‘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