GRIN AND BARE IT

A re­veal­ing in­ci­dent at a High­land Games is all in day’s work for Fiona Arm­strong. Il­lus­tra­tion Bob De­war

Scottish Field - - CONTENTS -

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’

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