It’s my birthday today, and consequently it’s a good time to talk about beginnings. My actual beginning to be precise…
I shall explain. Last year, Professor Willie Maley, founder of Glasgow University’s Creative Writing Masters along with Philip Hobsbawm, asked me to contribute to The Lions of Lisbon, A Play Of Two Halves, being published by Luath Press in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Celtic’s majestic European Cup win in Portugal on the 25th of May 1967.
The book is actually a play in print, a production written as a collaborative project between Willy and Ian Auld, brother of Bertie, one of the infamous ‘Lisbon Lions’, in 1992.
Luath has published the play in book form to commemorate the anniversary and included in the book are 67 words from 67 contributors recounting what Lisbon means to them. Contributors include Alan Bissett, Sir Tom Devine, Laura Marney, Chris Dolan, Pat Kane, Janice Galloway, Paul Cuddihy, Kevin McKenna, many more, and me.
I wasn’t, as yet, in this world when the momentous victory took place in Lisbon. However, I still feel that the event has had a lasting impact in my life.
“Life began on the 25th of May 1967. The panorama of invading Celtic fans sketched the canvas of my soon to be world, a palette of green and white embroidering the Portuguese skyline in the flecks of an impregnate joy. As the European Cup advanced heavenwards, in the arms of a colossus, I am twinkling in its reflection, a child born 9 months and three days later.”
Somewhere ironically, I’ve since become friends with many of the team, men who as a child I held up as heroes. They still are. Incredibly fortunately, I have spent my formative years listening to their brilliant, brilliant stories; sharing moments and making memories, sinking to my knees in laughter and staying there to wipe my tears each and every time this band of brothers has bid a poignant, incredibly emotional farewell to one of its beloved members.
The play is funny and poignant and incredibly impactful and the 67 words are powerful, reminding us of how memories entwine and facilitate a collective legacy with a shared meaning. It’s really lovely. You should buy a copy.