As a citizen of the world (and the Highlands of Scotland no less) I’ve spent the last thirty or so years – originally in spare time then latterly for a living – writing for publication, performance and broadcast. As a founder and former Joint Artistic Director of Dogstar Theatre Company over a period of fifteen years I was involved in writing, producing, touring and collaborating on new plays throughout Scotland and as far afield as Sweden and Iran. My last play with Dogstar was Factor 9, based on the testimonies of two Scottish haemophiliacs who were contaminated by NHS infected blood products and their search for justice and truth. There is a dedicated page to Factor 9 HERE. You can find out not just about the play but about the enormity of a global healthcare scandal which has claimed some eighteen thousand lives worldwide and infected tens of thousands with debilitating and life-threatening diseases.
Growing up in Clydebank my Da worked in the shipyards and then the enormous Singer sewing machine factory. We left in 1979, just at the point where Margaret Thatcher was squatting over the town, poised to dump her steaming neo-con delights on top of an unsuspecting public. The good people of Clydebank prevail, though many of those unfortunate stains remain to the day.
In the mid-late 1980s I got into script-writing and performing with Faultline Cabaret’s The Kilt is Our Demise, a satirical roadshow painted up in the gaudy colours of Scottish music hall kitsch. Being in comedy led to a bit of scriptwriting, for radio and TV shows that were produced by BBC Scotland’s Comedy Unit; shows like The Daily Sketch and Naked Video.
With a bit of a foray into fiction and poetry, in the late 90s, I made a break into writing for a living after being commissioned to write and perform in The Captain’s Collection, a new play for Highland Festival, a collaboration with some of the finest traditional musicians in Scotland; namely Jonnie Hardie, Alyth McCormack, Brian MacAlpine and Rory Campbell, with the production directed by the brilliant Alison Peebles. Originally from an idea by Bruce MacGregor, we adapted The Captain’s Collection into a 4-part series for BBC Radio Scotland, produced by Bruce and winning an award at the International Celtic Film and TV Festival (2000). From this and further plays Dogstar Theatre Company was grown. (See Plays).
In 2001 the novel The Gravy Star was published by the 11:9 Imprint, set up by Glasgow publisher Neil Wilson to introduce new Scottish fiction to the Scottish and UK market. Further published fiction and poetry (see Books) followed with the advent of Itchy Coo Publishing, a venture set up by writers Matthew Fitt and James Roberston to create new titles in the Scots language and to also translate traditional and contemporary classics into Scots.
I like to write in both/baith English and Scots. From 2003-2006 I took up residency as the first Robert Burns Writing Fellow for Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association and from September 2015-17 became the first appointed Scots Scriever with the National Library of Scotland. I’ve also worked as director and as a regular tutor with Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s National Writing Centre.
With a life-long love of songwriting, recent playing on the open mic circuit, at Belladrum’s Tartan Heart and at smaller local festivals has culminated in the CD Songs From A Jar which launched in December 2016. A recent introduction to the slam poetry scene has meant appearances at the 2016 and 2017 Scottish Slam Poetry Finals, winning the Edinburgh and Belladrum Festival heats along the way. You can find some slam poetry samples in the Podium.
I also occasionally perform Hamish’s TV Show, poetry, monolog and song with a cardboard telly featuring old favourite Lavinia and her Tales From the Croft, some decidedly Creepy TV Men and a supporting cast of heroes and anti-heroes.