Going Home

Just a wee bit of blog business before I start today. I won’t be posting anything new for the next week or two. The reason is basically because I am running low in material for new posts so will need to write some. Plus I have published so much recently that there have been some posts that have been overshadowed by the sheer volume of other posts. Please feel free, therefore, to read back into the archives. I can recommend, for example, ‘Looking better’, ‘Light’, ‘Conversations’ and ‘An island light’. Or of course the book review I wrote that was published a couple of weeks ago by the Glasgow Review of Books. The next new post will be following on from my visit to York, so during the last weekend of April. In the meantime, here’s a post called ‘Going Home’.

For years, I’ve listened just about every week to Desert Island Discs on Radio 4, where the guest offers the 8 musical choices (plus a luxury, book, copy of the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare) that they would take to a desert island were they to be marooned in such a place. I listen usually for the guest rather than their musical choices as they can be mince at times. There are exceptions. I am a great fan of Wallace and Gromit and the creator, Nick Park, endeared himself even further when one of his choices was my own favourite song, ‘Sunshine on Leith’ by the Proclaimers. And there was another when the scientist Dr Dame Sue Ion, who chose a tune I hear just about every day in life, an orchestral version of the theme from the film Local Hero.

Local Hero itself is not a bad film, a comedy set in the midst of an oil deal in the far north of Scotland. It was filmed partly in Morar in Lochaber and in Pennan, a lovely village on the Moray Firth coast, two of the finest parts of our great country. The soundtrack was composed by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and the theme, which is called ‘Going Home’ runs over the closing credits.

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Pennan. The phone box is to the left, just out of shot.

When a song grabs me, I can listen to it over and over again. It can almost be a compulsion, like a mini obsession. At the moment it’s a Gaelic song called ‘Tillidh Mi’, in the version sung by Manran, though there have been many over the years. One was ‘Going Home’ and it came the first time I saw the film. It is a very rousing tune, with guitar sections and saxophone for good measure. I listened to it over and over again for weeks. I could probably still tell you the exact moment the tune starts on the DVD.

For years, I’ve listened to music on my way to work each day. It is partly out of habit now, though it used to be mainly motivational, getting over any nerves and low feelings on my commute. My playlist changes with each and every day though there are common themes. I have two jobs and each job has a start off song. They change every so often. The current choices are the very funny Proclaimers song ‘Spinning Around In The Air’ and ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ by Tears For Fears. Over the years, they have differed from Twin Atlantic through Paolo Nutini, the Undertones, a fair few Proclaimers songs and for a very long time ‘Beautiful Sunday’ by Daniel Boone. Just before I reach the place, however, I always play ‘Going Home’ and then finally the theme from the Radio Clyde football show ‘Super Scoreboard’, which is incredibly pompous and gets me going. I have done this for years and ‘Going Home’ has never grated, never failing to build me up and make me feel ready to go. It’s how I know it’s time for work. On momentous days, I replace it with the orchestral version Sue Ion chose for Desert Island Discs, which is slower but more beautiful and atmospheric. It can’t be beat.

As an aside, ‘Beautiful Sunday’ was a random choice. Two days before I started an old job, I was watching a football game on BBC Alba, which featured Dundee United and someone else, possibly Kilmarnock. Anyway, Dundee United play ‘Beautiful Sunday’ over the PA at each game at Tannadice. It’s an earworm and it got into my head. (Incidentally, I heard it yesterday sung by the Dundee United fans at Hampden but tribalism prevented me from joining in, thankfully.) I chose it for my first playlist on the Monday and it became part of each day’s commute, complete with what I called the Alex Salmond dance. If you ever watch Alex Salmond making a speech, you will notice he nods his head in the direction of whomever he is arguing with to emphasise his point. He does this more than once. As you tend to get looks when you dance on a train, I adapted this to subtle jerks of the head this way and that. Thus it became the Alex Salmond dance though I have since noticed that Nicola Sturgeon does it too. ‘Beautiful Sunday’ is also the soundtrack to a rather complicated Scottish dance called the Slosh, as best demonstrated in an episode of Still Game called ‘Doacters’. Find it on YouTube.

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