Update after four years

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 30, 2020 by craigherbertson

Well, hasn’t the world changed dramatically in the last four years and more pertinently, with this awful corona virus, in the last month. It changed so much I remembered that I had this blog thing.

This was always more of a personal site relating to my family and other animals so if you want anything about the music or writing you had probably better visit




Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 1, 2014 by craigherbertson


My brother unearthed a news clipping showing notice of a performance by Veda in Glasgow in 1922

Veda Le Court, Glasgow Pavilion

Unfortunately, no review. The single review I have mentions her deep contralto voice. My father has told me part of her repertoire was ‘Sister Suzie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers’.

Farewell Scapa Flow

Posted in The Musician with tags , on November 9, 2010 by craigherbertson

Farewell Scapa Flow

Well, that’s it over for me and Scapa Flow. We played our last gig in one of the best folk venues in Germany, Das Weisse Rose, Kirchheimbolanden. It was a trifle nostalgic.

I was invited to join the band ten years ago. We aired our music at hundreds of gigs from the tiniest pub to large football stadiums, concert halls, festivals, Christmas markets, Castles, mansions and city centres. We played for Ambassadors, multinationals, weddings, birthdays, folk audiences, princes, lords, whisky tasters and sometimes busked in the street for the locals on the way to venues. I’ve seen more hotels than I care to remember and drank more pints than I can.

I like to think we brought decent Scottish folk music to the ears of thousands of folks in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and a few other countries including at one point my favourite land, Scotland.

A group is a bit like a marriage. it has its lows and highs but we started as friends and ended as friends. Scapa Flow will carry on doubtless, and I wish the boys the best of luck and hope to see them again on the stage.

slainte mhath

Read more: http://www.myspace.com/craigherbertson/blog#ixzz14oKEzbmo

Edinburgh Tenements

Posted in News and Tittle Tattle with tags , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by craigherbertson

Sean Connery’s birthday brought back some memories of life in the Tenements. Sean was born in 176 Fountainbridge Edinburgh in a tenement a few streets up from my Grannie, Meg Buglass. Grannie Buglass lived on the first floor at Number 1 Lochrin terrace, the last in a row of tenements in Tolcross. Sean’s mum, Effie, used the same wash-house in Fountainbridge and they worked together as Cinema usherettes at what was popularly known as the Flicks, doubtless because the still pictures flickered. They sold sweets at half time.

It was a fairly spartan life then. No telly, no fridge, no dishwasher or washing machine, no indoor toilet and entertainment was the flicks if you were lucky and the fitba on Saturday after work if you were a bloke.

My Granddad, Fredrick Buglass, a Sergeant in the Black Watch and a Telecommunications engineer, owned his own apartment in the Tenement – a mark of a prosperous and thrifty working class man – He was a Secretary of Tolcross Hearts supporters club and a fund of tales. His idea of entertainment was telling stories and singing songs. He was a proud and patriotic man and my memories of him are very clear. He would sit for hours at the open coal fire, dressed in a cardigan, smart shirt with sleeves rolled up and brown pants, reading his newspaper and smoking a pipe with hand rolled tobacco. The fire, a source of endless fascination for a five year old, used to heat the boiler above the stove where Grannie would prepare the breakfast in utter silence. For breakfast Granddad had porridge in the morning. While he could crack a walnut with his tattooed biceps, Granddad was incapable of eating lumps in his porridge.
Granddad off to fancy dress
Ganddad’s job consisted mostly of climbing up telegraph poles but he often told me tales of working on the new Forth Road Bridge or invading Germany. Although at times the tales were a little hairy – his friend who had walked off into the mist on the Forth Road Bridge to fetch a tool and was never seen again was pretty nightmarish – the army tales in particular were all fun and laughter. He was a tough bloke but in common with the attitude of the times it was others who would tell you. While he talked of his regiment carrying the little stray dog and passing it from one soldier to the next as they marched through Germany in 1918 others would tell you of the time he went down the tenement stairs to confront a sailor and soldier who were fighting. He picked them both up bodily, one in each arm, banged their heads together and threw them out of the door.

Edinburgh Tenement

The doors at the foot of the tenement were of course open in those days. They sported huge brass handles. No locks: through you went, thrusting open a huge battered door, up a series of scrubbed and washed steps, hollowed by many, many bare feet.

I can still see the sign that hung on Grannies door that indicated who’s turn it was to wash the stairs. God forbid if you didn’t do it well. Grannie would open the door dressed in the ubiquitous floral pinny, The milk would be there in the lobby, doubtless delivered in the past by Sean Connery along with the great sacks of coal and the papers. Just before you, as you entered the door, was the Glory Hole where all the odds and ends were stored in little tins, chests and cupboards. On the left was the guest room, rarely used, which housed the phonograph and the vast collection of seventy-eights with titles like ‘The British Grenadiers’, ‘The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God’ (with a melody by Milton Hayes & Cuthbert Clarke, 1911,) ‘Abdul Abulbul Amir’, all favourites of my Granddad who would sing or recite them by heart with a humorous glint in his eye. Straight ahead was the toilet with its old iron bath – an innovation which had come about the same time as Goldbergs, the new superstore with an escalator and a cafe on the roof.


It’s probably incomprehensible to most people that I didn’t realise a bath was a thing to be enjoyed until I was twenty. My associations were of four inches of tepid water.

On the right the living room and kitchen with huge high ceilings and windows opened with a massive hooked stick, a gas oven, an open fire and an old railway clock given as a retirement present to my Granddad. When my Granddad was gone Grannie removed the chimes as they had always irritated her. The high windows looked out onto the Green, a place mostly forbidden to me in case the neighbours got annoyed. On the right of the living room was the small bedroom where I would sleep with my Grandmother at the age of nine when Granddad was gone. In the latter days of the 1960’s I was her excuse to watch late night horror films

My mum had been at Brunstfield Primary school and was a year or two below Sean Connery. He left at thirteen and she was off at fifteen to work as a typist before marrying and raising three boys. Often on a saturday in the 1960’s, she would drop me off, the youngest of the bunch, while she went to the shops. I would occasionally be sent for ‘messages’, rolls, butter or the like, but mostly I would play on the floor with a small glass jar which contained about fifteen toy soldiers. The floor was linoleum with a single carpet – wall to wall carpeting was an unheard of luxury. If aunt Jessie came round we would play cards for matches – Newmarket, trumps and patience. Essentially, there was nothing much else to do but as with all social things it was still fun doing it.

The outside toilet had gone by the time I was being dropped off at Grannies but the tenement door was still open. Grannie was still eating calf brain sandwiches with relish. She had all her teeth removed in her twenties in the new fashion for dentures. My mum never fancied calf brain much and was proud of her gleaming white teeth. She still liked the fur coats though, worn with pearl beads but she wouldn’t wear the inevitable little hats. We had moved to a new housing estate in Northfield, near Portobello. There were three cars on our street and much much later a television with a grainy undecipherable picture. Mum still made porridge and I inherited my Granddad’s dislike for lumps.

Portobello High School

Posted in News and Tittle Tattle with tags on August 25, 2010 by craigherbertson

I am ex pupil of Portobello High School, which must be demolished to make way for a new school. I’d like to remind anyone interested that a campaign to preserve the common land near Portobello is still underway. Anyone who can support the majority of local residents who wish to keep the golf course and the green belt free please see what they can do here:


Filthy Creations 6#

Posted in Tales of Horror with tags , on July 14, 2010 by craigherbertson

As if the editor Rog Pile had nothing else to do but astound, this edition of Filthy Creations 6# begins the serialisation of two novels. Sendings by David A Riley and The Death Tableau by, yours truly, Craig Herbertson: Both ‘Pan Books of Horror’ authors. Both novels set up in the north. Both their first appearance in print. Both about to be serialized in full. There’s ominous signs in both tales already. Let’s see how they develop.

The issue is packed with poisoned goodies.

The Devil At Your Heels by Robert Mammone deals with that unconscious horror – the hit and run accident. Who is the victim here, the driver who was hit or the driver who ran? Mammome is a sharp writer with a strong style and a sound balance between the beauty of metaphor and the progression of story. He creates some lovely lines: ‘The engine’s dull throb matched his heart’s jerking rhythm,’ and he’s a writer who can draw you in and leaves you hurt: ‘A terrible truth flowered in Arthur’s mind. With sharp edged petal’s, this realisation scoured all other thoughts away and sent him staggering onto the road’

Mammone is one to watch.

In Easy Money by Penni McLaren Walker we move from a car to a house that has its own particular attitude to its incumbents. Penni is a well known song writer and I was gratified to see her talents in the field of horror. They are apparent. Penni writes more like a lady who has hundreds of stories under her belt rather than a couple. All the signs of a writer with a voice. More to come I hope.

D F Lewis has two short tales Rage and The Fat Shrike in here. Both betray the unmistakable marks of genius. Rage deals with the solution to a macabre jigsaw puzzle and the The Fat Shrike simply abounds with unforgettable lines some beginning in mildly prosaic observation before ending in a word feast carnival ‘Maternity in the old days, was a combination of mutual back-slapping and career gossiping: starting as soon as the womb could warm sufficient spaghetti connections into autonomous life and continuing until it was cold enough to keep plasma as well as pasta indefinitely.’ I ask myself who else could have written that?

We move to the face in Bad Manners by Colin Leslie. It’s a well told, enjoyable tale with a sinister theme that Ray Bradbury would have enjoyed writing and no doubt, reading.

There’s a Riot Going On by Franklin Marsh is short, sweet and wonderful. A touch of pathos a touch of humor as the old colonel goes down.

Grey by Charles Black takes residence at the beach but not for a suntan. It’s a dark almost Panesque tale of revenge with a woman at the heart of it but unfortunately, ‘her beauty had been long since vanquished.’ Good to see that the notorious editor of the Black Book of Horror has picked up the quill again.

Crocodile Tears by James Stanger, is a tale of an old demolition worker and a doctor who suffers his apparent hypochondria. But is it all in the old man’s mind or did something crawl up from the blitz-damaged London buildings? I think it might have but it’s not what you expect.

A Solace of Winter Rain by Stephen Bacon leaves us in the comfort of the Club’s leather chairs but we’re not comfortable for very long as Dr Trevelyan explores Mr Farnsworth’s ‘paralysing nightmare.’ I’m a sucker for a smoking room tale and this delivers the disquieting goods.

Night Tide by Rog Pile has a pilot survive his plane crash only to endure greater horrors from the past. It’s a story which balances realism with a shadow world of memory, containing believable characterization which makes you instantly empathetic and horror which battles with pathos. Rog Pile has also managed five interior illustrations and a cover. The illustrations are a high point of this edition of Filthy Creations. Rog Pile has slowly developed as a fine illustrator with an improving technique and that elusive – and often undiscovered in lesser artists – eye for perspective. His illustration of Easy Money in the two corbies is a beauty.

Filthy Creations 6# is an incredible £2.25 including postage. For the small press it’s a plush looking little thing and, more importantly, it’s full of enjoyable stuff. Purchase it together with issue 4# of The Thinking Man’s Crumpet, edited by Coral King for just £3.50

This issue is dedicated to D F Lewis

World Horror Conference

Posted in Tales of Horror with tags , , on April 7, 2010 by craigherbertson

World Horror Conference 2010

I’ve just about recovered from this marvelous event, held in the UK for the first time in Brighton where the chips are normally good and there is a pier.

My adventures were mainly concerned with two publications

John Mains (ed.) – Back From The Dead: The Legacy Of The Pan Book Of Horror Stories (Noose & Gibbet, March 2010)
Les Edwards
Shaub Hutson – Foreword
David A. Sutton – The Influence Of The Pans
Christopher Fowler – Locked
Tony Richards – Mr. Smythe
John Burke – Acute Rehab
Basil Copper – Camera Obscura
David A. Riley – The True Spirit
Jack Wainer – Angel
Myc Harrison – A Good Offence
Roger Clarke – Gallybagger
John Ware – Spinalonga
Jonathan Cruise – The Forgotten Island
J. P. Dixon – Dreaming The Dark
Septimus Dale – The Little Girl Eater
Christina Kiplinger – Mr. Golden’s Haunt
John Burke – The Stare
Nicholas Royle – The Children
Ken Alden – The Moment Of Death
Jane Louie – A Carribean Incident
Craig Herbertson – The Waiting Game
Francis King – School Crossing
Harry E. Turner – Sounds Familiar
Conrad Hill – An Outing With H.
John Mains – ‘Lest You Should Suffer Nightmares’. Herbert Van Thal: A Biography


Charles Black (ed.) – The Sixth Black Book Of Horror (Mortbury Press, March 2010)
6th Black Book of Horror: artwork; Paul Mudie
Paul Mudie
John Llewellyn Probert – Six Of The Best
Simon Kurt Unsworth – Traffic Stream
Steve Lockley – Imaginary Friends
R. B. Russell – An Unconventional Exorcism
Paul Finch – The Doom
Gary Fry – Keeping It In The Family
Craig Herbertson – Spanish Suite
Reggie Oliver – Mr. Pigsny
Alex Langley – The Red Stone
Stephen Bacon – Room Above The Shop
David A. Riley – Their Cramped Dark World
Mick Lewis – Gnomes
Anna Taborska – Bagpuss
David Williamson – The Switch
Mark Samuels – Keeping Your Mouth Shut

It was a chance to meet two editors who have revitalized my ailing career as a horror writer: Charles Black who has now published me in five of his critically acclaimed horror series and John Mains, the man who knows more about Pan Horror than Pan Horror.

The nucleus, I suppose, of the interest began with the Pan horror series which was an immense dark influence on the youth of my day – running to 30 volumes of unadulterated nastiness; a nastiness which beckoned me in Pan 29 where my novella The Heaven Maker (which I state now, contrary to the received view, had nearly no blood and gore in it) was published. It was series that saw stories by the greatest writers and the quickest hacks of weird tales, from Lord Dunsany to John Lennon and many more.

I am very very grateful to both of these fine editors for recovering my body from the abyss.

You will gather from the wealth of talent in these two books, launched at the conference, that it was a somewhat humbling experience. One clear highlight was beating my brother at chess for a change, but the other was certainly sitting on a panel with names who chilled the blood of several generations: Christopher Fowler, Tanith Lee, Tony Richards, David A Riley, David A Sutton, Basil Copper, Nicholas Royle and Les Edwards to name but a few. We tried to explain what we had done to the current generation in the way of nightmare and fear. All hosted by the sinister, John Mains.

At one point John asked the audience who had been turned to horror by the Pan books. Nearly everyone held up their hands. I realized then that we had become an institution -anyone who knows me knows I hate institutions but if I have to belong to one I think I’ll go with that.

Tales from the Smoking Room

Posted in Bits and pieces, Tales of Horror with tags , , on June 23, 2009 by craigherbertson

I’m delighted to announce the publication of a 40 page A4 Homebrew Zine of Victoriana horror and steampunk by the Hand of Danjou press. Edited by Benedict J Jones and V C Jones and with cover art from Will Jacques


The Strangled Garden – Stephen Bacon

Room Three – Matthew Crossman

The Iron Ape – Mike Harding

The Decent Thing – VC Jones

Parlour Games – Mike Chinn

Serendipity – Trudi Topham

and a happy little Daniel Mulholland story:

A Game of Billiards – Craig Herbertson

Available here Tales from the Smoking Room

The Fourth Black Book of Horror: Dark Fiction Review

Posted in Bits and pieces with tags , , on May 23, 2009 by craigherbertson

“The reader is guaranteed to find something to send shivers down the spine.'”

Charles Black’s latest anthology recieved its first review – very favourable. Unable to pick a winner, the  Dark Fiction Review picked out a few random tales including my offering. The reviewer said some nice things:

“…Soup…written by Craig Herbertson. It’s a wickedly dark tale of a secret society and the nefarious goings-on as one society meeting draws near. Reminiscent of traditional ghost stories (with a little dash of M.R.James) in its writing style, it’s a sumptuously told tale that is a fine start to the book

The quality of the contents forces me to adopt a similar policy so here’s a random selection.

Johhny Main’s ‘With Deepest Sympathy’ is a sharply told and cleverly conceived tale which would sit well with the classic Pan Horror anthologies.  Little gems like  ‘ She’s dead? oh well – that is fantastic news!’ contrast with shivery moments of classic terror.

‘A Cry For Help’ by Joel Lane is a creepy, modernist tale with the sentiment of Dickens and a style not unlike P.K. Dick. Had me guessing until the last line.

I admit I was one of the few readers who thought that ‘The Crimson Picture’ by Daniel McGachey in ‘The Second Black Book of Horror’a story which received superlative reviews – was a good rather than great tale. I happily concede that McGachey’s ‘And Still Those Screams Resound…’  is a scorcher of a story; beautifully conceived and constructed. It’s setting, the central concept, the characterisation make it one of those unforgettable classics.

Welll it was a random selection. There are other tales of equal merit but I hope it’s enough to get you out there on the web scrabbling for a copy.

Ship in A Bottle

Posted in News and Tittle Tattle with tags on April 3, 2009 by craigherbertson

My old friend Desmond Newton died on 30.01.2009. His obituary is in the Times.

Des was a uniquely talented man. He put ships in bottles. He was proud to present a miniature of the royal yacht Britannia to the Queen when she visited the Liverpool Maritime museum but prouder, doubtless, to have entertained thousands upon thousands of children with his talents.

My old Partner Bernie Shaw wrote a song about him called ‘Ship in a Bottle’ and Des played it on Children’s BBC ‘Corners’ when he demonstrated his skills to the world.

‘There’s a man down the dock, Des Newton’s his name catching the spirit of the sea is his game’

Well, sadly he’ll no longer walk down the dock between the buildings of the Maritime museum but that’s where I’ll always remember him – smiling, laughing and joking with us two buskers on the Pierhead. And something of him will always remain in those fantastic bottles with their miniature ships.

Des once came to me on the Pierhead looking unusually agitated. He had his old Burns guitar, very rare and he could have sold if for a lot of money. He’d come to give it to me for a song because he was desperately keen that it go to someone who would both cherish and play it. I assured Des that if I didn’t use it enough I would give it away to someone who would know it for it was. After many years I finally passed it on to my friend Rob Carroll who plays it to this day. The guitar case still contains the promotional photo of Des in his cabaret days, laughing and smiling as he always did.

I’ll certainly miss him..