Saturday, December 08, 2012

Leap of Faith

They have all finally gone and done it. After an abortive attempt as a result of a broken-down winch and a first run at the void which saw a clutch of the lads jump off the cliff, the rest of the bold boys leapt the good leap on Saturday 2nd December.  There was a little bit of extra pressure this time because the tribe were on their way back up the A9 from Andrew Fraser’s wedding and so there were more than a few with fragile heads when it came to the “have I got the bottle to do it “bit.
Leading the lemmings over the side was Captain Smack and as the pics show he was ably backed up by JB, Andrew Corrigan, Player of the Year David “Chips” Smart, Andrew Macdonald, Ruaraidh Cameron, Ross MacAulay and of course Eddie Tembo who dived out into nothingness with a certain panache and style to the extent that the boys now call him “The Birdman of Balmacaan”.

Also there was Billy Urquhart now firmly back onshore. Bill has had a year filled with incidents and he’s been the subject of some seriously good snaps and one particular picture surely destined to become iconic. He has been on the front page of the Games programme; he’s been in the P & J and on the BBC and finally as the final picture reveals, in true Drum fashion, he jamp.

The Cup it can be revealed here, did not go off to accompany him on his bungee jump: all may be reassured that it is now back hidden in the thatch at Shewglie along with the claymores and muskets secreted there after the debacle that was Culloden.
Tuesday’s Courier (5th December) carried the story of the jump pointing out that the “fearless “players of Glenurquhart Shinty Club took the plunge from the 40 metre high Highland Fling bungee platform in Killiecrankie on behalf of the Highland Hospice. It’s comforting to know that the Glen Shinty Team is still full of headers! The very same qualities which took the Glen up to promotion in the Premier, won and broke the MacAulay are the very same ones which raised a huge amount to help those suffering incurable life-limiting diseases who require palliative care.

How much? If all the cash which has been promised comes in then £10,000 is a reasonable estimate so now it is all down to the lads to call in the pledges. It would be nice to think that those newspapers and media outlets including the BBC who used the “broken cup” picture on the assumption that it was out there free to use would feel obliged to fork out a token tenner for the privilege of printing it. The Treasurer had originally come up with the idea of sending out bills to all the papers where the snap appeared offering them the opportunity to pay up but wiser counsels prevailed and so  for the moment the matter has been left to lie. It would however be a magnanimous gesture for such organisations to give a little to the Hospice in this connection since, as is the case with Starbucks a moral approach is becoming more fashionable.
With shinty locked away in the cupboard for a while passing the time in a profitable way has become a little more difficult for the Wing Centre. Not being particularly attracted to his good lady’s suggestion that he stop wasting his time on the “D” and instead turn his somewhat dubious talent for penmanship to something  useful like writing a few Christmas Cards, he has taken to going out to local ceilidhs and school productions which seem to proliferate at this time of the year.
One of these occasions saw him present at the local High School production of “Narnia” which appeared to describe a frozen land populated by small deer, squirrels, wolves, children and a big cat. He was reminded strongly of Strathglass.
Also interesting was the manner in which the raffle prizes were distributed. Amongst the many goodies on the table were a couple of bottles of wine and one of whisky: yet the winners appeared not to wish to take either the wine or the whisky but instead chose chocolates, cosmetics and jars of jam. The alcohol had almost to be forced upon the last one or two holders of winning tickets as the drawn drew to its conclusion. Strangely enough at shinty raffles you may observe the very opposite in play with the proceedings dragging on interminably as the boys keep putting the jam back to be drawn again while the booze disappears with the first winning ticket… what different Glens we all live in!
The ceilidh that stood out amongst the rest however was up at the Castle on behalf of the Glenurquhart Rural Community Association an independent local group which has outlasted various re-organisations of local government – and is keen to help rescue Blairbeg Park from the clutches of the Highland Council and return it to local ownership where it had originally resided up until 1975. In that year it was gifted gratis to the then Highland Regional Council by the Community Association: now the hope is it will come back though as with all things bureaucratic there will be a financial implication,  in anticipation of which and to raise general funds the ceilidh went ahead.
Amongst the pipers and reciters and Smack on the Box was a wonderful recital from three of the Glens finest singers, not the Three Tenors but the Three Glenners. Immaculate in white shirts and bow ties with black and red silk cummerbunds they entertained an entranced company with a range of songs local and international. Amongst those best received were a lively version of “The Rattling Bog” and another specially penned number lamenting the poor state of the A82.

Who could these superstars be? No clue-then the wee one in the middle stepped forward and said “Sorry if you can’t hear too well at the back: it’s because we have only one Mike”. Then the penny dropped- because the entertainers turned out to be, Big Mike Cameron, Big Ron Fraser and ordinary sized Richard Collis. The first two haven’t sang so well since they both scored goals in the ‘88 Camanachd Cup Final and isn’t it good to see that neither the psalmody classes nor the years of singing in the back of the shinty bus have been wasted.
“Fed up without the shinty, Mr Chairman “said the Wing Centre at the back of the hall to the man who pulls the strings and controls the destiny of all that happens in, at, to, by, with and from Glenurquhart Shinty Club,
“Certainly am.”
“You could always go and turn the water off at the pavilion if you are stuck for something shinty related to do”
“Already done,” said the Chairman and off he went leaving the Wing Centre to assess the situation.  The pavilion drained and shut down before the shortest day. It was never like this in the days of Alan Bell and Jim Barr. The Wing Centre was impressed by the quiet efficiency of the younger generation but acutely aware at the same time that somehow, something indefinable and peculiarly Highland was also being lost - the joy of a crisis.
Photographs-thanks to Muzza and the guys at for the ones of the jumpers. The pic of the Three Glenners comes from one of their own publicity flyers

Scottish Blogs