Andrew is regaling me with scattergun anecdotes about his travels to Croatia, Finland, Armenia, Scotland, Spain and all points south, north, east and west, while I lovingly fondle the loyal laptop nestling contentedly at my feet. I know. Bonkers. I don’t really need it on this trip, but I just feel kind of naked without it. Andrew’s telling me about the gig his band SANS recently played in Devon when I glance downwards… the laptop is gone.
These are grim times when you can’t even share a coffee with Andrew Cronshaw at Oslo Airport without some low-life ghosting along to whip your laptop from under your nose. Not just a laptop either…passport, camera, money, Dictaphone, diary, address book, a copy of fROOTS, the Sophie Parkes biography of Eliza Carthy… my whole frigging life.
I wail like a disembowelled wolfhound until the police come shuffling over to explain there are no security cameras at the café so the laptop and all who sail in her are probably gone forever and ever, amen. Sorry about that. You should have chained it to your ankle. Numb, I miserably follow Cronshaw to the train and decamp to the bar where, despite the gasp-inducing prices (“a can of Ringnes? Certainly sir, if you’d just like to give me the deeds to your house…”), I spend the next three hours contemplating the irreplaceable interviews and unfinished work probably being casually tossed aside at that very moment as the thief nonchalantly studies his booty.
Several hours later the Ringnes, warm sunshine, drop-dead gorgeous scenery, references to trolls, Ibsen, Grieg and Peer Gynt at every turn work wonders in restoring morale as up there in our log cabin in the sky, Cronshaw and I, along with assorted Spaniards, Germans and Norwegians spend a convivial evening engrossed in discussion, displays and demonstrations of the proud unbroken tradition of Nordic music and dance.
Trond Stenseth Moe, an amiable, extraordinarily patient young man who’s seemingly forsaken his jazz training to involve himself in the promotion of Norwegian folk music, takes it on himself to become the hapless UK music hack’s guiding star in his hour of crisis. Trond is a Spurs fan but we can probably overlook that in the circumstances.
Irwin was an assistant editor of Melody Maker in the 1970s and 1980s, before leaving in the summer of 1987 as the magazine moved in a different direction, and editor of Number One magazine in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
His book In Search of the Craic details a comic journey around Ireland seeking out pub music sessions and became a best-seller in Ireland. Subsequent books were In Search Of Albion, a similarly light-hearted journey around English traditions and rituals and Sing When You're Winning, about the history and culture of terrace songs at football matches.
He's also reviewed music for The Guardian, Mojo, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and fRoots and has been a Mercury Music Prize judge.