I love how close to home some of Lanark is. Cowlairs and St Rollox are literally just up the road…
I posted this on the Simple Minds Facebook page, but thought I’d also put it here in case it is deemed too “off topic” and gets deleted.
Such a weird concept this thing about tears and the way the fall from the eyes. Maybe it’s a fascination for Scottish men?
Anyways, here’s what I had posted on SM FB (with the pic attached)….
t’s a curious thing. I am reading Lanark and this is the second time Alasdair Gray has used language like this. A reference to tears and them falling from either eye. The first time my mind instantly thought “first tear forms in the right eye, this is the eye that’s crying first”. And just now again reading this passage. I started to wonder who influenced whom, or if it some uniquely Scottish thing to think of how tears form and whether they only form from either one of the eyes, etc.
Of course both things (Lanark and 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall) are released in 1981 but having watched a documentary on Gray a few nights back, he had been writing Lanark from the 1950s so I’ll assume his words came first.
Anyway, I found it a curious thing. Just wanted to share.
Please do not be fooled by the blurb you see attached to the video! There really isn’t too much talk about the then imminent Scottish Independence referendum. It really is all about the remarkable Alasdair Gray. A man I wish I had been aware of, learned about and began to have some kind of – albeit without any actual personal interaction with – affinity for while he was still living.
There is a sadness I feel that, having moved to this amazing city just a few short weeks before, that Alasdair left us at the end of December in 2019.
Yes, you have to pay to watch the film – documentary – but if you love art, love the murals around Glasgow, have ever read Lanark or 1982 Janine and loved them – see that mural at Hillhead subway station each day (I can’t tell you how many times I have passed it by already and never realised it was there – with great shame) …
Just watch it.
Even as I am still finding my way through Lanark, I take in all the places I recognise. A number of them are local or not very far away. I even found myself reading a letter to a local paper he had submitted about wondering what was to become of Sighthill (the general area, not the cemetery – that wasn’t the topic of Gray’s letter) It is literally just up the road. Just go down to the end of the adjacent street, past the bowling green, round the corner, past the speedway track – up Finlas Street turning into Carlisle Street, until it meets Keppochill Road – and there you are. Sighthill Cemetery. Three weeks ago I didn’t even know it existed! There is NOTHING to mark it out on Google Maps. A few times coming down the A803 from the city centre by car or on public transport I could see there were some graves but I had assumed it was attached to a churchyard – not an actual full cemetery. A cemetery so vast that – as far as I am aware, only the Necropolis is larger (although trying to confirm this with research would indicate Sighthill is larger in acreage so I am a bit confused). Needless to say it is a large expanse and perplexing not to be revealed on a map!
Gray within the pages of Lanark seems to mention a street nearby, Ashfield Street. There is only one Ashfield Street in all of Glasgow. A few Ashfield Roads but no “street”. Only this one. It must be it! And there is talk of Riddrie where he grew up and the area that is now know as Robroyston but was once Garngad – all not terribly far away, further over to the east and north of us on the other side of Bishopbriggs.
But I shall stop waffling and let you watch it! I found it enthralling.
I have just started Lanark. Only just. I’m not the fastest reader and I started much later than I wanted to, which meant my eyelids already were starting to get heavy barely one chapter in. I managed two. Lol. And am already attributing the identity of Sludden to a certain someone. Lol. And I would be any of those hangers on – apart from Gay – I should be so lucky! Or Rima (she has standards – it seems so far anyways). So I guess it only leaves me to be Frankie – most likely – or the other one whose name escapes me (irony!).
Anyway! Early days.
But I am already wanting to explore the world of Alasdair Gray so much more already as a consequence of those couple of chapters of Lanark.
So very later last night, after listening to a new episode of The Archers (now caught up with the real world – Ambridge is now in lockdown too) – and a very emotional yet beautiful Desert Island Discs with Charles Hazlewood as the castaway – highly recommended listening by me, not always easy, granted! (I still keep wondering when the frig they are going to get Jim on there!). I then put in Gray’s name in the search wondering if the BBC had done any adaptations to his books, etc, so thought I’d see what a search of him would bring up.
Well, it brought up this in the search results. A wonderful interview with BBC Radio Scotland’s Janice Forsyth. I didn’t know what to expect from it when I started listening. I had assumed Gray would sound very dour and “Weegie” for one – but I found his voice mesmerising and beautiful. He has such music in his voice. A beautiful burr and lilt that I just was not expecting – almost as if he sang as he spoke. As a consequence, as enthralled in the interview as I was, I found myself drifting off to sleep halfway through, to awake again for the final few minutes and the talk of the hardships of making a career from art – making a sustained paid professional income from artistic pursuit.
His final goodbye was pure music, and rather poignant for this must have been one of his final interviews. He passed away at the end of December last year.
I fell in love with him. He sounded like a magical being. Like a pixie or elf or something. Little did I know my flippant little line to Jim the other day about “starting a book at chapter three – seems like my kinda guy” would ring so true.
You can listen to the interview via BBC Sounds HERE