Archive for October, 2022

The Whys Man, or ? Man, George was a force for good: sculptor, artist, conductor of chaos and cultural and historical phenomenon. Punster and funster, with a serious side.

Was? He died in 2012. He was 90.

He was centred around Glasgow and Clydebank where he grew up and eventually returned. He collaborated with the defunct ship-building industry in 1989, to use its expertise to make a statement – together they created the celebrated Paper Boat.
It was an ordinary folded paper boat, but scaled up and made sea-worthy. Along with assorted groups and interested parties the Boat was ‘launched’ with its own Paper Boat Song and choir. George was MC and choir leader.

Paper Boat Song


The Boat represented the loss of livelihood and cultural and industrial heritage, of national sidelining and political maneuvering.
The Boat had a placement for a period on the Hudson River, New York.


See the YouTube documentary:

Another of his headline grabbing creations was using the locomotive building industry to help build a scaled-up train engine made wholly of straw. The train was suspended from a shipyard crane. At the end of its ‘life’ it was ceremonially burned ‘like a Viking ship burning’.


He counted among his friends Joseph Beuys. As a self-taught artist his focus was perhaps wider than the schooled artist.

His was very much Public Art.

At the heart of each piece was enigma though, mystery, the question of existence, of our legitimacy as a species.
On his web page it says of him: ‘There is never a guarantee within Wyllie’s work, but only a question, notably found in the centre of all things. He carried this out in an almost metaphysical or sometimes pataphysical way.’ The 80-foot Paper Boat carried quotations from Adam Smith’s ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

George Wyllie was wily enough to accept a MBE medal in 2005. He had previously been a Customs and Excise Officer. It was fitting; there was no division for him.
Think of Robbie Burns, also an Excise man.

Forever an entertainer and showman, he put himself forward as candidate for the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party in 2007 local elections. He was 86.

Gone too soon, George; too soon.


He brought great gusto and humour, and scale of achievement to the overshadowed, neglected and declining central belt of Scotland, and its historic connection to the wider world. He lifted lives up and gave back a sense of fun, meaning.

for Dominique de Groen

What can you save from a burning house?
Even a life carries no guarantee.
A cup, phone, the thing that you snatch, or clutch
has no reasoning or family.

Whoever stands 
where their world ends, that boundary,
where smoke or hidden gasses drop them,
has no judge or jury.

What grows in ruins, on bomb sites,
are bones, brambles, bougainvillea;
are what escapes the boundaries.

A garden where the city was
of shrubs, grasses, flowers, 
rich in terrible variety.

Those who come after
picking between bricks and rubble,
fireweed, nettles, antirrhinums,
to sell from planks of broken furniture
marrows and potatoes

have covered over those graves already
selling flowers to the grieving,
a future to the surviving.

Que pouvez-vous sauver d’une maison en feu ?
Même une vie ne comporte aucune garantie.
Une tasse, un téléphone, la chose que vous 
arrachez n’a ni raison ni famille.

Celui qui se tient
où leur monde se termine, cette frontière,
où la fumée ou les gaz cachés les laissent tomber,
n’a ni juge ni jury.

Ce qui pousse dans les ruines, sur les sites de bombes,
sont des os, des ronces, des bougainvilliers
sont ce qui échappe aux frontières.

Un jardin où la ville était
d’arbustes, de graminées, de fleurs,
riche en variété terrible.

Ceux qui viennent après
cueillir entre les briques et les gravats,
épilobes, orties, antirrhinums,
vendre des planches de meubles cassés

courges et pommes de terre
ont déjà couvert ces tombes
vendre des fleurs aux personnes en deuil,
un avenir aux survivants.

Cosa puoi salvare da una casa in fiamme?
Anche una vita non ha garanzie.
Una tazza, un telefono, la cosa che tu
 non ha né ragione né famiglia.

Quello che sta in piedi
dove finisce il loro mondo, questo confine,
dove il fumo o i gas nascosti li lasciano cadere,
non ha né giudice né giuria.

Ciò che cresce in rovina, sui siti di bombe,
sono ossa, rovi, bouganville;
sono ciò che trascende i confini.

Un giardino dove c’era la città
arbusti, erbe, fiori,
ricco di terribile varietà.

Quelli che vengono dopo
scegliere tra mattoni e macerie,
salici, ortiche, antirrinum,
vendere tavole di mobili rotte

zucca e patate
hanno già coperto queste tombe
vendere fiori alle persone in lutto,
un futuro per i sopravvissuti.

Was kann man aus einem brennenden Haus retten?
Auch ein Leben trägt keine Garantie.
Eine Tasse, ein Telefon, das Ding, das Sie schnappen oder festhalten
hat keine Vernunft oder Familie.

Wer steht
wo ihre Welt endet, diese Grenze,
wo Rauch oder versteckte Gase sie fallen lassen,
hat keinen Richter oder Geschworenen.

Was in Trümmern wächst, auf Bombenplätzen,
sind Knochen, Brombeeren, Bougainvillea;
sind das, was den Grenzen entgeht.

Ein Garten, wo die Stadt war
von Sträuchern, Gräsern, Blumen,
reich an schrecklicher Vielfalt.

Die, die danach kommen
Pflücken zwischen Ziegeln und Schutt,
Weidenröschen, Brennnesseln, Antirrhinum,
aus Brettern kaputter Möbel zu verkaufen
Kürbisse und Kartoffeln

haben diese Gräber bereits zugedeckt
Blumen an Trauernde verkaufen,
eine Zukunft für die Überlebenden.

Wat kun je redden van een brandend huis?
Zelfs een leven heeft geen garantie.
Een kopje, telefoon, het ding dat je grijpt of vasthoudt
heeft geen redenering of familie.

Wie staat?
waar hun wereld eindigt, die grens,
waar rook of verborgen gassen ze laten vallen,
heeft geen rechter of jury.

Wat groeit in puin, op bomlocaties,
zijn botten, bramen, bougainvillea;
zijn wat aan de grenzen ontsnapt.

Een tuin waar de stad was
van struiken, grassen, bloemen,
rijk aan verschrikkelijke variëteit.

Degenen die daarna komen
plukken tussen bakstenen en puin,
wilgenroosje, brandnetels, antirrhinums,
verkopen van planken van kapotte meubels
merg en aardappelen

hebben die graven al bedekt
bloemen verkopen aan de rouwenden,
een toekomst voor de overlevenden.

It was necessary for us to believe
a man bent spoons by stroking, caressing
their slender necks until they swooned.

They were practical times, ordered,
so not even a smidgen of use was best.
Sex was all that remained of religion.

Changeable times hammered out reasons,
salt facts, iron-bound arguments, 
to protect against more outrageous acts.

Theory ran on, outside our closed system
beyond the solar pull of money, markets.
We await its messages from the stars.

This morning has gone on forever;
we’re not ready yet, or had lunch.
There’s so much to do before bed.

Avant se coucher

Il nous fallait croire
un homme a plié des cuillères en caressant, en caressant
leurs cous fins jusqu’à ce qu’ils se pamer.

C’étaient des temps pratiques, ordonnés,
donc même pas un peu d’utilisation était le mieux.
Le sexe était tout ce qui restait de la religion.

Les temps changeants martelaient les raisons,
faits salés, arguments de fer,
pour se protéger contre des actes plus scandaleux.

La théorie a fonctionné, en dehors de notre système fermé
au-delà de l’attraction solaire de l’argent, les marchés.
Nous attendons ses messages des étoiles.

Ce matin a duré une éternité;
nous ne sommes pas encore prêts ou nous avons déjeuné.
Il y a tant à faire avant de se coucher.

prima a andare di a letto

Abbiamo ritenuto necessario crederci
un uomo piegava i cucchiai accarezzando, accarezzando
i loro colli sottili fino a svenuto.

Erano tempi pratici, ordinati,
quindi nemmeno un briciolo di utilizzo era il migliore.
Il sesso era tutto ciò che restava della religione.

I tempi mutevoli forgiarono ragioni,
fatti salini, argomentazioni ferree,
per proteggersi da atti più oltraggiosi.

La teoria è andata avanti, al di fuori del nostro sistema chiuso
oltre l’attrazione solare del denaro, i mercati.
Attendiamo i suoi messaggi dalle stelle.

Questa mattina di lunga durata ;
non siamo ancora pronti o abbiamo pranzato.
C’è così tanto da fare prima di andare a letto.

Vor dem Schlafengehen

Wir fanden es notwendig zu glauben
ein mann verbogen löffel durch streicheln, liebkosen
ihre schlanken Hälse, bis sie Ohnmacht.

Es waren praktische Zeiten, bestellt,
also war nicht einmal ein Hauch von Gebrauch am besten.
Sex war alles, was von der Religion übrig blieb.

Wechselhafte Zeiten hämmerten Gründe heraus,
Salzfakten, eiserne Argumente,
um sich vor noch schlimmeren Taten zu schützen.

Die Theorie lief weiter, außerhalb unseres geschlossenen Systems
Jenseits der Sonnenanziehungskraft des Geldes, der Märkte.
Wir erwarten seine Botschaften von den Sternen.

Dieser Morgen hat ewig gedauert;
Wir sind noch nicht fertig oder haben zu Mittag gegessen.
Vor dem Schlafengehen gibt es so viel zu tun.

We vonden het nodig om te geloven
een man boog lepels door te strelen, te strelen
hun slanke nekken tot ze in zwijm vielen.

Het waren praktische tijden, geordend,
dus niet eens een smidgen van gebruik was het beste.
Seks was het enige dat overbleef van religie.

Veranderlijke tijden hamerden op redenen,
zoutfeiten, ijzersterke argumenten,
te beschermen tegen meer buitensporige daden.

Theorie liep door, buiten ons gesloten systeem
voorbij de zonne-aantrekkingskracht van geld, markten.
We wachten op de berichten van de sterren.

Deze ochtend is voor altijd voorbijgegaan;
we zijn nog niet klaar, of hebben geluncht.
Er is zoveel te doen voor het slapengaan.