Paul is a teacher, writer, historian, and publisher living in Perth. He runs the popular local history madeinperth.org website and is a director of Perth-based community publisher Tippermuir Books Ltd. He teach three days a week and spends the other four days writing, researching, editing and proofing.
His latest book (co-authored with Roben Antoniewicz) The Early Photographers of Perthshire was published at the end of November alongside an accompanying exhibition at the AK Bell Library which runs from 30 November 2016 - 13 January 2017. It shines a light on the Perth’s part in Scottish photographic history and celebrates the contributions, large and small, made by Perthshire’s early photographers.
1. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Typical work days always include walking my Cocker Spaniel ‘Cocoa Crunchie’ at lunchtime. He is a pedigree dog and we inherited his name. I have always found it difficult to stand on a hill and shout ‘Cocoa Crunchie’, so he has learned to answer to the name ‘Gundog’.
He has a rather special claim to fame. When I was writing Perth: Street by Street: A Geographical and Historical Tour Around Perth's 600-plus Streets, Roads, and Vennels, he and I walked every street in Perth, twice. I spent my time making observations and notes about buildings and other architectural features, he was more concerned with marking his journey.
Otherwise my working week is a matter of contrast: Monday to Wednesday dictated by the school-bell; the rest of the week a space within which to create.
2. What signals the start of your weekend / days off?
Mary coming home early, well earlier than normal, on a Friday, sitting by the fire with a decent bottle of wine and probably something Middle Eastern or Greek to eat. Wine tends to be old world - French (preferably a Bordeaux) or Italian (preferably an Amarone or a ‘Super Tuscan’). I love the knowledge of the staff in Majestic Wine (Perth) and am often guided by them in my choices.
3. What makes for a perfect night in?
A perfect night in involves one or more of my three girls coming home (Cora lives in London; Leah in Edinburgh; and Rosa in Blackpool) and preparing a favourite meal for them before settling down in the family room to watch a film or documentary.
4. What makes for a memorable day or night out?
A memorable night out is really a movie or play - Perth Playhouse’s recent seasons of live theatrical broadcasts have been top-notch - followed by a late dinner at Santé my favourite of Perthshire’s many great restaurants.
5. Tell us about the weekend you’d love to live again?
In November 1999, Mary and I were married in London, our three daughters bridesmaids. We were married at the Cypriot Community Centre in North London. The whole day was excellent and everyone had a wonderful time. Many of our friends had travelled on a hired double-decker bus from West London (where we lived) and I remember at the end of the night waving everyone off as the bus left to return to West London. Mary and I would follow.
It was at that point my father remembered that the ‘hire-terms’ of the community centre required the hall be tidied at the end of events. So while all our guests were in our house in Acton partying and drinking, Mary and I spent three hours of our wedding night moving tables and chairs, and sweeping up.
Well, we did it and then loaded up my godfather’s car with the leftover wine and beer (as we had catered the wedding ourselves). Unfortunately, this left little room in the car for passengers and unable to get a taxi, a 3-mile walk to my parents’ home was necessitated. Not your typical wedding night - I would nonetheless happily relive that Saturday again.
6. And now your best ever day at work?
Since August, I have been working at home for part of the week. I enjoy every second of that time and, as I am self-disciplined, the time is used efficiently.
7. Any workday or weekend rituals?
Responding to the lyrics of Elbow - ‘Throw those curtains wide. One day like this a year would see me right’ - I love the process in the morning going round the house opening curtains, raising blinds, and changing the house from night to day mode.
Then after making coffee for Mary and myself, I like to catch up on world news. The internet is my main source during the week, The Guardian, Observer, and Herald at the weekend. Online, I tend to go non-mainstream: Sputnik International, TeleSUR, and The Real News for example.
8. What’s in the perfect day off breakfast?
My daughter Leah lives in Polwarth, Edinburgh. Next to her flat is a great café called Piecebox that serves an amazing Vegan breakfast. Sitting in the café working my way through spinach, roast chilli tomatoes, herb mushrooms, Spanish potatoes, roast red peppers stuffed with cauliflower rice, toasted almond and raisins, sweet potato cake, and toast, while chatting to Leah - perfect!
9. Any words of wisdom for us?
‘The self is only a threshold, a door, a becoming between two multiplicities.’ (Giles Deleuze) Or as an aphorism: ‘We are always in a state of becoming.’
The Early Photographers of Perthshire exhibition is on at the AK Bell Library until 13th January 2017.
For more information on Tippermuir Books visit their website>
Autumnal colours and spectacular views across the Big Tree County the morning sun streaming through a clearing of gorse illuminated by droplets of dew. (Millais)
Perth & Kinross Council Archive - probably the best local authority archive in Scotland. The depth and breadth of its holdings are incredible.
Accessibility to Scotlands other cities, to mountains, the coast, beautiful countryside, great produce from rich fertile farmland, rivers, glens, and lochs; and spectacular light.