A blog from Chris Bartter, trade union writer and communications expert in Scotland,
This blog is a small contribution in opposition to the right-wing consensus in the media, and will. hopefully, campaign for working people and public services.
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Saturday, 13 April 2013
Battleship painter; work-in cartoonist; villa caretaker; film set artist - and now author!
This is the text of a press release that I planned to send out yesterday. Unfortunately, due to BT's decision that this process was 'suspicious activity' on my email account, the day was spent being passed from call centre to call centre, rather than productive work! It also means I'm shut out of emailing anything out for 48 hours. I'm putting this on the blog, rather than it going to waste. Thanks BT!
It’s a long way from Yarrow’s shipyard on the Clyde, to Hollywood. It’s even longer from painting battleship hulls to starring at a author event at this weekend’s Aye Write! festival, but both of these have been done by Bob Starrett.
Now 74, Bob - who first came to prominence as the official cartoonist to the 1971-2 UCS work-in - is about to launch his first book of stories and essays, as well as some new cartoons, on Sunday at the Glasgow festival.
The book covers much of his working life, both in the shipyards where he features many larger than life characters, and as a set painter in the London and Hollywood film industry where the film workers - for all the fame of their industry - come across as slightly less than their own estimation!
Bob says “The book is about and for all the guys and gals I worked alongside, who kept baying foremen off my back so I could think creatively! It’s a celebration of all that’s good from my working life.”
Bob himself is quick to point out that none of the stars and directors he has worked with, can hold a candle to UCS leaders like Jimmy Reid and Jimmy Airlie. “Reid and Airlie in full flight were superb.” Bob says now. “I could listen to Airlie over and over again, and Reid never let you down in his analysis. I’ve yet to meet a director or producer to stand alongside them.”
After the successful work-in stopped the mass closure of shipbuilding on the Upper Clyde, Bob left the yards in 1979.
Bob worked on this film in 1985
Following a journey, during which he spent two years ‘minding a palace’ in Italy, he went to art school and eventually ended up working as a painter on films - working with stars like Daniel Day Lewis, Gary Oldman and Jim Broadbent.
Following his involvement providing much of the artwork for the 40th Anniversary of the UCS Work-in in 2011, he started to show some of the organisers some of his stories. Stephen Wright from FairPley said that everyone who saw them was impressed. “Indeed we thought they were so good, we asked David Hayman to read some as part of the 40th Anniversary Concert at Celtic Connections.” said Stephen. “And we put another in the concert programme. Talking to others made it clear that we should put these together in a book.”
The book will be launched on Sunday. It has been recommended by writer James Kelman, UCS supporter and politician Tony Benn, and actor Bill Paterson. a foreword has been written by Sir Alex Ferguson - himself a shipyard worker who has gone on to other work! David Hayman will read some extracts and Arthur Johnstone will be singing!
Bob’s Aye Write! event is at 1.30pm on Sunday in Glasgow’s Mitchell Library. Tickets are available from the Mitchell, or from the AyeWrite! website - www.ayewrite.com.