The Last Days of Disco – Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland – David F Ross

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Why a booktrail?

Scottish banter and Glaswegian dialect abound with this story about a group of youngsters who set up a mobile disco

Story in a nutshell 

In the decade that taste forgot, two lads, Bobby and Joey set up a mobile disco  to tour around the country. They’v been best friends since primary school and both have their reasons for a new venture to help them forget their real lives. But at the same time Fat Franny Duncan is the current King of the Ayrshire Mobile Disco scene so it’s anyone’s guess if anyone will feel like dancing at the end of it all

Tragic news from the other side of the world brings the story of disco to a head..

The Last Days of Disco is a eulogy to the beauty and power of the 45rpm vinyl record and the small but significant part it played in a small town Ayrshire community in 1982

Place and setting

Onthank fictional Fat Franny Duncan and Joey Miller live here in this working class area and the author William McIllvanny also grew up here Kilmarnock Masonic Hall - 45 London Road one of the early Heatwave Disco gigs takes place here  Police station Don McAllister’s police station. Don's office – if you’re curious – would be on the top floor, far right. Henderson Church - the scene of the riot when Heatwave Disco were ‘supporting’ local band, The Vespas. Dick Institute one of the most handsome and impressive buildings in Kilmarnock. Hobnail’s wife, Senga works there cleaning
Onthank
fictional Fat Franny Duncan and Joey Miller live here in this working class area and the author William McIllvanny also grew up here
Kilmarnock Masonic Hall45 London Road
one of the early Heatwave Disco gigs takes place here
Police station
Don McAllister’s police station. Don’s office – if you’re curious – would be on the top floor, far right.
Henderson Church (Kay Park Parish church) – the scene of the riot when Heatwave Disco were ‘supporting’ local band, The Vespas.
Dick Institute
one of the most handsome and impressive buildings in Kilmarnock. Hobnail’s wife, Senga works there cleaning

1980s Kilmarnock

The 80s was a time for recession in Scotland and this is the setting for the group of adolescents to make a bit of pocket money, even if not a living, by setting up a mobile disco business. How on earth are they going to attempt this and what’s more achieve it?

He had just turned 18. The ink on the cads had barely dried, He just wanted to fanny about. When his dad used that term, it was with disdain, When bobby said it, it sounded aspirational

The relatively small town of Kilmarnock, not far from Glasgow is hardly the ideal place to try you would think  – what with the local gangsters and the lads getting in trouble with the law.

Kilmarnock might not seem a place fora disco battle but with Fat Franny on one side and the two brothers on the other, the stage is set for some fun yet dangerous moves.

Joey was a Rangers fan, but at least he’d grown up on the south side of Glasgow, so he was entitled, Kimarnock was full of fucking Old Firm glory -hunters and Bobby hated all of them

Bobby wants to avoid following his brother into the Falklands war which is ongoing at the time. This as a backdrop together with the recession  really places the book at a particular point in Scotland’s history and gives a sense of hopelessness and poignancy to the lad’s story. The turf war with Fat Franny who fancies himself as the Disco King of Kilmarnock provides the Scottish banter and laugh out loud moments.

And it’s the language – the Scottish vernacular – that really cements the book in the Scottish landscape. If  you don’t speak Scottish dialect then you’ll have learned a few choice words by the end!

are ye listening’ tae me?

And all this time the Falklands war is simmering away in the background, seeping into everyone’s conscience through the media. David Ross gives us bulletins at the start of every chapter about the ongoing war and Thatcher’s wish to send troops there despite not many people in Scotland at the time even caring or knowing where these islands were or why they should be sending their young men out there to fight for them.

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Bookish musings

Kilmarnock is the setting here and since the author was born in Glasgow before moving to ‘Killie’ then you can tell he has taken his experiences and impressions of growing up in and around the area for comedic effect here. It’s Scottish banter at its finest and lots of memories of growing up (in the UK) during the 80s – Tiswas? and all the songs which creep into the story make for a nostalgic read. When the tears flow, it’s because of the Falklands war and what that means for the young men who are forced to go out there and fight. And the tears do flow for there are some sad moments, poignant moments and a realisation via the political reminders at the start of chapters of what the situation was like for so many.

The Last Days of Disco is a fun read about growing up in Scotland, wanting to break out of your little life and get out in the world. So to be trapped in a battle of the disco divas – well this was a fun premise indeed.

Loved the inclusion of the Scottish vernacular although the swearing did get a bit much but then the funny takes over again so I couldn’t be distracted for long. Fat Franny is quite a character and I could see all the characters in the book for they all had their own quirky personalities. If you were growing up at the same time, then this will take you back.

Definitely puts Kilmarnock on the literary map. May we return there very soon!

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