Jimmy Paterson – Wee Books fir Big Bairns

The minute we saw Jimmy on the screen we thought, ‘that’s a face for telling stories.’  He reminded us of the children’s TV programme for storytelling, Jackanory. Remember that?  There is something magical about a person bringing to life characters from a book.

We had seen Jimmy recently acting out the eccentric characters from his ‘Wee Book fir Big Bairns’, a book written and illustrated by him telling of the lives of the folk of a Scottish toon nestled in a glen somewhere in the North of Scotland, between Thatplace and Thonplace, called Thisplace.  

Jimmy chatted to us on our podcast, Sue and johnny – Everything and Anything – Episode 15 and explained that the first story in the series, called, ‘Get me to the Church’, introduces several amusing villagers, from Thisplace.

Jimmy has a very warm and expressive face, and his mimicking and aped mannerisms of the characters is very funny and engaging.  In turn, he becomes the church organist, Miss MaChance, or the local postie, Dane MaHeedin, based on his own brother who was bitten a few times by dogs on his rounds.

Johnny and I have known Jimmy for a long time.  We met him during the 1980’s in London when he was in the original West End cast of Phantom of the Opera, with Johnny’s sister Morag McLaren.

Jimmy’s first love was opera.  But as a young boy growing up in Ayrshire, he discovered he was good at both music and art.  After a few years at the renowned Glasgow School of Art, and a year at Jordanhill College qualifying as a teacher, he discovered his passion for singing by surreptitiously having private singing lessons. He joined Scottish Opera, and his place was found. The rest as they say is history, and after a variety of operatic roles, he and his wife Elizabeth headed to England for a long career in music.

But over the years Jimmy never forgot that he also loved art and could turn his hand to comical drawings and illustrations.  And with a good eye for seeing the ridiculous in situations and people he would make up stories to amuse his nieces and later, his grandchildren. 

And on the day that we interviewed Jimmy, he was stressing over the number of illustrations he must draw for the next story in the series.  He now has written and nearly illustrated 10 books, with titles such as, The Late Arrival of the Haggis, When the Queen arrived, and The Missing Coo.

Jimmy now says he has ‘mince in his head’ because he sees all the action in his mind’s eye first and then feels that he can’t get the drawings down quickly enough. But writing down the story as it plays out, he then goes back to the mental images and transfers them to paper as soon as he can. 

Jimmy tells us the book is in the process of being self published, with the aid of a grant from the Scottish Book Trust. His local printer is on standby. In addition, there’s a web site on the horizon, and you can check out his You Tube channel and Facebook page.  

Is this the new Balamory or the Broons? Perhaps Sully MaWully will become as famous as Oor Wullie!