I’m writing a new show that will be biographical and feature tales about mental health. Last time I felt the black dog tugging on his leash was after the death of my dad. In truth though that wasn’t depression it was me grieving, which is perfectly natural. I feel it’s important we recognise that and don’t define ourselves via a condition…some of these jokes are in bad taste…good.  

I hold everything the NHS does in the highest regard. Being Scottish I’m quite reliant on them. I hate these twits that say, “Ah but you can’t expect free care forever.” It’s not free. We pay for it. And being an ex smoker of 20 years, with the amount of tax I’ve paid, when my time is up I want a gold plated bed and disgraced Tories washing my feet while I whack their arses with a rolled up copy of the Morning Star.

I’m not claiming NHS care is perfect. I used to have an uncle who had an NHS pacemaker and every time he farted the garage door would open.

My dad went out in an NHS bed. Not so much to do with a Scots lifestyle and more to do with he was chock a full of white asbestos from his job. The funeral was lovely and very well attended but his cremation went on forever.

That was the last time I felt depressed. But the point is it wasn’t depression I was just grieving. We should recognise that, I feel it’s very important we don’t define ourselves via conditions. Being sad is sometimes the right way to be. I really don’t like how we romanticise bad mental health. Poor old Van Gough get’s that, “Ah well, the reason he was so great was because he was so tortured.”
Bullshit. They claim his last words were  “la tristesse durera” meaning  “The pain is eternal” Well that was conveniently poetic of him wasn’t it?…and just not true. You know what my dads last words were? “You maybe better get a doctor. I think there’s something really wrong with me.” Which makes perfect sense. He wasn’t rattling out little bon mots on the nature of being. “Ah the universe is a hurricane and we are nought but farts.” What? What’s he saying? I’m not sure, something about farting like a hurricane. Ah…it’s probably the mixture of hospital cabbage and morphine.

I reckon Van Gough’s last words probably were more along the lines of, “Speak up you fool, I’m missing a lug. What? No I don’t feel like getting it down in a painting! I’m really fucking depressed! Send out for some prostitutes and Absinth, that tends to work”

And if those really were his last words then he was wrong. Pain isn’t eternal…Well unless you’re watching Scotland in a world cup qualifier. In which case it can feel like it. The point is you get better. Of course I can still feel a swelling of emotion when I think of my dad, but it’s a nice feeling. I was just thinking today how he could be full of constant surprises. I remember watching indie band The Smiths on telly one day and he looked up from his paper and said, “What a lovely singer that man is. Perfect diction, you can make out every word.” I was stunned. As far as music went he wasn’t into anything post Sinatra. Now he’s gone from Sinatra to The Smiths and cut out pretty much everything in between. That’s some gap. Or maybe he just liked the idea of “hanging DJs” Then there was the time gay icon Boy George first appeared on Top of the Pops. Again he looks up from his paper, “What’s that.” He enquired? Not who, what. I said, “It’s Boy George. He’s gay.” To which he replied, “Well if gay means happy then that man’s ecstatic.” A joke I feel good enough to go in this show.

Although the death of my dad from cancer was anything but pleasant I didn’t find it horrific either. Life kind of prepares you for such stuff. And even in among all the pain nice things would happen. The day before he went he decided to rally round and find the strength to watch Scotland play England at Rugby. We hadn’t defeated England in an age…that day we won. Nice one God. I always reckoned if he did exist he’s probably Scottish and invented England to punish us for our sins.

Even on the day of his passing quirky stuff was happening. My family is like The Broons. There’s as many of us as them and like The Broons if one heads out to solve a problem then another nine follow behind them. On the day my dad was at the end he had been put into twilight to ease his pain. It was decided a word with the nurse was required and in typical Broons/Scott family tradition nine of them set off down the corridor and I was charged with watching my dad as I had a “nursing background”. I’d worked for nine months in a psychiatric hospital about ten years prior. They hadn’t been out the room more than two minutes and my dad decided, from whatever level of consciousness he was on, It seems to have gone a bit quite I’ll just sneak away now. And he stopped breathing. I got a fright. I then said, “Shit dad they’re all out the room. Could you please just hang on.” And he promptly started breathing again.

So then I lean out his room and call on the family. As I was doing this I did the most ridiculous thing of keeping one hand on his bed, like you do with a shopping trolley in the supermarket…in case someone is looking for exactly the same groceries as you and makes off with your stuff. I’ve no idea where I thought he might be going. I think the chances of him leaping up and announcing there’s maybe some time left for a final bet at the bookies were slim.

PS My dad’s the one on the left in this photo.




Why I’m pro Scots Independence.

I think it was around 1990, I was sat in my parents house on my own watching The SNP conference. This was unusual in that my family are a couple of generations  of natural Labour supporters, as was I at the time. So why was a watching this? Well this bloke Alex Salmond was on speaking and it struck me the some of things he was saying sounded decidedly more left wing than what even Labour was offering at that time. Labour had purged the left by this point and were well on the road to becoming “New”. And then Salmond pointed something out. I can’t quote exactly, but it went something along the lines of, “An independent Scotland would NEVER have to be ruled by a Conservative government ever again.” And with that won thought my viewpoint changed.

I’m from a mining area and already at that young aged was well versed in the brutality a Conservative government can bring down like a cosh on people like me. I had a cousin who was a miner who’s suicide I lay directly at the door of Thatcher. He was blacklisted then made homeless by her policies.

But Scottish independence isn’t true to the values of socialism you cry. If I may I’d like to quote a friend of mine Thanasis Manitarellis who said yesterday  “Blaming Scotland for causing further division after Brexit, is like blaming an abused wife for wrecking her marriage after running out of the house. ”

Also can anybody point out any of our main parties who are implementing more left wing policies than the SNP at the moment? Trust me, I know the SNP are far from perfect but free access to education, free school meals and free prescriptions are all steps in the right direction. Of course I am sympathetic to the principles of Jeremy Corbyn (I’m also a Labour party member as I live in England. If I lived in Scotland I’d be with the SNP) but I have no idea what his policies are. And when Scots Labour leaders and mayors of London start comparing the entire Scottish nation to the likes of Donald Trump! Well,  I’m reminded of how completely they have lost the plot and the ability to communicate to ordinary workers/voters.

But they’re imposing cuts. No Westminster Tories are imposing cuts and the SNP are having to follow. We’re not independent remember. Saying this there is much in SNP economic policy I disagree with. But here’s the point. If you don’t like it… an Independent Scotland could vote in a more leftist/Socialist government if they had the power to do so. The way Scottish politics leans the only way I can see someone out manoeuvring the SNP is to move to the left of them. This is something that would never happen in a United Kingdom. For me it’s a win, win situation and the reason I’m for self rule. And I don’t even live in Scotland any more, but if any nation on the planet managed to liberate themselves, even partly, from oppression then I’m all for it…And don’t even get me started on Europe…

Indy Ref. 2 A Poem.

I understand your fear
What are we walking into?
Just look at all the foodbanks
Are you up for joining that queue?
I understand uncertainty
Of our countries destination
It’s all the fault of immigrants
Is the bigots proclamation
That’s the fear they’ll try to spread
Demonising the unknown
But we have bigger family
In that  European zone
I understand your caution
To have heedfulness is wise
“We’ll give you more of your own say”
Do you still believe those lies?
But what about the economy
Our pay will take a squeeze
So put your trust in bankers
There’s nothing they won’t seize
The way they treat a worker
Is more akin to robbery
You’ll break your back, work endless shift
As they shove you into poverty
But what about the NHS
They say it’s safe with them
As you queue for beds eternally
Until your life’s condemned
You see I understand uncertainty
What are we walking into?
But surely now you know
This is the last chance for a breakthrough
I understand uncertainty.
But what shall we become
I’m not sure, but look at this list
And you’ll know what you’re walking from.

John gets Mad, Class and Elites.

I was doing a gig in a posher bit of town the other night and an elderly lady came up to me and asked, “Why is it that all comedians are on the left?” I replied that there are conservative comedians nowadays. And if you think not so long ago lots of comedians were  right wing or Tories. Just look at Jim Davidson and Bernard Manning. And she replied, “Yes but they were horrible.” I said, “Yeah I know. I wonder why that was.”

I miss the simpler days when there were just three classes. Upper, middle and working. Now we’ve got

  1. Elites
  2. Upper
  3. Middle
  4. Working
  5. Oh my god he’s wearing Crocs.

Class really does inform your sense of humour. here’s a genuine conversation I had with one of the Cambridge Footlights at The Edinburgh festival this year.

ME. So yesterday my front row was four 13 – 14 year old boys.

FOOTLIGHTS. That must have been difficult.

ME. No. They were great. I had a great moment when I did my money bucket speach. I said to them. You young guys don’t have to pay…But I do want a blow job. Don’t worry you still get the free CD.

FOOTLIGHTS. Good God! And the audience were OK with that?

ME. Yeah. Err…It was one of the biggest laughs of the night.

FOOTLIGHTS. Im shocked.

ME. That’s nothing. I shifted another 4 CDs and got a blow job.

FOOTLIGHTS. ( Gazes into the middle distance…. Then goes inside)

ME. Sniggers…

I recently quite inadvertently stumbled on a way to make yourself feel like an Elite. I was in the park and had eaten a bag of pistachio nuts. Obviously when you finish pistachio nuts you’re left with a bag of hard empty shells. Just as I was about to clear them away a gust of wind came and scattered them over the ground. I suppose it looked like I was throwing out grain as a flock of pigeons descended on them… Well, suddenly I felt like the chancellor. I thought “You think you’re getting something. But it’s nothing but empty shells. That’s trickle down economics for you. I get nuts, you get empty shells. Know why? Because you’re vermin.”

And there was this one pigeon that couldn’t fly because it had a broken wing. Well…It was making out it had I broken wing. But I knew better than that. So I started kicking it, “Come on you, you can fly, you’re not fooling me.” Eventually I just picked it up and threw it in the air. It came down with a thud and died. I said, “Fair enough. You’ve passed the assessment.”












Working class Pt. 2 The Arts.

There’s been much written in recent times about it being harder for working class artists to break through in their field. From problems with a lack of much needed money to gain access to education, to a general feeling that many of the fields are now being dominated by the privileged. I.e. those with money (or their parents money) to spare.

It’s not new the prejudices against the working classes in the arts. Over centuries it has been debated that Shakespeare didn’t write his own work because he was of too lowly a standing. To me the idea it was written by someone of nobility is ridiculous. Why would a noble in all their comforts have to strive to produce the best they could? They can just fall back on being…err…noble.

I think it’s certainly worth noting that just recently we lost two working class giants of their craft in David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Bowie himself left school with little qualification but did attend one of the many now eradicated 60s art schools. Rickman received sponsorship and a scholarship to get him started. All great supportive avenues for us ordinary folks to gain access to arts, now all gone.

On a personal level as a comedian I’ve certainly seen a hell of a lot of class bias in my own industry. Sometimes it’s prominent critics who hear a northern or working class voice and immediately dismiss whatever is being said as “club comedy” A now derisory term invented by a London based, self anointed comedy policeman. It’s a weird term as much comedy comes from and is created in clubs. Sure I understand that comedy designed to please those on a night out isn’t perhaps best suited to a festival going punter. But if that comedy does turn out to actually rock a festival crowd with laughter then surely it’s of some merit somewhere along the line? According to many critics absolutely not. And who is it we find most adept at this type of comedy? That’s right, working class comics. Because it was a working class crowd the comedy was created in front of. Yeah…but what are the working classes doing at an arts festival? This seems to be the notion behind such thinking.

In an attempt to not be judged as just a “club comic” I personally now write social and political comedy or satire as it can be known. How many working class voices have you heard over decades on telly or radio tackling that stuff? No, it would seem some forms of comedy are only to be uttered by those folks in the middle. What would a working class person know about the real issues? I was actually told once by the head of BBC comedy North, and I quote, “Look there’s a lot of good stuff here but you’ve got a wall of Oxbridge school tie to get over before anybody will look at it.” Do we hear a lot of working class voices on BBC Radio 4? Well I suppose sometimes we do, but usually they’re not being spoken by working class artists.  All this does beg the question what would someone from Oxbridge know about the vulnerability of life at the bottom. Or as we would call it, “the real issues.”

It used to be different.  The working classes were celebrated on TV and radio in the 70s and 80s. But for every Boys From the Black Stuff there’s now a Shameless. For every Alf Garnet there’s now Mrs Brown. We’ve been moved sideways in our portrayals from pathos to panto and nobody seems to have noticed it happening.

But it’s not all a negative picture we have here. My dad and many others were always ready to offer the advice for anybody wanting to study the arts, “You need a trade to fall back on.” Bizarrely as I head off to do a degree in Drama and Script this year I do have a trade to fall back on…the performing arts.

The problem with such thinking is those with something to fall back on will invariably fall back on it. If those coming from a more comfortable background can always opt out and go home, then home is where they will go. Working class kids can’t just up tools and go home. That’s actually their greatest asset. Once they enter the arts with nothing to fall back on…they are home.

Once you do find that home I would pay little attention to those outside performance or writing or music or busking who try to justify their existence by intellectualising the game. Art doesn’t come from the brain, it’s from the heart. That’s exactly what your audience will pay for. It’s an expression of joy and awe. Speak up, stand up…shout at the teacher.


On the 35th anniversary of John Lennons death.

I remember much of the day of John Lennon’s death. I was ten/nearly 11 years old. I got up in the morning and walked into the living room to be told immediately by my mother that John Lennon had been shot and killed. “Is he one of the Beatles?” I enquired. Yes I was told. “Good.” I replied.

You see I was a supposed young  punk and in my immaturity thought this was a cool thing to say. My older brother Bill who I hadn’t noticed sitting to the side of me in tears probably wanted to swing for me. “He doesn’t understand” My mum hastily interjected. I can’t remember much of what unfolded immediately after that but my next memory is of me walking to school accompanied by my brother and on seeing how upset he was apologising. My brother was so patient with my ignorance bless him.

“You know there are quite a lot of Beatles songs that are quite punk that you would really like. Revolution and Helter Skelter. You would love them.” And he was right. I did love them when he played them to me later that night.

I’m reckoning by around some point in the day the gravity of what had happened was beginning to dawn on me. I can’t thank my brother enough for his patience that day. Rather than scold me he led me towards Johns music. I fell for it pretty fast.

That night the BBC showed the Beatles film Help. My dad thought it a pile of nonsense. I thought it nonsense too. Excellent nonsense.

The first Beatles album I owned was Revolver. Given to me by the same patient brother. In later years I would give a copy of the CD to my nephew.  I also around this time acquired a cassette of the John Lennon compilation album Shaved Fish. That’s when I started to realise I’d known Johns songs for much of my life. Great songs.

I was in town today buying a couple of new T-Shirts. I picked up one with the classic New York logo on it. Laughed to myself and thought “if I combine that with my faux military shirt it will look a bit John Lennon.” (in no way am I saying I’m anything like him.) I had no idea it was the 35th anniversary of his death today. Just one of those funny little synchronicities I’m very into. He’s obviously often in my mind and I’m happy to have him there.  He’s an easy target for criticism. I prefer to go the harder way and hold him dear.

There’s been 1.15 million Americans killed by guns since John Lennon’s death.  I know his campaigning for peace can seem naïve. It wasn’t. Nobody was more aware than him that he was a silly/fun advert for peace. He pointed this out many times. But at least he was a voice for something. Where are those voices in the corporatized  world of music now. With the state of the planet you’d think there would be anti-war songs coming out every week. Sadly they don’t. Things, including the arts, are much more controlled now.

John Lennon’s silly/fun advert for peace is a voice I would give much for to still have in the world today.