THERE aren’t too many people who will say of contracting cancer that “it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.”

Yet, when actor Callum Cuthbertson explains the context, it’s not hard to see the logic in the argument.

Cuthbertson, starring this week in Oran Mor play Number One Fan, developed Hodgkin’s Disease in 1988.

The illness was eventually treated successfully by chemotherapy. “But it focused me,” he says. “After the cancer all-clear I said to myself that acting was what I needed to do.”

Cuthbertson grew up in Duntocher near Clydebank but his route to acting was itsy-bitsy, to say the least. “I liked acting in the school plays, but never saw it as a possible career. And when I left school in 1976 I realise punk rock was my calling.”

He became a singer with The Subs, who attracted such attention they were signed to the infamous cult label Stiff Records (Logo; If It Ain’t Stiff, It Ain’t Worth A F***) “My friend had a t-shirt with the inscription,” he grins. “But his mum cut out the ‘F’ word, leaving a hole. So he wrote the word on his face with felt pen.”

Daring, rebellious times. But short lived. The safety pins holding the band together broke apart and each went their separate ways, the likes of Derek Forbes joining Simple Minds and Ali Mackenzie the Cuban Heels.

Cuthbertson meantime “went from band to band,” until a friend suggested he try his hand at acting. “I had blond curly hair and blue eyes and I was told a Celtic mythology play was being cast at Glasgow Uni in which the central character looked like me.”

Cuthbertson landed the role and loved the experience. He went on to do experimental plays, yet still performed in bands. His future was as fuzzy as the sound of a broken Vox amp until cancer arrived, to frighten him, to shock him senseless – but ultimately to make him hugely thankful he’d been given another chance at life.

And he knew he needed to focus on acting.

“I didn’t go to drama college, I felt I knew how to do it, but began working with Andy Arnold at the Arches Theatre, going on to work at the Traverse and the Citz’.”

Right now he’s having fun at Oran Mor, in Kim Millar’s black comedy tale of revenge. It features Jan, a menopausal woman (Joyce Falconer ) whose husband (played by David McGowan) has just left her for a silicone-enhanced woman 20 years her junior. And when she reads a newspaper column in which writer Jack Bonham (Cuthbertson) is perceived to have criticised the older woman, Jan kidnaps the journalist and lashes him to a radiator.

What’s the focus of the play? Is it how the menopause is under acknowledged by society, or is it about the perceived misogyny of the newspaper writer?

“I think what it ultimately focuses on is both characters’ sense of self-worth. It’s about what they have to do to be seen by society as having some value. And I think the play gets us below the surface of both of them.”

Cuthbertson, who is appearing in his 10th Oran Mor play (which underlines his huge talent for playing quixotic characters) - can claim to have considerable knowledge of the menopause. “My wife (Shiona McCubbin) is a television director and she made the Kirsty Wark-fronted The Insider’s Guide to the Menopause. And I watched lots of takes of women talking about the menopause. It was an eye opener for a male.”

Does he have an awareness of modern journalism? “I think I understand Jack Bonham,” he says. “Given the development of social media I think journalists have to stand out from the crowd a bit more. And I think my character is trying to make a name for himself.”

The father-of-one (boy) still plays music and writes “retro futuristic folk rock” songs. Of course he does. “I’ve now become the songwriter I always wanted to become,” he says with a pleased smile.

However, his near-death experience brought home the realisation that acting was his life dream. “It’s a gift to be able to do this work,” he says in hugely appreciate voice. “You don’t get to do it as often as you’d like, but that’s the price you have to pay.”

Number One Fan, Oran Mor, Glasgow, until Saturday.