Indulge my whimsical notions for a ten or so short minutes, lend me your eyes, your mind and your time…come with me on a journey…nae, a voyage…a voyage of discovery!
Still with me?!
Ok, if your seated comfortably and if your safely aboard the vessel, we shall set sail for a bygone age, for a journey through time…please picture the scene;
Glasgow, May 1987, austerity grips the Scottish nation.
Times are hard for the traditional working class, the campaign of privatisation so indicative of the Iron Lady’s philosophy are ripping destructively at the heart and at the soul of a nation very much struggling on the bread line, all that is poor gets yet poorer, all that is rich gets yet richer…such was life in the Conservative government led Thatcherite days.
Govan and all of the surrounding banks of the Clyde are heavily reliant on the steel and the ship building industries but for all of the dark days of ‘Thatcherism’ to date (1979-1987) indeed Scotland and northern England are the main suffers of Thatcherite Britain…traditional industry is in rapid decline, the great depression that began post Second World War was clearly evident. The entire fabric of our industries, of Glasgow city, of the Clyde estuary and of the nation, is being pinched ever tighter, the over-whelming feeling is that it’s being sewn upon for good, that the fabric of society is being treated like the fashions of Saville Row, what was fashionable today may be completely out of style by tomorrow…it was a flimsy time to rebuild confidence around the towns in which the Clyde river does flow.
The land that once housed an entire generation of honest, hard-working individuals, where boys were manufactured near overnight into men and land that was once a bustling metropolis of non-cosmopolitan men who’s language was as foul as the air in which they often breathed.
They may well have breathed foul air but for as many years as anyone could care to remember, they had also breathed hope, breathed life and breathed commercial prosperity into the nation. Clydeside villages, towns and most of the nearby communities had since, well forever, been at the forefront of mining, steelworks, ship-building, engine factories, manufacturing, merchant shipping and militant trade unionism in Scotland.
As anyone who knows Glasgow and its surrounds can easily vouch for and as the rest of you will, no-doubt with comparative ease, imagine, the tough and uncompromising characteristics, so stereotyped of traditional working class people, had served the area, the industries and the individuals within the many communities who depended upon them, well and had fought the wolves from the doors on so many occassions…always resilent and dependable, always forthright and honest, always proudly and with great dignity.
This time however, the landscape not only of Glasgow but of great cities further a field, had succumbed to change, entire communities and their spirits had seemingly unravelled and the modern world so ideological in London financial districts and indeed within the Conservative governments corridors of power had gripped destructive control of an ideological wrecking ball. Old shipyards, docks and factories, old-fashioned industrial developments were being systematically removed, the landscape was barren and seemingly unappreciated. Clydebank, Govan, Scotstoun as were all of the central players, of old, along the river Clyde’s banks, being bent to an altogether different will and earmarked for an altogether purpose.
In 1987, the Prince’s Dock in Govan had an altogether more alien transformation as it morphed from a centre of industry into a centre of culture and of modern re-branding. The transformation was in aid of the following years ‘National Garden Festival’, the tourism and financial sectors were suddenly the shining beacons of hope for an area so previously working-class, god the landscape had changed!
The working-class people who had brought dignity and great respect to the area were now being marginalised and squeezed further from the centre of Glasgow. Even traditional housing schemes were being replaced, great towers of concrete were now set to rise from the ashes of old industry, those at the fringes of the once industrial heartland were being starved out and a social cleansing of sorts had forced many to depart into fairly newly formed communities like East Kilbride and Cumbernauld, Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire.
Central Glasgow and all of its river-side jewels now belonged to an entirely modern crown, the yuppies had targeted new purpose for the land, its architecture and its people…to some it was as alien a concept as life existing on Mars.
1987 also saw a young Ricky Ross and his fellow members of Deacon Blue, a band then much in its infancy, first release the single ‘Dignity’, a song written rather poetically, if not whimsically, about a council litter-picker who dreams about owning a boat, or more acutely and less grandiosely, more humbly, envisaging himself to own a dinghy and to set sail along the west coast waters, proud of his new-found freedom and of the great self-sacrifice involved in saving his ‘low income’ pennies to make such a sarcastically luxurious purchase.
The song was not at first a massive hit but it would later, and will now forever more, be regarded as a classic.
The tune is fantastically iconic and instantly recognisable and though not every drunk knows all its words, most drunks in Glasgow, be they young or old, will have at one time or another sang gamely along with the fantastically enduring melodies known and loved by so many since it’s more successful release in 1988.
Quite what relation does this all have with Celtic, with Scotland, with Scottish football, or even with Rangers …I hear you ask?!
Not much admittedly, but I will try to create some kind of bridge between two overtly tentatively linked subject matters. Please bear with me.
You see, 1987 much like now is an austere period of recession and of social reform, much like today an inept Conservative vision for Britain threatens to cut deepest into the flesh of the poor, to gather at the fabric of society and to re-create and to re-brand it be that complicitly or not. A slightly less ‘Iron Lady’ nowadays rules the roost down Westminister way, Mrs David Cameron is a repugnant creation of Thatcherism and though more floppy than flame haired, he is most definitely a by-product of a Thatcherite child-birth, he neatly depicts her vision of a public school educated, silver spoon fed and commerce driven opportunistic parasite.
Mrs David Cameron, would on the face of it much approve of our Govan neighbours, boom and bust, speculate to accumulate financial suicide and the subsequent denial of wrong-doing, the proportioning blame of everything and everyone else, from inherent failures of individuals rather than the great capitalist ideology failing at all, from unfair and unjust political interference, from neighbouring cartels who seek to destroy the super-power of British-ness, and to the problems of the destitute economy being as result of a working-class resistance to embrace modern philosophies of commercial necessity.
He would presumably be disgusted at societies abhorrent disregard for the great ‘Conservative’ instruction manual on capitalism but equally so, buoyed by the entrepreneurial ethos of Craig Whyte’s and of Charles Green who look to profit on the carcass of the deceased corporate entity and to pick at the remainder of the bloodied wreckage, cleaning up as they go.
David Cameron, Margaret Thatcher and their likes, indeed all apologists for the great capitalism’s many failures may have starved communities and industries of their resources and to have been complicit in the resultant death tolls and the misery but rather than be embarrassed or guilty by their handy-work they look on proudly at the diligence of those profiteering individuals who seek opportunity whilst others simply grieve.
The litter picker in Deacon Blue’s catchy Dignity lyrics depicts the constant struggle of the humble working class to seek new opportunity, to diligently and faithfully make provisions for their hopes and dreams and to through hard and unglamorous ‘dirty’ work, despite the unhelpful, judgemental and demeaning attitudes of onlookers, to proudly work for what little luxuries available.
That litter-picker may not have aimed for the stars, he may not have seen the opportunity to profit on the scraps of others and to afford a yacht of great extravagance but he is contented at the thought of achieving his hopes and dreams af a hard-earned little dinghy boat which could sail him adequately to nicer places and to transport him to a better way of life.
That litter picker, named his boat, his humble dinghy ‘dignity’…cause that is what his work retained for him. He knew his worth, he knew his limitations sure but more importantly he knew his contribution wasn’t meaningless, he took great solace at this fact.
In that way he was an equal not a lesser man than others, Mr Green, Mr Whyte and Mrs Cameron would do well to remember that even a vulture leaves behind the bones and that others invariably will tidy up the mess they left behind.
Today as with so many days before and no doubt yet to come, Mr Green typified the arrogant and self-righteous attitude of the capitalist saviour, the venture capitalist spirit is strong in that fella.
Only the irony and the sadness of the situation really struck me as I watched the STV news tonight. I felt no apathy for, no superiority over, no anger or no hatred for, but I did feel an over-whelming sense of pity at some 5,000 or so gullible Sevco fans who joined a queue around Ibrox to willingly squander their ‘hard-earned’ money, to feed the rich opportunist and to be ridiculed by the presence of their would be ‘loyal king’, their in fact court jester masquerading as a saviour. They were entertained and complicitly fooled by the sight of a venture capitalist turned shepherd as he cajoled and led the crowds a merry dance all the way to the ticket office, greatly enhancing his future bank balance.
Mr Green subjected the less financially able to invest in a pipe-dream, to back his vision for a cause he cares not a jot for. He manipulated their deeply centred emotions and played upon their misery and their recent feelings of grief, he promised them through crass but cleverly emotive words and gestures with fresh hope, all the while stripping them of dignity and of cash.
The man is abhorrent and immoral in my book but my god he is an astute servant of one Craig Whyte, the original vulture round town.
They two men will be laughing all the way to the bank as the sustainability of the business will only serve to heighten the possible profit margins, the plan was fool-proof anyhow and in event of the variable business model being doomed, the fixed assets were safely assured to have ample value to feed upon.
Some 25,000 fans prior to today and somewhere around a total of 30,000 have after the shepherding of Mr Green today, parted with their cash and in doing so temporarily funded the signings which he will in the near future cash in upon.
Mr Green has somehow transformed and re-branded his bad intentions and marketed the product so carefully and so accurately via the business ‘pitch’ of his life that he has convinced the patients friends and relatives of its probable long-term return to health.
He will bleed them dry of every penny, he will fill them full of false hope, he will assure them of his caring and compassionate support, all the while he will be apathetic to their pain, un-troubled by their great sacrifices and rejoicing in their gullibility.
I must congratulate Messrs Green and Whyte on a successful mission so far. I must also, not for the first time, grudgingly tip my hat towards the great capitalist movement and the Conservative government for in this nation even during periods of great austerity and through periods of uncertainty and of widespread misery, the chosen few will benefit and will see great opportunity to profit on the hard graft of the common folks.
Unlike that litter picker of Deacon Blue creation, the Sevco fans much like their predecessors at Rangers have squandered their income so cheaply that the present and indeed the future, much like their past looks set to one lacking in anything even remotely recognisable as dignified.
Dignity for some will always be an unattainable quality…I pity that particular breed of gullible fool today.
P.S. Perhaps suitably ironic enough, but the third release of Deacon Blue’s Dignity track was as result of the bands 1994′ Our Town’ Greatest Hits album, the greatest hits album being almost entirely the admission of a bands ‘previous existence’ and to milk their history for as much cash as possible.
Even more ironic, but a cover track of ‘Dignity’ was recorded and was used in a 2008 Swiss advert by the assisted suicide organisation Dignitas. That version, depicts an intention to set up an offshore ‘suicide boat’ where euthanasia can be performed legally, in order to preserve the ‘dignity’ of the terminally ill. Named “Dignitas”, it reached the dizzy heights of no. 16 in Swiss pop charts.
From a Wikipedia page the hysterical footnote regarding this entry, simply states ” It is unknown whether the principal members of Deacon Blue endorse assisted suicide.”…it is also unknown if they endorse Rangers Football Club’s assisted suicide, but that’s the cheeky thought I will take to bed with me tonight anyhow.
Hey at this rate, what with me profiting on the misery of others, I could yet make a successful venture capitalist. Though to be honest, I do cherish my dignity and that of others, so perhaps not!!