Liars, cheats, self-centred blowhards with empty promises and corrupt motives.
Each and every last one of them.
Well, actually, no.
Not if you have political ambitions in Leith that is.
First off, you have Deidre Brock, the sitting SNP MP for Leith and North Edinburgh and then there’s her closest competitor, Labour’s Gordon Munro.
A long term Councillor for City of Edinburgh Council I had the great pleasure to build on my Dad’s friendship with Gordon when I first met him as a fellow Board Director at The Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, one of Gordon’s many Council responsibilities (funnily enough that’s where I first met Deidre too).
I was immediately impressed with Gordon’s enthusiasm and contribution – so many of these posts are really statutory and lead to disinterested contributions, if any at all. Not Gordon.
It helps that he is a passionate lover of so many art forms, not least theatre. (Oh, and the mighty Hibees.)
But as time went on I started to stumble upon him all over the shop. In art galleries, at gigs, in the theatre. And then I called on his help to find a new home for Forth Children’s Theatre.
He was straight in there, scouring Leith for us, putting forward all sorts of suggestions (including a disused car park under the Banana Flats).
I read some of his work in The Leither. I chatted to him in corridors. I quickly formed a deep respect for a man who wears his heart firmly on his sleeve and makes no compromises with his political beliefs.
To say Gordon is left of centre would be to downplay his passion for the Labour movement. An all-consuming passion that manifests itself in all the values of Labour that I love (although I vote SNP).
This is what politics should be about. A man of the people who cares wholly in his rage against the machine.
I love that about him. I love that about great politicians of any hue (and actually there are a lot of them that aren’t what I painted in my opening paragraph).
But, if you want to see what integrity looks like in flesh and bone, look no further than Gordon Munro.
An actual hero in my book. (And the only other person on earth I know that likes the outstanding Yasmine Hamdan.)
Now read about his heroes.
And, come the revolution. Back Gordon.
My Favourite Author or Book
Victor Serge. I first encountered Serge in 1983 when I bought a battered second hand copy of his ‘Memoirs of a Revolutionary’ published by Oxford books in 1963. It’s a great read and a fantastic insight into the tumults of the first half of the 20th Century. When the New York Review of Books brought out an edition which included material omitted from the edition I knew I bought it right away. I was not disappointed its still a great read. NYRB have also brought out his notebooks which cover 1936-1947 and his humanity shines through despite recording the murder and deaths of several friends. A threat that he constantly lived under too as Stalin’s GPU kept him under observation. They also publish some of his fiction too. His writing is superb and his volume of poetry ‘ A blaze in the desert’ is worth seeking out . “ All the exiles in the world are at the Greek informer’s café tonight,” is a line from his poem ‘Marseilles’ written in 1941 and a film script in one line. But don’t take my word for it here is what Susan Sontag thinks of Serge : “ Serge is one of the most compelling of twentieth-century ethical and literary heroes”. She’s right.
The Book I’m reading
As always I have several on the go. ‘Paint Your Town Red – How Preston took back control and your town can too’ by Matthew Brown & Rhian E Jones’ is essential reading. ‘The Divide – A brief guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions’ by Jason Hickel infuriates and illuminates in equal measure.’To Mind your Life- poems for Nurses & Midwives’ is life affirming. ‘ The way to play – coaching hints and technique’ by Inverleith Petanque Club is to hand as I’ve taken up this sport during Covid. ‘ Fixture List season 2021/22 Hibernian FC is essential year round reading for me as a lifelong Hibs supporter.
The book I wished I had written
Is still locked in my head and unlikely to make it out .
The book I couldn’t finish
Funnily enough I had a conversation recently with Ian Rankin where we both said we started but could not finish ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’ by Thomas de Quincey. Turgid.
The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read
‘The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner’ by James Hogg. I know, I know it inspired Stevenson , it’s a classic etc but life gets in the way. Maybe one day.
My favourite film
Too many but if its one only then it has to be ‘Casablanca’.
My favourite Play
It has to be Peter Brooks ‘ Mahabarata’ in Glasgow . 3 nights in a row of the most sublime theatre I’ve ever seen. The whole audience, which included a chunk of Scottish Actors, were on our feet shouting for more.
My favourite podcast
I don’t do podcasts but I do recommend the blog ‘Stand up and Spit’ by the poet Tim Wells. Great stuff and always interesting.
The box set I’m hooked on
‘American Gods’. A great cast and a good realisation of a favourite book.
My favourite TV series
Tiswas. It just broke all the rules and was great fun too. Chris Tarrant , Sally James , Spit the Dog and the Phantom Flan Flinger along with some cool music . What more do you want.
My favourite piece of Music
‘Teenage Kicks’ by the Undertones. Perfection. When Peel left us and Hibs adopted it for a while as our tune part tribute and part due to the boy band look team we had at the time I was chuffed.
My favourite dance performance
I’ve been lucky enough to see Nureyev, Wayne Sleep, Ballet Rambert, Michael Clarke but it has to be Carlos Acosta with ‘On before’. He has this amazing ability that some football players have of being able to hang in the air. His company will be worth catching when we get the chance to enjoy live performance again.
The last film/music/book that made you cry
Film – Motorcycle Diaries – Walter Salles. I know that’s Guevara’s companion in the last scene watching the plane take off. Alberto Granado at 84 was not allowed in to the USA for the premiere at Sundance despite Robert Redford’s best efforts.
Music- Kathryn Joseph at Pilrig Church Hall. Go see here at Edinburgh Park in August.
Book- Notebooks 1936-1947 Victor Serge. So many deaths.
The lyric I wished I had written
‘Happy Birthday’ – not the Altered Images one. Imagine the royalties (and yes I know there’s a story to this lyric).
The song that saved me
Not a song but a request to dance the Gay Gordon’s at a wedding in 1985. We’ve been together ever since.
The instrument I play
The voice. Badly.
The instrument I wish I’d learned
If I could own one painting it would be
‘Nighthawks at the Diner’ – Edward Hopper. I have had a print of this up on the wall since 1983.
The music that cheers me up
A whole bunch of 45’s from season 1977/78. Punk Rock shook things up and even Bowie upped his game with ‘Heroes’. We were lucky.
The place I feel happiest
Home with our family our two daughters , son in law and the best thing to happen during lockdown our granddaughter Ada.
My guiltiest cultural pleasure
Alcohol. It’s got me in and out of trouble. Seen me on my hands and knees outside a nightclub in Tangier. Arrested in Burnley. Stealing a Police hat from the back of a Police car outside a Police station. Chased by a knife wielding pimp in a Miami hotel. And I keep coming back for more.
I’m having a fantasy dinner party. I’ll invite these artists and authors
Dead – David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart , Frida Kahlo, Jesus so the wine would flow , Oscar Wilde.
Alive – Brian Eno, Marianne Faithfull, Annie Lenno , Jan Gehl, the Singh Twins, John Byrne.
And I’ll put on this music
Bessie Smith, Yasmine Hamdan, Calypso Rose, Ludovico Einaudi, Max Richter.
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