This summer – August 13th, to be exact – something happened to me. Something that’s a strong contender, in fact, for the title of ‘best thing to ever happen to me’. Or maybe ‘best thing I’ve ever done’.
This summer, I met my heroes.
And I interviewed them.
Allow me to briefly set the scene. I am, for this year, Features Editor for the University of Southampton’s culture and entertainment magazine, The Edge. I’ve been writing for the publication for a few years but it was only now, emboldened by the responsibility of my committee position, that I dared to ask our Head of External Relations if she could maybe perhaps try and get an interview slot with Will Varley, a folk musician I love who was opening for my all-time favourite musical artist in concert this summer.
She said, “I can’t get Will Varley. But I can get you The Proclaimers, if you want.”
I don’t mean to be dramatic here when I say that the music of Charlie and Craig Reid has been a huge part of my life for just about as long as I can remember. They are my Glasweigan father and I’s thing; they are what I listen to when I need to cheer up; they are what I play when I’m blue; they are the most played artists and albums in my iTunes library by about 1,000 plays. I have seen them in concert four times now, with another one already lined up. The music of two Scottish twins – far, far beyond that single if excellent track that absolutely everyone knows – is one of the few constants in my life. I truly, utterly adore it; and them themselves.
I met them before their gig at Milton Keynes Theatre, which I was attending with my mother (who sat patiently in the Wetherspoons next door). I was shown backstage, to this little blue and white painted dressing room, and I shook hands with two of the most honest, genuine and kindhearted men that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
In our interview – which I implore you to read here, on The Edge website – we talked about everything from inspiration, to personal favourite songs, to advice they’d give to budding musicians.
Before and after the recording, we chatted about my studies, our shared love of Will Varley and how his political tone melds with their own, and who I was there with tonight. (I recorded the whole thing on my phone, which I had taken out of its case because I did not want to think about the Reid brothers judging my sparkly unicorn phone case every time I listened to my favourite song for, oh, the rest of my life. My phone was then cradled like a baby until I could get home and plug it in somewhere.)
The concert that followed tried hard to overshadow my evening already. Will Varley played wonderfully, and signed CDs in the break between opening and the main set – I was last in the queue as the bell was ringing, and my mum had to forcibly pull us away from reminiscing about his playing Southampton’s late Bent Brief on his 2014 Walking Tour (about 60 people packed into a tiny pub, and a girl burst on stage to throw up) to make sure we got upstairs in time.
The entire night was absolutely amazing. I was walking, breathing, just plain existing on cloud nine. Then a thing happened. Half way through the set, Craig said, “And we’d like to dedicate this song to Camilla. We’d like to say thanks for interviewing us before the show, she’s working hard at university and we wish her all the best.”
They played ‘Sean’. “I tell you now that grown men cry, and Irish girls are pretty.” I don’t know about grown men, I cried. I cry really easily, okay, and I think I deserve points for holding it together until then. I was in pieces. My mother was slapping the poor gentleman on her left saying, that’s her, that’s my daughter. But I couldn’t hear. In that moment everything fell into place and – again, not to sound cliche here – I really felt special. Like, special-special. Dramatic turning point in a movie special. Like I meant something.
If you know me, I’ve probably told you the Springsteen story (also known as, that time I sobbed for 5 minutes straight when he closed his Wembley show with an acoustic cover of my favourite song). I’ve told you ‘it felt like he was almost singing it for me’. I can tell you now – that feeling, and having a song actually sung for you? Wow.
(And – my mum got to feel it too. As Charlie walked me to the door after the interview ended, pictures were taken and we said goodbye – Charlie Reid! Actual real life Proclaimer Charlie Reid oh my good gosh – walked me to the door, he asked me to clarify who I was with tonight. So, amongst several other dedications and in one of the last songs of the night, ‘On My Way’ was played for “Camilla and her mum Colette”.)
Craig and Charlie Reid have spent nearly 30 years bringing the heart, soul and sound of Scotland to fans the world over. They’ve played countless shows and have sold millions of records. And they’ve also made a 21 year old girl cry tears of joy on the way home from their concert which, to me, is pretty great too.