Next Saturday, I'm playing music with my old bandmates for the first time since 2005. As you can imagine, this has resulted in a dangerous diagnosis of 'major nostalgia'.
To 'get in shape', I have been playing my way through our old albums and EPs, before working my way through the greatest alt-rock albums of the 90's (mood dependent), in the vain hope that my fingers would remember their positions.
Now, Hendrix, I ain't, but if it's Cuomo/Corgan/Greenwood power chords and riffage - then I'm more at home for most of it.
It was truly astounding to witness my muscles do their thing, fumbling as it was. These are tunes I haven't played in 16 years, and, by and large, my digits fell into place on the frets like I was still penning the tunes in my neon green/dark-blue and chrome monstrosity of a millennium-teens' bedroom.
Like a scent might unearth the most random of carefully stored memories, so these riffs unlocked so many deep-rooted feelings, smells, tastes and sights of those times spent with my best mates - cruising around in an old Mondeo, towing a trailer full of gear.
Halcyon days indeed.
All this is to say, I feel like a band as I write this next bit.
Alba\Matter has run its course for now.
Many of you will know the story behind its inception, but for those that don't, I'll share a little here. A\M was borne from channelling frustration, fears and boredom, on a hospital bed, with wires plugged into me.
This 'channelling' came through writing, as always. However, instead of the usual introspection, I needed to find freedom in complete escapism. I didn't want to be too personal. I needed to not think about what was happening to my body, and the unknowns therein concerning my family et al, so, I wrote about my next best love; the Scotland National Team, and I began to feel better - see the crucial work @_FCUnited are doing for more.
Football really can be that important.
Specifically, I wrote about Billy Gilmour's emergence onto the top level.
Then, I wrote two more articles on Scotland's midfield.
I thought it'd be nice to share, so, I bought a website, and made it, in about 2 hours.
I chose a font and wrote Alba\Matter once, didn't think about any more than that, and published it live.
A year and a half later, to say that it has surpassed my wildest dreams, would be an understatement.
To even contemplate that I would make a poem and video, with my best mate @findlaymarks, for our National Team, on the eve of their first tournament in '23 years' is, well... indescribable. To tell our 19-year-old selves, sat in our pants, trying to win the 'International Cup' on Pro Evo, that we'd be doing that is just... madness.
To illustrate this further, Fin's present to me as my best man was a t-shirt with our cup-winning formation on it along with all the nicknames we endearingly/despairingly shouted at the telly. We genuinely hadn't won the cup on Top Player until the night before my marriage. Genuinely. Fin's opening to his speech the next day, in front of my smiling family, was 'Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, it truly is a pleasure to stand here before you. It's been a long time coming, and there have been many ups and downs along the way, but I can finally say after six long, long, years of waiting, that... last night, Andy and I finally won the World Cup with Scotland on Top Player.
Regarding nicknames, 'Gary Nayhope' was maybe my favourite, or perhaps the simple, but effective, 'David Weird'. I don't know if it was funnier that the only player who avoided a monicker was Gary Caldwell, who remained, affectionately, 'Gary Caldwell', in full, at every address.
This innocence is a beautiful thing.
See, at first, I thought you had to chase likes and RTs with A\M, thinking that this somehow 'validated' our existence.
This couldn't be more against what I've ever believed or lived like, and I've re-learned this to be true through A\M. so, if you're chasing likes - take a break, give yourself a break, get off the screen, go talk to someone, and go do something fun with them.
If I may have the temerity to continue giving one last piece of advice, whatever you do, do it because you love it, then share yourself with those you love.
It took me a hospital bed to jar me into throwing off the fear and chasing my love with the time allotted to me. Otherwise, I'd have stayed on the treadmill of existence, but I wouldn't be living. Believe me - I've just had to drop days at work and now I'm launching an ice cream business with my pal.
Work will always be there.
Time is precious.
With the time A\M has had, we've had a ball. From an impromptu qualification-celebratory video getting made at midnight and going viral, to one of my very favourite articles which still struggles to find any reads - everything is weighted as gold in my heart and mind. Truly.
That doesn't mean I haven't made mistakes along the way, but for the sake of brevity, I'll spare writing them all down and wrap it up! That said, if we ever have hurt or offended or shared something inaccurate/misrepresentative, then I'm truly sorry for that. That was never my intention.
A\M's sole intent was to expound the virtues of Scottish footballing talent, and I hope you feel we've done that to some degree.
Lastly, that 'we' isn't just a thing some people say to make themselves sound bigger than they are. This has been mostly me, true, but alongside @findlaymarks, I am eternally indebted to another best mate, @puntyhaha, who has and always will be a genius, love you, man. Then there's willknightdrawings.co.uk, who is my bro-in-law, similarly genius (check out his IG) and one of Glasgow's finest artists.
Then there are all the pals I've made along the way. You know who you are, but a special mention goes out to my brother from another mother, @thetartanscarf. Alongside Andy and Ben @hampdenroarpod, Gordon is the best person I can think of to continue the relentless optimism around our NT. He's also an ultra-sound guy who has become a dear friend to whom I owe a lot. Thanks also to @johnbleasdale's constant support and kindness, Owen, Gav, and the crew at @purefitbaw, possibly the soundest guy alive, Craig, @fkmpodcast, the DM chats with @byronhutchison & @scotsabroadpod, and lastly, @lizanne_deans, one of our first followers who relentlessly supported and encouraged along the way.
I'm so sorry if I've forgotten you in any way, but can I just say how much I have appreciated the feedback and engagements along the way. I read every comment and tried to extend the kindness I had received from many sound people around the Scottish football scene. Whether they have tens of thousands of followers, like Adam @oldfirmfacts1, or the boys from @theterracetv, even current pros like @32watto, or former pros like @patnevin, can I just highlight how superb these people are and that they had time for me.
And that's what I want to end with; the fact that our game is something to be proud of. There are good people in it. Be one of them.
My hope is that continued unity, freedom and love be spread throughout our game, mingled with good-natured tribal patter and days out for everyone to enjoy.
I'm rubbish at goodbyes, so let this just be an 'efter'. I'll see you soon.
Thanks for everything,