This book review has been a long time coming. I've been toying with the idea for ages now, so how come I'm only getting around to it now? The answer: laziness and fear. It is much less labour intensive for me to go to a gig for an hour or listen to an EP for 20 minutes than to read a whole book. Also, because I found the book in the local interest sections of Waterstones I was a little worried that it would be a bit niche, a bit dull, a bit... well... rubbish!
Well, I needn't have worried on either score as not only is the book relatively slim at 145 pages but it's also a brilliant read. You might expect a biography of a run-down, recession-hit Scottish housing estate in the '70s and '80's to be a bit of a sobering affair. Although the book does have it's sad moments, it is ultimately an uplifting coming-of-age tale with truth dripping off of every page. Oh, and did I mention that it's hilarious? A section dealing with the trials and tribulations of berry picking near Blairgowrie is hilarious and evocative, particular when a mercenary ice cream vans pull's up to the field with the intentions of separating our hero from his earnings.
The real humour comes from, in the main, the lives of the characters that The real humour comes from, in the main, the lives of the characters that inhabited Hunter's crescent.inhabited Hunter's crescent. Some of the stories in this book reliable first-hand accounts like the time the author witnessed 'Kung-Fu Willie' take some bullies to task, or the time a sleeping Davie Seaton got his smelly trainers thrown out the window of a speeding train. Others are mere speculation like the myriad of urban legends surrounding Jean Rattray, such as
'Yeah her parents were millionaires.'
'She was a university lecturer',
'Her boyfriend was a pilot who died in a plane crash.'
However, these people are written about with a lot of respect and are never in danger of becoming two-dimensional laughing stocks. Even the police or the 'ticky' men that collected money from the area are shown as well regarded, relatable members of the community. Although knowledge of Hunters Crescent or Perth would enhance your understanding, the themes and the humour in the book are so universal that anyone would be able to enjoy it.
The authour of Hunters- Wee Stories From The Crescent took some time out of his schedule to talk about his work and plans for the future. Check it out.
Where did you get the idea for the book from?
I got the idea after a Hunter Crescent reunion at the Tulloch Institute back in 2011. After sitting for hours telling stories somebody said: “someone should write a book about that place”. That was the lightbulb moment. The book came out in 2017 but it didn’t take 6 years to write. I stopped and started loads of times and then kind of forgot about it. I kept getting asked when the book was coming out so then I got my head down actually writing the book took 6 months.
Have you written anything before?
I’m a big fan a Radio drama and a number of years ago I wrote a horse racing drama and sent it to the BBC. A few months later they got back to me saying they were very interested in going forward with the play. It was around the time BBC4 we’re making cutbacks and the idea was shelved. I'm still hoping it will see the light of day. I also write silly/comedy poetry that my mum laughs at!
There are some great Hunters characters in this book. People like Kung-Fu Willie, Davie Seaton and Jean Rattray. What is your favourite story surrounding one of them?
A lot of stories about the characters that lived in the Crescent are unprintable! I have happy memories of them all though. Just like the old council housing schemes, I fear those characters do not exist in today’s world. The young ones of today will never know the excitement of the rag and bone man blowing looking for old clothes or running into a man on an old delivery bike selling homemade toffee apples and puff candy in exchange for TC lemonade bottles! It was a simpler time and not as materialistic.
Where did you get all the great pictures from?
Haha, this was the biggest challenge. It was a nightmare! Remember this was an age before 'selfie's' were invented, and it still hadn't occurred to people that they should take pictures of every meal they eat. I had asked in newspapers and online but nothing! Then I got emails on Facebook and Twitter from people who had the odd photograph. The Library was also very helpful. Upstairs in the reference library is a great place to spend an afternoon looking through old newspapers and photographs.
Any plans for a sequel?
Not a sequel as such but I’ve half written a book about being a young man in Perth in the ’80s. Conversations about a play on my book have begun but nothing happens quickly in the world of “jazz hands”!
Anthony would like to say thank you to everyone that contributed, supported or bought his book. For those of you that haven't you can find it on Tippermuir website here.
Perth Festival of the Arts has joined forces with its 2020 artists to create a 10-day online celebration to ‘celebrate the arts together'.
May 21st Thursday 2020
Dougie Maclean's new Perthshire festival this summer: Cardney Concerts.
March 18th Wednesday 2020
Party at The Park, the South Inch, 27th and 28th June, will feature fantastic live performances from The Charlatans and many more!
March 12th Thursday 2020