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Incident at Glenfinnan

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Incident at Glenfinnan

Gilbert Summers

Transcript of Conversation between Bonnie Prince Charlie and a Mr Macdonald (and one his colleagues) on a wee hill at Glenfinnan in 1745, while Charlie is waiting for the clans to turn up for the Jacobite Uprising.

Prince: Is my jabot straight? I’ve got a shortbread tin portrait sitting in an hour.

Macdonald: Och, my Prince, you’re fine. And I must say that that Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket really suits you. Did they name it after you? It’s just so right. So romantic. Anyway, just say the word and I’ll start waving the flag.

Prince: Who’s that chap with you?

Macdonald: Oh, him. He’s a seannachie. You know, a story-teller, a sooth-sayer. That kind of thing. Every clan has one. Winter evenings are long and the signal is usually terrible. It’s the mountains, you see. So he’s entertainment on tap. Brought him along in case we had time to kill. His name’s Hamish.

Prince: Go on then. Ask him if he can see da future. Whatsa gonna happen? Will I be the capo de tutti capi? I mean da boss, da king. (OK, that’s enough, we all know Charles spoke Italian like a native. Mostly because he was a native - Ed.)

Macdonald: Ok, here, Hamish...tak oot the crystal ball. Hae a keek. (Sorry to butt in again, but this guy spoke Gaelic not Scots. Just stop it, will you? - Ed.)

(Hamish at this point pulls his tartan around his head and goes into a trance. He starts to drone and mutter in Gaelic.)

Prince: What’s he saying. I’m afraid my Gaelic isn’t great…I mean, I’ve never actually been to Scotland before.

Macdonald (listening): Wait...something about a great disaster for the Highlands if you march on Edinburgh. Defeat...there’s nothing like enough support. The government armies will blow you away...sometime next year. Inverness. Highland life will be changed for ever. There’ll be Yorkshire folk everywhere. You’ll never return...something about a Skye boat song and will ye no come back again…At least, I think that’s what’s that he’s singing.

Prince: Well, that isn’t very cheerful. I don’t believe a word of it. Doesn’t he know the justness of my cause? He’s not much of a sooth-sayer is he? Ask him if he can see anything else that’s going to happen in Glenfinnan, now that we’re here with time to kill before these damn Highlanders show up.

A really awfully bonnie Prince Charlie

A really awfully bonnie Prince Charlie

(The two clansmen converse further. Hamish the seannachie takes a furtive swig from a bottle that looks a little like Drambuie. A far-away look crosses his face. The incomprehensible droning starts up again.)

Macdonald: Oh, here he goes. Wait, I’ll translate a bit more for you. He’s zoning in on Glenfinnan. Eh, something about a steam engine and a great big bridge. Made of concrete. Right across the glen. Somewhere up there.

Prince: What on earth is that man on?

Macdonald: Hold on...there’s more. He’s saying something about moving pictures. And wizards going to school. And a flying chariot-thing. And that steam engine again. Something like a hairy potter or...can’t quite make it out. And he says it’s all going to be more famous and popular than you…

Prince: OK, that’s it. Shut him up. Never heard such nonsense in my life. If this is what passes for entertainment in the Highlands then it’s high time I was down in the city of Edinburgh. Don’t believe a word of it. Bridges...moving pictures...wizards. Here? In Glenfinnan? For goodness sake...

Oh, and here come a few Highlanders. Now get that flag up and start waving...I’ve an uprising to run.

Glenfinnan Viaduct - evening.

Glenfinnan Viaduct - evening.