ﬁnding oneself the odd one out at a refined gentlemen’s smoking club — and turned to their main competitor’s more barbed, malicious approach. Let’s be honest, Punch could be half the page-count it is each issue, but this anthology of the best of the last few years is the ideal format in which to peruse the wit and wisdom of its contributors. The bite-sized chunks of, amongst others, George Melly, Tom Sharpe, J ack Trevor Story, Freud (Clement) and Duncan Campbell (the other one) are frequently self-indulgent, but good for bedtime, long bus journeys or visits to the smallest room. The cartoons are what we look at ﬁrst, though, and Pick ol Punch has some truly inspired lunacy (check out the anteater). Those who are justifiably proud of their crude and juvenile sense of humour will have to wait until the second volume of Viz: The Big Hard One hits the streets, but until then the more sophisticated Pick oi Punch will do. (Mab) 0 Cynthia Payne: Entertaining at Home (Penguin £3.95) Cataloguing the philosophy of a Sun and News of the Screws heroine, this is fascinating and readable, though it doesn’t try to be funny. An insight into Cynth’s idea of how to be the ideal party hostess, it shows her matter of fact approach to what makes a good sex party. 0 Spitting Images (Century £3.95) The ultimate bathroom book for those who realise that time spent in the littlest room should not be wasted, this sees the hilarious TV imagery successfully transformed onto paper. Famous faces include thirteen awful Americans, one mad Hibernian and Her Glorious Majesty Margaret Th . . . sorry! the Queen. Gore Vidal, Ben Elton and Tom Sharpe also come under the cruel microscope, in fact there’s something here for everyone, except perhaps the squeamish. (Steve McCullough)
E ven now, all over Aberdeen and beyond, people are wrapping up copies of the newly published collection of songs and sketches from Scotland The What? and are sending them to grannies and cousins all over the globe. The comedy trio, Steve Robertson, Buff Hardie and George Donald have gone beyond cult status in the North-East. They are now its accepted mouthpiece, holding the franchise on jokes about Aberdeenshire plumbers, and unsurpassed in their celebration of the wee mannie in a bunnet, pushing his trolley round the Co-opie in search of a special offer on jujubes. ‘We like these people. We recognise their talent for everyday existence,’ says Steve Robertson. Whether it’s a canny builder getting the better of a professor doing a ‘sympathetic conversion’ on an old croft, or Sandy Thomson, the local gamekeeper, sweeping the board in the General Election, Scotland The
What? will always back the little man, giving him a prominence he would otherwise never attain.
Theirs is a comfortable humour, based on a thorough acquaintance with the world they call Auchterturra. They open up the village life which still prevails around Aberdeen and in the city itself, and discover a host of unique characters. Steve Robertson, the man behind the chancers, drunks and dimwits of Auchterturra, believes that just about everything in ordinary life has its amusing side. Aided by a tremendous ear for the humour in everyday conversation, and an impeccable sense of timing, he will find laughs where most comedians would never bother to look.
Not having been in show-biz all their lives, Scotland The What? have an empathy with those in more mundane occupations than their own. ‘We want to get over to the middle-aged, the middle-brow, the middle-class, who are often missed out by other entertainers.’ ‘Bourgeois and proud of it’, the trio do not see themselves as part of ‘the arts scene’. Interviewing them is reminiscent of nothing more than a chat with a selection of friendly uncles. Yet this amateur aura belies a strong professionalism.
Scotland The What? director, James Logan, talks lightly of making sure there are ‘no holeys’ in the performance: their first night at the King’s was extremely slick; they have spent a lot of time getting sketches down to their ‘fighting weight’. ‘We’ve worked hell of a hard over the past four or five years, says George Donald, ‘We’re never satisfied with the product, and we’re far more critical of our performances than in the past.’
The book of the show isn’t exactly what was originally intended. Brilliant ideas to make something extra of the written medium eventually disintegrated into a series of rather daft footnotes to the sketches. That said, it is probably one of the funniest books aimed at
this year’s Christmas market, and for anyone with even a passing acquaintance of their shows, it will bring back to life delightful dialogues in the steady Doric tones of Steve and Buff.
Translating the spoken word onto the page was a tortuous task. The dialects of Aberdeenshire are primarily spoken and at ﬁrst seem unfamiliar written down. Those who are still working out the punchlines from the last show will probably have similar difﬁculties with the book: a ‘slorach o’ nowt’ is no more decipherable in print than in speech. For those who delight in the expressive idiosyncracies of Aiberdeen spik, however, Scotland The What? - the book, will bring tears to your eyes. (Julie Morrice)
0 Scotland The What? Collected Sketches and Songs Buff Hardie, George Donald and Stephen Robertson (Gordon Wright Publishing £9.95).
WHO IS SANTA CLAUS? The True Story Behind A Living Legend The Christmas book for adults Robin Crichton £9.95
TWO WORLDS His captivating autobiography David Daiches £2.95
MR ALFRED MA. ‘The Glasgow novel’ YA BASS!
George Friel £3.95
TELL ME A STORY FOR CHRISTMAS Travellers’ Tales Duncan Williamson £7.95
THE LIGHT PRINCESS
Eight Enchanting Fairy Tales George MacDonald £1.95
THE BIG HOUSE
A Classic Fantasy Naomi Mitchison £1.95
All these titles are available from JOHN SMITH 7 SON, BOOKSHOPS:
57 St Vincent Street, Glasgow 252 Byres Road, Glasgow University Bookshop Maclntyre Building, Glasgow
John B. Wylies 406 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
CAN ON GATE
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