In this regular Sunday feature, we ask people about 10 things that changed their life. This week, Liz Lochhead, playwright, poet, broadcaster, Scotland’s Makar from 2011 until 2016.

1. Glasgow School of Art

The National:

FROM the age of 15 I was so desperate to go there. I thought I would never get in, and indeed the first time I applied, at 17, I was turned down. I wept in my bedroom in the huff with life for three days, refusing food or to go back to school for a sixth year. Eventually I was accepted for a one-year pre-diploma course. So the seeming catastrophe of rejection in the end gave me an extra year. I was there from 1965 to 1970.

Art school in the 60s was the place to be for all sorts of creative people, some of whom maybe arrived passionately wanting – as I did – to be a painter but ended up in a band, or acting. It was the place I started to write poems. Being an awkward bizzum, all too soon I would be writing things down the side of the drawings in my sketch book, finding the words were making better pictures.

It was also the place where I first had male friends. It was so brilliant to have real pals of both sexes. Equals. Interested in exactly the same things. A core of three or four of these contemporaries are still among my closest friends.

The physical building that is – it would break my heart to say was -- the Glasgow School of Art, at the time I took it for granted. A beautiful place to work in. Only after I left did I fully appreciate its revolutionary iconic status.

Ah well, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Tragic for Glasgow and for the world, that second utterly devastating fire last year, just when the restoration of the library was almost complete.

We need to know how the hell it could possibly have burned down twice in four years.

2. Joni Mitchell’s first album

The National:

“FIRST album” ... although of course I called it an LP. This was in 1968/69, my third year at art school, and I was living in my first ever shared flat in the West End. My pal Willie in my year, he loved Joni too – his daughter’s called after her – and I still have his copy of it.

He didn’t have a record player but, as I had left home with the family Dansette in my red spotted handkerchief, he stashed his LP at our place and came to play it and try to chat up my flatmates.

Oh Joni, oh those lyrics. OK, we had had Sergeant Pepper’s the year before .. but the Beatles were blokes. Joni sang the pure song of the young woman of her times. I used to think I was Joni Mitchell (right), even though I couldn’t sing a note. Those wee poemy things I was starting to write didn’t even rhyme, far less have tunes, and I came from Motherwell, not California.

I must admit her lyrics were probably as much of an influence on me as all the modern poetry we hadn’t had at school that I could find in the Hillhead Library’s scanty shelves.

Joni’s music was right up there with her words. Listening to her got me really appreciating, oh… Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, the late, great Michael Marra (now there’s a hero of mine I actually got to work with – I was lucky enough to have as a good friend). Joni opened the door for me to all of them, and to Cole Porter, Hoagy, Lorenz Hart and the Gershwins too.

3. La Belle Dame Sans Merci

The National:

IT was the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 and we all thought it would likely be nuclear war next week. We would all be dead. The whole world would be over. We had to keep it from our parents – how terrified we were – because it was our duty not to worry them, they were obviously worried sick already.

In English we had been doing Keats (above), The Eve of St Agnes, which was good stuff (“the owl for all its feathers was a-cold ... soft adorings in the honeyed middle of the night ... music yearning like a God in pain”) but really, really long. Now, on what might be our last English class, ever, Mr Valentine read out loud La Belle Dame Sans Merci. “Oh what can ail thee, night at arms, so haggard and so woebegone … the sedge is withered from the lake. And no birds sing.” Short. Wonderful. For the first time ever I was hurt by poetry. And smitten. I was nearly 15. This was my third year at Dalziel High School, the pre-comprehensive days, the must-pass-the-quallie, must-wear-the-correct-uniform, achievement-oriented, academically-focussed secondary school -- and where I stubbornly managed to learn practically nothing except from those fantastic English teachers, Mr Humphreys, Mr Valentine, Mrs Bow and Mr Quinn.

4. The pill

The National:

THIS really changed everything. For my whole generation of women, and for men too ... far more than they ever gave it credit. At my age I can make younger women than me shake their heads and laugh aloud when I tell them how you had to borrow that unconvincing fake sapphire engagement ring out of Woolworths and go to that doctor on the Southside who would write you a private prescription if you gave him a 10 shilling note and gravely assured him that, yes, your fiance approved of you taking the contraceptive pill and, yes, you were planning to get married soon.

The following year? The Brook Clinic. All change. The pill gave us control over our own fertility which was truly liberating.

5. Second-wave feminism aka the women’s movement

The National:

THEY do say that feminism is like the hoovering – every 50 years you just have to do it all over again. It was approximately that long between the struggles of the suffragettes and suffragists gaining us the vote and 1970, when Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics and The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (above) gave us the words to discuss the myriad inequalities that rankled.

With the scandals of the pay inequalities at the BBC and MeToo, it looks like the sisters might be dragging the Dyson out of the cupboard…

6. A poetry reading circa 1968

The National:

SOME people say they are “page” poets, others say they are “performance” poets. I have always refused to make that distinction. All poems in print must speak themselves aloud ... sing out, exist as sound, even if we are hearing that poem’s voice inside our heads.

A really good rapper writes polemical narratives whose wit and skill with virtuoso rhyming and complex rhythms deserve the kind of leisurely perusal and enjoyment only possible when you can see them in black and white too.

Of course I’d heard of the ‘‘Beats” – 1950s New York, poetry improv with jazz – and in the 60s McGough, Henri and Patten were known to have performed in the Cavern as the Mersey Sound.

In 1968 I went to an event in an upstairs room somewhere near Glasgow’s Charing Cross to hear Tom McGrath, Tom Leonard (above), Alan Spence and Jean Milton, who was in my year at art school.

They were performing as a collective called, I think, The Other People.

Tom Leonard read Six Glasgow Poems, Alan Spence did audience participation making found poems with a primary school spelling book and Jean read some of her lovely fresh, lucid lyrics which were full of images.

I loved it. Was dead jealous too, felt I should be part of it, although as I hadn’t yet shown my own poems to anybody it’s hard to see how that could have come about. I got over my reticence over the next few months and found the whole scene welcoming and not in the least cliquey as I’d feared. I love a good poetry reading. This, in my memory at least, was a great one. And the start of something for me.

I still hate the ‘Poetry Voice’ though. That awful, pious, sing-song intonation… just speak them! Please.

7. John Byrne’s The Slab Boys

The National:

THIS was Traverse Theatre production in Edinburgh. The late 70s, 1977 or 78, and it was the funniest thing that I or the festival’s cosmopolitan, international audience had ever seen or heard. Everyone at art school when I was there had admired John Byrne as a famously genius painter who could, right from his college days, paint like Van Dyke if he liked, but, when he’d left, out of desperation when trying to get a gallery to back him, they said, had invented a faux-naif alter-ego called Patrick, in whose style he had painted tenement gable-end murals, a portrait of Billy Connolly and the Stealers Wheel album cover.

Now here he was making this hilarious, wickedly cruel comedy about two working-class, lazy, impudent, impoverished, secretly ambitious, deeply-competitive, talented, American-obsessed, Rock’n’roll-obsessed, style-obsessed, same-girl-obsessed lads of the late 1950s getting through the day in a dead-end job by taking the piss out of their “superiors” and the poor wee soul they worked with, and having the girl of their dreams wipe the floor with them. All in their own arcane and uncompromisingly precise Paisley patois.

I remember thinking the stupidest thing, which was: “Are you allowed to do that?”

8. Moliere’s Tartuffe: A ‘First The Phonecall’

The National: The cast of Tartuffe by Moliere, adapted by Liz Lochhead, from left: Gabriel Quigley, Nicola Roy, Grant O'Rourke, & Andy Clark. Photograph: Kirsty AndersonThe cast of Tartuffe by Moliere, adapted by Liz Lochhead, from left: Gabriel Quigley, Nicola Roy, Grant O'Rourke, & Andy Clark. Photograph: Kirsty Anderson

THIS was in 1984 from the artistic director of the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh asking me if I would do a new version of Moliere’s Tartuffe. Would it be in Scots? No, I said, but it would be for Scottish actors to perform in their own accents. When I got going on those bloody couplets though, it was like I got taken over and inhabited by my granny’s salty Scots tongue.

It was a huge hit when it premiered at the Lyceum in the 1985-86 season and had numerous productions in just about every theatre in Scotland. This is because Moliere’s original play is very, very funny, very outrageous, very bawdy. Puts on the table: sex. Men and women using it against each other. You have to laugh.

I have kept writing in Scots, though. All varieties, from Scots-English to modern demotic, where it’s the right tool for the job. I’ve done Moliere’s three masterpieces, a Medea, my own Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off. There’s now a cut-to-the-chase hour-long version of Tartuffe. It is for four actors and was revived by popular acclaim earlier this year for the anniversary season of A Play, A Pie and A Pint at the Oran Mor.

This one is such a good production – fantastic actors! -- I could not bear for it just to be on for that week, so we are taking it to the Edinburgh Festival. I hope people will come and see it – please do, or I’ll lose my shirt.

9. A winter walk at the Falls of Clyde

The National:

IT was with Tom Logan, the man who became my husband. It was January 1986. He was 32 years old, an architect, a Glaswegian and the most beautiful person, inside and out. I was 38 and had been single throughout most of my 30s. My earlier “significant other” relationships had been with men from other countries and twice I had thought I might end up living somewhere far away from Scotland. Tom and I had been together for three whole weeks when we went on that walk up the Falls of Clyde and decided to live together. Here.

Of course we had our ups and downs, doesn’t everyone? But we never changed our minds about each other in the 25 years we had together, till death did us part. He died after an incredibly sudden short and brutal illness nine years ago.

I had always found the phrase “your other half” very twee. But when he died that was exactly what it felt like I’d lost.

10. Leaving New York in 1981

MY then boyfriend wanted me to fly home, sell up my wee Glasgow flat and come back and stay in New York permanently. Restless in my late 20s, I’d spent the first couple of years of my 30s zigzagging back and forward to him and the city that seldom sleeps. Suddenly I knew I had to go back to Scotland. And stay.

Even resenting it as I sometimes do, for better or worse it was where I was going to live and work, even if it meant living alone. As I fully expected to.

No regrets. Just as well. It would be a bit late to change my mind now!