Monday 21 August 2017

Lulu Who Do You Think You Are Wringing The Blues

Lulu, the popular Glaswegian singer from the 60's and 70's, born in 1948 and still going strong, was the latest person to be featured in "Who Do You Think You Are".

Unusually, this showing had a single story from the past rather than the usual two or three. WDYTYR has become a programme for celebrities and performers for whom there is a human interest tale to tell and this was one.

When trying to summarise major cultural productions I often call them "bone headed men" or "three handkerchief" jobs and this fitted both these bills.

One grandfather, Hugh Cairns was a Glaswegian hard case, see Wikipedia on "Glasgow Razor Gangs", the programme was very restrained about this and their activities which reduced parts of Glasgow to a state of war in the pursuit of the usual criminal activities and dominance of territory. Given his age and record he may have been a gang leader.

He was a Catholic, and the grandmother, Helen Kennedy was from a prominent Protestant family high in the Orange Order. In an age of bitter religious divisions it was a miracle that they had come together and lasted, but it ended when she died young, tragically from a burst appendix. He died a little later but the cause of death not stated for some reason.

Clearly the series of these programmes have to avoid telling similar stories and relating to the same major events in history. There are only so many lost on the Titanic that the viewers are interested in. Michael Parkinson was told by the programme makers they could not find anything interesting in his history. I found a colliery disaster but others had already been done.

The mother of Helen, Lulu's great grandmother, also called Helen was a major figure in women's Orange Order of her period, not only locally, but at a Scottish national level. She was an enthusiast for the works of Robert Burns introducing women's Burns NIghts as well as promoting women's roles in the Orange Order.

For both Clan Cairns and Clan Kennedy families there are Wikipedia pages. But here I declare an interest having a Jean Kennedy ancestress in Ayrshire who married a Park and was buried at Girvan in 1784. There were a lot of Kennedy's in that area, it being their patch and many moved on to Glasgow. Between then and the end of the 19th Century there must have been some who led interesting lives.

My guess is that along the various lines of this ancestry are a few military here and there as well as maritime. One wonders about what might have been, notably dealing with things and places we may be anxious to ignore.

There were a number of Scottish Kennedy's in British India, including some in the Royal Artillery; when anything happened usually one or more of them was there.

The picture above is some cheerful Glaswegians in 1954, near the River Elbe, who stood between western civilisation and the Soviet Third Shock Army.

"Boom Bang-A-Bang" says it all.

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