David F Ross is cool – simple as. A successful architect & silver-fox, a few years back he’d started writing, a cathartic exercise into his past, reliving those days & dreams of his early years – when he’d ran a mobile disco & wanted to be in a band. These two themes have formed the subjects of his first two books, the first of which was widely acclaimed ‘The Last Days of Disco.’ Set in the early 80s, it is a beautiful elegy to vinyl & a lost epoch. His sequel, & the main subject of his chat at Aye Write! festival, concerns the story of a fictional band in the early 80s, called ‘The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas.’ What Shane Meadows did for 80s nostalgia south of the border with ‘This is England,’ Ross seems to be doing the same in Scotland. Indeed, he dropped the hint that he’d like to see it made into a film, & there is a certain rollicking cinematographic quality to both books.
In his talk, Ross described that it was easier to recall events from this time, as in youth one experiences extremities of emotions, a quite existential aspect of his thinking which shows there is depth to the works that most readers might not see at first delve. Written in the Ayrshire vernacular, ‘The Miraculous Vespas’ is less a band, & more a vehicle for human relationships as summoned & reflected by Ross into his work. Well-researched, it uses real characters, including Boy George, & one imagines as time goes on this book will leap beyond its contemporary pop-artiness, & into the realms of true time-capsule history.
For the actual experience of listening to Ross, I found him eloquent & attentive for the first hour, but things went off the rails a bit when he introduced fictional folk from his book – Bobby Bluebell & the manager Max Mojo. The fans loved it, but I just thought it was a bit daft. Still, that is nothing to detract from the clear & peculiar visionary genius of Mr Ross, a true bard who can glimpse into, & recreate the past.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen