My time is not my own now except in small spoonfuls that are not long enough to sink down into. It is taken up by the children, by a procession of welcome godmothers, and grandparents, by lots of tears from Lola B as she endeavours to do the most difficult thing – to give up an animal on which she has lavished so much love for another. Rarely do we voluntarily give up someone we love: mostly we hang desperately onto people that we love as if life would cease without them. Death forces it upon us. Sometimes the person we love decides they no longer love us and so the decision is made for us. But leaving behind something we still love must be one of the most earth shattering pains.
Evenings have also often been taken up with a series of concerts. We all went to sit on cushions at the feet of this remarkable lady.
Julie Fowlis has a glass-breaking voice that melds so beautifully with the violin that it is almost impossible to tease one apart from the other. She sings gaelic songs, some from North Uist, the island of her birth, others from other highland and island places, some from Ireland. She is accompanied by her husband on the bouzouki, and by two other fiendisly talented musicians playing violin and guitar. Her songs tell stories, croons of sad wives left widowed by their fisherman husbands, they tell of every day events, of tales magnified in the telling, and of potatoes and butter and everyday things. Julie Fowlis is beautiful, natural, and can play the bagpipes like a man. I don’t imagine there was a man in the audience who would not have liked to spend an evening with her and visited by her smile, nor a woman who would not have liked to be her.
Lola B’s godmother came with us. She has learnt to speak gaelic like a native and is about to embark on her own journey to North Uist to live in the tiny white cottage she has bought there, and to perfect her own singing of sad songs and harp playing. Afterwards they exchanged smiling greetings, in gaelic, and Lola B looked on, impressed.