The things that we have, are all that we need…

Paisley 2021 bid send off 29.9.17

I went up the ‘Toon’ today to watch the community sending off the final Paisley 2021 bid to London. And I’m not embarrassed to say that I was emotional. Definitely a curse that afflicts me, this emotion thing. I try to keep a lid on it but, you know, sometimes you just have to give in – sunshine, community choirs, weans smiling and waving flags & a sing song – ‘Will Ye Go, Lassie Go?’ – which is always a song to make you get all ‘emulsional’ as it’s called in my house… It was great – brilliant input from Tommy at Loud ‘n’ Proud (Godfather of Paisley Rawk!) and of course bid director Jean Cameron – ‘Oor Jean’ as folk seem to want to call her.

As the event concluded Jean popped the bid into the bag of the coolest courier ever – who was sitting astride a Paisley patterned ‘Vespa’ and off he rolled up the High Street. Not just cool…Paisley cool…

Really couldn’t ask for a better send off for the bid – a bid, which if it was a stick of rock, would have the words ‘community’ all the way through. There were a lot of smiles there today…and I’m sure there are more to come. Please show your support for Paisley’s bid – a bid, which in its ambition, aims to be truly transformational – @Paisley2021

‘STAR Project Poetry Competition 2017’

There’s been plenty of stars involved in the writing of the Paisley 2021 bid – none more so than the team of the mighty STAR Project. This week they launched their ‘STAR Project Poetry Competition 2017’. STAR Project have been asked to research, plan and create a short film about Paisley’s Grand Fountain, emphasising the positive transformation the fountain and its restoration has had on people’s lives – “It makes me smile”, “I love walking past it on the way to work”, & “I love the sounds of the Fountain” are some of the comments local people have made. As part of the work of the film they are looking for poems that celebrate the effect of culture on wellbeing – see here for more information:

Get your poems in – speak soon!



You know the first time I traveled Out in the rain and snow…

I was out on the road again with friends on Friday last week – with Paisley now being Scotland’s bid for City of Culture 2021 a few of us hopped on the Culture Bus and went visiting… On previous ‘Paisley 2021’ engagement tours, our very own Linzi Clark (@LinziClarkMusic) provided songs and entertainment – this time around we asked our Paisley 2021 Ambassador organisations to put on a show – and they didn’t disappoint!!

Under the banner of #shortlistshowcase we were provided with some amazing performances and cultural information. Let me provide you with a brief reminder of ‘Tour 5’…

First Stop was Engage Renfrewshire @EngageNews1 where Iain Cunningham of the Community & Voluntary Action Team presented his poem titled simply ‘Paisley 2021’ – a wee highlight for me is this part of the piece which considers the list of Paisley’s star turns:

The list is endless and no one can compare

Alexander Wilson, Robert Tannahill, Gerrard Butler, David Tennant too

Oh and Kelly -Marie to name but a few!

Not forgetting Sandy Stoddard a royal sculptor of note

Gerry Rafferty and Paulo Nuttini, We’ve got a right tae gloat!

It was then on to The Experience (@electrickarting) where the Team had decided to dress up in random costumes – as long as they started with a ‘P’ for Paisley…So we had pirates, painters, police, pharaohs and pink ladies – not to mention parrots and my personal favourite a piñata! They also had a brill band (called rather enigmatically ‘Sub-utopian Planning Board’) for some high octane entertainment – Ah…I love the sound of fuzz-boxes in the morning…

Third stop was at Boston Networks (@BostonNetworks) – time for some, brilliant singing, Irish dancing and drumming from their team – what a talented lot! Everyone was so welcoming and really up for a bit of cultural fun – thanks!

Then we arrived at ROAR (@RoarCommunities) where we were treated to some community singing and percussion playing – I was also coerced into a wee song too…I say coerced – what I mean was I jumped at the chance…

City Gate Construction – CGC (@PaisleyCgc) was next, where we met Jim Barrie, Timber Preservation Manager at CGC. Jim is a very talented artist and told us about why painting is important to him. They are a great Team at CGC and very supportive of the bid for 2021.

Stop number 6 was at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park (@Clydemuirshiel) where we met Michael who showed us his skills in wood turning and told us some amazing facts about the cultural & environmental approaches that are so much part of of the way of life in Renfrewshire.

It was then onwards to Linstone Housing Association @LinstoneHousing where we took part in some mosaic workshops. The efforts of my talented colleagues Yvonne (@yvonnef_ren) & Linzi, were okay(!) however the work of the volunteers was top notch – I’m hoping for an invite to the exhibition when it comes around!

We then had a couple more impromptu stops to see some brilliant piano playing by Alistair at the Fair Full café in Paisley and we also popped in to see the guys at Zambretto’s Restaurant.

And of course we had to drop in on Tommy and team at Loud n’ Proud. Cheers everyone!

Last stop was the Create Café (@createpaisley) – a place which is always fun to visit and the top talent taking part showed exactly why Paisley is a City of Culture. Thanks to everyone for a great end to a brilliant day

So Tour 5 was tiring…but it was fun! A special mention needs to go to the Street Stuff (@SMFCStreetStuff) team who not only put up the singing on the buses but also made sure we got there. Big thanks go to Cor Hutton of ‘Finding Your Feet’ – thanks Cor! – and Sofija Tkacenko both of whom were on their first tours – I hope both of you are up for another! Last thoughts go to what the theme of the next tour will be…I’m thinking ‘Rap Star’ starring  Natalie Orr (@Natalieo_ren) … a one woman ‘Sugar Hill Gang’… all together now – ‘I said a hip hop, Hippie to the hippie, The hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop…’

All the best – speak soon!


I will return some day, So you can hear me say…

SAYIt was a great pleasure to be at the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Awards last night in – the second year the event has taken place in Paisley as part of highlighting the ‘Paisley 2021’ bid. It was a phenomenal night with a personal favourite being ‘The Spook School’ who were great live. I think the SAY Awards should take up residence in Paisley…

I like to do a bit of noodling on guitar from time, a habit picked up from my Father who was a fine chanter of country songs.  My Father was both a very intelligent and talented man. He was also a very practical man – much, much more than me. He was a time served Painter & Decorator and therefore had spent a lot of his life surrounded by craftsmen, engineers and the like. Although he could fix almost anything he sometimes, like most people, had a blind spot regards the correct solution… As a man who fixed his own car, he often had odd parts in the garage ‘just in case’. At one point he had steel belted radial tyre that wasn’t any good to anybody so he decided to put it to use by creating a small flower bed around one of the washing poles in the back garden. It was all the rage at one point – paint the tyre white or green, put it around one of the back garden washing poles, fill with soil and plants and Bob’s your uncle – you have yourself  a useful bedding planter for crocuses and what not.  Now, the question was how do you get the tyre around the pole? My Dad being a very practical person decided to saw a slit in the tyre so he could open it a little to place around the pole. So he set to work – sawing through a steel belt radial is no mean feat and he was sweating and struggling and not making much head way when my mother asked what he was up to. My Father explained – tyre – saw – pole…  ‘Oh, I see’ my Mother said ‘Well, why don’t you just take down the clothes rope and pop the tyre over the top of the pole?…’

#ourRenfrewshire – Renfrewshire Community Planning ConferencesFullSizeRender (5)

Have your say on the future of Renfrewshire on priorities and vision for the future of Renfrewshire. Each conference will have a full programme including speakers and an interactive workshop session.  For more information and to book your place just click here

Voluntary Arts Scotland ‘Putting the social into social media’

If you are 50+ and involved in a creative group or project you can register for Voluntary Arts Scotland’s new project, ‘Putting the social into social media’. All you have to do is tell the team where in Scotland you’re based, which group you’re involved with and what skills you would like to learn. The digital training sessions will take place at four locations across Scotland. If this training sounds useful, you can register your interest at

So home time approaches and I must bid you all adieu – Tara.


You can never get enough – Enough of this stuff…

My, my it’s warm oot there… How’s your Friday been?

A couple of weeks back I had a great Friday. The day started off with a visit to my kids’ school were I enjoyed a right, cultural performance. They’ve been looking at what it means to support people who are different to you – big messages – but they carried it off superbly.   And I’m no fan of ‘Take That’ but 50 or so young folk singing ‘Giants’ can bring a tear to yir eye…I lied and said it was hay fever…

After that it was on to Tweedie Hall for the Renfrewshire Disability Arts Forum’s “Art and Health” Exhibition. A brilliant exhibition of photographs launched in singing and dancing style. Brilliant. A highlight for me was the performance by Dirty Feet Dance Co. The exhibition is on now! For more information on the work of the Forum see here:


Our Paisley 2021 City of Culture bid Director, Jean Cameron, was there. Jean was without doubt mightily impressed by the artist’s work that was on show and of course the City of Culture bid will bring brilliant opportunities for developing the profile around this group and their superb work.

And finally I had a great night at the University of West of Scotland’s Music Showcase & Awards – a red carpet event focused on rewarding and recognizing the finest works, the most connected students and the best artistic approaches. The talent on show was top notch, and the event itself – compered by the legendary Davie Scott – was great fun. I was left feeling very optimistic about the music scene in Paisley, Renfrewshire & Scotland – and the film & TV industry should also be in good hands.

Needless to say by the end of that Friday I felt cultured & emotional as well as tired, but happy – however, never let it be said that even when I’m wrung oot that I miss the chance to grab myself a #Paisley2021 selfie.


UK Digital Leaders Awards

Renfrewshire Council, Roar: Connections for Life, YMCA Paisley and Craig Steele of Coderdojo Scotland have all been short-listed for the prestigious UK Digital Leaders 100 Awards. These awards recognise individuals and teams across public, private and non-profit organisations who are blazing a trail within digital transformation. Of the 100 short-listed this year, just 16 were from Scotland and three from here in Renfrewshire. Winners are decided by a mix of public vote and a judging panel – so every vote counts!

To Vote:

  1. click on this DL100 link!
  2. enter your email address
  3. tick your winner for the category
  4. select the next category (10 in total, you don’t need to vote in all)

The categories we need your support for are:
Cross-Sector Digital Collaboration of the Year – Roar: Connections for Life
Digital Council of the Year – Renfrewshire Council
Digital Charity of the Year – YMCA Paisley
Digital Leader of the Year – Craig Steele (the only Scottish nomination)

For more information on Renfrewshire’s nominations click here.

And with that I’m away to enjoy the sunshine – Tara fir noo…


Or maybe you’ll think that love will make us fools, And so it makes you wise to break the rules…


Here comes the sun…

As we move into May and proper Spring may be springing you may be thinking of making some lifestyle changes. Learn Spanish, cycle to Land’s End or eat more greens. Whatever you do, try to be less critical of yourself. Leave that to everyone else to do on your behalf

In the mid-90’s I was working as a Community Arts Officer in Ferguslie Park, Paisley. Part of the regeneration work in the area included the development of the Tannahill Centre which we were delighted to use as cultural facility as it lends itself very well to large community events. I was lucky in that there were a number of highly motivated community volunteers around and other skilled community officers working in the place. Together we put on some great events which we marketed in a range of ways with varying degrees of success.

I remember one event and the poster I designed for it very well. Elvis – ‘America has had 42 presidents…but only one King’ was the tag-line. In the middle of the poster was an image of the ‘Hillbilly Cat’ in all his pomp and below that we had all the info:

‘Elvis Night! Elvis Quiz, Elvis fancy dress competition, Elvis film Clips, Live Elvis Tribute band and local Elvis impersonators.

The King will be in the building – ALL NIGHT LONG!

Two quid a ticket.’

The 300 available tickets sold out fast. The King is very popular in Paisley and on the night it went great. Everyone had a blast. Women in huge crinoline dresses bopped and hopped with guys in ‘Fonzie’ leather jackets. Superb.

Anyway, right at the end of the night I noticed one of the local team making his way through the throng towards me.  This guy was good at telling you what he thought of any event – so I was bracing myself!

‘Alan’ he said ‘that was one of the best nights we ever had here. Have to hand it to you big man. You thought of everything. Fantastic!’ At this point my mouth was hanging open in shock but I managed to murmur a ‘Thank you. Thank you very much…’

‘If I could just make one point though?’ ‘Yes of course’ says I. He then hits me with the quote I’ll take to my grave… ‘It was a brilliant night…but there was too much Elvis…’

Voluntary Arts Festival

Voluntary Arts Festival takes place each May, in cities, towns and villages across the UK and Republic of Ireland. It’s a chance for people to get creative – share what they already do, or try something new for the first time. Creativity comes in many forms, from music and singing to visual art and craft, digital art and drama to cooking and gardening. However you choose to express yourself, you can take part in Voluntary Arts Festival from 5 – 14 May 2017.
For more information see here:
Paisley 2021 – The Story So Far…
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Lunchtime Blues Bash for 2021

Paisley’s bid for City of Culture 2021 was submitted this week. There has been many highs throughout the last 15 months and, I wont lie, I found myself getting quite emotional looking at the ‘The Story So Far…’

And a very recent highlight has to be Paisley’s Baker Street saxophone event – the film is a treat! Just press the link here – 

So, if you’re out and about this bank holiday weekend, blow your horn for Paisley 2021!

All the best




Hey, Mamma Look at me! I’m on the way to the promised land…

‘Going to Hull to get cultural?’ the guard on the train asked as he punched my ticket. Well of course – why not? I’m always cultural. I’m a cultured fellow…

At the beginning of March I had the brilliant opportunity to visit Hull – 2017 City of Culture – and it was great to be there with colleagues from the Paisley 2021 bid team and with other representatives from bidding cities from across the UK. The overwhelming feeling I was left with following the visit was how much the opportunities from the City of Culture status has changed how local people feel about the city in which they live.  Talking to some of the volunteers who were acting as city ambassadors was a treat – all of them were so enthused by what was happening and they looked fantastic in their very cool and colourful uniforms. I’m sure when we win the competition our volunteer ambassadors will look just as good and radiate to all our visitors the pride we have in Paisley.

In Hull railway station, you’re met not only by the volunteers but also by a striking statue of poet Philip Larkin who lived for a large part of his life in Hull. A wonderful writer, his poems capture qualities of life which are often overlooked. His work seems to be concerned with the modern world and the relentless process of change but it also, to me at least, contains a sense of hope regards where the change may lead too. I’d like to think that he would have seen the City of Culture award for Hull as something filled with hope for the future.

While I was in the station I couldn’t help think that a statue of a Paisley icon in Paisley’s Gilmour Street railway station would be a great way to greet our guests. I will cast my vote now for Gerry Rafferty…perhaps with these words somewhere nearby…

‘I know how much I lean on you

Only you can see

The changes that I’ve been through

Have left a mark on me’

One final impression of Hull – culture was all around – even in the polite notices… This one here, which was on a wall in one of the venues, reminded me of the master Marcel Duchamp…


Kindness Day

Today is Kindness Day UK, a nationally recognised day for the celebration of kindness in society and day to day life. Individual acts of kindness are encouraged on this day annually. So be nice to everyone today…and tomorrow… And if you want to look cool while you’re being kind these very cool shirts are available from Big Issue online:

Speak soon – Tara!



I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter And I’m gonna make believe it came from you…

fullsizerenderMy daughter is still at the stage where she’ll make you a handmade card for any reason – ‘Happy Saturday!’, ‘It’s Wednesday and we’re going swimming – well done!’ and today I fully expect to get a pancake-day card…

I’ve always been keen on a handmade card. I remember designing my first ‘haunknitted’ Christmas one – it was truly ‘old skool’ punk rock. Jamie Reid (who designed the iconic record sleeves for the Sex Pistols) ‘kidnapper’ lettering, a skull in a Santa hat and a turkey making run for it uttering the immortal line ‘I’m off…’

Handmade cards for me were about saying something original to my friends, making a wry political statement…and saving money. Working as I did on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme) graphic design and screen printing project I had access to endless supplies of cheap card, photocopiers, ‘DYMO’ lettering guns and spray mount. Aaah…the design tools of yore…

I had a particular fondness for my DYMO gun (red it was…). DYMO of course produce labelling products but in my opinion they’ll never top the 70’s & 80’s day-glo plastic fantastic DYMO gun which  allowed you to print letter-by-letter a simple adhesive label that you could attach to anything. You had to turn the wheel at the top of the gun and ‘click’ each letter through by pulling the ‘trigger’ of your gun. Magic.

This little bit of cool kit meant that you could produce attractive (in a ropey sort of way) lettering that could be stuck on posters and enlarged in a photocopier. Please remember that this was in the days before scruffy youths on YTS courses were allowed access to computers of any kind. There were no ‘Gothic’ fonts readily available, there was no touch of a button effects…and there certainly was no ‘Photoshop’…well there was but it was called Munro’s and it also did dry cleaning.

Anyway if you were adept in the ways of the DYMO force you could ‘click’ whole track lists for your compilation cassette. Invariably this meant that wee Sharon would always end up swearing out loud as she tried in vain to avoid putting an extra ‘O’ in Kajagoogoo…

Paisley Ironed Man – Rainbow Turtle – Fairtrade Fortnight 2017

Date: Saturday 4th March

Time: 1.00pm to 2.00pm

Venue: The Cross, Paisley

The Paisley Ironed Man event is 4 guys, dressed as Blues Buddies, undressing down to their fair trade underwear, and ironing each layer after they’ve removed it. They will be accompanied by the Renfrewshire Community Gospel Choir, who will sing Aretha Franklin’s version of Respect. They’re hoping for a warm dry day!

For more information about the work of Rainbow Turtle and its fundraising campaign, visit: