In my late 20s I found myself back in Glasgow working at Waterstone’s booksellers and with more time to write. I went part time there, joined a band with my new boyfriend/now husband, Douglas and found myself with more creative outlets once again. I had the time and space to write and better still, I was the vocalist and lyricist in our new band The Secret Goldfish and this time everyone could play! It meant Douglas and I could write songs together and there was an immediate outlet for creativity, where a story or poem might stay under the bed for 10 years, a song is sung straight away at band practice and then you’re on stage singing in front of an audience or it’s committed to vinyl/cd. The Secret Goldfish went on to release a handful of albums on Creeping Bent, the record label run by Douglas, record many John Peel sessions, and play The Royal Festival Hall in London as part of John Peel’s Meltdown. A highlight for us all was being invited to be part of the Scottish Arts Council’s cultural exchange trip to Budapest, where we spent a fantastic week playing local rock clubs to audiences unused to our particular brand of pop. Our final gig was in late 1999 when we supported Vic Godard and Edwyn Collins at Dingwalls in London. I was pregnant with child number 1 and we were ready to move on to new ventures.
In 1999 I knew I’d had enough of the bookshop and wanted to get back into studying, so I started a Masters in Adult and Continuing Education at Glasgow University. It took me 4 years to finally graduate, by which time I had 3 kids, was married and had moved to the country. So life and its priorities changed just a bit. In the first year of my Masters though I ran a creative writing course as part of my work placement at Langside College and this gave me the writing bug again, but from a different perspective. From the feedback I got from both students and tutors, I realised this was something I could do, encourage and feed creativity in others.
When I graduated shortly after my third child was born I was appointed Creative Writing Development Officer at North Lanarkshire Council. However, with 3 pre-schoolers at home, it wasn’t long until I bowed out of the workplace for a few years and continued to procreate at a rate slightly unplanned. The twins were born when my eldest was 6 and a number of chaotic years ensued with only some fraught, “I am losing my mind!!” scribbles making it into journals. However, all stages pass and when the kids all eventually went off to school, I took a course in literacy tutoring. As a result of this I did some voluntary work with South Lanarkshire council as a volunteer literacy tutor which led me to running some creative workshops for the family learning department. I ran a song lyric writing workshop and a history of Scottish music workshop, and I also worked as an ESOL (English as a second or other language) tutor for the council.
As life goes on and the kids grow up, bizarrely life becomes busier instead of quieter….they all still live at home and 3 are still at school, which means lots of evening activities and with work thrown into the mix writing has been somewhat lost along the way. There has been a rekindling of music over the years and The Secret Goldfish played its first gig in almost 20 years at Celtic Connections last year, released an album and performed in a BBC 6Music live broadcast.
And so that brings us right up to date. April 2020. A time we will all remember….forever, because who knows how things will be after this? Perhaps I have some space to write again, and perhaps you do too?
Haha….except it’s now June and guess what? Lockdown life is not that aimless….it’s busy! I spend all day on Zoom and all evening in a house full of disgruntled teens swigging neon coloured alcohol….the kids, not me. There are pictures as yet unhung and stories as yet unwritten, so here goes…..bear with me XX