Horse is Careful in her tales of Lanark childhood

Horse McDonald.
Horse McDonald.

Cult singer Horse McDonald is about to tell audiences throughout the nation about her sometimes-hellish upbringing in Lanark during the 1970s.

However, on the eve of her touring her autobiographical one-woman show, she is keen to stress to her home town and her many Lanark friends that her teenage years would have been just as difficult no matter what small Scottish town a gay teenager like her was brought up in during that era of ignorance and prejudice.

“Lanark wasn’t any better or any worse than anywhere else at that time when dealing with weirdos like me,” states the proud daughter of late Lanark councillor Dugald McDonald.

Misunderstanding of the 58-year-old’s attitude to her home town have pained her in the past, especially after a tabloid article of several years ago seemed to depict her teens in the royal burgh as an unrelenting waking nightmare of bullying and ridicule.

That hurt some of her friends from her years at Lanark Grammar School who remembered her as a popular, constantly wisecracking character and something of a local hero in that age of youth rebellion.

Sheena, as she was known then, went into Grammar legend by reacting to a skirts-only edict to female pupils by turning up at school in a man’s kilt, complete with sporran.

And now she explains that apparent contradiction – she had been wearing a mask of cheerfulness with her classmates while quietly dreading what awaited outside the school gates.

“The bullying and hurtful words didn’t come at the grammar but outside it, on the way there and on the way home,” she said. “There was one particular group of guys who practically waited to ambush me every day.

“I was terrified of them, but I eventually faced them the best way I knew, joining them in the old bus stance waiting room and making them laugh.

“I still feared them and disliked their attitudes, but they stopped harrassing me. It was a performance, if you like.”

She states that, despite that, there were a lot of happy times, especially among her beloved parents and group of loyal pals and “fellow weirdos”.

And the show she is touring, actually a play called Careful, based on her life, has both laughter and tears in it.

Despite it being a hit when she debuted it at last year’s Edinburgh Festival and having four decades of live gigs behind her, Horse admits to being nervous about this tour.

“It’s really outside my comfort zone because it isn’t a music gig,” she said.

“There is music in Careful, but just a wee bit.”

She adds that the section of the play covering her teenage years in Lanark will be a relatively brief part of the whole performance.

There will be no Lanark date during the tour, but Horse rejects any allegations of being feart of a home-town audience, pointing to highly successful appearances here over the years and the simple fact she had no say in choosing the venues.

She also doesn’t rule out a local performance of Careful in the royal burgh at some time in the future.

Whatever, she hopes all her many Lanark fans and pals will make it along to the nearest performance of Careful, that being at Motherwell Concert Hall on Sunday, April 9, at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £15, are available from the hall’s box office on 01698 403120.