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The time I got on a plane and I didn’t know where it was going

I get to my gate. ‘Are you Iain Cameron?’, with a weary look of annoyance. ‘Take a seat’. I sit alone, my fellow travellers having already departed in the airport bus to our plane.

It had begun with a series of delays on my journey from my flat to Copenhagen Airport. Followed by a series of delays in the airport from queuing for, well it’s Copenhagen Airport, so everything then.

Queue for the check in machine, queue to drop off suitcase. Queue to get into the security area, queue for security. Queue for a cup of coffee, queue to pay for cup of coffee. Queue to get through passport control.

The sign saying ‘No Photography’ below the queue in the security area, is as close to an admission of shame as Scandinavian bureaucracy will get.

I’m tired, I’m irritable, I’m going to drink my coffee. But in retrospect, probably should have taken a look at my watch at this point.

I begin making my way to my gate. It’s so far away, it feels like it might be in Sweden. Then over the tannoy ‘Would Iain Cameron please make his way to Gate D17 IMMEDIATELY’.

I’m not that person. I’m never late for flights. I’ve been in airports before. I’ve heard people getting their names announced half a dozen times to get to a gate, but here I am, the first ever time I’m late in an airport, getting a tone of voice I have not heard since I was at school.

So I am sitting alone waiting for the bus, and a bus appears. Copenhagen Airport has a number of bays in a row, so it’s not entirely obvious which bus is for which gate. I look up towards the check in desk for a reassuring nod of approval… they’ve gone, and I hadn’t even noticed.

So I get on the bus, it’ll be mine. Off we drive at quite a tempo. Should I have checked with the bus driver this was my bus? Well too late now. We reach our destination. Doors open, out I go, doors close, off goes the bus.

I am standing almost exactly at the midpoint between two aeroplanes ready for boarding. I am possibly two metres closer to one of them. If I’d left the bus by a different door, two metres closer to the other one.

I approach the one slightly closer. It’ll be fine, I can check with the flight attendant on boarding.

There is no flight attendant. They are at the back helping others with their hand luggage. So do I ask the passengers at the front of the plane?

‘Is this the flight to Aberdeen?’

Of course not! They are ALL going to laugh at the guy who arrived late and didn’t know if it was the correct flight. And someone will go ‘No, this flight is to Sydney Australia’, and another will go ‘No, this is to Bejing’. Then I will have to sit on a plane with a group of people who think I’m an idiot.

So to not appear an idiot, I don’t ask.

With my brain working at a far faster rate than normal, I work out if my seat is vacant, I’m on the correct plane.

My seat is indeed vacant. As are half a dozen others in close proximity.

So I sit down, and for the first time that morning am completely relaxed, resigned to the possibilities and that they are out with my control. I think, how exciting, I wonder where I am going, with no luggage. I’m on an adventure. I’m Marco Polo, I’m Ernest Hemingway. I might be on the news tonight.

Then a voice over the intercom goes ‘Welcome to flight XYZ for Aberdeen…’.

Phew.

grays-school-art-aberdeen-fe

Advice for new students at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen

Grays School of Art Aberdeen

This image is copyright Grays School of Art , Aberdeen

If you are about to attend Gray’s School of Art for the first time, you probably ought to know, Gray’s School of Art is the best art college in the world – if you want it to be.  Look at the building, look at the surroundings, look at the library, really what else do you need? On top of that, the most important reason it is the best art college in the world, is YOU are there.

Having been a student at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen in the late eighties, here is my advice for new students. I am well aware there will have been significant changes, but some elements will be similar to my time.

Enjoy the city of Aberdeen

The city of Aberdeen is a magnificent place. The granite buildings are beautiful, the people are nice, there’s mock chop suppers, and a wonderful football team. At Gray’s School of Art the building is a fantastic piece of architecture. The area of Garthdee is close to the centre of the city, and you are a couple of minutes from the beautiful Deeside countryside.

What to watch out for

Avoid at all costs any students with a whiny Central Belt accent constantly whinging about how much better everything in Glasgow is – in particular Glasgow School of Art. They are almost certainly just homesick, missing their Mum, and using a front of superiority to cover this up. Ideally there should be a toll at the Tay Bridge that stops these people getting that far North.

Ignore your tutors

Or listen to them, it’s up to you. Being a tutor at an art college is really not that hard a job. You take talent, you point them in the right direction, off they fly. The idea that at Edinburgh, St Martins, or anywhere else there are better art tutors with better qualifications, or better people skills is just academic elitism. Your perfect tutor maybe doesn’t exist. Your art comes from within. Listen, evaluate, go with your instincts.

And finally

Try not get chucked out at the end of second year. Like I did. It’s a long hard struggle without a degree to make it in design, but it’s not impossible. And if ever you come across former Gray’s School of Art head of Graphic Design Ian Cargill, say hi from me. You can read more about the supremely talented and gifted trio of Ian Cargill, Malcolm Brown and Professor Eric Spiller here.

P.S

You are welcome. I suppose an honorary degree is out of the question?

Press and Journal

Working as a cartoonist for the Press and Journal newspaper

Willie Miller Aberdeen F.C.

Cartoon for The Press and Journal. A wee hint of Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) in the brush work.

In the early nineties I worked for Aberdeen Journals’ Press and Journal newspaper as a layouter at their Lang Stracht headquarters in Aberdeen.

I was contributing cartoons to the Aberdeen f.c. fanzine The Northern Light at the same time. I eventually plucked up the courage to submit a couple of cartoons to The Press and Journal. It was a paper that sold 110,000 copies per day, six days a week back then. Covering the area from the Shetlands down to Dundee, and over to the Western Isles. The highest selling newspaper in the area, with an estimated readership of 220,000. The subs, the chief sub, the Assistant Editors, were nice but intimidating people – you wouldn’t want to mess with them.

Four hours after nervously offering two cartoons to the Chief Sub, I was holding a still warm from the presses copy of the P&J in my hand with one of my cartoons on the front page, and another on the all important back page (the football page).

The cartoons were topical and needed to fit in with that day’s news. A sharp learning curve in, coming up with material under pressure, drawing quickly, and accepting the random nature of what others considered funny (editors and sub-editors).

The Press and Journal doesn’t sell as many copies now as when my cartoons appeared. This may or may not be a coincidence.