Sheena McDonald on migration
‘So, you’ll be going South soon?‘
The question comes more often these days. but it’s not a new one — hasn’t been for centuries now. It’s based on that gloriously Scottish self-perception that the ultimate badge ofCaledonian success is exile. Preferably to London. Failure to leave is, ultimately, failure. You can‘t — goes the unspoken sneer — be that good if you want to stay up here with us! When it comes to surly, proud, defensive self-depreciation (oh yes, there is a cogent broth to be stewed from such sweet and sour ingredients!) — whae‘s like us?
Many, many— I suspect. All small nations which, however colourful their costume, culture, patois, are finally deprived ofgrown-up decision-making, ofself-control — with all the liberty that word conveys! — display a common schizophrenia: reluctant, grudging, envious respect twinned with straightforward defiance. You’re mad to stay. You’re bad to leave.
What’s that? Like a woman‘s relationship to a man, you say? It’s a little more complex than that, sir— but let’s try your analogy. If the Scotland—London axis doesn’t represent some territorial or psythic form ofpenis-envy, then perhaps London — erectus — feels that is should. (Sounds familiar, girls?) It should be remembered that said syndrome is an exclusively male-sponsored construction — or do I mean conception. . .? After all, the lights are brighter, the streets more golden — tens of thousands of Euston-bound penniless Scots teenage runaways can’t be wrong! We are incessantly encouraged to see the great decaying southern wen as not only the seat of government (with all the conceivable attendant resentments that may bring!) and the nation’s money-box, but as the single rightful centre of excellence, ordained by some maleficent divinity (Probably Welsh, Scots may sourly decide!) to attract and hold like some inexorable magnet all that is worthy of admiration and a little paper immortality.
Well, nuts! And that’s not deﬁance! Fine as it is to see full
houses for the nationally-subsidised National Theatre on tour in Edinburgh and Glasgow, it would be finer still ifthose enthusiastic playgoers dared to pack out the local product as enthusiastically. Of the two John Ford Whores (Olivier. London; Citizens‘, Glasgow), on current view, I‘d recommend you to the South Bank of the Clyde and not the Thames for greater satisfaction. And London billboards offer repeated proofs that ‘hot from the Edinburgh Fringe‘ is a powerful endorsement. Mind you, that reference hollows out a little when you consider to what degree the Fringe has become a seasonal colonisation by London-based (albeit Motherwell-born!) funnymen.
Oho! Colonisation! The word is out — the muttering— in fact, these days, The Muttering — comes again. The gist ofit is this: there’s too many ofThem up here, in jammy jobs. diluting, reducing, ignoring our culture. True? I’m not sure — I hear The Mutter, more often, louder— the facts always seem to have to wait for the next bitter dram to be downed — and the next and the next. Perhaps there is an issue here, perhaps even a real threat. But when prejudiced isolationism extends its petty thrall to accents, never mind education, then I’m inclined to pack more than the overnight bag! As visa-restrictions tumble, and passports gather dust, there's an all-too-Scottish irony in the selection of negative resentment over positive commitment (to change, yes) as the favoured response to the current situation.
So — am I going south? You bet your sweet bippy I am! And west and east! Not (just) to escape but to do a little evangelising, spread the pure-vowelled word, and bring back the best ofthe rest. Not for me the capercailzie-stepping tartanshirts, checking grandparentage at the border, burning Wisdens and old school-ties! As long as there’s freedom to go and return, I’ll always be off. And unless you’re lucky enough to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the old man who told me in triumph that ‘a day out of Hawick is a day wasted’, and hadn’t wasted more than a puckle of days in his eighty-odd years — then come with me.
Ii Dick Lee encountered a landing alien spacecraft, he'd iirst ask it they'd brought their instruments with them. and then to get them out and have a jam. Next he would try and swing a British Council sponsored trip back to iheirhome planet, play a iew concerts, lay down a law laser discs, have some musical adventures.
Clarinet, including the wonderiul bass instrument. saxophones and recorders are played by Dick in an unusually broad spread oi music groups, lrom big jazz bands, to classical recitals, to penonning with leading Scottish iolk bagpipers, harplsts and singers or in his regular ethno- extemporising Nobody’s Business, or Hot Club string sound oi Swing '88. With his usual grin, Lee says, ‘li you ignore any music, you’re missing out. . . modem Balkan, or
14th-century church music’,
but is coaxed to admit, very reluctantly, to a special liking ior piano players.
‘They're always interesting,
a decade ahead oi everyone else. Boogie piano, Earl Hines, Art Tatum or. Keith Jarrett or Dave Newton . . . just because he's irom here in Scotland people don’t notice. He's a much underrated musician.‘ And the Baroque, Bach and also 20th century classical. ‘ln between gets bland, with certain honourable exceptions like Beethoven.‘ A BMus from Glasgow University has given Dick the ammunition to argue that one, but a special talent in composition and arranging has been recognised by the award this year oi 1st prize in the annual BBC Big Band
iniluence a relaxing one.
competition to Dick Lee's ChamberJazz, where he also took the individual award lor Best Arranger. “We entered last year and were 4th with the Swing ’86 Big Band. We had Tommy Smith playing Dlangol He won the prize tor most outstanding individual musician.‘
Platform presents the prize winning Chamber Jan Band, along with Swing '88 and Dick's unpredictable duet improvisations with pianist Graham Whitelaw in Edinburgh's Oueens Hall on the 4th.
Festival organisers are getting in contact, composing and arranging commissions coming in, the ‘major record company' phoned while we were talking, they are going to send a man up irom London, and Peggy Lee wouldn't miss the concert ior anything. Not the iamous one — Dick's mum. See Jazz Listingsior details.
As a young actor making his iilm debut, Padraig D’Loingsigh, 22 year-old staroi The Courier. was nothing short oi terriiied at the idea oi acting alongside the well-established Gabriel Byme-a big name in Ireland eversince his part in the long-running TV soap, The Biordans. ‘lnitially, when l heard,l just thought Jesus Christil mean you know how good he is, and I had always had a lot at respect for what he's done. But when I metthe guy-well, he'sjustan actor basically. . .' Theiirst two weeks oi shooting were opposite Byme and it anything. Padraig iound his
.5 '3 .5 :1 8
'He‘s got this greatease about him and he makes everyone else ieel at ease, which is veryimportant because at all the pressures onset'
Taking the lead in this newthriller set in Dublin, was an educational experience not least because it helped him to get used to acting with a iilm crew just a law yards away. ‘You're worrying about your periormance and the whole atmosphere is diiiicult, but you just have to get tough to what's going on and do your job.’
He is notaltogether satisiied with his periormance even now. 'l‘ve seen the iilm three or tour times and the iirsttime you think Jesusl, then the second time you remember what you were doing and whatyou were trying to achieve and you start to criticise yourseli. Now I can sit back and look atit objectively and see where i went wrong and wherel went right— What paperare you irom?. ‘ he adds anxiously, relieved that I'm not irom the Soaraway Sun, as he begins to express some oi his regrets, 'only l'm being extra critical now so please don't make it sound like the young actor damning himseli. . .'
His doubts in iactare about all those moody bits which are likely to turn him into a new James Dean it he's not careiul. ‘Aiterhis iriend Danny's death in the iilm, lthink l withdrew a bit too much. I knew whatwas going on in my head but I‘m not sure how well itcomes across. . . sometimes you can get a bit too navel-ish when you're acting and then it doesn't work.’
But he is pleased with the conilict between himself and Gabriel Byrne's drug dealer character at the end oithe iilm, ‘li’s all beena bitunreal iorhim uptiil
then; Mark gets obsessed. but he's wandering aboutin a dream state. Then there is
ZThe List 4- 17 March 1988