I am an untutored harmonica player who loves Irish traditional music with a touch of Scottish and Northumbrian thrown in. I’m pretty serious about "doing it right" but this music is also my main outlet for having fun. I mean, if you’re not having fun, what’s the point. About 0.00237% of us can make
a living out of it, so the rest of us had better accept that we are doing it for fun, I reckon. I live in the middle of nowhere about four miles from Bude in Cornwall. I’m English really (hailing from that bit of true Lancashire that is Radcliffe, which is right next to Bury). But my mum’s side is Irish and my great grandfather had a fist-fight once with Count John McCormack’s dad over the factory foreman’s job. We lost. I’m 66 and enjoy large bone structure (though I’ve managed to lose three stones in a year) and have dodgy joints and a bloody bad back and I like red wine and single malts as long as they’re heavy ‘n’ peaty. I was a schoolteacher for 25 years, teaching science tinged with biology. I would much rather play diddley music than hear superstars playing it these days, though I owe a lot to Planxty, the Bothy Band, De Dannan and the like. I have one hero, Beethoven. Like me, he had tinnitus. Unlike me, he couldn’t do anything about it. I had a meeting in 2012 with a genius of an audiologist who squashed about three-quarters of the noise in my head and enabled me to hear music and conversation properly in noisy pubs for the first time in a decade. Unfortunately, this year (2016) my hearing has deteriorated further, to the point where I’ve had to give up pub sessions, despite my hearing aids. If you want to know any more you’ll have to wait ‘til Kirsty interviews me on Desert Island Discs. I won’t be needing either the Bible or Shakespeare. And tunebooks or bodhrans will not be on the short-list for my luxury item.