HOME was a council house on McGregor Road. My little sister and I shared a double bed. At night, we whispered stories to each other in the dark and pretended to be dead. When we got single beds, we rubbed our feet up and down beneath the duvets to make the nylon covers spark. There was a story that the bin men threw stray children into the back of their truck. I didn’t believe it, but I made sure I was inside whenever the bin lorry came.
THE first adult book I read was Jaws by Peter Benchley. From that moment The Famous Five were binned. Jaws wasn't the best book ever written, but at ten years old it gave me the word vagina - pronounced in my head, as va-jee-na. Many more words relating to interesting body parts were discovered on reading works by Stephen King and James Herbert. I read anything I could get my hands on, from pulp fiction to classics, but I always enjoyed a good scare.
BUILT in the bowels of the Carbuncle-winning Town Centre, The County Cinema was a regular haunt. It was basically a bit of sectioned-off car park. I went there almost every week, regardless of what was showing. By the time I was fifteen, the application of green eye shadow was usually enough to gain access to X-certs. It was in The County that I saw classics such as The Incredible Melting Man and one of my favourite films of all time, George Romero's Dawn of the Dead.
I'm a film fan, and as the the stand-in usher for Scotland's Mobile Cinema, the Screen Machine, I reckon I've got one of the coolest jobs in the Highlands, even if it is occasional and very part-time, but lately I'm all about the small screen. The likes of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and House of Cards, have signalled the dawning of a new era in television. Incidentally, I once met Michael Dobbs, author of the original House of Cards, and have a signed copy of the book.
At school, a boy accused me of liking all sorts of music, and it really was an accusation. Music has always been tribal, but in the late 70s, it was profoundly so. Queuing to see Bill Haley and the Comets at the Glasgow Apollo, I was jeered by punks. A few months later, I dyed my eyeballs red for a Stranglers gig. The red dye was an accident, but I still like all kinds of music. The Twenty One Pilots gig in London was an incredible experience. Photo of Josh Dun by MK Thomson.
Lately, I've been reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of research and personal interest. Long-time fiction favourites include Patricia Highsmith, Jim Thompson and, more recently, Jo Nesbo. As with music, I like all kinds of books. A bit of Bukowski goes down well, and Ishiguro's incredibly tense, The Remains of the Day, is another favourite. I draw the line at Chick Lit. Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian and The Walking Dead graphic novels are on top of my to-read pile.
Coastal rowing is one of Scotland's fastest-growing sports and has been described as the adventure side of rowing. With the wild weather we often experience on the north-west coast of Scotland, even a straight-forward training session can be an exhilarating experience. In 2016 I was a finalist in two categories of the Skiffing World Championships, finishing in the top ten in both teams. The photograph depicts one of the calmer days in sea loch, Loch Broom.