Saturday, 20 August 2011

Romantic hero revisited


'You know how fine ye are to me, Robert MacGregor?' she said.

Couldn't have agreed with her more. Liam Neeson cut a fine figure in a kilt. VERY fine. Oh, and Scotland looked nice too, yes.

I doubt the real Rob Roy would have recognised that story as his own. Although I daresay he would have been mighty pleased with Jessica Lange for a wife, the saucy wench. Yet, in spite of knowing it to be a highly fictionaI account I have to admit that somehow, the swaggering figure of Liam Neeson got stuck in my head as THE image of the legendary Scotsman. Yes, I know. Not even Scottish.

It was therefore to be expected that when visiting Rob Roy's final resting place at Balquhidder Kirkyard, tall, robust, ruggedly handsome Liam would be the image to pop up. Not my fault entirely though. The setting at Balquhidder cooperated nicely with the romantic notion.

When we approached the kirkyard, the sun broke through the clouds and shone upon the grass and the stones. It was like stepping through time to an era long gone. I remembered reading about how the Celts had called this a 'thin place', where the boundaries between this world and the spiritual world are said to be minimal. Fairy knolls can be found nearby, and on the hillslope just behind the church, fires used to be lit at Beltane and Samhain in honour of the old gods. To bring warmth into the households of Balquhidder in the months that followed. Truly an enchanted land. And a fitting resting place for a Scottish hero.



Our driver and tourguide had let us wander over the grounds by ourselves just a short while before rounding us up again. It wasn't till his little flock of sheep had gotten safely back on the bus that he gave us his take on Rob Roy. You'll have to imagine the rich brogue in which it was delivered.

'This Rob Roy bloke now, he wasn't anything like the tall handsome fellow in the film, that Liam Neeson. Oh no! To begin with, he is known to have been a very short, wee man. He did however have very long and muscular arms. And of course the ginger hair that gave him his name, but not just on his head. A very hairy man he is supposed to have been, our Robert MacGregor. Very hairy indeed. So come to think of it, he must have looked something like a small orangutan.'

A. Small. Orangutan.

Well. That's it then. I will never think of Rob Roy the same way again.

Naturally that didn't stop me from enjoying a re-run of the film the other day.

I mean, it's still Liam Neeson in a kilt. Phwoar.


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