Published: 22/09/2017 14:19 - Updated: 21/09/2017 14:20

You can take the boy out of Tain...


What a joy to come home on a Thursday night.

How lovely to stand at the top of the steps leading down to the tarmac at Inverness Airport and fill my lungs with good clean Highland air.

It’s raining? I’ve no coat, and it’s a wee bit of a walk to the long-stay car park? Pah! Who cares! I’m back where I belong.

Of course I am incredibly lucky to be where I am on working days in Westminster - to be there, where, for better or worse, our history (including Brexit history) is actually being made. I know this and I am grateful to Far North voters for having put me there - but you know this, you can take the boy out of Tain, but you can’t take Tain out of the boy.

At the end of the day I simply couldn’t live anywhere else.

Even as I write this piece, I know that Steve the nice fish mannie from Buckie will shortly be parked at Grants the Bakers and it will be time to set down my pen and head  out the door for my kippers. As every Highlander knows - we value the pace, order and sheer friendliness of our Highland lives. Put it this way, there is always time for a blether.

Not so London though!

Hurrying, scurrying - rushing, crushing - what a crowd, what a jam. Midst the turmoil, the maelstrom, a couple of months ago my better half had the effrontery to wish a passer by “good morning”. What a strange look she got in return. If we live our lives at thirty miles an hour, then Londoners live theirs at seventy. Why? What’s the panic? Blowed if I know - as I saunter along, looking for the parts of the capital that are said to be paved with gold.

“Morning Dad!”

And there outside Portcullis House last Wednesday was another boy with Tain in him.

“Any chance of some of that breakfast you go on about?”

I said yes, but also explained that we would have to first go to the Chamber for me to put down a prayer card when they opened the doors at eight.

(As I described in a column in July, this is in order to book your place in the Chamber for the day’s business. A vital necessity last Wednesday as I was due to ask the Prime Minister a Question.)

Before eight I introduced him to other queuing MPs and he chattered away with them. After we had gone in, and I had written “Stone” on a card and carefully placed it two rows behind where Dennis Skinnner sits, I spotted the ‘Beast of Bolsover’ himself.

“Morning Dennis - can I introduce my son to you?”

The old boy, black trousers, salt and pepper jacket, and long white swept back hair, offered his hand. By way of conversation I said that I had enjoyed reading a recent profile of him in a Sunday Paper.

“Aye - and they wrote about me walking everywhere in London, didn’t they?”

“You see, when I was down pit you were only too grateful to get up again at end of shift.”

“Some think we spent our time in miners’ club, but no we weren’t, we were outdoors in air and light. That’s why so many of us had allotments. To get the goodness of not being down pit. A lot of folk don’t understand that. That’s why I walk in the London parks such a lot - to see the birds and the flowers. Same in winter. Not so many flowers though.”

After our breakfast the lad departed for his work. Has he stepped through security and back into the whirling multitude, I told him to be sure and not forget the famous man he had just met.

“No chance of that!”

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