'He destroyed me. No one else comes close'
I first heard Billy Connolly on a record of my dad’s when I was seven. He was talking about welly boots and the Barras and telling funny stories about Jesus being born in the Gallowgate and not Galilee. He created a magical world outside my window that I couldn’t wait to explore. He was also making fun of Glasgow accents: ‘A guy in a phonebox calls the operator who asks, “Is there money in?” He responds, “No, ah’m in here masel”!’
But this was a music album. He was singing parodies of Scottish folk songs: ‘Nine-and a Half Guitars’ and ‘The Short Haired Police Cadet’. But there were sad songs too. There was one about a soldier in a hospital bed, ‘Oh, Sergeant is this the adventure ye meant when ah put ma name doon oan the line? All yer talk o’ computers an’ sunshine and skis, ah am askin’ ye sergeant, where’s mine?’ So, so sad.
My brother, Conor, and I listened repeatedly to that album and recited it incessantly till we wee’d ourselves. The first time I saw him in the flesh I was 16 and my father had taken me to see an opera. Connolly was playing the jailer in Die Fledermaus. He never spoke, but we laughed and laughed just at his face. I saw him a few years later in a small hall in Wick. He spoke non-stop for two hours and 50 minutes and I cried the entire time. He is my absolute hero. He destroyed me. No one else comes close.
City Café, Edinburgh, Mon 6, 13, 20, 27 Feb.