Then the door was open and the wind appeared, The candles blew then disappeared…


It’s Halloween – what costume do you remember wearing as a bairn? One year I remember being dressed as an ‘OXO’ cube (big box, big hole at the top for your head, wee holes at side for arms, write ‘OXO’ on it…) and I remember my mate being dressed as 1970’s American private detective ‘Frank Cannon’ – happy days! Yesterday in my local supermarket the employees where getting in on the action – a few pirates and a couple of ghosts – fair doos – there was however one enthusiastic member of the crew in the fruit & veg aisle dressed as a mutilated zombie with gore oozing from his ear – not the sort of thing you expect to come across when trying to buy carrots.  It’s all zombies these days… (cue the Hovis tune…).

As you can probably tell from my ‘OXO’ costume story, back in my distant past it was all about doing things cheap – and if you could do it for free all the better. In the days when I used to manage a Design and Print Youth Training Scheme we would beg and borrow from anybody who was willing to give, give, give in a ‘charitee’ style.  Like Dickensian characters dressed in punk rock clothing we would call at the door of any local business within walking distance of our workshop. Once there we would stand with our mitts out like St Francis of Assisi asking ‘Please Sir, can I have some more…of your card, paint, old mosaic tiles, brushes, glue, paper or spare sticky back plastic?’ Anything free was a suitable material. This was in the days before massive mega DIY stores had sprung up on every available retail outlet and your local ironmonger was usually more than willing to give you any job lot of old junk that was cluttering up his warehouse or back cupboard. For free. Yippee!

I remember one load of distinctly old off-white card that we got for nothing being described to one of our unsuspecting customers as ‘ivory’ and if he wanted his posters printed on the ‘ivory’ it would be a fiver more than ‘normal’ white…

One time we got a load of square Perspex plastic panels given to us from somewhere. Each square was about the size of an LP (that’s a 12” record album by the way) and was perfectly clean. Quite inspiring actually. What I decide to do was print simple logos – Indian symbols, peace logos, celtic knots – on six or so. I then sandwiched two panels together (one with a logo and one clear) with a mixture of coloured inks between the two panels. This left you with six multi-coloured panels that I intended to link together and create a hanging installation for our Training Scheme’s up and coming annual exhibition.

I was working on my hanging work of art one day when a friend of mine – to protect the innocent let’s call him ‘Bob’ – popped in to see me.

‘What’s that?’ says Bob picking up one of the multi coloured panels. ‘It’s something I’m building’ I say. ‘It’s a hanging decoration. A mobile’

‘A whit?’ he says. ‘A mobile’ I say repeating myself. ‘Whit’s a mobile?’ I look at him and I start to think how best to get this across in the simplest of terms. ‘Well…it’s…it’s a colourful thing that…it’s something you hang up and it moves…it’s something colourful that you’d normally see hanging in a baby’s or a wee toddler’s bedroom. It’s a mobile.’

He thinks for a minute and then says… ‘Aww!  You mean a lampshade.’

 Year of the Dad: Digital Fun Day!

Don’t forget if you’re looking for new ideas for ‘digital’ ways to play, Engage Renfrewshire have teamed up with Fathers Network Scotland to bring you a FREE digital fun day on 5 November between 11:00-14:00 in St. Ninian’s Church, Paisley. There will be plenty of digital activities to keep you and the kids entertained. You can explore augmented reality where cyberspace meets the real world, lose yourself entirely in virtual reality, get active with the Wii or try your hand at basic coding in the Coding Dojo. For further information or to book a place contact Lauren at Engage Renfrewshire – 0141 887 7707. Or you can use the link here – Digital Event!

I’ve always loved ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allan Poe and it’s especially haunting at this time of year:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—Only this and nothing more.”

…Just remember that the ‘rapping at your chamber door’ tonight will probably be the local zombies in search of sugar…It’s all zombies these days…

Don’t let the spooks get yae – Ta Ta!