Unlike my first beer, I can’t remember when I first tasted whisky… actually oh yes I can. I’m sure some will be shocked, but when I was about six I had a tiny sip of my dad’s glass of whisky. It was very unusual for us to have any drinks at home, apart from at Christmas, a bottle of sherry, maybe a bottle of sweet Martini, a bottle or a half bottle of rum for the Christmas pudding and a bottle or half of whisky, and that would be it. We didn’t have wine, we certainly didn’t have beer (it wasn’t so readily available then, and also we just wouldn’t have had it at home – beer belonged in pubs, not sitting rooms!)
Going back to my story. I had a tiny sip of Dad’s whisky and the next day went into school and told the teacher and the class ‘I like White Horse!‘ Somehow this was mentioned to my parents, but I’m guessing as a funny story in less censorious times. I don’t remember trying whisky until much, much later; it was just too expensive to have at home, or buy in pubs… so I’m not sure when I found I liked it. This makes me sound as if I have a problem… honestly I don’t – whisky is a treat, a luxury and only enjoyed on special occasions.
On our first holiday together, my husband to be and I went to Oban in search of what was then our favourite whisky and we toured around visiting different distilleries. We went back to Scotland on our honeymoon, and our first family holiday with our two children was to Bushmills, which started a love affair with Irish whiskey and Ireland. Since then we have tried many different types of whisky and my favourite above all is Highland Park.
You must know if you visit me here often, how much I love the Mavericks and will travel miles and miles to see them… I didn’t travel so far last night, only to our nearest big city Bristol, a mere twenty miles away. On one occasion, one magical occasion, I went with my Dutch friend Elly (who I met through the Mavericks) to see them in Glasgow, meeting up with two other friends, Hannah and Jenna (who I also met through the Mavericks) … and a load of other Mav-fan chums. The whole trip was fabulous, wonderful! The concert was just amazing (of course it was) – even the support act was brilliant. The Mavericks were on sensational form, and we were all high as kites on dancing, singing, being caught up in the experience of going to see this fantastic group of musicians on tour.
We hung around for a little while, catching up with old friends and then streamed across the road to the nearest bar to parch our thirst after hours of singing and shouting (well, I was shouting – got a bit over-excited!) … and there, in the bar, were the Mavericks! It was a dream come true – literally! It was very crowded and we were all jammed together talking to our idols in a completely natural way because there were lots of people in the bar who hadn’t been to the gig and just happened to be there. I had a long conversation with Eddie, chatted with Paul and Jerry Dale, and then somehow, somehow, I have no idea how, I got into conversation with Raul.
I sometimes wonder if it was actually a dream, but no it wasn’t. We were sitting at a table with others and talking… but I cannot now remember what he said – I was so entranced, overwhelmed (this is what it’s like being a fan and meeting your hero) I do know it was a perfectly ordinary conversation about lots of things and I think I probably did keep my inner feelings under control, but at one point Raul bought a round of drinks and when he asked what I wanted I just stuttered out ‘Highland Park’.
Buying your fans a drink… how many artists would do that? That is why as fans we love the band because they are so generous in every way. That Highland Park tasted like nectar… and now, whenever I have a Highland Park, I think of Raul. It has become a little tradition for me, that every time I see ‘the boys’, after the show I have a Highland Park, and raise a glass to Raul… I was driving home from Bristol last night so I had to delay raising my glass in a toast, but I did later… in fact I toasted him twice!