The Early Years

Well, I was born in that most musical north Atlantic archipelago, the Shetland isles. Geographically closer to Norway than Scotland, and in retention of a Norse influence, the islands are home to some of the largest colonies of breeding seabirds in Europe.

Previously the waters around Shetland had been a rich source of bounty for a once substantial fishing fleet. But the use of modern industrial harvesting methods has reduced this once great resource to a trickle of sand eels, and indeed the building of a new processing facility ultimately led to even their demise, with a resultant collapse of many bird species which had depended on the supply.

Increasing EC regulation to remove the bulk of the fleet however has left the Shetland economy largely dependent on the oil industry.

Fortunately for Shetland the oil industry is still sustainable at present, but the shetlanders are fully aware that it is a finite resource.

After my birth I was brought up and went to school in a small village on the banks of the great river spey, near the edge of the Scottish highlands, peripheral to the source of that great water of life, scotch whiskey.

And so my exposure to music continued, many tears were shed as I seemed dyslexic to “the dots” and my traditional method piano teacher used a punitive form of teaching which involved a whack over the back of the hand with a conductors baton when ever I encountered a mistake in either pieces, or scales and exercises. I soon decided that I didn’t want to play…

Continued exposure to musical types as my dad was a full time pro musician did endear me to the joy of music though. I was a happy seven year old, and I knew that “She loves You, and I Wanna Hold Your Hand” were written and performed by The Beatles just for me and my childhood sweetheart, I grasped her hand tightly and told her; “we’re forever”.

But my world fell to bits…

My dad had just returned from a 12 month tour of Germany and Libya, I thought he looked like a cross between Cliff Richard(in summer holiday), and Elvis Presley. He was my hero, I used to dream about my dad as I sat on the banks of the spey, with fishing rod in hand, thinking about his adventures abroad.

My mum, elder sibling and I, had gone to spend a couple of months with him at his digs in a small rented apartment in a village called Heimbach.

A day trip to Oberstein had seen me getting “run over”, hit by a bike on a zebra crossing, I took one step, and whack, down I went, the mudguard caught the corner of my mouth and I think the rubber tyre hit my temple, dazed and bleeding I found myself in a Gasthous opposite the road crossing, my mother administering brandy, and a minor fuss taking place around me. huh,

It wasn’t all action in Deutschland though, as exciting as going to American football where my dad was playing in between quarters, or dodging big military convoys of tanks and troop movements as they rumbled along the roads, In day time we always knew when there was a convoy, the lead jeep or truck always had it’s headlights on, and the ground shook.

Well, fast forward, my dad was back home with us, and playing seven nights a week, in a city, on the coast, but him and my mum made the announcement, “We’re moving to Aberdeen…!”

Like a freshly caught cod, my world ended, and I was gutted.

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