Tales from End to End
(or – What a way to spend your anniversary!)
by Bob Bagot
Being bitten by midges, stumbling over rocks and tree roots, getting soaked (Probably. It is after all Scotland), but fortunately not getting blistered by a heat wave (It is after all Scotland). This was the choice for John and Nancy on July 29th as they walked (epically) along the banks of Loch Lomond. I should say the “bonnie banks” as it was a nice day. I know. I was there. Actually I was there 39 years ago when they got married but that is another story.
I had decided to go to Scotland to climb a Munro and knowing their itinerary thought I would coincide with part of their trek from Lands End to John o’Groats. So I am driving along the road from Drymen to Balmaha wondering whether they have taken the hilly route or the trudge along the road. Then I see this pensioner couple walking slowly but steadily just ahead. It is of course John and Nancy. I park the car ahead and wait. When they come past I get out of the car and say something inane like “you meet some strange people in the most unlikely places”. Nancy is slightly ahead and turns to John for protection from this obvious idiot. John looks up and thinks “Oh no, not a confrontation with an obvious idiot” He tentatively says “yes?” I say nothing. We go back over 50 years to when we were at school together so why should he recognise me in the middle of nowhere. Then recognition dawned. “BOB!” he shouts. (Bob – that’s me). I love these surprise meetings. They were pleased and somewhat relieved it was not an obvious idiot.
The next day (their anniversary) we met up again and I was able to walk with them for an hour or so. We swapped news, family happenings, medical updates and sorted out the world’s problems. It was great to meet up with Nancy again whom I have only seen once before, and that was 39 years ago. As I said I was at their wedding (was I an usher? – I can’t remember). But why should I remember their anniversary after all these years. Well, I got married the day after, so if I remember my own… (I usually forget but my wife has a habit of reminding me). Actually, going to John and Nancy’s wedding caused a great deal of aggravation for me.
My wife’s parents (at the time they were my fiancée’s parents) were not too sure of this new man in their daughter’s life. Was he from the wrong side of the tracks? It was a bit late for changes but they arranged a garden party the day before our wedding so that they could show off the new man to all their friends and see how he behaved. Well, the garden party happened, but not the test for the “new man” because he (I) wasn’t there. I had gone to Eck’s wedding. Now I definitely was from the wrong side of the tracks. But it all worked out in the end. We got married the next day and lived happily ever after. So did John and Nancy despite doing strange things on their anniversary. Next year is number 40 -ruby -expensive – and I shall probably go back to forgetting their anniversary. But no doubt my wife will not let me forget ours.
Bob Bagot – ‘Robert’ to his mother, ‘Sir’ to hundreds of schoolchildren and ‘Baig’ to all the world – is a great friend, raconteur, cyclist, walker and hill climber. He is married to Lesley and lives in Grange-over-Sands.