16th August

One of Our Contemporary Geniuses

INTERVIEWER: Wullie Wheenge – may I call you Wullie?

WHEENGE (making noises reminiscent of various birds native to the tropical rainforest): Nnnn, nyet nyet nyet, whaaaaargh, chirrup chirrup chirrup, weeeel, you may. Call me Ishmael if you prefer. Where were we?

INTERVIEWER: I wanted to ask you about your life as an artist.


INTERVIEWER: Well, you are widely regarded as the foremost of our creative thinkers. Many point to your novel Menstrie as a key text in the extraordinary resurgence of Scottish letters in the last thirty years. How would you say your work has influenced that of other writers?

WHEENGE: Nnnn, nyey nyet, ooooooh aaah, I wouldn’t.

INTERVIEWER: But surely –

WHEENGE: I am not saying, I am not saying, I am not saying that there
has been no influence on, ah, um, others. What I am saying is that I am not saying anything about it. Myself. Being a humble chap of, hmm, working-class origins I am far from comfortable about ah, um, blowing my own, hmm, trumpet. (Makes noise like a trumpet.)

INTERVIEWER: I see. Well, leaving aside its possible influence on others, was Menstrie a breakthrough for you?

WHEENGE: Oh, ah, definitely. That is to say, no, not really. It did not make me any, ah, um, money, without which of course the artist is, ah, condemned to starvation and madness.

INTERVIEWER: Do you consider yourself mad?

WHEENGE: Certainly. We are all mad. And sometimes hungry. The world is mad. Society is mad. Though, in its defence, it considers itself completely, ah, sane. A sure sign of madness. But it has been tolerant towards me. Allowed me, yes, a remarkably long leash. (Barks like a dog.) Perhaps it lets me out as a, um, warning to others: this is what will happen to you if you do not rein in your imaginations. Whereas what we should be striving for . . .

INTERVIEWER: Yes, Dr Wheenge?

WHEENGE: Speaking as a medical man, which I am not, but since you so address me, what we should be striving for is vigorously exercised imaginations all round. Mens sana and all that jazz, do you follow me?

INTERVIEWER: Thank you, Wullie Wheenge, one of our contemporary geniuses.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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