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A Glasgow Sunrise through a Morphine haze, Gartnavel Hospital
First off – Love and Big Respect to all the wonderful folk who have dropped by my site/blog and also left kind messages of support on Marie’s Facebook page since life took me (and everyone around me I have to add) on a different journey this year than the one I’d imagined or hoped for. Sometimes in pursuit of our professional dreams and ambitions as artists or as film-makers or whatever, we often lose sight of what really matters in life – and I guess I’ve had a pretty hard-core reminder of that. When I packed our stuff-up with the help of a few good friends in Pollokshields and said goodbye to Glasgow’s south-side back in February this year, leaving Scotland to cross a stormy Winter North Sea on a container/freight carrier (that I eventually discovered – from a Roskilde trucker – was carrying bombs!) I think both Marie and I thought it would be a farewell to Scotland for a while at least. After a crap year, we saw 2013 as the start of a whole new adventure in Copenhagen (a city that sometimes seems so annoyingly cool that you can probably keep ice in its hips!)
But then somehow I knew all along that Mother Glasgow was never going to let go that easily.
For the past 3 weeks I’ve had further hospital treatment in my fight with ‘the crab’ and an operation which resulted in the complete removal of what was left of my thyroid, which now sits in a jar of formaldehyde over in the Southern General Hospital as a permanent specimen for medical students to gawp and wonder at (I guess in that respect a part of me will always now belong to Glasgow!) Although a surgical success the operation – as I’d feared it might be after what had happened before – was quickly followed by an infection which thankfully the wonderful folk in the NHS spotted and treated quickly. Right now I’m still recovering and am sitting in Copenhagen (I’m here till after Xmas/Hogmanay) and waiting to hear the results of the final autopsy early in 2014, which I hope will reveal no more nasty surprises, although I have to say I’m ready for anything that life throws at me and whatever comes next in terms of my treatment. Surgically at least, I’ve been told that there isn’t much more that can be done now (other than cut my head off!) So what’s left (if it happens) will involve a course of radioactive iodine treatment (that involves a kind of nuclear smoothie for want of a better description) to kill-off anything left that’s nasty.
In terms of what caused my problems in the first place ‘the exposure to particles’ that the medics refer to (and which I spoke about in an earlier post) well a few folk I know who spend far too much time hanging out in war-zones and chasing the bang-bang, have let me know in no uncertain terms I’m talking bullshit. That I can’t prove that ‘the crab’ was even remotely caused by exposure to radiation in a conflict or post-conflict zone, the very places that many of them have all made a healthy living from, unlike the local civilian population whose public health has suffered and whose body count continues to rise (it’s what military-types like to refer to as: ‘Collateral Damage’) Well in response to their stiff-upper-lip-war’s part of the human condition and also good for business mindset and general fuck-you Jack I’m alright Britishcuntishness, I want to ask them a simple question: Prove to me that my condition both scientifically and medically as well as militarily (for once forget your paranoid information policy and official secrecy!) IS NOT the direct result of the toxic legacy of more than 2 decades of conflict? Check the statistics for yourselves, do your research in the buried UN and other NGO reports and prove categorically that war’s toxic legacy has not killed and is not causing unexplainable cancers and respiratory problems among civilians and war-vets alike? Prove that the use of Depleted Uranium (DU) and other toxins has not led directly to birth defects in (un)lucky kids that have lived and at the same time resulted in countless mutations and still-births in places like Fallujah, Kurdistan, Baghdad, Kosova, southern Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans, not to mention Afghanistan? Places where the first question a mother asks is not ‘Is it a Boy or Girl?’ but ‘Is my baby normal?’ Check the facts, look at the pictures and prove to us – that’s most of the rest of the world by the way who aren’t making money from war – that there isn’t a toxic as well as a lethal hardware legacy (landmines, UXO etc) to the west’s so-called ‘just wars’. And when you’ve done that – I bet none of you will stake Queen, Country and the very Britishness you seek to protect on proving that all is fine and dandy in countries the west has ‘liberated’ and that whatever ‘collateral damage’ that has been left behind is ‘a price worth paying’. Please prove to me that I’m just another paranoid aging, lefty, who’s angry with the world because of what’s happening to him? Prove to me I’m wrong and am just full of bullshit conspiracies and that I really did just get unlucky? Because we all know just how much your types like to keep secrets from the rest of us ‘in our best interests’ or in ‘defence of the realm’ (especially since Edward Snowden has let us know we aren’t able to keep any secrets from you!)
Anyway in terms of what’s still left of a hard, bad, mad and sad year, I’ll just keep on writing and ‘writing with my camera’ (an Ex1 and a Go-Pro 2 – no big sensors stuff here matey – just a sensibility at work!) shooting something I’m calling: A Copenhagen Cycle Geography – a film journey which is taking me to places that I’ve never been before. More important than that though I have to add, just how much of a thrill it was to sit in an edit suite in Glasgow again with editor and fellow film-maker Berny McGurk, watching the rough-cut and talking about completing: Minefield We’re convinced we have a strong, compassionate film on our hands and probably one of the best films you’ll ever get to see about War, its legacy and a (former) people’s game that we use to call Football. We’ve also both pretty much decided that our film will not be compromised now by anyone and are aiming to complete it by all means necessary for the middle of next year – just in time to be an antidote to FIFA’s next World Cup circus. Here’s the trailer as a reminder of the story so far:
But above all else, I’m dedicating the remainder of what’s still left of a bad year for me, my kin and many of the good, decent and talented folk I know and also for many people in Glasgow generally (since the Clutha Vaults bar helicopter accident) to what really matters: People
The events of ‘Black Friday’ (29th November 2013) brought home to many of us just what makes our city one of the best places on the planet. Irrespective of what privileged and snide right-wing Sky News hacks might say or what some of the affluent occupants of Edinburgh and many inside the Tory M25 might think about us (and I do mean us because I believe you don’t have to be Scottish to be a Glaswegian anymore) Glaswegians for the most part have a dignity, a spirit and hang-tough outlook on life. Despite our many social problems and the small number of criminal bam-pots and corrupt politicians that screw the rest of us, most Glaswegians have a sense of pride, a shared sense of solidarity and a certain stoicism that I’ve seen and admired in many other tough places around the world – through out the Balkans, in the mine-infested jungles and slums of Cambodia and in the war-zones of the Middle-East. It’s something that is at the heart of what makes Glasgow a real workers city that still fundamentally believes in something called Socialism (even if most of our politicians have given up on the idea!) And even though I have lived on-and-off in the place for more than 30 years (in-between visiting some seriously nasty places and dealing with some seriously bad-assed people) I still after all this time always think twice about fucking-about-with or pissing-off Glaswegians – and so should the rest of the world (and that includes Danish Film Producers!)
So the remainder of the current year – the few weeks that are still left – will all be about people – as will whatever next year brings. And with people always comes the general pursuit of the simple pleasures we often forget in life as we chase our obsessive artistic visions, perfect our documentary pitches and juggle fictional numbers in film-finance plans. So if you happen to fancy a surf, a beer and a chat in Glasgow/Copenhagen or somewhere out over the North Sea in the next month or so then let me know – the drinks though are on you by the way!
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A Glasgow Sunrise through a minging NHS window