I Told Him So

There are very few times in my life when I have thought that I had got it right. Marrying Mrs M, of course. Mostly, I have had doubts about any other rightness on my part. Until tonight when another possible example hoved into view.

It seems that one of my fellow Jocks is starting to pall. Billy Connelly is, apparently, getting grief on his current tour for not having new material. I truly did try to warn him.

When I was young, I was a folky. Big for my age and happy to take advantage. By the age of 14, I was strolling unchallenged into bars and, more relevantly, into the Perth Folk Club in the Plough Inn. Where I drank deep of Matt McGinn, Hamish Imlach, Dave and Toni Arthur, Eric Bogle, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, Alex Campbell and many others. You had to be there.

One fine night, we had the Humblebums. BC and Gerry Rafferty at that time. Mind duly blown. So much so that I raved to all my friends at school. Two weeks later, the Humblebums were booked into the York House Hotel (also Perth) and I dragged along everybody that I could persuade. Bloody brilliant but a lot of the same material.

Moving on another two months, said Humblebums were booked to appear in the prestigious Salutation Hotel (Perth again) on a Friday night. I did the ‘You have to be there’ trick with my chums again.

The end of the first half and the wrong side of two bottles of Carlsberg Special, I was not happy. They had done the same material again. At the break, there I was at the urinal when BC walked in and started to relieve himself beside me. Seventeen years old, slightly pissed and seriously disappointed, I turned to him (while still pointing ahead, of course) and said:-

‘I think you are great. Really funny. But, I’ve heard you do the same material three times now in the last six months. If you don’t try to get some new stuff, you’ll never go anywhere.’

He zipped himself up, turned, looked at me and, with that unique and instant wit that has made his humour a byword throughout the civilized world, Weegieland and New South Wales, said:-

‘F*** off, ye fat wee bastard!’

Three years later. I was at the Uni of Embra and, as it so happens, Entertainments Convener of the oldest purpose-built Students’ Union in the world. A serious budget of at least £500 a year. We (I) thought that a folk concert was worth a try. I booked this group called the’Boys of the Lough’ for their first gig in Jockland. A bit of money left and the agent offered me a newly solo Billy Connolly as a support act.

Magnificent evening and both they and he were brilliant. We adjourned to the Committee Room to pay them and to feed them drink. Obviously, I reminded BC of our shared night of magic in that Perth urinal.

He looked at me and said:- ‘I’m glad to see that you’ve grown a bit taller.’

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7 responses to “I Told Him So

  1. And you’ve been best pals ever since?

    • Isobel, a Good New Year to you.

      No, never met him again but still enjoy his sense of humour.

      There is a sequel. He performed at the Festival a few years ago. Not a big venue, unpublicised and a trial of new material. One of the members of my bowling club announced that he had tickets and I told him the tale.

      After the gig, the Big Yin mingled with the punters in the bar. My friend passed the story on. He told me that Connolly claimed to remember both meetings.

  2. You were wise beyond your years, John. If only the Big Yin had kept your words in mind, his recent audiences might not have been so displeased.

    THE Gerry Rafferty? Excellent. Sadly missed. He died in Stroud, Glos not too long ago. I’m wondering if you were/are a John Martyn fan? Amazing singer/songwriter/all-round-brilliant-musician.

  3. THE Gerry Rafferty indeed. Just so you know, he came into the urinal at the same time and was peeing on the other side of me when BC and I had our little contretemps.

    At that time, I had a Saturday job as relief delivery driver for an upmarket grocering emporium by name of Gowans of Perth. Memory duly stirred, there’s a whole blog to come about my many and varied experiences of delivering Patum Peperium, Bath Oliver biscuits and Lapsang souchong to the great and good of Perthshire. Not a lot of people know that, at that time, the only county that had more Old Etonians than Perthshire was Royal Berkshire.

    Anyhoo, the next morning and about 10 miles north of Perth on the Coupar Angus road, I turned into the mile long drive of one of our nobler customers.

    Glancing across to the left, I was surprised to see my close personal friends of the previous night, BC and GR, sitting on a slight rise in the middle of a field of pedigree cattle. I stopped the van and watched them from afar. It quickly became clear that they had chosen that secluded spot to do a bit of serious shit and were in complete ‘Hello sky, hello clouds, hello cows’ mode. I wish to this day that I had gone across and bonded but stern duty called and I answered. Oh what might have been!

    John Martyn was a god, of course.

  4. Laughing here at the thought of them “sitting on a slight rise” to commune with nature among the cows. Or could it have been a load of bullocks?

    Ah I remember Coupar Angus. I walked a fair bit of it while engaged on some project as part of a geology field trip when I was sweet sixteen. We were based in a hostel at Blairgowrie not far from Pitlochry, which has a salmon ladder. My favourite bit – although not terribly geological – was running down a steep part of Glenshee in the snow. My second favourite bit was having rampant yet unrequited hots for a boy called Howard.

    John Martyn. Oh yes. Totally.

  5. Och Janh1. You’re bringing the memories flooding back now. The fish ladder at the Pitlochry dam was one of the great joys of my youth – in its day the Alton Towers of Perthshire in many ways .

    At Uni, my Christmas job for two years was driving deliveries for a wine and spirits merchant from Perth. Mid-winter, Blair to Pitlochry was far from near on a single track road that was infested by suicidal sheep.

    First date with Mrs M was on the snow-clad slopes above Glen Shee. I realise that this is tricky for you, being Welsh and unfamiliar with inclines, but the glens are the flattish, valley-style bits of Caledonia (stern and wild) and far from steep.

    I just remembered that I once promised you that I would refrain from anti-Welsh flattist gibes. Ah well, nobody’s perfect.

    Good luck against the Irish on Sunday. Our A team gubbed the English A team 35-0 tonight. Fingers crossed for a similar result at Murrayfield.

    • Kindly desist, Mr Mackie 😉 Definitely a mountain adjacent to the aforesaid flattish valley-style area. Anyway, I was close geographically (even if completely wrong in every other sense).

      Thanks for your good wishes. I’ll be watching with close interest and my blow-up daff.

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