Many, of a certain age, will remember the child singing sensation, Lena Zavaroni, who made her name on Hughie Green’s, Opportunity Knocks, way back in 1974. Her biggest hit was “Ma! He’s Making Eyes at Me” and apparently she still holds the record for the youngest person ever to have had an album in the Top 10 … at ten years of age. In spite of, or perhaps because of, her fame she led a rather tragic life dominated by anorexia and depression and as a result she sadly died in 1999, aged 35. Her grandfather had been an Italian immigrant and she grew up here in Rothesay, on the Isle of Bute, where her dad had a chip shop. The family name is still writ large above several establishments along the town’s seafront, including the chip shop. Like many towns on the Clyde, Rothesay has many very grand Victorian buildings, a reminder of its illustrious past as the destination of choice for thousands of Glasgow working folk on their holidays. Lately, west coast islands, especially the ones that have become community owned, have experienced a healthy increase in population but unfortunately the Isle of Bute is bucking the trend .. probably not helped by the fact that the Marquess of Bute’s family own most of it … but, of course, none of them live here .. more rantings on land reform in the next post, bet you can’t wait! Nowadays, everyone flies off to Benidorm and the good times for Rothesay are but a distant memory. Café Zavaroni belongs to Lena’s cousin Margaret who is also a singer but it is pictures of Lena that adorn the walls. A typical seaside establishment it offers ice cream and all the other tasty bites associated with seaside cafes. Margaret is charming, keen to introduce herself and give you a very warm welcome … nice, but maybe slightly OTT? When our scones arrived the jam and cream had already been added “to save you the bother”, we must have looked slightly askance because it was quickly followed by “you can scrape it off if you want!” This presentation was undoubtedly done with the best of intentions and Margaret would be sore affronted if she knew we were being critical (so don’t tell her) but you sconeys know how we feel and this particular example was again … a bit OTT. The scones themselves were actually not too bad and, had they not been smothered in ‘stuff’, the story might have been different, but Zavaroni has not made it into our Top 10 unfortunately. The news beyond Bute’s shores is interesting as much for what is out as what is in. In, is the EU referendum. Now those of you with keen memories will remember that before the Scottish referendum the word ‘ScotNat’ became a dirty word with almost traitorous connotations .. spat from the trembling lips of disapproving broadcasters. Now, somewhat oddly for those of us in Scotland, the folks arguing to leave the EU are arguing for … guess what … more control over their own affairs, exactly the same as those pesky ScotsNats .. but, don’t call BritNats, BritNats – as it upsets them! Shall we just call them ‘separatists’? Out of the news, certainly out of BBC Scotland’s news where it has not even been given a mention is the fact that the former LibDem Secretary of State for Scotland is in Court for lying during the General Election; had it been an SNP MP it would have been given minute by minute coverage. Also out of the news is Iceland, the country (basket case) with which Scotland was threatened with ending up like if it became independent. It has just paid off all its obligations to the IMF much earlier than expected. Mind you, most of its bankers are in jail and the ones who escaped are working .. guess where .. in London. Slightly different approach maybe but well done the beautiful isle of Iceland. Back on the beautiful Isle of Bute where none of this seemingly matters, we wish Margaret and Café Zavaroni well, it’s nice to get such an effusive welcome and it’s good to see Lena’s memory being maintained in this tiny, if slightly forgotten, corner of the UK.
PA20 0AU tel: 01700 502928 Café Zavaroni TA