Friday 2 December 2011

Psychotic Reaction

Your Cramps goodness for today.

This week, I have been busy at Uni doing an interesting task: a dérive otherwise known as a psychogeographic stroll. I would describe myself as a flâneuse. However, while the masculine version - flâneur - means one who loafs and strolls, the feminine version means a prostitute, so maybe I'd better not. Our brief was to visit an area of Glasgow, or a specific location (shopping centre, train station etc) and just wander for a couple of hours taking notice of who uses the space (and, more importantly, who doesn't), what it says (or doesn't) about identity, hegemony, post-modernism, transgression, ideologies,signs and semiology. I decided to do mine all along the number 40 bus route in Glasgow. Not only did this mean that I could sit down the whole way, but it also meant that I was travelling from West to East across Glasgow taking in loads of different areas. The comedian Kevin Bridges has things to say about this bus route.

It was a fascinating experiment. Funniest moment was when I got off the bus at the terminus in Easterhouse (I use the term 'terminus' very loosely - it's a patch of waste ground). I tried to upload a wee video but my technical skills failed me, so here are a couple of photos instead. I had been the last person on the bus for quite a few stops and, when I came down the stairs the driver looked really shocked.

"When do you go back?" I said.

He looked puzzled. "Where do you want to go, hen?"

"Back the same way I came."

"But where are you going?"

"Back to where I started."

"Are you wanting to go into town?"


He looked relieved. At last, something he could work with. "There's a number 41 leaving in a couple of minutes."

"Nope, it has to be a 40."

Silence for a moment. Then the cautious question: "What are you doing, hen?"

I thought about this.I didn't want to sound all intellectual and shit (sorry, Dad) so I decided not to go for the French. "It's for my university course. We have to do some psychogeography."

His face cleared. "Ah, well, there's plenty of psychos out this way, hen." I do believe he considered me to be one of them.

Anyway, on to Scottish crime fiction.

Two new books out from the wonderful Blasted Heath this week. Both of them I've read, both are wonderful. First of all, Douglas Lindsay's THE BARBER SURGEON'S HAIRSHIRT is a piece of genius madness. Here's my review of it. Next is Damien Seaman's THE KILLING OF EMMA GROSS. It's a dark and dirty police procedural set in Dusseldorf (sorry, can't find an umlaut) during 1929. The book takes as its background the crimes of notorious serial killer Peter Kurten (sorry, still can't find an umlaut) and the unsolved murder of a prostitute, and then spins out from there. It's full of heart and soul and a deep underlying sadness. Detective Thomas Klein is an excellent protagonist and Damien makes you really care about all the characters.

Talking of Douglas Lindsay, conniephoebe reviews THE END OF DAYS, Eurocrime reviews Karen Campbell's SHADOWPLAY, and a review of Philip Kerr's PRAGUE FATALE in The Independent.

The Star Telegram reviews Ian Rankin's THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD, and NPR reviews THE COMPLAINTS. You can hear Ian talking about THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD on Australia's ABC radio's Book Show. And he answers questions posed by The Open University.

More on Alexander McCall Smith and broken society.

Have a lovely weekend, Dear Reader.


  1. Brilliant Donna. Your cameos of Glasgow life do a wonderful job for tourism in Devon and Cornwell.

  2. LOL, Norm. I would like to point out that the rest of Easterhouse is far, far nicer than reports make out (it does, however, have its problems - mostly, as far as I can see, to do with the fact that the planners built housing estates which were just houses (originally high rise blocks) - no shops, nothing that makes a community a community. Things are better than they used to be and there are some brilliant community projects there. They've pulled all the high rises down and most of the houses are new and really lovely. It's nothing like what it used to be and I think its reputation is a tad undeserved. That patch of wasteground is a little bleak, though :o)

  3. Donna - This is fantastic! Absolutely brilliant.

  4. Oops sorry, Cornwell should be Cornwall. A Freudian slip after reading about those who had abandoned reading her books.

    Planners should be made to live on some of these estates. I watched one of chef Rick Stein's TV programs yesterday when he visited the Hartcliffe Estate in Bristol. There are places like this all over Britain. Rick's face when he was told that the woman had £30-£40 to spend on food for four people for a week was something to behold.

  5. So Donna, did you get a #40 bus to take you back? Or did you have to change numbers? And those photos do tell a story, don't they! What a psychogeographic stroll! And how the bus driver heard the word psycho, and said there were some there, interesting story. You have true grit, girl, able to go places and see things and even find good things to say about it. And yes, the planners certainly should have to live in these estates, good point, poster! Thanks for the Ian Rankin links, and also the previous blog showing his book sculpture piece and all the other book sculptures, what art that is, loved it!

  6. Margot - thank you!

    Norman - LOL at the Rick Stein thing :o)

    Bobbie - it was brilliant! I really enjoyed it - opened my eyes up to a few things that you just take for granted (for example, almost every pub I passed had a bookies right next door (or one door away). And yes, I waited for a #40 and got that back :o)