Local Author Gary Knight spends his working day at the Crieff recycling centre helping to make Perthshire a greener place. However, he has a darker side and during his spare time as both an author and Horror tour guide he delves into Perthshire's dark underbelly and sheds light on its grisly past! He tells us a little bit about the alter ego's he takes on as a tour guide including the Perth Executioner, Sandy Dow and Donald Wightman, a Jacobite Officer from the Crieff area.
We also learn a little bit about his life as a published author of true-crime books including his latest No Fair City- Tales from Perth's Dark Past. Gary is actually severely dyslexic but has developed strategies and coming from the Punk era he is totally bought into the Punk ethos of no matter who or what you are you can still achieve anything. A fan of Elvis, Hearts and a good old Scottish fry-up he's a man who knows how to enjoy his downtime!
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
My full-time day job is with Perth and Kinross Council working at the Crieff recycling centre. I start at 7.00 am and finish at 5.45pm, loading lorries with refuse and helping people recycle their rubbish.
When I am tour guiding and storytelling I can be doing anything from telling historic tales
at Glencoe to investigating the ghosts of Mary Kings Close in Edinburgh's Royal Mile on Hallowe'en's night! I also often play different costumed roles.
As The Perth Executioner, Sandy Dow and his victim, my wife and I travel up and down the country - even as far as Stockport in England with 'Punishments Through the Ages' a demonstration and tales of torture, punishment and execution.
When in the role of Donald Wightman, a Jacobite Officer from the Crieff area, I narrate his part in the rising of 1745. Every now and then I team up as the Jacobite officer with local folk musician and friend John Davidson and together we perform 'The Jacobites in Story and Song' as Daoine Sith (pron. Doon Shee).
During the spooky months of October and November, I am often seen in the guise of a local ne'er do well from Perth called John Larg who was hanged in Perth in 1817 for robbery with violence. He tells dark stories and takes occasional tours around Perth telling of the city's gruesome past and will be returning again this year guiding unsuspecting members of the public around the City's dark alleys and graveyards - so look out!
But when I was writing my book, my days were much quieter as I would get up and either switch on the computer to carry out my research online or go to Perth and visit the AK Bell library where I would spend the day upstairs ensconced in the fantastic local history section, researching stories from Perth's past.
What signals the start of your weekend/days off?
A bit of a lie in, not having the alarm going off at 5.45 am is great!
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I am severely dyslexic and really struggle with spelling. Although the more I write the more I can remember some of the tricks. When writing 'No Fair City', my wife Lynne would go over the spelling and grammar for me as I finished each chapter.
I was also the first person to walk from Glenfinnan to Derby in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite Army, in clothing from the period and following the same timescale, since they themselves did it. Something I did purely for my own interest but my wife insists should be my next book, so watch this space...
Top of your bucket list?
I am a massive Elvis fan and I have always wanted to visit him home Graceland, but I hate flying so that might be a bit of a problem!
Worst job you’ve ever had?
I worked on a chicken farm for about 10yrs. The work was not too bad, but the wages were very low so you had to work overtime to make ends meet. This meant you could be working up to ten weeks without any time off when it was busy.
Who or what inspires you?
In the 1980's I was a punk and have always loved the punk ethos of no matter who or what you are you can still achieve anything. I also admire honesty loyalty and integrity, so from history, I really look up to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce's right-hand man James Douglas (the Black Douglas).
Tell us about the weekend you’d love to live again?
I love football and follow the family tradition of supporting Hearts, so the weekend I would live again is going to the 2012 Cup Final when we beat our city rivals Hibs 5-1. I went with my oldest son Jacob and it is something we will always remember.
I had better also say my wedding in the grounds of Traquair House was very special or my wife will kill me.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love meeting people. When I do storytelling events it's great when people come up and tell me their stories. I also love promoting Perthshire and Scotland and enjoy talking to visitors about where to go and what to do while they are here.
The other side of sharing stories from history is researching them. This, along with writing, is the real hobby side of it for me so spending hours in the library or writing my Perthshire article for the Perth Blog every month is definitely one of the biggest perks of the job.
What’s the perfect day off breakfast?
I would love to say muesli but it, unfortunately, has to be a traditional Good old Scottish fry up, I don't have many though.
Complete this sentence; The best things in life are….
spending time with family or friends. Over the years losing loved ones have made me realise just how important spending quality time with people who are important to you is in life.