Blackness, Tuesday 19 June, 2018
We seven – Graeme (Organiser), Dave, David, Heike, Fiona, Andrew and I – set off from the beach at Blackness at 1900 (HW about 2030, so a pleasantly short carry). It was a calm evening – the only waves being the waves of sound that pursued us across the water as a resident of Blackness murdered “My Way” in a top volume karaoke session in the normally sleepy village, apparently as part of some traditional celebration…We made our way towards Bo’ness passing a solitary (and silent) seal who retreated into the (very) murky depths. we were then greeted from the shore by a young couple who enquired about our destination and origin in a sentence which appeared to rhyme “…going to ” and “in your canoe…?” in a poetic fashion, but in the absence of the official club bard I could not say for certain . As our paddle began to become a veritable culture fest, the young lady invited us to share her Buckfast….then added “only kidding!” But whether that was because she didn’t have any with her, or because she wanted to hang onto what she had, remained unclear.
The calm sea and lack of wind made conversation much easier than usual and there were plenty of opportunities for speculation about the culture and traditions of the West Lothian littoral (formerly Linlithgowshire). Dave briefed us first on the history of Bo’ness as we stopped for a snack by its docks, then on the history of the shale oil industry, with a short diversion into the central place of Bo’ness in the Wally Dug manufacturing industry…. a heron flew by but did not wait for the end of the explanation of this flourishing of a ceramic culture which may have equalled that of China in the Ming Dynasty – or not.
Pausing only to sweep up plastic junk from Bo’ness’ small but perfectly formed beach, we headed back for Blackness where celebrations were undiminished – we were greeted from afar by the (rather hoarse) strains of a very off key karaoke rendering of “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” plus occasional amplified (and colourful) exchanges between the performer and his increasingly restive audience.
we landed at 2130 and started packing up as the rain got serious. David and I were distracted from our task by the appearance of a man with a small dog wearing tasteful pyjamas (the man that is, not the dog) – who mentioned (the man that is) that he had done some kayaking in the past. As he was obviously the very sort of chap we wanted ( and one of the few in the vicinity not bellowing into a microphone) I seized the opportunity to advertise LSKC (a snip at £10 a year!). He assured me he would follow up on the website. He also explained the ancient nature of the celebration but was unable to shed light on the part that Japanese karaoke machines had played in the rich culture of mediaeval Scotland. And the pyjamas? – he was wearing these because once he had walked the dog, he was going to bed. Of course!
We departed through the rain, with our appreciation of Scotland’s cultural depths and its obscure industries, not to mention casual evening wear, much enhanced.
A mildly surreal evening in pleasant conditions and in good company – thanks again to Graeme for organising,