Coming down from the Oa peninsula, it’s The Big Strand beach on Islay. I love that the island is pounded by giant oceanic waves from the Atlantic, then gently washed by the Gulf Stream. I used to have the plowter of all plowters when the kids were young on that beach. We’d pick up South American seed pods, gingerly negotiate giant, crenellated jellyfish, see the sands shimmer for miles. The ocean’s roar, and the ozone it raised, was like the ultimate legal high.


I am very much a devotee of the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, though mostly for nostalgic reasons now (it looks as much a temple of knowledge as ever). As a student in the early 80s, it was like the internet before the internet – journals from every discipline (and globally sourced) in the big reading room, all of literature and history available in the upper floors, and the most exquisite topmost room, just for philosophy and theology. They still have the cheapest carrells for music singing practice – I used it the other day before a gig. It’s my sanctuary.

The Herald:


Great Western Road, in Glasgow. A mighty avenue with mountains at one end of it (the Campsies), and art schools/hipster joints/musical downtown at the other. I have had so much romance and boho adventure on the GWR – it is the title of a great Glasgow novel, as yet unwritten. I was there the other month of a Saturday evening, and the streets were pulsing with fun, lust and possibility.


That’s easy. Entering Girvan’s 5th Dimension psychedelic structure on the sea front, as an eight-year-old boy, in the early 70s. It was made of multicoloured modules on the outside. On the inside, it was all treacherous floors, lava lamp lighting, perspex strips … I thought that the future was going to be like this (yes, I’ve been disappointed). I’ve since discovered that its architect was Keith Albarn, Damon’s dad, who was a groovy cybernetic artist in London at the time. How he got to Girvan is a very tangled tale, which someone should properly tell. But in any case, the 5th Dimension blew my tiny schoolkid mind, forever.


It didn’t feel like the best of anything at the end of it, but my bro’ and I did the West Highland Way for charity in 2012, with comedian Fred MacAulay. A 20-odd mile walk, ending at Kinlochleven. Greg and I were stumbling around behind an 80-year-old guide (who was as spry as a gazelle). It was some of the most beautiful Scottish nature I’ve ever been in. However, I was a broken man at the end. Never has a whisky tasted finer.


I once hustled my poor eldest daughter into a boat for Fingal’s Cave, on a blustery Hebridean day. Every hexagonal rock was slippy as hell, and I eternally curse myself for encouraging her to inch along the side of the island, both of us hanging onto a greasy rope. But when we got to the edge of the cave itself, the sight and the sound were cosmic, elemental. It was natural magic.

The Herald:


That would have to be a book shop – and the one I reliably come to, expecting the most interesting selection and getting it, is Blackwell’s in Edinburgh. A great academic and intellectual city should always have one bookshop that reliably serves its needs and reflects its curiosities. I can be lost for hours in there. (Honourable mentions to Aye-Aye Books in the Glasgow’s CCA, the bookstalls in Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery, and Waterstone’s in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.)


I should say that it was my first Cullen Skink from the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow. The idea of a creamy, tangy fish soup still feels counterintuitive, but it remains one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. I should also say that it was having “angels on horseback” (oysters wrapped with bacon and cheese) from the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. But I must say my favourite Scottish delicacy are those “butteries” you find in Aberdeen – sitting in random trays next to the till of any wee newsagent in Furry Boots City. Flaky, fatty pastry I die for anyway. But the salty kick in butteries (or rowies) is genius. Who actually makes them?


When my mum was still around, and I was staying with her in Coatbridge, I would occasionally take the train from Blairhill straight to Helensburgh, on a working weekday – if I had a mind to contemplate the universe and my place within it. Stroll far enough along the town’s promenade, and the mountains loom, the waters roil, and your puny significance is duly rated. And once I’m out of that existential fugue, a restorative 99 Flake cone is barely minutes away. Perfect therapy.

Hue and Cry are on tour. Some dates are sold out but check for returns. November 3 Ayr Venue 38, 4 Village Hall, Tarbert, 16 Gardyne Theatre, Dundee  18 and 19 Lemon Tree Aberdeen, 25 and 26 Falkirk Behind The Wheel, Dec 1 and 2 Strathearn Arts, Crieff.