Posts by Donald

A hundred years ago: great John Maclean comes home to the Clyde—part 1

On the morning of Thursday 28 November 1918, the Imperial War Cabinet met at 10 Downing Street in London.  Outside the weather was wet and windy and the temperature struggled to reach seven degrees Centigrade. It was the American holiday of Thanksgiving; but Americans were definitely not alone in feeling thankful. The armistices signed by the Allies on 30 October (with Turkey), 3 November (Austria-Hungary) and 11 November (Germany) had

Continue reading…

A hundred years ago: great John Maclean comes home to the Clyde—part 2

Two days before the Imperial War Cabinet meeting of 28 November, George Barnes drafted a memo suggesting the Cabinet (imagined above in a painting by Scottish artist Sir James Guthrie) authorise John Maclean’s release, ‘along with any others who might be in like plight for similar offences.’ ‘The continued agitation about John Maclean constitutes a serious danger for the government,’ Barnes wrote. ‘Mass meetings have been held in many places,

Continue reading…

A hundred years ago: great John Maclean comes home to the Clyde—part 3

John Maclean was released from Peterhead Prison on Monday 2 December. That evening he addressed a meeting of supporters at the Meatmarket Street Hall in Aberdeen. The following day, accompanied by his wife Agnes, he travelled by train to Glasgow. Despite Maclean’s desire to ‘get right home’, word had quickly spread of his release and a large crowd had gathered at the station, many of whom had taken the afternoon

Continue reading…

Peterloo

‘Rise like lions after slumber In unvanquishable number— Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you— Ye are many—they are few.’ —The Masque of Anarchy, Percy Bysshe Shelley On 16 August 1819 a large crowd—variously estimated at between sixty and eighty thousand—assembled in an open area in the centre of Manchester known as St Peters Field. It was a warm, summery day and many

Continue reading…

Seven books that had an impact

  It was one of those Facebook memes. My good friend Greg Taylor invited me to nominate ‘seven books that had an impact’.  Seven books in seven days. I accepted and after some thought, (and somewhat predictably) decided to go in chronological order. I enjoyed the exercise and thought it was worth collecting the results here. 1. The Children’s Encyclopedia by Arthur Mee. My parents bought me The Children’s Encyclopedia

Continue reading…

Brexit: The Morecambe-Bridlington Line

The American singer-songwriter Cass McCombs said in a recent interview, ‘Write about what you care about. Write about what you love. That’s what the world needs right now.’ I care about Scotland. I love Scotland. So whither Scotland in this time of phoney Brexit? My ideal Scotland is an independent state. My Scotland is a republic, free of the monarchy and the aristocracy it supports. My Scotland is a parliamentary

Continue reading…

Whisky: ‘Whether or not it is Scotland’s oil, it is mostly not Scotland’s whisky’.

  No account of the Highland county of Moray would be complete without a mention of whisky. There are 49 operating malt whisky distilleries in the Speyside region, the greatest concentration in Scotland. The clean air, the plentiful and pristine water of the Spey coming off the Cairngorm mountains to the south (plus natural springs) and proximity to the main barley growing areas of the country provide ideal conditions for

Continue reading…

A Kangaroo Cousin Looks At The Saltire

In June 2017 Di and I left Sydney and spent two weeks in Amsterdam and then ten days touring around the Scottish Highlands. As much for myself as anything else, I decided to set out my impressions and thoughts of Scotland in this period of great uncertainty about the future of the place I was born. In the canal house flat where Di and I spent most of our time

Continue reading…

The History of Roadrunner—Introduction

When Martin Sharp, the internationally acclaimed Australian artist, died in 2013, I read that the University of Wollongong had created a digital archive of the Sydney and London Oz magazines that he was such a part of. I remember having a look and being impressed—not only that someone had put in the time and effort to do it, but that it was freely available to all. Then when Sharp’s friend

Continue reading…

The History of Roadrunner—Part 1: Development Stage (Dec 1977—Jan 1979)

When I returned to Adelaide in late 1977 after two and a half years in the UK I came back with 25 singles—Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, Elvis Costello, Wreckless Eric, Tom Robinson Band, X-Ray Spex, The Rezillos, Slaughter & the Dogs etc etc. I moved into a small cottage in Norwood owned by my old Adelaide Uni friends Larry Buttrose and Donna Maegraith and proceeded to go round

Continue reading…

The History of Roadrunner—Part 2: Growth Stage (Jan 1979—Jan 1980)

In January 1979, Roadrunner production editor Clive Dorman wrote to Michael Finucan at Brisbane community radio station 4ZZZ asking if he was interested in writing for us about what was happening in Brisbane. Dorman was upfront about the magazine’s financial situation. ‘We’re poor as hell and will be so until the cheques for national sales start coming in, in about three months time. However we think we’ll be able to

Continue reading…

The History of Roadrunner—Part 3: Maturity Stage (Feb 1980—Jan 1981)

Roadrunner’s ‘End of the 70s’ double issue in December 1979 (issue 20) made a few people sit up and take notice. One of them was Paul Gardiner, publisher of Australian Rolling Stone. He used to play the occasional game of squash with Stuart Coupe in Sydney and asked Coupe if I might be willing to sell the magazine to him. He had just started a new publication, The Record (edited

Continue reading…

The History of Roadrunner—Part 4: Saturation Stage (Feb 1981—Jan 1982)

Roadrunner’s first issue of 1981 (issue 32) signalled some changes. First, the cover price went up from 60 cents to 80 cents. We attempted to offset this by a bumper subscription offer—two free albums (Vinyl Virgins, a Virgin Records Australia sampler and Tactics’ My Houdini) plus a year’s subscription (12 issues) for $15. The offer snared 61 new subscribers, netting $915, the magazine’s best ever subscription drive. Secondly, over the

Continue reading…

The History of Roadrunner—Part 5: Declining Stage (Feb 1982—Jan 1983)

The concerted push to increase sales and advertising revenue following the establishment of a Roadrunner Sydney office in mid-1981 was only a qualified success. While ad sales saw a marked increase and newsagency sales nudged six thousand for the first time (with the end of year issue), most of the extra revenue was offset by the higher production costs of going full colour, printing extra pages, plus extra typesetting and

Continue reading…

Still The Boss

As I stood in the foyer waiting for Calum a fragment of a lyric came into my mind—‘… thinking that maybe we’re not that young any more …’ There was a lot of grey hair, some walking sticks, and some big bellies—but, to be fair, some youngsters too. All in all a pretty representative cross section of Sydney. The tickets had been a last minute Christmas present for Calum. The

Continue reading…

  • 1 2 5