Country Life Every Week - - My Week -

‘He was scrubbed up and the gloves went on with an au­then­tic snap

and he of­fered his as­sis­tance as a trained first-aider. He had sus­tained and treated many in­juries, he said, with a gleam in his eye. ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I’m touched by your con­cern, but I’m sure it’ll be fine and I’ll go for the Lo­vat green zip neck in XL.’

Till pro­ce­dures com­pleted, Stu­art’s tone hard­ened a touch. Had the ac­ci­dent oc­curred within the precincts of the em­po­rium, he en­quired, be­cause if so, and if I re­fused treat­ment, I must fill out a form in trip­li­cate ab­solv­ing him and his em­ploy­ers from li­a­bil­ity for all time, wit­nessed and so on. ‘Stu­art,’ I sighed. ‘Let’s get the old first-aid kit out.’

Be­fore you could say ‘gal­lop­ing gan­grene’, he was scrubbed up and the rub­ber gloves went on with an au­then­tic Ca­su­alty snap. By now, the fin­ger had swollen gen­er­ously and gone an im­pres­sive colour—in Far­row & Ball par­lance, prob­a­bly Av­o­cado Skin scum­bled over a Beached Whale base coat.

I was hop­ing for some ex­cla­ma­tion of ap­pre­ci­a­tion, but Stu­art re­mained pro­fes­sion­ally de­tached. Min­utes later, the in­jury was washed and dressed in a fetch­ing cobalt-blue plas­ter. There are many rea­sons to go to this store in the mid­dle of nowhere— the food hall, the cafe, the gents— but there is now an ad­di­tion to that list: when I next need A&E, I shall by­pass the NHS and di­rect the am­bu­lance to House of Bruar. Thank you, Stu­art.

Many years ago, stalk­ing at the gen­er­ous in­vi­ta­tion of my brother-in-law, Mac­mod­est, at Glen Kin­glass in Ar­gyll, I took a poorly aimed shot at a stag and merely suc­ceeded in re­mov­ing its right antler. For­tu­nately, we caught up with the poor thing later—it wasn’t dif­fi­cult to spot—and I despatched it prop­erly that time. The stalker, the well-known Tim Healey, re­mained the soul of dis­cre­tion, of course, but my camp fol­low­ers lost no time in in­form­ing our host of my tra­vails.

I be­gan to feel like one of those un­for­tu­nate Vic­to­ri­ans, who, hav­ing missed their beast, would creep back to the lodge and fail to ap­pear at dinner, or worse.

Later that evening, Mac­mod­est an­nounced that he had chore­ographed a new dance, a vari­a­tion on the Highland fling. As he was a for­mer chair­man of Scot­tish Bal­let, this de­manded our at­ten­tion. Danced to a Strath­spey tune, with both arms curved and raised in the air like antlers, at its zenith, one of his arms dropped sud­denly to his side as he con­tin­ued to leap about with the other up­held. It was ir­ri­tat­ingly amus­ing. I hope he doesn’t go to House of Bruar.

Joe Gibbs lives at Bel­ladrum in the High­lands and is the founder of the Tar­tan Heart Fes­ti­val

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