He’d agreed to meet Julie at 7.30 that particular Friday night. Just as he had the previous four since they had first met. She had been sitting alone on a bench in Hyde Park. That was thirty-two days ago. It was a crisp misty Sunday morning and the park was populated by people jogging, walking dogs, on horses. Everyone seemed to be in motion. Except Julie. And, having caught sight of her, him also. He was immediately struck by her posture. She was classically beautiful but he imagined her to be too self-conscious to be fully aware of it.
My job has afforded me numerous opportunities to travel. Not the funeral parlour one. Not the tennis club one. And certainly not the local, small-town mobile disco DJ. My real job as an architect has provided these opportunities. At last count, I’ve visited thirty-eight countries, most of them through work. My initial shock at the level of poverty witnessed in many of these places has never really left me. But generally travel has always been enriching.
On Tuesday, I am due to contribute a small part to a radio programme about Scotland’s impact on the Arts, Culture and Sport in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games. I’d initially been approached to talk about architecture. Unsurprisingly, it would have focused principally on Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Since I was given the opportunity to suggest a location for the recording, I chose his masterpiece, Glasgow School of Art. Naturally.
I have no right to grieve or be publicly sad for someone I had never met, and only knew through the filtered prism of his public persona. Nevertheless, it feels like a part of my own identity has died, and not for the first time this year. My perspective on the world that I’m part of has been – like many people, I suspect – shaped by those who inspired me. To become more creative, to become more educated and tolerant, or simply to believe in the power of human nature. Muhammad Ali was in that category of ‘personal hero’. I developed opinions about civil rights, social justice and human principles from those such as Ali whose flawed but magnetic personalities attracted me.
A ‘tale as old as time,’ sang Angela Lansbury. Between people who are ‘barely even friends,’ she informed us. But I can exclusively reveal that Mrs Potts – Angela’s character in Disney’s seminal ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – wasn’t referring to a developing love between opposites. With a prescience acquired, no doubt, from her decades as a successful amateur crime-writing sleuth, the hard-working Angela was predicting the future of social media discourse. I believe she was singing about the ‘GOAT’, the pre-dominant concern of the Information Age. Who is the Greatest of All Time?
This forum is dedicated to football-related stories, recollections and attempts to rewrite footballing history from the 1990s. That may reflect a number of significant things: the start of the Premier League Era (before which Sky Sports would have you believe no football even existed), the emergence of Football Italia on Channel 4 or perhaps even a fleeting Gascoigne, Shearer and then Beckham-led resurgence in the England national team’s fortunes.
Michael Head is a genius. Admittedly, not of the brand that self-proclaims it or that point to such fleeting indicators as sales for necessary reinforcement. Those types are ten-a-penny in The Information Age. No, Michael Head is a reluctant and hidden genius. The best kind. The kind that requires you to undertake a dedicated journey of self discovery, regardless of what you might ultimately discover, in order to reach such a conclusion.
A is for… Amoeba Records up at Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco; the greatest place on Earth. ‘All Mod Cons’, Amy Winehouse, Almost Famous, and Alex Turner, the last of the great lyricists. And ‘A New England’ by Billy Bragg.
So, here’s the thing. Here’s how it all started…
It’s the year punk rock was born, Concorde entered commercial service and a wee Romanian gymnast changed her sport forever. Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. A bizarre brush with the entertainment business – he ‘saves’ the life of the UK’s top showbiz star Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks – has left him with dreams of hitting the big-time as a Popular Music Impresario. Seizing the initiative, he creates a new singing group from five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End.
Beth looked out the window to the wet street below. She gazed at four big raindrops that were racing each other down the outside of the glass. She hoped the one on her left would win. It didn’t. It slowed up at the last minute and came in last. Beth sighed. It was supposed to be summer but someone had forgotten to tell the people who controlled the weather over Glasgow. Beth was now in the third week of the big holiday from her primary school and there had barely been a dry day since the final bell of June had sounded.