MAX Scratchmann hands me the most memorable calling card I’ve ever received. It features a picture of the Wicked Witch of the West spanking Dorothy’s backside with a rolled-up newspaper. It’s hard to make out what newspaper is being used to inflict such unwarranted punishment, though I’m hoping it’s not a Herald, which should only ever be used for transmitting joy.

Fans of The Wizard of Oz will recall that Dorothy is on a quest to return to her Kansas home. Which makes Max Scratchmann’s calling card strangely relevant for the night ahead. Max has arrived at the Glad Café in Glasgow’s south side along with an enthusiastic group of people who are all hoping to take a trip home. Or be whisked back to their youth, at any rate, which is much the same thing.

The evening’s entertainment is called Pure Riddy, a phrase that means to be embarrassed or red faced. So hopefully there will be plenty of cringeworthy moments, too, when various middle-aged people take to the stage and read from their teenage diaries in front of a packed audience. None of the readers are actors, comedians or show-off showbiz types. Just ordinary folk, with a disposition to dish out diary dirt from their dim and distant past.

Max is one of those who will be reading, though it turns out that he isn’t in possession of any of his teenage diaries, which is rather disappointing. Though I perk up when he reveals he’s brought along something potentially more excruciating, and therefore more entertaining.

His teenage poetry.

Max, who is 63, still writes poems. He’s also a life model and freelance illustrator. (He created the calling-card image of Dorothy receiving a newspaper pasting.) I’m guessing that working as a life model would give most fellows a pure riddy. Though getting your dangly bits out in public surely can’t be half as bad as performing verse composed when you were an angst-ridden teen. Perhaps Max, who lives in Edinburgh, was a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart type of youth. A genius whose literary talents flowered early.

“No,” he says. “I didn’t have the vocabulary, the maturity or the ability to put one line down on a page without it sounding really awful.”

Adrian Mole

He began writing poems in his early teens. The material from the period reflected his passionate engagement with the world around him. “They were mostly about sex,” he says. “Y’know, why wasn’t I getting any?”

Like Adrian Mole, the fictional teenage diarist and versifier created by Sue Townsend, Max wasn’t afraid to tackle weighty political themes in his poetry. Also like Mole, he invariably came up short.

“Whatever was happening on the news, I had my own take on it. I was writing about Northern Ireland, Vietnam and other subjects I knew absolutely nothing about. But I felt qualified to be telling it like it was. It’s totally mortifying to look back on those poems. I’m like: ‘My God, did I write that?’”

Max has already inflicted his teenage verse on an audience at a previous Pure Riddy event and confesses he was satisfied with the reaction. “Somebody actually groaned out loud because it was so bad,” he says, exuding a topsy-turvey type of pride.

Isn’t he at all embarrassed about his youthful oeuvre, filled, as it was, with the unfettered passion and exuberance of callow youth? We Scots are meant to be a repressed race, after all, locking wild emotions inside a cage of Calvinist conventionality.

“Scottish people repress everything until they’ve had a few pints of Tennent's,” says Max, “then they tell you everything. I’ve been a barman, and I’ve been told some pretty strange things. Four or five pints, that’s all it takes. Six or seven pints, if you want to hear the really good stuff.”

Talking of the good stuff, I’m about to hear Max and his fellow Adrian Moles reveal the soppy and sordid secrets from their past lives. Though it turns out that the other members of the self-revelation gang are more like Bridget Jones than Adrian Mole, in as much as they’re all female.

Sassy lass

First on stage is Meadhbh Hendrie, who organised tonight’s show, as well as similar events in the past.

“I’m delighted there’s still an audience to hear adults spill their teenage guts,” she tells the spectators. Then we’re off, with teenage guts overflowing the stage and wrapping themselves, squid-like, around an appreciative crowd.

Being a good sport, Meadhbh launches proceedings herself, with a reading from the diary she kept as a young girl in Ireland. It proves to be a sordid saga of drinking exploits, urinating on couches (to be strictly accurate, it was only one couch that got hosed down) and feuds between teenage girls that are almost Shakespearian in their elemental rage. (Typical extract: “Rachel is a BITCH.”)

The fury of a teenage girl truly knows no bounds. “Somebody called me Courtney Love all night, and I took it really personally,” says Meadhbh in another extract that simmers with indignation.

Her 13-year-old self turns out to be a sassy lass; a beginner-level Boudica. At one point she decides she has no choice but to overthrow the system. “The first phase of my revolution started today,” she writes conspiratorially.

And what basic human rights does this warrior-queen teen believe she’s being deprived of? We soon find out… The right to go up the town at lunchtime, snog lads from other schools and, perhaps most importantly… eat chips.

Meadhbh’s teenage diary is unintentionally hilarious, while her more mature self reads the 20-year-old extracts with a stand-up’s exquisite comic timing. She has the audience in the palm of her hand. (Though the young Meadhbh probably wouldn’t have been impressed, believing the palm of a hand should only be used for balancing a bag of chips.)

The readers who follow her onto the stage have a similar effect. Each diary extract could easily be mistaken for a minor classic of comic fiction, like George and Weedon Grossmith’s The Diary of a Nobody, or the aforementioned Adrian Mole.

And – glory of glories – Max Scratchmann’s poetry turns out to be just as awful as he promised. There’s a particularly poignant verse about the pain of unrequited love which, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, you’d need a heart of stone to listen to without breaking into sniggers of malicious glee.

Genuine honesty

Watching middle-aged people exploit their younger selves proves to be cruel but highly entertaining sport. But why did Meadhbh, who works for a local PR firm, decide to make a dramedy out of a pile of dated diaries? “Back in 2011 I moved from Ireland to London,” she tells me later in the evening. “I was just finding my feet and wanted to get involved in events and meet more creative types.

“I’d heard about an event called Cringe, which had a diary reading format. I was really intrigued because I’d been writing diaries since I was nine or ten. So I got up on stage on the night, and the rest is history. Or maybe that should be – the rest is diary.”

Meadhbh continues to keep a daily journal of her life. “I like the ritual of it,” she says. “The routine of sitting down, teasing out my thoughts and bitching about situations. Then, years and years later, it ends up being a really interesting historical record.”

And how does she explain the popularity of Pure Riddy? “There’s just something about that collective experience of being a teenager,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what generation you’re from, or what age you are now.

“People’s memories of being that age are remarkably similar. Teens often go from extreme highs to extreme lows. The light and the dark in their lives is so apparent. I kind of feel there’s something very authentic about that time in people’s lives.

“As a teenager you’re uncompromising. You feel THIS way. And THAT is your tribe. And you will NOT do that. And you’re SO in love with such-and-such. Perhaps it’s a time of genuine honesty. Or maybe it’s all just galloping hormones. Either way, it’s pretty entertaining to sneak inside the head of a teenager, even if it’s only for a while.”