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
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
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.