Jimmy Johnstone, Life Stories, BBC Alba

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07xdrv3/jimmy-johnston

James Connolly Johnstone was born on the 30th September 1944. He died on 13th March 2006. We all know who Jinky is. We voted him Celtic’s best-ever player and if you look at the footage of that night, you’ll see a young looking Martin O’Neil and a grinning number seven with dreadlocks called Henrik Larsson. A statue of Jinky is outside Parkhead, but he rests in our hearts. Because Celtic is our religion and he’s one of us.

I’d met Billy Smith in Dalmuir, one of the older guys that used to train our Guild team. He remained remarkably young looking up until he got Motor Neurone Disease.  

‘How you getting on Jake?’ he asked.

‘No bad,’ I said. ‘But I heard you’ve got that thing, like that Fernando Ricksen?’

Fernando Ricksen had been in the Daily Record and the other media. He’d been to his spiritual home at Ibrox, but was in a wheelchair.

Billy was quick to shake his head and correct me. ‘No, no like Fernando Ricksen, like Jimmy Johnstone.’

No statute for Billy Smith, but I understood what he was saying, without wanting to find out what it meant. It’s endgame and part of the Jimmy Johnstone story. Archie Macpherson said it was like being in a room when the walls closed in. But Jimmy didn’t die alone. Agnes, his wife, his son and two daughters were beside him.  His Celtic family were there for him. The team that won the European Cup in 1967 supported him through his illness. Bertie Auld, who was never lost for words, but now, sadly, has dementia visited Jimmy almost every day. When asked why, for once, Bertie was stuck for words. ‘That’s just…who he was,’ he says. Hail, Hail, Bertie.

And a special word, for a special friend, the Rangers winger, Willie Henderson. He was there for Jimmy too. But he said he found it hard. Hail, Hail, Willie Henderson.

My brother Stephen (SEV, may he RIP) told me the story of working for Lawrence and asking this wee labourer to get him some two-by-two planks. Then he realised it was Jimmy Johnstone. Much has been made of Messi’s standoff with Barcelona. The Argentinian was willing to take a pay cut from his annual salary of twenty million Euros (which didn’t include bonuses or image rights). But here was wee Jinky, whom 100 000 Spaniards in the Bernabéu stadium, cried ‘Ole, Ole,’ every time he touched the ball in  Alfredo Di Stéfano’s  testimonial match, following their European Cup win. Jinky, was quite simply, the best player in the world. Yet, here he was working in a building site, after offering to sell all his medals for £10 000 to William Haughey. It’s difficult to imagine Messi doing that.

But it was a different world then. We used to think that guys like Billy McNeil and Dixie Deans would be alright because they had their own pub. They would always have money and an income, we thought.

My brother and Jimmy had something in common. They were both alkies. No pubs for them. One day at a time.  Jimmy’s son, James, shakes his head, when he remembers what his da had become. Anyone that has been to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings know what happens when the guys that at the top table get competitive and start telling stories of their fall from grace. One guy might say he ate a baby seal pup in front of its mother. And the next guy will tell you he did something similar, but didn’t stop with one seal pup. But Jimmy could say he’d held up the European Cup. He’d done a lot of stupid things and played for teams he didn’t want to, but it was a job, and one he could do.

He played in with San Jose Earthquakes, but he couldn’t be doing with all that American stuff as if it was show business. He wanted to get back to Viewpark, and home. He’d spells with Sheffield United and played three times for Dundee. Tommy Gemmill was the manager, and he was being kind when he said he brought him in to do a job. Gordon Strachan remembers getting drunk with Jinky and thinking he’d hit the big time. Jinky played with Shelbourne and ended his career with Elgin City.

His heart remained at Parkhead. He tells the story of crying in the car park, after Jock Stein had let him go. Archie Macpherson said that if Jock had a favourite, it was Jinky, but Jock Stein was ruthless when it came to our team. He cut Jinky loose and the wee man unravelled. Like Benny Lynch, he turned to the drink, and thought he could sweat it off.

Jinky might have been the greatest ever, but he fancied himself a bit of a singer. When Rod Stewart visited he told him to shut up and give him the microphone. He sung a duet with Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr. Jinky’s daughter remembered Billy Connelly sleeping on the floor.

Jinky believed in UFO’s, and John Clark tells a story of how Jinky wanted him to take him to some godforsaken place to hunt for aliens. But Jinky never strayed far from his home in Viewpark. Like another legend, Tommy Burns (also on BBC Alba), he was devout and was buried in his local parish. Jimmy Johnstone was our Messi. But he was just an ordinary wee guy with extraordinary football ability that worked as a labourer, did what we all dreamed of a kid, played for Celtic and loved the club. Hail, Hail. May he RIP.   

Rip it Up, BBC 2 9pm, BBC iPlayer, produced and directed by Pete Stanton.

rip it up.jpg

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bbbv4w/rip-it-up-series-1-1-blazing-a-trail

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bc3ljs/rip-it-up-series-1-2-success-and-excess

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bc3ljs/rip-it-up-series-1-2-success-and-excess

Rip it Up and Start Again. Rip it Up and Start Again. That’s the lyrics to an Orange Juice song.  I don’t know my contraltos from my tomatoes. Doesn’t matter.  I loved Rip it Up, three hours of nostalgia and the good old days that never existed. My favourites were KLF, the millionaires who burnt a million quid (alledgedly). I forgot how bonkers and how good they were. Watching clips of them made me laugh. I did quite well, in the quiz accompanying the series, which is equally bonkers, out of the five billion vinyl sales of records I bought three albums. Saturday Night Fever, Bat out of Hell and something else, but not with Pan Pipe music. Fuck off Pan Pipes and Fuck off with The Birdy Song.

The last episode ‘Success and Excess,’ was a bit out of my league, it was all about indy music and independent record labels, as a person that doesn’t listen to music and hardly listened to music when I was younger, I’d never heard of them. What it reminded me of was that old trope that anyone can write a book and get it published. There was that self-congratulatory feel from the falling faces of established stars. Guys and girls in their bedroom are going to make music and make it in the music industry.

That’s called the exception to the rule, rule. More commonly known as bullshit.

The first episode ‘Blazing a Trail’ had a more honest narrative appeal. In other words, I liked it. Lulu and Donovan. Nazareth, are a bit like The Jesus and Mary Chain to me, never heard their music but the names have that familiar ring. I’m more a Middle of the Road kinda guy. Here we find they were a precursor to Abba (I liked the blonde one).  And when you listen, it’s all there, under all that hair. Loved it. From the Skiffle of Lonnie Donniegan to the Bay City Rollers.

Now we’re hitting my childhood. My sister fancies Alan because he looked quite quiet. I can see her point. John von Neumann, I think it was who helped to develop Game Theory and had other side-lines in Dangerous Minds, suggested when you were trying to get aff with somebody don’t go for the A* lister, which in my time was Pauline Moriarity, go for the cast off, ugly duckling. Then you’ve got a chance. So logically, my sister fancied Alan because she’d no chance with Les. In the same way I didn’t fancy Farah Fawcett, but the ugly Charlie’s Angel because if we ever met, that was it. The Bay City Rollers sold over 100 million vinyl records. I bought zero. They ended up skint, but that wasn’t my fault. I didn’t get pocket money and if I did I bought a packet of caramels, which lasted longer.  So much for the big music industry.

‘Success and Excess’, the second programme featured that well know band from my neck of the woods, Wet, Wet, Wet. The Clydebank Group hit a virtuous circle, a number 1 hit tied in with the soundtrack of a successful film. That’s international success, and breaks the American market, right away. See Glaswegian  Jim Kerr, Simple Minds and that coming-of-age movie The Breakfast Club. For any band this is called the licence to print money club.

I was talking to my brother about this. Marty Pellow’s brother was called Kojak. That wasn’t his real name. We got into a fight when I was younger and he tried to steal my carry-oot. Nobody puts Baby in the Corner. Really? Yeh, I stole that line from Dirty Dancing, which was the complete opposite of what most of us were doing. Real disco dancing was a bit of awakward-larity elbow movement, looking at your feet and appearing as if you’d just shuffled out of a dark wardrobe and was hoping for a girl to give you directions, preferably a pretty girl. And nobody steals my carry-oot, even Marty Pellow’s brother. Right enough that’s not his real name either. He’s dead now. (RIP) The summer of 1976 was the hottest summer until now and well, when it’s pissing down these programmes take you right back to your childhood. Terrific TV.

The Breakfast Club written and directed by John Hughes. Film 4.

the breakfast club

It’s been thirty years since I watched The Breakfast Club. I truanted from real life and took a step back into Shermar High school where it’s always Saturday detention in 1984. The Simple Minds hold play with a number one both sides of the Atlantic, Don’t You Forget About Me?  The only thing I could remember about the original was Molly Ringwald and one of the other detainees admitted they didn’t need to be in detention but they’d nowhere else to go. That was Ally Sheedy.

There’s no point in telling you the characters’ names or who they portray. It’s more like archetypes. Molly Ringwald is the beauty, with luscious lips like pumped up pears and more teeth than a shark. And she’s a ginger, but she is young, perhaps the youngest of the Bratpack. (For example, Demi Moore another member of the Bratpack, but she is not in this film, is more of a conventional beauty and a lot prettier.) But back then I’d hair. Everybody had hair. They probably had to have an extra hairdresser for every young budding star. Ally Sheedy is the bag lady, to Molly Ringwald’s queen bee, of those serving time in school detention. Ally’s hair is mushy and brushed down over her face. Molly’s hair is shiny as copper coins. They’re as far apart as Alaska to Easter Island. But after they do a bit of bonding the brains of the bunch, Anthony Michael Hall, asks if we’ll still be buddies on Monday, when school goes back. Molly strikes him down, puts him right. Of course they won’t. How could they be? But then we get the classic cliché of transformations and school maggot turning into a butterfly. Usually, the girl is transformed by taking off her specs and putting her hair up. Ally doesn’t wear specs, because the conventional film formula is only geeks like Anthony wear them. But Molly shows her how to be a woman. She does Ally’s hair, puts a little blusher on and does her eyes. Voila, the unveiling.

She doesn’t look that much different to me, but eyestrain and specs have taken the slack in life. The guys on set are keyed to say, whoa, we never knew she was so hot. Sporty, Emilio Estevez, gets her in a strangle hold and kisses her so passionately her hair straightens. Who can blame him? She’d got nice hair and that hairband does wonders for a bag lady.

The big and bad true romance is between beauty and the beast. Judd Nelson has the longest hair. He’s a rebel with a criminal past. In his locker he’s got dope. Just don’t look at the finger glove he wears.  After one squiff, one sniff of dope, and the music is on full blast, Sporty does a few star-jumps to show how athletic he is, Brains dons a pair of sunglasses and shakes his head like Stevie Wonder and Ally beetles about making strange squeaking noise. I didn’t think the music then was that great either. I can’t remember what the criminal mastermind does. I guess the camera spent much of the time on the beauty bopping about like a person with only one hip that kept knocking her sideways. You know the criminal and the beauty are going to hit off each other and fall into a conventional relationship. He’s shown her his flick-knife and he’s seen her knickers (white and clean, or so it seemed, I looked discretely away, of course). For god’s sake she even said ‘I hate you!’ It couldn’t be more obvious if she’d a big love heart tattooed to her forehead.

Start with I hate you and work your way to I love you, but Mr and Mrs I didn’t really understand the real you. The connecting thread is Phil Larkin, This be Verse. ‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad./They may not mean to, but they do./ They fill you with the faults they had. And add some extra, just for you’. All of the detainees in their own way admit this truth to one another. They are more the same than different. Judd the criminal brains does a cameo of the academic brain’s sparkling home life, with his dad and mum asking him if he wants to go fishing and compares it with his own. Brains big secret is he’d a gun in his locker. Nothing much in America really changes. Every kid seems to have a gun in his locker. It’s an American right. I enjoyed this. But I won’t be looking back again – not for another thirty years. By that time I’ll be so old I’ll forget what I’m not looking at. Oh yeh, Molly Ringwald.