Notes from 1999


Working in the record shop on my feet all day is exhausting. I spend my wages on discounted CDs and let my friends take advantage of the perks.  The manager insists on us playing acid jazz funk most of the time, which does my head in.


In my diary I seem to be punishing myself for not living up my own expectations of myself, for not being able to talk to people, for getting drunk too often, for not being able to make my feelings known. Despite being involved in a short film that a friend is making, I don’t feel like I’ve found a way to express myself. I don’t have the confidence.


After feeling that I’m decidedly on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder, I get taken aside by the boss and told that as I’m “not management material”, this is the end of my trial period. Basically, I get sacked. I feel reckless and light on my feet as I leave.


I go back to signing on. Whenever I seek careers advice I get told I have to push myself more. I should really go and do something vocational, or a journalism course, but after 5 years I can’t take any more academic education and besides, I can’t afford it.

My mum lends me the money to get my own computer, so I can write more, but when it arrives it has a fault and I have to send it back.

I’m still checking my email at a friend’s and I get an email from Thom, with the subject line “How to build the ideal bunker. He says “we are sort of working now.” He was just looking at a pile of cut outs and words and “this bloody broken keyboard and wondered how you were.” There are vowels missing and letters doubled (must be the keyboard.). I write back and tell him about the state of play and the Elvis Costello gig I was at the night before.

He’s playing a solo set on June 13th in Amsterdam for the Free Tibet gig. I email My dad’s Dutch cousin and she invites me to stay with her, when I tell her why I want to come, she buys me a ticket for the gig.


Lack of money and direction cause me to pack up and leave Glasgow. I try to convince myself that I’m not moving in with my parents, rather storing my stuff there while I go travelling. I go to Hull and call in on my brother before I catch the Ferry to Holland. The ferry was cheaper than flying, and I haven’t booked a cabin. Instead I stay up and watch a not very good Mel Gibson thriller and then lay out my sleeping bag on the floor between the seats to snatch a couple of hours sleep. In Amsterdam I meet my dad’s cousin Maria at Central Station. Her flat is not far away, she’s an academic and it’s full of books. I can stay here while she’s at work. I feel remarkably sprightly considering my lack of sleep and go exploring. I spend the next couple of days going to galleries, shopping, wandering around. I really like Amsterdam. I visit the Stedelijk Museum, The Jewish History Museum and Kitsch Kitchen (my favourite shop in the world).

There is a fringe event for the Free Tibet movement in the Dam Square, I go and have a look and spot a few familiar faces in the crowd, including Emily with Red Hair. I make contact with Keiko later and go to meet her at her hotel. We talk excitedly. She’s been to 40 gigs by now. We catch up on the gossip (Colin got married, it was Phil’s wife who had the kid, Thom and Stanley really liked Tokyo). We’re rather ridiculously excited about tomorrow’s gig.