I was born in Inverness, lived in Invergordon then Orkney, did most of my schooling in Dingwall, then lived and worked in Glasgow, London, Uganda, Kenya, South Yemen, the USA, Birmingham, and Glasgow again in 1968. In 1996 we moved to Linlithgow. Over the back wall from our garden was ruined Linlithgow Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots was born. Then we spent half our time in a flat above a bookshop in the little seaport town of Cromarty, just across the Firth from our childhood homes. For the last three years we have lived backin the North in Cromarty full-time, in an 18th C cottage with a walled garden.

I have done many things in my 82 years.

I wrote Talking Army Blues, a song that got into the Top Twenty in 1961, then I was a boy banker in Africa, a guitar teacher in the USA, a psychiatric social worker in Scotland. I began to write books, mostly about aspects of Scottish traditional song.


In 1998 I gained a Master of Science by Research degree with distinction from the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, based on my study of playground rhymes.

I have since 1989 run various community arts projects, some with Scottish Arts Council backing - Songmaker In Schools involved making new Scots songs out of old ones.

For several years I was in artistic partnership with African artist Amu Logotse, which led to me becoming a storyteller and project organiser. In 2015 I was startled to be given the Hamish Henderson Award For Services To Traditional Music.

I have told stories or made songs in 200 schools, 50 libraries and 30 museums in Scotland, Russia [where I initiated and ran a Festival Of Scottish Culture], the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, the USA, Uganda, the Czech Republic and England.

I continue to support Bridge Builders Uganda, the longterm charitable project for street kids I co-run with Ugandan colleagues.

I have had six books, many articles and notes for various CD inserts commercially published by others in Scotland and the USA, I have published 15+ myself as Gallus Publications, and have created and performed in many shows.