The Fence Collective’s Away Game - Isle of Eigg Fri 20-Sun 22 Jul
Island festival including Meursault, Jon Hopkins and Nathan Fake
I miss the smell of the all-night toilets: like camping and school trips and warm wood and wet clothes.
I miss the bagpipes on the pier. The polystyrene cups of tea. The cows and sheep and dogs and cats that milled round our tents and danced in the venues. Somebody claimed that they spotted an otter. Someone clocked a basking shark. Some of us even witnessed the super-rare presence of bruised-folk enigma The Son(s).
I miss Radials bringing the rainbow pop; Meursault tearing the Ceilidh Hall a new one; Kid Canaveral bursting our late-night, loved-up hearts with ‘Her Hair Hangs Down’. I miss King Creosote, The Pictish Trail and Gummi Bako busking on the teatime grass, in the blazing sun, and their ‘Come on Eileen’ sing-a-long.
I miss the absence of streetlights and law enforcement; the Celtic rave tunes in the tearoom; Jon Hopkins and Nathan Fake turning Eigg’s self-generated leccy into a thing of danceable wonder. I miss Randolph’s Leap unleashing joy; eagleowl owning a sunrise; the Massacre Cave searing loins and eardrums; Over The Wall making us feel (and dearly wish) that we were young.
I miss burning my eyes on the bonfire smoke; drinking warm wine out of a sports cap; long conversations into the night with new friends whose names I still don’t know. And the early-morning hikes round the island, smiling at stragglers and passing lambs; sitting on rocks, looking out at the water, trying to make time slow down.
But it didn’t work.
I miss those posters on the toilet walls – the ones that detailed the history of Eigg, from the island’s clan warfare and crofting past, to its 1997 community buyout. There’s a part of the story that’s missing, though. It starts with Fence chief Johnny Lynch, aka The Pictish Trail, a magical bard who fell for the island and its folk so much that he moved there. And then they all invited us over, first in 2010 and again this year, to prove that the smaller the landmass, the bigger the heart, the finer the tunes, and the greater the party.
It ends with the islanders waving us off after 72 hours of dazed elation; with the Sheerwater pulling us back to the mainland, nursing our heads and our hearts and hangovers. It ends with us waving fondly at Eigg with one hand, and wiping our eyes with the other.