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That Tune

Sometimes you hear a piece of music that is forever afterwards associated with something. For me it's Acker Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore" and a raging North Sea gale. It was when I was a reporter on the Shetland Times and was writing a feature about one of the ferries which ran between Lerwick and Aberdeen, a sort of St. Sunniva Below Decks thing. As part of research I was on the bridge of the ship as it ploughed through a heavy sea with literally tons of water crashing rhythmically  down over the bow onto the foredeck. Stranger the Shore was playing on the darkened bridge and seemed somehow to be synchronised with the bow of the Son-of-Bieech dipping under the waves. The contrast between the laid-back clarinet and the violence and power of the crashing sea was truly memorable. The fact that a similar sea a few days earlier had smashed the armoured glass of bridge and embedded shards in the wall behind the helmsman only added to the piquancy. The other thing I remember about that voyage was the discovery that while the bar open to the public only sold tinned beer, the off-duty crew had access to draught.

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