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While welcoming the proposed amenity offered by the proposed cinema at the former CalMac office, and not questioning its viability, I would register my fear that we may lose the Screen Machine which has served us faithfully for many years. Perhaps the Corrie and Sannox Film Club will have similar misgivings.
We were very shocked and saddened to read of the proposal to build a road and slipway for wood along the foreshore at Imachar. (Arran Banner November 24)
This stretch of coastline is one of the most tranquil and beautiful short (or long) walks on Arran, suitable for both the elderly and children alike. Please don’t let it be destroyed.
Merial Appleton (and family),
It is with much sadness and regret that I announce my very premature retirement from the Arran musical scene. No longer will it resonate with my unrivalled vocal tones and incomparable guitar technique. My denouement came at the hands of a particularly evil Arran nemesis. Let me explain, oh the pain !
I am sure that many readers will recall my memorable busking performance on the Green outside Lamlash Co-op last month on behalf of the SSPCA. I agreed to carouse again upstairs in Arran Active on behalf of the same charity and magnanimously waived my usual fee with only minimal expenses . I practised endlessly at home, honing my three chords to absolute perfection. My 30 songs were carefully inscribed on a cardboard sheet and I day-dreamed of this starring role and of the accolades and stunned silence my music would create.
When the great day arrived with my hour of glory I made my way upstairs to where Mark Brown was fiddling towards the end of his hour but he naturally gave way early on seeing me arrive. I started off well and soon embarked on what is arguably my best song, Staying Alive by the Bee Gees. I prefaced this song by bellowing through cupped hands in the style of a tannoy in my loudest voice, ‘Would the Bee Gees please come immediately upstairs in Arran Active.’ I thought this really quite humorous. My dulcet tones certainly grabbed the attention of all the shoppers beneath me who paused in their purchasing and stared quizzically upwards. Then I gave it out really large with full vocal volume and big chords. I had barely got to the, ‘Feel the city breaking and everybody shaking’ when the proprietor, one Andrew Walsh, appeared in a somewhat agitated state and said: ‘Just one more.’ I replied: ‘I beg your pardon ?, Just one more.’ ‘I’m putting the Christmas music on’ he replied.
My musical world collapsed in that instant. It was as if the rug on which I had been so happily flying had been suddenly and cruelly removed leaving me to plummet earthwards, I was to be replaced by canned Xmas lift music! I pulled out all the stops for the final song and gave them a full bloodied version of ‘Three Wheels on my Wagon’ which was a big hit for the New Christie Minstrels in 1960. But is was a forlorn attempt and even this classic song did not redeem me. This was the busiest Xmas shopping day on Arran and surely my busking would have a great effect on Arran Active’s sales?
I slunk homewards with guitar between my legs numbed by the pain of it all. I tried to placate myself by finding some reason for this cruel rejection and then I remembered that Mr Walsh was one of these people who sings with other like minded individuals in three part harmonies in sort of madrigal stuff and the like. He probably even listens to classical music and I was therefore able to comfort myself in the realisation that he is lamentably bereft of my deeper musicality.
We all know that on Arran when you hope not to meet someone then you meet them endlessly and so a few days later there he was in the bank and I pointed him out to everyone present. ‘Look , there’s the man that threw me out of Arran Active when I was busking on Saturday’ said I . He quickly replied: ‘ You are welcome to sing any time at Arran Active Colin , after we’ve all gone home’ and then smartly exited the bank before I could think of a rapier like riposte and leaving me somewhat po-faced with everyone, including all the bank staff, laughing.
I have resolved to attempt to overcome this cruel and inexplicable setback and practise and try to raise myself back to my previous musical apotheosis. I shall rise Phoenix like from the ashes of the firestorm he lit. My musical retirement was premature. Surely I have more to give? The new cinema! Yes, that shall be my new stomping ground! No one can stop me busking there. Can they ?
Where are they now ?
Going through some old papers recently, I came across a letter from Miss M Argo, Head Teacher of Brodick Primary School at the time. That time was Thursday June 2, circa 1990 (there was no date on the letter). I had given a spinning demonstration and mini workshop to her class, consisting of around twenty pupils, in the Arran Heritage Museum where I was involved with the running and displays over several years between 1985 and 1995. Accompanying Miss Argo’s letter was one from each of the pupils, thanking me for my input. But, and this is the point, those pupils were contemporaries of my own children (who attended Pirnmill School), and are now around forty years old. Presumably, many of those pupils will now have families of their own.
My children have gone on to follow careers in caring for others quite independently, Amy, the eldest, co-ordinating housing requirements for those in need, Richard, now an academic and adviser to various agencies including the U.N. specialising in the rehabilitation of ex child combatants in former war zones around the world, including some where conflict is still on-going, and David, my youngest, caring for children, adolescents and adults with special needs and social problems. David now works in Manchester; Amy is based in Cheshire and Richard in rural France, but is often out in the field, Nepal, Croatia, and on-going, Kabul in Afghanistan. They do what I would find difficult to do and I’m very proud of them. For my part, I prefer to pass on enthusiasm and whatever knowledge I can to those who will benefit, thereby enriching their lives, my experience and qualifications in heritage studies enabling me to do just that from my home in Oswestry, Shropshire.
As you can see from the above, my family and I have all moved on, but Arran still plays a vital part in our lives. Amy was married on Arran and her oldest child is called Arran. David visits Arran, keeps in touch with former school friends and Richard likewise. I have fond memories of the people of Arran for the most part, few bad ones. Arrangave us a feeling of belonging, a local identity and a greater understanding of other peoples’ needs. I wonder if the children, who enjoyed their day in the Arran Heritage Museum all those years ago, have similar feelings to us. Do they still live in Arran? How many have moved away? I feel there’s a dissertation there for someone, just how much influence does living on an island like Arran have over your outlook on life? Does it make you a greater lover of peace? It’s with these thoughts in mind, particularly as the year draws to a close and a new one begins that I ask again, “Arran’s children. Where are they now?”
Let me wish all in Arran of whatever political persuasion and faith, and those with none, like myself, a peaceful and happy new year to come.