Jun 282012
 

Gubby Plenderleith, our Special Correspondent for Arts, Culture and the Media, reports on the ground-breaking pilot for a new reality TV show.

It’s forty four years since Andy Warhol first forecast the future in which everybody would be famous for fifteen minutes.
That future has well and truly come and while not everyone has achieved fame, the current crop of reality TV shows has ensured that far more people than ever have realised a degree of celebrity that could never have been envisaged in 1968.

But while reality TV to date has favoured the younger members of its audience – the Club 18 to 30 of society if you like – production company Endthemall is currently piloting a show where the stars will all be senior citizens. 

The idea of the show is for a group of pensioners to share a house for two weeks, with a range of tasks, treats and penalties being administered by ‘Big Daddy’ in order to see how they interact.

The working title for the show is Grandad’s House and, having been lucky enough to be invited to view some of the footage which has already been recorded, I offer you below a taster of what we can expect to see when the show is aired nationwide.

6.13 pm     Bill and Gladys are tidying up in the kitchen.  Rose prepared the tea tonight – sausage rolls and alphabetti spaghetti – and is now fast asleep on the couch beside Tom, who’s slowly packing the few remaining strands of what’s still left of this week’s Tam o’ Shanter into his pipe.  Meanwhile, in the boys’ bedroom, Jack has stretched out on the top of his bed and snores gently, the gentle rhythm broken only by the occasional expulsion of flatulence.

6.42 pm     Bill and Gladys have finished in the kitchen and gone into the garden.  Bill’s trying to play bowls, but the chickens keep escaping from their pen and cluster around the jack.

Maggie, who’s been trying all week to get one of the boys to hold his hands out in the regulation manner in order that she can wind her wool, has given up and sits quietly on the deck area.

6.59 pm    Matt, the oldest person in the house, is telling them all again how old he is.

“We know you’re 93,” says Tom, “you’ve told us every hour of every day since we’ve got here!”

“Have I?” asks Matt and tells them again.

7.02 pm     The Housechums, having successfully completed this week’s task – staying in bed until 7 o’clock on at least one morning – are putting together their shopping list.  Gladys is again lobbying for an extra bottle of Sanatogen Wine, while Matt reminds everyone that the ten cartons of Steradent they ordered last week have already run out.

“It’s not funny when you get to my age,” he says, “I’m 93 you know!”

7.05 pm     Matt tells the Housechums again that he’s 93.  Tom swears under his breath and passes wind.

7.11 pm     Jack appears in the living room and tells everyone that there must be something wrong with the drains.  They ask him why and he tells them that there’s one hell of a smell in the bedroom.

7.14 pm     Maggie shuffles into the living room and asks if anyone knows where the Rennies are.  Jean, who’s been sleeping quietly in the corners, wakes up tells her they’re where they always-bloody-are!  Maggie asks her where that is and Jean tells her she knows damned fine before nodding off again.

Matt starts to tell her about a sergeant named Rennie who was in the Black Watch with him, but she tells him not to start and waddles off to the girls’ bedroom.

7.21 pm     Matt asks Gladys if it’s time for tea yet and Jack tells him they’ve already had their tea.  Matt asks him what he had and whether he enjoyed it.

7.27 pm     Big Daddy tells the Housechums that, as a special treat, they’re to be allowed to watch Coronation street tonight.  Maggie and Gladys both tell everyone that it’s their favourite programme and how that Gail Tilsley’s no better than she should be.  Jack says it’s a load of pish and Matt starts to tell them how old he is but falls asleep before he finishes the sentence.

7.34 pm     Gladys, Maggie and Jean sit watching television when Bill wanders in from the garden and ask them what crap’s on the telly now.  They tell him that Big Daddy is letting the Housechums watch Coronation Street as a special treat.

Bill tells them that the only reason he came into the Grandad’s House was to get away from bloody Coronation Street, bloody East Enders and bloody Emmerdale.  They tell him that he missed out River City and he tells them that it’s the best bloody programme on the bloody telly and how he’s always been interested in boats and sailing before going back out to the garden.

7.42 pm      During the commercial break Jean goes into the kitchen to put the kettle on while Jack and Tom get up to go to the toilet.  Maggie asks them where they’re going and, when they tell her, she reminds them that this will be the third time they’ve gone in the last hour.

Matt tells them how convenient his colostomy bag is.

7.57 pm     With Coronation Street finished, the Housemates hope that Big Daddy will let them watch the next programme but the screen goes blank.

8.02 pm     The Housechums have returned to compiling this week’s shopping list.  Maggie and Jean are discussing the relative merit of two different brands of pork luncheon meat, while Jack tells them not to get any eggs as he’s been bound for the last five days.

8.13 pm     Bill comes in from the garden and announces that he’s going to his bed.  The Housechums all agree that this is an excellent idea as they’ve got to be up early in the morning and join him.

Clearly Endthemall have worked their particular brand of magic again and we can look forward to yet another example of the kind of reality TV that has made British broadcasting what it is today.

 Image Credit:  © Frenk And Danielle Kaufmann | Dreamstime.com

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Jun 222012
 

Summer Solstice – a standing still of the sun on the longest day. In that magical moment of stillness, before the sun starts its journey back towards the Winter Solstice, the possibilities presented by the Universe are unlimited.  This Summer Solstice 2012, Aberdeen Voice’s Nicola McNally and Rob Scott  joined Be Free at Haddo House to celebrate with a Firewalk ceremony.

Gathering before dusk, the Be Free team – Graeme Pyper and Clare Rochford, with their ‘3 stripes’ Fire-keepers Dougie Bogie and Arron Pyper – made all their preparations for the event.
Working away to the sounds of shamanic drums on an eclectic soundtrack in Haddo’s grounds on this longest day of the year, the fire was soon glowing as wood smoke and laughter filled the air.

Graeme explained:

“The path for the Firewalk is aligned with the setting Solstice sun, to the West of Haddo House.  The new path is prepared over the existing Firewalk path here.   Each piece of wood is set in place by hand by the Fire-keeper as a mark of respect to those walking the fire.  Silver birch wood, symbolising new beginnings, is used to line the path.”

Once the preliminary work was done to set up the fire path and participants had placed their personal offerings into the flames to burn, the Firewalkers were led into Haddo House to assemble for the workshop part of the evening with Graeme.

As Be Free’s founder, Graeme Pyper has an ardent interest in Extreme Human Potential and the relationship between mind and body.  He has experience in a wide range of ancient Eastern techniques which have been virtually unknown in the Western world and he combines these Eastern techniques with Western psychological approaches.

As a workshop leader, Graeme is inspiring and relaxed and uses his sense of humour to good effect.  The group of firewalkers at Haddo were inspired to share their wishes and motivations for completing their Firewalk.

There was a mixture of men and women – Aberdonians, Australians, Americans – some experienced and some new to Firewalking.  One returning Firewalker, the beautiful and brave Dee, was aiming to complete the walk; she had started Chemotherapy treatment that very day and her determination to succeed was obvious.

Another group member, Emma, was walking to commemorate the 5th anniversary of her grandfather’s death and she carried his wristwatch.

  One by one, to the sounds of wild applause and respect from the others, they walked barefoot through the fire.

Others in the group were walking for charitable causes and personal reasons.

The emotion and motivation of the firewalkers was so strong, encouraged by Graeme to approach their Firewalk with courage and excitement.

As the sun set, Fire-keepers Dougie and Arron had the Firewalk path all prepared and the group were led out into the dark night towards the glowing embers of the candlelit path west of the main House.  They assembled in a circle.  One by one, to the sounds of wild applause and respect from the others, they walked barefoot through the fire.

Singly, in pairs, or in groups they went across the burning path and were met with a huge hug from Graeme waiting at the other side as they completed their spiritual or personal quest.

The Summer Solstice has had spiritual significance for thousands of years as humans have been amazed by the great power of the sun.  On this year’s Summer Solstice, June 21st at 00:09, this Firewalk provided a celebration which continued with music and stories around the fire until the sun reappeared on the horizon at Haddo House.

Clare Rochford of Be Free told Aberdeen Voice:

“Be Free’s mission is to take people beyond what they thought possible and free them from what inhibits them.”

In their closing ceremony this Solstice, where the participants earned their stripes, this mission statement seemed like the perfect description of what we all experienced that night – yes, the two Aberdeen Voice team members walked across the Solstice Fire for AV that night!

To find out more about Be Free’s Firewalking events, contact Graeme Pyper on 07971 927765 or email Graeme.pyper@btopenworld.com

solstice-firewalk-1

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Mar 092012
 

Referendums, deer culls, employers telling employees how to vote, services cuts, classroom assistants under threat.  Old Susannah cuts to the heart of the matter and ponders upcoming Lord Provost parties.

Tally Ho!  It’s been a boring week in Aberdeen; referendums, deer culls, habitation destruction and other criminal activity notwithstanding.  I will write a column over the weekend once a few conditions have hopefully been met.

First, I need to find something important and local to write about, and second – I must find an outfit to wear for the Lord Provost’s upcoming parties.  I’ll need everything from some evening gowns to designer jeans for the nearly £28,000 worth of partying just approved by the ‘Lord Provost Sub Committee’ – and that’s on top of the £4,000 party to launch his £9,000 portrait. I am sure my invitations will arrive shortly.

At the time of writing it is not clear whether residents of a home for people with paralysis issues are still being told not to drink too much fluid at night and buy rubber mattresses, as their overnight on-site assistants are no longer affordable.  Perhaps Lord Provost Stephen will invite some of them to one of his little get-togethers.

Hopefully my party invitatins from the Lord Provost  won’t arrive as late as the bundles of postal votes which showed up too late to be counted in the aforementioned referendum.  Hard luck, eh?  Kind of reminds me of when I personally handed in 63 individual postcards protesting the deer cull to the city’s Town House – only to get a letter from Valerie Watts saying she’d had a total of less than 40 from all sources.  But it would be wrong to mention that, or the deer cull.

Unfortunately national media are about to cover the cull, with one reporter telling me this tree planting/deer cull is ‘bizarre’.  Clearly only Aileen HoMalone (newly crowned queen of the Lib Dems – not counting Nick Clegg), Pete Leonard and Ian Tallboys can understand the importance of ripping up existing habitat to expose industrial waste and rocks on which to plant trees that can’t possibly thrive.  The rest of us are thick.

Being busy with the important business of buying new outfits for all the upcoming Lord Provost events means there’s no time for a column just yet, but don’t despair  – the link below will take you to a spread sheet you can download to keep as a little gift.  This shows how our favourite councillors have voted over Union Terrace Gardens and culling deer – with plenty of room for you to fill in the results of your favourite votes as well.

This may be a handly little reminder when it comes time to vote of who is dynamic, forward-thinking and so on.

Here is the link:  http://oldsusannahsjournal.yolasite.com/

You will also find an additional present with this spread sheet – Old Susannah has made her own portrait of the Lord Provost, complete with wife and glamorous security guard.  I would be happy to sell it for less than £9,000, and rather than holding a £4,000 drinks party to celebrate my artwork, I’d happily go down to BrewDog for a pint instead.

So that’s it for now – more in a few days, if I can find some subject matter.  Cheerio!

Feb 282012
 

It seems all Aberdeen’s comic characters are lining up to do PR with the BIG Partnership. Jake the Ghost ghost-wrote an article, Morris the Monkey has a blog. Even Sir Ian Wood has given interviews. Old Susannah always wondered what life was like for celebrity characters, and while Morris the Monkey hasn’t as yet returned any of Old Suz’s phone calls, Lena the Hyena had a window of opportunity, and spoke to Voice.

Old Susannah: Lena, you’ll have seen the Morris the Monkey blog written in conjunction with BIG Partnership.
My question is, as a Hyena and a professional writer, are you worried about Morris the Monkey’s appearance on the Aberdeen celebrity animal journalism scene?

What’s your opinion of Morris’ sensational new blog in support of the CGP?

Lena the Hyena: Hi Suzanne.

Morris, you’re not alone in hoping that one day Aberdeen City Council would take its responsibilities seriously and give some much needed attention to Union Terrace Gardens. Sadly it has failed in that duty and, yes, its gates are locked early and too often.

I once stood with a group of embarrassed City officials, including the Lord Provost, locked out of the Gardens where a launch of a piece of granite art was supposed to be happening. So we slunk around Union Terrace for a while then sloped off to the Town House. Such is typical of Aberdeen City Council’s slick operations.

Yes, Morris, the once vibrant Gardens have been well and truly abandoned by this irresponsible Council.

And talking about that my dear Morris, let me take you aside and explain that the reason no-one plays draughts in Union Terrace Gardens anymore is, Morris, because the Council took them away. The rascally spoilsports. Watching people playing chess in the centre of New York is a fine pastime for passers-by and so it was in Aberdeen. Then the Council stepped in, and you know Morris, when the guy from the Council, let’s call him Mr No, turned up with his clipboard he wasn’t going anywhere without confiscating the old guys’ draughts.

You got friends in the Council, Morris? Perhaps if you asked the spoilsports to return the draughts they might oblige, it could be that they’re still locked up in the Gardens just over the road from you.

Trainspotting, Morris? You do know that no-one will be able to spot trains once the concrete web is built don’t you, Morris? Didn’t spot that one coming either, did you, you wee monkey?

Oh Morris, Morris – just how will the concrete web make the gardens greener? Morris?

Please Morris take that banana out of your eye. Hemmin, gie’s a packet o’ that green grass. No nae that green grass that ither green grass.

Morris lad. You can’t be serious!

Bigger trees, Morris? Now you really are taking the monkey. The big trees, Morris – and I’ll say this very slowly – the big trees are being chopped down and wee trees will be planted, in tubs no doubt, supplied by a mannie who is backing this project. Not big trees, Morris, really quite wee trees. If you try swinging on any of them you’re no going to last long when you drop off and plunge onto a whole lot of awfully hard concrete. And then Morris, you’ll be on yer own, unless any of your pals in the Council are fellow swingers. A wee nudge there Morris.

Oh, Morris, lad, I sympathise with you that your bar is empty. God only knows why. Me? I couldn’t hazard a guess. Hey – you got a good friend, Morris? Someone who could be honest with you?

And a wee word of advice, Morris, don’t listen to rumours. Most of them are wishful thinking or even deliberately deceitful, Morris, can you believe that? Humans call that monkey business. Ooh, mischief-making, rascality, roguery but being a monkey you’re probably familiar with this, eh Morris?

Feb 032012
 

In the concluding part of Voice’s interview with author Maggie Craig, she talks of life as a NE inabootcomer who’s only been here for 20 years. By David Innes.

How do you write? A laptop in a particular place? The classic 500 words every day no matter what, which you go back and edit later on?

Not quite. 500 is a paltry number of words. 2000 is a good total for the day. I have a computer upstairs and I go up there and work for the morning until about one or two o’ clock. I write about ten thousand words, six or seven chapters, and then go back and start shaping it. I think of it like how my auntie used to make butter, patting it into shape.

The book I’m writing just now started because I saw a photo of a man’s face and there was something about his eyes made him look very sad.

He’s turned into a character in eighteenth century Edinburgh although his name’s Catto. His family’s from around the Methlick area, so Aberdeenshire is coming into it.

You’ve said that you admire what Aberdeen Voice is doing, but you believe there’s a lack of radicalism in the North East.

It’s not something I’ve ever been made aware of, although living out here I feel very dislocated from the city. But when I go into Aberdeen I don’t feel a heartbeat. You get that heartbeat in Glasgow although I know because that’s my own place, I would feel it. I was almost surprised when I saw Aberdeen Voice and I thought, “That’s great, there are radicals in Aberdeen!”, but the whole presentation of Aberdeen is that corporate, business “let’s go to the Oilmen’s Ball and we’re all doing charity for Marie Curie”  thing, so you’re not seeing that radicalism on the street.

I’ve been coming to Aberdeen and the North East since I was a wee girl and there’s so much there but much of it’s occult. I’m really interested in the folklore but it needs to be explored. North East people seem to be terribly backward at coming forward. What infuriates me is when you go into the bank or the Post Office and they stand so far back and you go, “Go forward! You’re the bloody customer!” It’s almost like you’ve got your cap in your hand.

Well, let’s discuss the Turra Coo.  Let’s marshal the arguments

When I was speaking to the kids in Ellon, I said, “I don’t think the Turra Coo reflects very well on the North East”, and one girl looked horrified. She’d obviously been brought up to think that the Turra Coo was a great story, but you had to be very careful about political views as you could lose your job.

I have this friend who, when she was at school, only twenty or thirty years ago, was told because she was a farm labourer’s daughter, “You’ll never make anything of yourself”. That’s what’s been done to young minds. She’s an intelligent girl, but doesn’t think that she is because she’s been told she’s a neep. There are a lot of entrenched attitudes, I think. You have to teach people to think for themselves, to give them self-esteem. That’s so important.

The kids at Ellon Academy impressed me. They’re getting a good education, but it’s so focussed on them passing exams and not, “Well, let’s discuss the Turra Coo. Let’s see what you think. Let’s marshal the arguments”. It’s stimulating to change your mind on something you were brought up with. Or not, of course.

There’s a meeting in January about some cultural development in Aberdeen. They’re using the usual jargon, it’s going to be a “step change” in the cultural life of the city and Aberdeenshire, but what I liked was that they’re saying that culture should not always be associated with the money it can earn. Culture and creativity should be there for their own sakes. Aberdeen needs more of that, I think, as it all seems to come down to the bottom line.

I’m sure industry’s highly-successful. I’ve met radical people who have worked for oil companies but you don’t say anything there either, do you? You might be the equivalent of Not Required Back.

It would be interesting to research it, to see who got into trouble for standing up for the laird.

So will you write something about this area?

People always ask if I’m going to write about Aberdeenshire, but I’ve not really got under the skin of it. When I found out my mother was from the Haddo House estate I thought that was interesting and could be something to look into, to find out what was going on, but that’s going to come later.

There are wee snippets. I’m fascinated byAberdeen Harbour, the Shore Porters and so on, so I’d love to write something about that.

I did a talk about a non-fiction book to an Aberdeen Ladies lunch a couple of years ago and that tribal thing was so funny. I don’t sound like I come from the North East, so people make judgements that you’re an inabootcomer. But when I said to them that my mother came from Barthol Chapel, it was like, “come in”, they embraced me.

That’s not always the way though. Naively, I thought that since my mother came from near Oldmeldrum, that might help, but to some people even not that far away from there, it might as well be Istanbul!

Thanks to Maggie for giving her time to talk so passionately about her work and what drives it. We fervently hope that her muse inspires a book about her adopted Aberdeenshire and NE Scotland.

Jan 272012
 

One of America’s biggest stars, Rosie O’Donnell, has admitted to millions that she was “moved to tears” by the hit feature documentary You’ve Been Trumped when the film’s director was the main guest on her show last week.

Footage of what the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) described as filmmaker Anthony Baxter’s “violent arrest” was broadcast across  America for the first time.

The broadcast prompted scores of outraged viewers to hit Twitter and Facebook to voice their anger at the actions of Donald Trump, the Scottish Government and Grampian Police.

On The Rosie Show, Baxter revealed how Freedom of Information requests made by the Sunday Herald have only heightened concerns that Grampian Police “have been acting like Donald Trump’s private security force”.  He also accused the force of carrying out a “whitewash cover up enquiry’ into his arrest.

The arrests of Baxter and his colleague Richard Phinney whilst making their film in 2010 prompted fierce criticism from the NUJ. The union described the police’s actions as “a breach of human rights” with “important implications for press freedom”.  

Meanwhile, O’Donnell is urging Americans to watch what she describes as “an amazing film”. She admits to crying during the scene where hundreds of people walk across the bulldozed dunes of the Menie Estate, to show of support for local resident Michael Forbes, accused by Mr Trump of “living like a pig in a slum”.

You’ve Been Trumped will be screened again in Chicago on 22 March, prior to its being rolled out for screenings in Europe as well as in Washington DC, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Arizona and other major American cities.

Clips from The Rosie Show…
http://www.oprah.com/rosie/The-Rosie-Show-Rosie-Takes-on-Trump

You’ve Been Trumped has won a total of eight international film festival awards

WINNER: Starz Denver Film Festival, USA
WINNER: Take One Action Film Festival, Scotland
WINNER: Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, Michigan
WINNER: DaKINO International Film Festival, Bucharest
WINNER: Hamptons International Film Festival, New York
WINNER: Edindocs Film Festival, Edinburgh
WINNER: Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, Nevada City
WINNER: Sheffield International Documentary Festival UK

Michael Moore hand-picked You’ve Been Trumped for his Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan where it won the Special Jury Prize. It is now well on course to be the most successful cinema feature documentary ever produced in Scotland.

Jan 272012
 

By Bob Smith.


There’s jist nithing ti dee
Young eens cry in Aiberdeen
Iss wisna muckle o a problem
Fin I wis aroon seventeen
.
There wis cafes bi the dizzen
Faar ye cwid sit an chat
The famous Holburn Cafe
Or maybe the Kit Kat
.
Syne later on alang Union Grove
Ye cwid dander wi ease
An cum upon The Rendezvous
Better kent as Mama G’s
.
I learnt the airt o duncin
At Garlogie, Echt an Skene
Syne twis  ti the dunce halls
In bonnie Aiberdeen
.
Wednesdays – Abergeldie Jazz Club
Ti listen or jive ti Sandy West
Setterday – doon ti “The Beach”
Faar Leslie Thorpe wis at his best
.
There wis ither eens o coorse
The Palace, Douglas or the Palais
Faar ye cwid fin a bonnie quine
Ti snog up some dark alley
.
There wis Rock n’ Roll an ballads
Maybe jazz it wis yer choice
Played on the latest record players
Made bi Decca or His Master’s Voice
There wis lots o drainpipe troosers
Sweaters wi necks ca’ed crews
There wis Tony Curtis haircuts
An ticht winkle picker shoes
.
Ti the open air duncin at Hazleheid
Ye wid wanner hand in hand
Ti listen ti the music
Or waltz ti Bert Duff’s Band
.
On Sundays ye’d “waak the mat”
An see lassies bi the score
Maybe ye’d bump inti een
Ye’d snogged the nicht afore
.
There wis hullocks o picter hooses
The Majestic an a haill lot mair
The Capitol an the Astoria
Even hid an organ player
.
Ye ask’d a lassie ti the picters
She wis dolled up ti the nines
Ye really felt a cheapskate
Gyaan in the one an nines
.
The faavrit meetin plaicies
Fer the young an gallus
Wis ootside the “Monkey Hoose”
Or near the statue o William Wallace
.
There wis Eric, Bill, Neil, Ian an me
We fairly thocht we war dashin
Noo we’re aa ower sixty five
An rinnin oot o passion

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011

Jan 132012
 

With thanks to Norman  Fiddes.

Meldrum House Hotel  is hosting a Burns Night on  Saturday 28th January 2012 – with a Twist.

Entertainment  on offer will include a piper, traditional addressing of the haggis, a live band, dancers, speeches, and a surprise singing sensation – with a twist.

Guests should arrive for 7.30pm and a buffet dinner will be served at 8.00pm. Carriages at 12.30am

Dress:
Traditional/Modern Casual
Tickets – £40 ( inclusive arrival drink)

To book, email Lucy on events@meldrumhouse.com
Reduced accommodation rate of £99 per couple, B&B

Further info:
Set amidst beautiful countryside, The 4 Star Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course offers unrivalled quality. Only a few miles from Aberdeen, this is one of the finest luxury hotels Scotland has to offer.
http://www.meldrumhouse.com/awards/index.xhtml

Jan 122012
 

Voice reviewed ‘When The Clyde Ran Red’ a few weeks ago. So impressed was David Innes with Maggie Craig’s excellent take on a vital part of Scottish history, that he spent an afternoon in her cosy kitchen on the wrong side of the Balloch, discussing the book’s background, her passion for the subject, and much more besides. Here is Part One of that interview.

How much of your background is in ‘When The Clyde Ran Red’?

A lot of my background. My dad was very involved with Labour politics and was an Inverness town councillor in the 1940s. He moved to Glasgow and became election agent for Cyril Bence, the Labour MP for Dunbartonshire East after Davie Kirkwood, in the early 1950s.

My dad was born in Coatbridge in 1913, so grew up during the Depression. We were told stories about them going over the farmer’s dyke to nick a few neeps and the farmer turning a blind eye because he knew everyone was really hungry.

In fact my dad’s in the book. I discovered a big pile of my dad’s papers which showed he’d written to the Commissioner of Distressed Areas about the Scottish Allotments Scheme for the Unemployed. He was a great gardener and a railwayman and you know how these two things go together.

People say, “Let’s not talk about politics”, and you think, “If you ignore politics it won’t ignore you”. It was my dad’s lifeblood. I remember him crying about a neighbour’s baby who’d died and they’d no money even for a coffin. This would have been, I suppose, in the early 1930s. They wrapped the baby up in brown paper, and he said, “Tied up like a bloody parcel”, because nobody had any money.

There was always the big hoose and the mine owners. He went apoplectic about Sir Alec Douglas Home, who they were working for at one point, because they were living in the lap of luxury when their workers were living in poverty.

My dad was one of about ten and they were really a bright, clever family, and there was this idea that girls who were clever were going to work in factories at 14 and the boys didn’t get a chance either. It was such a waste of potential.

I remember my aunt telling me about how the doctor would come out. It cost five shillings, but they’d a good doctor who’d say, “I’ll get it next time, Liz”. My aunt says they were on first name terms with the doctor, who must have been an idealistic man who saw himself on the same level as the miners he was treating. When you think of some doctors now who insist on their status, it’s an interesting turnaround.

You grew up in the Glasgow area?

I grew up in Clydebank. My dad then got a job as station master which moved us from Clydebank to Bearsden, quite an interesting culture shock! My mother had come from a farm, and the station house we lived in came with a third of an acre of ground which my dad was proud of. It was semi-rural. He came from Carnwath and loved being in the country.

If you go there now the industry’s gone and it’s back to being a rural area. A lot of these Clydeside places were. There were shipyards and tenements, but you went up to the farm to buy eggs. I think there was a love of the land even in industrial areas.

My mother’s from Barthol Chapel on the Haddo House Estate and she used to talk about Lord and Lady Aberdeen. I don’t think her family was as poor as my dad’s, but she told me that her mother sometimes had to sell their butter and buy margarine. That really hit me – the one benefit of being on the land is that your children are going to have healthy food, but that wasn’t always the case.

I think their rural background helped them speak fantastic Scots. There are words my mother used that we still use, like “fair forfochen”. Because my dad came from what he called the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire he had that rich Scots and that’s all running through the book too.

I think there’s an obvious really good prose rhythm in the book, and that possibly explains it, but it’s your passion for the subject that really shines through.

I grew up with it and thought a couple of years ago that it was time I wrote another non-fiction book. I thought, “What do I feel passionately about?” and the book’s the answer.

I went and looked at some of the other books and some of them are pretty dreadful. The Legend of Red Clydeside is hard going, and you come up against the party line quite often. The Marx Memorial Library gave me permission to quote from Helen Crawford which a lot of people said they wouldn’t allow.

You also have to make a judgement about what’s been written and have to say to yourself when reading some of the memoirs, “You’re presenting yourself in a bit of a heroic light here”. I love the wee vignettes, and I don’t think they’re frivolous. Like when James Maxton gives Davie Kirkwood a clean hanky when he gets arrested because he always liked to have one. Somehow you think, “Well, that’s true!”

I think I had a passion to write about it because it seems to have been forgotten. People are talking about austerity nowadays, and I think, “Not yet”. We’re not at the level of poverty where people couldn’t go to work because they didn’t have a pair of shoes, or they had to share a pair of shoes with their sister.

We’re now seeing the prospect of our children doing less well than we did, which is very hard because you want your children to do better than you’ve done. Both my husband and myself are working class kids who’ve made good but you feel as though you’re almost being hit for that – the idea that if you can afford to send your kids to university, you have to bear this cost. This is fine, but you don’t have the cushion that someone like David Cameron has. I had to have a full grant to go to university otherwise I couldn’t have gone.

Next week: The author speaks about her books on the Jacobites, ‘Bare-Arsed Banditti: The Men of the ‘45’ and ‘Damn Rebel Bitches; The Women of the ‘45’, and how this period of Scottish history is misunderstood and worthy of re-evaluation.

Those of you who want to meet Maggie and hear a bit more about her influences have the opportunity on Saturday 21 January when she and fellow writer Kenneth Steven will be at The Central Library, Aberdeen at 11.00 to talk about their love of books.

Nov 222011
 

‘You’ve Been Trumped’ scoops Best Documentary award at one of America’s biggest film festivals ~ Jury calls film ‘deeply troubling’ ~ Salmond stays silent.  With thanks to Tripping Up Trump.

Feature documentary ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ has won its fifth major award – clinching the Best Documentary Prize at the 34th Starz Denver Film Festival, Denver, Colorado, USA.

In winning the award, ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ topped an impressive list of 59 of the year’s very best documentaries from around the world.

Other winners at the prestigious ceremony at the city’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House included actress Judy Greer, Scottish actor Alan Cumming OBE, and Hollywood star James Cromwell – who personally congratulated Montrose based director Anthony Baxter on ‘You’ve Been Trumped’s achievement.

The jury statement read,

“We decided upon a film that tells a story about a greedy capitalist and a community trying to save its home.   We admired the filmmaker’s perseverance and his reluctance to insert himself into the David and Goliath story.

Deeply troubling, amusing, and rousing all at the same time, the winner of the 2011 Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary Film is You’ve Been Trumped.”

Mr Baxter told the audience of several thousand filmgoers and Denver dignitaries,

“The Trump Organisation has called our film ‘a failure’ and me ‘a fraud’ whilst the local residents have been branded ‘a national embarrassment for Scotland.’   I’m proud to accept this award on their behalf.”

You’ve Been Trumped’ has now won a total of five major film festival awards – including a Special Jury Prize at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, the Victor Rabinowitz and Joanne Grant Social Justice Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival in New York, and the Green Award at the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival.

The filmmakers are currently seeking distribution for ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ in the United States, and a major viral campaign supported by Karine Polwart is underway.  The Scottish singer-songwriter has donated her new song, inspired by the film and called Cover Your Eyes, to ‘You’ve Been Trumped’s crowd-funding campaign.

‘You’ve Been Trumped’ will be returning to cinemas in Scotland this weekend, when it plays at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Scotland’s First Minister has been invited to the screenings through an open letter from the film’s director.    Alex Salmond’s private office, has yet to respond to the request.

For further information on ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ visit www.youvebeentrumped.com or on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Youve-Been-Trumped/187472834621346

‘You’ve Been Trumped’ has now won the following awards:

Victor Rabinowitz Social Justice Award – Hampton’s International Film Festival
Special Jury Prize – Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival
Best Documentary (Maysles Brothers Award) – Starz Denver Film Festival
Best Film – Edindocs Film Festival, Edinburgh
Green Award – Doc/Fest (UK)