Lorraine McIntosh: My childhood taught me how to handle poverty with dignity
The Daily Record 14th September 2011

SHE has sold millions of records and travelled the world living the pop star lifestyle. But Deacon Blue singer Lorraine McIntosh will endure a life of poverty for the next three months and she couldnt be happier.

The actress plays the lead role in a new adaptation of one of Scotlands most famous plays, Ena Lamont Stewarts Men Should Weep, alongside her former River City co-star Michael Nardone.Stewarts 64-year-old play is set amid the grinding recession of Glasgow in the 1930s, which its author could barely have believed would be so relevant decades later.

Karen Dunbar and Sharon Small starred in a revival of the show staged by the National Theatre on Londons South Bank last year. And its been a staple on high school syllabuses across Scotland for decades, since first being produced on stage in the 1940s.

Lorraine is quick to admit that the hardship of the slums and breadline existence couldnt be further from her life of privilege. As a member of Deacon Blue, shes sold over six million albums and is now married to the bands songwriter Ricky Ross. He has carved a lucrative sideline as a hit-maker for pop acts like James Blunt and Will Young.

Lorraine lives with Ricky and their three children in a leafy suburb of Glasgow, but this week shell swap privilege for penury in a role which takes her back to her start in the back courts of the citys Bridgeton. The 45-year-old said: We grew up in a very poor home. We had poverty and when poverty is so relevant in a home all the lovely stuff about growing up and family life are weighed down by this horrible oppression of worrying about where the next meal comes from and where youre going to get the money to buy the weans their new shoes.

The old cliche about poverty coming home and love going out the window is true. There was definitely love in our home, but it was tough. Its the same in the play. Ive had a comfortable life since we started selling records with Deacon Blue, but I had a very poor childhood.

Ive not struggled financially since my mid-20s, but of course I still have friends and family who struggle. One of my brothers had to move to Wales because the factory closed in Cumnock, and when they went there the factory closed there and they were stranded.

Lorraine was born in Glasgow and lived in the east end of the city before her family, like so many others, were decanted to Ayrshire as part of the Glasgow clearances in the 1960s. She grew up in Cumnock, Ayrshire, and endured the early tragedy of her mother dying from leukaemia when she was aged just 11.

With their father working long hours at a colliery to put bread on the table, Lorraine and her brothers had to muck in at home. The parallels between this and the world created by Lamont Stewart barely need explaining. Loraine said: Maggie, my character, suffers like so many women in Scotland both then and now. Theyd love to give their weans a cuddle or sit down and read them a story. But they just dont or cant because theyve got to get washing done and then go and do a night shift.

There was love in our home, but as I said, it was tough and it makes these moments of tenderness in the play when they do happen, seem all the more striking. Maggies not a cliche. It would be easy to see her as done, knackered, after having seven weans.

Lorraines domestic dynamic is equally something that you dont often see. Actress mum and song-writing father have to juggle lead roles when it comes to work. She said: Ricky is typically working on about 10 things at once, and he really needs to curtail that when Im doing a big show like this which goes on tour.

After Deacon Blues first incarnation ended, Ross struck out on a solo career. McIntosh fell into acting after friend and screenwriter Paul Laverty asked her to audition for a part in Ken Loach movie My Name Is Joe. It was this that launched her career as an actress.

The band reformed in 1999 and have been gigging and recording ever since, with Ross becoming a Radio Scotland presenter and releasing three solo albums. And there was also a record of country duets with his wife as McIntosh Ross 18 months ago. She said: Ricky has known for years that Ive been at home more than him. Hes the one who has been off doing stuff. I love being at home, and I could quite easily stay there. I have to be pushed to do things. But Ricky has always been dead supportive of me acting and actually wanted me to tour with Beautiful Burnout last year.

It seems likely the couple will perform together again. Deacon Blue played the summer festival circuit, including a resounding headline slot against Coldplay at Glastonbury. Lorraine said: If were lucky enough, well do a new Deacon Blue album next. Ricky has a load of brilliant new songs ready for it.

And we'd love to do another McIntosh Ross album too, on an even smaller scale than before, with all the band recording, but this time on just one microphone.

Just the one? Seems times are tough for everyone right enough.