I met Jim in 2001 on my first day in France. He was the uncle of a friend of my mum, and they had suggested that he could put me up for the first night, just so I could find my feet at the beginning of a three-month trip. I ended up staying for the best part of a week. Jim played bass and sang with a few little bands. It was through Jim that I got my first feel for French culture and language, and the little things, like getting up early and heading out to a bar for an espresso and a roll-up, before you even think about having anything to eat. A whore’s breakfast he called it. Over the following years I would go and stay with Jim for a few days in France and soak up a little bit of the lifestyle he had, going between bars and bistrots that were scattered around the Côte D’Armor countryside where he lived.
Jim was from Govan, and as a teenager in the early sixties he was staring down the barrel of a life spent in the shipyards. Instead he chose to disappear off with his bass to try and make a life from music. He told me how he spent a few years away, just living off of Music in various cities round the world. After a while Glasgow really started to miss him [see footnote], so he booked a plane back to Glasgow. When he arrived at the airport, he asked the taxi driver to take him to Glasgow Central Station. He went into the station, stood and looked round for a short while. Then he went back to the Taxi driver, asked him to take him back to the airport where he booked another flight back out of Glasgow. He didn’t come back for I don’t know how many years…
He was a great guy to be around, always really chilled out but always busy gigging, teaching music or doing the other odds and ends that kept his lifestyle together. He had an interesting philsophy on life.
Often I’m tempted to live a life more like Jim did, to take more chances and follow my heart. Jim was always a sceptical of my career-minded side, he didn’t believe in chasing dollars. Last week I told Jim that I was considering just packing it all in, and just seeing how long I can manage just traveling round the world, working odd jobs and just generally dropping out of the aspirant middle-class lifestyle I find myself in. He replied with
variety is ze spice of LIFE!
Then on the 21st, sent at 6 in the morning, I got a message from him saying:
questions,?,?,?. ect! ect! James
I never got a chance to ask what he meant, he died the next day of a heart attack.
I would really have liked to have gone to the funeral, but it came right as Dave and I headed off to Budapest to start our Eastern European trip. We managed to go 2 full days without any sleep, had a great time in Belgrade, and we’re now in Croatia, 4 capital cities in 48 hours.
I’m sure Jim would have approved.
Footnote: Reading that sentence again I realise I wrote it in French grammar, which is a strange thing to do. In French when you miss something, it’s the thing you miss that is the subject of the verb and you’re the object, not the other way around as in English. I meant that Jim missed Glasgow.