"Fuck it. this is unremitting gloom." and put

it down. ‘What happens at first with critics,’ he

: continues. ‘is that writers such as Alasdair

Gray and myself are treated as a fluke. a

phenomenon. Then they realise you‘re not a

primitive; they begin to see you in a tradition. but they always try to take you out

of a Scottish context it‘s a way ofrefusing

to affirm the culture you come from.‘ (‘ritics. for Kelman. are the thought-police of the cultural establishment. suppressing or

ignoring voices which do not accord with the

narrow concerns of the ()xbridge-dominated Engliterati. ‘Mainstream English literature.‘ he explains. ‘has a value system that pertains to about twelve per cent of the population. Blacks. women. Jews and so on all the supposed “minority groups" that together make up the vast majority are either

excluded. or made cardboard cut-out figures

of fun. or appear only as mysterious and dangerous forces such as The Mob.‘

Such attitudes find a natural extension in his involvement with Workers City. the group who throughout last year proved a thorn in the flesh of the official Glasgow 1990 organisation. and who continue to criticise the District Council‘s policies on everything from the People‘s Palace to what is laughably called urban redevelopment.

Workers City. says Kelman. ‘has been stereotyped by the press as a few old

Stalinist males. but it‘s really a very ' disparate collection of people. They simply wouldn‘t print pictures ofwomen in the

l group. for instance.‘ The facts bear out

Kelman‘s beliefs. A few days before our interview. I say to a writer for a national newspaper that I‘m going to meet Kelman. He tells me that. for a profile he wrote on the man last year. he didn‘t bother to mention Workers City at all. knowing that his editor would delete any reference to the group.

For a man engaged in what is a very solitary pursuit. Kelman‘s is a collectivist spirit. an attitude manifested not only in his politics. but also in his continually stressing that he is only one of a group ofGlasgow writers. whose attitudes and experiences he shares.

Besides having several different stories on the go. he is currently working. along with three other writers. on the revue Ten Days In May. to be performed during. although not officially part of. Mayfest at Glasgow‘s Transmission Gallery. This afternoon. however ‘you‘ve got to take a break sometime. otherwise your head would explode‘ he‘s off to play snooker.

“Why‘s he playing snooker?” says Kelman. quoting some imaginary critic. “He could be writing a story from a female perspective.“ He smiles wryly. and lights another cigarette. the sixth or seven since our interview began. Pinned to a wall is the sign: ‘NO MORE FAGS. 1.3-am. 7th Jan 1991 . JAMES”. ‘That lasted three or four days.‘ he tells me perhaps the only example on record ofthe man‘s resolution having failed him.

The Bum is published on April 29 by Seeker & Warburg. priced £13. 9‘).


Auld Shug gits oot iv bed. Turns aft the alarm cloak. Gis straight hen the toilit. Sits doon in that oan the Iavatri pan. Wee bit iv time gis by. Shug sittin ther, yonin. This Hon. Up it comes oot lri the waste pipe. Stretchis right up. Grabs him by the bolls.

Jesis christ shouts the Shug title.

The Hon gis slack in a couple minits. Up jumps Shug. Straight hen the kitchin hodin onti the pyjama troosirs in that iist aboot collapsin inti his cher.

Never know the minit he was sayin. Eh. Jesis christ.

Looks up at the cloak oan the mantelpiece. Eitir seven. Time he was away tae his work. Couldni move bit. Shatird. Jist sits ther in the cher.

Fuck it he says Am no gon.

Coupla oors gis by. In comes the wile an that ti stick can a kettle. Sees the auld yin sitting ther. Well pasttime. Day’s wages out the windi.

Goodnis sake Shug she shouts yir oiii late.

Pokes him in the chist. Kneels doon oan the iler. He isni movin. Nay signs a taw. Pokes him ance mer. Still nothin bit. Then she sees he's deid. Paints. Right nix ti the Shug lilla's ieet. Lyin ther. The two iv them. Wan in the cher an wan in the tier. A hot oor later a chap itthe door. Nay answer. Notherchap. Sound iv a key in the door. Door shuts. In comes the lassie. Eywis comes roon tir a blether wi the maw an that whin the auld yin's out it his work. Merrit hersel. Man's a bad yin but. Cunt's never worked a day in his liie. Six weans tay. Whin she sees thim ther she twigs right away.

My goad she shouts thir deid. Ma maw in ma da irdeid.

She bens doon ti make sure.

0 thank goad she says ma maw's iist iaintit. Bit da. Da’s deid. 0 naw. Ma da’s deid. Goad love us.


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‘the HON' from The Burn by James Kelman. Published on 29 April 1991 at £13.99 by Secker & Warburg. Copyright© 1991 by James Kelman.

The List 19 April—42 {my-"1991 if