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There are some things……

…..that stay with you for a long time.

On Thursday night in the hotel I was staying in (in Grantham) I noticed an old man in the bar. He was shaking quite a bit and was drinking a pint of Guinness via a straw. There was a couple and two girls sitting with him whom I took to be his family. However they left him and eventually the old boy got up to leave himself.

On his way out he stopped and asked, in a Scots accent, if I was staying long. When he heard a familiar vernacular replying he asked where I was from. He replied that he loved Helensburgh and that he was originally from Ayrshire but had lived in Uddingston for many years before moving down to Grantham in 1983.

When he left, some of the other patrons filled in the gaps on “Shaky Dave”. He was the organiser of the local folk club and even in his coping with dementia and Parkinson’s continued in the role. Indeed in his short conversation with me he had asked if I’d be there on Sunday as the folk club would be on.

I said that I wouldn’t make it and that would be a pity because I’d have enjoyed it. I explained that I had the moothies and my travel guitar with me and that we’d maybe share a song or two the following night. A quick check on Friday amongst the other patrons revealed no objections to some homespun music.

I played a few of my repertoire including a couple of Burns songs which Dave joined in on. Eventually Dave asked for a shot of the moothie and he played the theme from “Last of the Summer Wine”. However it was his encore that will stay with me. In a rich baritone voice, with a faultless performance, no accompaniment and perfect timing, he delivered a song I hadn’t heard before.

At the end of his rendition, along with everyone in the bar, I applauded. I shook the old boy’s hand and said truthfully that the song and the delivery of it had been quite incredible. I asked Dave whose song it was and he said “Jeannie Robertson”

There’s quite a bit of Jeannie’s stuff out there on the web but not ‘I’ll lay ye doon’

I could only find this version by a young woman. This perhaps can give you a flavour of the best live performance I have heard in quite some time.

I also found this version by Old Blind Dogs on Spotify



6 Responses

  1. Great wee story, Rab!!

    Glad to hear that you pulled.

  2. Oh! Stu – that deserves a LOL!

  3. It is those serendipity moments that make life worth living

  4. I once was in a pub – no, really, I was – and there was a similar wee old man sitting in a corner supping his Guineas Is Good For You through. Two spectacular blondes of the female species came in a and sat one on either side of him, whispered in his ear, before giggling and heading off with the old fella.

    When I asked the barman how an old bugger like that could pull a pair a stunners he replied: “Dunno. It happens every night. He just sits there supping his pint and licking his eyebrows.”

  5. I wager those other patrons at the bar won’t soon forget your impromptu session, either. When I travel, particularly in your neck of the woods, I live for moments like that.

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