Radio Plays and Family Celebrations

Added on Monday 2 Aug 2004

Writer's Diary: 2nd August 2004

I've been having quite a hectic time since I got back from New York. I have to admit that it took me a while to calm down. I'm still reading the New York Times and the Village Voice online every week. In the last diary I mentioned Judi Komaki who very kindly invited Linda Cracknel and me to her apartment for breakfast. I had a chance to return Judi's hospitality a couple of weeks ago when she came to Glasgow from Hawthornden Castle in Midlothian where she had a month-long writer's residency. I'm afraid we didn't do much West-Ending but I really enjoyed being a tourist in my own city. Judi loved the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow Cathedral and the Museum of Religious Life and Art, plus a Saturday jam session in Babbity Bowsters, featuring a slew of musicians playing traditional Scottish and Irish tunes.

The best laugh was Judi buying a Jack Vettriano umbrella in the GOMA shop then standing in George Square with it up, saying "Do I look like a tourist?" My answer had to be "Aye, pit it doon" which I then had to translate. Judi's back in NYC now, but we will keep in touch and she's planning another visit to Scotland next year.

As for my West End friends, I met up with Gerry Loose soon after I got back from New York to pass on details of the Poet's House and to give him a 'poetry advocate?' badge I'd brought back for him. I wonder if he still has it pinned on his jacket. Gerry had just come from a meeting about the Peace Garden project in Glasgow Green, which will feature his poetry and is due for completion in 2005. He was also looking forward to his forthcoming residency in Montpellier. He brought me two Survivors' Poetry Press 'Nomad' collections: 'inside looking in - 12 poems' by Tom Leonard and 'The Safest Hiding Place' by Anne Tall. I was delighted to hear that Tom Leonard's collection 'access to the silence (Poems 1984-2004)' will be launched by Scotland's Independent Radical Bookshop Word Power at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on August 22nd, published by Etruscan Books.

I hadn't encountered Anne Tall's work before and I was very impressed, particularly by 'A Cure for Living', Both publications are available from SPS, 2/R 5 Westbank Quadrant Glasgow G12 8NT at ?2 plus 50 p postage.

I spent a couple of days at the end of June in BBC studios, sitting in on the recording of my latest radio play 'Forever Young'. It's a fascinating process, particularly for a writer, hearing your words spoken by actors. The play will be broadcast on Wednesday 4th of August at 2.15 on Radio Four and will be available for seven days on the BBC's 'Listen Again'

I was delighted to find 'Forever Young' featured in the 'Choices' page of the Radio Times for Wednesday, described as 'finely-written and beautifully performed'. Fame at last.

Photo: wedding. With the play 'in the can' as they say, I was finally free to concentrate on preparations for my daughter Lauren's wedding on the 23rd of July. I haunted the shops in Hyndland for quite a while before finding a great outfit in 'Designing Women'. I went to Galletly & Tubbs on great Western Road on Pat's recommendation and found a divine bag. A pair of fabulous shoes in the sales only left the hat to buy. Unfortunately I've got a wee heid and every one I tried on made me look like a mushroom. Only days before the wedding I was stravaiging down Byres Road before going to meet Chris Dolan in Bonham's. I took a turn down the lane to Starry Starry Night and there it was, sitting on the counter just waiting for me, a gorgeous pink vintage creation which fitted perfectly. Chris then had to put up with me raving about it and even modelling it for him, but he's so cool, he never batted an eyelid. The wedding was in the Lauriston Hotel in Ardrossan and it was a wonderful day. Lauren looked absolutely ravishing. Her sister Cara was bridesmaid, her daughter Aimie was flower-girl and her brother Steven, and Jamie, her step-brother were ushers; lovely lassies and big handsome laddies. The groom, Tom and his brother John who was best-man are identical twins and that led to lot of hilarity when the champagne began to flow. I danced all night; never aff the flair. I haven't seen the official photos yet but Lauren and Cara have emailed me some. Photo: maggie dance. I don't think I'll ever live down the one of me and eighteen-year-old Jamie doing all the right moves to 'Staying Alive'. 'Mortification' and 'big riddie' are only a couple of the terms being bandied about. Nevertheless, we all had a wonderful time. Some bridges were mended and both families were very proud of our beautiful children.

Now all the excitement's over and I'm back at the computer, working on an idea for a radio serial and yet another version of my second novel. I've also had time to read, at last. I finished Colm Toibin's 'The Master' which is utterly brilliant, then went on to another Irishman, Colum McCann's 'Dancer' a beautifully-written novel based on the life of Rudolph Nureyev. I read an interview with Colum McCann recently in which he said that a writer shouldn't write about themselves because for most people that would only give them material for one-and-a-half books. I'm now thinking that might've been my mistake; I'm definitely setting my third book in Patagonia or Paris, anywhere but Ayrshire.

And now there's the Edinburgh Festival and Book Festival to look forward to. I'll keep you posted.