Published by Arrow/Random House
Passing Places by Amanda Macandrew
Back Page Blurb:
‘You will be a leader when you grow up,’ Ishbel promised her daughter. Her father told her she would be a great beauty. In between, something went wrong, hormones, thick ankles,spots, and with them arrived the realisation that parents are not Gods. In the small world of Scotland in the sixties, it was no easy task growing up and rock and roll was pushed aside for the Gay Gordons.
This book was published in 1994 and I’m surprised I haven’t read it before. I came across it in a second hand book shop and really enjoyed reading it. It is set in Scotland in the sixties and the story moves between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The differing cultures of the two cities are illustrated well and with a good deal of humor. The story follows a young girl through her most difficult teenage years, as the writer puts it, ‘hormones, thick ankles, spots, and a realisation that your parents are not god’ how true. This book is chock full of comedy with hilarious descriptions of Scottish country dancing, and granny’s eccentricities, a late bemoaned pregnancy, and an illicit affair. The sixties liberation revolution never came toScotland, as the writer makes clear. I know this as I lived through these years as a teenager. The writer makes it very clear that drugs and rock and roll were far beyond the pale, smoking cigarettes was the vice of the day. Reading Oscar Wilde meant that you were probably gay and Cliff Richards was the man of the moment. Parents loved Cliff because of his squeaky clean image. The humiliation of having to have a perm to liven your look was a common occurrence at that time; a Tweeny Twink was the smelly weapon of torture. Andrea, the heroine of the story decides to rebel against her perm in the hairdressers as what she really wanted was to look like Sandy Shaw. Under the surface of the families portrayed in this book there is a hint of lust and deception and blackmail, all told with clever subtle humour. This book is really a gem and a good read for anyone but particularly for anyone Scottish born about 1950 onwards and who remembers spangles, refreshers and learning the Gay Gordons in the school gym.