The Arcades Project...

In 2018, over the course of a year I made several trips to a derelict shopping precinct in Shawlands, Glasgow; the Shawbridge Arcade. Among the last units operating when I arrived were the city council’s housing offices, a branch of William Hill Bookmakers and a motorcycle workshop. Here were signs of previous shops and businesses: Character’s Lounge Bar, a kebab shop and the New Wine church, long since shuttered and abandoned. The Arcade, late-Brutalist in design, featured a car park on its upper level that overlooked an open courtyard from where a concrete staircase led to ground level with seating areas and planters. On the main façade was a sign, Shopping Precinct. Or rather, S opping  recin t.  

While shooting Tilo in Real Life, virtually every location I’ve used has since been demolished. Some have even re-built on to become new places. The disappearance, not only of buildings, but entire streets and areas of my native city, caused a deep-rooted anxiety I’ve carried my whole life. The loss of physical surroundings and what it meant was unexplained to me as a child and, as if living through war, the destruction of my home, street and district was an ever-imminent threat.

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Pandora’s Box...

I’m writing this blog post in lieu of therapy because something has troubled me over the last year or so and I want to know why. It could be the aftermath of Covid-19, the current cost of living crisis or the desire to stay indoors but lately I haven’t felt drawn to the cinema. The convenience of streaming is part of it, the poor effort-versus-experience ratio is another. So when my husband suggested a matinee performance of a 4K restoration of Casablanca (1941, dir. Michael Curtiz) at the Odeon Luxe, Springfield Quay, it felt like an expedition to terroir inconnu.

Going to the pictures in the afternoon always feels illicit even when billed as a ‘silver screening’, i.e. for pensioners – (fyi – we’re not). It was cheap (£4 plus free tea/coffee and biscuits) and the reclining chairs were a plus. The other plus was that the theatre was blissfully empty and the film itself, which I’ve only ever watched on TV, was thrilling to see on the big screen.

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Fade In...

It’s mid-March and I’m in a cold shed, (re)writing the screenplay for Tilo in Real Life, a story I’ve carried in my head for seven years or so. I’m reflecting too on why I write the kind of stories I write. I can’t say whether I had a uniquely cruel or deprived upbringing, but I do admit a tendency towards the dark side, thanks to my late mother, whose death twenty years ago resonated with me as Mother’s Day came and left, uncelebrated.

Perhaps in another life I was a Victorian author of horror tales, given my talent for creating films with strange, disquieting auras, judging by the effect they have on others. When a plasterer came to do some work in the house recently, on seeing the posters for my films hanging in the hall he remarked on how they looked ‘ominous’; he’s not the first.

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The Alpha Zone...

My husband caught me tapping on my laptop the other night. He asked what I was writing. “A blog post,” I replied, so he said, “Then write something self-affirming, something uplifting.” It doesn’t come easily. It’s over a year since I last posted on this site but on each attempt the words refused to be positive, so I lost heart and pressed delete instead.

On an overcast Friday in early February I’m writing this in my shed. Only I’m not. I’m staring at a set of colour-coded index cards on the wall, each card representing a scene for my ongoing project, Tilo in Real Life. On a shelf, alongside other props, sit three small electrical appliances purchased from eBay who appear as characters in the film, but right now they act as my conscience, taunting me to get back to work. This year, I tell them, this year.

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