Many years ago the Textiliste and I saw a film. It was around the time Chariots of Fire was making it big the world over and British film making had one of its many, if short lived, revivals. Indie films were hip and British ones especially so. That trip introduced us to the formidable talents of director Bill Forsyth and his delightful comedy Gregory’s Girl. If you’ve not seen it, do try and catch it.
We fell in love with Gregory, his driving instructor dad and the Forsyth style of story telling.
It was inevitable we would watch out for Forsyth’s next movie. There’s always a little trepidation, isn’t there, when you loved something by an artist, as you await the next offering, for fear it will disappoint and so taint the memory of that first love. Forsyth doesn’t do disappointment.
In 1983 he brought out Local Hero with the aging Burt Lancaster in a leading role and an early break for Peter Capaldi, now at the pinnacle of his career as the new Doctor Who. The blurb – oil tycoon goes to buy out naïve Scots and come a cropper – didn’t make it sound compelling but it was one of the most enjoyable filmatic experiences of my life. It was set mostly on the West Coast of Forsyth’s beloved Scotland. It was like entering a world I didn’t know existed. I was entranced and enchanted. So was the Textiliste.
We booked a week in a cottage near Oban and set off on the long drive north. As we scurried through Glasgow on the M8 we caught glimpses of the mountains ahead. We skirted the glowering glistening Loch Lomond and crested the ridge at Crianlarich. My skin still tingles at the memory of looking down Glencoe for the first time; there, revealing themselves with the bold confidence of a can-can dancer lifting her skirts, the purple and grey Highlands tempted us on.
It is bleak at times, threatening like a be-cloaked highwayman in the fog. It is often empty. It contains that most vicious of insects, the Scottish midge – genetically adapted over centuries to sniff out the blood of an Englishman and leave you with saucer sized welts. Yet, yet… It is extraordinary in its beauty and its variety. We spent that week open mouthed, constantly thanking Forsyth for giving us a reason to drive the length of our tight packed little island to find this extraordinary wilderness on our doorstep.
We took friends the next year. Children in future years. We worked our way north, discovering the Applecross peninsula and the route to the Isle of Skye. We climbed around the Cuillins and ‘bagged’ some Munros (a Munroe is a peak in excess of 3,000 feet; there are 282 in Scotland). We now go every year, sometimes more than once. It feels like it is now in the blood – maybe those midges have infected me with Highland Fever. We know what we will get and that’s always changing. Rarely is the sky clear in Scotland. Clouds scud across the sun and the shadowing on the hillsides creates a palate of colours unmatched anywhere. And I don’t even like golf.
All this was brought to mind by Charli Mills latest prompt. July 16, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story influenced by a musical score. If there’s a piece of music that has the impact on me that the Mark Isham piece has on Charli it is the Local Hero theme music, Wild Theme, performed by Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits. If I want to be taken to another place, this will do it.
It seems right somehow that it is this that appears in my flash.
Rupert, her half-brother, sounded desperate. ‘Please Mary. Come with me.’
‘Yes I know.’ Damn him, she thought; even after death her father controlled her.
Later as Rupert fiddled with the hire car, she thought of her dad. Just the same. Efficient but a bit of a prat. Her eyes stung; she swallowed. She wouldn’t give either of them the satisfaction.
They walked miles, in the shadow of the Cuillins. ‘Here.’ Rupert took out the urn. ‘You first.’
She scattered ash and heard music. Rupert’s ipod. Wild Theme. Dad’s favourite. Tears coursed her cheeks. She no longer cared who saw.
So if Alex Salmond is reading this, ‘Back off big boy; you can’t have Scotland’. There’s a piece of me that will forever be tartan and I’m not giving it up easily.
Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing, onward the sailors cry. Carry the lad that’s born to be king, o’er the sea to Skye… Another little song that resonates…, just for good measure.