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The Dinwoodie Interview

Pic Credit: Louis DeCarlo

WHEN BILLY KAY, the writer, broadcaster and champion of the Scots tongue was fsucted into the Scotish Traditional Music Hall of Fame three years ago the citation described him as the “arch destroyer of the Scotish cringe.” Kay in an interview with iScot explained the essence of his life’s work as geting across a simple message: “The language o workin cless folk wis aince actually the language o makars an kings and coortiers.” Kay grew up in the 1950s in Galston, in the heart of Burns country, where it was possible to use the language of the bard without it being belted out of you in school, although even there it was discouraged outwith the January buildup to Burns Night. But the Kay family spoke the language at home and he considered himself bilingual in the two distinct ledes of Scots and English, going on to become a multilinguist at school.

Kay has lived for many years across the brig from Dundee in the Fife town of Tayport but he still sees himself as coming from Ayrshire and Fife mining stock. He tells me during our chat over cofee at the gym he atends in Dundee: “Baith ma grandfaithers were miners an baith o them forbad their sons tae gae doon the pit, but I inherited the feel for minin an minin culture an minin communities. Gawston had ceased to be a minin community in the 1920s wi the big strikes and never really recovered fae them. But ma mither’s side o the faimily were fae Bowhill in West Fife and the only time ma mum got to meet her mum was when we went there on the faimily holiday. Until I wis 15 I went every summer tae Bowhill and it was still a busy, thriving minin community in the ities and sixties when I wis gaun there.”

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About iScot Magazine

Welcome to the new scrumdiddlyumptious issue of the award winning iScot Magazine number 54 The front cover artwork is designed by Stewart Kerr Brown and represents our maybe new Prime Minister of Boris Johnson pictured as John Bull with a hint of Pennywise from IT by Stephen King . We’re screwed tbh.