Have kilt will travel. Alastair Scott writes about his epic five year trek around the globe.
In retrospect — and in a funny sort of way— I think it was the most pathetic sight of my travels. The event itself had all the makings of light-hearted entertainment and, at best, it could have been a real thriller but one ﬂeeting moment robbed the occasion of its intended effect. It had started well and most of the spectators had at one time or another creased their faces and wrinkled their stomachs as they doubled up in laughter, but there had been others (about 190 in fact, mostly the relatively elderly) whose wrinkles were not caused by laughter, and their mood seemed to match their long faces.
I had been one of those laughing because the spectacle had indeed been comic. It was a simple ﬂve-a-side game of football but the pitch was enormous and the participants only had a vague notion ofwhat to do. They clearly understood the rules but what little training they had received had failed to overcome their clumsy lack of skill. One player would boot the ball up-field at random and all the rest
would converge on it and ﬂy-hack it elsewhere — there was certainly no lack ofenthusiasm. I was surprised that football was so popular in this part ofThailand but here it was played by all and sundry with the fanaticism — but not the skill — of those who dend the turf at Ibrox. The comparison had made it seem all the more farcical and I had joined in the laughter, until the closing minute. It was just a simple thing which saddened me; one of the goal keepers had made three magnificent saves and then she (it was a mixed game) let through the only goal of the match, an own goal - the ultimate disgrace in a contest of regional importance. It wasn‘t her fault as the ball had bounced awkwardly on a rutted part of the pitch and defied her reﬂex grasp. The ball hit her leg and was deﬂected over the goal line. The final whistle went, and she stood there stunned by the realisation of having lost the match, ofhaving let her team down. It was just a simple thing— but that
moment froze the smile lingering on
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46 The List 7 - 20 Feb
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But perhaps I ought to start at the beginning. One September morningin 1978,
when a pint ofbeer cost 24p or, at
outrageous places, as much as 28p, I set off on a journey round the world which lasted one week short of five years and passed through 53 countries on six continents. 194,000 miles resulted in 17,000 photographs and the consumption ofeight pairs of shoes. four pairs of tough walking boots and about one-third of a kilt
(though fortunately not a vital
My plan was to see a large part of the world without being restricted by time, working now and then to pay my way, travelling on the grass roots level towards the off-beat places or the more frequented ones, but in the wrong season. I dislike excessive heat and have never been enamoured by the beach pastime of slow evaporation, so it seemed a natural choice to head for the Arctic in winter.
I hastily assembled my luggage, spent three days toiling over how to reduce it and set off with the essentials of warm clothing, a Vango tent. sleeping bag, cooker, fuel, food, 28le of photographic equipment, umbrella (to protect my camera in bad weather), bagpipes,
kilt and a universal bath plug. Within
a short time my kilt was scuffing the surface of a snowy north Icelandic landscape below a pack which weighed 84Ibs, and I was idly
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mistake to lug along that bath plug. As the miles fell by. my knees became redder, my shoulders began to ache and the practical reality of what lies between the lines of cosy armchair travel reading became increasingly evident. But the energy of ambition readily powers the first daunting footsteps and besides, it’s
2 relatively easy to keep a stiff upper lip at a temperature of minus 16 degrees.
I was certainly a naive optimist thinking I could assault the world with a ninety-page passport, a universal bath plug and a smile. (The passport and the smile are essential but it’s not worth taking the plug). Before leaving I had read that Iceland grew bananas in geothermically heated greenhouses! Such facts as these fascinated me and so I went off to Iceland to see Arctic bananas, and hoped winter wouldn‘t prove too troublesome. It was troublesome, in fact Iceland came to a halt, and I had to change into jeans and find work in a shipyard. The bagpipes were sent home after six months. I was never any good at playing and the only ones to enjoy listening were those at a shipyard party, too stupefied with brennavin to differentiate between The Piobaireachd of Donald Dhu and their current disco hit, a sort of apocalyptical version of the Seven Dwarfs singing ‘Hi-ho, hi-ho. . .‘ My luggage was thereafter reduced to
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