The Castration of Gorrie and Scotland

I write these words on a sodden note pad balanced on my slippery oil skinned knee in a small yacht off the southeast corner  of the island of Mull in the very teeth of a gale. We are bucketing around about a mile off Loch Spelvie  at the centre of a maritime cart wheel where the grey sea motorways running down  from Fort William and Tobermory clash and bicker and the majestic waves form egg box patterns under an arching umbrella of sweeping seabirds and whistling winds.

The electronic meters in front of me here in the sea wet cockpit tell me that the wind is gusting at up to thirty knots, my tide books remind me that today the spring tides will be running at their most vicious, the seemingly all-knowing waters oozing threateningly along under the magnetism of the moon’s gravity at speeds of up to five knots. When the winds headbutt those tides the silver grey egg boxes lump, twist and somersault into sweeping waves that slip-slap spray onto my ancient yellow oilskins and soak the note pad on which I here write.

This is a terrible place, but there is nowhere else I would rather be, the volume of my life being turned up and tuned to a greater intensity, and I know that these few privileged days at sea will sharpen me for when I return to Edinburgh’s dull grind .

Down below my skipper and friend of thirty  years, who is the only other member of the crew, turns on the radio and we listen in horror  at live broadcasts from the formerly dignified and refined great halls of Westminster which now suddenly seem like some drunken pub populated by the sort of amoral nutters a wise bar landlord would ban for life. Somehow the crazily wild scene here off the coast of Mull seem like a parallel to the madness of contemporary politics, though the raging sea that surround us offer a  nobler world where lies and intrigue are unknown.

When I was a child I spent many days fishing long lines by  these rock ragged shores with an internationally renowned gaelic story teller called Attie Mackechnie ( Nickname:Tobar an Dualchais – the well of heritage ) and on wild days such as this he would often shout  against the wind’s bellow the grotesque tale of Gorrie or gently comfort me with nonsense about how if the boat couped I was never to fear as he would take my hand and we would run along the seabed and take stroupachs with gaelic pals of his that lived in crystal white cottages and dry our sodden clothes in front of roaring fires.

Once I had asked An Tobar why it was that when we stopped to gift fish to the ancients in their white washed cottages they never thanked us. ” Ah Maxie they are complementing us that we are of the family of the gaels and that when we grow old we will be be given fish and that to offer us thanks would serve only be to insult us.” was his reply.

Well now  it is my turn to be old, though more in need of answers than fish,  and searching the misty horizon for lobster creels that might foul our propeller my eye is caught by the high cliffs above the tiny port of Carsaig, and I start as I remember with a wistful grin how the cliffs  are named for the castration of Gorrie. The tale An Tobar would tell me.  And wonder if I understand yet.

Gorrie, ah Gorrie. The castration of Gorrie. I used to wonder why he told me that  tale so often. A few weeks  before he died I visited Attie in a hospital in Oban. He was, like me, a diabetic and they had just sawn his leg off close to his crotch. I remember I wondered whether that precious leg would have been kept aside for his coffin or hurled into the hospital incinerator. It had seemed somehow wrong to poison the well  so near to his end, though no doubt their intention had been for the best.

I had half an hour before my ferry to Mull and I asked him for a tale and in return he asked me if he had ever told me the story of the castration of Gorrie. I laughed.  It was a bizarrely happy scene, there was Attie, cheery on the banks of his Styx and I had replied and said he had told me the tale a hundred  times when we had fished the bad waters under Gorrie’s black cliffs, but that I would be honoured to hear it again. Then I wanted to know why he had told it to me so often. “Ah Maxie it is because you don’t understand it yet” was his taunting reply as he sat in his wheelchair seemingly at ease with his bandaged stump and the terrifying journey to death he was about to complete .

It seemed that back many hundred years previously there had been a beautiful young man called Gorrie who lived in one of the whitewashed cottages that lie like jewels on the greensward at the bottom of the black cliffs two cables abeam our port.

Now Gorrie was a hunk. Sex on legs, and most of the women on Mull fancied him rotten and would glance at each other and giggle whenever he came into sight.

Now there were two clans that populated those green swards, the Macleans of Duart and the Macleans of Loch Bhuie  and by good fortune these two ever bickering clans had been gifted with a love match between  Duart and Bhuie, and much was the rejoicing amongst all that tilled the land and fished the seas that peace might reign.

Now at that time and for many generations before there had been a ritual of the cascade of deer at Carsaig. The preservation of venison  to feed the people in the long winter months had been a hard thing to engineer and so it was that in late October when the deer herds were still restless with lust and disorder, great bodies of men and barking dogs would sweep the deer herds to the high cliffs above Carsaig and force them to cascade over the cliffs so that their bodies might be salted and casked amongst the white breakers on the ragged shore below. It was evidently quite a sight and the chief of Bhuie would take delight in taking his house guests to a cliff top high above the cascade to watch the cruel slaughter brought about at his proud command.

And so one year the scheming Bhuie invites Gorrie if he might do him the honour of standing in a key position at the edge of the cliff and do the pivotal task of the final shooing the deer herds over the cliff. It’s awful to imagine the scene. The barking dogs, the shouting people, the frightened hinds, the barking, priapic stags, the white waves crashing on the shore below. And Gorrie messes up, can’t turn the stampeding deer, who scatter back to the hills, just as Bhuie bloody well knew they would. You see he had arranged for extra deer to be sent to where Gorrie had to turn them. Bastard.

So Bhuie calls for Gorrie to be called to the top of the cliff and says he has disgraced him in front of all his people, that he has brought him dishonour and starvation to the people and that he no longer wants him in his clan. And there on the cliff top , in front of his guests, in front of his people his plaid is ripped from him and he is castrated in front of all.

And then Gorrie stands up in all his bloodied shame and rushes forward at Bhuie but he means him no harm and instead grabs hold of the leg of the baby that has been born to Bhuie and Duart, young Lachlan, the future, and makes as if he will hurl the screaming babe out onto the raging sea. And a great cry goes up from the gathered people, anxious that the future peace between the clans be maintained through the life of the babe that was half of Duart and half of Bhuie.

And then the half naked Gorrie stands up before them in all his blooded shame and shouts out; “I will only save this child if you do to your chief what you have just done to me.”  And a great discussion breaks out amongst the people and Bhuie, initially proud and arrogant but then increasingly pitiful, argues with some force for his masculinity.

But it is to no avail and the same men who had castrated Gorrie now take the same still wet knife and castrate their chief, his screams cutting into the roaring of the wind and the crashing of the waves .

And so we sail down past the high cliffs where Gorrie was castrated all those centuries ago and the radio broadcasts from Westminster continues to irritate and I find to my horror that I am weeping, not the shuddering tears of collapse but the misty eyed sadness that is so often the embarrassment of the old, and the skipper comes up to check things and finds his first mate all broken and useless. And I tell him of An Tobar and how almost all the Airbnb’ed cottages that we are sailing past were once populated by people who were of the family of the Gael who gave me no thanks for the fish I brought them and how Sorley Maclean used to say that he could hardly bring himself to visit Mull as he couldn’t stop weeping when he was there. And how I miss An Tobar, just as he must have missed his leg, though he never showed it. And the Skipper says that maybe I should take a break from my watch and have a bit of a sleep.

And so we talk of Independence. And of Scotland. And I say that I weep not for Gorrie but for Scotland and Britain and how I feel that so much that I have loved and believed in has been destroyed in recent months and that I feel that my country and culture has been castrated by the far right.

And then we both near weep. And then to my horror the Skipper, a successful businessman whom  I much admire, tells me, as so many others have, that he is finding to his astonishment that with the collapse of his faith in Westminster that he might even be persuaded to vote Yes in a referendum.

And I gaze up at the high cliffs of Gorrie and wonder what An Tobar meant when he said that I never understood his tale. Now I am an unashamed Unionist and a radical conservationist. I joined Friends of the Earth when it was less than  two years old and was active in their first campaigns, indeed I remember David Bellamy saying, tongue in cheek,  that he was entirely unconvinced that the Earth needed friends like Maxwell Macleod. To me the seascape beyond the cliffs of Carsaig witness a more convincing tale than do the iniquitous  stories we hear of the chief of either Loch Bhuie or indeed Downing street.

I am more interested in saving the planet than in saving Scotland, and am not to convinced that the former will be helped by the latter.

We have perhaps a dozen years to turn back the inevitability of mass starvation and migration making the lives of the next generation a living nightmare and much as I would die for my native Hebrides I am unconvinced that giving up time and effort in the interests of substantiating Scotland as a nation state would be time well spent. But I do wonder at  my memories of An Tobar’s last remarks to me, that I didn’t understand the tale of Gorrie. Maybe it was about that what we should concentrate on was living well in small , low impact communities, maybe he was saying that my people, the Gaelic people, had been castrated and that we should concentrate on bringing back their values and life style if we are to save the world from itself.

Actually I haven’t been entirely accurate in my description of Gorrie’s cliffs, that’s not what they are called at all. You see their real name is the place of Gorrie’s leap.

His leap? Yeah you see after he had witnessed the castration of the chief Gorrie  took the baby in his arms, walked to the edge of the cliff, and holding the child closely to him, jumped. And today there are no chiefs of the Macleans of Loch Bhuie.

A stone to his cairn.

Image: Eas Criarachain waterfall taken from below Binnein Gorrie, or Gorries Leap on the south coast of Mull.

Comments (33)

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  1. Millsy says:

    ”Horror” that a businessman should want to sever links with the deeply corrupt Westminster and all who pull her strings ? You truly are an unreconstructed Unionist .

    You have my sympathy !

    1. maxwell macleod says:

      Thanks for your sympathy, I shall treat it with the same good will, actually I would hope better, than which I suspect
      it was sent.
      How I wish these great issues that confront us were all that simple, issues of our relationship with England, Europe, America, China, my God my generation is leaving the next one one hell of a can of worms. And all as the world’s ecology starts to change radically. I wish you well, sincerely said. Oh and thanks to Mile Small for allowing an unreconstructed unionist a space on his excellent site. It does him credit.

  2. Indyman says:

    “I am more interested in saving the planet than in saving Scotland, and am not to convinced that the former will be helped by the latter.”

    I see where you are coming from but an independent Scotland would be in a much better place to combat climate change than a Scotland chained to and hamstrung by by the corrupt thieving cesspit that is Westminster, which is owned and controlled by those profiting from the destruction of the planet. They are so attached to their wealth that they would rather die than sacrifice any of it to help others, or the planet. They are disconnected from reality, deranged, stupid, greedy or any combination of the above.

    This is a battle waged on many fronts, the weakening of Westminster by Scottish independence is one of them. It’s not an either/or situation.

    1. maxwell macleod says:

      Yes indeed I will stick with my comment that I dont think that Scotland leaving its partnership with England, Wales and Northern Ireland is necessarily a good idea as a response to the global warming crisis. Last Spring I was in northern India interviewing the Dalai Lama and was deeply struck by the crisis in Tibet, not socially but ecologically. The Tibetan plateau, an area roughly the size of Europe is currently undergoing radical geomorphological change in its very physical structure as so much of the ice that has held it together turns into slush due to the solifluction caused by global warming. This is bringing about the collapse in many of the road and rail systems, and more significantly the altering of the river patterns that feed around forty per cent of the world. This is not some wild prediction, this is happening now. Meanwhile back here in Scotland due to the brilliance of your campaigning and the genius of your leaders ( countered by a collapse of trust in Westminster ) we are now looking at a high chance of Scotland spending the next ten years both evolving and implementing radical change in our borders, which will probably have to solidified and armed, our currency, which will probably have to be changed, and the re-alignment of our political system as the SNP is disbanded and new relationships made with many of our trading partners. Do I think that these changes will be relevant or wise as the biggest levels of starvation and mass migration starts to kick in across the vulnerable areas of the globe? Suffice to say I hae ma doots.

  3. Glen Murray says:

    Dear Maxwell,
    As always your writing is moving, stimulating. But, as very often, I find your conclusions or, perhaps more accurately, your avoidance of the logical conclusions of your thinking, frustrating.
    Your write of being interested in saving the planet, of being a radical conservative. But what does that actually mean.
    How do you propose to save the planet? What even is a radical conservative if it’s not associated with the people currently dominating Westminster whose politics you so clearly reject?
    Your position reminds me of some of those eminent Victorian philanthropists who were so concerned and busy to save the souls of the poor Africans that they radically neglected their own children’s welfare.
    You can’t change the world, particularly not with platitudes!
    Is there really a practical alternative to aspiring and working diligently to make our own small country an exemplar of environmental positivity and social justice that might inspire others to do likewise?
    Far from having been ‘castrated’ by developments in Westminster, Scotland is working to be free of them to become more fertile in all sorts of ways.
    I feel sure Attie would have understood that.
    There is a great need for hearts and minds like yours, repositories of our traditions, tellers of our stories, carers about our (and the world’s) well-being.
    But the role is not to just lament the passing of the past but to strive for a better future for the children of the gael.

    1. maxwell macleod says:

      Thank you Glen both for your comments and for so much that you do. I am a big fan of your work and your life ethic. I think I have made adequate response to several of your points in my response to my man from India ( I can never understand why people dont put their real names on these positings ) As the son of a Victorian ( my Father could remember her funeral ) I rather agree with your remarks about the absurdity of those Victorian philanthropists who found it easier to work for the good of the African poor than give their own kids a cuddle. I dont however agree with the suggestion that my piece was sentimental masturbation about the past and polluted by platitudes. The crisis we are to face over the next twenty five years will only be minimised ( we are beyond turning it back ) by heavily co-ordinated and centralised international intervention and to concentrate our time on the creation of a multiplicity of small states would not in my opinion help this cause. If we had a hundred years to play with I might agree with your core thesis, but the lion is pouncing now, and this is the time for co-operation not division.

      1. Wul says:

        “( I can never understand why people dont put their real names on these positings ) ”

        Because some of us don’t profit from controversy and spinning words like yourself, Maxwell. We have to rub along with our peers, friends and neighbours, some of whom can be less-than-gentlemanly about differences of constitutional viewpoint. I have a small business and can’t afford to piss off half my potential customers.

        Apologies that I am not as brave and forthright as your bonny self.

        I suspect that your fondness for the Union is because it has historically contributed wealth & privilege to your family, rather than the coldly reasoned logical stance you imagine for yourself. But that’s my prejudice showing.

        I welcome your contributions here though, and wish you well.

        1. Justin Kenrick says:


          Thank you for explaining something I have never understood. That makes complete sense. And I’m interested in what Max makes of your other points.

          Now, I hope to grab enough time to read his article!

  4. Craig Joan says:

    Thank you for this. A word truly for these times

    1. maxwell macleod says:

      Thank you Craig Joan. I suspect you understood that my piece was in many ways trying to reflect the sense of deep and dark despair that is currently sweeping the nation. I understand that one survey suggested that as many as seventy per cent of women were being stressed by the political situation and my story was trying to define that sense of dread.

  5. David Holden says:

    The story of Gorrie I was told was that Gorrie had been naughty with the lairds wife so the failed deer drive was an excuse by the laird to get his own back without losing face in the eyes of the clan . On a walk from the gully to the left of the waterfall in your picture to Carsaig arches last Summer I came on the remains of two stags and one goat in a very small area with broken bones so it looks like beasts are still going over the edge . I suspect there is a ledge above where it is possible for the eagles to drive a beast over the cliff as has been witnessed on Loch Buie by a stalking party . Attie was a great story teller as were a lot of that generation sadly now no longer with us .

    1. Maxwell MacLeod says:

      Fascinating information.David Holden.Of course the tale varied in its telling,as tales should,and Attie sometimes indicated,although only gently that there was sexual activity, must have been the climate and lack of television.
      I am genuinely thrilled at the news of the bones and have every intention of walking there and exploring.
      Gratefully yours, MM

  6. Roland Stiven says:

    You write well Maxwell and I enjoy your tales.

  7. George Gunn says:

    Dear Max, old friend – it is your unionism which has castrated you politically, so to speak. Bojo was always going to jump off the cliff with the bairn because he is also a bairn looking for some lost childhood he never had because of his terrible education that knocked all the love out of him. I hope your diabetes does not mean that you have to have your leg cut off. You have such a big heart I am sure you will be fine. All I ask is that you see the future for Scotland in a positive way and accept – as I know that you do – that the people of Scotland are the only ones who can determine her future. The UK has had our past. I know it is also hard for you who believe in the Union, but that time is over. We sail on into a new ocean.

    1. Maxwell macleod says:

      Ah my Lord the ever fired up Gunn,thank you for bothering.I checked this morning and I have not been castrated by my unionism,and am very much No awa and will bide awa.from your own convictions,though I hold them in respect.
      Yes we do sail new oceans and they are sour with rocks and garbage.I don’t think politics will ever be the same in Britain after the Summer of 2019.I don’t have to tell you that when at sea the worst decision is no decision
      Sail well Mm

  8. Alistair MacKichan says:

    Good parable. We Meenisters recognise same. In the Lindsay’s flat a little above the McLeods in 23 Learmonth Terrace I was once asked by Donald Gorrie to stand for the City Council or whatever it was then : he couldn’t find a centrist politician to stand in Pilton Ward, perhaps because they were known there for drivings over crags, and consummate butchery. My thoughts went back to father Donald when I saw this title: he was far too principled to watch my back were I to have stood in Pilton. Perhaps there is a parallel there, for in the global scope of Maxwell’s replies above, I think principled Unionism is a barrier to transcend. For many years now I have been watching the causes of nationalism around the world. I started with the first peoples of the Americas, colonialised and decimated by numbskull invaders. I was watching May visiting Rahoj in Madrid, studying how to suppress the Catalans, when a Taiwanese joined the conversation, with kinship and sympathy towards those who suffered imperious neighbours. The theme is that the mighty and empowered in all our world have little sensitivity to the hurts of peoples, and of the planet too. Paris 2016, and Copenhagen before, changed nothing. Turning the telescope around, and seeing the cliffs of global difficulties in microcosm, not macrocosm, allows the inherent environmental harmony of the “Indians”, and the deep fertile tilth of the ancient Catalan narrative (they avoided the sins of Christendom, and were crusaded against), and the vibrant community of the Gael, to shake down and sort out the problems which the powerful create and never solve. Small independent peoples are the antidote for the neoliberal, capitalist trap, and you won’t see it, Maxwell, until you wipe the sea-spray from the SMALL end of the telescope (the end that has YES written on it). The strength of humankind is in heartfelt grassroots impulses, like our love of deer, and stories, and strupachs, and Scotland, not in the self-serving which created and sustains power blocks. In facing the need of the C21st, Unionism and the power-broking that goes with it, is our enemy. Funny that Boris sees that with Europe, but not with “The Union”: it was the same with Donald Gorrie, the whole picture eluded him then as well.

    1. Maxwell Macleod says:

      Good grief Alastair what a brilliant posting.However I try not to post after my nightly Talisker so I’ll sleep on it and get back in the morn.Ta

    2. maxwell macleod says:

      I was very moved by that posting. As you well know my family have a good pedigree in trying to deliver for the disenfranchised, indeed that is probably what motivated my late Father to be President of the Scottish campaign to keep Scotland out of Europe in 1975, to him Europe was just a bankers club designed to overcome democratic intervention against unfettered capitalism. Who knows, the past is another country and we are all strangers there. It was an interesting time and he claimed he once had a meeting at the New club with a threesome of himself Enoch Powell and Tony Benn! The mind boggles. My own convictions are, as I alluded, that the climate crisis is now so immediately at our door that so many of these issues are almost irrelevant, though I don’t buy into the often repeated theory that if we can only contrive an independent Scotland it will provide a better platform for responsible action. We just dont have time for that. Try spending an hour googling the Tibetan plateau, the wolf is at the door. My crystal ball is now the size of a pea but if I had to make a wild guess I would say that a no deal exit now seems probable, leading to economic chaos, Ms Sturgeon will get her referendum for 2024 leading to Independence followed by years of negotiations on borders, currency and defence, followed by massive investment from China and multi nationals. Is that the cocktail I want given my terror of the the crisis that will be simultaneously developing, a crisis we no longer have the ability to stop and can only deal with? Y
      You guess.

      1. Alistair MacKichan says:

        Maxwell, your commitment to halt anthropogenic climate change is laudable and timely, no issues there, but forget Tibet. You are caught in a maelstrom of activity, buzzing about the planet in infinite conferring and determining, which only makes things worse. Listen to yourself. You love the gentle cadences of the Feilidh’s traditions, community founded, relationship transmitted. It is here, in touch with the earth, amidst the gifts of salt spray and rock pinnacles that we can farm our Highland beasts and fish our haddock and tend our oats, just as the Tibetans can paddle their own canoes across their slushy tundra. The answers to achieving climate change targets are in the hearts of each people group around the world as they attune to their environment in harmony. Capitalist corporations are inherently incapable of that sensitivity, and must be routed. The corridors of power are walked by a distant and detached elite, who cannot conform to the attunement we need, because it is about respecting the bison nation on the great plains, and seating in circles around Catalan storytellers, and singing together in grassroots, turf-roofed ceilidhs. We must absent ourselves from consuming rebellions. Your programme is revving, revving toward a cataclysm of power-broking pronouncements by the people who are the problem. Globalisation is the crime; its imperialism is the acts of the human deaf. Your father challenged me to embrace Iona as beacon, but now I think he would more than ever promote it as model. We must replicate the distinctive, committed, fiercely defended units of environmental success. Columba, it is said, invented the salmon ladder, to assist the salmon leap. His is the university of the attuned, the engaged, the satisfied in soul by non-materialism. I so want, like you, to circumvent demanding political process, and I think we just have to do the real job. If Fuinary is still an estate, then to re-shape it is the challenge, and leave the politically obsessed to perform their own funeral rites. “Leave the dead to bury their dead, and come, follow” may indeed be a superbly modern injunction. In this interpretation, we become Independent not by referendum but by direction. We become ourselves, by making ourselves healthily at home where we are. If humankind does this everywhere, we will survive. All other programmes have already failed.

        1. maxwell macleod says:

          I disagree entirely.
          Fuinary is a now derelict house that an ancestor of mine lived in as a tenant for a limited number of years. In the late eighties by Father offered it to me as a gift and I refused it, saying I would do my best to look for a long term use for it and I spent many thousands on that task to no avail, so I am made extensive time evaluating the notion of establishing an extempore community. I decided it was a total waste of time and offered it to the community with a considerable sum to evaluate a possible use for it, and they refused it ( I said they could have it if they could convince me they would have a use for it )
          I dont believe that such communities have much impact. My Father and I established a community called the Fuinary Intention, but it was largely a waste of time and money. True we must live simply so that others may simply live, but that has to be in modern well thought through communities, not energy leaking Victorian Manses. In truth I dont have any solutions as to what we can do, but it certainly doesn’t involve giving years and millions to develop tiny countries whilst the global ecological Armageddon unfurls itself at a simultaneous time. I will not forget Tibet, indeed I am currently working with Scotland’s leading expert on the subject with a view to producing an on line video. I wish you very very well but am not with you on this one. I hope we meet again soon. Thanks for your input.

          1. Alistair MacKichan says:

            Chastening story of Fuinary. I knew it was a project under review way back, so cited it as, perhaps, your opportunity, not knowing you had already exhausted that one: apologies, therefore. I hope we have both benefitted from our exchange. Harmony with the planet will require settled peace among peoples, and I admire your grace in this contest of ideas and directions.

          2. Maxwell macleod says:

            No apologies needed.drop bye next time you are in the royal mile.

  9. Wul says:

    I think the tale is trying to tell us ( or Maxwell) that if the elder, wealthy, more powerful man tries to castrate the younger, poorer, more vigorous, more independent-minded youth, then he, and all his progeny are doomed.

    Maxwell. You want Scotland to begin to shape a better, saner, less rapacious future, but would deny Scotland the powers (spunk?) to make the change?

    You want Scotland to initiate a more respectful relationship with our planet whilst chained* to THE most rapacious, war-mongering, self-deluding, colonising imperial power-base on Earth? That’s no goanny work pal.

    *Yes, we Scots were right up there at the front of the empire building adventure. Maybe we can change.

    PS: That article you wrote last time, about dangling a bottle of malt in front of the locals to get them to “convince me” by performing a public speech pro or anti Union said it all to me and made me queasy. Blind to your own sense of superiority & entitlement.

    1. Maxwell Macleod says:

      Thanks Wull,
      Couple of points.Yes I agree that that may be a good interpretation of the tale. No I don’t agree that the Union between Wales Northern Ireland and England constitutes”the most rapacious,war mongering,self deluding colonising imperial power base on earth.”but am interested that you do.
      I am also less than enamoured by the notion that I lie in my wee bed at night thinking that I will vote against nationalism because the Union has brought my family power and privilege.
      Finally the suggestion that my annual Street theatre at the Belladrum festival in which I encourage people to voice the political opinions by making two minute speeches in exchange for a dram is some kind of sinister, machiovelian way of forcing them through drink to become unionists is remarkable to say the least.But I wish you well.

      1. Wul says:

        It’s not “the union” that is rapacious and war mongering it’s us; the Great British. My point is that the institution and power base that drove our pillage has not changed. It is still mired in the past and we are better away from it.

        As I said, you are blind to your own privilege. ( I know nothing about you by the way, other than what you have written here. The sense of entitlement is apparent from your own words)

        I was a bit cruel. I apologise.

        1. Maxwell macleod says:

          Many thanks,apology accepted,though I am not sure for what!
          Very best.

          1. maxwell macleod says:

            Thank you again for your contribution. I was much moved by your observation that I indicated a sense of my entitlement, and it haunted me in the night. I can understand the accusation, and it’s something I often witness, be it from those who have inherited wealth or earned it. Now I have many faults but I dont think this is one of them. Over the years I have slept out on the streets in several capitals including London, New York ( both before and after the crack down ) and Tokyo and have written about the injustices here in Edinburgh The window beside which I write shows the polarisation of wealth here in the Royal Mile with ninety nine per cent of those walking it ambling along idly taking photographs and the other one percent begging them for change so that they can eat. I feel no sense of entitlement to being in the former category, I live a lucky life and know it.

          2. Wul says:

            I live a lucky life too and I try to be grateful for it when I remember to do so (not often enough).

            My life is enriched by being able to read the contributions of good writers like yourself on these pages. I enjoyed your story and thinking about the different meanings it may have. Thank you for this article and others. You are a good writer. And thank you for making the effort and being brave enough to open a dialogue with people who may have a different opinion to yourself. It makes us all richer.

            I am sorry for pre-judging you when I don’t even know you. It was wrong & small-minded of me.
            Go well.

  10. Willie Orr says:

    Not quite the whole story, Max. The chief only pretended to be castrated and, suspecting this, Gorrie, asked him where the worst pain was in his body. The chief supplied the wrong answer and Gorrie jumped to his death with the child.

  11. Neill Maclaine says:

    Could I have permission to publish a largish excerpt of this story in the quarterly Clan Maclaine of Lochbuie Newsletter, ‘Hector’s Herald’, please?

    1. maxwell macleod says:

      Of course, the tale belongs to the world, not I.

      1. Neill Maclaine says:

        Many thanks and much appreciated.

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