Kristina Woolnough casts a heady eye over a large batch of books on Glasgow, which have been swarming
comprises over 200 short stories. which star Glasgow and feature the Vikings. salt ships. Mona. riots.
actually written by Taggart (or even Mark McManus). McManus‘ craggy face looks out from almost every
onto the City of Culture bandwagon, and linds them a maudlin, quirky bunch which talk primarily ollootball, religion, politics and drink.
I The Glasgow Herald Book of
page. as he poses in Taggart country. The text is sprinkled with a few memories. a bit of social history and a few facts. Otherwise. it is a book about the TV series. Glasgow is viewed primarily as the supplier of Taggart locations. as places are
Jacobite up-risings. Thomas Telford and a time traveller among others. It is in fact the book of the Radio Clyde series of the same name. A relatively entertaining. unstressful way of getting the feel (but not too many dates etc) of Glasgow‘s history and
Glasgow (Mainstream £14.95) Sixteen GH journalists turn their galloping pens to an array ofcity
BEHIND THE SCENES CONT
the trades and times of its people. I Glasgow: Portraits of a City Allan Massie (Barrie 6’4 Jenkins £14.95)
linked with their corresponding Taggart appearences. We visit the place where a stockinged leg w as
shows off some of the more unusual species. which include Indian pythons (which grow to six feet). Canadian kingsnakes. Cuban anoles. lots ofjolly little bright green lizards and some truly repulsive arthropods.
A shifty-eyed Israeli Scorpion prances around its tank. looking. to me. like an unlikely creature to cherish.
‘Well. they are dangerous and certainly shouldn‘t be handled.‘ William warns. ‘But their sting isn‘t deadly. . . unless you are allergic to it.‘ Gulp. ‘But the tarantulas are interesting wee animals— they‘re certainly not as bad as the James Bond movies make out. Their bite is just like a bee sting. They‘re popular office pets: they‘re a bit different and they don‘t require much attention. you just clean out the tank and pop in a locust and a cricket each week.‘ Crammed tanks oflocusts and crickets behind William were not happy to hear this and performed an agitated dance.
The snakes are even more indolent in their eating habits. ‘We offer them food once a week but they sometimes don‘t eat anything for months. the pythons regularly go six months without eating and they can survive for up to a year without food.‘ Din-dins for the slithery ones is baby mice — ‘We sell frozen ones here in the shop‘. Cages ofthe little cuties snoozed at the back of the shop. blissfully unaware of the reptiles‘ presence.
Not all ofthe staff share William‘s enthusiasm. ‘Aaargh!‘. shrieks Betty. running from her office as we show up. with a big Royal python. for a photo session. We worry about how the snake will cope with the bright lights. ‘They‘re called ball pythons because when they get upset they curl up into tight balls.‘ says William.The python squirms. her tongue forking the air furiously. as William shows me how to sex a snake. but she‘s all smiles for the camera. obligingly unfurling to her full glory. leering forward and gloriously hamming it up. no doubt hoping for a part in the next Indiana Jones saga.
SEE BACK PAGE FOR QUE!
subjects. Much of the writing gives the distinct impression that it was conceived inbetween pints in long GH lunch hours. A barrage of honesty describes at length the largest of Glaswegian warts, while the occasional compliments to the city are sentimental. dropping like drunken tears into the aforementioned pint. The few good chapters and the excellent photographs do not save the ill-conceived book from the disasters: a hideous number of Miles Better puns. a mention of Kelman‘s reinvented book A Dissatisfaction and an overwhelming sense of bad-temper and a rushed job. Ghastly. Especially food-writer Raymond Gardner (‘our wimmin cannae cook‘) who sounds as drunk as Keith Floyd on a good day.
I Could This Be Thistle's Year? Patrick Prior. artwork by Robert McWilliam (ScotRun Publications £5.95) Although the introduction is elegiac in tone. mourning the loss of auld, community-based Glasgow. the book provides an easy-to-read history of the place in a cartoon format. Whacky. witty and sometimes silly cartoons liven it up. as do tales of 19th-century grisly murders and lots of bits of useless information (Oscar Wilde lectured on good dress sense in Glasgow). Interestingly. the writer perceives that Glasgow‘s urban motorway system brought about the splintering of communities — a 20th-century equivalent of the Clearances. A good book which avoids the rampant old-style West Coast sexism that some of the other publications revel in.
I Taggart’s Glasgow Mark McManus & Glenn Chandler (Lennard Publishing £14.95) Although not
:i‘ - ‘_ “'5, \\
\ ‘ 'V e 3!“
found in one episode. while a still
photo ofthe said leg on a table makes |
its point. McManus‘s glee at the pub which amuses its male clientele by not having a women‘s toilet is tedious. and one feels great sympathy for the Drumchapel locals who didn‘t want ‘Taggart‘ to be filmed there: they were sick of the violent image of the area. Mainly harmless, but very Taggarty-gimmicky.
I Old Glasgow Henry Morton (Richard Drew £10.95) An amiable catalogue ofpersonal memories of Glasgow in the Twenties and Thirties by an ex. now deceased. Glasgo w Herald/ E venirz g Times journalist. Buildings that once once, social practices that once were. and the city that once was are described in minute and colourful detail. An old-guard book for the nostalgic and the curious.
I Glasgow Arts Guide Alice Bain (A & C Black £7.95) Pocket-sized guide. filled with factual details on all you‘d ever need to know about the arts in Glasgow. Opening hours, addresses. descriptions of venues are complemented by useful chapters giving brief run-downs on the current state-of-play in the various genres. on contemporary art giants et al. NB: By the editor of The List. I Glasgow (AA Publishing £6.95) Essentially a tourist and uninitiated visitor‘s guide to the city. it includes close-up features on the most interesting attractions. as well as information on excursions, places to visit. maps and a directory of useful addresses and contact numbers.
I Bell in the Tree: The Glasgow Story Edward Chisnall (Mainstream £9.95) A more unusual re-telling of Glasgow‘s history. Bell in the Tree
ei .... 'é 3‘
Massie. in his usual ponderous. humourless style. presents yet another history of the city. but this time in a more weighty. literary style. Even drunkenness is dealt with in a textbook manner? Dates and statistics come thick and fast. as do cross-references to books. Massie argues that the Red Clydesiders contributed to the entrenched image ofGlasgow as a lost. struggling city. But it is the only book in the bunch to even mention Glasgow‘s immigrant populations of the past and the present. A dense volume for the serious-minded peruser.
FICTION ARID APARTHEID
The Last Sunday Elsa J oubert (Hodder & Stoughton £11.95) Against a burnt. dry landscape. a white South African pastor hears the call ofvengeance from God. He totals up white deaths until they number thirty- a re-paid life for each piece ofJudas‘ silver.
In an atmosphere of hot paranoia. Dominic Falk’s throbbing temples are tormented by the noise from the nearby black township. As the Dominic loses his New Testament grip and fuels the hatred ofhis fellow whites by reverting to the Old Testament 'an eye for an eye‘ teachings. his daughter clings onto the reality that black and white must learn to live together.
Joubert‘s writing is firm and controlled: mounting white hysteria is portrayed as the yowl of the cornered animal. The explosive violence of the whites ruptures what
From ‘The Granite City’, a history of
was at best an uneasy peace, and Aberdeen by Robert Smith. ex-editor olthe
Joubert offers no glimpse of
Evening Express. Published by John Donald at £13.95.
72 The List 22 December 1989— l 1 January 1990