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Iain Maciver: My singing was a Loch Awe-some treat for locals

Loch Awe
Access to housing in Loch Awe area problematic.

Boris won’t quit. Keir may quit. And I have definitely scarpered.

I have abandoned yon Lewisian jewel of the Hebrides and set off for another distant land, down over the horizon.

Yes, the column this week is on tour. It comes to you from another part of the country. I have jumped into the old Vauxhall Vivaro with Mrs X and headed south.

Over the sea to Skye, and we kept heading south. Kyleakin, Invergarry, Fort William, North Connel and even further. We’re in deepest, darkest Argyll.

When Mrs X announced she was booked to do wedding photos in Argyll, I wondered if I could wangle a trip. It’d been many years since I’d been down here.

It turned out she was going to be very busy with other pre-wedding shoots, too, so I applied for the role of chauffeur, bag-carrier and coffee-getter. The interview was gruelling, but I got the job on condition I didn’t interrupt her, that I slowed down when she told me to, and that I amused myself in rural Argyllshire while she clicked away. No bother.

I’ve done that A87 Kyleakin to Invergarry stretch many times. This time, though, I missed the junction. When Mrs X checked the satnav, we were on the way to Invermoriston.

It’s easier than you’d think to lose your way on the A87 (Photo: Google Maps)

Jibes that I was losing it, that she should have taken a proficient chauffeur, or one who was awake, rained on my head. When we finally got back to the Invergarry junction, the big road sign at the turn-off was collapsed in a heap – probably due to a collision. See? Not my fault.

I’ve just been on to the trunk road contractors, Bear Scotland. They confirm they’re working to fix it. I didn’t do that as a public service. If this has helped you, please write in for the attention of my wife to tell her it was not my fault.

Lunch and a show

The fault line that is Loch Awe was where the nuptials were happening. A glacier chugged through it and left it long and thin. The fluvio-glacial features of Loch Awe are finer than those of Loch Lomond, and among the most impressive evidence of recent glaciation in Europe, it says here.

Just as Britney finished, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Someone with a grey beard had crept up to the half-open van window

More crucially, our hotel had great nosh. The service could have been better, but they struggle with few staff.

Certain politicians still mislead us and claim it’s due to a combination of reasons. After speaking to European staff in special circumstances who can stay, the fiasco is completely the fault of toxic Brexit. So there.

After dropping herself off at the venue on Saturday, I meandered along the lochside. Loch Awe is awesome. Already prepared with hot water in a vacuum flask for coffee, a Scotch egg, and a packet of smoky bacon, I backed the Vauxhall Vivaro into an off-road track for a lunchtime spread.

Who could resist a picnic on the beautiful banks of Loch Awe? (Photo: Fiona McCuish)

Paul Gambaccini was on the radio blabbing on about Britney Spears and encouraging listeners to sing along. I found myself humming along, but soon realised it was I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.

I know. Don’t judge me. Och, why not? No audience. After the first chorus, I knew her lyrics and shrieked them out with gusto. I gave it some welly.

Just as Britney finished, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Someone with a grey beard had crept up to the half-open van window.

Stuttering, I told him I hoped I hadn’t disturbed him too much. He shook his head under his deerstalker and enquired where I was from. When he heard Stornoway, he asked: “Would that be Calum Kennedy you were singing or… or something?” I shook my thick head.

Fleeing the scene of the crime

A longtime estate worker in his 70s called Finlay, the man had heard the introduction to the song in his colleague’s jeep before he came round the hill looking for an injured deer. When he heard the high-pitched warbling, he thought my van contained some loud, girly types.

I was mortified. I thought I had a very fine booming baritone.

Finlay was about to head back for his own lunch, so I quickly did a deal. If he didn’t mention to the lads at the estate what I was singing, he could have my Scotch egg and some juice. Deal done.

Now I have told P&J readers, Finlay, you can tell who you want

I thought it would be better coming from myself. Now I have told P&J readers, Finlay, you can tell who you want. I am miles away and heading north away from the scene of the crime.

As we had been discussing our surroundings, my new friend Finlay cheerily departed with these parting wise words. He said: “Years ago, my donkey stumbled on the lochside road and I fell off. Who’s fault was that?” Dunno, Finlay. “It was the asphalt.”

Iain Maciver is a former broadcaster and news reporter from the Outer Hebrides

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