5 things you did not know about Blair Millen

19th Dec 2006

  • I was named after Santa
  • I lived a recklessly wild and dangerous life for a while (for fun)
  • I used to paint living rooms for a living
  • I did a milk round when I was 13
  • I wrote a tribute song for Kurt Cobain

I was named after Santa

No, my real name isn't Santa Millen, nor does Santa feature anywhere in my name (and Santa's real name wasn't Blair either). My middle name is Nicholas, which is much better than Atholl, which is what my father wanted to call me.

I lived a recklessly wild and dangerous life for a while (for fun)

And to a certain extent I still do, although I'm beginning to slow things down a bit in my old age. I'm referring to cycling (in Glasgow in particular) and hill running.

Cycling in Glasgow is an exceptionally dangerous business (although I'm sure this extends to any busy, built-up area); you really do need to have your wits about you when on two wheels. I've lost count of the number of times I've been involved in dramatic road incidents (including one involving just me I'm embarrassed to say). If not being hit by a black taxi cab or chased by a mental bus driver I've been snagged by unexpectedly swung-open car doors and caught unawares by icy patches. One unforgettable (although I wish I could forget) close-call involved a time when my bike was due for a service and needed some repair, the chain slipped and so did I, right over the handlebars, landing on both my head and shoulder... luckily the fast-approaching bus behind managed to stop in time and only my pride was bashed!

In the last year or so I've cut down on the cycling but I'm still keen on hill running. As you may imagine running up steep, rocky, grassy, scree-covered slopes and then running back down them can be a pretty dangerous sport. I've had a my fair share of incidents to match the cycling escapades, including a fractured rib, a split knee and more sprained ankles than you could shake a bicycle pump at. We'll see how long I manage before to survive before something really serious happens.

I used to paint living rooms for a living

Not as a painter and decorator I hasten to add, although interestingly my father and younger brother both do this for a living. When I painted living rooms (and other intimate interiors) for a living I was pursuing a career as a full-time artist. I studied drawing and painting at Glasgow School of Art in the early 1990's and until 2002 I managed to scrape together a living selling my art work. I used to focus on figurative compositions but on occasion there would be nobody in the painting, just an interior.

I did a milk round when I was 13

I always had a job when I was growing up. Over the years I've washed dishes, waited on tables, changed beds, cut grass and delivered newspapers. One of my first jobs was a milk round at the tender age of 13. My younger brother and I used to rise at 4.30am and quietly deliver dairy goods for about two hours every morning before school. It was very tough work and we lasted about two weeks.

I wrote a tribute song for Kurt Cobain

Very cheesy I admit but I wasn't the only one; quite a few famous artists penned tunes in tribute to the Nirvana front man, including a whole album by Neil Young called Sleeps with Angels. Don't ever ask me to sing it because I always break down in tears... only joking I just can't remember the words or the tune.

Five people I'd like to know more about:

real life