When Homage to Caledonia was published five years ago, I had a number of hopes for it.
Firstly, I hoped the book did justice to the men and women from Scotland who fought and nursed in the Spanish Civil War, as well as those that rattled tins and commandeered prams to collect food for Spain back here.
Secondly, I hoped that it would help keep their memories alive as, sadly, the last of them passed away, and signify that a new generation would pick up the baton of remembrance.
Then, and related to that, I hoped it would help us use the memory of fighting fascism yesterday to oppose fascism, racism, homophobia and all other baseless prejudice today. That, I believed and still do, is the best tribute that can be paid to International Brigaders and others of all stripes and nationalities who went to Spain ‘because their open eyes could see no other way.’
Last Sunday these hopes returned as I co-narrated, with Iain Anderson, a spellbinding Celtic Connections gig. I should point out that I am not referring to myself as spellbinding; more, the music Iain and I talked between was (and, for the record, Iain’s tones are spellbindingly silky. And he supports Morton, so he must be alright).
While 400 people gathered in the Mitchell Library to hear songs of anti-fascism from Scottish, English, German, Spanish and other appropriately international artists, a handful of modern ne’er do wells brought their vile untruths to nearby Pollockshields. We outnumber them, we shall overcome, No Pasaran!
Anyhow, music and this topic are good companions; indeed, it was a song that, in my teenage years, instigated my interest. Audience members have reported on the gig here and here. You can buy a CD featuring those who sang and their songs here. All I can do is offer a couple of pictures and relate my sincere pride at being involved.