3 December 2010

Bonnie Scotland

Jimmie McGregor (back) & Robin Hall
I was transported back to my home country the other night. I’d switched to the Scottish news, 90 percent of which was about the weather and just as it was finishing and I’d usually switch back to the London station, a programme was just starting which caught my attention. It was about a Scottish folk singer called Jimmie McGregor.

Now I do try and keep up to date with what’s happening in that frozen northern country. I usually call my brother once a week and get all the gen on the things which don’t make the news or the papers but this programme initially grabbed me as they said they were celebrating the 80th birthday of McGregor, one half of a very famous folk singing duo – Robin Hall and Jimmie McGregor (R&J for brevity later).

I appreciate that as you get older, older people look younger, but this guy didn’t look any older than 60 so I started watching it and it was like being given an armchair tour of Scotland by an old friend.

In my twenties, I was quite into folk music. Indeed, I was into all sorts of music – Scottish folk, Simon and Garfunkel and Deep Purple (look them up kids) – there was no limit to my musical diversity. I’ve been to concerts for the Carpenters, Cream, The Corries (another Scottish folk group), various operas and even Abba! But it was because R&J were just ending their public performances when I was attending these concerts, that I wanted to learn more about him/them.

What struck me was just how interesting McGregor was when he spoke about even the most mundane of subjects. His use of the spoken language was inspiring (not bad for a Scotsman) and he had an opinion on everything, indeed when he finished his singing career (there was a brief mention of Hall ‘disappearing but the programme didn’t elaborate), he featured in a Scottish TV programme called ‘McGregor’s Gathering’ which is a strange name for a TV show where he basically wandered around Scotland talking to everybody about anything.

The Capercaillie
The scenery was breathtaking. The subjects discussed were astonishingly varied (capercaillies and The West Highland Way – a bird and a walk respectively) and throughout, Jimmie McGregor showed why he’s lasted 60 years in Scottish show business.

Finally, a link to one of Hall and McGregor’s songs – not one of their more sophisticated performances (they did wonderful harmonies) but one which resonates with me because of its association with football. It became their standard.

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