Fillet-o-Fish to Thriller. Jackson’s connection to Grimsby.

This is a late obituary of sorts. In recovery from the shock of Bowie’s departure, and more recently the arch wordsmith Leonard Cohen, it came as a further shock to The Straw That Broke the Haddock’s Back in hearing that Rod Temperton, one of the most commercially successful songwriters of all time,  also lost out in the grudge match that the grim reaper appears to be waging against the world of popular music. In the past, I  have had great joy in telling unbelieving people from outside of the area,  that a bloke who started his working life in a Grimsby fish factory (Ross Frozen Foods now Young’s Seafood)  went on to become a multimillionaire, Grammy-winning songsmith, living in Mulholland Drive Los Angeles, having written Thriller by Michael Jackson: The world’s best selling song of all time.  Wow! Those folks from Cleethorpes have always been serious underachievers!

The night shift turns up for fish filleting duty on Grimsby docks.

Even funnier: The tune that set Rod on the path to heady heights is an evergreen 70s disco floor filler: Known to millions as Boogie Nights by Heatwave, this Temperton tune was not conceived, as it sounds like it should have been,  on the dancefloors of San Franciso or New York, but was in fact inspired by his nights out in clubs in Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Hull! Temperton became Heatwave’s keyboard player after answering an ad in the now defunct music weekly – The Melody Maker. Presumably, our Rod had become sick of washing the fishy smell out of his faux disco afro, after a shift on the docks, and gave up the breaded cod fillets for the bright lights of Pop!

Before Boogie Nights took off the boys only had one stool in their bedsit, often fighting over it during Match of the Day.

It was the slick American sounding production of Boogie Nights that bought him to the attention of the man who was to become the planet’s most influential music producer, a certain Quincy Jones. Jones would go on to produce Jackson’s Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad albums, with Temperton contributing songs to the first two including both title tracks, and the US number one Rock With You. Having also written Gimme the Night by George Benson, Temperton’s place in the cannon of popular music is assured for all time. RIP Rod.


I am hoping you won’t mind me mentioning here my very own Rod Temperton anecdote, especially when it also ends in a Quincy Jones punchline many years later.

Despite endorsements by Jacko and Quincy, Rod’s sideline in wallpaper print sweaters never really took off.

In the late eighties and nineties, I too was an aspiring pop performer. As chance would have it, on a rare trip home to his native parts,  Rod came to see my then band Illustrious GY’s inaugural gig at the glorious Pier 39 in Cleethorpes. The gig was packed thanks to our own floor-filling self released mixtape called Keep It Up. However it was not the  performance it should have been – enthusiastic, energetic but ultimately amateur. Rod, instead of advising us to split up there and then, actually set up some record company meetings in that there London. We went along to those meetings dressed to impress with high anticipation! We returned to Grimsby with not a single wag in our tails;  the music executives Rod had arranged for us to see actually hated our music AND the way we looked. They did not really hold back in putting the boot in either!  Silver linings though – that kicking  give us a masochistic taste for the pop life. It was those meetings that provided the springboard to a sort of success –  Illustrious GY eventually landing a major record label deal with Arista BMG, tours with Squeeze among others, and  countless radio and TV appearances – including a semi legendary TV debut on BBC One’s Going Live during which we, perhaps foolishly, gave away as competition prize, a kit of haddock from Grimsby Docks – a kit being about 80 pieces of our famously finest export. Neither Phillip Schofield or Sarah Green , who interviewed us, were impressed. Although I never saw him again, and assuming he watched Saturday morning kid’s television, Rod  was more than likely covering his face with embarrassment… and with some justification. Take a look see…

About that Quincy Jones punchline then:  In 2014 I was in Los Angeles on a work related trip staying in a Downtown area hotel. Finding myself on my ownsome one evening, I wandered down to the concierge desk to see what was going on. I was well chuffed to hear that none other than Quincy Jones was holding a record label showcase in the bar next door. Excitedly, I went to check it out not really expecting to see the great man himself. Yet there he was, holding court amongst a huge queue of music fans. Obviously I joined that queue, looking on in admiration while Quincy generously posed for photos, pressed lots of flesh and signed autographs. As I got closer to him in the queue, I began to worry about what my opening gambit would be.  Probs could have done with more time because,  on getting to my turn to speak to a living legend, the only thing I could muster up was “Hi Mr Jones. I am assuming Rod Temperton remains a good friend of yours?” To which he replied “You must be from Grimsby!?” Before I got time to respond, he then said “It’s my favourite place in the UK!”

I looked at him and said wryly  “You’ve never been have you?” 

Master Strokes 2: It seems GY has more painters than you can shake a ship at. Meet Dale Mackie…

Dale Mackie  is a painter who depicts a lost heritage in such vivid hues that the disappearing world he commemorates seems instantly revived. More celebratory than nostalgic, Dale’s work punches you in the senses like a North Sea blast off the Dogger Bank.


Mackie, the man and artist, is East coast through and through, and may well have the North Sea running through his veins, such is the inspiration he finds from the fishing industry.

In his own words: “Of particular interest are the situations of men at work, human interactions and relationships that are captured in iconic scenes of fishing trawlers rough and marred by use and the elements or, emotive paintings of fish sales on the old Pontoon that literally bustle with characters trying to be recognised.” Nice one Dale, you are putting the Great in Grimsby… and isn’t that Whitby too!?





Fish and Glitch: A GY creative entrepreneur bites off more than he can chew in that London.

Matt Hyde is a Grimsby ex-pat and founding partner in Glitchers, creators of award winning games and interactive products for your smart devices. Who knew a chap from Grimsby could actually earn a living doing this sort of stuff?

As you will see, their in-house graphic style is fresher than a Cleethorpes teenager after a sniff of Lynx. Consequently, demand for their work is high; Such serious corporate folk as Channel 4, Warner Bros, Mr Porter and even Cadbury Mondelelz have all had business scratches that Matt and his pals have ahem… glitched: Mondelez turned to Matt to help them reverse the global decline of chewing gum; it seems nobody buys it anymore.

This is very good news for the pavements of the world, but terrifyingly bad if you happen to be a manufacturer of gummy confectionary. To promote their Stride brand, the company commissioned Glitchers to stimulate a bit of demand for the chewy stuff  with a game app called Gumulon; a chewing controlled game app! Which frankly sounds bonkers, but check out the above TV ad for an explanation that will outshine anything we might muster.

Battered Dreams

Perhaps in a homage to his GY roots, Hyde has also created (among other things) a multiple award winning game in which you run your own chip shop called, appropriately enough, Chippy. It’s available to download on iTunes and is generally raved about in the gaming community. Pass the salt Matt, you are definitely putting the great in Grimsby.




Master Strokes: Tooled up with a palette knife in old GY.

Sarah Webb  works with oil and canvas but she sure ain’t a sailor. She was born to paint, not decorate, and draws on her GY East Coast heritage as a fulcrum for her life and work. Check out this glorious rendition of Cleethorpes Pier by Ms Webb to see how the starkly familiar becomes the startlingly alien… in a good way.

sarah webb clee pierE0129026-DA88-4640-A548-7A5D7FD33716-2
That’s the last time I take my Rubens tinted spectacles to the seaside

Sarah’s world view is broader than our beloved home town though, she has lived and worked in Andalusia and Madrid, while exhibiting in many countries. (Visit her site here) Her work has also graced the walls of the National Portrait Gallery in that London!


Positive news story shocker! Grimsby is number 1 for clean energy. Now that’s a chart position we like!


A major broadsheet reports a positive news story about Grimsby. It’s a shocker, but it’s true. As featured in The Independent, our town has been lauded as the Green Energy capital of England, knocking the major cities of London and Birmingham into a cocked hat in the process. In fact, the efforts of those two cities in the field of renewable energy were decried as feeble with contributions of under 1 % in the case of the Capital city.  Pathetic London! While wind and solar energy remain much debated as a fuel for the future, a quick look at the comments section in the Independent will attest to this, Grimsby seems to be embracing clean energy with an open mind.

Blowing in the wind: The biggest cluster of offshore wind farms in Europe lies off Grimsby.



The Gilluminatti: A Northern Light shines on the South Bank.

It’s strangely compelling to look at, hypnotic even, but what the hell does it mean, and who is responsible?

Prism Break! Gill’s Shaping Light No 4

Gillian Hobson is a Grimsby artist with quite a lot to show off about: She is a Doctor of Fine Art; she’s an author with a commission from the NHS to explore creativity in helping sufferers recover from mental illness, and (though she may not describe herself as such) she is a sculptor of light operating out of her studio on the South Bank of our beloved Humber.

Now light is not a touchy feely material; you can’t take a chisel to a shapeless lump of the stuff, fashion an object into a recognisable form and put it in your garden for the neighbours to coo over. The physics just do not work like that, and trying to explain it in  esoteric terms, as you find artists inevitably do, will see most of us get lost in the language.

The best thing is to merely stand in its glow, look at it for a bit, get lost in it, and maybe even point. Which means you, the viewer, are the prism through which the work is refracted. Her art in that context is not about what it means, but what it achieves. Which in some cases is the relief of suffering for the mentally ill. Now that is meaningful. Nice one Gill. (Check film here)

And here’s Shaping Light No 3: Selected for The British Glass Biennale 2015, and shortlisted for The Lumen Prize, the global award for digital art.
Patterns of Place: Commissioned for Museums at Night 2014 at Grimsby Minster.

Stitched up like A kipper: Fishy threads loom large on the Humber.

womanwithfishSue_Stone_Textile-Artist_East-End-Girls-aka-Alice-Madge-and-MurielWoman With a Fish, AKA Sue Stone, is a totally unique and original Grimsby voice.  An artist and maker who works in hand stitch, machine embroidery and mixed media to juxtapose often gritty modern urban scenarios and graffiti art with between the wars, homely, nostalgia. The medium of thread making the contrast both jarring and engaging. It’s also funny, but in an odd sort of a way, as opposed to rolling round the floor in err… stitches. The quirky humour coming from a meme sewn into all of Stone’s work, which is the fact that at least one of her subjects is always carrying a fish. An all to common occurrence in this part of the world.

Big fish, little fish… hey we forgot the cardboard box again.

She is current chair and exhibiting member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen. Born in Grimsby, Sue Stone studied Fashion at St Martins School of Art and then Embroidery at Goldsmiths College in London. In her own words, Sue’s mixed media compositions allude to the passing of time by merging images from the past with those from the present. You can check out her blog and more work at Woman With A Fish.

My other Nanna usually gives me money.



Attack The Dock! An alien invasion of GY. What’s not to like?

A shoestring budget and a big vision. If these guys ever got a wedge of cash to play with, then the outcome may well be box office gold.


Yella Belly Films are the area’s master purveyors of high quality short films. Shot on a whopping budget of just £2500, their second outing was the multi award winning Grimsby RV, an epic plot in which an alien invasion of the UK culminates in the evacuation of the Prime Minister’s daughter, by special forces, from a rendezvous (RV) point you won’t see in the upcoming 20th Century Fox summer blockbuster Independence Day Resurgence: The Dock Tower!

If you say this place is a dump one more time…

It’s a genius idea, but don’t just take our word for it, here’s 15 minutes of film you won’t regret watching check it out here.

It also contains some great lines which we  particularly appreciate at The Straw That Broke The Haddock’s Back: The soldiers who are charged with saving the life of the PM’s offspring suggest that Grimsby may have looked much the same before the alien invasion. Cheeky! Here’s hoping the team at Yella Belly decide to get back in the saddle for a third short film, and perhaps start a studio franchise out of Grimsby… Bellywood anyone!?



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