Brendan McLaughlin was described in the eulogy delivered at his funeral in Linn Crematorium on 1st August 2022 as “A man of many parts. A son, brother, husband, Dad, Grandad. A brother in law, an uncle. A vintner, a singer, songwriter, guitarist. A gardener, a golfer. A practical joker. A humanitarian. A sharp dresser.”
In Ringwood’s Appreciation (click here to see the full text in the Author section of this website) several other parts were added, Property ‘gutter and refitter’, Fashion icon, Cultural Salon creator, Village Dreamer, Political Activist and committed Scotialist.
Now months after his death, but in achievement of what was the greatest ambition of his later life, another part is about to be added, a professional published author, of a mesmerizing memoir, The First of May.
The key events described in The First of May take place on one specific 1st of May in the very early years of the 21st Century. Around the skeletal framework of these events, from leading a morning outdoor May Day Concert in the city centre, through an afternoon of rest and reflection at home, onto an evening playing music in his beloved Clutha Vaults, then ending up at a late evening May Day party just across the river, Brendan weaves a tapestry of reflections, ruminations and recollections on his whole life, accompanied by a few rants.
He covers his journey from birth in Maryhill, then growing up in Toryglen, being bullied at school but fighting back, through being a young lovestruck lad, and varied careers from telephone engineer, social worker and Gents Outfitter, before becoming the proprietor of the renowned Scotia and Clutha Vaults bars, on to becoming one of the key leaders of Glasgow’s cultural regeneration in the 1980s and 1990s while also being a musician of talent, a political activist of renown, and a local legend who knew everyone, and was loved in turn by most.
In The First of May, Brendan narrates the events that harmonised his profound understanding of our discordant world. Penned in a lyrical voice that confirms the depth of his introspective insight, his riveting reflection on his experiences chart a piercing perspective on modern life.
Over the course of this specific May Day, Brendan reflects upon his storied life and takes readers on a journey that delves into his experiences of life in the real Glasgow, with its intricate social, cultural and political history, with its tragedies, its songs and stories, its political debates, and fights for social justice, its deprivation and struggles for improvement, always with family never far from mind.
He travels the well-known streets of the recent and modern Glasgow, one that is swallowed in tempestuous development that yearns to devour a sordid history of persistent poverty and create a proud cultural city based on social justice and equality.
Rooted deeply in Glasgow’s rich culture, The First of May branches into myriad topics that cast a harrowing shadow upon contemporary life. A powerful memoir that is irrevocably certain to sow seeds of riveting discussion about coming of age, socialism, and the importance of the arts, politics and people.
This book is the first serious Scottish contribution to the new genre of autobiographical literature pioneered almost single-handily by a young Frenchman, Edouard Louis, of “angry autobiography as a political weapon” starting with The End of Eddy. The First Of May is a major Scottish addition to this genre; warm, mature, positive and uplifting along with the inevitable anger, as a powerful call for social and political change.
Brendan wrote, sang and produced a CD with 15 powerful songs, as a soundtrack for the book. 14 of the tracks were written by him, and the 15th, already a legendary song, Jimmy The Painter Man, was co-written with his son, Kevin. It was always Brendan’s wish that this CD be made available to all readers of the book.
ISBN 9781901514421 Price £12.99