last updated February 2, 2014

Winter Festivals

Celtic connections has been another great way to start the year and ward off the bleak, damp January weather. A coarse, frank but ever articulate Aidan Moffat warmed up for R M Hubbert at the packed out Mitchell Theatre, a venue which is obviously dated but ageing very well due to some decent joinery. Despite spotting some youngsters and starting with a warning of hard language, the parents of the 11 year old in front of us had to do some fairly constant ear-covering as Aidan Moffat crescendo'd his Glasgow tales with a very filthy tongue indeed. R M Hubbert? Not my cup of tea but a man obviously loved by many and a very talented guitarist indeed. His harsh language was at massive odds with the delicate quartet who joined with him as well Emma Pollock (Ex-Delgados) who was the cream of the gig with a voice from another world. I was sorry though to miss the Moffat / Hubbert duet which came at the end. Such is the pain of a broken collarbone in a confined space!

The festival took us next to the Tron theatre, a great venue to see Alastair Roberts who was opened by an unknown Georgia Ruth - a tiny Welsh harpist with a slight frame, delicate voice and wonderful tales evoking the welsh country side. She and her band were outstanding. As for the main event? Again - not my cup of tea. Hats off for attempting / forging a career on complex tunes but for me it was strained. Unfortunately, and I bear this in mind, a cold had gotten the better of his voice which was as strained as the unrhythmic music, both stumbling over each other. It wasn't the best introduction but his version of Flower of Northumberland kept us cheery (Me an ma fleur) and the Tron is a great wee venue for live music.

The heavy Scottish Laments of Roberts along with almost no spark or group dynamic was blown out the water the next night by the Legendary Bobby Womack. KABOOM! When I was growing up he was already having a second career with his missus. I've since seen him in his third career with Gorillaz in Amsterdam. Having survived drug addiction, cancer and now working through Alzheimers, he certainly has not lost his voice, style or smoothness. A man may need help getting out on stage but he's wearing red leather from head to toe for crying out loud! He's on stage for a good while and rouses the all seated audience up to dance and "shake for money maker". Can he get a witness? Fuck yeah! It was a bit emotional when he headed off - the man was tired and needed shepherding but he'd had fun and we'd fully enjoyed the ride.

Lau were a few days later and at the city halls - a wonderful, mid sized venue compared to the cavernous but superb acoustics of the royal concert hall we'd been previously. I'd seen Aidan O'Rourke before with his own band but was excited to witness the innocent sounding voice of Kris Drever and digital (and analogue) sound antics of Martin Green on Accordian (and other stuff). It was a nicely paced concert to finish off our festival with the typically downtrodden laments mixed in with some electronic sounds, a string quartet and some faster paced ceilidh music. Bravo Lau, Bobby, Emma and Georgia!

Posted by stupot at 02:19 PM Sunday 2 Feb


Normally we'd all jump at the chance of some time off work: being aware of working too hard is a valuable, if easy-to-miss, insight. The fact I'd already set out for a calmer January made me question the accidents' motives. My pace had obviously not slackened off enough. This fell under the same banner as trying to thoroughly set the flat straight, only for the boiler to go on strike.

It's also a bit like going to a meeting expectant of a certain result - you're invariably going to be wrong. Especially if a positive result is assumed.

In any case - or every case - this is what we generally call 'life'. You do not find guarantees but rather some times things work out well and other times you get a run of 'shit' happening. As we understand that this is a given, it is then how you deal with 'the shit' that is most important.

Anyhow, this was just meant to be a record of recuperation development so I'll get back to facts:

Continue reading "Recovery "
Posted by stupot at 12:44 PM Sunday 26 Jan


ride. ride. traffic. ride. rain. ride. dry. warm. change clothes. change bike. go. go. go. round. round. round. round. stop. drink. round. round. round.


touch collarbone. bumpy. sit at table. whats your address. eyes wide. an ambulance is coming. responses slow. no pain. bit of pain. more pain. nice folk. in the ambulance. gas and air. pretty sore. talking deep and slow. is my voice deep and slow?

sit on bed. clothes in a bag. wide eyes. in a cubicle. alone. taken to a corridor. sit watching wall. shiver. x-ray. and another. and another. sit outside. back for another. back to cubicle. splint and sling. sit alone. pain. Laura arrives. relief. waiting room. everyone looking. look at floor. taxi comes. rain. overwhelming. mixed with reality. pain. home.

Posted by stupot at 03:25 PM Thursday 9 Jan

You Lookin' at Me?

I look away from people when I'm talking to them.

Some traits you pick up from other people (parents / contemporaries) and some traits you just display without thinking. I struggle with finding the right word some times, so I look away from people. Without intending to labour the point I strive to find the correct word. Looking at the human face is one of the most off-putting (& interesting) subjects to look at and so I tend to look away a lot. It helps concentration but it annoys the majority of gentrified humans (they think there is something more important than them going on).

It's a bit like writing this stream of consciousness - it IS a stream of consciousness but even as I write I still need to think of the right word. Correct word. Appropriate word. Proper word. Applicable. This is not contrived - I don't do it to appear more clever: sometimes I repeat words too much or I know that there is a more relevant (better, pertinent, suitable) way of describing something. Staring at the page doesn't help so I look out the window and develop a 'thousand yard stare'.

This is similar to the way the brain deals with other problem-solving situations like design: riding a bicycle can help solve problems because you allow the brain to switch off from the subject and be free to answer the question without pressure. Focus can come from being, as someone might perceive it, completely unfocussed. As someone else may describe it - meditation.

Posted by stupot at 12:03 PM Monday 30 Dec

Filthy weather

Our summer this year has been one of the best. Warm and dry with splashes of heat and lacking in wind. But you know what - I have a craving for really bad weather. Not just a bit of rain but really windy and nasty. I like nothing more than battening down the hatches, finding the candles and a good blanket. The feeling that you don't have to be anywhere and, in fact, would be positively encouraged to stay indoors. Cars splashing through puddles outside, branches knocking on the window, wind whistling through miniscule gaps. Aye, I'll have a wee bit of that thanks. A wee reminder of who's in charge around here.

Posted by stupot at 11:04 AM Sunday 15 Sep



I have to say I've found an increase in awareness of cyclists by motorists in the past few years. It's still not universal but then cyclists aren't that perfect either. You could argue that with the amount of bikes on the road these days that it's in your interest to be more aware. Manslaughter is a nasty charge for being lazy with your mirror usage.

In any case, cars are very different to bikes. Notably they go a lot faster, are capable of causing great damage and motorists are surrounded by all manners of protection. It's a safe, sealed environment which adds to issues faced by those on the other side of the windscreen. Ignorance works both ways and just as non-cycling motorists may not understand how exposed you are on two wheels, non-driving cyclists may not understand how many blind spots a motorist has. Empathy and good etiquette are key.

Here are a few things I've noticed, being a driver and a cyclist, that might help us all......

1. MOTORISTS - YOU KNOW WHEN you're overtaking a massive lorry and it's very intimidating and you just want to get past it, and some times it get's a bit too close? That's what it's like having a car go past you too close. So leave a bit more room if you can. In fact - if there is a clear road - just go onto the other side of the road - it's no more expensive.

2. CYCLISTS - YOU KNOW WHEN you're at the traffic lights in your own little box and you sit in the middle of the road? Well, the box is both for lots of cyclists to occupy if it is busy but more so it is a device to keep cars back. This doesn't mean to say that you have to sit in the middle of it if you are alone and hold up traffic. Hold your own and take your space but don't give other road users good reason to get pissed off at you - lot's of us have to share it!

3. MOTORISTS - YOU KNOW WHEN you peep your horn and it doesn't sound THAT loud? Well, for everyone outside your car; pedestrians, cyclists, priests, plumbers, it sounds really loud to the point that it can unsteady you. It certainly fazes you and there's always a chance of a freak out. That's why, you know when the whole street turns around when you peep? That's because you have made a lot of people jump. So shut the fuck up unless its an emergency. Or become a taxi driver. none of these rules apply to them.

4. CYCLISTS - It's not just down to motorists - in order to greet the dawning of the all new shiny Utopia we all need to be a bit nicer to each other. Let cars out, tell them if the road is clear, acknowledge if they wait to pass at a safe place, It's not that hard.

5. MOTORISTS - BE MORE CONFIDENT - If you are going to overtake, OVERTAKE. If you do not have the confidence to make a decision or commit, get Smooth FM on and chill out until you are ready. A nervous driver makes cyclists nervous. And half committing could kill someone.

6. CYCLISTS - If a motorist endangers your life make sure you have a carbohydrate solution in your bottle. When you spray this on the interior of a car it is very hard to remove.

7. MOTORISTS - MOMENTUM, BASIC PHYSICS - Cycling is a healthy way to travel. Some sections of the scientific community are even suggesting that it may be a greener mode of transport to motor cars. Mumbo Jumbo aside, cycling takes a lot of effort. Every pause in the journey means the rider has to push on the pedals and exert great effort to reach the speed at which they was going previously. So when a cyclist is approaching a set of red lights for example, and they are freewheeling, there is a good chance they are doing what's called 'conserving energy'. Instead of trying to get past them at any cost why don't you try to conserve energy in your car? it means you won't burn as much fuel and you will also be able to get in to bed at night knowing you aren't, what's known in the cycling community, an arsehole.

8. CYCLISTS - shut it.

9. MOTORISTS - calm down.

Posted by stupot at 04:46 PM Sunday 25 Aug

That's a wrap!

If you're from Yorkshire or Scotland, are wrapping a present and are so tight that you don't cut quite enough length to get a full coverage, turn the object at 45° and try again. You should now achieve over-lap. This was taught to me not in Japan, but by an old family friend who has a very practical brain. The photo shows a recent student milliseconds before enlightenment.

Posted by stupot at 10:38 PM Friday 23 Aug

The best July. ever.

July has always been a special month for me - the obvious childhood links of being on your summer holidays probably laid the foundations but the realities of adult working life means that by far, the Tour de France is what makes the month. At worst, a Eurosport pop-out window sits in the corner of my monitor most days. On top of that, this year has seen an unusually beautiful summer of high pressure, lots of travelling, two large jobs coming to an end and business generally on the up.

I started the month busy, working in London for a few days before a week of moving about to Fife for a partial install and then off to Barcelona for the 4th Urban Sketchers Symposium. It was then back to Scotland before heading to the Isle of Man, on to Edinburgh to meet a new client and then straight to Dunoon for a weekend of old friends, another weekend away in Newcastle and ending up with a final site visit to Douglas. You will forgive me for being a bit tired. I could easily not have gone to Barcelona but work has been so constant and I have found (valid) excuses not to make the other conferences that it felt almost necessary to kickstart my involvement in USK.

The highlight was inevitably Barcelona - what an utterly great city. The experience of meeting some of my drawing heros and managing to draw with them and find out about what makes them tick was fascinating.
The city was hot, busy but also welcoming, diverse, creatively inspiring. And there was a beach! I need to move over there! It almost made Ryanair palatable.

Posted by stupot at 05:57 PM Friday 2 Aug

Are they really prescription lenses?


My eyesight is not so bad - It was one of the few things that I used to pride myself on being in complete control of. I used to put it down to my love of raw carrots. Like so many other parts of my body though, I now need a wee bit of extra help. The thing is I can function at near distance with very few problems and even some things that are a bit further away I can squint to see.

But that's not really good enough if you either have a. any standards or b. make your living from being visual. Details are crucial for me - from understanding a subject I am drawing to rehashing that into a design I make later - it's all very important to me when I give time to think about it. I get a bit of stick for having nice glasses with very little apparent function but, like the details I view, subtleties are only seen by a chosen few.

Posted by stupot at 05:35 PM Sunday 28 Jul

people in glass houses

I’m in the middle of designing some bars at the moment and this makes me reflect on current trends and traditions. I have to admit I’m quite a traditionalist when it comes to the craft of how things are made but there’s something I’ve noticed in my neighbourhood that makes me shun this view and look, unequivocally, toward the future.

Public houses, as they are traditionally known, are far from the all inclusive, co-operative the name suggests. In the west of Scotland these are predominantly male haunts where 19th century pursuits are still encouraged. Bigotry, sectarianism, cabaret signers the whole neighbourhood is subjected to and fights of a weekend all go on behind the head height walls (this is not my opinion - I have watched and listened to it for many years).

There is now just one of these left in my neighbourhood and I won’t be sad when it goes. Judging by the time they close up at night it won’t be long. The other 3 pubs now have full height glazing and all can see inside. They welcome families, dogs, traditional musicians - you name it. They have a decent food offering or restaurant and eating is encouraged. No one is falling about intoxicated.

The transparency is literal and, in this respect, I like the way society is progressing.

Posted by stupot at 03:41 PM Wednesday 24 Jul