Fringe by the Sea: Shining Star

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Although this week is unashamedly dedicated to all things wedding-related, I haven't forgotten that we are also now less than three weeks away from Fringe by the Sea, and I still have more of my favourite acts to share with you from this year's programme. I had intended to run this post later in the week, but my lovely mum (who, in case you missed them, left some particularly brilliant comments here yesterday) is enduring yet another round of the dreaded scanxiety today, so as well as loading you up on wedding goodness and shamelessly promoting Fringe by the Sea, I also wanted to do a wee something special for her. Fortunately, I can kill three birds with one stone, thanks to the big bundle of folky awesomeness that is Kris Drever.

But first, I need to backtrack a little. As you know by now, the Hubster is really into music. Specifically, new music. Aside from a handful of beloved favourites (Morrissey and Bruce Springsteen are with him - and, by default, me - for life), few artists will outlast his limited attention span. He will happily wipe half the albums from his iPod and replace them without a second thought.

I, on the other hand, suffer from the unfortunate and somewhat self-defeating belief that if I don't know it, then I won't like it. I find new music exhausting; you have to listen to a new song sooo many times before it actually starts to mean something. Frankly, if I can't sing along to it, I fail to see the point. But once a song has worked its way into my consciousness, once its comforting melody has settled over me like a soft blanket, once its lyrics trip effortlessly off my tongue... well. Then it is mine for life.

Songs, for me, are memories. As soon as the first familiar chord trembles across the airwaves, I am instantly transported to a different place, a distant moment. There is one song in particular that is relatively new to me, but which in the last eighteen months or so (that counts as new, right?) has rocketed to the top of my charts and become inextricably linked in my mind with our wedding, with family, with simple pleasures. And, fortunately for me, the man who performs it the best is appearing at Fringe by the Sea. Squeeeeeal!

I'm not normally a fan of music in blogs; I'm yet to be convinced that the written word and the sung one sit comfortably together, at least not when you're *ahem* reading them at work (autoplay is the enemy of surreptitiousness). However, in the case of the lovely Kris Drever and one of my favourite songs, Shining Star, I will make an exception, because I want to share with you not only the song that I love but the memories that abide with it, the reasons why I love it. This little ditty means a lot not only to me, but also to Fin, and to my family. It immediately fills me with images of a waltz. A long drive home. A wedding. Joy.

First, the waltz.

It has been a long day. A day of words written in the sand, a lone balloon waving in the breeze, one sandy knee, and a question. The question. An old ring on a new finger, champagne popping, hugs and grins and long-distance phone calls. It's my birthday, but that's not why we've been celebrating.

It's late now. The windows gaze blackly into the winter night, but the lamps are on and the room is cosy in the warmth from my parents' stove. Music plays softly in the background. We have no date, no venue, no idea what we're letting ourselves in for, but somehow we find ourselves discussing, of all things, our first dance. Dredging up memories of chaotic ceilidhs and the horrendously awkward tango lessons we grappled with the year before. It transpires that Fin does not know how to waltz.

Mum can waltz! Mum, teach us, please, go on. Mum, we need your help.

Perhaps it's the peculiar mix of excitement and terror that I'm experiencing. Perhaps it's the gentle one-two-three-one-two-three of the song that's playing. Perhaps it's just the bubbles. But when Fin declines to dance, I bounce up and my mother and I begin to waltz. Round and round, socks slipping on the carpet, avoiding the couch and the Christmas tree, laughing with the sheer silly joy of it all.

Some weeks later, and a long drive home. Ugh. My calves ache, my thighs ache, my shoulders ache, my arms ache, even my eyeballs ache. Such are the perils of skiing in Scotland. Fin and my dad are both snoozing in the back of the car as we rumble towards home, eerily similar in their salopettes, sleepy little snuffs and puffles occasionally escaping their mouths. My mum navigates the long road south as I recline in the front seat, weary and content.

For as long as I can remember, my mum and I have sung in the car together. From The Beatles to The Lion King, Guys 'n' Dolls to Diana Ross; if it's got a chorus, we'll be warbling away. I have even been known to bust out a few harmonies. Just call me Liesl Von Trapp.

Kris Drever is doing his best, bless him, but he is no match for my mother and me. We hit our stride and the familiar chorus rises to meet us. Side by side we sing, joyful and unembarrassed, as the men sleep on.

The gravelly rush of our tyres on the road quickly fades as we pass by. Around us the wild hills are silent. In this moment, all is well with the world.

And finally. A wedding.

The laughter swells and falls. The table in front of my dad is littered with notecards, each covered in his distinctive scrawl; a final card rests lightly in his hands. He looks around the room, surveying the twinkling eyes and the flushed, happy faces. Fin's arm encircles the back of my chair, his wedding ring looking strange and new on his hand, and I lean into his warmth. My mum glances over at us and smiles. There is pride in her smile, there is relief... and something else. Something... mischevious.


My dad addresses the crowd for the last time. He tells them he'd like to finish with something special, just for me. He says there is a song that has been floating around recently, one that my mum and I are especially fond of. 

And then, in a crowd-pleasing move that maybe isn't quite as smooth as he had pictured it, but which is pretty impressive nonetheless, he reaches down and liberates his trusty mandolin from its masking-taped hiding place under the top table.

My dad is a musician. I should have seen it coming. But I didn't.

When my brother, resplendent in a kilt for the first time in his life, jumps up brandishing a ukulele to join my dad in the chorus, I think my mum might burst with joy.

In a day that I had personally planned and organised and listed to within an inch of its life, there was still room for surprises. 

That is why I love this song.

Kris Drever played at Fringe by the Sea in 2011. Check out the website for details of this year's programme!

Image of Kris Drever by Hugo Morris. All other images by Lillian and Leonard.

7 boats moored

  1. You write so beautifully Kirsty, you should write a book.

  2. I'm smiling. Almost as much as I was smiling when we took those photos. And it turns out that your dad & brother kicked off a whole year of singing during speeches, which is a development I can be getting down with.

  3. How lovely. I love your writing too xx

  4. Fab blog, fab photos too.
    Love to you all

  5. Rosie (aka Kirsty's Mum)20 July 2011 at 12:38

    Weep, weep, it's all too much, my
    darling daughter!!! You were right, I was bursting with delight and also, despite all your careful ticking of lists, we still had one thing up our sleeve you didn't know about. Your writing is superb xxxx

  6. Awww, thanks everyone. And if any of you would like to pay me to write a book and suggest a plot for it, I would be more than happy to oblige ;)

  7. Apologies for the late comment, but I've been meaning to tell you for quite some time that this was such a lovely vignette. Music is so dear to me and I love the moments it helps create.


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