Some uninformed folks still express doubt about the existence of “Nessie” – the proper name for the legendary monster that inhabits Loch Ness in northern Scotland. I would like to clarify this issue once and for all, as I know the truth. I am not the only one who knows – but perhaps I have been chosen to reveal certain heretofore hidden facts - for both their historic and touristic values.
As an introduction to these mysteries which are about to be revealed, I feel I must establish both my own identity as well as my bona fides. How, you may well ask, could an old ex-Texas Aggie cowboy, possess infallible information concerning the existence, appearance and whereabouts of the fabled monster which inhabits Loch Ness (Lake Ness in Arkansas)?
My maternal great grandmother still lived when I was a young lad. She preferred to stay down on Chalk Level Plantation rather than with her daughter and son-in-law (my grandmother and grandfather) in their town house in Shreveport. Whenever a group of great grandchildren gathered around her, she always would repeat her favorite admonition to us.
“Neverrr forrrgettt yourrr a McDonald.” Only she pronounced it like McDooonald in a strong Scottish brogue … as she had come to the States as a young lassie from Scotland, and never got the hang of Deep Southernese English.
What’s this got to do with the Loch Ness monster, you might well inquire? Just about everything, that’s what.
In my professional life I had traveled numerous times through London, often with overnight or longer layovers. But, I had never had the opportunity to tour the United Kingdom and had always harbored a wish to visit my great grandmother’s homeland and find the birthplace of the Clan Donald. That opportunity came some years past. I had just completed a short assignment in Guatemala for the Central American Development Bank (a regional branch of the World Bank) and flying back and forth between Washington, D.C. and Guatemala City had once more boosted my mileage in the United Airlines Frequent Flyers club, to a level which entitled me to a free round trip to Europe. So I had both the time and the means to spend at least a month or so leisurely touring the British Isles.
In addition to visiting my British and Scotch ancestral breeding grounds, I could also renew my friendship with some singularly valued and dear old associates. In London, I could spend a few days with John Naylor – a retired civil engineer who had worked with me on a project in Panama in the mid-seventies. Then there was a dear friend – Ivan White – whom I had met in Casablanca when we were thrown together due to a cancelled BOAC flight. John lived in retirement in an old area of ship dock’s, repair shops and ship chandlers along the Thames in central London. Lastly, there was the Gallatine family who had been so close to Sandra and I during her fatal illness in Swaziland.
John suggested I purchase a 30-day pass on the British rail system rather than buying separate tickets every time I moved to another town. I did this and headed north for Whitley Bay which is east from Newcastle. After visiting the Gallantines for a few days, I once more boarded my train and headed north for Scotland. First stop … Inverness and the Loch Ness monster.
At this point in my story, I must detour briefly to establish what should be a widely known biologic truism. There can’t be a singular monster . . . even a monster “must” have a father and a mother. They are not just created from primordial ooze and lightening flashes, but are the product of reproduction resulting from mating between a male and a female monster. Period. Full Stop. No arguing this basic fact. Now from this firm foundation of indisputable knowledge and lore, we may consider the possibility of a single remaining monster as compared to the probability of numerous surviving monsters including, not only sibling monsters, but parent and grand parent monsters as well. As you must surely know, Loch Ness has an unrestricted access to the sea, thus monsters throughout the ages could have come and gone. Most likely, they enter the loch from their habitat in the depths of the frigid North Atlantic, to breed in the warmer, more tranquil waters of Ness. In these calmer waters, they are occasionally seen by unsuspecting visitors to the loch. But, as only one has been viewed at any one time, the myth has grown that there is but one single monster. I shall prove the contrary to be true – there are, indeed, numerous monsters of various ages and sizes.
Upon detraining in Inverness, I hailed a passing cab, asking the driver to recommend a good but inexpensive hotel. He took me to an excellent one. It was an old, large, three story, converted manor house located on a bluff overlooking the downtown area. Upon entering and walking towards the desk, I noticed the hotel also had what appeared to be an excellent pub with a capacity crowd of local patrons. I hastened to my room, dumped my bags, quickly washed and combed a bit, then headed back downstairs for the center of activity. I was famished and had quickly learned that the best food in England was found in the pubs.
I was lucky to spot one empty bar stool and quickly slipped onto it. While surveying the beer pumps and looking for the menu, I felt a rough but friendly hand on my shoulder. Turning towards the hand, I saw it was attached to a ruddy, handsome Scottish chap about 10 or 15 years my junior and my same size.
“What are you drinking Yank?” He almost demanded. When I hesitated, he ordered some dark ale for me. It was delicious and just what I needed. But I was disturbed. How had he known I was an American? There wasn’t that much difference between his clothes and mine. We were both white-headed and blue-eyed. In fact, we could have been relatives.
“How did you know I was American?” I asked. I hadn’t spoken a word when he called me “Yank”’
“You just look like a Yank, Yank.” He smiled and slapped me on the back. “Eddie”, he called to the barman. “This Yank’s money is no good here.”
The man on my other side introduced himself and bought the next round. “What are you doing here, Yank?” He asked.
I told him about my great grand mother always reminding me when I was a child, not to forrrgettt I was a McDooonald. The first man then asked for the telephone directory of Inverness and showed me that nearly half of the pages were for the McDonalds, “Most of the people here are related to you, Mon.”
The pub was still going strong when I said my good nights to my new friends. Robert McCoy, the first man I had met, said he would pick me up at 10AM and drive me around the area. I was exhausted and went to my bed early. The following morning, Robert was at the hotel promptly at 10AM and was an excellent host and guide. Not only did he drive me around Loch Ness but also took me to see the battlegrounds where the British defeated the Scots and buried the slain warriors of each clan together in mass graves. The McDonald gravesite area seemed to be the biggest.
That evening was a repeat of the night before. It seems like the same people were at the same tables or stools. Perhaps they really did have legal claim on them – possession by constant occupancy – or some similar Scottish law. Everyone knew where Robert and I had been and they knew of my disappointment at not seeing “Nessie”.
“Never ye mind,” said one old timer, rolling his “r’s”. “Ye’ll see them tonight.” I was obviously shocked. “Just ye wait.” He shook a gnarled old finger in my face. “By the time the publican ejects us at 1AM, they’ll be bloody monsters all over the place. I see them every night. They’re all sizes and all shapes.” He was right. I think. I seem to remember them when I walked out the front door to say good night to my unsteady Scottish friends.