Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Shetland at its best - in more ways than one

A glorious day, really hot, slightly breezy (as I found out when cycling the 12 miles from Brae to Graven and back: up to 32 mph one way, scraping 12 the other)but beautiful. the Bookcroft is OPEN, and today we had a customer! Well, to be exact, it was Chris, son of the neighbours who bought something on Sunday, handing in the cash. But that's custom in my book! Or bookshop.
Just back from the Sakchai concert (or 'foy') in Brae, and it truly was Shetland at its best and most community-spirited. I was proud to be involved. And great too, I think, that the bar was only sellng soft drinks. Weird, though, seeing Sakchai in the flesh after all this TV coverage. It was seeing Robert De Niro or Jackie Bird popping up at the local hall. In a manner of speaking.

Late nights and a concert for Sakchai

Into the second week of broadcasting into the wee sma' hours and I'm taking the siesta option, which I see is now being punted as the best way to a more productive life. Last week, Susan and the children tiptoed about in the morning, leaving me to surface, somewhat groggily, after they had gone to work and school. Or, in the case of Magnus, had continued to snooze into the late afternoon. Students!
I've decided it's best to just get up at 7.00 am as usual, cope with the day as best I can, and have a wee doze around 3.30pm. This has so far lasted on average an hour, which takes a bit of waking up from. Still, vitamins and coffee and by 10.30 I'm fairly perky. By the way, forget the midnight phone calls to my house, please, those in search of on-air dedications. The Radiocroft is elsewhere and my wife was not amused.
Last night saw a wee practice with Brian Nicholson in advance of tonight's Concert For Sakchai in nearby Brae. This a school event in support of the young Thai man who was so horrifically snatched from his home in Shetland by the forces of injustice and disorder. Sakchai went to Brae High School, and this event, at which staff, pupils, parents and former pupils will perform, is to show solidarity and raise money to fight any further attempts at deportation. My son James, bass player (and indeed, the 'two') in the Tom Morton Two, is going into fourth year at Brae, and Brian, one of the organisers, is an old musical compadre. I'm really looking forward to it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The perils of late-night broadcasting...

This week and next I'm on the late-night Radio Scotland shift, from 10.30pm until 12.30 am. It's a strange business, as without even thinking about it I've found myself adjusting voice and tone to the new time... it's a much more measured, laid-back kind of broadcasting, more intimate, less...breezy.
It is knackering, though, when you're not used to it, and especially with the light nights and early dawns of midsummer in Shetland. Monday and Tuesday, I've been staggering to bed about 1.30 am (I always wake up the dogs when I come in, so they need to have a run), and then a full blast of sunlight usually hits my face about 5.45 am. Still, the programmes themselves are really enjoyable to do. I like having a guest who's on for a good while and prepared to chat at length about music, life, the universe and everything. First two were excellent - former footballing ace Pat Nevin, a lifelong, very erudite music fan and the complete anti-stereotype of the retired footballer, and Lawrence Donegan, former bassist with the Bluebells and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, now an author and the Guardian's golf correspondent.
Alas, no calls of midnight intimacy a la Play Misty For Me! Rest of the week is fairly frenetic - today, midsummer, I'm on air most of the afternoon with Claire English and Mary Anne Kennedy, with live music from The Radiocroft courtesy of Malachy Tallack. Tonight, the 10.30 show comes from Lerwick with live music from Sheila Henderson, tomorrow we have Mark Radcliffe from Radio Two, who is in Shetland for midsummer, and on Friday Roddy Woomble of Idlewild, with the fiddle player John McCusker. Probably no time or space for 'Misty' after all...

Friday, June 16, 2006

John Reid - you once bought my Gibson guitar, so I know there's good in you...Come on! Let him go Shetland. Or the Labour Party is history.

You know, there are good people in this government. There are good people, probably, working within the Home Office. There are good people in the Labour Party. I mean, I'm married to one. But the kneejerk stupidity and brutal cynicism involved in the 'dawn raid' in Shetland which saw Sakchai Makao arrested and taken to Durham Jail has all but destroyed the party of government's credibility in these islands. I know of one leading, lifetime party member who has already cut up his membership card and sent the pieces to 10 Downing Street. Another is on the verge of quitting.
A Google search for 'Sakchai Makao' will tell you all you need to know about this disgraceful situation, though it's worth looking at the Shetland Times feature here and the BBC links here.
There are various activities planned in support of Sakchai, including a concert at his former school, our local secondary, Brae High School, on Wednesday 24th June. For those of you who may be discomfited by the unavoidable fact that Sakchai has a criminal record and served a jail sentence for fire raising, please note that not only has he served his time (with remission for exemplary behaviour)that there were extenuating emotional circumstances and that he has proven to this community that he is completely rehabilitated. He is admired, respected and liked. He is valued as a human being.
I do have worries about what this all means for others facing immigration problems. Without, I hope, overreacting, I would call for direct, non-violent action to be prepared by concerned citizens to prevent any such forced deportations in future. Irrespective of political allegiance.

Friday, June 09, 2006

pure mince

Thursday night, late shopping in Aberdeen...which means the Bon Accord Centre food court is open for tea. And lo, it is time for the highlight of my week in Aberdeen, the mince pilgrimage.
Not just mince: tatties (mashed, of course)carrot (mashed, of course) and skirlie, that weird north-eastern delicacy which seems to be fried pinhead oatmeal. All available at the Taste of Scoutland outlet, at which quality (and food temperature) can, shall we say, vary. But it's a matter of principle. Last night all was well. And to complement the sheer comfort food mashiness, I ordered a bowl of chips. They were good too.
If only there had been peas.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Neil Young - The Old Laughing Lady

1976, Glasgow Central Station, and yes, that is Neil Young in the deerstalker. Unbelievable.