Imagine, BBC 1, BBC iPlayer, Douglas Stuart – Love, Hope and Grit interviewed by Alan Yentob, Director Linda Sands

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001f89c/imagine-2022-douglas-stuart-love-hope-and-grit

Shuggie Bain, the 2020 Booker prize winner, was Douglas Stuart’s debut novel. It has sold around 1.5 million copies worldwide. His follow-up novel, Young Mungo, is also set in the Glasgow of Stuart’s birth and follows a gay son trying to hang on to the coattails of a mum that is lost to drink, but sometimes finds her way home.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0df1x24

Readings come from the big hitters of Scottish culture. Lulu, who’s been there and done it and is doing it again, did a terrific reading from Shuggie Bain. Val McDermid, who has written more books than the Bible and sold more than Douglas Stuart, spoke about the sinister elements that make Young Mungo’s apparent friendships with St Christopher and Gallowgate nauseating even for a thriller writer. Alan Cumming, who followed a similar trajectory, from a small Scottish town to worldwide queer icon also contributed.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0df23pp

It’s better to be a stupid cunt than a dick. Discuss? The problem of dialect. There is something miraculous about Douglas Stuart’s success because it happened twice. His alcoholic mum died when he was sixteen. He was still at school, yet on the verge of homelessness. But he wasn’t good at school. The only thing he was good at was art. Yet, he somehow, with the help of his art teachers, got a place in the Royal College of Art in London. He went from there to work as a chief designer for Calvin Klein in New York. He tells us how most folk couldn’t place his accent. In other words, they couldn’t patronise him.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0df216g

Class matters, let’s not kid ourselves. Douglas Stuart is a success story by any measure and he did it the hard way. It’s one of those unbelievable stories that rich people tell to show anybody can do it if they work hard enough. To show how rich people aren’t rich because they are rich, but because they are innately talented. Fuck off.  

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0df1s1k

When travelling from the meatpacker district to the fashion capital of the world, Stuart had thirty minutes every day to write. He wrote about his mum. He wrote about people he knew. He wrote about Glasgow. 1800 pages that haunted him. Every writer needs a reader. His husband was first in line. There’s humour when they speak about it now. He annotated the text, ‘No Douglas. No. NO. NO.’ I like that. They wouldn’t speak for days. Goin fuckin yersel is ner easy.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0df1s1k

Darren McGarvie Poverty Safari’s success story mirrors Douglas Stuart’s but in localised form. McGarvie is used as the authentic voice of working-class lives for programme makers who have come to gawp, but claim to understand. Let’s be honest. We all hate the fuckin Tories and it’s not all location, location, location. Facts have never mattered less. We lost the propaganda war. These guys tell it how it is. If you’re on a pedestal, the Glasgow thing is to knock yeh aff.     

Dana – The Original Derry Girl, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000j457/dana-the-original-derry-girl

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08cf503

I can’t remember watching Dana (Rosemary Scallon) winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970, singing All Kinds of Everything, but I was only seven or eight. I would have married her, Catholic, and cute as a button.  She was eighteen and sitting her A-levels and became Ireland’s first Euro winner. Instant celebrity, the government send a plane to Amsterdam to bring her home to an adoring crowd. A guy in a milk float took her home after she sneaked out of a teacher’s house, who proposed himself as her manager. She became Ireland’s version of Lulu appearing on Top of the Pops and every twat show.

She also ran as an independent candidate hoping to be elected President of Ireland twice.

When she became an independent MEP in the European Parliament, aligning herself with the Christian Coalition parties, they sang All Kinds of Everything back to her. That’s fame.

She also song for the Pope twice, John Paul II, has a certain ring to it.

Had an operation to fix a growth on her vocal cords that threatened her careers (plural).

In the seventies she also nearly became an American, moving to Alabama with her husband, Damien Scallon and children. They ran a religious network in which Dana performed.

Dana’s sister and husband tried to steal copyright to her music and almost succeeded. Her brother was tried and found not guilty of two charges on indecent assault.

There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly here. All Kinds of Everything indeed.  Well worth watching. You can turn the sound down for Something’s Cookin’ in the Kitchen and other such hits. Northern Ireland has given us enough Troubles. The programme ends with Dana going back to her roots, joining a local choir, in the Guildhall in Derry. Sweet, very, very sweet.

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.