One of the things I meant to do when I returned to Scotland four years ago was to look up an old Scottish friend that I’d last seen some twenty years ago in London. In truth I had a whole hatful of ambitions and intentions on my list, and rather to my own surprise and to the utter amazement of my wife and daughter, I’ve gradually managed to tick them off over the last few years. Alright, I know you can’t wait to find out what was on this list, so I’ll just run through some of them briefly. First of all, since I was no longer a full-time musician, having developed the guitarists version of tennis elbow, I needed something else to fill my time, and the only other thing I was good at (apart from snooker) was art. I had always painted and sketched, mostly landscapes, although I rarely sold anything.
I had an idea that there was a market for pet portraits if I could reach it, and and the way to do that seemed to be via the internet, so I bought a computer, digital camera, printer etc and hired a local company to design and run a website for me. After a while I realized that it was much cheaper to design your own site, so I thought I’d have a go – how hard could it be, right? Very hard, was the answer, as anybody who has tried it will tell you, but after two years of HTML, jpg’s, links, virus’s, backache, eye strain and late nights I finally got the hang of it, although as a result of being self-taught I find I’m quite knowledgeable about some aspects of web-building and appallingly ignorant about others.
Another project near to my heart was the search for any survivors of the Scottish side of my family – a side I had lost contact with as a child. This was one of the reasons I’d gone on the internet in the first place, and yes, there were still Collins’s living in the Edinburgh area and Cowdenbeath, where I was born.
When I made the trip down to Fife, I met my cousin June, who told me about my dad, who I never really knew, and about my grandad, who was a miner (as all the men in the area were before the mining industry was destroyed by the – but don’t get me started). Grandad was known as Tiger Collins because of his red hair. My cousin also told me that I had a half-sister who had been looking for me for years, and was under the impression that I had emigrated to Australia.
I had known that I had a sister but what I didn’t know was that she lived just twenty miles from where I used to live in England. I now know there are Collins’s across west to Glasgow and probably all the way over into Irela