Trainspotting, Deacon Blue and The Arches: New books are documenting cornerstones of Scottish culture – Brian Ferguson

The fairy lights are still tucked away in a shoebox, but it definitely feels like Christmas has come early this year.

Deacon Blue's 35 years have been documented in Paul English's new book, To Be Here Someday (Picture: Simon Murphy)

Writers and publishers have been bearing gifts for me for weeks now.

I have gone from struggling to find time to finish a few pages of a novel a day to powering through an entire book in one or two sittings – then going back to them for more as I set about writing about them.

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There is little doubt the extended periods of lockdown have played a part in many of these books seeing the light of day now, especially given the reflective and nostalgic nature of them.

It is no wonder the memoirs of Brian Cox, Sir Billy Connolly and Alan Cumming have generated so many headlines given the fascinating lives they have led, the remarkable encounters they have had and their way with words.

But others have become instant treasure troves of flashbacks to different eras, occasions, places and people.

There is not much I can – or want – to recall about my efforts to study for my exams at school. But the one thing I’m sure about it is that I spent far too much time daydreaming to a soundtrack of Deacon Blue’s first two albums and the tracks on the B-sides of their singles.

I had not even been to a concert when they were first selling out the Barrowland Ballroom, but was certainly there when they headlined the Big Day concert at Glasgow Green during the city’s reign as European City of Culture in 1990, when they bowed out after announcing a break-up in 1994, and at their reunion gig at the Royal Concert Hall five years later.

Brickwork: A biography of The Arches by David Bratchpiece and Kirstin Innes is out now.

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The new book giving the inside track on the making of Trainspotting 25 years on

These episodes and many more are recalled by band members and their devoted fans in the first Deacon Blue book, To Be Here Someday.

Compiled by Paul English, it charts the rise of the group from a Lanarkshire pub, where a young Ricky Ross saw an early incarnation of The Waterboys, to toppling Madonna from the top of the UK album charts within three years.

If the account of early gigs will have fans misty-eyed with nostalgia for 1980s Glasgow, devotees of The Arches, the arts venue and nightclub which helped transform the city’s cultural reputation from 1990, should brace themselves for Brickwork.

A labour of love from David Bratchpiece and Kirstin Innes, it is drawn from the accounts of the central characters in the story of the venue, including its dramatic rise and catastrophic downfall in 2015.

Then there is Jay Glennie’s remarkable celebration of the making of the film adaptation of Trainspotting, 25 years on from its premiere.

It brings together the recollections of all the key protagonists, in front of and behind the camera, for the first time, as myths are busted and legends are finally confirmed.

The books on Trainspotting, The Arches and Deacon Blue may be drenched in nostalgia, but they are also hugely important in properly documenting cornerstones of Scottish culture for the first time – as I’m sure a 40th anniversary book by Jonathan Melville on the making of Local Hero will do next year.

It can only be hoped they will all provoke discussion and debate on what else is deserving of a fitting celebration.

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