I really enjoyed my spotlight at Bloody Scotland (thanks Gordon, Bob and all the organisers). I was nervous being the ‘warm up’ for Nicci French (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French) only best sellers of nine million books. I felt like the mascot arriving on the pitch with Ronaldo. I started with “You’re a fuck up, Rooney,” I say to him, in his head. “Tell me about it,” he says to me, in the dark.” Only the first two lines in the book (I wished I had started with something else). I went on to: “They sit for a while, not saying anything. I nag him to say bad things to her. “Fuck off, bastard,” he says to me in a discordant way. Jackie’s used to this, but asks if, in him, hallucinations and Tourette’s go hand-in-hand, or is he really just a ‘rude shite’.” Only another couple of lines of the book. It went down like a lead balloon. Oh dear, did I really say ‘shite’ on stage before over a hundred people and two famous writers? I moved into a speel about the theme of the book, i.e. control leading to change, e.g. Rooney’s psyche is under bombardment and Johnston is using everything to denigrate and destroy it, shatter his defences; take him from behind his professional fortifications to a personal place, to exact control effectively. Johnston takes a bottle of claret from a cabinet and a crystal glass. “Here,” he says, pushing the bottle and glass across the table towards Rooney. “You’re only a drunk, Rooney, you can only do what is necessary.” Rooney could do with a full glass of wine, to steady his nerves, but recognises this is about control. He’s about to slide it back and tell him to “fuck-off, I won’t fall for that one.” Just then though, like the last time, he sees the man he had become: a drunk man looking at his reflection in a bottle. Rooney stares in, he sees the dark claret. Then his eyes pan outward to focus on his reflection. This time he likes what he sees. Like Narcissus who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water, Rooney sees a new man, a transformed man, a bad man. It got a bit better and it was a great experience. Did I really say ‘shite’ on stage?
About Tom Keenan
A 63 year old writer, social worker, erstwhile guitarist, poet and raconteur, who likes the occasional pint (will that do?)!