Friday, 14 December 2007

Scottish Night and Ballads of the Book at The Hague, Oh Yes, The Hague.

November 2007

‘Scottish Night’/Ballads of the Book Crossing Borders Festival, 23rd November 2007

Well the events and experiences just keep getting better. Got to ‘slum it’ with some excellent musicians and authors from Bohnny Schottland at the prestigious Crossing Borders festival in The Hague, Holland. Got some great drawing done if I do say so myself, though really need some sort of lighting for my watercolour tray – Emma Pollock turned out green and purple, when I tried for yellow and pink!!

Got to work with a great Dutch illustrator called Matthijs Sluiter who produced some stunning drawings from the same event, damn him!! Lovely bloke – he gave me what I never knew I always wanted!! A little Dutch soup cup with SOEP in lovely letters on the outside!! That’s got to be THE best gift I’ve had this year. Dank U Wel Matthijs! (Check me out thanking everyone like I’m a big fat Hollywood queen or something!) Anyway, check out his lovely drawings on

Got to meet Norman Blake and slagged him off in a round about way accidently after mistaking him for someone else…I had drawn him at the Ballads of the Book event at the Tramway back in April, but he only played 2 songs before buggering off and I exclaimed how rubbish I’d thought that was, thinking it was Mike Heron I’d drawn…I later realised my mistake and told him that ‘actually, it wasn’t Mike Heron I should have been slagging off, it was YOU!’ He duly took it on the chin, and said I was quite right, but that he’d had to rush off to another gig. Very nice bloke – I unfortunately missed his stories of touring with Nirvana in his band Teenage Fanclub by being ‘sensible’ and having an early night. Dammit.

I did get to meet and shake the hand of Hugh Cornwell (writer/voice behind ‘Golden Brown/The Strangler’s main man who has toured without them for 17 years, and they without him – someone I know recently went to see them play in Campbeltown and stated they were sh**e – bet Hugh can chuckle with ease at that!). Got to stand beside Patti Smith in the hotel foyer thinking of all the million dumb things I shouldn’t say to her, and later at Schipol Airport preparing for departure, thinking of a million great things I could’ve said!

As for the Literati, I got to listen to the unexpected musical tones of John Burnside, as well as his claim to go out on the streets at night LOOKING for a fight; I had a good listen to the great loping Gaelic utterances of Rody Gorman (who did a great tambourine jam with Jenny Reeve/Strike the Colours during soundchecks, though I was most disappointed to see he didn’t have it for the main event). I was stunned into a prolonged silence (mentally) by the intense and addictive writings of Laura Hird; enjoyed the humour and sassiness of Louise Welsh’s readings (Louise had tried unsuccessfully to be Alasdair Grey’s assistance into Holland, since he lost his passport in the taxi to the airport!!), and then there was Alan Bissett’s unashamed loveable antics, patter and biting performance, all under the influence of what must have been a big fat dooby. The Holland audience clearly fell in love with his affable charm, after he got them all to shout simultaneously ‘Hello Alan’s Mum’ so he could record it on his mobile!! What a wee pet!

I was also quite captivated by Michel Faber’s very insightful and cutting wit in his interviews, and as a splendid MC for the night. For a ‘recluse’, he’s very switched on.

Then there were the musicians. Strike the Colours /Jenny Reeve and her band of merry men headlined – Jenny is a terrific musician and a real lovely girl too. Definitely very clear about what she wants – quite an inspiration; quirky dress sense – she cut a dramatic line in her flowing black dress that made her look tres statuesque with her funny wee red leather pumps and ‘red jewel’ choker. She was great to draw, and really genuine – one of her most endearing comments to the audience was “Some people say I ruin my mystique when I talk – ‘giggle’ – as if I have any mystique!”

Stevie Jones, ‘session musician extraordinaire’, was working extra hard that night playing with Jenny, Lord Cut Glass and Malcolm Middleton. I was pleasantly surprised at Alan Woodward/aka Lord Cut Glass – very funny guy and his music has an attraction that I want to invest more time in listening to.
Malcolm – classic – he’s jokingly put a bet on that his song ‘We’re all going to die’ to be Xmas number 1 and the odds have raced from 1000 – 1 to 20 – 1 in the space of a week!!! Go figure! Check out his website and check out his diary. He’s a funny man y’know…
Anyway, back to the other night - my drawing wasn’t as evocative of him as I think it could have been. I think I’ve been put off by the beautiful, bleak, evocative and poetic drawings on his website by that damned chap David Shrigley…who’s wit also features in Lord Cut Glass’s songs…

Emma Pollock –I think, after my 4th/5th attempt at drawing her, I’m starting to get there… I keep singing ‘Adrenalin’ in my head.
Have I forgotten anyone? Hmmm, oh yes – Norman Blake – loved his rendition of a couple of songs – very nice key changes (that’s as technical as I get!). Mike Heron and his daughter Georgia did some truly lovely songs. I really like his song on the Ballads album – Song for Irena.
Right, hope I haven’t bored you too much – you don’t have to read it all in one go you know, you can come back! Although, maybe I might not be here…

1 comment:

Laura H said...

Hi Jenny,

Hope you survived the festive period and 2008 is being good to you so far. Thanks for your comments about my writing on the blog. I'd love to see the sketch you did of my (and the others) as Crossing Border. Was also wondering if you'd allow me to feature it on the homepage of the new issue of my website which I'll be launching in a couple of weeks. I'd obviously link it to your website/blog.

Give me a shout if you're going to be in Edinburgh.

All the best,

Laura Hird