Drink must have been taken at some point. Why otherwise would I agree to do something which would not make me instantly rich and famous? My resolve weakened with alcohol. I staggered into the Royal Mile aware that I didn‘t really have a clue what I’d become a part of. I did know. however. that Robin's promise that it wouldn’t take up much of my precious time was as meaningful as ScotRail‘s timetable. For the next ten years. I reckon I spent more time in The List‘s headquarters than I did at home. I was not alone. Working for The List was not so much a job as a way of life. One freezing morning in the midst of that first winter I dropped by the office to pick tip mail and found both editors. Nigel and Sarah Hemming. asleep under a table. huddled foetally together around a single-bar electric fire. Both of them. I hasten to add. were fully clothed. Neither of them seemed to have homes to go to.
The early issues were exhausting but exhilarating. each one a triumph
of hope over experience. The mechanics of the magazine always remained a mystery to me. partly through ignorance. partly because I appreciated that a little knowledge would engender a lot tnore work. If I remember right. Radical Seat/and reviewed the first issue and declared it ‘conftdent'. which was marvellous if not quite deserved. But looking
back at it now. it does seem remarkably mature and composed. The idea was to have a
comprehensive listing of events over a fortnight in Glasgow and Edinburgh. To dilute the diet of hard information there were a number of features.
0 Film of the year: Mona Lisa
0 Betty Blue posters adorn walls everywhere
0 Tom Cruise hits the big time in Top Gun
interviews. It was these that drew ambitious writers to the magazine. It was a chance to shine. show off and rub shoulders with celebrity. John Sweeney. who these days is to be found at The Observer. got Greta Scacchi (‘as in carkey') in a swanky hotel: I got Jim Kelman at Shawfteld dog track.
I am tempted to add that it was ever thus. but it wasn't. Word soon got out that The List was the essential place to appear if you wanted Central Belters to watch your movie. catch your play. listen to your album. buy your book or feast in your restaurant. I went along to the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh to interview Marsha Hunt. formerly Mick Jagger‘s lover. She was sipping tea but changed to wine and spoke candidly about life with a Rolling Stone. l was so mesmerised I let the tape run and run. until it rewound. and recorded over what she had already said. Daylight turned to dusk which gave way to darkness. whereupon Marsha suddenly realised that I had run out of tape and brought the interview to an end. Then she asked what I was doing next. Not wanting to appear sad. I invented another appointment. ‘Oh that‘s a pity.’ she said. ‘If you’d been free we could have had dinner together. Never mind. another time..
I had better luck with Ralph Steadman. the caricaturist renowned for his anarchic double act with Hunter S. Thompson. One year he came to Edinburgh for the Book Festival to interview Hunter at Charlotte Square. The story of that ill-fated venture is told in ‘The Last Taxi To Scotland’. an essay which Hunter wrote after a drunk Grateful Dead fan drove them both into a ditch on the way to Denver airport causing him to miss his flight. We. meanwhile. were waiting in Edinburgh. trying to placate 4()() Hell’s Angels who were not the Book Festival's normal clientele. Ralph offered to deliver his lecture on Welsh bagpiping as an alternative. but this was ruled out because they
0 TV character of the year: Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney
- Kylie and Jason make their mark as List Readers vote Neighbours TV show of the year
0 Glasgow Garden Festival brightens up the Clyde
Putting Clint Eastwood on the r
15 YEARS OF THE LIST
first cover was an important
Ralph Steadman sent his own inimitable reminder: a black spot in an otherwise empty envelope.
statement of intent
would probably tear him limb from limb. Instead. Ralph set fire to a T- shirt in the middle of a restaurant and it went up like a haystack. much to the consternation of the douce diners of the capital who quickly went into evacuation mode.
Around that time. Ralph published his take on Treasure Island and was persuaded to do a drawing specially for the magazine. Money was a stumbling block. I offered him thirty thousand and he rubbed his hands in glee (it was in the days before he became Oddbins‘ artist-in- residence). He was less impressed when I added ‘lira‘. Over a bout of arm wrestling in the Doric tavern we agreed that he should be paid in whisky but this somehow slipped our minds. Ralph. never a man one should consider taking for a ride. sent his own inimitable reminder. a black spot in an otherwise empty envelope. The whisky was despatched pronto.
2—16 Nov 2000 TIIE "8111