I see that Kenneth McKellar died last Friday. It was thanks to my friend Pippi that I knew about him at all. She used to play me his albums, to convince me of his greatness. I went on to buy one or two Greatest Hits type collections, mainly because I like Scottish music and Kenneth’s voice was a good voice, even if he never made it to favourite with me.
When we were young(-ish) and living in Brighton, the Resident IT Consultant and I attended one of his concerts. We were among the youngest and probably also among the the least Scottish in the audience, but who cares? And here you have to consider that the Resident IT Consultant was born in Scotland.
While Pippi and I were on holiday at Onich back in 1980, she was very excited, because after our week together, she was going down to Oban, where Kenneth appeared to have taken up residence for the summer, singing every night. And for a fan like Pippi it doesn’t get much better.
Here is a YouTube clip of The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, as Pippi spent some time au pairing in that fair city.
In one short week – more like a nine day week, now that I think of it, so not very short after all – Offspring have totally re-organised their rooms. It has made the witch who witnessed it all, reminisce about the past, while things have been got rid of in cold blood. Nursery rhymes, for instance.
When Son was a fairly recent arrival, the Resident IT Consultant felt there should be nursery rhymes to listen to. With me offering foreign songs, and himself unable to rise above ‘pom-pom-pom’, and not in tune, it had to be something sung by someone else. He went shopping, and came home with a collection cassette of the standard nursery rhymes, sung by Vera Lynn and Kenneth McKellar. His feeling was that not just anyone should be allowed to sing to important babies.
Son and Daughter were both subjected to this cassette, until they could retaliate with ABBA and Keane and S Club and Athlete. At the time I knew very little about Vera Lynn. More about Kenneth McKellar, since friend Pippi is a big fan, and I had even been to a concert and heard the man live.
Vera Lynn was just a name to me, however, and I strongly suspected that her popularity during the war was more to do with having a pretty face. Just shows what an idiot I am. It may have been only nursery rhymes, but that cassette made me a big fan of hers. Wonderful voice. Absolutely wonderful.
I allowed myself to graduate on to some more grown-up songs, and got to know the most popular songs from the war. Then I moved on to more recent music, and everything Vera sings is great. I just wish she hadn’t decided to retire from singing at the age of eighty. It’s amazing how someone can keep such a powerful voice so long.
And the early cassette brain washing paid off. At least Son knew from a very tender age that those war songs were sung by ‘that lady’.