I don’t suppose who or what I am is that interesting – fat, nearly fifty, inveterate academic, politically on the extreme ranting side of left wing, keen photographer, writer, poet, singer, musician, and passionate person. And I knit. But I’ve told you anyhow.
And so, if asked to choose my favourite tracks, I can say what is hitting the spot right now – but I cannot say if it would work in a weeks time, or whatever, and I know it would have been different a year ago!!! So here is my list of the moment – and none of them would accompany me to a desert island as the only musics, cos I would opt for classical works that pierce to the centre of my being and that are timeless for me for that!!!
I live in Scotland – and I am pro-independence person, for all sorts of reasons that do not include being an SNP member or even supporter! I love Scottish music, I am passionate about the preservation of Scottish heritage, and I think it is in part because I am so damned proud of my own heritage and music – I am English, I am from Lancashire, and I am insanely proud of that fact.
So my first choice is a lovely song, written by the incomparable Maggie Holland, sung by June Tabor – and I have never had adjectives enough to describe her voice, so just listen and drown – A Place Called England. Patriotism is not BNP and UKIP and other crap, it is genuine, deep and so very fundamental.
My next choice is representative – I simply love Richard Thompson – I can and do listen to him for hours on end, day after day at times, and I could choose just about any track – so I picked this one because I just like it. A lot. Often. Very loud.
And whilst I’m not at home, there’s a Welshman who I listen to from time to time! Martyn Joseph – can be a bit overly Christian and optimistic to suit all the time – but the track I have chosen is one that struck a chord when I first heard it (one of a few), and lodged itself somewhere and nagged me, and well, it says something about the journey I am on, trying to get from there to somewhere else – where somewhere else is might be a bit clearer in a minute!
Dr Mango and the Chickpeas – young group, bloody good, and I am so lucky, so fortunate, so goddamned privileged to know Robyn Gray (fiddle and vocals). I first met Robyn when she and her family came to the Newcastleton Traditional Music Festival and she was about 10, they forgot their tent pegs, and so we met them (as we always had spare tent pegs, I still do!!), and later Robyn came to me in the Village Hall and said “You wanted to hear me play the fiddle, so I will play for you” – and she did, and she was rather good – and she still is. I love young Robyn, I love her playing, her singing, and her enthusiasm and general jolly-nice-personism. (Her brother plays with the Paul McKenna Band, and they are also excellent).
I am political – anyone who knows me at all knows that – and I am left wing. This means I get very down-hearted from time to time, and then I listen to Dick Gaughan. He is perhaps the nearest I have to a hero – and singing this Si Kahn song he says everything we ALL need to learn and be reminded of time after time after time.
And so I come to my final two tracks. I was going to choose two instrumental tracks, one of them being Ivan Drever’s The Rose of St Magnus, and the other being the one I did choose. But then I realised that I wanted his poem The Wordsmith, because whilst I love the voice and the musicality of the piece, the words are simply out of this world.
So having mentioned The Rose of St Magnus (do seek it out on Youtube, because it is utterly beautiful), I come to my last choice, and also to the somewhere I want to be. I have visited Orkney twice – only two islands, Mainland and Hoy, but the second time, as I was sailing out of Stromness on the Hamnavoe I was in tears to be leaving. I never thought a place could get into my soul so completely, I have no idea why it has, but I want to end up in Orkney. And The Rose of St Magnus is one of two tunes that simple ARE Orkney for me, the other being my final choice – Peter Maxwell Davies’s hauntingly and heart wrenchingly enigmatic Farewell to Stromness.
And so I bid you, Nettie’s fair readers, a farewell and a few tears as I long to be in Orkney . . . .