Alex tells his 214 story and beyond.
As a published Playwright and Author he entertained the collective at the 2023 reunion with his story and some of his work.
Gordon Park was my father’s church. Born and bred in Whiteinch, he maintained this attachment which continued for us as a family living in Scotstoun.
That is the reason why my brother George and I walked the mile, sometimes reluctantly, to be in the 214 Lifeboys and Boys Brigade, and not across the road at Scotstoun to join the 141 Company.
The 214 being the more illustrious outfit, we were happy to be part of it, joining the pipe band as my brother did with great success as a side drummer and myself less so as a piper on the periphery, never quite making competition status.
I had started off very well as best drilled recruit but that turned out to be the best of it.
As I developed at a tangent from the team spirit ethos of the BB, I changed from the fresh faced boy to the sullen and uncooperative youth, losing the enthusiasm for the discipline that had won me the award, in favour of just ‘being difficult.’
The fact that I was a perfect attender throughout, was due to my parents commitment rather than my own.
On a dark winter’s night, I didn’t always want to be there , but I was ‘made to go..’
My father’s enthusiasm was for myself and brother George to be part of the churches BB organisation, as he himself wasn’t allowed to join the BB in his time, as they carried wooden rifles. His mother, bitter from the loss of her oldest son in the great war, was vehemently opposed to guns in any form.
In my five years service with the 214, I went from recruit to private and no further. What had been a glorious beginning, led to an ignominious passing out.
But I was richer by the friends I had made during my time and which continues to this day due to the Ex Members Association. Tom Dugan and I have known each other now for over 60 years.
The reunion being a gathering of equals, without the polished discipline and officer structure of the organization itself, allows me as one individual among many, to be a member. I am happy with that.
I had always wanted to be an artist. I was one of those chosen to go to Kelvingrove Art Gallery each year to draw as part of a city wide competition.
But when my mother told me, that if I wanted to go to Art school, I would have to take my Highers. I dropped the ambition immediately. For me the most important goal was freedom and that meant getting out of school as soon as possible.
I took up a joinery apprenticeship and for five years had a great deal of freedom at work and learned a trade which later would allow me to travel the world.
I gave up painting for ten years and then went back to it at twenty five, graduating then from the brush to the pen, first writing short stories then dialogue.
There followed submissions to organisations like the BBC with the subsequent rejections but usually with helpful advice.
Meanwhile with the invaluable help of my wife Freda, we had formed a theatre group with productions in the smaller London theatres, the Edinburgh Festival and further afield to Stockholm and Upsala in Sweden.
My first acceptance from The BBC came with the usual return of a rejected script in the large brown envelope, however this time I had sent two scripts and within the envelope returned, there was only one. The BBC had accepted ‘LUCK OF THE DRAW’ for broadcasting and I was to be paid £300. There is nothing quite like the confidence an acceptance and a cheque gives one after years of rejection.
There followed a string of success with the BBC, working with some of the comedy greats of British TV and radio such as Liz Frazer of ‘Carry On’ films, Fulton MacKay ‘Porridge’ and the inimitable Diana Dors.
LUCK OF THE DRAW is published by Samuel French as an acting script and is available for amateur and professional productions.
I also have the original cast recording of the first performance with Dandy Nichols.
My last play for the theatre was at Oran Mor’s ‘A Play a Pie and Pint’. That was a year or so before Covid closed it’s doors.
This was a play entitled ‘FOR THE LOVE OF CHEKOV’, with Matt Costello, ‘he plays the wee bookie in Still Game’. It transferred to Aberdeen after a week at Oran Mor.
I have now taken to performing my own version of theatre.
This contains a sparking collection of stories in verse, life in rhyme, yours and mine. There for everybody to enjoy. ‘ A shared delight in the spoken word.’
If you want a taster of Alex’ performances…
Alex admits the Gordon Park stage shows and the BB had a great influence in his direction in life.
URBAN BALLADS by Alexander Robertson.