the TGV to Lyon and then Grenoble.

I figured with European timetable books and maps that I could see the Stages at St Etienne and the Alp.

I call it, ‘the Alp’ as that’s what it’s known as in Cyclesport.

Most races go up from Le-Bourg-d’Oisans at the door of the hill. It’s literally a vertical kilometre from the valley floor with 21 hairpin bends to allow the road to climb up the Alp.

It’s known as the ‘Dutch Mountain’ as cycling fans from the Netherlands go crazy for it and as luck had it, I got a lift to the foot of the hill from some Dutch guys that I stayed with in the youth hostel with.

I think there was six of us in that small car. Not quite sure how we all got in as there was a fair bit of beer in the boot too.

I wanted to experience the hill by walking up the road.

It took me well over three hours and at the narrow roadside were cars and camper vans and at each U bend of the road leading upward were groups of fans with Flags, Banners and the names of their favourites painted or chalked on the road. French, Belgians, Italians, but mainly the orange of Holland.

I was offered a can of beer at every turn. After 4 or 5 hairpins. I wondered what I had let myself in for. It was steep on foot. A Well built but narrow mountain road with retaining walls at the sides.

Eventually, sweating and tired. I made it to the top. Thanks to generosity of strangers, my day pack had a mix of bottled and canned lagers. Without intending it, I had a ‘cargo’ like many of the hardcore fans.

I rested and watched the race on the big screen at the top of the hill. France Television had a unit there and there was the usual final kilometre decoration of barriers and banners on the way to the stage finish.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I saw a remarkable win by ‘ Il Pirata’ – Marco Pantani, an Italian climber that had a reputation for bravely attacking in the mountains.

He rode alone the last ten kilometres after ditching the race leader on route. A special bit of cycling.

Sadly Pantani died in 2004 aged 34. He was a small guy with a shaved head and a patterned neckerchief around his head. He went and attacked himself and was a phenomenon in the late nineties as stage winner and also a race winner in the major tours.

Whoever wins on the hill, it’s the Alp. It’s a incredible sight as a place in itself .

What should be a ski station in high summer becomes a busy place with thousands of cycling fans there to witness one of the greatest tests in the Tour. It’s the tarmac, the walls, the hairpin corners and that gradient.

I’ll go there again one day. I hope.

As a postscript, I had a disposable camera type thing with me that day. I did take a few snaps that day, but have no idea whatever happened to the pictures. I recall the blueness of the sky and freshness of the air the most.

Monday Again.

Today’s not a good day. I’m down and feel tired. I did sleep but don’t feel fresh at all.

I’ve tried to figure the concept of ‘spoons’ of energy and I want to say nil, but I’ve a day of work to get through and get through that I will.

Mentally, I’m broken, or think I am.

There’s purpose in work and a desire to see the kids.

Outside that, food and surviving into the next day.

Autism related? A slump in mental health and a slide in mood is more likely to be the thing.

I keep going with TV and reading and twitter. I’ve no desire to go back out once I’m in of an evening. No feeling that I need do something.

I have early nights where I struggle to settle and late ones where it’s as bad.

I feel fat, I’m not happy with my appearance. Trying to eat smarter/healthier but I can’t always. Trying to lay off coffee, but times again that it’s needed to function.

Finding ‘people’ hard at the moment, trying not to say things in my head and consider what I say and do. But I think I always let myself down somehow. That’s the autistic side too.

My attempts to get help failed, as I’ve written about before.

I need another round of medications and will sort that out.

I’ve had my washing machine break and I’ve had a few issues around that both financially and otherwise.

I needed time yesterday to do tidying as that was my ‘plan’ – I got home at twenty to nine, ate, slopped onto sofa and watched two programmes before bed.

Circumstances. Nothing of my making or doing. But so much for having a ‘nice’ Father’s Day.

So I’m low today and not feeling it, not knowing what to do.

I could use something. A break, something positive for once. I can take solace in the cards and love from the kids. I can find other distraction.

Written on hoof and can edit later.

Triggered (Aspergers)

I had a panic attack yesterday. I had used an in-store toilet in a supermarket and kids had shouted in and then turned the lights off.

I was trapped in the dark, I shouted repeatedly and after a few minutes the lights went back on.

Maybe it was teens pranking a friend, but it triggered a panic attack for me.

My breathing went, my head got sore. I was confused and frightened.

I could only make it to the customer service desk to say what happened and I then had to go outside and go sit at the bus stop.

I couldn’t face going to look for things. I had in my head going back into town by bus and then getting what I needed at the train station in Glasgow (another 40 minute trip).

A couple of minutes. A ‘harmless prank’. I was all over the place.

I wanted to scream, I was physically shaking. I was out of my usual.

I had walked earlier to the hospital to see a relative, but I’d mistimed it and ended up sitting in the corridor to wait on the food trays coming out. I handled that okay.

I was patient and quiet and tried distracting myself. I had looked at bus times on my way in thinking I could go and get things I needed later. My head was stressed with the timings but I tried to manage it by thinking that it was okay to wait and I didn’t want to disturb anyone.

I then walked to the big store. I needed things. There wasn’t a direct bus, I checked and it was dry, I knew I could get back by bus, so not a massive issue. Fresh air and a wander about.

Then I realised I needed the toilet, I suffered the inevitable hand dryer noise and then doors banging closed and open and again. A shout of a name and the lights going out.

I panicked and shouted ‘turn the lights on’, it was minutes in the dark. Pitch pitch black. I couldn’t see. I was stuck. I froze and didn’t know what I was doing.

I tried to say what happened when I got out using my ASD awareness card.

It took a long wait outside in the fresh air and the prospect of a long pointless trip by bus and train to make me go back in.

The lights. The noise. So many people. Having to think where things were and going an item at a time. Head full and sore. Needing earplugs and to cancel out the noise.

Getting further. Stopping. Starting.

Feeling stupid and lethargic. Glacial pace of thinking. Anger about the kids and the thought of being derailed from what I had planned to do.

Conscious of my breathing and shaking, trying to steer away and around people.

Item, think, Item, think.

Made it around. Sat down after paying to fix my bag and calm myself.

Days aren’t always straightforward and you can’t foresee triggers or stresses or panic situations.

I can write it after the event, the racing feel in chest, the tightness in head and the whirl of thoughts make ‘at the time’, so difficult.

My speculations on ‘The Last Jedi’

I wasn’t a big Star Wars fan as a kid, I only saw the original trilogy properly as an adult in the nineties with the remastered films when they came out.

But as my kids have grown, I’ve seen the prequel trilogy and The Force Awakens and Rogue One. The kids like Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars too.

So, before there’s too many spoilers after the Premiere in Los Angeles yesterday, I have questions…

Who is Rey?

We know she’s a force wielder, we saw that in The Force Awakens. So, she’s gotta be related to a Jedi.

Her story starts on Jakku, a desert world. Like Tatooine, parallels to Skywalker, Luke and Anakin, but, we know there’s a descendant of Anakin with The Force in Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, so can she be Luke’s daughter or a previously unknown child of Leia and Han?

We might be led down that path, but we know Rey waited for someone to return and Maz Kanata had that awkward chat with her about knowing they wouldn’t return. So, we can speculate that it’s not Luke or Leia.

But she’s a Jedi?

So who else can she be related to? Obi Wan Kenobi?

That assumes an affair before the events of A New Hope and around the clone wars period, and there’s the fondness of Obi Wan Kenobi with Dutchess Satine Kryse of the Mandalorians and that could make Korkie Kryse (Satine’s er.. Nephew..) a possibility as Rey’s father. It’s a stretch but The Clone Wars is official Canon, so there’s that.

Other Jedi possibilities are Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridget from Rebels. Kanan is close to his Hera Syndulla and is closer in age to Obi Wan and Anakin rather than Luke and with Rebels season four as yet unfinished, we don’t know his fate before the events of A New Hope or whether Kanan was about at the time of films 4,5,6 in the ‘original’ middle trilogy. Ezra would be very roughly a similar age to Luke, but again, we don’t know his fate.

Other speculation in-Canon involves Doctor Aphra from the comic book series, her age could fit as mother to Rey, but who’d be the father? I’m not fond of the theory that Rey is daughter of characters from the Star Wars Battlefront II video game either.

It is wide open, and we can throw in random answers such as, are there midi-cholrians on the loose to just make Rey a Force wielder? Is she a product of Emperor Palpatine? Is she something to do with Snoke?

I like the Obi Wan theories best, but we’ll see.

There’s a great theory out there on her name too.


The question is whether Finn is related to other characters. Mace Windu would make a fantastic Jedi connection, but if Rey is related, then Finn being too is stretching it. The speculation on Lando Calrissian is splendid too. I liked Finn with the light sabre though and I guess we’ll see if there’s anything beyond the first order plucking out infants at birth.


I’ve seen the Kanan Jarrus is Snoke theory and I don’t much like it. Kanan is many things in Star Wars Rebels, but I don’t see him turning to the dark side and I don’t see him going as far as leading a faction of the former empire and creating the first order. It is still possible that Kanan and Ezra (also mentioned as a Snoke possibility) might not survive the end of Star Wars Rebels.

My take is that Snoke is something but not necessarily related to other characters. Quite what I don’t know, but as a being he seems different to the Emperor and Vader and exists differently to them and the empire.

The Last Jedi?

Who? Is it plural?

After Order 66 and the great Jedi purge, we know that at the start of A New Hope, that there weren’t many left, save Obi Wan and Yoda in hiding. The story of Kanan and Ezra in Rebels predates that time and we don’t know their fate, similarly Asohka Tano is presumed dead.

Luke therefore is that Last Jedi, he was trained by Yoda, he is a Jedi Knight. We can fairly say that he trained Kylo Ren, but Kylo rejected his teaching. Rey isn’t a Jedi and Force Wielder isn’t quite the same. They are close to being Jedi but not yet.

If we look beyond them there’s Kanan who was a Padawan and might be a Jedi Knight after the events at the temple on Lothal and has certainly fought and survived Maul and Vader. Ezra is probably a Padawan in very rough terms under Kanan’s tutelage. Asokha is certainly a Padawan that rejected the Jedi Order, but didn’t return. All have been involved against the empire as part of the earlier stages of the rebel alliance.

We do not know if Luke sought out Jedi survivors after the events of Return of the Jedi, even assuming there were a very few left. How Luke framed his new Jedi academy or found Force sensitive trainees is unknown. It leads to a guess that Luke travelled to seek out Jedi or those with Force Powers after the empire fell.

So, there’s not hidden Jedi out there, Luke is probably the Last assuming no link to the Rebels characters.

Where can we go after The Force Awakens?

Well, the First Order and new Rebellion need to face off after the destruction of the Starkiller weapon and the new republic planets.

Rey and Luke. Pupil and Master? Luke returning to Leia and the rebel side? Can it be that simple if Snoke can manipulate Kylo Ren, then are further complications afoot?

We have Poe Dameron and Finn and others. Can there be links and connections to other series in a multiverse way? It’s a question of how the LucasFilm Story Group in charge of the canon and how the film ties into the greater saga and all of its parts.

Early comments sound promising, but can this second film in the sequel trilogy match into the lore, will it be the new ’empire strikes back’ in terms of story and content?