Category Archives: 23.10. memoir

The Boy from Nowhere: Gregor Fisher and Melanie Reid

8 pm

My first introduction to the character Rab C. Nesbitt was as a young child when my brother dressed as the famous fictional Scot in our town’s annual civic week parade and won the first prize. However, Melanie Reid, the co-writer of Fisher’s memoir tells us that, “when you get to know Gregor Fisher you realise that he is a million miles away from Rab C. Nesbitt.” When people see Fisher, they ignorantly assume he is synonymous with the character, but like myself, they are wrong.

During the event there are three people on stage; Jenny Brown, a literary agent based in Edinburgh, Melanie Reid, a journalist and columnist for The Times, and Fisher himself. Brown chaired the event and asked several questions about the memoir, including a query into Fisher’s motives, as well as personal questions about his relationships with certain relatives and people growing up. But, she need not have been there. Fisher and Reid continually pushed each other and bounced back and forth in a humorous double act. Responding to Brown’s question asking when he discovered that he was adopted, Fisher replies that he was at a Christening when he was “about twelve or thirteen.” “You told me you were fourteen,” interjected Reid to which Fisher stared blankly. “It says you were fourteen in the book.” To which he responded comically, “I was about fourteen.” For all the ways in which their personalities seemed at odds (Fisher, laid back, playful, with a strong west coast accent and Reid, very composed and solemn, occasionally sarcastic in her comments), they perfectly balanced each other. It was obvious that they shared a real understanding of each other, extending to something more than a mere professional friendship. Another example of this is Fisher’s description of the unusual circumstances surrounding his birth and upbringing: “You could write this,” he jokes. “Now you know how I feel,” Reid cuts in, much to the amusement of the audience, one of the many laugh out loud moments that frequent the event.

Fisher and Reid’s relationship is not always harmonious, however, as Reid comments “you are quite difficult sometimes.” “In what way?” asks Fisher. “Tricky,” she replies. Fisher puts this down to his west coast upbringing and explains he has his own reservations about Reid, who he accuses of being “too emosh” and “girly”, much to the oohs and laughs of the audience.

Getting down to the book itself, Brown inquires as to why Fisher decided to write to the book, or have it written, as it were. He tells us that he wrote it in order to find out about his past, having been inspired by a conversation with one of his in laws, he dons a posh English accent (he tells us jokingly that he married above him) and impersonates the woman, shocked and thrilled at his upbringing. Reid confesses that she had never written a novel or tried her hand at ghost writing. Brown then describes the novel as both a detective piece and road novel, using one of Reid’s lines from the memoir describing Reid and Fisher on the road as “Dastardly and Muttley.” But it is Fisher himself who describes the memoir as “a great story of love and human kindness”, while Reid believes it to be “a story of survival.” Either way, I was completely sold, if not by the narrative, which sounds creatively written and fascinating in its exploration of Fisher’s turbulent childhood, then by the witty repartee of its two writers.

Kate McAuliffe