Cailleach: Rich and famous are not always great and good

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Argyll has long attracted famous visitors to its coast, many of whom are recorded within the pages of The Oban Times.
I was taking a little lunchtime break from work last week when I heard a young man behind me in the coffee house queue telling his friend about Beyonce getting married aboard a ship in Oban.
Now, the story, when it was initially in the newspaper a few years ago, was about Angelina Jolie and her then husband Brad Pitt who were at the time thinking of getting married aboard the Hebridean Princess.
When you live this far from stardom, and Hollywood, on the West Coast of Scotland, I am sure it is fine to mix up your Beyonces and your ‘Brangelinas’.
From time to time, famous people trek to the office up at Lochavullin and we are delighted they do. Princess Anne, Nicola Sturgeon, Skerryvore and the woman who sang ‘I wish I was a Punk Rocker (with flowers in my hair)’, Sandi Thom.
On the whole, the editorial staff are fairly unimpressed by celebrity and fame – especially the production team, who are singers and thespians in their own right.
Last week we interviewed a man who has sold more than 20 million records worldwide – and he was as down to earth as they come. In my time as a reporter, I have certainly wined and dined with the rich and famous and I have been starstuck by only a few – Charlie MacLeod, the whisky taster, and Alan Cumming, the now very famous A-list actor known for so many projects including The Good Wife.
So it is nice to look back in the newspaper to see those who have taken time to visit the area in the past.
But why should it be that other people come to the area and make us feel special? We do like showing off in the area.
In 1967, ‘a happy moment during HRH Princess Sharada’s Lochawe tour’ was recorded in the newspaper.
It was firstly highlighted four weeks prior to the event in the newspaper. The visit of a princess from the east. This was really something.
I wonder if people were disappointed when the princess turned up – looking every little bit like a very cold and average middle-aged woman with all the accoutrements of any Scottish woman of the period. The heavy leather tote black bag that hangs over her arm, the thick button-up-the-front coat and the thick horn-rimmed glasses.
At least when I met Johnny Depp on the Mull ferry he looked every bit like the movie star with his beautiful and rather delicate French wife and singer on his arm.
If the glamour and glitz would not come to the west coast, then it was about time The Oban Times went to New York.
The caption on the Skye Association of New York reads: ‘The 26th annual dinner of the Skye Association of New York took place on February 10 and was attended by a large company.
‘Our readers in Skye and elsewhere will no doubt be able to recognise in the above photograph many of their friends now living in New York.’
The party does not look dissimilar to the many gathering events that now take place in Glasgow. But I am not aware of one still happening in New York. If it did, I have no doubt the editor of the newspaper would be delighted to pay my passage to go along.
This time the photograph had taken two months to make it into the newspaper and it must have been amazing to see friends and family from far afield in this photograph.
I wonder if the sparkle of New York lived up to the expectations of those people who travelled to live on the other side of the ‘pond’? I really hope so.
The pull of home is strong among those of us who love this land. I was speaking to a police officer who had moved to Canada – to be fair, he was complaining about something to begin with. He yearned for the sea.
I was also speaking to a man working aboard a ship and he missed the thought of the ceilidh at the Royal Hotel held a few weeks ago.
In our third photograph, we see ‘Provost MacDonald being invested with the head-dress of a chief of the Ojibway Indians by Alderman R B Pow of Fort William, during his visit to Scotland this spring’.
I don’t think the name Pow is a joke. It has appeared in The Oban Times so it must be true.
The problem, for me, about the third picture, taken in 1937, is the disrespect for the position of the Ojibwat Native Americans. Unless it was a dressing up head-dress then it had been removed from its rightful owner.
Can you image saying to HRH Queen Elizabeth: ‘Gies a wee swatch oh yer hat Betty’?
It would never happen.
The Oban Times has a long history of reporting on the extraordinary things that go on – but the newspaper’s real expertise is reporting on the ordinary and the everyday movements of life. It does it in a way that social media and emails will never be able to match.
There is nothing like a child on a school trip finding his or her name in the newspaper as a birth announcement. It is a lovely moment. And in their own right these little bundles of joy are the real celebrities of any paper.


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