I’ve been drawn into two crime dramas on television at the moment, both set in Scotland. The first is called Annika, on Alibi, starring the magnificent Nicola Walker, who stars as a Marine Homicide Detective, investigating murders along the River Clyde, the Firth of Clyde, and so far, even on the Isle of Bute and on Loch Katrine. The other drama is Vigil, on BBC One, which has a fantastic cast, including Suranne Jones and Martin Compston, centring around the disappearance of a fishing trawler, and a murder on board a nuclear submarine. The naval base is obviously meant to be Faslane, and there are scenes shot around Largs as well. In both series there have been some wonderful shots of Glasgow along the Clyde, and of the Cowal Peninsula. As always, this sparked off a distant memory for me, from my days playing double bass in a folk group, touring around various clubs, mostly in the West of Scotland.
In the early 1970’s, a new folk club opened in Dunoon, part of the Cowal Peninsula, back in the days when there were American sailors based on Dunoon, connected to the Royal Navy submarine base on Holy Loch. The group I played with were invited to be part of the opening night, along with some other fine acts. It was a weeknight, and I was working with Olivetti at the time, but I managed to get away from work early to get ready. Living up the same close as me in Drumchapel, was a West Indian gentleman, one of the nicest, kindest people you could ever wish to meet. He had a van, and he often drove our group to various venues, and picked us up again, for nothing more than petrol money. He was very fatherly towards us. On this occasion he drove us to the ferry port at Gourock, where we had to offload everything and hump it on to the ferry and make our way to the folk club on the other side by foot, thankfully not too far from where we would disembark. The plan was that he would meet us off the last ferry to Gourock at the end of the night, and bring us home again to Drumchapel.
The night went well but, at the end of the night, it transpired that someone had run off with the takings, and all these acts, including ourselves, were waiting to be paid. Not that we were being paid much, but it was the principle of the thing, and we still had to pay my friend, the van driver. By the time the hullabaloo was over, with none of us yet paid, and little chance of it happening, we discovered that we had also missed the last ferry. There were no mobile phones in those days, so we had to find a red phone box to call our families, and also to call the wife of the van driver, to apologise and explain as, by this time, her husband would be on his way back to the Drum, minus his passengers, and wondering what had happened to us. We slept on benches overlooking the Firth of Clyde, cold and uncomfortable, more than once being questioned by American sailors who thought we might be up to no good. The next morning, I had to phone my boss in Olivetti and explain why I wouldn’t be in that morning. He took it in good part, being very sympathetic, but also having a good laugh at our expense. Very kindly, our roadie came back out in his van and brought us home again, chastened by the experience. We never went back to that folk club again. The mad things we do for our art! I’m looking forward to the unfolding of these two dramas over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, we are getting ready for our annual Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows. The last time we held the novena in the church was in 2019, when we had a special jubilee novena to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the church. We had some special speakers and on the last night Archbishop Tartaglia celebrated the closing Mass. Immediately after that novena the church was closed for three months for refurbishment. When the church was re-opened, the archbishop was there again, as one of the first events was the ordination of Father Antony. Then came Covid-19 and lockdown. The 2020 novena was celebrated online. In that period, Father Lawrence, and also Archbishop Tartaglia passed away. Our feeling this year was, that while we will still be restricted, and it will be very low key, it will be good to gather to pray.
So, as ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.