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The Big Beat—ask a librarian

The following Australian libraries have a copy of The Big Beat. Australian Capital Territory: National Library of Australia; National Film and Sound Archive; National Museum of…

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In Search of John Maclean—part 1

Scotland has had few men whose names Matter—or should matter—to intelligent people, But of these MacLean, next to Burns, was the greatest. —Hugh MacDiarmid, ‘Krassivy,…

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Australian Rock: The Early Eighties

As the '80s began, the Australian pub rock boom was in overdrive. The new 'door deal' system had increased band receipts enormously and had given…

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Articles and posts

A selection of published and previously unpublished works

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

Continued from A hundred years ago: great John Maclean comes home to the Clyde—part 2 John Maclean was released from Peterhead Prison on Monday 2 December 1918. 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 of his release had quickly spread

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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

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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

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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

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In Search of John Maclean—part 1

Scotland has had few men whose names Matter—or should matter—to intelligent people, But of these MacLean, next to Burns, was the greatest. —Hugh MacDiarmid, ‘Krassivy, Krassivy’ (1943) I’m standing at the grave of John Maclean with my newfound cousin Roddy. We’re in the New Eastwood cemetery on the southern outskirts of Glasgow. It’s a clear, dry afternoon in August and the sunlight filters through the trees and dapples the green

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In Search of John Maclean—part 2

John Maclean’s Glasgow A couple of weeks before I was due to head off to Glasgow in search of the ghost of John Maclean, I stumbled across a couple of articles online, both of which resonated strongly with me. The first was a feature about the Glasgow-based writer Ian R. Mitchell, ‘Following in the footsteps of Maclean and Maxwell’ by Russell Leadbetter, published in the Glasgow Herald magazine on 11

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1966 and all that

It started in the shires of the English midlands and finished in the arid saltbush of Whyalla, South Australia. It was the year my life changed. In September 1966 I turned 13. Two days after my birthday my family—my father, mother, sister and brother—and I got on a train in Kettering, Northamptonshire. It took us to London, very much still the Swinging City, where we changed trains for Southampton. There,

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Goosebumps—Australia v Croatia, World Cup 2006

I was sitting on the bench at St Joseph’s College on Saturday doing the paperwork after refereeing the Joey’s versus Riverview seconds. Two reds and four yellows—not a bad haul for 50 minutes work. The coach of the Joey’s First XI looked familiar. ‘Is that Jason Culina?’ I asked the Joey’s Master in Charge. He nodded. I finished my reports and caught Culina’s eye. ‘Hi Jason. Did you see that

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Shenanigans* in the shires

I guess my dad started following Leicester City shortly after we made the move from Kinlochleven in Scotland to Corby, Northamptonshire in 1957. At the time Leicester was the only First Division team in the East Midlands. It was 25 miles by road and although we didn’t have a car, I vividly recall him taking me to a couple of games on the bus. I don’t recall much about the

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