landed at Benbecula. more puddle than island. the rain clattering down on the tarmac runway. ‘Are you sure you didn’t take a wrong turning.‘ asked a Western Isles councillor of the pilot. ‘this looks like Delhi to me.‘
Soon we were airborne again. heading for North Uist and Stornoway where we were to spend the night in a B & B. The perennial problem of the Sabbath had re-surfaced. Caledonian MacBrayne fuelling the bubbling furore by considering to run ferries to Lewis on the day when traditionally no one does anything but go to church. On a mild evening. yachts moored in the mud and young boys catching mackerel with ridiculous ease from the harbour wall -— the sport being to land them before lazy seals plucked them offthe hook — it was difficult to see what the fuss was about. In Zebo's Bar. a heavy metal group from lnverness gave a reluctant audience what their name — Hard Times — promised. vandalising pop tunes with megawatts which could have blasted granite from a quarry. After dinner in the Crown Hotel. missing the legendary high tea but dining grandly on chunky ‘wild' salmon and Beaujolais at £4.90 a bottle. I asked the locals if they wanted Sunday to become open. Everyone was in favour of some form of relaxation for although it was now possible for residents in a hotel to get a meal. where previously they had to fast. tourists had to kick their heels for 24 hours.
Consequently, Stornoway is to be avoided at weekends and by Friday morning we were on our way out and heading for Barra with what was scheduled to be a briefsojourn in Benbecula. But the tide at Barra was tardy in going out. delaying our departure. and we had to spend four hours in and around the Ministry of Defence airport base where Jim Reeves' ‘Distant Drums‘ throbbed unrelentingly and where Budgie's unisex ‘hairport‘ thrived on the locks ofimpatient travellers. By the time we left Meat Loafhad re-established a Hebridean Heavy Metal monopoly and even the ‘Mingulay Boat Song‘ began to seem attractive as an alternative.
We flew low over Benbecula. South List and Eriskay. where the 5.5. Politician sank with a cargo of whisky. an event subsequently immortalised by Compton Mackenzie in his ridiculous farce. Whisky (Ia/ore. Mackenzie was an islomanc and Barra was where he chose finally to live and be buried. his grave marked by an undistinguished headstone in a rustic cemetry at the north ofthe island. It is easy to see why he chose Barra which must be one of the friendliest and most charming islands on the west coast. The best way to see it is on foot or by bike which can be hired locally seven days a week. Even in the teeth ofa destabilising gale. with the gears on our mountain bikes slipping like Torvill and Dean. we circumnavigated the four miles by eight island with dilatory ease. calling in for tea at a cottage where everyone sat round the only table. gassing and succumbing to cheese cake. On other days we roamed the beaches. boulder-picking. or climbed Heaval (383 metres). 21 mile to the north ofC‘astlebay. from whose top on a Clear day you can see Vatersay. Sanday. Pabbay. Mingulay. in an unfastencd chain.
Castlebay is the only settlement of substance on the island and this is where everyone congregates in the evening. generating towards the Castlebay. Craigard or (‘lachann Beag hotels. each with menus awash with seafood. The crack is good. the locals deadpanly adept at making the most of nothing. There are ceilidhs and for a lucky few hopping on the good ship. Lorne Leader. anchored in the Bay. It feels more like Ireland than Scotland. a sentiment underlined by the number of new houses being built and the cars. lying around in the open. terminally rusting. ‘Why don‘t they get rid of them'. I asked Gerard Campbell. as he took us to the last hop. ‘()h.' he said savouring the thought. ‘the council asked them if they would like them towed away but they said they had got used to seeing them around. And the younger generation grows up and doesn‘t know the place any other way.‘
You may claim as many diilerent otters as you wish, but please take the whole magazine with you each time. All otters are strictly subject to availability and the individual management‘s decisions are Iinal. Only one ticket otter tor each voucher. First come, first served. Enjoy the show!
A, Q A pair at tickets tor one at the following plays anyday
('5) i, . \ W vi 1 till the end ottheirrespective runs. BLOOD ON THE .
NECK OF THE CAT; A CAST FOR MICKEY SLAIN; ' r r: PORTRAIT OF VINCENT; FOOTSTEPS TO THE MOON: i am
—-- DID I REALLY SAY THAT?; AGONY FOR BEGINNERS/GRIEF UNDER CONTRACT; KEAN: THE PARTY; THE WHITE DEVIL; PUSS IN BOOTS (not suitable tor children); BILLY BISHOP GOES TO WAR; SEJANUS: HIS FALL; LIZARO IN THE GRASS; LOVERS AND LIARS; SYLVIA PLATH: A DRAMATIC PORTRAIT; BRIDGE TO THE BLUES. Exchange this voucher atthe Festival Club. Only same day claims accepted. One « pair at tickets available pershow.
Q Apairoitickets every nightuntil3Sept(notSun
‘ f ,1 28) to see AMERICAN MISCELLANY CABARET
F & Rig“? (midnight). Exchangethis voucheratlhe 53m 3mst '06 Chaplaincy Centre Box Ottice. Up to 10 pairs ol
“0"” 3"“ ‘° 04°”é‘“°d tickets available per show.
A tree ticket to see CUT THE GIRLS’ TALK! THIS IS WAR (12.30pm) on Thurs 25, Fri 26, Mon 29, Tue 30 or Wed 31. Exchange this voucher at the Mandela Theatre Box Office. Show runs until 3
-_..a._- Sept (not Suns). Up to 10 tickets available per show.
A pair of tickets to see STEREO MIME (4.30pm) or STRANGE AS AN ANGEL (3.15pm) on Fri 26, 7 Sat 27 or Sun 28; or SO YOU THINK YOU’RE FUNNY (8pm) on Mon 29. Exchange this voucher at the Gilded Balloon Box Ollice. Up to 5 pairs of tickets pershow.
E GILC'EO';:IIOON R T H EA T R E
A tree ticket for FRUIT MACHINE at the Cannon Cinema (8.30pm) on Sun 28 Aug. Exchange this voucher at the Filmhouse Box Oliice. Up to 2 tickets available.
42nd ED‘lNBu GH I NA NAL M FESTIVAL 13-28 AUG 88
A pair ot tickets to see ECLECTIC AND OTHERS (2pm or 9pm) or CONTEMPORARY MUSIC BY JOHN CAGE, STEVE REICH ETC (7pm) on Thurs 25. Fri 26 or Sat 27. Exchange this voucher at Pillar Hall Box Ollice. One pair at tickets Iorthe 9pm shows and up to two pairs at tickets for the others.
The List 26 Aug- 1 Sept 1988 73'