Category: Culture/Arts in General

100-mile single-speed bike ride to raise £££ for Guide Dogs

A happy wee fellow who will one day add to a visually impaired person's quality of life
A happy wee fellow who will one day add to a visually impaired person’s quality of lifeI’m doing a 100-mile cycle (all in one go) on a single-speed bike (a bike with only one gear) – but I’m doing it for charity, not because I like pain!

I’m doing a 100-mile cycle (all in one go) on a single-speed bike (a bike with only one gear) – but I’m doing it for charity, not because I like pain!

That charity is Guide Dogs, a very worthy cause indeed. (Some of you will know I’ve had my own eye problems). Any donations, no matter how big or small, will be most gratefully received.

The 100-mile route starts in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London, where I will follow a modified version of the road race rouvivapicte used in the 2012 Olympic Games. Rather worryingly, Leith Hill and Box Hill feature, both of them leg- and lungbusters, especially on a single-speed bike!

We will ride along closed roads through the capital, and then continue on to the country roads of the Surrey Hills before heading back into central London to cross the finish line in the Mall. I’ll probably collapse a few centimetres after the finish line, but that’s okay!
I’ve been training really hard for this but there’s no doubt it’s going to be one of the toughest days in the saddle I’ve ever had, maybe THE toughest. Here’s the Route Map And Profile.

Profile looks a bit daunting
Profile looks a bit daunting



Please consider sponsoring me for this vital cause:


Corneal Graft

Following a recent interview I did for Optometry Today about my eye disease, keratoconus, I thought it would be appropriate to post this poem. The song version is available on the album I made with Willie Campbell (Kevin MacNeil & Willie Campbell are Visible from Space). The poem was first published in a book celebrating the quincentenary of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh.

Corneal Graft
For all the eye specialists I’ve seen – in varying degrees of haziness – over the years, 
and for the anonymous donor who gifted me his/her vision, in something like the way 
succeeding generations of writers do

My vision’s been where I haven’t. I’m but a go-between.
When my cornea frosted over, I saw an optician (blurred).
A part of me has seen things I have never seen.

My eye lost its glistering green, took on a foggy sheen
Like that of a dreamish moonbeam, oceanly stirred.
My vision’s been where I haven’t. I’m but a go-between.

That whiteness eclipsed my eye when I was thirteen.
Words on pages slurred; even girls turned smudgy, wayward.
A part of me has seen things I have never seen.

Keratoconus, intoned the specialists. The word seemed
Vague as the world around me. Faces looked the same. Absurd.
My vision’s been where I haven’t. I’m but a go-between.

If the cornea’s a tiny jellyfish in the gene
Pool blind fate stirs, then blind luck also occurs.
A part of me has seen things I have never seen.

The doctors grafted while I was drugged and dreamed
- I still do - of the life-before-me my cornea’s conferred.
My eye is like a mind’s eye. I’m but a go-between.
A part of me has seen things I have never seen.
(c) Kevin MacNeil

Kevin MacNeil and Willie Campbell Are Visible From Space


I’ve spent a good deal of time listening to your voice on ‘Colombian Fireworks’. I think I replayed that opening track such a disproportionate amount of time that it seriously delayed my appreciation of the rest of the record. How did that come about and how did you convince them to make it the lead track?

“I really like what There Will Be Fireworks did with ‘Colombian Fireworks’. It came about because we happened to meet at a gig and they subsequently emailed and asked if I would write something for them. They’re great musicians and I was happy to create a new piece of work for them. I was living in Shetland at the time and my brother came to visit and recorded my voice. I deliberately wrote about fireworks to chime with the band name. I visited Colombia a few years ago and mentally absorbed something of the…

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A photo blog

I went home to the Outer Hebrides and took some photos along the way. I did a 100km single-speed bike-ride to maintain my training schedule. I confess I am insane for doing my charity cycle against the prevailing Hebridean winds! Anyway, here are my photos. Enjoy! 🙂 x










Patterns: great drama


Since childhood I’ve had a fondness for the work of Rod Serling. I loved staying up late at night to watch The Twilight Zone, loved being transported to that eternal black and white realm of anticipated resonance and crafted imagination. Remember this?

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

Serling himself is an intriguing character. I’ve wanted for many years to read or see his acclaimed drama, Patterns. Why? Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Patterns was the first major breakthrough of Rod Serling when the live television drama received critical acclaim as the January 12, 1955 installment of the anthology series Kraft Television Theatre.
Directed by Fielder Cook, the intense big-business drama starred Richard Kiley as up-and-coming vice-president Fred Staples. Ruthless corporate boss Walter Ramsey (Everett Sloane) attempts to edge out aging employee Andy Sloane (Ed Begley) to make room for newcomer Staples. Ramsey uses every opportunity to humiliate the fragile Sloane, while Staples sees Sloane as a professional who makes valuable contributions to the firm.
Serling’s celebrated script tore apart the dynamics of the business world and earned Serling his first of his six Emmys for dramatic writing. There was a rave review from Jack Gould of The New York Times who suggested it be repeated:
Nothing in months has excited the television industry as much as the Kraft Television Theatre’s production of Patterns, an original play by Rod Serling. The enthusiasm is justified. In writing, acting and direction, Patterns will stand as one of the high points in the TV medium’s evolution. Patterns is a play with one point of view toward the fiercely competitive world of big business and is bound to be compared with the current motion picture Executive Suite. By comparison, Executive Suite might be Babes in Toyland without a score. For sheer power of narrative, forcefulness of characterization and brilliant climax, Mr. Serling’s work is a creative triumph that can stand on its own. In one of those inspired moments that make the theater the wonder that it is, Patterns was an evening that belonged to the many, not only to Mr. Serling. The performances of Everett Sloane, Ed Begley and Richard Kiley were truly superb. The production and direction of Fielder Cook constituted a fluid use of video’s artistic tools that underscore how little the TV artistic horizons really have been explored. Patterns was seen from 9 to 10pm Wednesday over the National Broadcasting Company’s network; a repeat performance at an early date should be mandatory.
Gould’s request for a repeat was an unusual suggestion, since in that pre-videotape era, live shows were not repeated. Surprisingly, NBC took Gould’s suggestion seriously and made plans for another production.

Thanks to youtube, I finally got to see what the fuss is about. You can view the drama here, all 58 or so minutes. The video and sound quality are a bit creaky, which is either frustrating or charming according to your tastes. The acting – remember it was broadcast live – is superb. Patterns is as good as I had hoped. I won’t say anything about the adverts/recipes for such delights as a meal made by melting processed cheese into some indiscriminate tinned tomato soup. That’s one meal I will leave solely in the realms of imagination.

Rod Serling

What is it?

It has been in existence since the beginningless past; it knows neither birth nor death; it is neither blue nor yellow; it has neither shape nor form; it is beyond the category of being and non-being; it is not to be measured by age, old or new; it is neither long nor short; it is neither large nor small; for it transcends all limits, words, traces and opposites. It must be taken just as it is in itself; when an attempt is made on our part to grasp it in our thoughts, it eludes. It is like space whose boundaries are altogether beyond measurement; no concepts are applicable here. – Huang-Po