An early and astonishing highlight of Latitude took place in the humble confines of the literary tent on Thursday night. Grace Maxwell read movingly from her book, Falling & Laughing: The Restoration Of Edwyn Collins, about her partner of 25 years and his road to recovery after suffering two strokes four years ago.
As Grace stood behind a lectern on the stage, nervously leafing through the book for passages to read, Edwyn sat serenely to her left on a leather couch. Hilarious tales of the early days of Orange Juice in the 1980s and the mayhem that followed the global success of Edwyn’s solo single “A Girl Like You” gave way to confessional fears and the uncertainty that his strokes visited upon the couple.
With great candour and warmth, Grace recounted Edwyn’s steely determination to return to as normal a life as possible. The man himself interjected occasionally with self-effacing one-liners and guttural laughter. The show-stopping moment came when Grace spoke about Edwyn leaving hospital for the first time, and how the lyrics of “Home Again” – which he’d written before his illness – resonated with the couple’s struggle. To drive the point home, Edwyn broke into unaccompanied song, his voice filling every inch of the packed tent:
“I’m home again
Hardly certain of my role, and then
I started searching for my soul again…”
A lively Q&A session followed, with one audience member recalling her own mother’s lengthy rehabilitation after a stroke, and Grace sparing a thought for any families who didn’t have the cash boost of global hit single to help them pay for expensive expert medical care.
When asked who he might want to play him, should a movie ever be made of Grace’s book, Edwyn immediately nominated Gregory Peck. “We might have to raise him up, darlin’,” Grace responded. “He’s been dead for ages.”
Pic credit: Neil Thomson