Hazy Recollections

​As ever, Glasgow’s own Findlay Napier is one of the busiest artists at Celtic Connections, what with hosting the Late Night Sessions every weekend, and Hazy Recollections each Sunday, plus playing with Shake the Chains next week, and the small matter of his own headline gig last Saturday. As if that little lot weren’t enough to deal with, it seems that almost every domestic fixture and fitting in his house – where he and his good lady Gillian Frame have several folk staying, as well as a young daughter to keep fed, clothed and schooled - has been afflicted with gremlins since the festival started, including the oven, the washing machine, the kettle, the toilet and umpteen electrical fuses. The washing machine, in fact, chose to catch fire just when a man had arrived to fix the oven – a very grumpy man, apparently, who remained stonily unmoved by Findlay’s plight, and his admirable though desperate attempt at levity. “Ha, ha, ha – don’t suppose you’ve got any washing machines in the van, do you?” quipped Fin, while frantically attempting to douse the conflagration. “No.” came the stony response.
There were two particular junctures in this tale of woe which almost pushed poor Findlay over the edge, firstly when he was on the phone trying to order a replacement washing machine, for next day delivery, only to discover that when this particular firm said “next day”, it only actually applied if you ordered on April 30th (this year) – i.e. next day plus about three months. After almost getting stuck in a surreal conversational loop where he tried to point out that this was fundamentally contrary to the words’ conventional meaning, while the lady on the other end tried to explain how it wasn’t - as his blood pressure rapidly climbed - he gave up and tried somewhere else.
Unfortunately, while he did secure next day delivery this time, he was by then so frazzled that he forgot to tick the box arranging for the delivery team to unplumb and remove the old machine, and only realised at the last minute that he’d have to disconnect it himself. Hence finding himself prone on the kitchen floor last Saturday evening, lying in a puddle of water, grappling with hose connectors at the back of a cupboard – all this in his freshly-ironed stage clothes, about 15 minutes before the biggest gig of his Celtic Connections career, performing his new solo album Glasgow. He’s currently treating the – still-functioning – dishwasher with utmost respect, and looking into getting the house swept for poltergeists.
Talking of gig clothes, apparently all the singers in last night’s magnificent Òrain nan Gàidheal show at the main auditorium, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – staged in part to mark BBC ALBA’s 10th anniversary year, and filmed for the channel by local production company Bees Nees – were given £100 each to buy some finery for the occasion. One of them, Tide Lines’ Robert Robertson – who’s known as a pretty sharp dresser in any case – duly took himself to River Island yesterday afternoon and, not having much time to spare, simply picked up the first garments to take his fancy, without checking prices, planning to cover any excess costs himself (and spend any left over in the pub).
Upon taking his choices (including a very fetching pair of grey plaid breeks and some blue suede shoes, plus a shirt) to the till, he was tickled to find that they came to £100 precisely – until it turned out he didn’t have a bag, so had to hand over another 5p. Returning to the Concert Hall, he ran into Bee Nees director Alasdair MacCuish, and told him the story – whereupon MacCuish promptly handed him a 5p piece, with the admonition, “Never let it be said that Bees Nees doesn’t pay its debts.” Robertson was still holding onto the same coin while recounting the tale later on at the Holiday Inn, but may have lost it (among other things) by the time he was spotted leaving the building on a luggage trolley.
Even by Festival Club standards, the mighty Talisk incited scenes of extraordinary euphoria with their set last night – especially for a traditional acoustic trio. There can’t be many of those, after all, who’ve played to a delightedly baying and bopping late-night crowd which included a sexagenarian (at least) gentleman aloft on someone’s shoulders right at the front, fist-pumping like crazy – almost matching the band’s Mohsen Amini, on concertina, for out-of-his-skin frenetic fervour.