In thejungle ofthe Eighties. Sheena McDonald
'l‘hey tell us. the apocalypsists. that the meek aren't eyen in with a shout. It's the cockroaches and rats who will inherit the earth. I would add to their grim tenancy a third. arguably less ghastly. candidate — the dandelions.
'l‘hey earn their stand upon the kryptonite podium of inyulnerability by means of a facility w hich to me is wondrous. lo yott botanists. it's a straightforward manifestation of run-of—the—mill resurrection. l’crfcctly ( literally) normal. \Vhat's the big deal'.’
I‘ll tell you what the big deal lsll am currently sellitig a lawn. Asking-price a bit steep. you think'.’ We” — there's a house thrown in with it. which tends to push the price up these days. A good thing too. say the speculators. say the equity -brokers. say the acquisitiy ely-mobile. say the meek who‘ye had the good fortune to come across spare lolly and aren't giyingoddson winning the shoot-out with the roach'n'rat lobby. .\'o-one's quite explained the rationale onS’} price—hikes in the property market being acceptable -» nay. desirable ~ w hen inflation oycr 4’; on anything which isn‘t a house — ic cheese slices. bicycles. loose coyct's. oil crayons — induces instant apoplexy. transforms 'l‘rue Blue to 'l‘raduced l’uce in less time than it takes to say blessed-arc-thc-single-cniployed- liy ing-in-large-houses. You what'.’ It's because you can't ml property‘.’ Well. you can’t eat loose coyers either. Don‘t tell me -— it's amazing what'll go down by 'l‘uesday when the giro's run ottt —— a little brown sugar. pop it under the grill — you c_\'nical son-of-a-bachelorl .-\h - You can‘t mnmnzt' property"? ’l'ell that to the Sons of ( )wen (ilcndower — or indeed the Sons of William Wallace (who?) -- but not until he sold my lawn (w ith attached dwelling-place). .\'o —- I‘m not abashcd in the slightest. l am assured that you can drag a Very phalanx of loot-laden camels. lashed six abreast and six deep through the eye of a needle these days — just so long as you can toss your tythe into this week's good cause en passant. (‘an‘t remember what a tythe is. eh'.’
l About as much as a mite. you
2 The List 27 May — 9 June 1988
discovers that flower power may still have its revenge.
reckon‘.’ I'm sure you’re right. ('an't
. remember what a good cause is
either‘.’ Dear. dear — never heard of charity — ‘the greatest of these"? l.ots ofgood charities around — Iiton. (ilyndebourne - actually. cats scent to be pretty popular these days. But between ottrselyes. I think about a wee coycnant in fayour of the old R'n'R lobby — could iust be a useful insurance against the day when l’layfair and Adam go the way of ()zymandias. and you find yourself in hand-to-hand combat with old Ratty amongst the smouldering rubble oycr a cast-aside loose coycr ....\'o- lam certainly not knocking arts sponsorship — and I’m very optimistic that enlightened pimps and sweatsliop-proprietors will now see fit to adyertise their profits by means of judicious support for beleagured artists.
Meanwhile. back in the long grass. it is becoming back-breakingly clear that what I'm selling isn‘t so much a lawn as a horticultural research plot for the dandelion. I labour back and forth across the golden meadow. scything the myriad yellow-heads. I sweat. l stumble. I persevere. After two days. 1 stand back and suryey the w ecdy carnage: like hundreds of yolks. the decapitated heads lie. impotent. upon the shayen sward. Satisfied. ifcalloused. I go to bed. In the morning. a transformation scene as incredible as anything your Logans and Baxters could present to glistening eyes lies there before my horrified gaze: each yellow head has oyernight achieycd revenge. 'I'he yolks haye fulfilled their promise. despite my execution. and where flowers lay. a thousand white and fluffy clocks appear. each laden with a hundred seeds. and each of them preparing to depart and root and carry the defiant dandelion on and 011. CW“ 111110 IhL‘ end of the world.
And the moral'.’ ('rikey — have you neyer done scriptural exegesis? You're supposed to work that bit out for yourself! No ~ I can't help —- the phone‘s ringing— it‘ll be those nice people from the Rats 'n‘ Roaches- l)oncha-.lust-Loye-‘Iim Brigade with another death-threat — talk amongst yourselves — yes. I could be some time — tell you what! — a bottle of [-anliq for the best apocalypso before I get back — don't gawp — din
Russell Hunter's energy and enthusiasm are evident from the way he bounds up the steps. clasps my hand warmly and demands admission to the Scene dock olScottish Ballet's new studio theatre . 'Ask atthe desk. . .‘ l suggestvaguely. andthen discoverthis sprightly 63-year-old unloadingthe van almost single-handed. Later. he confides that he rather enjoys this activity. The company Cacciatore Fabbro (a sly translsation ofthe collaborators' surnames) is lundamentallyatwo-man operation. ‘Gordon (Smith) is in command olthe writing and the lighting. I'm the property masterandthe wardrobe mistress andthe assistant stage manager andthe entire cast.'They deputise the remainderto Jaythe secretary.
The occasion isthe Glasgow opening olMister Jock. sequel to Jock. which began the long association between Smith and Hunter. and has played from Orkney to Dumfries and inlour Edinburgh Festivals since 1972.
Russell Hunter describes Jock as ‘the eternal Scottish soldier: history to him was military history. starting with Bannockburn.‘ Now retired from the army. Jock runs a civilian museum.
which allows himto ruminate on many matters. not Ieastthe social conditions of Scottishfolk throughthe ages. ‘He'sa nice man. I don'twantto be him butllike him very much.‘
Alreadyawell respected actor. Mr Hunter has recentlyrecelved great acclaimlorhislirstleading television role in ‘The Dunroamin Bising' on BBC. Phone calls flooded introm all over Britain and even a lamilyin Amsterdamto congratulate him on his delightlul portrayal of an elderly socialistcoming out of retirementto liberate his lellowinmates inarest homelrom oppression.
Afterthe Festival. he will take MrJockto Shetland. then playthe pantomime dame atAberdeen. lt‘sa busy schedule. ‘whichl thinkat my age makes me bloody |ucky.' (Andrew Burnet)
MrJock is atScottish Ballet'sstudiotheatre. Glasgow. See Theatre Listings. Scripts olboth Jock plays are now available in paperback at £1 each.
JOHN RAE COLLECTIVE
It was always inevitable. I suppose. that drummer John Rae would lollowthe lamin line and turn tojazz. thereby giving bass player Bonnie Haea ready made
rhythm section. with Bonnie Jron keyboards. John has been a lamiliarligure onthe Scottish scene since being voted best young drummer atthe 1980 Edinburthazz Festival when only 15. but his playing has taken a genuine leap forward in the last 18 months. helped. as he is quick to acknowledge. by the beneficial inlluence ofthe annual Combo Improvisation Clinic in Edinburgh (7-12 Augustlhis year- ring Plattormlor details).
John plays in a number of contexts. but his favoured mode is bop. mainstay of the current Britishjazz revival. and the John Rae Collective is very much a meeting of young minds bent on pursuing that path. The emergence olthis group. which also features seniormemberKenny Ellis on bass. the admirable Brian Kellock on piano. and an even youngerlront-line oltrumpeterColin Steele. saxophonist Phil Bancroft (a memberolanothernoted Scottish jazzfamily) and Kevin Mackenzie on guitar. has been one of the more encouraging developments on the Scottish jazz scene.
Theirdebut gigs last year
Collective were a band with real scope for development. and they will get alurther chance to work on thatwhen they partnerthe excellent
Andy Sheppard Quintet.