Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Stuck Inside Murano Street With the Lockdown Blues Again

(For all the Glasgow University students quarantined in the Murano Street Student Village)

The rats along the Forth and Clyde Canal
At least they can go swimming with their friends
I gaze from my window out at Maryhill
And wait for my quarantine to end

I have 22 Pot Noodles in the kitchen
Sweet and Sour, Brazilian Barbecue
From Friday through to Sunday it’s McDonalds
We’ve all got discounts  on Deliveroo

And I pray that Princess Nicola will someday set us free
If you want to test a vaccine stick a needle into me
The university say 
They won’t refund our rent
I’m Stuck Inside Murano Street
With the Lockdown Blues Again

I’m sharing with two guys from South Korea
One from Singapore and one from Stornoway
Joe the civil engineer is back in Saltcoats
He was kidnapped by his Auntie yesterday


Thousands of us here now have been afflicted 
It’s not as if this could have been predicted

Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Beatcroft Social, 19 September 2020


Saturday night's show from Shetland, available on Mixcloud here.

Semisonic                  The Basement Tapes

Rolling Stones            Scarlet

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings                  Signed Sealed Delivered

Pretenders                        I Don’t Want to be this Lonely

Oggy Why                          Hunger

Maria Muldaur                  Midnight at the Oasis

Lord Stornoway                      Don’t Worry

Gillian Welch                      Wouldn’t Be so Bad

Reckless Kelly                     I Only See You with My Eyes Closed

Jimi Hendrix                        Voodoo Chile

Janis Joplin                         Me and Bobby McGee

The Doors                            Changeling

Dave Edmunds                     I Hear You Knocking

The Monkees                          Me and Magdalena

Lucinda Williams                   When the Way Gets Dark

Soul Children                         Don’t Take My Kindness for Weakness

Mad Lads                              Make this Young Lady Mine

The Temprees                        Come and Get Your Love

Gladys Knight and the Pips            Who is She (and what is She to You)

Valerie June                            Workin’ Woman Blues

REM                      What’s the Frequency Kenneth

Terry Allen                             Abandonitis

Gretchen Peters                    Wish I Was

Chuck Prophet                       Fast Kid

Porridge Radio                       Seven Seconds

Elvis Perkins                          See Monkey

Kinks                                       Big Sky

Eels                                         Are We alright

Lord Stornoway                      No Vacancies

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Footballers, Actors and Musicians (Lament for Van Morrison)

Footballers, Actors and Musicians
(Lament for Van Morrison)

What did a former Miss Ireland see in you
Apart from your sunny disposition?
The money perhaps , and the Dapper Dan suits
You were quite the Beautiful Vision

I took a girlfriend to hear you sing
I told her  you’d be a real delight
For two hours, Ivan, you didn’t turn round
Just played the saxophone badly all night

I gave my life to rock’n’roll
But then I came to a decision
Talent doesn’t mean you’re not an arsehole
Footballers, actors and musicians 

This charming man maybe can dribble or kick
Write or memorise the lines for a play
You can play great guitar and still be a prick
And have nothing worth hearing to say

Thursday, September 17, 2020

A Static Caravan in Berwick Upon Tweed

A Static Caravan in Berwick Upon Tweed

In a currency crisis
It’s all I’ll need
A static caravan in Berwick On Tweed
Three miles north, I’m in Scotland again
Under an hour to Edinburgh by train
Walls to keep the Scots out - I was intrigued
The football team plays in the Scottish League

I take salt in my porridge oats
But I don’t want my benefits paid in Groats
I’m a single malt socialist, that’s a fact
But I can do without paying any more income tax
There's beaches and a harbour and a view of the sea
At least half a dozen former MSPs

Across the border
But only just
Protect my pension?
I think I must
I always wanted to see
Scotland freed
But I’m going to buy a static caravan in Berwick on Tweed

There’s a Willerby Granada, it’s second hand
Haven welcome pets - it’s only 30 grand
I've got enough lump sum left it’s almost free
Let the Morningside flat out on AirBnB
I’ll watch Braveheart on Netflix, I’m a believer
Check my accounts in Zurich and Geneva
Eventually Berwick will be Scottish of course
I’m just part of the advance occupation force...

Across the border, but only just
Protect my benefits? I think I must
I always wanted to see Scotland freed
But for fiscal reasons
I'm going to Berwick On Tweed

Or maybe a static caravan in Alnwick
Somewhere in Northumberland. Or possibly Cumbria...

Copyright Tom Morton 2020

Sunday, September 13, 2020


Irvine New Town, Ayrshire, 1975, and I was working that summer for  Irvine Development Corporation as a playscheme leader. There was money to splurge on the new fangled notion of “community development” as the amazing new three-storey IDC houses went up and great lumps of Old Irvine were torn down. The future was bright. The future was fork-lift trucks, explosives, pulp-into-paper and the shopping centre to end all shopping centres. There was still deep mining nearby.

I was from Troon, along the coast a few miles. They scrapped and built ships there, and played a lot of golf. Barassie bred new housing. My dad commuted to Glasgow every day.

There were playschemes scattered throughout the New Town area that summer, from Dreghorn to Kilwinning. Children enrolled, and while their parents were at work or home, played games old and hippyishly new. With parachutes. The bairns were also entertained by a visiting cast of aged, retired circus performers who brought hoops, trampolines and banjos, and ranged from the delightful (Hampe and Lola, creaky tightrope walker and her husband, a  juggler) to the horribly unpleasant (shouty Banjo Karl, the country and western clown). It was my job to organise these performances, guide the artistes to their community centres or patch of grass, and stop the children spitting at them, if possible.

So-called “Glasgow overspill”: the motivated from the big dirty city 23 miles away followed the promise of a seaside lifestyle in new houses and work. An influx of energy and talent and weans, to the remains of an ancient town already teeming with legends and strange rituals. Lodge Number 0. The Mother of all Masons. No wonder the place ended up throbbing, for a time, with culture, with music, with artistic life. Borderline Theatre, the Magnum Centre which provided The Smiths as well as swimming pools and ice rinks. The Eglinton Folk Club. Eddi Reader, her wee brother Frank and the Trashcan Sinatras, John Niven, Andrew O’Hagan...and Keith Martin, the inspiration for the central character Tully, in O’Hagan’s  latest novel, Mayflies.

It’s an absolutely hilarious, profoundly moving, heartbreaking book about a close-knit group of friends. Andrew and his chums, those still around, are a decade younger than me. So as I read this wonderful story of a boy who burned brighter than the sun, the overwhelming power of music in memory and ambition, and friendship, I was back on the Low Green in 1975, surrounded by screaming, fighting and fulminating seven and eight year olds. Who was that child who took over Lola’s trampoline and performed daring somersaults far, far better than she ever could?

Were there Nivens and O’Hagans and Martins among that mass of boisterous boys and girls? Who knows? Maybe they were uber-cool even at that age and at home listening to rare New York Dolls imports, reading Edith Sitwell and Alexander Trocchi and thoughtfully deconstructing Findus Crispy Pancakes.

This glorious book affected me greatly. I’d be surprised if it isn’t the first novel to be shortlisted for the Booker which provides a philosophical explanation of why the pissed-in-at-a-party-pint-glass is always destined to be drunk from, copiously, later in the night.

Or was. I’m sure that sort of thing doesn’t happen with Aperol Spritzers chez O’Hagan these days.

Mayflies, by Andrew O’Hagan. Published by Faber. £14.99 in hardback. Not suitable for e-readers.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

The Richard Leonard Blues (A Jeremiad)

Richard Leonard Blues

I’ve got a contemplation window
In my cell at Holyrood
I see the seagulls over Calton Hill
I’d join them if I could

Nobody seems to hate me
I've read all the questionnaires
Nobody can even remember
The colour of the tie I wear

I just wanted to be like Jeremy
I’ve got the haircut and the suits
Two first names were not enough for me
I've got the Richard Leonard Blues

I’ll always be a Yorkshire lad
This accent's the only one that I've got
I’ve been in Scotland 40 years 
I still sound like  Geoffrey Boycott

And yet no-one  recognises me
It’s been a problem all my life
A woman called Karen told me last week
She’d just remembered she’s my wife

Those Blairite bastards are trying to bring me down
And some Bolshevik bastards too
But when I asked which bastard will replace me
No bastard has a clue

So Richard Leonard will have to do

Copyright Tom Morton 2020

Sunday, September 06, 2020

The Splendour of My Isolation

(Cito longe fugeas et tarde redeas)

I don’t want to go to Portugal
I don’t want to go to Greece
I’ve already been to the south of France
It wasn’t very nice in Nice

I don’t want to fly on an aeroplane 
Breathing recycled Ryanair
Passengers with masks on their foreheads
Mr Ryan doesn’t seem to care

I don’t need a holiday in the sun
There’s paella and moussaka right here
Greggs do those tasty little custard tarts
Better than in Albufeira
You say there’s so much out in the world to see
But I can watch Attenborough on TV
In the splendour of my isolation

I hear young people want to party
They’re hiring mansions on Airbnb
Three hundred people listening to Harry Styles
Necking alcopops and DMT

I’m happy here in the kitchen
Bluetooth headphones on
Warren Zevon and Carlsberg Special
Dancing with myself till dawn

I don’t need to meet other people
I don’t feel the need to connect 
I get all my food delivered
Don’t even have to click and collect
I don’t want a kiss and I don’t want a hug
I don’t want your respiratory bugs
I’ll breathe easy in the splendour
Of my isolation

Copyright Tom Morton 2020

Saturday, September 05, 2020

The Beatcroft Social, 5 September 2020


The National Abel
Colin Clyne Where the Ships go to Die
Lily Hiatt Trinity Lane
John Hiatt All the Way to the River
Bonnie Raitt I Can’t Make you Love Me
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats You Worry Me
Ray Lamontagne Rock and Roll and the Radio
Creedence Clearwater Revival Up Around the Bend
Van Morrison These Dreams of You
Led Zeppelin Gallows Pole
Phil Cook Miles Away
Cold War Kids Can We Hang On
Wild Rivers Howling
Isaac Hayes Do Your thing
Frederick Knight I’ve Been Lonely For so Long
Mavis Staples Endlessly
Graham Central Station We’ve been Waiting/Release Yourself
Parker Millsap Other Arrangements
Los Lobos Emily
Lyle Lovett Long Tall Texan
Nick Lowe Indian Queens
Lake Street Drive Shame Shame Shame
John Martyn Johnny too Bad
Dr John I Don’t Want to Know
Blank Range Proximity
Booker T and the MGs Twist and Shout

Friday, September 04, 2020

Speed Records, Troon: Gateway to the Underworld

A few cream deco tiles are all that remain of the George Cinema, Portland Street, Troon, which closed in 1974 and was finally demolished in 1986.They frame the frontages of The Lavender Room, Corum Estate Agency, The Card Warehouse and a small, empty shop unit which was once the gateway to another world. At first fearful and awed, eventually casual and at ease with the patchouli vapours, fearsome volume and ultracool, astonishingly hirsute proprietors, we would hang out there after school in our blindingly purple Marr College blazers. Speed Records.
I can’t be sure, but I think Speed opened in 1970, gradually usurping the nearby electrical retailer Fairbairns as the place to buy vinyl. Further along towards the sea, in West Portland Street, was Bethany Hall, the Brethren assembly our family attended, more than religiously. There, on Sundays and many, too many other days of the week, lay the way to heaven. Speed (that name! That mushroom logo!) was a direct portal to The Other Place, and as such devilishly attractive.
What did I buy there? As a teenager I could afford very little in the way of full price albums. I’d discovered that Boyds, a dark and threatening newsagents (assistants in nylon housecoats) on the other side of the road, sold ex-jukebox singles and occasional deleted LPs. It was there I found and bought This Is Blues, a superb compilation of electric blues released on the Sue label and curated by Guy Stevens for Island. I still have it. The badly-copied-from-78 version of It Hurts Me Too by Elmore James, that scary slide guitar, the swoosh of static and needle-worn grooves...a love was born.
And that led to the two actual purchases from Speed I can remember, both records by Rory Gallagher: Live in Europe in 1972 and the following year Blueprint, which I took back and had replaced as it was warped. Arguably the best live rock album ever made. And the worst follow-up. I hate that electric piano.
Speed opened a branch in Ayr, which continued into punk and beyond. The Troon shop closed, but by then I was in Glasgow, flipping through the racks in Listen, 23rd Precinct and that treasury of used obscurities, Lost Chord in its original, almost mirage-like Ibrox location.
But that’s another story. Today I’m remembering Speed because a long-lost fellow Marr pupil, Ian Gunn, noticed an online reference to my affection for the place, remembered he had one of the shop’s carrier bags in his loft, dug it out and sent it to me.
History. Mystery. A way out of small town Ayrshire. A container for dreams, ambitions, and the thrilling magic of The Biggest Noise.