After the mass Joe and I were invited to stay for a cup of tea. The only denominational school in Inverness is St Joseph’s primary school and St Mary’s is next door, so it was the school hall that the venue of the tea. It wasn’t just tea. There was a whole evening of entertainment planned, part of which was a ceilidh. The priest who had conducted the mass was a good friend of Joe’s, father John Angus. A few years ago, while Joe and a friend from work had been visiting him in Glasgow, the three of them had drank their way through a couple of bottles of whisky!
Entering the hall, I was greeted with a chorus of embarrassed giggles, a few waves and one or two “Hello, Miss”s. Seated around one table, and lined up against one of the walls were an assortment of pupils from many of my classes.
It is always interesting to see people in a place other than the environment that you associate them with. Whereas in the confines of a prefabricated hut, forced to learn something they may have no interest in, surrounded by like minded people, they might form a fairly hostile mob, here in the church setting – they were different. They had cast off the hostility. They were just really nice kids! They are bound to say something to me next week!
The evening was a feast of fiddle music, Gaelic songs and ceilidh dancing. There were a few other things thrown in for good measure. One of the parishioners was an Italian opera singer, so he did a couple of songs. One of the fiddle solos brought a group of the kids to the floor to line dance to! A man and his guitar busked through another couple of songs.
Joe had been to Tyree a few weeks ago and the islanders had hosted a similar kind of entertaining evening – although on a slightly bigger scale.
There was a break in the middle for a buffet of sandwiches and sausage rolls.
Joe and I later danced our way through a couple of reels. One of them was quite chaotic with everyone swinging each other around. – an Orcadian “Strip the Willow”. The young people knew what they were doing and generally pushed us in the right direction!
It was a thoroughly pleasant night – most unexpected. Joe felt totally at home from the moment he entered into the church, and he recognised many people that he knew from his work and from travels around crafting country – and he knew Father John Angus. I wasn’t so sure about feeling so settled as I felt like I was intruding into another world. I wasn’t sure just how happy some of the children were to see me there! Quite a few parents crossed to room to introduce themselves!
However, we got invited back to the next one – along with some interesting bait - poetry readings being included next time round.