Month: September 2018

Mod in Glasgow – An Evening with Francis Kemp

Peter,

I’m enclosing a copy of Mod in Glasgow, Francis Kemp’s memoir: you’ll anticipate, I’m sure, passages that will irritate and, not infrequently, repel the sensitive reader. (My own particular quibbles are boastfulness, name-dropping and the frequency with which Francis refers to himself as ‘yours truly’.)

Elisabeth, to whom I sent several chapters, also identified a ‘dark strain of misogyny’, though this seems a point of view dictated by her dislike of the author rather than any evidence gleaned from the book.  (Francis is a product of his era: you’d find similar attitudes, even more crudely expressed, in any number of films and novels from the period. I’m sure there are female equivalents whose yearning to be free is a source of consternation to those who’d like to control them.)

Revisions are certainly required – the dog-poisoning episode on page 67 is particularly hair-raising – but there’s potential, I think, for a one man show: Francis is better heard than read – I can see him in a facsimile of his sitting room, surrounded by memorabilia, regaling the audience with self-congratulatory anecdotes interspersed with appropriate records. Depending on demand, we might even stretch to Karen Keddie’s Exus Trek Dancers to accompany him between the ’60’s and the present.

In the wake of the Lomond Sound debacle, of course, the main problem might lie in locating venues in which he’s not persona non grata.

I’d be grateful for any suggestions.

G.K.

Teenage Kicks Retrospective – Gregor Beith

Dear Susan,

Your article describes Rob McAskill as the Teenage Kicks’ ‘jester in chief’: this is simply not true. At this point in his career, the ‘Rascal’s’ humour was inhibited by his parents’ well-intentioned but narrow interpretation of Presbyterian doctrines. Contemporary listeners will confirm, I’m sure, that Rob’s contributions were restricted to po-faced chronicles of school fetes and fund raisers.

Gregor Beith was the team’s resident crackpot: an adolescent grotesque who modelled himself on the comedians who performed in his parents’ pub, stealing their jokes and even dressing in a manner he thought appropriate to a ‘funny man’: garish lounge suits complemented by ruffled shirts and bow ties.

His repertoire was similarly dated, replete with references to ‘dolly birds’ whose advances toward Gregor had to be resisted lest he incur the wrath of ‘the missus’ or, even worse, ‘the mother in law’.

Unfortunately, Gregor’s charm waned as he aged: I saw him perform in 1995, by which point he was eager to abandon the ‘wise guy’ act and introduce ‘the real me’. By the evening’s conclusion, the majority of the audience had slipped into the night – those of us who remained were traumatised by a grisly rendition of Phil Collins’ ‘Against All Odds’ (an ordeal that echoes in my dreams, usually as a presage of disappointment, sadness or disaster.)

Yours sincerely,

George Kaspar