Finlay, my Hebridean pal smiled as we recalled how the religious girls in the flat upstairs would stamp on the floor when we’d hold one of our late-night parties.
‘Ah, Jim, they never stood a chance.’
His giant frame was more stooped, his melodic voice more of a whisper now, but it was the same old Finlay.
It was the last I saw of Finlay but I remember him today, and other days, and when I do I smile too.
Finlay was a Hebridean, a Western Islander from the last Scottish rocks before North America.
Many other crofting families ended up there and one woman even begot a son who is running the world now.
Finlay wouldn’t have approved of him.
Finlay, a native Gaelic speaker, also ‘emigrated’ too, to the Scottish mainland.
Hence his sonorous voice and the way he pronounced everything perfectly.
It was there at Aberdeen University that we became firm friends and flatmates.
And there that he looked after me, and us.
Like the time he stopped me getting a beating from Aberdeen football fans – I deserved the beating.
I’d hoped he’d come along with me to the Beerfest in Munich but those parties up in our flat, and others, drained his savings.
We did rave it up together in Skye at the annual Folk Festival when we emptied Broadford’s supermarket of booze.
And again when I showed off my new girlfriend around the Western Islands.
I didn’t expect to see him strolling down the main street on Skye.
But he was looking to get back to his home island of North Uist.
I wouldn’t have been much of a friend if I hadn’t helped him.
And he in turn gave us an unforgettable night on North Uist.
Finlay is my youth, and that of my friends, but of course he is most missed by his wife Jaqui, his brother Archie and sister-in-law Elsie.
An chuid eile den tsíocháin mo chara.
The Hebrides, or Western Islands, is Gaelic Scotland.
It is unspoilt with beautiful beaches, ancient stone circles, fresh farm to fork food and is the home of whisky.
And people who are just like Finlay.
Isle be there
The destinations are Stornoway on the biggest island Lewis, the Isle of Barra where you land on the beach, and Benbecula between North and South Uist.
There has been a bridge over to Skye for years now but you can take the bonny boat too.
Caledonian MacBrayne was traditionally the Islanders’ umbilical cord to the Mainland and is still the best way to arrive. www.calmac.co.uk.
And when they got there, to Glasgow, their meeting place was under the Central Station railway bridge ‘The Heelanmam’s Umbrella’.
Read my review of my home city https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/