Home > Uncategorized > Year of the Homecoming Mark II

Year of the Homecoming Mark II

November 4, 2009

Many thanks to everyone who turned up at Motherwell Library on Monday evening, for the first book event I’ve done in the town where I was born, and lived for my first 23 years. The building was part of my growing up; I as a member when I was a kid and walked past it every day that I didn’t go in. It’s one of many erected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with funds provided by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and it’s still fit for purpose after more than 100 years.

Motherwell isn’t the town I knew, not any more. It’s fair to say that it’s in a period of transition, following the closure and demolition of the Ravenscraig steel plant, but I have a feeling that its regeneration is going to work out pretty well. Margaret Thatcher is often blamed for the closure of Ravenscraig,  just as she tends to be blamed for everything that’s gone wrong in Scotland since 1979. I’m not one of her disciples, but I’ll defend her against that charge. The strip mill was set up during the Macmillan era as part of an industrial strategy, when Scottish Tory votes still counted for something. If the plan had been conceived properly, it would never have been put on that site; it would have been built instead beside a  deep water port facility allowing iron ore and coal imports to be loaded directly from the dockside into the factory rather than hauled across central Scotland by road and rail. If it had . . . but life’s one big ‘if’ isn’t it.

For all that, I enjoyed the gig, not least for the presence in the front row of my old friend Bill Clark, one of the finest Scottish journalists of his generation. He told me afterwards he was worried that he might have constrained me. That will be the day!

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