Monday, June 28, 2010

Friar's Carse Songwriting Weekend

There it was again, tranquil, Scots baronial and stone-pink in the assorted greenery on its corner of the River Nith: the Friar's Carse Hotel, waiting for its influx of song writers and its famous song writing competition, the result always fiddled (according to the losers).
It was warm and sunny when we rolled up, and the guys turned up one by one, plonking themselves on the cast iron chairs on the lawn with a cold beer and catching up with each other.
Martin and myself had picked up my nephew Alex on the way, who plays guitar but hasn't really written songs before. He was mildly worried but was welcomed as the baby of the group (teenage one) and soon settled in.
We had a gentle concert in the evening after dinner (with the by-now traditional profiteroles, if you know what I mean), before retiring to bed to gee-up for the next day.
Next morning, Martin taught the early risers the five Tibetans, which we did on the lawn with the sky already clear and blue above us.
That was where I ran my first two workshops, getting the groups to write songs about the town and the country and play them to each other- in half an hour! The grass was podgy with moss and the area was fringed with foxgloves and pines: what bliss to be singing in the great outdoors!
In the afternoon, the serious and competitive work began: my group hid round the front of the hotel in the shade of a dark pine tree, writing a sure-fire hit for Britain's next entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, entitled 'Nul Points'.
We decided to bounce, and unfortunately my sunglasses seem to have bounced out of my pocket! (second pair lost in a week). After much confusion and many sheets of paper, we settled on a structure that we could all follow, and stopped for tea.
In the evening, I got the Las Vegas rope lights out of the boot of the car, and we set off.
Martin's group had written a blues that showed off the great guitar playing of its members. Scott MacDonald's group, who won, had written a song about the song writing weekend with just the right amount of comedy and harmony.
We had heard them rehearsing relentlessly; Scott was a hard task master, but he needed his win this year.
Word was, there had been a bribe involved.....
Then it was us, with our silly Euro-song, which we played perfectly, apart from the fact I caught Martin's eye halfway through and bust out laughing. I guess we won't make it to Europe, as prophetically our song scored nul points.
But we still thought it was the best one.
Of Course.
The last day came round very quickly. We sat in a circle, playing a sequence of chords one after the other and taking it in turns to sit in the middle, eyes closed, and listen. Some French guests were intrigued and we invited them in to experience it for themselves. They loved it.
It was sad to leave- it had been a lovely weekend, sunny and positive, almost not like work at all. All the people who came along were really up for everything. It's always like that, which makes it a really special event.
Why did I get home so quickly? There were no cars on the road at all. I didn't realise till I got to the services on the M6 Toll (which I needn't have bothered with) and saw them all watching the match on a giant screen.
I'm glad I missed it.
Knackered, I went to bed early, waking in a panic at 4.45 wondering how Offsprog 2 was going to get home.
I knew she was still alive, as my one text a day was responded to: 'no battery' (just in case I cramped her style by phoning, I think).
Fifteen minutes later, she slumped in, smelly and tired and very happy.
Good weekend, all round. Thanks to Andrew Bailey for organising it, and thanks to Martin for being a fantastic host.

1 comment:

frayedattheedge said...

I'm sure you should have won!!You were wise to miss the football - it was bl**dy awful!!