Life In A Scotch Sitting Room

Ivor Cutler’s book reviewed in in the NME, 8 September, 1984.

Life In A Scotch Sitting Room Vol.2

by Ivor Cutler (Methuen, £3.50)

From an early age Ivor Cutler was painfully aware of the absurdity of It All, so much so that he devoted his life to chronicling each passing instant with images that entertain whist simultaneously disorientating us. Confused? So is Cutler – but he is at one with the chaos.
These ‘autobiographical fragments’ comment, in their own oblique way, on growing up in a particular Scottish environment. There is sex education (“What do you do with your hands in bed?” asked Grandpa with a stern smile); nature study ( … “we set off, hugging the wall to escape the worst effects of the fresh air”) and strange ritual (“battering each other over the heads with a thistle whilst shaking hands”).
Behind every laugh lies a painfully gained awareness; nothing is how it should be until you realise that for Cutler there are no ‘givens’. Each passing day brings cause for alarm and from so much absurdity comes this strange poetry.
“There’s nothing quite like a Scottish education. One is left with an irreparable dept. My head is full of irregular verbs still.” Indeed.

Sean O’Hagan

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