...is in a distinguished line of East End poets going back to Alexander (Sandy) Rodger, the apprentice weaver in Bridgeton, and Willie Miller, the cabinetmaker from Parkhead, who wrote the world famous nursery song Wee Willie Winkie round about 1860. Freddy, originally from Monaghan, has a great love for what the Scots call smeddum (spirit and gumption) and those who possess it, an inveterate detestation for the Welch (sic) rabbit Kinnock, his choc-box wife Glenys and their slobbering soul-mate Hattersley, and a long held belief that all governments should be clerks at the service of the people. His play Krassivy won the Best Fringe Play Award at Edinburgh in 1980. Two other plays, Oiny Hoy (adapted from his unpublished novel) and The Calton Weavers were big hits at Glasgow Mayfest in 1987 and transferred successfully to the Edinburgh International Festival the same year. A volume of verse, At Glasgow Cross and Other Poems (Fat Cat Publications, 1987) is in its second print run.
...hails from Edinburgh but has mostly lived and worked in Glasgow in recent years. He is a dramatist with a goodly number of stage successes to his name, the best known probably being the Benny Lynch play. He has done a lot of good work in community drama with his friend Peter Mullan and Rutherglen Drama Group.
…came to Glasgow when he was fifteen years old. He was a friend of Hamish Henderson’s and Hugh MacDiarmid - each of whom he can think of as mentor. MacDiarmid pays compliment to Behan in his book The Company I’ve Kept. Behan has worked for the BBC Third programme, but never managed - as was his mother’s dearest wish - to get on the first. He and Jim McLean are old and close friends and live, we are led to believe, in each other’s pockets: Behan being the older, ergo, closer. They share most things including the same politics and literary outlook. Behan’s real life’s work is spreading dissent, be it bibulous or bibliographical. He and Freddy Anderson and Matt McGinn spent a youth together, and Behan thinks that it didn’t do him a great deal of harm - what it did for Freddy and Matt, Dominic is not disposed to say. He is the author of many songs and strikes and plays. He is at present writing a biography of his friend, Spike Milligan, in the daytime, and at night praying for Mrs Thatcher with such a vengeance that the knees are worn out of his arse.
...was born in Whiteinch, Glasgow, in 1911, the son of a tailor and a Co-op shop assistant. In 1915 the family moved to Belfast, where John received his schooling, leaving at 13 and returning to Glasgow. For a couple of years he worked as a pageboy in a cinema; then for eleven years as a bellboy and steward on the Anchor Line. Caldwell had a natural interest in political philosophy, and in current politics. In 1938 he made his last voyage and went working full time with the United Socialist Movement (founded by Guy Aldred). In 1939 he joined with Aldred, Jane Patrick and Ethel MacDonald in opening the Strickland Press in George Street, Glasgow. He worked on the press, on a family, non-wage basis, for the next thirty years, taking over editorship of The Word on Guy’s death in 1962. Caldwell opposed the Second World War. Refusing to accept conditional exemption, he appeared before the Tribunal twice and was eventually granted total exemption. During his retirement from active work in the Movement, CaIdwell has collected and collated the Writings of Guy A. Aldred and prepared them for publication on microfilm. He has also written a biography of Aldred: Come Dungeons Dark - which includes chapters on the persecution and vicious imprisonment of conscientious objectors during the First World War. The book is published by Luath Press, Barr, Ayrshire.
...was born in Kinning Park in 1943. He has worked in various occupations in various parts of the world. He now lives and writes in Linwood, a defunct dormitory town built for the workers of the now flattened Rootes car plant to eat, sleep and reproduce in. After publication of his first novel, The Comeback (Polygon, 1986), Alex received a Scottish Arts Council Bursary which enabled him to complete his second novel, The Missionary, published by Polygon this year. A third is in progress. The novels deal with many of the themes raised in this anthology.
…was horn in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, in 1919. During World War II he served with the 51st (Highland) Division at Alamein and in Italy. He is a Founder Member (1951) of the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University.
...was born in Aberdeen in 1937. He was worked in Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh. He is at present teaching Psychology at Paisley College. Over the years Sandy has been a member of various left-wing organisations, but currently is attached to none. He has published widely, mainly on psychology, education and popular culture, in journals such as New Society, Oral History, Psychological Record, and the Scottish Educational Review.
...was born in the Govanhill area in 1927. In pre-war Glasgow everything south of Eglinton Toll was middle class suburbia where the Victorian ethos - instilled with the belt, the hymn, the piano lesson and the fee-paying school - took no prisoners. Govanhill was, in point of fact, little better than a kind of genteel slum, but its not-heard children, its sombre, well-kept closes and above all its belief in its own sorely tested respectability, set it apart. An Irishman of my acquaintance swears there used to be policemen at the Toll turning back any saunterers from the Gorbals who wished to continue on a bit further. The factual truth of this may be questionable, but he has caught unerringly a more elusive truth – the feel of that time and that place. That Laing ever managed to transcend these class barriers is an achievement in itself. And who can say why Laing and not the myriad others of his class and profession in whose every self-protective manoeuvre you can read their life-long fear and hatred of the lumpen ‘scruff’? Is it just personal temperament or luck in the people we meet or perhaps a bit of both? Early on Laing was friendly with the much more experienced Karl Abenheimer (a non-mental psychotherapist here in Glasgow) whose critical approach to the whole concept of mental illness might well have been Laing’s springboard. But let’s rejoice it did indeed happen, however it happened. Laing’s genius is for stripping away the callous anti-life assumptions and absurdities of conventional psychiatric practice which is based on purely medical models. It is a tight against the threat of a deadening conformity, and it is our fight too.
…was born in the Calton, Glasgow, in 1924, and went to St Mungo’s Academy. After his apprenticeship in Yarrow’s, he joined the merchant service and sailed as an Engineer Officer. An Anarchist from the age of twenty, and a firm believer in the supreme efficacy of Direct Action in the fight against oppression, Robert can point to many successful outcomes in the struggle he has waged all his life - at sea, in industry, in prisons. He looks forward to the social revolution, but meantime he lives it in his own day-to-day engagement with life, and his refusal to make peace with the System.
...is yet another exile from the Gorbals. He now lives and writes in Castlemilk and helped form the Castlemilk Writers’ Workshop.
...lives in Rutherglen and was employed as organiser of the Castlemilk Citizens’ Advice Bureau between 1978 and 1984. During the ‘Gizza Hoose’ campaign of 1983 she supported the tenants in their protest.
...was born in Anderston, Glasgow, in 1938. He served as a Regular soldier in Cyprus between 1956 and 1958 at the height of the war against EOKA. This robbed him of any illusions he may have had regarding the beneficence of Empire. On quitting the army Ian developed an interest in grassroots political activity, and alongside this a passion for literature and music. There has never been any question of conflict between these interests. Each constantly sustains the other, he believes; each giving the other extra scope and an added dimension. Ian believes there is sanity in diversity. I’ll drink to that. Must acknowledge a debt to him here for the moral support, the practical advice and the help in a hundred different ways which was there for the asking during the preparation of this book.
…worked as a telephone engineer before going to Strathclyde University in 1978. He graduated with Honours in Arts and Social Science in 1982. He writes stories and songs and, until more recent times, was a frequent performer singing with guitar in pubs and clubs in and around Glasgow.
...spent a term in Barlinnie at the time of National Service rather than serve in the British army. He is a Scottish Socialist Republican in the tradition of John Maclean and Hugh MacDiarmid, a man Jim knew well. Indeed it was Jim McLean who produced some of the best recordings of MacDiarmid reading his own work. McLean is one of the finest Scottish song-writers in recent years. His Glencoe, for example, rightly lays the Massacre and the subsequent divisions between Scottish Catholics and Protestants, squarely at the door of William Prince of Orange. King Billy, he suggests (in words that might have come straight from the pen of MacDiarmid or Hamish Henderson) was to be the bane of all Scottish political and cultural development in the centuries that followed. Coming, as he Jim does, from a family steeped at one time in the Orange tradition, he knows well what he’s writing about. Living nowadays with one foot in Euston and the other in Glasgow Central, Jim started Nevis Records so as to – literally - give a voice to Scots singers and musicians. He lives in London with his wife and two sons, Calum and Ian.
…is a well-known Glasgow songwriter and folk singer with the group Stramash. Also in this Folk Group is John Eaglesham of the Mitchell Library whom we would like to thank here for time, trouble and courtesy while tracking down for us the Jimmy Tyrie song.
…lives in Castlemilk. In a note he says: “I remember the humiliation of standing in a separate queue for free dinners at school. My hatred of capitalism and the Establishment started there. I have been put out of work many times for defending the interests of working-class people, and not only against greedy and unscrupulous employers but also against corrupt and incompetent Trade Union representatives. I have been directly involved in most of our local community struggles, and my belief that ordinary people have the capacity to organise and win victories without the leadership of self-appointed gurus has been vindicated a hundred times over.”
...comes from Govan originally. She lived in England for a number of years where she went to find work. She now lives in Ayrshire.
…wall born in 1957. Works in line for publication include: Maybe a Boy, The Pink Book, Triptych, The Fall of Joseph Smith, Magnificent Despair (a mystery story), Sun and Flesh (a love story). He has published in the Edinburgh Review and in the anthology Behind the Lines.
…belongs to one of the great ethnic groups of the old Gorbals - the Lithuanians. We know about the Jews (many of whom, of course, were Lithuanian as well as Estonian and Latvian and Russian), the Irish, the Poles and the Italians, but - at least in my memory - the Lithuanians stand out. They had a capacity for friendship and kindly feeling which the harsh conditions of life in the Gorbals did not always make easy. I was privileged to know and have close friendships with two or three unforgettable people from among them. As her grandparents had moved to Scotland in search of a better life, so Janette in her turn moved out of the Gorbals with - as she so movingly portrays it in her fine story Where I Came From - a no doubt similar dream. The dreams lie crushed and dead. But what is history but a catalogue of dead dreams that somehow worked a magic beyond their death? What is of value endures. And this will be true for Janette.
...was born and reared in Dumbarton. The poems in this book are extracts from A Clydeside Lad, a manuscript in verse about growing up in the working class culture of Clydeside in the heyday of the shipyards. He is at present employed as Oral Historian for the Scottish Maritime Museum. He has had poems published in Poetry Review, The Tablet and other magazines.
writes: “I see we were both born in the same year and in the same district. I also went down with TB and was cured thanks to streptomycin. My sanatorium was single ward in Shieldhall Fever Hospital. Another curious coincidence is the fact that the main character in my nearly completed novel is called Thomas Clay which must be a further Anglification of your own name. I believe you were handy with the boxing gloves back in the old days when Gorbals was really the Gorbals. I wonder if you remember Roy Ankarah (not sure of the spelling) also known, I think, as the Black Flash. He used to live along in Oatlands and did some of his street work there.
(I remember Roy Ankarah very well. He had a couple of famous fights in London with Al Phillips, the Aldgate tiger. I remember listening in to the radio commentaries. I think Roy had the Empire featherweight title at the time. But the Gorbals was at that time overflowing with boxers, amateur and pro, all sharing the gym space and training and sparring together, one reason the area came up with so many champions and near champions. Vic Herman, who won the British flyweight title and contended for the world title, lived just round the corner from me in Abbotsford Place, and round the corner from him in Kelty Street was George Lamont who lived with uncle ex-fighter Billy Hood. George’s opponent in his first pro outing had been this very same Billy Hood! Everybody knows a fighter has to win in his debut. Putting him in with his uncle to ensure a result was cheeky even for those days. They need not have been so cautious with George Lamont. I saw him in the Kelvin Hall about a year later, round about 1951, having a great victory over - yes, Roy Ankarah.)
Jeff Torrington was born in the Gorbals in 1935. He is married with three grown up children and lives in Linwood. He has had short stories and articles published and broadcast on BBC radio.
...was born in Maryhill. Hand and mind worker most of his life, now just mind, with a corresponding sense of loss. Poems and prose in print, theatre and radio plays produced. His work to be found in Lines Review, Words, Logos, Chapman, Radical Scotland, Voices, Information (Denmark), Westermanns Monatshefte (West Germany), Nuernburger Blaetter (West Germany). Winner of the James Kennaway Screenplay Award.
…is a well-known socialist historian, writer and speaker. When Jim Sillars described him as being to “the Left of Lenin” in the House of Commons in 1977, he was not engaging in flattery. In arguing for socialist ideas during the past fort years Young has addressed countless meetings. A prolific contributor to obscu! socialist newspapers and journals in the 1950s, James D. Young is the author The Rousing of the Scottish Working Class (Croom Helm, 1979), Women and Popular Struggles (Mainstream, 1985), and Making Trouble (Clydeside Press, 1987). He plans to go on making trouble for the capitalist Establishment. He just completed a pamphlet on John Maclean and Thatcherism; and he is working on several books including a history of working-class Glasgow.