RUNNER-UP - STEWART CARTER
Well deserved congratulations goes out to Stewart Carter from Stafford our runner-up who wins a coach tour holiday for two to the Scottish Highlands. A fantastic story about bringing in the New Year at the Alexandra Hotel, Oban, we hope you enjoy it.
Fanciful Evening in Oban
“Do you know who you remind me of,” is a phrase I have heard so often throughout most of my adult life. So, not for the first time at Highland Heritage, I entered the always well supported fancy dress at the Alexander Hotel in Oban on New Year’s Day 2014.
I did think about doing Andy Pandy, but my Looby Loo (Carol) had to stay home for sudden family commitments.
There were so many entries and some had forked out for costumes off the internet or spent hours applying makeup. Some had gone to extraordinary lengths to put on a show. A trio from a cruise ship dressed in whites seemed somewhat out of place no more so than the caveman dressed in, well hardly anything at all, and looked in his rug more like Lenny the Lion!
So I tagged on the end just to make up the numbers really, of which there were many, with just my flat cap set at the angle so typical of Norman Wisdom.
We paraded up and down the aisle and I produced a few giggles as ‘Norman’ tripped as he does, and also got an extra mention when the presenter declared that “Norman has just trod on my foot!”
Wee Willie and Big Maggie made the swift decision on the winner. They must have been the worse for a few wee drams for poor Norman was declared the winner!
Having been presented with a large bottle of champagne, I ran up the stairs – quicker and fitter than the lift but more puffed than a packet of woodbines! My keenness to get altitude was to call Carol and breathlessly tell her what I’d just gone and done! “I’ve won the fancy dress!!”
Is it perhaps a Scots ploy to embarrass the English by introducing ‘Strip the Willow’ ... you see what they do is confuse us by making some of the lads .... lassies! How can you follow a dance of partners when some are not what they seem? So carried away was ‘Norman’ that at times he found no partner at all, and others he turned only to be carried away by both arms – legs kicking and reeling. Such fun!
It became a magical New Year, as only the Scots can mount. There was a piper, and kilts were flailing around; there was dancing and that wonderful awareness of something quite special about to happen. Just before the old year surrendered to the new, whisky was handed out. Tradition dictates of course a rendering of ‘Auld Lang Syne” as everyone joined hands.
From the warmth generated on the dance floor we were ushered outside as the flourishing onset of cold air chilled my mind to being in heaven that New Year and we witnessed a lovely display of fireworks reflecting over the water around Oban. Missing my lady Carol though, it brought more than a tear to my eye. Returning indoors we were welcomed to a ‘Hot Toddy’ and further dancing. A lady watching me dance said I made her week, or weak or was that weep, I’m not quite sure now?
Reflecting on the most wonderful and magical New Year I began asking the question, “How can I buy some second-hand bagpipes I wonder?” Very easily I would imagine! Shopping in Oban the following day, I saw a pair of ‘undies’ declaring, “Will ye no come back again!” I’m still not sure these were intended as wishful thinking for the older man, or a pleasurable invite to us Sassenachs!
We’ll be back!