Friday, 18 January 2008
Communication in Mysterious Ways
Way back in 1983 we had the film Local Hero.
The basic plot was that an American, comet-hunting, business tycoon called Felix Happer was attempting to purchase a picturesque fishing village in Scotland and turn it into an oil refinery. He sent a representative called Mac (MacIntyre) to arrange this, however it was not quite as simple as it seemed due to a hermetical beach-combing character called Ben Knox. Eventually, Mr Happer flies over, chills with Ben in his shanty-town style beach home and decides instead to build an astronomical observatory and research facility. The best bit in my opinion is when Ben holds up the sand from the beach and asks "Mac" for a pound for every grain.
Anyway, I digress. One of the main locations used for filming was that of the fishing village of Pennan in Aberdeenshire, Scotland - in particular the red telephone box or kiosk which Macintyre utilised in order to provide a running commentary back to Mr Happer detailing the Northern LIghts or Aurora Borealis which were visible in the night sky at the time. Since the filming, Pennan has become a tourist attraction, fans of the film travelling from all curves of the globe to see the famous box, and steep or marinade themselves in the beauty, tranquility and general ambiance of the place.
In what seems a simple case of truth following fiction (see Brave New World), Mr. Donald Trump, an American tycoon with a Scottish Grandmother (haven't they all) has attempted to purchase an area of North Scotland, including part of a nature type reserve or SSSI. His intention is to build an executive housing estate under the guise of a luxury hotel and golf course. One individual, a local smallholder Michael Forbes, has refused to sell his portion of land and additionally there is strong local opposition in certain quarters, especially given the conservation argument.
Initially, the local planning group voted against the monstrosity, however in a move without precedent, the new Scottish Government headed by Alex Salmond (who is coincidentally the Member of Parliament for Pennan) has intervened, and the legal, local decision uniquely overruled , a new review to be undertaken and, therefore, a potentially new outcome to the matter - in favour of Trump's golf plan.
Yet, back in scenic Pennan, all is not well. Last August a mudslide hit the village, causing widespread, unprecedented damage and, according to a local resident of 25 years, "turning the sea red with mud as far as the eye can see". You can read the BBC report here .
Only last week, the final bill for the clean up operation was revealed, some £50,000. Furthermore, it appears that the local council have warned that the cost of protecting the village from a similar future potential Act of God could run into £600,000. Additionally, a dispute has arisen between local Laird Julia Watt and local residents over compensation. The local report is here as regards this latest matter, it should perhaps be also said that this is not the first time that the Laird and her community have fallen out over feudal law, back in 2000 another stramash occurred, you can read about it here in a long article from the Sunday Herald.
When your writer hears of Alex Salmond, Scottish political leader, cosying up to Donald Trump due to his money - and therefore power and influence - he thinks of a line from Nostradamus: "poison under the heads of salmon"; although he concedes that it may have not been the seer's intention.
Just for the record, the famous telephone box was spared the recent onslaught.
Time to answer ?