1. Nazereth House

MY mum, Madeline, was an orphan brought up in Nazareth House. She said she always wanted a family. She had four boys, four girls and three nervous breakdowns. When I was two her last baby, Tommy, was born. He was taken from her and poor wee mum was taken away for ECT.

Tommy went to an aunt and the rest of us apart from the two oldest boys were put into Nazareth House, in Paisley Road West.

We were there for nine and a half months. The nuns decided to separate us all. My three oldest sisters, who were of school age, went together, my brother, who was almost four, in another “wing” and I went to the nursery.

Prior to this I’d been the baby, literally surrounded by love. Three brothers, three sisters, a mum and dad, then suddenly an “orphan”. I shut down.

That experience has shaped who I am. I’m chronically independent and resourceful. And although I am grateful for the latter, the first can be a pain in the ass for me and mine.

2. Auntie Vera

WHEN I was 10 years old watching The Virginian on our black and white TV in Castlemilk, there was a knock on the door. I opened it to see what looked like my mum in drag. My mum was inside, tartan blanket round her knees, grey cardi, reading the Catholic Observer. This woman, with my mum’s face, had a fur coat, pearls, red lipstick, like a film star. It was my mum’s sister that she didn’t know existed.

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The nuns never told her there was also a baby called Veronica. We all found out later that our granny, Annie Jenkins, had come from Donegal to Balloch, possibly from travelling stock, and had taken up with a married man and when Annie had my mum, they set up “home” on a boat near Monkey Island on the Leven.

When Madeline Jenkins was two, Annie became pregnant again, and Jimmy White then got rid of them, his boat, and went back to his wife and weans.

In 1923, single Annie, with a toddler, a baby on the way and a bad rep decided the answer was to hand the baby over to an older couple for enough money to get herself to America. She crossed the pond and left my mum in Nazareth House. Not only did I have my own glamorous Fairy Godmother in Vera, I also now had a clutch of cousins.

3. Storytelling

IN the long grass of a summer’s evening I could make up copious stories. As if the oral tradition had passed on with Annie’s Gypsy genes. At school it seemed to me that only academia was a recognised cleverness. I could see myself and my classmates being lost.

I was bullied terribly at primary school and never managed to quite get my head above the parapet. There were as many as 44 pupils in each class!

With secondary school I was able to reinvent myself. I was astounded to find myself first in my class in first year and in second year. Like a lot of girls by third year it was downhill. By the time I left, I was on a mission to be a drama teacher. I was single-handedly going to revolutionise education and create a classroom where nobody was ever made wrong.

I applied to drama school, auditioned, got the grades but weirdly my application got lost in the system. Eight months of waiting and nothing came. I was devastated but when I went to see the then Royal School Academy of Music and Drama director, Ted Argent, he couldn’t have been less interested.

A week later as a drama student with Youth Opportunity Programme, I was in the Gorbals with radical Marxist Malcolm Knight, earning £23.50 a week, putting on plays addressing all the issues present.

I had moved into a flat and worked in Cafe Gandolfi four nights a week to pay my rent. On those days I would start work at 10am and finished at 1am but it was the most extraordinarily creative time. I was a community artist. I stayed there for four years eventually becoming a YTS drama supervisor in Govanhill. Every one of my trainees went into work. I still run workshops with vulnerable groups in creative storytelling.

4. Sophisticated Boom Boom

AT 18 my pal Jacquie and I started an all-girl band called Sophisticated Boom Boom. We started off in Maestro’s as the support band for the Dream Boys – with Peter Capaldi and Craig Ferguson –and then gigged regularly in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

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Everyone was in a band then and it was the most amazing time. We had the advantage that Jacquie and her boyfriend, David, who was our manager, ran the Hellfire club rehearsal/recording studio so we could rehearse there whenever we wanted, along with bands like Orange Juice and Aztec Camera. I was the singer and relished the role as we were a very theatrical band.

We were about to support Simple Minds at the Barrowlands when I fell pregnant. I thought it would be quite radical to have a pregnant singer, but the girls did not and got themselves a new singer.

5. A Motherless Mother

IT was a time of huge loss, including my relationships with my son’s dad, the girls in the band, my work and my figure and I went under. Then mum died the same week my son was born, so I became a mother and motherless all at once. I felt she’d squarely passed the baton on to me. I knew this time I had to surface for the baby’s sake.

By the age of four he was acting with me in a six-part BBC series called Playing for Real. By the age of 10 he was in Rob Roy, playing Liam Neeson’s son.

It was exciting to see him being acknowledged. I knew I had brought up a boy who felt loved. I know that if I had to choose one thing on this list, it would be having Brian.

6. The Golden Ticket

GETTING an Equity Card was a big deal in 1985. Peter Mullan and I had set up Redheads, a satirical and political comedy sketch company. Soon we were doing loads of gigs – Mayfest, Edinburgh Festival and all the Unemployed Worker Centres. We easily qualified for our equity card.

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After that I got my first agent and started getting tonnes of work and was on Scottish television series like Taggart, Looking After Jo Jo and High Road. There were also lots of touring theatre companies, mostly funded by the Arts Council, so during that time there was the possibility of regular work for Scottish actors.

7. River City

EVERYONE in the profession was buzzing as we heard of the set being built and learned the news that Glasgow was going to have the story of its warmth, wit and charm told at last.

I’ll never forget the thrill of that first day; seeing the tenement streets of Sheildinch or looking around the canteen at some of the most talented writers and actors in the business.

In the 11 years I was there, I was privileged to have loads of fab story lines. People really identified with my character, Gina, and I was very humbled by the knowledge that she was loved so much.

The National: Libby McArthur as Gina Rossi in River CityLibby McArthur as Gina Rossi in River City

At that point River City was a story about matriarchy and community, with its working-class characters at the centre of it. It portrayed well the Glasgwegians’ way of breenging in on other people lives, for better or worse!

At the time I left the show, the BBC had put it into the hands of what I’d call ‘‘a bunch of bleak boys’’.

They delivered a gangland Glasgow of the 1930s. Watching it then with its supposedly ‘‘high octane’’ combo of murder and drugs, I was struck by the lack of story.

My belief is that good drama has character crushing compromises at its core. A psycho killing again is no more dramatic than a baker baking a loaf.

A recent storyline made me smile as the fab actors, Kath Howden, Gayle Telfer and Leah MacCrae’s characters loom over their now dead bad guy, roll him up in a carpet and dispose of the body. Shades of story past?

Make sure he’s really dead girls!

8. Tommy Gone and Lunan Bay

MY wee brother Tommy died when he was just 44. He had been with his partner, Austin, for almost 25 years. Austin never really got over it and when he went, they left us a hut on Lunan Bay.

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When we were wee, the only holiday we ever had was going to Meadow Park in Girvan, where city folk had holiday “homes”. My uncle Tommy’s hut consisted of three green railway carriages. Every summer I ran feral with the resident border collie – we were inseparable.

It’s as if our Tommy has given us back our childhood hut with its wood burning stove, water brought in and no electricity! I couldn’t be happier than when I am at the hut with my dogs, my wellies and my thermals.

9. City of Culture and a Dog

I WAS made the drama worker in residence in Blackhill. We devised a musical called Blackhill Born and Bred in the Molendinar Community Centre that involved a huge swathe of the community. The centre was stowed out every night for rehearsals and mobbed on the three-night run of the show. I was asked to stay on and stage a reprise performance. I was able to buy my first house.

I had a son, a mortgage, and soon after I had a dog. A border collie called Flash showed up after her owner, an old vagrant, died in Sauchiehall Street. Flash was an outstanding creature and became my significant other for 16 years. The 14-year-old border collie I have now has been trained by Flash and she is training my one-year old border collie. I plan to always have Flash’s influence in my life.

10. Chloe to Planet Earth

MY son Brian is now a daddy and I have a one-year old granddaughter. Getting to know her is like remembering what it’s like to fall in love again. I am besotted by her, a tad enthralled.

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Ergo I’ve been thinking a lot about the world she’ll grow up in. Her dad has backed the SNP since he was 16 when I was still a Labour voter. I campaigned actively for Scottish independence in 2014 and was devastated at the result but in today’s current climate I am ready to make a stand again.

I want Chloe to be brought up in a ‘‘living culture’’ where she can believe she could make a difference. I don’t want her to feel the way I felt when I was young when I struggled to put my head above the parapet.

I want to be a proper inspiration for her and, although I will continue acting, I want to branch out with my storytelling. I am going to train as a celebrant, write more and be more involved in politics. I want to hone my storytelling’s spiritual and political wings because of Chloe’s being in my world.