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Saturday February 5th 2005

Hugh's Party

Because I have to drive a South lot from my base in Perthshire to my various teaching jobs in Edinburgh, Glasgow, East Kilbride, etc, and also North up to rehearsals by Loch Tummel, a perfect weekend for me is to stay at home. It was with reluctance that I received an invitation from my student (and friend) Hugh Somerville to a party in Edinburgh on Saturday evening. Hugh made it plain that he was extremely keen to have me there, not least to lead a session, as it was a gathering of amateur musicians. This, and the fact that Hugh has always been a pleasure to have in any of my classes, convinced me to go.

Arriving at the central Edinburgh pub at about 7pm, I was happy to see many people I knew already there, mostly students or former students. Hugh had decided to have the party not for any particular reason, but simply to have a gathering of people to beat the winter blues. It was a happy atmosphere, and it was good to be part of it.

Hugh has also invited fiddler Gregor Borland to give a twenty-minute recital. When Greg was younger (as a boy, I believe) he won the Scottish fiddle championship four years running, a feat which nobody else has achieved as far as I know. In his early days he was taught first by Donald Riddell, and then in Aberdeen by Hector MacAndrew; an impressive pedigree without to say the least. It was great to hear him play selections from the Knockie Collection, Niel Gow's Lament for his Brother Donald, several Marshall strathspeys, and some effective pipe/fiddle tunes. I have isolated tracks of Greg playing on fiddle event LPs from the 1970s, but he hasn't recorded an album of his own yet, although he once told me he was thinking about it. When he does, I reckon it will be worth seeking out.

After a while it was time for me to do my bit - to get people playing music - so I just arranged the seating in to be as open as possible, and started playing a few tunes. I reckon I can encourage and cajole in a friendly way without anyone who knows me getting offended, so my "job" was easy and pleasurable. And everyone had a lot of fun.

At 10.30 the party was still thriving, and I decided to sneak away with little fuss. I said bye to Hugh, and he let me know how much it meant to him that I had made the effort to come. That not being enough, he then handed me a bag which I later discovered was a bottle of my favourite malt whisky and a sheaf of book tokens. Life is good!