Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Summer is staggering to an end here in Westray with the nights drawing in quickly and weather that is as unsettled as the average stomach after a night of Tennents lager.
In the rush to "get stuff done" before the winter it's easy to spread yourself too thin and forget to kick back and relax. There was the ideal opportunity for that last weekend when the island played host to a series of music sessions under the banner Westray Connections.
Music plays a big part in Orkney life and it's hard not to be impressed by the level of competance and involvement of so many folk here, particularly the young. Getting up on stage and playing a fiddle or accordian here is not nerdy or embarrassing, it's something people are admired for.
That's due in no small part to the enlightened attitude towards music tuition. Every child in Orkney is entitled to free music lessons and when the islands council suggested that economic circumstances might force it to discontinue the policy, all hell was let loose and council officials wisely had another think, which just goes to show there's more to life than the bottom line.
So, to get back to the point, Westray Connections pulled in musicians from the island as well as those with a "Westray connection" - friends, relatives and so on. The music varied from classical through the varying shades of folk to a group of pipers and to something approaching prog. There was no gangsta rap, but, hey, you can't have everything. There was no room on the programme for a small-time pig farmer with grade three trumpet, but maybe next year.
Kicking off in the living room of Jerry's B&B at No. 1 Broughton, sessions continued at the old folk's home, the annual industrial show, a converted mill, an art gallery, the island hotel and a concert at the school hall.
It was great stuff, well supported and left me with a warm, happy feeling. . . or maybe that was the second large glass of Jamesons, I don't know.
Anyhoo. . . if you're wanting to see more, go to westrayslivingheritage.co.uk or, if you're on Facebook, go to The Hall of Einar, where David Bailey (not THAT David Bailey) has a couple of hundred superb photographs of the weekend, one of which I've shamelessly pinched here. I assume I owe Dave a pint.