When I was at college 40 odd years ago, I fell in with a couple of lads at a folk night and sang a couple of songs with them. That was the start of a great friendship and the folk group. We called ourselves Contrast and used to do a few gigs as well as sing at the college folk club! At one of our gigs at the Burns Club in the town where I had ended up teaching someone took a photo of us and some years ago I made a scrapbook layout with it. I laughingly called it our LP sleeve, because of course in those days it was all vinyl.
Ian and I managed to stay in touch over the years but the last time we met was in 1982, by which time he had two children. His daughter was about 4 and the son just a babe in a pram. There were to be two more additions to his family in due course.
Chris was a different story. He got a job in the west and married about the same time but somehow we lost touch. It was FriendsUnited that brought us back together about 10 years ago now. Things had changed in his life with two sons and a new wife. We meet up a few times a year, as he lives near Glasgow, not that far from Peebles. Ian is living down in Leeds, and often when Chris and I get together we phone him, Chris usually pretending he is someone he’s not – last time he was a Mr Watkins supposedly phoning from the BBC to arrange an interview with Ian on folk groups of the 70s. Silly man, but it’s easy to fall for his jokes - for a couple of minutes.
For the last few years we’ve talked about getting together for a CONTRAST reunion, but somehow we never did more than talk about it. This year was to be different and we actually managed to agree on a weekend just after Easter! Chris had offered to be host, so last Friday, after emails flying to and fro, Ian and I both presented ourselves at Chris’s! It was great to see Ian again, though I found it quite difficult to see the old Ian, he had changed quite considerably!
On Saturday we had a run out in the car to Callander where we sometimes used to sing at the church youth club. We had lunch at Chris’s elder son Tim’s hotel, once the home of his grandparents – Tim’s grandparents, and where the old CONTRAST used to practise before our youth club gigs! That’s Mary, Chris’s wife - the one that isn’t Chris or me, but of course you’d worked that one out already.
I think it was Mary who took this one of the three of us. I don’t think I’ve changed that much since the 1970s. I wonder what the fellas think.
On Sunday morning the three of us went for a walk down to the river Clyde, looking at some of the big houses that were built by the ship yard owners in the 19th century. The banks of the Clyde were all ship yards in those days, but all gone now. Out came the camera again. That’s Dumbarton Rock in the background, left, and Langbank across the river, below.
Then we returned to have lunch prepared by Mary, before having a last sing before Ian and I had to set off for home.
We tried to emulate the 1970s photo in this one I just didn’t have the tambourine any longer!
Otherwise not much difference (Ha ha ha!)!
It was hard to say goodbye again but Ian has invited us to Leeds for another reunion next year! Can’t wait!
Talk again soon.