Billy connolly

From teenage delinquent to man of letters: James Campbell’s remarkable career

The great age of the Scottish autodidact must have ended a century ago, but it had a prodigious impact while it lasted. To read John Gross’s The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters (1969) is to be plunged headfirst into a world of kenspeckle lads studying Nietzsche behind the crankshaft and miners quoting Burns to each other as they were winched up from the Lanarkshire coal face. If James Campbell (born 1951) isn’t quite a figure to rank with James Thompson the Younger (1834-82) or the Rev. George Gilfillan (1813-78), to name a couple of Gross’s exemplars, then he is certainly their spiritual heir – a man whose

Welder, banjo player, comedian, actor, and now artist – Billy Connolly interviewed

We are in a basement gallery in London’s West End, and Britain’s greatest comedian is doing what he does best — sharing his delight at the daft absurdities of daily life. He remembers seeing a little boy wading into the freezing waters at Aberdeen. ‘You make a certain noise when the wave comes up. It’s a noise that you can only repeat by shoving a hot potato up a donkey’s arse.’ He is making this empty gallery feel as though it’s full of people — and a bunch of strangers laugh like old friends. ‘A lot of my stuff doesn’t have punchlines’. He doesn’t need them. ‘It’s lovely just making