If you’ve been reading my blog and am wondering who the heck I am, then I suppose I’d better shed a light on some things.
Just in case there’s any doubt, I should make it clear right from the get-go that I’m not a mythological über-demon that’s powered by a ticking, spinning array of cogs, dials and springs. Rather disappointingly, I’m just a mere human.
I came up with the the name/handle ‘ClockworkSatan’ a few years ago while i was an avid gamer and it’s stuck to me ever since then like a particularly potent pong. It grew and evolved and since you’ll now have noticed it emblazoned at the top of this page in a frightfully funky logo, I guess you could say that I’m trying to make it into an actual thing. I have of course had thoughts and worries about people finding the ‘Satan’ part of it offensive and have toyed with the idea of coming up with a ‘fluffier’ name, but y’know what – why the heck should I? If an individual is daft enough to think that the name implies that I’m a devil-worshipping, child-eating member of the church of Satan, that’s their problem and not mine – life’s too short for me to let mine be constrained and subdued by people who are judgemental, superstitious and narrow-minded.
A little bit of history
In terms of who I am, I suppose I could start at the beginning.
At some point in the latter half of the 1970’s, I was born in Simpson’s Memorial Hospital and grew up in a council estate on the west side of Edinburgh. When my hands grew dexterous enough to hold a crayon or a pencil, I became fascinated with the simple joy of applying wax/ink/graphite to paper and the creativity it lent me made my neurons pop and fizz more than anything else.
In my early years of education, I was painfully shy and found a good deal of solace in scribbling and doodling – and more often than not I found preference in retreating into the worlds of spaceships, dragons and my doodles over socialising with other kids my age. I have no doubt whatsoever that had I been born post-2000, my parents would have been told that I was ‘on the spectrum’ to a degree and that I would have possibly been made to go to ‘special’ classes or something. Rather thankfully however, the 70’s and 80’s were kinder to weird kids unless they were well into the ‘batshit’ end of the spectrum, so I was left to grow into my oddness.
I didn’t remain painfully shy forever, though. By the time I was in secondary school I had started to come out of my shell and began to show some sociable traits, making a few friends and trying to figure out which path in life I was going to meander down. I initially did that whole ‘I-must-own-a-pair-of-those-cool-trainers-and-jeans-that-the-cool-kids-are-wearing’ thing for a while as I attempted to appear ‘cooler’ than I actually was, but I suppose I knew deep down that it was nothing more that forced peer-pressure. Once I’d given up on that pursuit, I quickly realised which side of the slice my bread was buttered and hung outside the art and music rooms with my small group of friends, nerds and social rejects, where we messed about, swapped video games and talked about music, movies and nonsense. Those were happy times.
Back to the pertinent subject of art, it’s with an ironic twist that I deliver the fact that I spectacularly failed my higher art examination. I suspect that my head was in the clouds while the rules for the exam were given to the class and instead of doing the thing that I was meant to do for the exam – which was, if I recall, a still life painting – I did something completely different which didn’t even involve paint. I could say that I wish I’d done the right thing and passed the exam for doing something utterly boring such as a painting of some flowers in a vase, but a part of me is pleased that I rebelled and failed because of it. That’s a character building moment right there.
On the flip side of what I just said though, had I actually paid attention and followed the instructions and passed my higher art, it might have opened doors for me had I wanted to pursue a career in which I could have used my creativity to make a living, but no – I bombed out of high school with decent results in the other creative subjects (music and English) and not much else, and headed out into the terrifying world (at the time) of paid employment.
Being a young, unskilled upstart meant that employers weren’t exactly queuing up to offer me a job, but I eventually got a sales job in a now-defunct electrical retailer. Art was still my first love, and in quiet times in the job I could usually be found scribbling doodles on scraps of paper with a biro, usually illiciting comments from my colleagues that I was in the wrong line of work.
Skipping forward a few years (and thereby skipping what I now consider the ‘dark ages’ of my life), I am so very lucky to say that I eventually landed on my feet when I got a proper IT job within a college in Edinburgh which I stuck in at and was able to move to another IT job in the University of Edinburgh, where I work now. Not too shabby for a kid who left school with practically nothing under his belt, eh?
Home on the ranch
Almost exactly seven years ago, I met my wife-to-be Jo and was plunged into the weird and wonderful life of horses, veganism and awesomeness. I now own half of a horse, am getting riding lessons and live outside of Edinburgh on the edge of the countryside. Jo means the world to me and is the first person in my life who has been actively encouraging me to do something with my artistic ambitions – so an awful lot of what I’m doing right now is entirely down to her.
Another big inspiration is my big boy Einar, a beautiful Highland Pony who is without doubt the centre of our universe. He’s the most gentle, friendly creature you’re ever likely to meet, and has become the subject of a few of my scribblings. The big lad has also unfortunately been blighted with various health problems and in three weeks is about to go into Edinburgh’s Dick Vet equine hospital for potential surgery on his back legs, so we’re obviously rather worried at this point in time. I’m sure I’ll be blogging about that in due course!
Paint the world green
Another thing I can credit to meeting my lovely Jo is my turn towards veganism. It pains me to say that for the first 35 years of my life I ate meat. In fact, I ate a lot of meat – more than I can even bear to think about. I rarely, if ever, questioned the origin of the food that was on my plate and meat was just one of those things that was tasty and convenient and could be bought in supermarkets, nicely sanitised and freshly wrapped in plastic with no hint of the dark and bloody nature of its origin.
Meeting Jo changed all of that as she had been a fully-fledged vegan for most of her life at the time that we met. Although she never forced veganism upon me at any point or preached her views to me (well, not to a in-my-face degree), there’s no way that my conscience would have sat comfortably with me tucking into meaty things at dinnertime next to her after I moved in to live with her, so I quickly turned vegetarian for a short while before deciding to take the big jump into full-on veganism. I was in completely uncharted territory at that point and had a few worries that it was something that I was going to really struggle with, but I shouldn’t have worried at all. I found the switch to veganism remarkably simple and found the challenge rather interesting and exciting. I did have a couple of instances of falling off the wagon to begin with (fish & chips was my last hurdle) but once I got the hang of it, I began to really thrive in it.
There were only a few things that I could say that I truly missed; eggs probably the most followed by fish, but after reading countless articles on the myriad benefits of veganism not only from a health perspective, but also in terms of the horrific animal cruelty and the damage the meat and fishing industries are doing to the environment, it didn’t take me long to commit to it 100%. The most difficult part of it was initially dealing with the comments and machismo bullshit my male colleagues in work attempted to taunt me with, thinking that eating a bacon sandwich noisily in front of me was going to upset me. It didn’t. It just made me believe that I was making the correct decision.
If you’ve got to this point and are worrying that I’m going to constantly harp on about veganism, I should making it clear at this point that I don’t intend on turning this into a ‘vegan blog’. I’m sure there are plenty of those already and it’s a subject that some people still have trouble with dealing with, but there may be points where I mention it or post pictures of vegan dishes that I’ve made. I’ve been fully vegan for five years and it’s an integral part of my life now, so it’s only fair that I get to talk about it while I’m not rambling about my art and nerdy things, yes?
Anyway, that’s probably enough about the history of moi for now. There’s a blank sheet of paper that’s ready for me to scribble on, so I’d better get on with things!