D1. Hallo, good morning to you, and welcome to my last day in Coinneach’s chair. Today we will be hearing about the robbery that’s going on in the Islay distilleries this week, but it’s for charity that it’s being done. We will also be speaking to some involved in the Hebridean Challenge this year. That’s starting on Monday, the race between Vatersay and Lewis. We will be looking back on the year 1990, when I was only young, and choosing a piece of music from that year. And we will also have music in the company of our guest, Gordon Wells.


We will hear more of that music later in the programme, and indeed we will hear more about the instruments that Gordon himself makes, but Gordon is with us now. Good morning Gordon.

G1. Good morning Derek

D2. How are you today?

G2. Very well, thanks.

D3. Good, good. Now, you live in Benbecula, but it wasn’t from Benbecula that you are originally. Where (from).. Where were you born and brought up?

G3. Well, that’s a good question. I’m not completely sure where I am from but I was born in Edinburgh. That’s true, but it’s from North Uist that my mother is, Anna Sheonaidh ‘ic Ghilleasbaig, and the thing is that she went as a missionary to India, and it’s there that she met my father. He’s an English minister, and they married in India, and so I was brought up in India until I was four years old, and then we returned back to Britain then.

D4. Do you remember much about being in India?

G4. Well, not much from that time, but (I do) a little, because.. I remember when I went back when I was nineteen.. And I went back to the old house where we stayed when I was very young. And the interesting thing was that the tables and the chairs were as they were when I was there when I was very young and.. but they had grown so small, you know. Its.. You would think you were in a doll’s house or something like that, but um.. So I have small memories, but not too much, from that time at least.

D5. You yourself had grown so big in comparison with the chairs, I believe. Was there in anything of the life you had in India, then, around your life when you returned to Britain? Were you.. Did you bring anything home with you, in the way of, I believe, things, things like furniture perhaps, but also in the way of way of life or way of thinking?

G5. Well, it’s.. I don’t know. My mother tells me that I had three languages when I was four years old, but – although Gaelic wasn’t amongst them, unfortunately – but when we returned, you know, we were living in England, and I forgot my Hindi just straightaway. Um but, the thing that my mother tells me, that in many ways, she was more comfortable in India, because she came from North Uist you know – she’s a crofter’s daughter – so in many ways she was more comfortable when she was living in a small township in India than she was when we came back to England. They’re very different countries without a doubt.

D6. Yes, but did she find a similarity between, say, North Uist and India? What was making it alike, or more alike even than England?

G6. Well we’re talking.. She’s 89 years of age now, so she remembers the time, um, in the islands, when, you know, the children went to school barefoot, you know. And so there wasn’t much money at all. And, uh, in that way I think she felt that she was in a place a bit like that when.. a bit like Uist when she was in the small townships, in Village India, as it were.. at that time anyway.

D7. And after you returned from India to England, and after you, I believe, reached an age yourself, what sort of things were you doing? What was your way of life, what pastime, what indeed was your way of life?

G7. Well, I was just a schoolboy in England, and I guess I had an interest in language from the start, and it’s Linguistics I did at university. I was at York University and it’s then I had a chance to learn Hindi afresh as it were. So there was that, and I was also interested in music from the start, I guess, and so those were the sort of things I was interested in.

D8. Um, How long are you now.. since you moved, I believe, home to Benbecula? What, when did you come to the island?

G8. Now, now, we’ve been in Uist for nine years now. Um, the work at Colaisde Bheinn na Faoghla came to an end last year, but since then I’ve been doing a little bit for Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, just teaching on the phone as it were on their Cùrsa Inntrigidh. And also, I am working for myself, as a consultant as it were. I’ve built a website just to promote my work and spread it out and things like that so.. Och we really like living here in Uist. And we’ll see what’s going to come.. you know..

D9. And what brought you home? What made you and the family move to the island?

G9. Well, I guess it’s work that brought me home to begin with. Um there was work to do, and I did it. But also, I was always interested in returning to Uist. I never believed that there would be a chance like that, you know, but we used to come for holidays in the summer, and I was.. you know.. It was very interesting for me how my cousins.. They had two languages, but.. and I was just a monolingual, as it were, and..

D10. At that level. Not today though.

G10. Och well, I don’t know.

D11. And is it, is it like.. Is it coming home that you were, although you hadn’t lived in the islands before? Was it a homecoming?

G11. Yes, I think. Yes. That’s how I myself felt about it anyway, and our children have been, you know, in that school and things like that. So they have grown up in Uist, you know.

D12. And is the work – you were speaking of your work, in the way of consultancy work. What sort of thing is that? In what way are your skills put to work?

G12. Well, as I said, I have a website now, and I’m trying just to put my skills to use in any way that is useful. So I offer work as a consultant to any group that’s interested. I’ve done a little bit of work already for UHI. They want to build links with other countries, you know, and India is one of the countries they are aiming at. And, so, I have been working on building links with organisations, and colleges, and universities in India so that we can get a chance to do more work together.

D13. Well, we’ll return to that just a bit later in the programme, but now every Friday on the programme – you who listen regularly…