“Follow me Janey, everyone link hands and follow me now” my big sister would shout really loudly, she was bigger than me and the boss of us all, even my three wee pals who weren’t her siblings joined in, but we had wandered too far from home and she had appeared with an angry face and a determined look on her chubby cheeks.
She was nine years old wearing a hand made chunky cardigan with wooden buttons that was hewed from wool so strong and tight it could have resisted machine gun fire had we happened to ever stroll onto a battle field near inner city Glasgow. Her blunt haircut topped with a fiery red Alice band and stumpy purposeful legs displayed to us she was indeed the leader of the rag taggle band of kids she was dragging through the summer heat to the safety of our home. We had gotten lost on our own and it was down to my sister Ann to find us and bring every child back to safety. She could negotiate busy roads, angry dogs and curious wandering drunk men with the leadership skills of General Patton, despite being only a child her goal was our safety, her aim was safe passage and she was used to it, being a big sister.
Years later I owned a bar and was in charge of 5 full time staff, despite being only in my early 20s and was faced regularly with really drunk or really drugged or really violent customers in my East End pub, I realised that leadership was the most important thing to get us safely through a rough night. The police didn’t come to pubs like ours and we generally didn’t call them either.
It took tone of voice, calmness, cleverness and verbal jousting to talk a knife wielding nutter to stop attacking his wife. Sometimes in the middle of a fray I would wish my big sister in her red Alice band and chunky cardigan was there to help, but then I realised her nine year old leadership qualities stayed with me, just link hands, trust each other and all go in the same direction and things will work out fine.
I escaped that pub hell wound-free and went onto become a stand up comic and the leadership skills are exactly the same. On a rough rowdy crowd, just use even tone of voice, get them to trust you, get them to metaphorically link hands and psychologically go in the same direction and things always work out fine.
My big sister taught me more than any leadership workshop, she showed by example that a good leader walks with you and faces the same risks you face, they don’t have an advantage, they have a shared experience that they can guide you with but ultimately they will cross busy roads with you and make sure you get there safely.
We are delighted to welcome Janey Godley as a columnist in the3rdi magazine. If you haven’t come across Janey before she is loud, opinionated and very funny! Her monthly column will bring a sideways look at the issues we cover here and it is sure to provoke comment and debate!
Multi-award-winning Scottish comedienne, playwright, award-winning blogger, best-selling author and former Scotsman newspaper columnist Janey Godley has performed her comedy shows and one-woman play around the world, including off-Broadway in New York. She is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Just a Minute.
In 2006, Janey was nominated and was close runner-up for the annual Scotswoman of the Year title as ‘the most inspirational woman in Scotland‘. At the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, she won the Spirit of The Festival Award.
A regular 5-star performer at the Edinburgh Fringe, in 2008 she won the Fringe Report Award as ‘Best Performer‘ and two Nivea Funny Women Fringe Awards – as ‘Best Stand-Up‘ and, overall, for ‘Best Show‘ as “one of the most prolific and extraordinary stand-up comedians working in the UK”. In 2008, she also won Edinburgh’s WAG of the Year Award as ‘Best After Dinner Speaker‘, was nominated as ‘Best International Guest‘ in the 2008 New Zealand Comedy Guild Awards and was voted No 3 by readers in London listing magazine Time Out’s list of Top Ten Comedians.
In 2009, her new Edinburgh Fringe show Godley’s World received three 5-star reviews.