Is it a T-Rex? Is it a King Kong?


Halloween has changed significantly since the days of my youth. ‘You can buy costumes now…’ – is what I say to my kids who have both insisted on making their own ensembles which resulted in me and my better half (mainly my better half to be fair) searching for material in craft shops, pound shops and B&Q over the weekend. My daughter looked the part at her school disco – an ‘artist’ with her messy smock, palette and French beret. My son’s costume is still to be finished. He’s dressing as a bush…something to do with some online thing game him and his friends play… no real point in asking… just go along with it, buy the camouflage trousers and cut some branches from the garden for sticking on to an outsized soap powder box…

When I was wee I didn’t really get a choice regards my desired role – having big sisters usually meant come Halloween I was dressed up by them in some concoction of headscarves , beads, hats, old coats –  and then they would tell me that I looked just like a doctor or a cowboy or a wee ‘grannie’ and I sort of believed them.  I believed them enough to go around chapping doors anyway, looking for nuts, apples and oranges – and at the posh houses the occasional chocolate something or other.  We had to do a ‘turn’ sometimes of course. My party piece was usually a song of some description…a wee Scottish tune or a pop hit – I was always keen. Anything for a tangerine…

I Remember It Well! Film and memory symposium, Thursday 1 Nov 2018, 10am – 2pm at Paisley Arts Centre

A very interesting event will take place this week at the Paisley Arts Centre – join researchers, practitioners and community groups to explore the expanding role of archive film. Hear and discuss ideas around the power of film to impact memory and wellbeing. To book your free place at the box office call 0300 300 1210 or book online via Eventbrite

This event will be hosted by Renfrewshire Leisure and National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive. You can follow on Twitter #filmmemory

Disability Confident

The Disability Confident scheme aims to help employers make the most of the opportunities provided by employing disabled people. It is voluntary and has been developed by employers and disabled people’s representatives.

The Disability Confident scheme has three levels that have been designed to support you on your Disability Confident journey. It is free and easy to sign up to. For more information about becoming Disability Confident and to read guidance and sign up visit

Enjoy your spooky treats – talk soon!



You used to fall in love with everyone, Any guitar and any bass drum…

nirpinkI like plonking about on my guitar at the weekends. I’m not exactly a proficient guitarist but I do enjoy it – have done since my teenage years. The rest of my family may disagree about the benefits of me strumming away and without going down the road a full blown ‘social return on investment’ investigation we’ll just agree to differ… Don’t get me wrong I know my chances of ‘rawk’ superstardom are way behind me but sometimes little reminders of my musical youth pop-up. One such reminder was a Saturday evening when my wife & I had the pleasure of attending a 40th Birthday celebration in fancy dress… 1980’s fancy dress…The 80’s – the decade that time forgot…

On the grounds of good taste I’ll keep to myself how we were dressed that evening but a friend of ours was ‘Dj-ing’ and in his cut-off shirt and Robert Smith of ‘The Cure’ fright wig he looked just like he had done 25 years earlier. People at our table included ‘shell suit’ couple and a generic ‘blues brother’ guy. Adam Ant and Cyndi Lauper were also floating around.

Our friend who was spinning the music decided at one point to play a song I wrote in the decade we were celebrating. Now, please don’t get excited, my music was never on general release (thankfully for all concerned) – this was just a ‘demo’ (as us musos call it) but it sounded pretty good at high volume and hearing it unexpectedly like that took me back to old rehearsal rooms and gigs in bars. Frankly, it was hugely enjoyable recollection.

The next morning l was speaking to my wife about hearing the song and my fond memories. ‘Yes’ she said ‘I heard it…why did he play it?’ ‘Well’ I say ‘perhaps he likes it and thought it would go down well’. ‘I suppose…’ she said not convinced… and then followed up with ‘Och I know why!…it was during the buffet!.’

Renfrewshire Affordable Credit Alliance

Renfrewshire Affordable Credit Alliance (RACA) is made up of a variety of organisations including credit unions, banks, Renfrewshire Council and more in order to help you access fair and affordable forms of credit. They have come together to champion fair and honest finance – and ensure everyone, no matter their income level, has better options that help reduce the risk of them falling into problem debt. For more information check out the website here:

Thanks for listening – till next time…


This’s the kinda place where no one cares what you’re livin’ for…


I was on holiday last week with my family – in the Yorkshire Dales in the sunshine. We had a brill time touring around seeing some of the sights including the wonderful village of Haworth where the Bronte Museum is…I could feel myself going all Kate Bush as I wandered around… We also got along to see the legendary Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge. The support act – Inland Taipan (full on guitar with feedback and loops) – were excellent. They explained that as they had been asked at the last minute to do the gig they didn’t have traditional merchandising like t-shirts and CDs available – but they did have handmade pots…I had to buy one of course…

We were based in the market town of Todmorden where the brilliant ‘Incredible Edibles’ initiative began. Incredible Edible Todmorden is a Community Benefit Society – ‘passionate people working together for a world where we all share responsibility for the future wellbeing of our planet and ourselves’. So who’s it for? There is actually a difficult test to meet should you wish to be a member – ‘If you eat you’re in’. The group grow fruit, herbs and vegetables around Todmorden that are for everyone to share. They also run a wide range of events that help strengthen the local community. ‘Incredible Edibles’ has spread across the UK – a simple idea but with a great impact for local people.

As I say we were very lucky to see all of this countryside in wonderful sunshine – many local people reminded of us that it sometimes rains here too! – but the community fruit trees, berry bushes and herbs of Todmorden made for a great background for our walks back from the pub…  To learn more about Incredible Edibles see here:

There’s also a Ted talk from a few years ago that’s worth a watch:


AUGUST 09, 2018 AT 10AM – 2PM

Working together, Community Development Alliance Scotland, The Scottish Community Development Centre and the Poverty Alliance invite you to join them to discuss how you and your organisation can ensure that everyone we work for is heard, and has had an opportunity to share their ideas on how local democracy could change. Join them for the morning, chat to them over lunch and learn how you can help others have their voice and make a difference. Register for the event here:

Speak soon – keep on growing!


Up in your arms, Too late to beg you…


After receiving some amazing ‘haun’knitted’ cards, I spent father’s day at ‘Museum of the Moon’ a new touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. My children took me along knowing that I’m a sucker for all things ‘space’. The giant inflatable moon with detailed imagery of the moon’s surface is spectacular – and the detail of the surface (developed from high resolution pictures courtesy of NASA) is a visual treat. The installation includes a sound composition, which at times is drowned out by folk staring up and saying ‘Oooh!!’. I heartily recommend it, and seeing as its being hosted in the Mackintosh Church in Glasgow you get two treats for the price of one. For more information see here:

The Macintosh church is wonderful – truly worth a visit even when there’s no giant moon hanging in it. It’s a magnificent example of the artist’s unique architectural style. Of course this weekend was overshadowed by the devastation caused by fire to the legendary Macintosh school of art & the iconic ABC music venue. I personally have fond memories of both these buildings. For a long time I was a regular at the Arts School’s degree shows; taking young people I worked with to visit the Art School was always a highlight of my year. And the ABC is simply a great gig – big – but still intimate. I hope in time I’ll get a chance to go back through the doors of both.

Glasgow School of Art has been an active partner in Renfrewshire, over the last twelve months or so. Working in collaboration with Renfrewshire Council to create Scotland’s first School of Creative Education, GSA is supporting a development which will see a local high school benefit from the use of creative teaching methods across the general curriculum to improve pupil prospects. When I was a school pupil – a time ago of course – there was always two classes that I looked forward too – Art and Music. I’m sure that’s still the same for many.

Mental Health First Aid

Engage is hosting the Scottish Mental Health First Aid programme over two days in August. This course is designed for everyone – Most people don’t know what to do in a mental health crisis. Take the course and you will be one of the few who knows what to do and is confident about putting that knowledge into action. For more information click the link:

Speak soon – all the best


You must see the movie, the sand in my eyes…


Just balancing some grapes…

Most people who know me are aware of my lifelong Star Wars addiction. My son and I are heading to watch ‘Solo – A Star Wars Story’ on Saturday and I have so far avoided all ‘spoilers’. He’s disappointed that we didn’t go first day but I’m sure that after the 3D experience he’ll get over it. Amazingly my boy’s commitment to Star Wars may even be greater than mine…in some areas of parenthood I’ve failed miserably…but in some I’ve been successful…

Volunteer Week starts tomorrow (1st June) – and if you work with volunteers this is the time to say thank you for the fantastic contribution volunteers make. In Renfrewshire we have a deeply committed, dynamic and well-networked voluntary sector – as well as long standing traditions of people helping each other and contributing to their communities in ways which they might not think of as ‘volunteering’.  I’ve always found it fascinating how many people see the volunteering work that they do as ‘just helping’. Without this commitment to ‘just helping’ many community services would struggle and communities would feel a lot less connected & supportive.  In terms of the volunteers themselves, research suggests that volunteering enhances social capital, improves personal wellbeing and can be a successful pathway to employment.

On a personal level, I would argue that it has been my volunteering experiences that have taught me the most. For sure, in the various roles of non-executive director on charitable boards that I have held over the years I have often found myself stretched and required to learn very quickly indeed. Non-executive directors are expected to focus on board matters and provide an independent view of the company that is removed from the day-to-day running; they are appointed to the board to bring independence, impartiality and sometimes special knowledge of a sector or situation. It can be a challenging role to take up, but seeing as we are heading into ‘Volunteer Week 2018’ could I suggest that if you haven’t ever tried it and you think you’ve got specialist knowledge to offer to the Third Sector please give it your consideration! There are lots of local groups and agencies out there looking for non-executive support – so why not improve your wellbeing – volunteer today!!

During Volunteer Week, hundreds of events and celebrations take place across the country, saying thank you to volunteers and recognising their invaluable and diverse contribution to the UK. Renfrewshire’s volunteering celebration event, organised by the Volunteer Managers Forum, takes place at the Lagoon Leisure centre next Friday.

If you want to come along please book your place here:

All the best – speak soon!


But still alive, In endless time, Endless art…


I’ve often read that exercise allows your conscious mind to access fresh ideas that are buried in your subconscious. Engaging in cultural activity seems to have the same types of affect…good for keeping yourself in balance I suppose…the opportunity to be creative is attractive, right?

Pablo Picasso argued that “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

I spent today supporting the Creative Renfrewshire Network recruit new board members for the organisation. Creative Renfrewshire Network is a networking group representing all arts and culture throughout Renfrewshire and has been driven by local enthusiasts, dedicated to celebrating and building on the rich cultural resources of Renfrewshire – past, present and future – with a forward-looking local, national and international outlook. The new board that the group are looking to appoint will have the challenge of driving the body towards operating as a social enterprise. Everyone who put themselves forward for the board brought with them an enthusiasm for the potential of the network and the potential of culture continuing to change peoples’ lives in Renfrewshire.

It was a long day – any of you who have been involved on interview panels will know that they can be challenging – but I was left feeling invigorated. The energy around cultural activity in Renfrewshire is on a high of course due to the focus of the recent city of culture bid as well as announcements around new cultural infrastructure and the developing, vibrant local community culture delivery. However, as someone who has been very close to these developments I have been worried that the energy may drop of.  The truth of the matter seems to be that more and more people – who perhaps were less connected to the cultural agenda previously – have been drawn towards this area of work. And importantly they have brought other types of skills, ideas and dynamism to the exercise. Very refreshing! #OurJourneyContinues

 ENABLE – #BetheChange

ENABLE Scotland is currently running a campaign called #BetheChange. The campaign focuses on promoting ‘change through understanding’ to challenge people’s perceptions and break down barriers to an equal society. You can share the campaign and ask others to #BetheChange on Twitter. For more information see here:

Speak soon – all the best





I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping

guitarThis week has been a bit of a blur. And that’s not a great thing at all. I do try to smell the roses. Honest. Nearly the weekend – time to have a little strum on the guitar…

This morning I was given the opportunity as part of #TeamRenfrewshire to speak at the COSLA Convention at Paisley Town Hall. Alongside colleagues from the local authority and Renfrewshire Leisure I was presenting on the impact of the regeneration approaches in Paisley & beyond. Alasdair from the council spoke about Regeneration in the Renfrewshire context – recent achievements; future plans and lessons learned to date. Morag from Renfrewshire Leisure spoke about the cultural infrastructure and the exciting changes planned for the museum, libraries and our other wonderful public assets. I was covering community engagement and why if it you make it meaningful it can truly deliver. I think the three of us did okay and I was pleased to be given the chance to champion our approaches. The other speakers were great – including members of the youth parliament who presented information on their work and how they hoped to help local services improve. Overall I came away thinking that there is a lot of passion for high quality local public sector delivery in Scotland and the work that happens in partnership with the third sector is well recognised and respected. A good day – if you want to know more check twitter – #coslapaisley2018

The Lobbying Act

The new Lobbying Act came into place on 12 March 2018. Attached below are links to the Scottish Government Guidance, including a 5 step fact sheet – hope you find them useful.

All the best