Ducking the verbal bullets from snipers over at the UK Music Folk discussion group, I felt the need for a reminder of how wonderful a language English can be.
If I had brought the album with me to the Middle East, I might have put on the Tony Benn speech to Parliament about the destruction of the coalmining industry, a model of elegant rhetoric made all the more stirring by the addition of music from the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
Or I could have chosen, in a similar vein, the sequence of the film Brassed Off (which also featured Grimethorpe) that has Pete Postlethwaite's marvellous Albert Hall speech. In another place, I reported that the scene was recorded in a single take and the cast and crew were in tears. My prized video of the film also rests in another continent.
So I turned instead to Graham and Eileen Pratt and Leon Rosselson.
Let me begin with the Pratts and their new album, The Greek King's Daughter on their own Grail label:
There can be few finer ways of experiencing the beauty of English than to listen to Eileen Pratt's singing. I have had the pleasure of hearing her at the folk clubs she and her husband visited in the West Country when I lived in Bristol, and it has occasionally struck me that she is one of those great singers best heard in live performance. For once, however, the studio production is a match for her natural gifts.
One of my first actions on receiving a new Graham and Eileen Pratt album is to head smartly for what I shall call the big Eileen ballads. Three stand out here: Donal Og, which inspired the album title, Lass of Glenshee and - not its first outing - the glorious Lark in the Clear Air. I could listen to them over and over again; indeed, I do.
But the pleasures of listening do not end with the purity and power of Eileen's voice applied to such demanding songs, and Graham's contributions - yes, the exemplary musicianship (guitar, harmonium and concertina), but also as a singer - should not be overlooked. Bright Morning Star showcases the couple's command of harmonies, but in truth there is no hint of a weak spot.
From start to finish, the album has all the fuel and distraction I need to get me painlessly through the Abu Dhabi traffic. The Pratts have not been especially active in the studios of late, at any rate as a couple (there has been a series of CDs with their choir, the Sheffield Folk Chorale), but they have managed to break the silence with an excellent illustration of how they earned such a high place in English folk music.