Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Monday, 21 July 2008

Princes,Pictures and" Pogan"

There often was a reason for going to Stornoway. When we were young boys,we went with an adult, who would generally have some "business" there. Later on,as times changed,and we changed,we did not need a reason "to go to town".
I remember going over to town with my uncle Shonnie on his motorbike(I think it was 1956)to see the royal family,who were on a tour of the Western Isles aboard the Royal Yacht "Britannia". It wasn't that we were fervent royalists,it was just that like so many others, we were "making our way to Stornoway" to witness an event which doesn't come around too often. Actually,about 25/30 years later,I was the sole reception committee to greet Prince Charles who was aboard a large Wessex helicopter, as it hovered above the Callanish Stones.I think Charles had an appointment in Uig,and it was deemed quicker "by air".I happened to be there(a favourite place of mine)when the whole of the prince's party appeared above me. The door slid open to afford the prince a better view of the mighty megaliths. I waved and he waved back - it was as simple as that,just being friendly. Shonnie and I were stationed at the corner of Cromwell Street and North Beach Street when the royal motorcade approached. It's ironic that here at "Buth Hamish"(James Mackenzie's shop on Cromwell Street),the Royalists met a Roundhead head on, once more.It was a warm summer's day,and Prince Philip drove the Queen very slowly past us in an open Hillman car,and near enough for me to notice the deep tan on them both,which had not been acquired on the present tour of the Hebrides. It has to be said that they made a handsome couple,looking happy and relaxed. The crowd cheered as they turned right up past Woolworths(can't do that now).Other cars followed, but the only other royal I can truly remember is HRH Princess Margaret Rose, as she passed us in an open Land Rover. She was a very beautiful young woman,and her beauty was said to eclipse that of any of the debutantes or society ladies of her day.
As my school returned later than others,I often made the return journey back to Renfrew on my own,which I found exciting. The "steamer" left Stornoway around midnight,and I made sure I was in town for early evening. I might have coffee and cake in the Rendezvous Cafe.I could afford to play the toff with the money I'd earned from the various enterprises in Dalmore. After that,it would almost certainly be a visit to the Picture House(I liked that name - no need for a grand name,it was the only cinema in town.) I distinctly remember two films from those times in the Picture House. There was the film "Marnie" with Jack Hawkins,and a film which made a lasting impression on me,"The Man Who Never Was",how British naval intelligence duped the Germans in WW2 by placing the body of a young British seaman in the Mediterranean Sea,carrying secret documents. Strangely, I saw this film not so long ago, and I enjoyed it just as much.
When I was 15(going 16),I had gone to my first Cattle Show Dance in the Carloway Drill Hall with Donald,my brother(17 going 18). I had been there a few times previously to see the offerings of the Highland and Islands Film Guild.But a dance there, with music from accordion and fiddle, and a whole lot of lovely girls was altogether different. My eye was taken by this lovely girl from Carloway,and later that morning (the dances started at midnight)I "saw her home". I think I got a couple of kisses from this bonnie lass. I was leaving Stornoway the following week,and we arranged to meet in town that afternoon.I remember she wore a shiny black mackintosh style coat,the belt tied in the "French style". We may have had coffee and cake,but surprisingly we did not go to the Picture House. I cannot be sure,but I think there were plenty more kisses that day.
Note : "pog s. - pogan pl." = kiss,kisses

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