Tonight I'm sitting in The Bridge Hotel in Bonar Bridge, mostly because a comment was made by 'Quaichmaker' on the last article telling us Ivan McKee of Business for Scotland would be in the village this coming Saturday (the 7th of June at 7pm in the community hall.) I'll be away home for the weekend so will miss it, but if you're in the area, I urge you to go. I've seen Ivan McKee on the telly handing some hapless unionist their arse in debate - he makes many compelling points, but then, I would say that wouldn't I.
Before coming into the hotel I took a drive up the hill behind Bonar Bridge to Loch Migdale which I can confirm is more than picturesque, (Ivan should probably have a look.) The Loch was the subject of an investigation by the BBC's Time Team in which a crannog was probed, and its not often you get to say that. The notion Tony Robinson might have driven these same roads and taken in these views I have to tell you sends a frisson of excitement up my spine. I'm lying of course, I couldn't give a shit. Still, people have been living in this area for a long time as evidenced by the preponderance of ancient hut circles and cairns, Tony and his team would have been in their element.
|The Loch Migdale crannog, try to contain yourselves.|
I also read on one of the information boards that have become a target of my interest recently that something called the Migdale Hoard was discovered in the area in 1900 - a priceless cache of early bronze-age trinkets, not your Elizabeth Duke Argos crap, this was top-notch gear. Workmen blasting a granite knoll on a local hill found it - for the remainder of that afternoon, burly workmen could be seen prancing through the heather wearing priceless bangles, anklets and other bronze age accessories.
Oh dear, there I go again making things up... Do you think in 2000 years time archaeologists will dig up Claire's Accessories with the similar enthusiasm tinged with awe?
No, me either.
I have to confess, I did something I haven't done for a long time while out & about in the country side - namely - driven along what I thought was a country road but what actually turned out to be someone's driveway. Pulling up in front of a bungalow - kids playing in the garden while dad peers with interest from behind a garden implement and mum glares from the bay window - is an awkward experience. There is simply no way to behave as if its what you meant to do. As we know, for a man to admit he got lost is not easy. Indeed, all you can do is look bewildered then pretend to give the really short person in the passenger seat a row for being a crap navigator.
The bridge at Bonar spans the Kyle of the rivers Oykel, Cassley, Shin and Carron. (In case you're interested and/or weren't sure, a Kyle is the Scottish name for a narrow or strait; usually filled with water - sometimes navigable.) The water course separates Ross & Cromarty to the south with Sutherland to the north and empties into the Dornoch Firth. The current bridge spanning the Kyle of Sutherland was opened in 1973, it replaced among others a bridge designed by Thomas Telford that was swept away in a flood in 1892. Apparently the Brahan Seer (also prosaically known as Kenneth Mackenzie) foresaw this, he was a 'predictor of the future' who lived in the 1700's - he also predicted that a slightly bloated man (after having consumed a Classic Bridge Burger) would waffle on about him in 2014. (I might be making things up again; if he did, it isn't recorded anywhere.)
Topically, and I think Ivan should make something of this. The bridge that was built by Thomas Telford in 1812 and subsequently swept away in 1893 came with the following inscription:
The Right Honourable Nicholas Vansittart (for example) was an English politician who went on to become chancellor of the Exchequer while the RH Charles Abbot (1st Baron of Tenterden) was a Tory in the House of Lords and an interim chancellor for a spell. They also appear to be a pair of grasping needy bastards.
I suppose you could read the sign in several ways, but I think we can all agree, it sets the tone. In 1815 and as now, it was not and is not a union of equals. We pay over the top for what they deign to give us, but its never enough for the British Establishment - we should be grateful for what we do get.
After Telford's bridge was swept away, the new bridge erected bore this tablet:
Which is more factual and less demanding of gratitude.
Then in 1973, with the current bridge, this engraving was erected.
An all together more business-like affair, Scottish Tory Gordon Campbell lost his seat in 1974 to the SNP. From his wiki entry: (usual caveats apply.)
"He was Secretary of State for Scotland during the whole of Edward Heath's government. During his term in office the issues of fishing and oil led to him losing his Moray coastal seat to the SNP. Government papers released under the 30 year rule reveal an attitude that may explain that loss. Papers from 1970 revealed how the Scottish Office was prepared to have a "weaker and less efficient national fleet" to enable the UK to sign up to the controversial Common Fisheries Policy. On oil in 1972 Campbell was against any move to pump oil revenues directly into the Scottish economy despite Heath asking government departments to explore such an arrangements to help revive Scotland's economy with "its own resources". Further papers from 1974 revealed how he proposed "exceptional measures" to force Shetland Islands Council to accept an oil terminal without financial benefit to the islands."My bolding there, a member of parliament representing a Scottish constituency, in the highest office - and look at that record - just look at it.
We've come full circle, starting off with an irreverent travelogue around & about the Dornoch Firth, it seems the negativity & lies, the sheer hypocrisy and dishonesty of the unionist politician is unavoidable.
We need to finish on a positive note though: Ivan, if you're finished before 8:30 on Saturday (you shouldn't be, but if you are) nip along to The Bridge Hotel and have one of their Classic Bridge Burgers, it was only £8.80 but for any price - it was the best plate of food I've had for a long time.
I stopped needing it long before I stopped wanting it.