Our host Bob Starrett is a cartoonist, writer, trade unionist and political activist heavily involved personally and politically with the history of the Glasgow shipyards. Google has confirmed this for me, for during this one hour talk I wasn’t told who was talking or how these facts might be related to ‘Radical Scotland’.
However, introductions aren’t necessary when in the company of friends. Eight of the perhaps eleven people attending seemed to be close acquaintances of Starrett, looking to each other to verify stories and offer insights into the political concerns of the Scottish working class. Whilst this familiarity was initially daunting for an outsider, it soon became apparent that to bear witness to such a reunion can be a unique and touching experience.
During the discussion were readings from Starrett’s book, The Way I See It. These shipyard anecdotes were amusing and well-crafted, encapsulating the solidarity that breeds inside large, isolated and demanding places of work. Assured by Starrett’s coterie that all of what we were hearing was true, those of us unfamiliar with the gallows humour of these comrades were quickly included into its warmth and wit.
It seems appropriate in the spirit of the fringe that I was thrust unsuspectingly into an event like this. Radical Scotland features a different event each day, dealing with the history and future of Scotland’s vibrant activism, and whilst this mostly concerns those ardently involved with left-wing politics, it should also be of interest to anyone who considers themselves politically aware. If it maintains the level of interesting characters and insights that this occasion involved, Radical Scotland will be a valuable contribution towards sharpening the fringe’s political edge.