Welcome to the nineteenth installment of LAST WRITES.
The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.
Today’s guest is none other than Jim Mcleod, who, along with being the first person born on Christmas Day in 1971 in the whole of the UK, a championship winning rugby captain, and a Scottish and British kickboxing champion, just so happens to be the founder and driving force behind the UK’s largest independent website dedicated to the world of horror — Ginger Nuts of Horror.
At the risk of sounding like a cliched kilt wearing Scotsman, it would have to Haggis neeps and tatties, and more precisely the haggis that my Nan used to make. I have fond memories of my helping my Nan make the haggis and the smell associated with grinding up sheep hearts and lungs and mixing them with her special blends of herbs and spice and oatmeal is one that brings make deep and happy memories.
Many people think that all haggis tastes the same, but haggis like a good whisky has a unique taste and you a can instantly tell if the haggis is a good one made with love over a cheap mass produced one.
Haggis for me just embodies the Scottish spirit, rough and ready, full of flavour and packing a hefty punch. Like us it’s a social thing, it’s meant for sharing with friends, and family. When you eat haggis, it gives you connection to your fellow countrymen who came before you. It can be a real spiritual experience.
At first, I thought this question would be a hard one to answer, but as soon as I thought about it, I realised that it could only ever be Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree.”
Bradbury is a master storyteller; his lyrical prose is one of the most evocative voices ever committed to paper, and “The Halloween Tree” for me is the most evocative. I love Halloween, and this book is the perfect example of the spirit of Halloween, but more importantly it is one of the best books about friendship and doing the right thing.
The bond between the boys and their love of Pip, always brings a tear to my eye. The scene where Moundshroud tells them about the deal they will have to do to save Pip is one of the most heartwarming, yet chilling scenes ever written.
And even though Pip doesn’t really feature in the book, he is such a wonderful character, so much so that i tried to bring up my children to be like him. I must have read this book at least hundred times, I have read to, and listened to my kids read it to me numerous times and seeing the light of joy in their eyes as they read it just makes me so happy. So much so I bought half a dozen copies of it to donate to Ella’s school book drive this year.
This is a real hard one to answer, part of me wants to be all intellectual and go for for a film that has a lot of meaning, but to be honest the one film that I would want to see one last time would have to be the original Disney Jungle Book. I just love it, to me it is the perfect mix of a great story, great characters and a brilliant songs. It’s the sort of film that cannot help but lift my spirits.
I grew up in Britain at the tail end of the punk movement and missed out on it by a few years. The two tone and Ska revival was my first musical movement. It was a weird time in Britain, the BNP was in full swing and the country was a dark place both socially and politically. However growing up in St Andrews meant that you were to a certain degree sheltered from the worse of it.
Politics and social relevance was something just just didn’t appear on a thirteen year old’s brain. Until the music of groups like The Special, The Selector and Madness started worming their way into your brain. These groups made you think, made you look at your sheltered life in a totally different way. I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today without the influence of these groups on my young mind. For the last song it would have to The Specials’ Ghost Town, a haunting and brutal look at the state of my country in this dark time. Even now almost 40 years since it first hit the airwaves it still has the power to chill me to the bone.
FIRST PERSON YOU’D LIKE TO MEET ON THE OTHER SIDE
That’s and easy one to answer, it would have to be my Dad. And the first thing I would say to him be “I know you loved me, and I love you to”. Like many people I had father who ran his own business, he was a man who worked to provide for his family, a man who worked himself into an early grave. I had a strange relationship with him, because I never really saw much of him I never fully connected with him, and it is only now as a father myself that I fully appreciate just how much he loved us and how much he did for us. He may not have always been there, but he always cared. He was good man, I just wish I had more time to appreciate just how good a man he was.
For more on Jim, follow him on facebook and twitter, and be sure to visit the Ginger Nuts of Horror website.