Ice Cold in Affric

For those of you who kindly read the  first Chaserjay blog,  thank you. Of course you will have noticed many mistakes, and the use of the phrase Christ’s Sake’s on two occasions. That was irony with relation to the subject  Having that information may remove the irony or  it may have provided confirmation, where irony was suspected.

This blogging lark is  new to me as you will no doubt have noticed, but I shall persevere.

On Saturday, last, I attended my first workshop of the Post Graduate  Screenwriting Certificate course, at Napier University. I am 54, an ex-bricklayer and an ex-drunk , so,  I am proud of the fact that I am attending  such a course, but then again why shouldn’t I be attending. Of course, now that I am, I will be referring to my friends, such as Marty instead of Martin, Bobby instead of Robert and Dickie instead of Richard, and  you know what , I  just love them all and would like to thank them for all their support, especially Dickie……oops… a bit premature after one workshop, I suppose.

Anyway , I drove back up the A9 from Edinburgh, high as a Kite Runners Kite (us screenwriters, what are we like) whilst contemplating on what part of the Sunset Boulevard  I would like to settle down.  That would  happen of course as a result of the royalties from the scripts I will pen about the  world of espionage and subterfuge of a Highland Clerk of Work, as he travels around an area of Scotland, equal to the size of Belgium , no less,  solving all way of maintenance problems, whilst caught up in a world of political intrigue  and assorted chocolate biscuits.  –  NOW-  FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX PROUDLY PRESENTS ROBERT DE NIRO IN A MARTIN SCORCESE FILM- THE MARK OF THE PENCIL. Tagline- TIGHTEN YOUR JOINTS , HERE COMES SHUG.  Yes, I’ve a thousand ideas like that waiting to be evacuated..

The following day, Sunday,  and  unbeknownst  to me, I would meet terror, despair , and  the coldest feet I have  ever had. The plan was simple , a circuit walk of Loch Affric, with three good friends, the first reasonably long walk of the year. Simple. So simple, why take a map, it’s a doddle, walk round the loch, stick to the path.  Home for tea time,  long hot shower, Sunday Dinner, feet up, Sunday Herald,  DVD,  back to work the Morra.  Nae Borra…………. Not so.

As has been widely reported, we got lost, well not so much lost maybe,  more so that we just  kept walking for miles and miles before realising that we were not circumnavigating around any land – encapsulated water mass that could be comparable to a loch or a Loch Affric for Christ’s Sakes ( will cut that later, its  how I feel right now). I walked  a long way ahead of the others at a faster pace , due to my  inherent fitness and , as the sun fell behind the snowcapped imposing mountains, my desperate hope to see my Seat Toledo parked in an imagined carpark at the winding path end. The path did not end, but went on and on and on. Without consultation  I phoned the emergency services. No signal. Oh Shit. ………..Linda had caught up with me.


I can say this now or  say it later, but, if you are ever in a tight spot and Linda is in the group,  just thank God, if you so do believe in such things, or if preferred, uncross your fingers.

We discussed and informed Kay and John of our perceived dilemma. It was agreed to head back to the CamBan Bothy that we had passed before. Ahead was an unknown ,  and the Bothy was a known. It made sense. darkness fell quick. I had a torch, so not totally bereft of precaution taking, but not to use it until was really really dark as available  battery power  was another unknown. We did walk back , encountering on occasion islands of slippy, dippy compacted snow. A twisted ankle  was not a good ingredient at this time, so as the stars twinkled above and behind the now brooding outline of jaggy mountains, inviting one of us to look up and twist the night away.  In these twilight hours Mother Nature was being played by Joan Crawford .

The Bothy seemed 4.5  more times the distance away than before, but we eventually made it. Elated we lit the meagre candles ( Linda had a lighter, so not totally bereft of precaution taking), as we grabbed clumps of soaken grass and sacrificed a pocket diary as fuel. We would remember this day anyway. Linda  got the fire going, but  it was far from being fit to toast marshmallows. Kay had a survival blanket, ( not totally bereft of blah blah blah), a kind of sleeping mat was found, more wood was found, candles were found, a book was found, Sky TV.. no, that wasn’t found. Time moved on, not marching, but in baby steps. There was moments of hysterical merrymaking and moments of subdued reflection. It was essential the fire stayed lit, even although its heat omission was negligible, its psychological impact was at least lukewarm as in it looked warm. More timber was needed, and there were noggins of timber inclusive in the construction of the bunks. They were  duly prized by means of a square-mooth shovel.

The night was long and much uncontrollable shivering was met with the application of body warmth from whoever could offer it.

In the morning, as the sun rose we set off , unkempt, unslept, unified.

Pity,…..I would liked to have used that true life story as inspiration for my PG screenwriting etc, but can’t. Why not? ……No conflict.

Anyway my next big life event (planned) is possibly losing my driving licence for speeding next Monday. Challenges…… I love them


2 thoughts on “Ice Cold in Affric

  1. Thanks for writing this John. The experience will not leave me and the long horrible night keeps coming back to me. The fear was underneath all the time but the company was the best and the mutual support was there throughout. It can all look quite cozy and jocular in the Facebook photos. The reality was another thing. And yet I can somehow understand Dan on Facebook saying he was still jealous. Not something you would ever want to happen again but it leaves me grateful for life and friends like you.

  2. Aye I can hear you all trundling along that path now saying “where’s Alison with her £3 Natural History Museum wind-up torch when you need her”.

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