If you fancy a chat with Andy Kershaw, intrepid reporter, fearless broadcaster and unique music man you have a chance when he hits the Arches in Glasgow on Tuesday 28 February.
‘This is better than a proper job,’ said Andy who is launching his biography ‘No Off Switch’ and taking the opportunity to tour 33 venues across the country to continue the conversation with people who want to talk with him. ‘Radio is a solitary occupation, so it’s good for me to get out and about.’
Andy presented his Radio 1 show for 15 years till he was sacked in May 2000. He joined Radio 3 about a year later and covered stories such as the volcanic eruption on Montserrat which happened the day after he’d arrived on the island with his partner for ‘a quiet Caribbean holiday.’
His autobiography concentrates on four particular areas he’s reported on: North Korea where he made the very first film from inside that secretive country carried by Channel 4 and where he’s been on holiday three times. Rwanda where he reported on the genocide there in 1994. ‘That was an awful situation which badly needed to be reported. Too many journalists were too scared to go there,’ he said. And some of his adventures in Haiti and Zimbabwe which are among the 97 of the 194 countries in the world, Andy has visited.
‘I’ve had 30 years of amazing adventures, seen history being made and reported on these things as a journalist,’ said Andy. ‘It is just as well I didn’t write my biography 20 years ago. While my homework may be a bit late, I’ve got more to say
And he says them through music too. Running the entertainments section of the students union at Leeds University in the early 80s for two and a half years, he lined up The Clash, Elvis Costello, Black Uhuru among many others. This took him to London – without a degree – as Billy Bragg’s driver and roadie. There his music career took off and his first asignment was a report for Whistle Test on the Monsters of Rock heavy metal festival. He now holds two honorary degrees from other universities.
‘Right now’ he comments there is ‘nothing new since Bob Dylan – who should have retired in 1976.’ But he claims he’s ‘too nosy to retire.’
His biggest challenge so far has been ‘Fatherhood! That’s the biggest responsibility and the most enjoyable experience of the lot.’
For tickets see the Arches website : www.thearches.co.uk
In a major turnaround, Glasgow University allowed students to re-occupy a building only hours after calling in police to evict them.
A massive police presence with helicopter, police horses and re-inforcements elsewhere on the campus, got the remaining dozen or so, students out of the Hetherington Research Club building at 13 University Gardens on Tuesday 22 March.
They had been there since February 1 in protest at the building lying unused for a year and at other major cuts the University is imposing.
On Tuesday, the University stated it had written to the students still in occupation, asking them to bring their protest to a peaceful conclusion. Some left, ‘But,’ said the University spokesperson, ‘the continuing presence of occupiers in No 13 University Gardens was putting at risk University plans to refurbish the accommodation and to develop it for academic use.
‘After University staff entered the building and asked the remaining occupiers to leave, Police were then asked to attend when a group of protestors gathered outside. The occupiers left the building peacefully, and there were no serious incidents.’
But a mass of students then marched from University Gardens to the Senate offices across the road in the quadrangle. There between 80 and 100 people sat-in.
David Newall, Secretary of Court and Director of Administration at the University met them on Tuesday evening.
He told University students on Wednesday: ‘As well as raising concerns to do with planned higher education cuts, they expressed their anger at the way events had unfolded during the day. The students asked to have open access to sustain a student occupation in the Main Building. In discussion, it was pointed out that this would potentially have a very disruptive effect on staff and student activities. As an alternative, I have agreed with the students that they may return to the Hetherington Building and continue the occupation. I will discuss with them how they will exercise a system of control over those entering the occupation space. I will also give them an assurance that the University will not ask Police back on campus in respect of the occupation unless in future there is a serious public order issue.’
Allegations of a separate group forcing entry to the adjacent property at No 11 University Gardens on Tuesday, have been made.
The number of police officers attending and the strength of the police presence was heavily criticised by many onlookers on Tuesday.
John Eldridge, Emeritus Professor of Sociology told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘If ever there was an example of overkill, this was it. I noticed a police helicopter hovering over my office and thought there must be a major crime being committed. What I witnessed was a large number of police and police vehicles around the Hetherington Building. The decision to call in police to what is a very small scale occupation lacks all sense of proportion. Do the University authorities have no negotiating skills? This was a sad and depressing day for Glasgow University.’
Dr Joanna Ferrie of the Department of Sociology was one of the crowd of several hundred who witnessed the police at work: ‘This was a most peaceful, intelligent and mature sit-in. I took my five year old son along. The students were having seminars and lectures. It was unnecessary to be so heavy handed when dealing with intelligent people’
Added Ph.D student Phillippa Rieck: ‘Saying the space is wanted for academic purposes is a duff argument. There is a lot of empty space around and there will be more when the cuts take effect.’
A senior academic described the scenes at University Gardens as ‘Little Libya’ and questioned how much it cost the University for the Police involvement. A Strathclyde Police spokesperson later said such operational costs are never given out.
Liam, a first year Glasgow University student, said: ‘I was dragged out of the Hetherington by three police officers. It was completely disproportionate. All we were doing was protesting against cuts at our university.’
Jack Ferguson, a 4th year Sociology and Anthropology student who had been with the sit-in from the beginning in February told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘We were holding free lectures, having people like Billy Bragg and Liz Lochhead come to share their knowledge. We were doing what the university should be doing – giving access to the local community and giving free education.’ He showed a red welt on his wrist where he had been handcuffed and his arm forced up behind his back. ‘This was a non-violent sit-in. My brother was pinned down on a chair and kneed in the groin. A girl with a kidney condition was punched in the back and slammed against the wall. These things shouldn’t happen and I’m calling for the Principal, Anton Muscatelli, to resign.’
Police Superintendent Nelson Telfer, commenting on Tuesday’s intervention at 13 University Gardens said:’We were not there to evict people or to force our way into any premises. There were some instances of minor disorder which were quickly dealt with.
“No arrests were made during the protest however, as a result of enquiries; one female has been arrested for an alleged obstruction. She was taken to the Western Infirmary after complaining of feeling unwell. No officers were injured during the incident.
“We will always do whatever we can to facilitate peaceful protests. However, spontaneous incidents such as this one are a massive drain on resources. We would much rather work with groups or individuals who are seeking to exercise their right to protest so that we can make sure that any demonstration takes place safely and, of course, lawfully. However, where events do become unlawful, robust action will be taken whether that is at the time or retrospectively.’
He added: ‘Any suggestion that the police response to this situation was disproportionate is quite frankly ridiculous. Strathclyde Police regularly facilitates organised protests and marches but we had no prior knowledge of the action at the University and had to react in real time. It is testament to the officers judgement and discretion that no-one was injured.’
On Tuesday one woman was arrested and charged with obstruction. The following morning, early, a 17 year old man and a 35 year old woman were each arrested at their own homes and charged with alleged breach of the peace. The woman was charged, in addition, with alleged police assault.
A University spokesperson said that there would be a ‘full internal review’ of the events.