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DUNDEE: A new home for tartan noir

BY GARY COCKER

One of football journalism's favourite cliches is the ‘come and get me’ plea—in other words, a player more or less publicly stating that they are free and willing to join a particular club. Consider the following piece a come and get me plea for the City of Discovery as the new home of Tartan Noir.


Okay, I'm more than a little biased here. Now that I've moved back from Edinburgh-ish to Dundee, where I was born, brought up and studied, I'm determined to grab the margins of the central belt and drag them up to encompass the home of jute, jam and journalism, and what better place to start than encouraging Scotland's finest creative minds (that's you, by the way, dear reader) to plot out wicked schemes, grim autopsies and bold criminality against the backdrop of the Tay?


I know what you're thinking. ‘Gary, we have Glasgow and Edinburgh—two Gothic-lite cities full of edge and contradictions. We can set anything brooding in the Highlands, or just go out to sea. Why bother with Dundee?’


If you ask me, Dundee is ripe for the picking. McIlvanney has an iron grip on Glasgow; when you think Rebus, you think Edinburgh. On the other hand, as far as literary works go, Dundee is relatively unchartered territory. Surrounded on its northern edge by the Sidlaws and bound to the south by the Tay, Dundee's compact nature could certainly play into the right writer's hands. Travel back in time to the Victorian era and you can weave a picture of Dundee's jute mills or the whaling industry, both major employers that would be the bane of modern health and safety. Travel along the waterfront to the suburb of Broughty Ferry, formerly home to the jute barons of old and now home to—well—me, and let your imagination run free along its winding beach, through its centuries-old castle and be refreshed in one of its fifteen (fifteen!) pubs. Industrial disputes, regeneration, a thriving cultural sector, political change and, of course, the University of Dundee's expertise in forensic anthropology all show that modern day Dundee contains multitudes too.


I could go on longer, but I'd have to charge a consultancy fee. For now, do bear Scotland's sunniest city in mind for your future work. Scotland is far more than its two largest cities and its beautiful scenery, and the throbbing tangle of contradictions and juxtapositions thrown up by the rest of the country deserve their place in our cultural milieu as much as Auld Reekie and Glesga. Moving our frontiers to Tayside is the least that we can do.

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