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  singin' I'm no a Billy he's a Tim

'                               

Hail Hail, We are the People!!

What happens when you lock up a Celtic fan with a Rangers fan on the day of the Old Firm match?
Billy and Tim have been steeped in bigotry since birth. Is it possible for them to change their views?
And why is the sergeant waiting on tenderhooks for the phone to ring...?
This is a powerful comedy with a serious message, giving bigotry and ethnic identity a human touch.
Are you singing their tune?

"First Class" - SUNDAY MAIL

"A genuine must see" - THE BIG ISSUE

"Groundbreaking Theatre" - THE HERALD

"Consistently funny and highly authentic" - THE SCOTSMAN

"Strike`s a chord with both theatre-goers and football fans" - THE SKINNY

"This show will bring tears of laughter to anyone's eyes" - CUMBERNAULD NEWS

CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE. RECOMMENDED FOR THOSE AGED 16+    
 
     

I'm No A Billy, He's A Tim pulled in the crowds 2008-2009 and takes a humorous and insightful look at the bigotry that exists between Glasgow's famous football giants Celtic and Rangers. While Dillon pulls the audience in with laughs, of which there are many, it is also an exploration of the social, theological, geographical and ethnic backgrounds of the two sets of supporters and their cultural identity. Already the Scottish Executive is making plans to stage the play in schools across the country with the full backing of Celtic and Rangers.

Dillon has also taken heart from both sets of supporters giving him positive feedback; no easy task. "I'm not one for saying 'We need to educate people'  but both sets of fans need to know what the other is all about. If you come to see this play it actually lets each other see what the other is really like. We're a pair of ejits- the two of us but the rivalry and the hatred has to drop a level. We need to get rid of the suspicion and the paranoia. I've gave the Catholic in this play all the paranoia but in reality both sets of supporters are paranoid."

As a Scots/Irish Catholic from Coatbridge, known as Little Ireland, Dillon had to even out the balance of the play by making the Rangers fan the more level-headed of the two supporters. Had it been the other way around Dillon would not stand a chance in the face of the Scottish media. He also questions their racial identity. "I had to make the Rangers fan the more lovable to even up the balance. He is a real character based on my step son. His mother brought him up a Rangers fan to get back at his father when they split up but genetically both his parents are Irish Catholic. He also has step grandparents who are as bitter Orange as you can get, so I studied them for the play. Really that's where the whole idea came from."

Paradoxically Dillon hits upon a number of themes that unite both sets of supporters and how they are viewed by the rest of the world. He also looks at the culture out of which they grew. "There were a great amount of anti-Catholic organisations that existed in Glasgow before the Irish influx. At the time there were only about 100 Catholics and the anti Catholic organisations outnumbered them. Protestants were sent from Scotland over to Ireland causing segregation and bigotry over there and then that culture came back over to Scotland with the shipyard workers and the Protestants that came in during the famine; we just imported it wholesale. Before the formation of Celtic (as a charity to help the Irish Catholic poor); Rangers was just an ordinary football team."

Fortunately Dillon's play makes an effort to understand both sets of supporters and their religious backgrounds. He says: "Catholics have not been allowed to exercise their culture. All the other subcultures whether they are Jewish or Muslim have been able to do it. In fact they have been encouraged and paid lottery funded money to do it while we've been stamped out in subtle ways." Significantly it's the Catholic and Protestant Christian identities that the rest of society vilifies, something one of the play's characters points out. Says Dillon: "If you say 'I believe in God? or even something like 'Praise the Lord? you are thought to be a weirdo or a nut especially at university where it's trendy to be an atheist but if a Buddhist sat down to talk about their religion then that was fine. There are people I know who are in loony bins because they went too far with the Christian thing but if they traded that evangelical zeal for Buddhism or Hinduism then it would be ok. If I decided I was going to promote Christianity I'd get arrested or referred to the doctor. "If you think about these two guys in a cell-they are empty inside and they are searching for something. They see a glimmer of something inside that cell. It's a big thing when the Protestant talks about society being anti-Christian. "They both find a truth; there is no way I'm saying everything is going to be alright when they get out but they have the memory, they might look back and say something happened inside that cell ''that was weird- what was that'' "That's the magic I try to conjure up in my writing; I always try to raise the stakes for the human race"

For Dillon the line has to be drawn between a cultural/religious identity and a bigot for both sets of supporters. His passion for language and dialect is a direct result of his Irish background. He explains "When I was growing up everyone was into the I.R.A and Celtic but I didn't give a toss. The day of revelation for me came when I studied Scottish literacy at uni and didn't identify with any of it. I was talking to a lecturer who gave me Juno And The Paycock and there it was; the language we spoke in my ma's house. It was the actual syntax and word order; a shiver went up my spine because we used that same phraseology in Coatbridge and that play was Dublin."

The potency of Dillon's writing beats louder than any drum that the bigots can bang and he remains defiantly proud of his Scots/Irish ancestry-a culture that is sadly ignored by the Scottish mainstream. Says the writer: "Hugh MacDiarmuid wrote the line "Scottish steel tempered by Irish fire; that's the weapon I desire" and that's my motto; that's what Scotland should be!"

Des Dillon was born in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1960, and read English at Strathclyde University. A former teacher, he now writes for television, stage and radio and has taught Creative Writing at the Arvon Foundation. He was Writer in Residence at Castlemilk, Glasgow, between 1998 and 2000, and now lives in Galloway.

 
Webmaister: GlescaPal Admin Norrie his wife Claire, Fergi and myself, all went along to the opening night of this play at the Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow on Wednesday 29th April 2009.
We all loved it. punchy, pacey in yer face from the start to the end, laughs, sadness, thought provoking. This play has the lot. Very well written and shows the futility of bigotry and at the end of the day we are all 'Jock Tamson's bairns'. . I would go and see it again.

 

    







 

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Billy or a Dan
Billy
 or a Dan

   painting by Ashley Rawson


 

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