#edbookfest: Edwyn Collins & Grace Maxwell: “I loved music. It’s my light.”

edwyn collinsEdwyn Collins & Grace Maxwell – Words and Music: The Sheer Joy of Being Alive – 25th August 2015.

Edwyn Collins has had quite a musical career from Orange Juice onwards, but it’s the last 10 years of his life that take the focus in a documentary and recent book: his suffering a serious stroke and subsequent return to good health, with wife Grace Maxwell by his side.

They met in London when a mutual friend asked Grace to put Edwyn and a friend up. They were going door to door trying to push their music – the BBC’s John Peel was rather ambivalent about Orange Juice, perhaps in part from being told “The music you’re playing is shite, you should be playing this.”

“Funny story,” says Edwyn, “I fancied Grace.” He asked her to be his manager. She thought, “This is no way to pick a manager! But self-employment is rather appealing.” When she was heavily pregnant she would still drive his tour bus and unload it.

“I repeat, I’m sorry about that,” laughs Edwyn.

“Part of the charm of it all is there’s a burst of gorgeousness,” says Grace, on how careers don’t always last forever. Edwyn, in fact, has a photographic memory of his bad reviews: “NME: Edwyn Collins promised much, delivered little.”

“But I’m still going!”

“I couldn’t say anything but I loved music, it’s my light,” explains Edwyn, on the recovery following his stroke. He worked very hard to get his speech back up to rote. For doing this, they advise to be quiet, speak slowly and give the person space, don’t interrupt or finish their sentences, to which chatty Grace notes, “I mean, you can see me today!”

One thanks in regards to helping him read once again goes to Edinburgh publisher Barrington Stoke, who have specific font and page settings, amongst many other factors, to facilitate learning to read for those who struggle. “I was always thinking about what would work,” explains Grace. “This worked brilliantly for Edwyn.”

Their abridged versions of stories like Animal Farm were a massive help – “he wanted something that had a wee bit of a meat.”

Now host Ian Rankin chimes in: “Big up Barrington Stoke of Edinburgh!”

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