Archive for July, 2007
This is my last week on the Late Lounge. Have I enjoyed it? Yes, hugely.
Here’s the funny thing: The thing I’ve enjoyed most is the feeling that gathered round the glowing valves of any given evening is a community of people listening into the Late Lounge. Hearing your stories and some of you brilliant jokes (albeit sometimes unbroadcastable!) has made it very worthwhile. Knowing that people like hearing things they haven’t heard in a while or are enjoying new things is always very satisfying.
So thank you to you folk for making the show an interactive delight…for me if not for the listeners! There have been some great people who helped me through. Honourable mentions to Shona, Muslim, Anne, Mark and Richard. Big thanks to Tony Currie for his late night bonhomie and a huge thank you to Barbara Wallace and Sushil Dade for all their producing skills. I do want to give a particular mention to the woman who really created the Live Lounge. Roslyn McCuish I salute you, my dear. Go off and have yourself a lovely holiday.
After I return from my holiday I am going to enjoy getting my late evenings back. The one great thing you can say about the Scottish summer is that it may not be the warmest but the evenings do go on a little longer. When/if the weather does turn a little warmer we will celebrate it by hanging around in our garden or someone else’s until nearly midnight when the sky will sometimes still look like it has some light left in it. Wonderful. On these nights I’ll set off round the park and give my dog the late night walk she has been denied for these six weeks. I’ll do some reading which has also disappeared from my day and I’ll switch on the digital radio I got for my Christmas and listen to some great singer songwriters on Iain Anderson. You never know, I met get to hear some of my favourite records and some that I’ve long forgotten.
I know one or two of you have asked if I’d carry on blogging when the Late Lounge ends. I’m afraid I won’t. I’m off on holiday for one thing and for another I have completely run out of things to blog about! However I’ll do a deal: if I ever lounge around at BBC Scotland again I’ll open up the blog and we can all do it again. I have so many things to complete before I get away on my holidays that this is my last entry. I hope you have a great summer. I’ll be doing a weekly show called Ricky’s American Tunes in the early autumn and be back on the road in November. I hope I can meet some of you then. Thanks for taking part. All the very best
T, a note that follows soh…
Apart from all the festival ephemera there was some fine music in the park. The best moments for me were in the Pet Sounds arena. It’s actually a big tent which means the sound is very good and there is considerably less mud underfoot.
I saw Albert Hammond Jr. This was a real joy. Using exactly the same line up as his other band but moving to centre stage he played a fabulous hour on Saturday afternoon. It was one of the best noises I have heard for ages. Three great guitarists all making electric guitars sound like they should sound; very loud and very exciting. I didn’t know Albert’s solo album but that mattered little. I enjoyed his set immensely and now will go off and buy the record.
We needed a wee seat after that but we got ourselves in front of the stage for The Arcade Fire. I love this group. I loved the first album and bought the new one as soon as it came out and have been playing it all year. Boy, was I disappointed in their show. Firstly it sounded like listening to an Arcade Fire album being played in the next room while you stick your head under the surface of your bath water. I suppose if it had sounded ok I could ignore the “look at me now” antics and the endless swapping of instruments. But it didn’t; and I couldn’t.
We headed back to the big tent to see Rufus Wainwright who was singing beautifully. We didn’t get to see all of his show but what we saw sounded very good. Then came Brian.
To see Brian Wilson and his band play at T in the park is a real joy. It was quite moving to hear how much these kids in their teens and twenties loved a guy who is a hero of their parents. They all knew the songs and they loved them all. In all honesty it didn’t sound as good as it might have, but that was only because the crowd sang along to everything – bless them. Just as you thought he’s sung everything there was to sing he would go into another one…oh I forgot about Help Me Rhonda, how could I have not remembered Do It Again. In fact, Brian, do it again.
This is an old joke on people from Edinburgh. The idea being that Scotland is a largely welcoming place but in the snootier parts of the capital they will welcome you on the doorstep with the above greeting. Of course we should never let the truth get in the way of a good gag and Edinburgh is a actually nothing like that. Sometimes Glaswegians get mildly offended if I suggest some of the best audiences we’ve had have been in Auld Reekie – but it’s true.
There are audiences and then there are Liverpool Audiences…then I realised too at the weekend there’s another level again. The T in the Park audience…but more on them later.
Firstly Liverpool. Deacon Blue sneaked me out of the Lounge to do a show at the Liverpool Pops. Wow. It was really a great night and the warmth of the Mersey welcome was wonderful. One thing I love (amongst so many) about being in that city is the way they know they are the best. I was exhausted at the end of the night when I was asked to do an interview with a local film crew about their year of culture. “Ricky…tell us what you love about Liverpool? Tell us three words which some up how brilliant it is here. Can you tell us your favourite Liverpool album…apart from the Beatles?”
I wanted to tell them I can hardly stand up, but they smiled so engagingly I didn’t dare refuse. The answer should have been Stephen Fretwell’s – Magpie, but I forgot in the heat of the camera’s gaze. Anyway to those of you gave us such a welcome, thank you so much.
From Liverpool to T in the Park. I promised my daughter I’d deliver her. So my brother-in-law and I took our respective daughters up for the day. As I’ve made perfectly clear in this blog, this Rock fest type even is really not my bag. I was dreading it and making quite reasonable excuses on Saturday morning. Nothing could get me out of it. Here’s a thing: I had a great time. Loved it.
I’ll tell you more about who I saw tomorrow but let me say this for now. It’s a really great event. There are thousands of very young people, lots of them have clearly enjoyed a wee drink but there is a great spirit there. People go out of their way to have a good time and really enjoy themselves. They were so friendly to John and me. (we looked like a couple of dodgy blokes trying to hang with the kids so all credit to the liberal polis for not arresting us). One or two indie kids even asked to have their photie taken with me. Don’t ask me why. We really had a great time so thank you folks. You tolerated two old geezers with style and grace. I hope you have another fab day today and come back home safely.
Someone I knew once remarked that they couldn’t go to the US on holiday. ‘Why?’ we asked.
They then went to cast the US as people as all to some variations of Ronald Reagan. Surely, we countered, they could imagine us all extensions of the personality of Mrs Thatcher? I think the point was made.
Let’s get this very clear. I love the USA. I love the landscape, I love the music and I love people. I don’t begin to like the policies of their government – but then I rarely agree with my own…that’s usually the way things are!
There are many reasons why I like the America but the main gist of it is this. I grew up enthralled by music. I loved the names. Raleigh, Memphis, Birmingham, Houston…..all the way to the promised land. I learned the geography from Chuck Berry. More than that I didn’t know. One day in 1975 or 76 an important political awakening happened to me. I had a geography teacher who had grown up in Poland. A very bright man he clearly knew a thing or two about life under Soviet rule and contrasted that with his experience of Scotland. At the time the US political system was hanging its head in shame. Ford was the president who had been sworn in to help the country recover from the shame of Nixon and Watergate. The geography man loved it all. What did he like most? He loved the fact that we all knew, that there was endless debate in public and that ultimately there was system (a constitutional system at that) of sorting it out. I often tell this story to people who tell me this country doesn’t need a written constitution – it’s good to know people like Gordon Brown are finally listening! He also knew what many of the left in this country liked to pretend they didn’t: that similar corruption could never have been exposed in the East.
The second thing that happened to me was going to America. I had to wait until I was thirty – but boy did I appreciate it more. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Denver, Chicago, Washington were the only places I really got to know at all but they have all been amazing places to visit. The biggest impression that has been made upon me however has been the people I’ve met on these journeys. They have always been so generous, kind and welcoming and, call me very old fashioned here but it’s true, always so polite.
I say all this because I’m looking forward to seeing some of my oldest friends there in a couple of weeks time when we go on holiday. People we first met on a beach in Santa Cruz will all gather for a wee soiree with our old best pals and we’ll enjoy catching up over a glass or two of California wine. Roll on the holidays. In the meantime, to all of you stateside having a holiday, Happy 4th of July.
It’s school holidays here. You could probably guess that if you didn’t already know. Yesterday enough rain fell in Glasgow to test the faith of Noah. This morning I was suggesting to my little boy that it might be a good idea to go over to the tennis club and hit a ball or two when I looked out the window. I couldn’t get a really good view of the window because the gutter above our kitchen was overflowing and a torrent the size of Victoria Falls was cascading down the building.
It was probably always thus. Every year we get a couple of lovely summer days and ask ourselves why we go abroad It’s so beautiful here, we say, best country in the world. Then it rains for a week. I’m not very good with wet weather activities and the net result is you end up with too many people in one house.
I have one wet weatherish activity which I suggested to my little boy. A few months ago we succumbed to pressure and bought him a games thingy. I say this because I’m still not sure what you call these things. His is a Nintendo (I think.) He’s been in here 5 times to get the Cars game going. He seems to be deluded enough to imagine I might know how that kind of thing works. Listen pal your dad may be a good for nothing rock dude but he drew the limits at playing computer games. If I got bored on the bus I gambled or slept.
The reason he got the thingy was simple. We were all round at pals one night and he was intent on playing their boys’ games. We were acting responsibly. Eating, drinking and ignoring all our offspring big time. It was only when he came through to ask us how he could beat up a cop or shoot some hooker that we figured we needed to divert him on to other games. He was only 5. I think it was AA Milne who said the cop killing starts at 6.
I went to a games shop to buy the thingy. The bloke behind me looked at me like the cool dudes used to look at Bruces records in Dundee. With disdain. I came clean. It was actually quite refreshing to admit I knew nothing about their infernal thingys and the thingys that went inside them. I could tell the cool guy saw me as an interesting social experiment, a species, the likes of which, had not crossed his threshold in many a long year. He took me through it, showed me how to put a small thingy in a big thingy and outlined how to avoid the more violent/adult/pure-mad-mental games. This wasn’t hard to do. It seems to mean ignoring 95% of his stock and concentrating on games where you remember it was first a U film. The thing is, now that it’s raining and the young chap’s got nothing to do he seems to expect me to remember what the bloke in the shop taught me and he must surely know by now the rule of all dads: they know nothing.
You don’t need me to tell you what kind of weekend it’s been in Glasgow. For the reasons we most dreaded we’ve become the centre of attention from around the world. In all the important questions asked there has been the glaring absence of two key questions: 1. Where were the highly trained bobbies that usually scare you to hell with their sub machine guns? 2. How come a couple of loonies in a jeep can roll up to the front door when the rest of us aren’t even allowed on the road that leads to the entrance?
I guess the reason no one fancies the questions is because the answer is simple. The rapid response polis weren’t there and anyone can drive up to the front door as longs as they drive unsafely and it looks like their vehicle will combust; told ladies in Morris travellers should be kept at a safe distance.
Sorry to sound cynical but for those of us who have the misfortune to use British airports with regularity it’s hard not to be. My firm belief is the public are far too long suffering in this country. There is nothing worse that queuing for hours only to discover a wide variation in the rules when you go through security. We were going through Glasgow recently when one of my esteemed musical colleagues asked politely, ‘Do we take our shoes off?’ As we watched the masses all go ahead of us without taking theirs off the security guy shook himself awake and quickly said, ‘Yes, shoes off.’ You can only imagine the look I gave to Jim.
The thrust of all this is pretty simple. It’s a real pain in the arse doing security checks. But no one minds because they feel, ultimately, they are helping keep everyone alive. What’s harder to stomach is meaningless drivel that’s put there to look efficient when everyone knows it’s a complete waste of time. Then to crown it all it ends up with passengers at the airport trying to land knock out punches on terrorists.
This is not saying the policemen at the airport were hopeless. They were quite the opposite – incredibly heroic. One of the most shocking photographs is of an off duty policeman hosing down a terrorist while clearly he must have been aware his only life was in real danger. God bless you sir.
However the reality which those in authority never give us the credit for realising is the glaring reality that if someone wants to blow something up there’s not too much any of can do. On Saturday the only bit of good news was the the terorists plan was only marginally more useless than BAA’s security strategy. Cold comfort.