GRIN AND BARE IT
A revealing incident at a Highland Games is all in day’s work for Fiona Armstrong. Illustration Bob Dewar
Fiona Armstrong gets an eyeful at a Highland Games tug of war
If you want to confirm what you think a Scotsman wears under his national dress, get yourself along to a Highland Games. As tartan jaunts go, Lochearnhead is one of the best as it’s set by the water, with a backdrop of glorious mountains. And this year a dry-ish day means it is extra good.
The piping is first-class and the dancing is to die for, and because Yours Truly got up early to make a plateful of them, we tuck into smoked salmon sandwiches in the Clan Gregor tent. Better still, one of our MacGregors – a German, would you believe it? – does us proud in the hammer throwing. It is all good clean stuff, until we come to the tug of war.
Who would have thought it could be so risqué? But let’s face it, when the adrenalin is flowing and the crowd is yelling, you can’t take your hands off that rope to pull your kilt down, can you?
I am standing next to an elderly French tourist when the incident occurs. She tells me it has made her day. A burly Scot not bothering to hide his modesty is well worth the five pounds it cost her to get into the event.
I text my daughter to tell her about the ooh-la-la at the games. I also drop that the chief and I have finally opened the bottle of Bollinger someone gave us as a Christmas present.
Before you get too excited, let me tell you that fizz is not an everyday treat in the MacGregor household. Expensive fizz even less so.
It is a simple enough message. But the phone likes to autocorrect. Her name is Natasha. And when you type ‘dear Tashie’ it usually comes out as ‘dear Trashy’. After the first insulting message, she now takes it in good heart. But when the ‘Bollinger’ I have typed in comes out as ‘billing error’, there is confusion. Why are we drinking ‘billing error’, she asks? Is this some fancy new cocktail, possibly designed by an accountant? I wish.
For billing errors are more common than one might think. I once got a statement saying I owed a certain electricity company ten thousand pounds. I phoned them and was repeatedly told it must be right. Computer says no. In the end, it turned out that they actually owed me money. There’s nothing like giving someone a few sleepless nights, is there?
But enough of these grumbles. When you have had a monster horse stand on your toe, all else pales into insignificance.
There I am, giving out the prizes at the Dumfries Show – and when I hand over the silver cup to the owner, this tricksy beauty moves six inches to the right – and hey presto!
Hey pressed-toe, indeed. Plus my smart new shoe has now seen better days. Like the man in the tug of war, all you can do is grin and bare it…
‘A burly Scot not bothering to hide his modesty is well worth the five pounds it cost to get in’