And then we moved to Scotland

Photograph of South Ayrshire from the top of a mountain

For years, my day job was building and managing websites. At night, I jammed and recorded, wrote tunes and played guitar but I earned my living designing, coding and developing for the web.

No more. I’ve had enough. Let’s face it, these days any twit with a laptop and a hosting account can resell a Wordpress Install, a ‘Premium’ theme and an integrated Google Analytics feed. I’ve been down the rabbit hole with HTML and CSS, PHP and Javascript, SASS and GIT, repairing servers one command line at a time... Drush anybody? But now I’m just tired. It was inevitable, but the clients’ desire for their logos to jiggle and spurt in the corner was always going to win out against intelligent, structured and relevant coding and content.

So, buggerit, I can’t be arsed any more. Instead, It’s back to what I love the best, I’m going to be a rock star!

Yebbut, Scotland?

I was born and grew up in Scotland. When I still thought Jesus was my saviour and music was his handmaiden, I was invited down to London to dance along it’s golden, shining sreets. Instead, I was casually ignored. I ended up in Manchester, England where at least the cherry blossom had the decency to wait until April.

But meanwhile, Scotland was finding itself as a liberal, progressive, social democratic nation. A nation with a rich culture of language and poetry and art and music; a nation with a history of social justice and radical politics; a nation with an abundance of natural resources. And a nation with a natural immune system which flushes its biggest twats down south (Foot, consider yourself shot. Ed).

Of course Scotland isn't perfect. The West of Scotland is soured by the sectarian divide between Irish and Scot, Catholic and Protestant, created by 400 years of colonising and politicking from Parliament, Church and Throne. The old passions and the harsh righteousness may have ebbed, but the high tide marks remain in the ugly Celtic Rangers rivalry or the crude bigotry of the Orange Lodge.

And the South of Scotland is a swathe of True Blue Tory voting conservatism: a semi-feudal, rural belt with mansions, castles and estates for the land-owning gentry and forelock-tugging subservience or polite rebellious dignity for the rest.

So why the fuck we moved to South West Scotland heaven knows.

But we’re living in bucolic bliss, in a wee hoose in a wee village, 50 metres from the church on one side, 50 metres from the pub on the other and our own acre of abandoned woodland behind us. The neighbours are welcoming and good-hearted, the people engaged in all sorts of community activity to keep the village alive. We’re making friends and drinking buddies and we’ve never been happier. Did I say the neighbours are lovely and the pub is amazing? (they’re reading this, aren’t they? Ed)

Scotland claims its own

Three weeks ago, I was crouched over a large concrete paving slab on the drying green behind the kitchen, lifting and manoevring it into position, when I dropped it on the tip of a shovel. The shovel reared up like an angry rake and punched me right in the face. Hard. Really hard.

I roared, in fact I almost wept, at my own stupidity. We’d finally found our own little corner of heaven and I might have just lost an eye or cracked my skull. Then, not to worry anyone, I shouted “I’m alright!”.

I wasn’t alright. One of our wonderful neighbours held a tea towel to my head to stem the bleeding while we waited for an ambulance. People kept talking to me when all I wanted to do was go to sleep. Two hours later I was in Ayr Hospital A&E being asked testing questions. Can you waggle your tongue? can you puff out your cheeks? Who is the Prime Minister? I dunno. We have the most incompetent government in recent British history. Factions of the ruling Conservative Party are in open revolt. There are half a dozen leadership contenders. Let’s see, it’s April... is it May?

A week later, I went to a wedding in England, resplendent in kilt and denim jacket - that is, I was resplendent in kilt, England was green and pleasant. Anyway, it seemed that the black eye and the four stitches was more of a Scottish signifier than the kilt. Scotland has a way of making its mark.

Rip it up and start again

Since moving, I've managed to blag a short spot warming up for a local ‘traditional folk’ night in the Community Hall, but other than turning down repeated invitations to sing at the pub’s Karaoke night, that's about it. The network of Manchester gigs and Open Mic nights is gone. The increasing impetus of the song-writing rush has stalled.

So wassa McPlan?

I’ve managed to set up a studio/workspace/mancave. I’ve got a couple of much improved monitors mounted on the wall and I’ve just had my ears cleaned. So the first task is to master four tracks for my first EP and get that thing up onto Spotify, Apple Music and the rest.

I’m really undecided on cutting a CD though. The only CD player I’ve got is in the car. I’m not sure I know anyone else who has one. But then you can sell CDs at gigs as little mementos with lyrics and pictures and blurb. What do you reckon? A minimum run of 500 with a glass master is around £500. I could sell them for £3? If I sold 3 every time I played that would be a profit of a Phaasand Paands! Eventually!

And once that's done, let’s get out and find some gigs. Any suggestions for Open Mic nights or support slots will be gratefully received!