Monday, April 09, 2007

School of thought

The Fratellis remind me of everything that's good about being Scottish, and other things too: the warm East Lothian summers of my 1970s childhood, and discovering music for the first time. I was slightly too young to fall for the Bay City Rollers, and dumbfounded by the hysteria, but music's seductive whisper was already at my ear. In my old primary school (destined to become a recording studio where Orange Juice would record "Simply Thrilled Honey"), when I was six, I had a conversation in the toilets with a girl called Margaret McNeil, who lived in a house with turrets, whose father was a lawyer, and who owned a pony: so of course I worshipped her and craved her indulgence:

Me (squeaks nervously): What music do you like?
Goddess (confidently): Slik.
Me (blurts): Why?
Goddess (confidently, and with more than touch of condescension): They're not too loud, and not too quiet.

Despite her confidence, infamy came to Margaret too: the pony and the house had to be sold after her father was disbarred for embezzling the clients' fund; but this was my first ever musical recommendation and I took it to heart. Not too loud, not too quiet: I loved Slik from that moment on.

Of course the Fratellis are (in my English teacher's most withering dismissal) derivative: but that's why I like them. They sound so Scottish, for one thing: and this unexpected wave of nostalgia comes over me whenever I hear "I seen you and little Susan and Joanna round the back of ma hotel - oh yeah". I'm thinking about tartan flares, and football scarves on Top of the Pops, and BA Robertson and Bilbo Baggins (a band so obscure there's no Wikipedia reference for them, but for the trainspotters, they were once "managed" by poor old discredited Tam Paton), and the beginning of my passion for music, and my longing to belong, in the flat grey surroundings of the toilets at my first school.


Claire said...

C'mon, you can't get much more Scottish sounding than The View or Malcolm Middleton. You've been in HK too long!

Claire said...

PS Apart from the obvious reference, Bilbo Baggins will forever be associated for me with getting the bus back home from the Ross High in Tranent- the driver always had the radio on. Wonder if I'll ever hear that song again...

LottieP said...

Sadly I can't even remember the name of the song and Google draws a blank... anyone?

LottieP said...

"She's Gonna Win" - a hit despite, or perhaps because of, the band having shortened their name to "Bilbo" by this time.

Reading the Signs said...

I've been trying to find the right place to say: first instalment of holiday snaps is up over at mine. And feel free to join in the discussion that I've laid upon TPE and Ms Finland (and serve them right, really).

TPE said...

Plese don't be making the mistake of thinking I didn't hear that, Signs. My reach is total, so mind how you go.

Lottiep - she's right, though, you should visit. There are some meltingly evocative pictures for you to enjoy. Maybe Claire might like to see them, too?

Not too loud, and not too quiet

I don't know the band, but I love that description. What more, really, could one ask for?

Scottish or not, BA Robertson, with his big horsey face, just drew out loathing from me, I'm afraid. And I'm slightly appalled to see that you seem to have spent nine minutes of your valuable time trawling the internet for information about some freakishly obscure band called Bilbo Baggins. Or Bilbo or whatever.

Careful. You'll turn into me.

Love from Ireland x