Mrs Stroke Bloke and I spent this past weekend in the Highlands. More precisely, we were visiting family in Strontian, on the banks of Loch Sunart. One of my cousins asked if I would be writing about our trip in the blog this week. And since she took me to see David Bowie’s Sound and Vision tour stop in Ingliston in 1990, I could hardly say “No.”

“Scotland, stay with us. I mean, do you know how much this coat cost?!”

But first, please note that on Monday, 4 April, I’ll be presenting Nerd Bait’s latest (and maddest) concept EP, The Gospel of Unicerosaurus, as part of Illicit Ink’s show at the Edinburgh International Science Festival!!!

People who receive the Apoplexy Tiny Letter will know that I was surprised to find, in the wake of Bowie’s death, how often he crops up in my fiction. Not in any extended fashion, but more, throwaway lines. I’ve since realised that how some of my characters respond to Bowie is a useful shorthand way to describe how they experience life.

How you react to this is a useful shorthand way to describe how you experience life

Another recurring motif in my writing is the setting of Glencoe, which one drives through to get to Strontian. It features in my early flash fiction, Cairns, in issue #1 of Brain of Forgetting.

Cairns spawned a poem called The Ballad of Cenn Fáelad, which may one day resurface as part of Nerd Bait’s Leider project. And Cairns is also a forerunner of my story for the Dublin Inquirer, Phoenix Park.

“Ricky, October 2012” by Robert Mirolo at The Dublin Inquirer

I think that Glencoe makes multiple appearances in my work for – kind of – similar reasons to David Bowie. It’s freighted with meaning and history. How one reacts to it is a useful shorthand for, etc. And it’s chameleonic. In the sun, and in the rain, it’s a different place. Often at the same time.

Glencoe, yesterday

My memories of Glencoe are part of the story of our move to Scotland from New York. When I began my recovery from my stroke, I was upset that I had almost died without seeing Scotland again, properly, for far too long. Then a friend set us up with a copy of Skyfall, the climactic scene of which is set in Glencoe. Somewhere among those events, it became Glencoe that I had to see.

Part of this, too, probably, was a childhood memory of driving through Glencoe and seeing clans of Highlanders pour down the mountainsides, wielding claymores.

Now, each of my fictions I’ve listed above are, more or less, fiction. And I’m not 500 years old, notwithstanding appearances. Instead, the movie Highlander was being filmed.

Scene It! Sean Connery Accent Bingo Edition

Since I am 500 years old, I’ve not seen Highlander since 1987. So I’m not sure whether the scene in question actually made the final cut. I remember next to nothing about the details of the movie. But its themes, well…

Connor MacLeod (or, to give him his full name, Connor MacLeodoftheClanMacLeod) is a centuries old Scotsman living in New York City.

Hullawrerr, Doll. Got any aircraft leases you need securitised? If you know what I mean?

He has a pretty rough time of it, becomes subject to forces outwith his control, discovers his mortality, somehow survives, gets the girl, and moves back to Scotland with a new awareness of people’s thoughts around the world. He promises to use his gift to encourage cooperation and peace in mankind. Natch.

But perhaps the most surprising thing I’ve discovered about the first incarnation of the  Highlander franchise is that it was really quite well received. I’m going to check it out.

It’s kind of magic, apparently
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3 thoughts on “Highlander

  1. Right on Ricky…thanks for yet again churning up all those great memories.
    I suppose I experienced Highlander a bit backwards, I caught about the last quarter of it at a friend’s house whose parents had that wonderful bit of technology called cable TV, we only had the standard ” 13 channels of shit to choose from” at my house. Anyway, I went out the next day a bought a nice cassete tape of the soundtrack by Queen, so great…it was quite a while before I caught the movie in it’s entirety. Funny you should mention a sci-fi flick scored by Queen this week, I was flipping through the channels the other night and stumbled onto Flash Gordon, another guilty pleasure that I enjoy immensely. The costumes and sheer spectacle of it was just eye candy. Kind of makes me wonder what kind of spectacle and eye candy Jodorowsky would have produced had he been able to complete his version/vision of Dune, the concept art and costumes were quite astounding and for whatever reason remind me a bit of Flash Gordon.
    You see, I read your post and it always leads me down a rabbit hole, but it’s always a pleasure. Thanks Ricky

    1. And now we have 1300 channels of shit to choose from….

      Thanks, Greg! As it happens, the Jodorowsky Dune is on the edge of my radar this week, because of this article. More homework for me, after Paul’s comment last week. As I write about stories bleeding across fiction, flash fiction, poetry, and song in this week’s Tiny Letter, the attempt to adapt Dune is an interesting case.

      Makes sense that we should have some sort of Bowie/Freddie/Sting sci-fi triumverate, I guess. Man, Flash was a big deal for a second there when I was a kid. Themed packets of Weetabix, and all that.

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