What about Scottish groups? Come on. Make me laugh." Mark E Smith gives a gleeful cackle down the line. Leader of The Fall, wordsmith, serial dissenter, one-time husband of former Gok Wan's Fashion Fix regular Brix Smith, dog hater, serial band-firer, Salfordian, City fan, beloved of the late John Peel, Stewart Lee and sundry others ("Pretty damn relentless that fella, in' he?" a certain John Lydon once said. "It's almost perpetual motion with the same song, but I don't mind that at all"), a man capable of starting a fight in an empty warehouse, and possibly the most distinctive voice in the British post-punk canon. Soon he will be in Glasgow with The Fall, but now, right now, he's laughing and cursing and not understanding my accent and talking about Scottish groups and Scottish places and Scottish football. All things Scottish in fact.
That's because I've phoned him with a plan. He has a history with Scotland. He lived in Edinburgh for a while. He even wrote about the city. "One song," he points out, but even so, I say, it's enough. It's time, I tell him, that Herald readers were given the Mark E Smith guide to Scotland. He's up for the challenge. Cackle, cackle. Probably best to fasten your seatbelt.
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Mark E Smith on Edinburgh: "It's got yuppiefied. Everywhere I seem to go gets yuppified. I moved back to Manchester and that's f****** yuppiefied now. Seriously. Lower Broughton in Salford where I was brought up is now called New Broughton. Is there much new about New Broughton? Not that I can see. It's bloody worse.
"Edinburgh. Yeah. I was on my own at the time. I loved it. The thing is I liked it too much. I couldn't get any work done. But it was a lot cheaper in those days. We're talking about 1990 here. Then it was 25 quid a week, now it's 200 quid a week. Same in Manchester."
Mark E Smith on Glasgow: "I like Glasgow a lot better. Of course I do. Too many English in Edinburgh. It's half the reason I moved out. I've never been ashamed to be English until I lived in Edinburgh."
On Scottish writers: "I can't think of any. What ones do you like? I liked Irvine Welsh at the start. I thought he was good. I liked that Acid House. But have you met him? He's a miserable bugger."
On Scottish football: "All my pals are all Rangers fans. I don't know what to say to them when they ring me. I know how serious they take it. What are you? A Spurs fan?" On hearing this, Smith emits what can only be described as a banshee howl of laughter. "We all have our crosses to bear. Could be worse. Could be a City fan like me. The old City used to buy all the crocks from Hearts. Arthur Mann. I remember them all from when City were good. Not like these bleeding idiots we've got now."
On Scottish gigs: "I remember our first one in Aberdeen in 1979. The old PA broke down after half a song. It was the worst show I ever did in my life. I remember that. It was an oil boom town. There were all these people who just spat and walked out. And it was a massive big hall."
There have been other incidents of course. In Edinburgh in 2010 he walked offstage after six songs, which didn't go down too well.
"They just try to put a disco on all the time. It says in our contract no disco after the show - I shouldn't be saying this - but they always step over the bleeding mark. That was about the third f****** time. So all right, we'll go off at five to 11 - which is a bit childish really. The gig in Glasgow? It'll be good actually. The new stuff is very, very strange, so half of that and half of the old stuff."
On Scottish musicians: "I've worked with a few in The Fall and they were very good."
And finally, back where we came in.
Mark E Smith on Scottish groups: "I liked Orange Juice. I thought they were great. There was an electric group. The Fire Engines. I loved them. What's happened to them? If they had been from America they would have been world-famous.
"The bloke out of Deacon Blue was on a local programme in Manchester pontificating about Bob Dylan or something. [Cackle.] There's nothing worse when they get going, is there? Then there was some bloke out of Wet Wet Wet and he's going on about how he himself, the lead singer, helped the Troggs and other groups to become famous on the world scene. 'Lesser groups like The Fall' was his actual phrase."
In Mark E Smith's world – maybe in yours too – The Fall are not, are never, a lesser group. Scotland, gird your loins.
The Fall play The Arches in Glasgow on Wednesday.