Seven Days
Sunday Herald 17th February 2002


I am nursemaid to 2 sick children and a very ill wife. One of the children needs to stay off school and wife needs to get herself better to get on stage tonight. The weekend has been spent expecting everyone to recover and realising they were all slowly feeling worse. There’s now a chart in the kitchen outlining who needs what, when and in how many milligram's. Over the course of the day it becomes obvious that all of this is not enough for our baby son. Another doctor’s visit is granted by our local health centre. I want the doctor to see how ill he is. I’ve now resorted to giving him Ibuprofen as well as paracetemol and this has the immediate effect of making him very happy. To my huge disappointment he behaves like a model child at the surgery: walks over to the coffee table and brings a book to read, smiles and chats to other people and charms the receptionist. When will he learn to behave?


Being at home with three children (2 still ill) means evenings are given over entirely to pleasures of the flesh. Last night this consisted of watching a rerun of Where Eagles Dare while eating a packet of hula hoops. Tonight I decide I want to use my time more purposefully but the idea of anything more challenging is soon beaten down by exhaustion of getting everyone in bed by 8.45. In the absence of my wife I’ve decided not to try and emulate her Harry Potter readings. She has read the girls the entire catalogue and has such strong voices for all the characters that my girls complained about the film! I once was a poor understudy and found myself making hurried notes as she went out the door. Voices: Dunbledore = Alec Guiness, Hagrid = The Butcher from Coronation Street. The kids didn’t buy it. I’ve opted for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe where the beaver sounds like Archie from our church and the wolf speaks like Tom Waits. When they are all finally asleep I flop out in front of the telly with a beer.

I see a rerun of Scottish Football highlights including my teams plucky draw against Livingston. Eventually I turned the sound off as I was so irritated at the commentary by Archie McPherson. I don’t know what he does immediately before the game but it certainly doesn’t include research. At one point a great bit of United play was shown and replayed without Archie telling us any of the players involved. “And there goes the in-swinger. Voof!! And it comes off the bar” Yes, Archie - it’s telly. We can see that. But who played it? I’ve only once ever complained about a television broadcast and it was on the subject of Archie McPherson. STV replied but nothing changed. I met him once in Stirling when the two of us formed an unlikely alliance to persuade the electorate to vote out Michael Forsythe. He (Archie) seemed very nice........but isn’t there someone out there who can remember the names of players not wearing a green or blue jersey?


Yes they’re all still ill. My wife is valiant. She leaves the house at 12.30 to be on stage for her matinee in Ayr at 2.30. Along with five other actors she’s appearing in Mum’s The Word in Ayr. The show is a huge hit. Audiences love it and it’s had great reviews from all the national papers. She returned home triumphant tonight having done two shows in a day and incorporated her cough into one of her final speeches.

I watch the news on the continued protests at Faslane. Good friends of mine have been thrown into jail for their brave civil disobedience. Family ties don’t permit me to get lifted but I do admire their faithful protest against the absurdity of our housing nuclear weapons a few miles away from our largest city. Tommy Sheridan was overheard telling the assembled media that the boys in blue were only doing their jobs. I wondered if the spokesman for Strathclyde Police was also doing his job when he rejoiced to t.v. viewers that protestors were down in numbers showing a weakening of the anti nuclear voice. I think not!

At too late an hour I realise it’s been Ash Wednesday and I haven’t had a chance to leave the house.


My pal Boo Hewerdine is coming round to spend some time writing songs together. I’ve known Boo since we first did a gig together in 1986 when he was in his band The Bible and Deacon Blue supported them at some awful student union or other in London. We were having a moan about record companies as we have both had to work with the same people. He remembers being an artiste on one of their old labels and having to play at the events all musicians dread - the record company conference. By this time he’d made at least four albums for the label but, in Boo’s own words, “knew my time was up” when the MD introduced him to the hung-over sales-force as Bob Hewerdine.

We musos collect music business humiliations like brownies add badges. My favourite was being invited to have coffee and donuts with an influential group of radio programmers in LA. As we parked at the shops minutes before our visit we wondered aloud what was so urgent that required our Tour Manager to stop. “We’re buying the&Mac255;coffee and donuts,” came the reply.

Boo’s best one concerns Louden Wainwright III who pointed out to him how his British label were so much behind them that on his current release they’d failed to spell his name correctly.


Final checks on the artwork for my forthcoming solo album, “This Is The Life.” Putting out a new record is still one of the greatest things in the world. I’ve been writing and planning this album for six years so it’s a relief to finally have a release date. I’m in the lucky position of having complete control over artwork. The designer is in London so he sends me emailable images which we discuss on the phone. The upside is I’m allowed complete control but the downside is there is no one to blame if there are any mistakes. This is the 8th studio album I’ve been involved with and the 15th in total and I recently realised that there are mistakes in the copy of all of them and it has always been my fault!


My youngest daughter is having her best pal to stay over for the first night. This involves giving them all a more child friendly evening meal - pizza delivery followed by sweets rationed out across the evening. We try not to repeat earlier mistakes. When my second daughter had her first Halloween night we took some of her school pals round the garden on a “spooky walk” while her uncle ran through the bushes with a sheet over his head shouting, “wooooo!!” This resulted in at least two of them wanting to go home and some reluctant to return for fear of the ghosts in the garden. I will now do everything in my power to remove controversy from school pals visits but will be comforted to know that my children will (and probably should) always find their dad slightly embarrassing.


I’m due to talk to our home congregation at St Margaret’s Church this morning. Effectively this means I’m in the sermon slot but I’m trying not to think that way for fear I might get nervous. This year the Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church have made the Landless Movement in Brazil their Lenten appeal. As I visited Brazil on behalf of Christian Aid a couple of years back to witness the impact of their involvement with MST, (Movement of Landless People) our Rector, Tom has asked me to talk to our congregation about how we can support the Movement in its quest to give thousands of families a chance for a better start in life.

My week spent in an MST village where people had occupied then built a community on previously barren land was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Up until that point I thought life was hard if I’d had to make do with a Holiday Inn Express. Sleeping in a disused village radio shack under attack from mosquitoes put that into some kind of perspective. If you are looking for a worthy cause to support this Lent please consider the work of MST in Brazil.