Books and bagpipes are playing a larger part in Jimmy Barnes life at the moment, or at least books, but who can resist the alliteration! Alongside his well-known role as rocker. Jimmy is now a bestselling author with critical acclaim of the two parts of his autobiography, ‘Working class boy’ and the second instalment ‘Working class man’.
I chatted to Jimmy last year about his latest literary endeavour a bairns book indeed! One written specifically with children in mind. The children’s book ‘Och Aye the G’nu’, says the Scottish born singer, is a project that has been a labour of love.
The book is also for children at heart and is culturally inclusive including bagpipes, African chants and the didgeridoo. This mix of cultures is in due to the cultural travels of the Gnu himself, a native of Africa who is transported to the snow and bagpipes of the Glasgow zoo. The Australian connection comes about because on the plane trip over he is accompanied by a kangaroo who becomes his friend.
We learn of Och Aye
“… he lived in a zoo in a land that was wet and a bitter wind blew and the snow and the bagpipes were all that he knew and he went by the name of young Och Aye the G’nu” and perhaps a tongue and cheeky nod to Jimmy’s powerful voice we learn that young Och Aye “has a voice that cut through”.
The story of Och Aye the Gnu has a companion volume called ‘The recorded poems of Och Aye the G’nu’. This book is multi -media in approach and contains a CD of the poems that tell the story of Och Aye read by Jimmy himself. Jimmy is joined by the Wiggles on this project and tells me he has known them for 35 years and finds them the perfect collaborators for the project because they are able to step into the minds of children. For additional authenticity Jimmy says Anthony the blue wiggle who plays the bagpipes is an actual Scottish chieftain.
Jimmy is proud of his Scottish background and has a Scottish family gathering once a year. At the time of our chat Jimmy was planning to spend the New Year in Glasgow and said when he returned he was thinking of doing something new, perhaps even formally becoming the tartan wiggle!
‘Och Aye the G’nu’ and it’s companion book ‘The recorded poems of Och Aye the G’nu’ are out now published by Five Mile Press.