Listen Closely: Ron Butlin’s The Sound Of My Voice (Revisited)…

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Back in 2011 I wrote a post for the much missed Dear Scotland website on Ron Butlin’s 1987 novel The Sound Of My Voice as part of the monthly Indelible Ink column. In it I made the claim that it was “The Greatest Scottish Novel You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of”. A new edition is being published by Polygon, and I thought this was the perfect time to revisit it to see if that assertion still stood strong.

I should lay my cards on the table before we start. The Sound Of My Voice is one of those cultural touchstones which have become part of my identity. As with the music of The Blue Nile, the writing of James Kelman, the films of Bill Forsyth, and everything that John Byrne has ever done, it is something I evangelise about, attempting conversions whenever possible. These are important relationships and returning to them after time away brings the possibility of disappointment and disillusion if you find they no longer affect you as they once did. It’s a risky business.  Continue reading

Fringe Benefits: Scots Whay Hae!’s Top 10 Picks Of The Edinburgh Fringe…

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August means Edinburgh, and there is so much on offer that it can be tough to separate the wheat from the cultural chaff. You can peruse the full programme here, but to give you some guidance here are Scots Whay Hae!’s pick of the Fringe. There’s comedy, theatre, music and more – hopefully, something for everyone.

2017MOREMOI_T4Alan Bissett – (More) Moira Monologues –  Scottish Storytelling Centre
After two sold-out Edinburgh Fringe runs, straight-talking single mum Moira Bell returns in a new instalment of Alan Bissett’s much-loved one-woman show. Moira’s a gran now, but still telling hilarious home-truths about dating, her estranged sister, cleaning posh folk’s hooses, the return of her ex Billy, and Brexit.

UnknownGary McNair – Letters To Morrisey – Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) ​
It’s 1997. You’re 11. You’re sad, lonely and scared of doing anything that would get you singled out by the hopeless, angry people in your hometown. One day you see a man on telly. He’s mumbling, yet electrifying. He sings: ‘I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does’. You become obsessed with him. You write to him. A lot. It’s 2017. You find those letters and ask yourself: ‘Has the world changed, or have I changed?’. Gary McNair returns after his award-winning sell-out show A Gambler’s Guide to Dyingwww.madeinscotlandshowcase.com

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Irvine Welsh & Dean Cavanagh – Performers – Assembly Rooms (Venue 20)
Making its debut in Edinburgh, Performers is a black comedy from Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh. The longtime collaborators have turned their attention to 1960s swinging London and the making of the film Performance, a violent and trippy cult film that starred Mick Jagger and James Fox. The play revolves around two gangsters auditioning for roles and how far they will go to impress. Sexuality, identity, memory and Francis Bacon are examined as the pair try to make sense of the situation they have found themselves in. In 1960s swinging London, naked ambition trumps everything. Continue reading

You Have Been Watching…T2 Trainspotting

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The sweat wis lashing oafy this boy. Was T2 Trainspotting a terrible idea, destined to disappoint and lessen the memory of seeing the original on its day of release in 1996, emerging blinking from a cinema thinking someone had made a film for me and mine? As soon as the credits roll, with Mark Renton pounding the virtual pavement of an Amsterdam running machine, interspersed with clips of Johan Cruyff showing that anything Archie Gemmill could do he could do better, it’s clear we are in safe hands.

This is a film which is an unashamed nostalgic experience for audience and cast alike, but it’s not wallowing – and it’s certainly not viewing that past through rose-tinted glasses. This is through a glass darkly, with old scores looking to be settled and many demons to be faced down. It’s rare for a film to hold a mirror up to its audience in this manner and ask them to take a good, hard look at themselves; who they are, who they were, and what they have done. Regrets? Too few to mention? If only. Continue reading

Write On: A Preview Of Aye Write 2015…

I don’t wish to be cruel, or at least I don’t enjoy it, but for a few years now the Aye Write! Book Festival has felt like it had lost its way somehow. While there continued to be must attend events, the programming appeared to lack focus and thought, with panels often featuring writers with little in common, or there were similar writers appearing in different rooms at the same time, splitting potential audiences.

I’m genuinely delighted to say, having taking time poring over this year’s programme, that Aye Write! seems to have rediscovered its mojo. You know a festival is on the right lines when it threatens to bankrupt you as you add tickets to your basket. While all successful events rely on a good team, kudos must surely go to Bob McDevitt, this year’s guest programmer, for presiding over such sterling work.

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