Mavis's Shoe

Author of two novels and a creative memoir.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Govanhill Gazette

In case you thought all I've done this year is muck around in a campervan in the north of Scotland, I have to tell you about the Govanhill Gazette. In January this year I was asked by wonderful South Seeds, a community environmental organisation in the South Side of Glasgow, to research flytipping in a particular back lane in Govanhill. A mucky job if ever there was one.

Wearing walking boots and clothes designed to fend off any bugs that might want to hitch a ride with me, I toured the lane and documented all that went on there rubbish-wise for a month. I also interviewed over sixty people and spoke to all the organisations and powers-that-be in the area who might have an interest or bring some light to bear. These included the cleansing management and the bin-men themselves, various support organisations and agencies, and as many residents as I could find. The above publication is the result, almost all of which was written by myself, not including the headings. My accomplices in the final production were Lucy Gillie, project manage of South Seeds, and Sam Bartlett, a journalist and South Seeds volunteer who used to work for the Herald newspaper.

Our aim was to simply state what people were saying without casting judgement or offering solutions. By literally just sharing everyone's views we hope to facilitate some communication and understanding, and perhaps thereby give people the opportunity to make real change. What I found was not what you'd expect. There were no obvious demons and no obvious angels either. Much of the problem stemmed from misunderstandings, misinterpretations, faulty or no information and obvious human problems. It's an eight page easy read and so far has been very well received.

If you'd like a copy, get in touch with South Seeds at or visit them at their office in Butterbiggins Road. They also run lots of other community environmental projects including offering free energy audits for your house to help reduce bills and community gardens in various locations offering opportunities to get your hands dirty in a cleaner way than I had down the lane.

But it's not all bad. Here are Louis, Ruskin, Casey and Sam, (from L to R) four of the South Seeds team at the Glasgow Awards Ceremony this month where South Seeds picked up the award for best community initiative. I think a prize was also due to everyone for more or less managing the 'black tie' attire directive stipulated on the invite. Those who should be specially named in this respect are Robin and Uillie, with Maureen, Lisa and Lucy all as effortlessly gorgeous as ever.

PS Here's a link to an online version of The Govanhill Gazette

New Northern Frontiers

Apparently I'm to be allowed to keep this lovely thing, a giant photograph of my beloved camper in its Possible Scotland regalia. The photo of me and it was taken at the New Northern Frontiers event on Friday 17th May at the Lighthouse Glasgow, organised by Lateral North. There's a link to the livestream of the evening here. In part 1 there's a fabulous presentation by Andy Wightman, author of The Poor Had No Lawyers, and in part 2 near the end I do a swift run through the Possible Scotland trip I did with Graham Hogg of Lateral North in March, much of which I've covered elsewhere on this blog. There were also other great speakers including the Scottish Rural Parliament, Dualchas Architect (Dualchas translates from the Gaelic, roughly, as cultural heritage), Timespan, Arctic Alba and Highlights Arts. Unfortunately we ran out of time so Graham had only one minute to tell all about our great plans for the future. Instead you can read about it here.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

One more thing about Possible Scotland

If you take your car on the ferry to Shapinsay, you will have to reverse down the slipway and up the ramp to board. This was no easy task on my recent trip there with Lateral North, especially as the view through the back of the van was blocked by a map of northern Europe. Other trickiness included the ferry not being directly head-on to the slipway and the tide being low, which meant the ramp was steep and I had to go at it with speed.

However, I was not detered. Tomorrow night at the Lighthouse Museum in Glasgow there is an event called New Northern Frontiers. Lateral North and myself will be talking briefly about how our trip went and inviting ideas for a future extended excursion with workshops galore. Andy Wightman, who wrote the wonderful The Poor Had No Lawyers, will also be there. So will Gemma Lord, a northern frontierswoman. Please join us.