From Arnold Kemp's book, a personal history of post-war Scotland "The Hollow Drum".
...Jim Sillars told me a story about himself which, he said, explained his character. When he was 15 he was apprenticed to a plasterer and was one of a team working on a job. Although he was the junior apprentice he found he was expected to do the labouring. On further inquiry he discovered from the boss that the job had been priced to allow for three labourers, a junior apprentice, a senior apprentice and a journeyman. The boss had not employed any labourers; he was skimming more profit by making the junior apprentice do the donkey-work.
Sillars walked off the job. There was an enormous row. His father was called to a meeting. But it was to no avail and that day the plastering trade lost a recruit.
At the heart of what makes poetry Scottish lies the question of language. There are at least four varieties. First, there is the Scots of the old court before the Union of the Crowns. Then came the vigorous and assured tongue used by Robert Burns in his best poems, or richly put in the mouths of his native characters by Sir Walter Scott.
THE writer must quarry his own life: he has nowhere else to turn. ThatJohn Updike has done so has always been clear enough, but what hasalways puzzled me has been his underlying attitude as a lyrical butclear-eyed chronicler of domestic and sexual politics.