On Saturday afternoon we went to Margate. Marnie is obsessed with crabbing so we went to the harbour shore to fill her bucket with water. It was windy but sunny, the beach was packed. Kevvy pointed out a pile of various lost toys and balls stolen by the wind bashing against the concrete wall. He wanted a brightly coloured beachball, I told him he’d be mad to go out and get it, the mud is deadly. We stood checking on Marnie as she got her water – there was a body lying less than a hundred metres from us but somehow we didn’t notice it. I guess you just don’t see these things if you’re not expecting to. The person was making no noise, there was no struggle, they must have already been unconscious. We went up on the harbour wall, (now directly above the body). We attempted to cast our net out in the wind, still not noticing the person in trouble below us.

Then a man ran into the water, I thought he was drunk, playing around – then I saw the body, he was panicking, crying for help. A jet ski pulled up, they started performing CPR. We tried to get Marnie off the pier without her seeing anything. I was in shock, we retreated as the crowds ran gorily towards the unfolding scene. I cried – as much for the lack of humanity being shown by the public as they lapped up the drama eagerly, as I did for the person in trouble. I met a lady, she comforted me and we talked about how insensitive people were being. By this point I was really upset by everything going on around me. The emergency services turned up on masse. My mum made me sit down and rubbed my back as I sobbed. Eventually they managed to get the body on a stretcher, the ambulance was right down on the mud, sirens on and they were away.

We carried on with our day, the person was still alive, they were going to be ok, they were on their way to hospital, best place for them I was told. We went to the shops, had a pint, went to a concert. I met the nice lady from the beach in the toilet at Dreamland, we were happy that the person had seemed ok.

The next day we woke up to find out she had died. She was 6.

I know it isn’t my fault I didn’t see her lying there but I will feel eternal guilt. I will always wonder if she still be here if we’d noticed her. I apologise to her parents, family and friends for not seeing her body in front of me. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

Living a frightened life

Today seems appropriate to write a post that I never thought I would write, I may delete it 30 seconds after I’ve published or I maybe not, we shall see!

Most people won’t know that I’ve suffered from depression for most of my adult life, I never talk about this, I never have done really, you probably think I’m just weird or kooky, maybe eccentric, stand-offish, moody or just quiet and awkwardly shy. Some people just don’t like me, I think they think I’m a twat, but they just don’t know me, I guess they may start to see me now.

I hide it well, only the people who’ve been on the frontline would know and that’s not very many. I can normally function by keeping people mostly at a safe distance because it’s easier to let people not understand me, than have to expose what I really am hiding. I exist in the perimeters of most people’s lives, never fully there, not always available, distant, I’m probably very frustrating to most of my friends. I’m not gregarious, I’m awkward and uncomfortable in almost all social situations that involve more than a handful of people I don’t know. I crave routine, despite finding the discipline to stick to it almost impossible. I need to feel secure and acknowledged to be able to function normally but by being so awkward I tend to push people away. When Robin Williams died and everyone “started talking about mental health” it was the worst thing ever for me. I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to wear it as a badge of pride, I’m so sorry for myself that this has been my adult life. I’m well at the moment but am always wondering when is it coming back, it will do and I’m constantly aware of that. It truly is a dark shadow hanging over the happy times as well as the sad.

I had my first breakdown when I was 17, my last around 5 years ago, I have attempted to end it, disappeared (mostly only for hours before my return) but I have plotted and planned many escapes to far off places of peace. My parents have never really wanted to talk about it ever since I first attempted “something stupid”, they suggested therapy they didn’t want to medicate me, I guess they just wanted it to go away, they watched me and checked I was OK and slowly I came out the other side, not unscathed but alive. I’ve been mostly well for the past 2.5 years, sometimes drinking can make me sink, I try to drink beer and not wine for this very reason but mostly I’ve been good, a few wobbles but currently life feels great and I feel positive.

I find it difficult to live in a world that is just so horrible whilst being so sensitive myself. I can’t stand to see people being so cruel to one another. The thought that I can never make the world change is unbearable, the fact that it will probably get worse throughout my lifetime is unspeakable. It makes me anxious and anxiety is one of my problems. As I’ve grown older I’m learning to live with the fact that I can’t do or change everything, it’s just not possible. I have to realise that the small things I do, do make a difference. My brain is ticking over all the time, presenting me with images of who I really wish I was, but of course you will never live up to these self imposed, perceived expectations of yourself, you have to be you, there’s no escape.

Thankfully most people will never understand my ill world, a world where you start to look at things differently, to see all the beautiful things around you as a temptation – a river, the view from a window, a cascading waterfall, the seaside, just crossing the road can be a challenge to make it to the other side. To give you an insight, today I’m off to a amazing friends wedding, it’s on the banks of a Loch and I’m going by myself , which triggers my first red warning light. I also don’t know too many people there, but really it should be a great day seeing my friend marry her love. Even though I’m well, I’ve taken precautions. I will be careful with what I drink, some beers, nothing that could push me over the edge. I have made a list for myself and saved as the wallpaper on my phone of reasons to carry on – the fact that I owe my best friend J a curry next week, my daughter and new baby nephew need me for cuddles, I haven’t given Lynne her birthday present yet, work is exciting and I’m enjoying my projects, I haven’t baked a cake in my new oven yet and my school kid mentee is expecting me at 3.10 on the dot to be waiting for him in reception for our weekly meet. Hopefully this will help to keep any silly thoughts at bay, I tend not to do so well at these kind of occasions. I may have to ask someone to babysit me so that I don’t break away from the crowd, and this is me in a period of wellness.

My midlife crisis wasn’t about buying a sports car, it was about what my life could have been if I hadn’t ever had this, hadn’t fucked up nearly every relationship (and some friendships), hadn’t sat at my desk for most of my 20’s (and a lot of my 30’s) using work as an emotional crutch, had taken care of my appearance and my health, hadn’t been so reckless with money and just generally cared for and about myself. I’ve been so negligent of me (and therefore those close to me).

I truly feel sad about what has happened to Scott, he was playing in work the other day, I stopped to watch. I never knew then that he would inspire me to write this piece, to be honest about myself, to do the thing I don’t like to do, to talk about “it”. Although I understand full well what has happened to him, it has scared me. I’m content at the moment, I truly don’t want to die. Sometimes when someone does what he did, it can seem quite inspiring if you are in the wrong place. Robin Williams’ death was quite an accelerant for me, I don’t feel that now, I just feel so dreadfully sad for Scott and his family and friends, the fact that I’ve nearly done the same to mine on many occasions seems distant.

It’s a tough choice – the thought of living in this crazy, mad cruel world under these dark shadows for many years to come, never being normal, alone in a crowded room or divine peace, never to cry again but also never to achieve your potential, which may actually one day include some happiness, acceptance and joy. It’s a tough choice when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, when the world is too much, when you’ve given up on everything including your future. It’s a sad choice and I wish no-one ever had to make that decision between their own life and death in this way, it’s so unfair to have to battle your way through your time on this earth. For now I chose life, I hope I will remember that I’ve made that choice and it indeed continues to be true for many years to come, I really hope you all do too, try to remember the world’s a much better place with you all in it.


I’ve never done this myself but I’m going to leave this here as it seems like the responsible thing to do.

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.

My International Women’s Day Inspiration

My International Women’s Day Inspiration are the Dagenham Women. I was born in Dagenham and my Mum worked at the Ford Motor Plant before I was born. She was there around the time of the passing of the Equal Pay Act 1970 which came into force in 1975, which aimed to prohibit inequality of treatment between men and women in terms of pay and conditions of employment. My Mum and subsequent generations of women have benefited from the tireless campaigning of Rose Boland, Eileen Pullen, Vera Sime, Gwen Davis, and Sheila Douglass. I now find myself working in a very male dominated industry so I appreciate even more and personally benefit from what they fought for – A law makes it illegal to have separate pay scales for men and women based on their sex. I would not be where I am today without them paving the way for my generation of women to be able to go out and work under the same conditions as men.

Women sewing machinists at the Ford Motor Company plant in Dagenham took strike action on 7 June, 1968 in support of a claim for regrading, parity with their male colleagues in the C pay grade and recognition of their skills. After 3 weeks on strike they settled for 92% of the C grade rate. Although not an equal pay strike, the strike was given a high profile when the whole plant was closed and Barbara Castle, the Employment Minister, was brought in to help negotiate a settlement.The women left to right: Olive, Ann, Chris, Joyce, Vi, shop steward Rose Boland, Joan and MadgeJuly 1968

MCR Pathways journey begins

Last week I completed my training as a MCR pathways mentor and tomorrow I go to my school in Shettleston to meet my teenage mentee for the first time. We will be meeting for an hour every week, for at least the next 2 years. It’s my chance to give something back. I have spent most of my life sitting in a chair making shapes move and although I’m incredibly proud of my job and still feel so excited when I see something I’ve done or my name on television, at the end of the day it’s not going to change the world.

During the summer K and I helped Marnie with a wee stall at the 25th anniversary of her Afterschool Club where she sold badges she had designed to raise money for WWF. The pitch next to us was an MCR pathways information table. K and I got talking to the lovely lady and we both expressed interest. After the fete I just got back into the normal routine of the week, but with it always in the back of my mind that I really wanted to take part in the scheme. I asked my boss who was OK with me shifting my hours a little to accommodate the weekly visit to school, but with Etsy Made Local looming, I didn’t feel it was right to take anything else on.
Unfortunately EML this year left me with an empty feeling. We did a survey, some people still weren’t happy, it’s too cold, the venue isn’t big enough, they didn’t think we should have a stall despite the months of unpaid work it takes to put it on ( yes it’s time to start again next month “IF” we are doing it again this year, boo hoo! ). I was so tired, broken physically and disillusioned, there is no real feeling of pride, just relief it’s all over without much incidence for another year and I can sit and watch a telly programme without having to make endless lists or answer emails at the same time.
This lack of any feeling, apart from the fact that I had wasted a huge chunk of my year, prompted me to fast track my pathways training, get my PVG and do something that really helps me to focus on the positive things I achieve, not let myself be dragged down by the couple of negative comments and the best bit is that I get to help someone else along the way. Being oversensitive is truly one of my worst traits, I don’t take criticism well but hopefully being a mentor will let me see life from another perspective, help myself rise up from the fire, start getting on with things and stop moping about.

A wee bit about MCR pathways

In Glasgow, our most disadvantaged young people are five times more likely to leave school aged 16 or earlier and less than half progress to a job, college or university place. It is a shocking situation but one that we can and will change across the city and across the country. It is no surprise that while care experienced young people have great potential, they struggle to thrive due to instability in their personal lives. They often don’t have positive adult role models to build aspirations or access to social networks that can introduce them to the workplace.

At MCR, we know that there is amazing potential and talent in our young people. Varied, unique and inspiring in every single one. But for many, that potential has yet to be discovered. Life experience has knocked the confidence out of some, firmly locking away those seeds of flair and hope. It is our aim to uncover, nurture, develop and help to realise the skills and capabilities in looked after young people. We know that each person has a specific set of abilities and passions and we want to see them flourish. We support looked after young people practically. Guiding them on pathways to education, employment and fulfilling lives.

I’m so looking forward to starting tomorrow and to meet my child. I know it’s not going to be an easy journey, but it’s something I’m ready for and am excited to take part in. Hopefully it will help me put stuff into perspective and push me into getting on with the challenges of the year ahead.


To find out more about being a mentor yourself visit  MCR pathways website here>>  MCR mentors come from every walk of life, age group and type of organisation. Over 40% are male helping young people who lack a male role model. There are as many under 35 years of age as over 65, with the majority at the peak of their careers. Every profession and job is represented.

A post for my childhood friends

Yesterday my old school friend Karen died and we are all gutted. I hadn’t seen her in years but we all reconnected a few years back on Facebook and had a reunion over the holidays. Sadly she didn’t come to this one. She would always be the first to virtually congratulate, commiserate or send love to any of us if needed, she was a truly caring and lovely person. This is not going to be a sad post, although this post is obviously inspired by the saddest of events and I offer my deepest sorrow to her husband and three beloved children. This post is to celebrate childhood friendships and how lucky I was to recently catch up with my oldest ( in years known and not their actual age) buddy’s again.

Over Christmas we caught up over a drink at the local pub, for some of us it’s 30 years since we’ve seen each other. It’s weird how the friendship bond between us all is still there, never broken, just dormant for a few years. It was great to laugh together, complete stories and memories that have had missing pieces for years, make plans for the future and generally enjoy being adults together.

Most of the guys I’ve know since I was 5, some before. It’s amazing to meet up with people you haven’t seen in decades and realise we can still enjoy hanging out. We have all most definitely had a lot happened in our lives since our school days, there’s huge chunks of time to catch up on – which we did, but we also enjoyed the comfort of remembering being small together. There’s only a very select amount of people in this world you can share memories of fish paste sandwiches, Princess Diana’s wedding, a strange man in the woods, arguing over who will be George Michael’s wife, British bulldog injuries and the “Order of the Desk” whilst having a beer.

That’s what makes school friends special, you get to know them as children when life is so much simpler, when you think that you’re going to make a fortune with your rose petal perfume company and marry Phillip Schofield and live in the country. You try your best to beat them in races at sportsday, win first prize in the drawing competition, cheat at pass the parcel so you get the prize, ruthlessly push each other out the way vying for the attention of the school heart throb, but at the end of the day none of that matters, you’re never going to fall out over it. Instead of talking about what’s wrong with the world you talk about Star Wars, Aha, Strawberry Shortcake and Garfield, and your favourite restaurant is the Happy Eater.

Seeing my friends again has made me remember that having crazy hopes and dreams for this world is good for the soul and Karen’s death has reminded me that life is so short. At the beginning of the year Karen was taking part in a pass it forward scheme to bring even more kindness to the world than she already did. I hope my friends and I can take on that legacy and complete the challenge for her.

Despite our bad news  I look forward to our future now we are back in touch- Sara and I may not be developing that rose petal perfume company we started when we were little (but to be honest it was pretty hmmm) but my friend Sarah and I have vowed to open a pub at home together, we are determined. We’re still dreaming together but maybe this time we’ll make it come true, there’ll most definitely be space for everyone at the bar and Karen will always be remembered as the girl in the red shoes.

Our Tenement Flat

My boyfriend and I are very lucky live in a pretty huge old tenement flat, just off Byres Road in Dalcross Street (formally Buchanan Street. It’s in Glasgow’s West End if you’re an estate agent, or Partick if you’re not. At the end of our road is the pub Sparkle Horse which used to be the Dowanhill Bar (Billy Connolly’s favourite apparently and some of my more seasoned neighbours have told me you could sometimes you could see him collapsed in the close after a few too many juices).

Our flat is an ex housing association flat, in a half private, half Partick Housing Association block, which is the only way we could afford such a property, sadly all the original features have been ripped out years ago. The kitchen, carpets and fittings are the cheapest possible and it’s covered in wood chip (it’s everywhere, even on the ceilings). Everything needs addressing, there are no sockets in some rooms due to the weird way it has been made up from 2 flats, literally everything has to be rethought! Despite all this I love this place, it’s beautifully light, has huge cupboards and rooms and the location is amazing. It’s so exciting to think about restoring it to it’s former glory by putting the things back in that were probably ripped out in the 1960’s when it’s purpose was changed.

We’ve done some of the boring things like new fuse boxes, a new boiler and had some lovely new windows put in a few weeks ago that are sympathetic to the style and look like old sash windows. So we’re on our way but I thought I’d write a series of posts to share our journey as we slowly restore the “tenementness” back to our flat. You could say this is the before post – one of many, because to be honest, due to time and finances it’s going to be quite a lengthy project.

The first thing to do is very simple, it’s a new front door. Our door as it stands is a council fire door, painted bright blue, as is the close, (I’m guessing a job lot was acquired by the housing association), and it’s not very attractive. After a crappy and scary interaction with our eternally drunk neighbour last week (most of our neighbours are amazing, a real mixture of people from all backgrounds, this man however, although thankfully hardly there, is an absolute liability!), we decided a new solid door would be a good start to the restoration. We went to Glasgow Salvage Yard and picked out a new (but old) wooden door. The Glasgow Salvage Yard is stacked full of old fixtures and fittings and also some very weird stuff. It’s amazing and they will definitely have what you’re looking for hiding away somewhere.

Anyway back to the door, it’s just an old door, nothing fancy about it but I like it, with some new fittings it’s going to be perfect. Our flat wouldn’t have been grand back in the day, just a normal workers house, Partick was boomtown for mills, shipyards and engineering works, so there is no need for some of the grand fittings you would maybe see in some tenements further west. We’re thinking of maybe some stained glass at some point for the window above the door, but that is years down the list in priority. For now it’s going to feel like a major milestone to have this new door and start making this sad, unloved old flat our happy home.



Many of you will know me through Glasgow Etsy or you may be a studio buddy from The Hidden Lane, but yesterday during a conversation on Twitter with another Etsian, I realised that not many people in that part of my life know much about the other big part of my life. It’s why I always look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards with big bags under my eyes, am ALWAYS late for everything and am just generally quite aaargh A LOT of the time.

I thought I’d write a blog post to try and explain my job, I work full time as a broadcast designer for the BBC. I have worked here for 17 years and it is truly the best job ever, and although it is very stressful, unpredictable and seemingly never-ending, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had such an amazing career, and also blessed to have worked on so many brilliant things, in a department of the best people ( and friends) in the world.

I’m a trained broadcast graphic designer and animator and I work on title sequences, trails, sometimes make props and also now we also do a lot of coding of graphics, as well as print work in large and small format. I mostly work on a computer these days using Adobe After Effects and Maxon Cinema 4d for 3D animation, but occasionally will go back to stop frame, hand drawn or cell animation. Unfortunately budget cuts and time constraints in the industry rarely allow for that approach to television graphics these days.

 I have mostly worked on arts programmes for my time at the BBC including the Culture Show, The Review Show, What Do Artists Do All Day and Artsnight, but also work on network daytime shows like the One Show, CountrySide 999 and Take Me Out, and (just to mix it up) Panorama.

I also worked on Cbeebies show Nina and the Neurons. The dark pink neuron Ollie is based on me (when I was younger and bothered to wear make up) which I did used to as you can see from the picture of us and the Bafta we won for the series.

I have been lucky enough in my career to make some records for Mark Ronson, an animation for Radiohead ( which was pretty tricky to get signed off by the record company) and a poster for Russell Brand’s bedroom (which must have seen some siights!) I have also worked on a Jamie Hewlett drama Phoo Action where I worked under Jamie to make the graphics for the programme, and keyed and tracked them into the live footage, this is also a very important part of my job.

We do a lot of special effects and fixes on programmes like River City, Still Game and Waterloo Road, things you would never know were ever or never there until we had spent hours painstakingly painting out frame by frame or tracking things into the footage like explosions, locusts or a giant shark.

I also do a lot of print work and large format graphics from Subway posters and moving info screens, to brochures and billboard posters. Here is a 20 meter sticker that I photoshopped for the side of the BBC building for the Commonwealth Games, it was was probably one of the most nerve wracking things ever, your photoshopping has to be pretty spot on if it’s going to be that big. I was pretty much wetting myself as they painstakingly put it up sheet by sheet and I stood looking up checking my work for some airbrushing abnormality, luckily there were none!!

BBC Scotland
Branding at the BBC during the Commonwealth Games 2014
photographed by Alan Peebles

And finally I’m going to finish with my favourite piece of work, a hand drawn title sequence that I have scanned in and animated back using Photoshop and After Effects. The yellow paper is from Peter Capaldi’s sketchbook which he very kindly lent me (and more importantly trusted me with). It has such a special place in my heart because It was my last title sequence before I went on maternity leave. On my first night sitting up with my new baby, settling into my new full time role, as I was attempting to feed her, there it was on BBC Four at 3am. I’ve never felt prouder (and more emotional) in my life to see a piece of my work on television.


I’ve started to put some of my work on VIMEO and will be adding to it, you can find me on LinkedIn here .This post has served to remind me of how proud I am to work for the BBC and although I have sacrificed a lot of things in my life like partys and dates, brushing my hair and lived on a diet of mostly Real McCoys for much of my 20’s  (and quite a bit in my 30’s). I have truly enjoyed (mostly) every minute and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come!