A true story…
For those who weren’t there (and by way of therapy for those who were)…
It was a dark and stormy night in the fair city of Edinburgh. Out of the gloom a ragtag group of peely-wally musicians began to gather. The beer was almost cold and the cheap whisky seemed not to burn as much as usual. A lone mandolin strikes up a tune to be joined by fiddles, guitar, accordion, Scottish pipes and keyboard (special mention for Cath and her full size keyboard in it’s own body bag!). As the alcohol took effect, the tunes began to flow thick and fast: a canty highland reel, a rattling jig, a jaunty strathspey, and more pipe marches than an Edinburgh Tattoo!
Fully two hours into the session, the assembly conclude a most rousing set of marches (which shall heretofore be known as the “Balamory Highlanders” Set). A lone figure approaches from afar. Her hair is white with age, her clothes a garish relic of 80’s chic, her manner squat and dumpy (I’m trying to be polite here!).
“Are you almost finished rehearsing?”, she asks plaintively.
“Well, I was wondering if you might play something Scottish”
A stunned silence falls over the congregation. Furtive glances are exchanged and people shuffle nervously in their seats.
“Ehm… most everything we’ve played so far has been Scottish.”
“Oh. Well perhaps you could play something we know.”
“OK, what do you have in mind?”, we enquired politely, girding our loins for a rendition of Flower of Scotland or Skye Boat Song.
“How about ‘Mull of Kintyre’?”
“THAT’S NOT SCOTTISH!” Gordon erupts, causing all within earshot to recoil in a sympathetic display of anguish.
One of the group bravely takes it upon themselves to enlighten the lady as to the nature of pub sessions and thereby perhaps reach a serendipitous and harmonious conclusion to the exchange. The tack proves fruitless. She is unable to grasp the basic tenets of session music. She appears largely unphased by the unanimous display of incredulity, leading some to suspect she have had one Heather Liqueur too many.
By now, the old lady must have known she wasn’t making any new friends here. Perhaps she should retire gracefully and record the event as a salutary lesson in how not to address unpaid musicians giving feely of their time for communal pleasure. But no, she continues albeit in more subdued tones…
“Well, I thought we’d suffered your practising long enough and perhaps you’d play something we all knew. I’m a tourist”.
And with those words, turned and sloped back to the dark abyss from whence she came. In her wake, lay a crestfallen group of stunned musicians.
“Did she say ‘sufferred’?”
“She bl**dy did!”
The group took a deep breath, gathered together their bruised egos and proceeded to salvage what dignity they could from the dying minutes of the session. Valiantly, they triumphed and recounted the events of the previous week when one of the regulars bought the assembly a round in appreciation. Still, a few feathers may need to be spat out at their next meeting!