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Happy! – Jan 17 (Matt McGinn 1928-1977)

17 Jan 06 - 08:34 AM (#1650127)
Subject: Happy! – Jan 17 (Matt McGinn)
From: Abby Sale

Happy Birthday!

Matt McGinn

was born

Jan 17, 1928
(d. Jan 6, 1977)

"McGinn was one of Scotland's most colourful characters; singer, songwriter, humorist, ranconteur, novelist, and playwright, as well as a prominant player in the British folk and protest movement of the 60s and 70s. His songs have been recorded by many others."
        [thanx Kevin Sheils who got it from James McGowan who is said to be building a McGinn website.]

The above is very true and may be the best one can say. But it doesn't give a shred of the experience one had of being in the same room with him.

Perhaps a small quote from "McGinn of the Calton : the life and works of Matt McGinn,
1928-1977" by Matt McGinn, Pub: Glasgow District Libraries, 1987, © Janette McGinn.


        As you know, in Scotland, we have the highest standard of education
in the world.
        This is a fact which is universally acknowledged, and admitted as
well, in places as far apart as Kirkcaldy and Carnoustie - it's even
admitted in Kirkcudbright. And you know, I am well qualified to talk on
this matter because I am the only man in Britain who ever taught English
through an interpreter - and one day, there I was dealing with the children,
you know, preparing them for their Z levels - when this Inspector came in to
see if I was doing my job, you see.
        And he said, 'Mr McGinn, have you been doing your job?' And Ah
says, 'You ask the weans. Any question you like, you'll see Ah've been
daein' ma job.' So he said to this wee boy, 'I want you to tell me - who
was it who put his hands around the pillars and pulled them till the roof of
the Temple crushed?' The wee boy says, 'Look it wisnae me. Ah was in the
hoose a' last night. Cannae blame me.' So he says, 'What goes, Mr. McGinn?'
Ah says -'Well, if wee Jimmy says he didnae dae it -? Naw, a good wee boy he
was. Ah knew him very well. He widnae tell a lie.
        So - 'Oh,' he says, 'Ah'll have to take this to the Headmaster.' Ah
says, 'Ah'll go wae ye tae the Headmaster', ye see? So we went to the
Headmaster and explained tae him. So the Headmaster, a very decent man, he
says, 'Well Mr McGinn's been with us a very long time. Five weeks easy,' he
says,' and he's got a very good understanding of children,' and he says, 'If
he thinks the boy didnae dae it-?'
        So he still wisnae satisfied, this man, ye see? So he took it to
the Education Committee, Lanarkshire Education Committee, ye see'? So they,
after he'd explained it to them, they locked themselves up wi' a couple of
bottles of whisky, in behind, ye know? And they had a talk about it. And
later the Chairman came out and says to this Inspector, he says, 'Look Mr
Inspector,' he says, 'we've discussed this, and talked about it, and
deliberated upon it, and everything', he says, 'and if you're prepared to
forget all about this, we'll send round two bricklayers in the morning and
get the whole thing fixed up.'

Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
What are Happy's all about? See Clicky

17 Jan 06 - 09:00 AM (#1650145)
Subject: RE: Happy! – Jan 17 (Matt McGinn)
From: David C. Carter

I've saw this great man many times,always down in London,around the 60s/70s.We sure used to have a good time when he was around.I'm embarrased to say that I was unaware that he was no longer with us.As you say,being in the same room with him was something else.


17 Jan 06 - 09:10 AM (#1650147)
Subject: RE: Happy! – Jan 17 (Matt McGinn)
From: Scotus

Oh, Abby - you bring back many happy memories!

Not least sharing a car journey from Dunfermline to Elie with Matt in John Watt's Austin A40 during which we got the full McGinn treatment. This would have been around 1966, I think.

I always thought that Billy Connolly owed an enormous debt to Matt - many of Billy's weirder characters seem to me to come straight from Matt!

Pete Seeger often included Matt's songs in his performances and championed him around the world.

I would highly recommend the book you mention 'McGinn of the Calton' to anyone, but caution that you are likely to suffer split sides within a few pages!

Jack Beck

17 Jan 06 - 06:07 PM (#1650456)
Subject: RE: Happy! – Jan 17 (Matt McGinn)
From: Susanne (skw)

A great book indeed, though it only conveys part of its author's character. Get a few albums as well, there are several still (or again) available.

I never knew the man, but I hear he liked to be known as 'Scotland's patron sinner' ...

17 Jan 06 - 09:58 PM (#1650612)
Subject: RE: Happy! – Jan 17 (Matt McGinn)
From: Effsee

I spent an evening with Matt in Peterhead in the 70s trying to keep up with him on the drams whilst he was on a gig, bad move, I suffered! I might be mistaken, but I thought it was Jan 1st that he died.

18 Jan 06 - 05:11 AM (#1650740)
Subject: RE: Happy! – Jan 17 (Matt McGinn)
From: GRex

I was introduced to Matt in a Glasgow folk club back in the early 70s. After that, every time I met him he kissed my wife and bought me a brandy (in that order). Unfortunately I had to move back over the border and never saw him again. He is a great character, one of the best