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THIS IS A VERY GOOD READ, FULL OF PATTER, ACTION
on 11 December 2007
Glasgow's Gorbals had quite a reputation in the 1960s as arguably one of the darkest, most frightening and dangerous places in the world.
Colin MacFarlane - like television presenter Lorraine Kelly and writers Jimmy Boyle and Ralph Glasser - is a child of the Gorbals. Born in the 1950s, he witnessed the last days of the old Gorbals as a major regeneration programme began in 1961 and a once great community went into rapid decline.
A tough kid who grew up on street corners and in back courts, MacFarlane lived in the same street as Johnnie Stark, the fictional `razor king' of Alexander McArthur's 1935 novel No Mean City, which has become a classic of Scottish pre-war literature. MacFarlane played in the same filth-ridden tenements, witnessing drunken fights and violent gang battles, just like those McArthur wrote about.
As late as the 1960s, Gorbals men still wore bunnets and women headscarves, the steamie was treated as a social club, razor gangs terrorised the streets and crime, rats, poverty and drunkenness were all part of everyday life.
But in The Real Gorbals Story, MacFarlane also describes another world - one of ordinary hard-working people, desperately trying to survive in the toughest conditions and against the odds. Here MacFarlane talks about what it was really like to live in the old Gorbals and recreates the characters that inhabited that unique, bygone world.
Colin MacFarlane is a journalist and has written for a number of national newspapers, including Scotland on Sunday, The Sunday Times, the Scottish Sun and the Daily Record. He lives in Pontypridd, Wales.