James Leavey's Corner
The Best Scottish Doorways To Light Up In

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by James Leavey, editor, The FOREST Guide to Smoking in London
and The FOREST Guide to Smoking in Scotland

(extract from Leavey's forthcoming book, The FOREST Guide to Smoking in Scotland, which will be published in summer 1998 by Quiller Press)

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James Leavey
There you are in a Scottish doorway, puffing away in the rain while the non-smokers remain inside, dry, hard at work or trying to enjoy themselves. Your only consolation is the pleasure gained from whatever you’re smoking and the comradeship of fellow nicotine-lovers.

If you are one of Scotland’s habitual smokers, you’re likely to spend even more of your time over the coming years banished from most of its buildings. So you may as well make the most of it and take a closer look at your surroundings.

While you’re looking, it’s best to avoid posting fag-ends through the letterbox (which was first introduced in about 1840), or dumping matches and other smokers’ litter on the step or immediate vicinity, as this can make it awkward for any other smokers who follow in your wake.

Also, you shouldn’t argue if someone comes out and asks you to move on, especially if you’re in the doorway of a private house, mansion or castle.

Unless you’re in the middle of the Highlands, there are usually plenty more buildings to choose from, some with the typical six-panelled door of the early Georgian period, or 18th century Palladian-style doors with glass fanlights (from about 1720 these allowed light to penetrate hallways for the first time).Other doors are adorned with Regency lion’s head knockers; later came so many different designs, they’d fill a book on their own.

Then there’s the simpler 19th century door (whose panels were reduced to 2-3) which eventually got decorated with Victorian and Edwardian glass.

Doors were first made of metal or wood and initially were very plain except for their iron hinges with scrollwork, nail heads and handles.This style continued until about the 14th century, when decorative panels and ornamentation were introduced.The classical door featured sunken panels, usually six but ranging from two to ten, all edged with moulding.

Gradually the doorway, which forms the framework into a building within which the door hangs, evolved into more complex designs, including some with pointed arches, numerous mouldings and jambs, ornamented spandrels, and columns.

The sad thing is that a growing number of Scotland’s nicotine-friendly workers aren’t even allowed to light up outside their places of employment, never mind inside the buildings, although you may be able to spot them on some of the Internet’s candid camera sites.

There’s no law to stop anyone in Scotland chainsmoking in the street if they so desire, as long as they are not blocking entrances, dropping litter and are on the public footpath.You can measure the required distance from most buildings with five packs of Kingsize cigarettes or three corona cigars, if you are fortunate enough to lay your hands on them.

There’s also nothing stopping you smoking in the doorways of your mind, which is why some of those listed here may be less obvious than others.

Talking of which, a new fabulous creature can now be spotted from one end of the country to the other, impolitely telling smokers to move on from their temporary doorway haven.It’s known as Justin Tolerance, a nicotine-free kelpie that puts a damper on freedom and human rights.

Auchinleck House, Ayrshire, was built by Lord Auchinleck, father of James Boswell.Born in Edinburgh in 1740, Boswell first met smoker-friendly Dr Samuel Johnson on 16 May 1763 in Thomas Davies’s Bookshop in Russell Street, London.Ten years later they toured Scotland.Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson appeared in 1791 and quickly assumed the status of a classic.The great biographer died in London in 1795 and his remains were moved to the family Mausoleum here, built by his father in 1753.

Auchtermuchty, Fife, was turned into the fictional Scottish town of Tannochbrae for the 1993 TV series of Doctor Finlay, a remake of an earlier television series filmed in Callander and originally starring Andrew Cruickshank, who was made Pipesmoker of the Year in 1966.There are plenty of doorways to choose from.

In 1934, Sir Compton Mackenzie decided to build a bungalow, Suidheachan, on Barra and during his period on the island he wrote his novel-sequence The Four Winds of Love as well as Whisky Galore.After his death on 30 November 1972, his body was taken to Barra for burial at the ruined church and chapel of St Barr, Eoligary.

Cruden Bay means ‘blood of the Danes’, a reminder of when blood flowed as Celts and Danes slaughtered each other in the days of Malcolm and Macbeth. In 1893, the Irish writer Bram Stoker (1847-1912) took a room at the Kilmarnock Arms and the next morning hiked over the 200 foot cliffs to Slains Castle.The ancestral home of the Errolls, one of Britain’s most ancient familes, later became one of the inspirations for Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. Some believe that the bloodthirsty Count was partly based on Stoker’s partner in running London’s Lyceum Theatre, the cigar smoking, mesmerising British actor, Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905).Try lighting up in the castle gateway just as the sun goes down.

Bill Forsyth’s delightful second film, Gregory’s Girl (1981), was shot on location in Cumbernauld, a new town established in the 1950s, 14 miles outside Glasgow.The gawky youth of the title was played by John Gordon Sinclair who strikes up an awkward relationship with Dorothy in the school football team. Watch the film carefully to see where the characters smoked. Sadly, St Enoch’s station in Glasgow has now gone, courtesy of Dr Beeching, so you can no longer light up under its big clock while you’re waiting for the object of your passion.

At the end of the walled garden in Dunmore Park, Central, is the Pineapple, a gigantic example of the little known art of fruit architecture.The folly, 53 feet high and carved from stone, was built in 1761 by the 29-year-old John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, who had been married for two years.Some say it was a late wedding present, others have suggested it was a sign of the earl’s marriage going sour.Above one of its two entrances is a carved heart and the inscription ‘Fidelis in adversis’. Think about it while you enjoy a smoke on the step, or in the Hermit’s Cave that’s supposed to be hidden nearby.

15 miles south of Aberdeen, Dunnottar (which is pronounced ‘do not tar’and is not a description of the high or low contents of cigarettes) is an extensive medieval ruin on cliffs, 160 feet above the North South. It was one of the three locations (the others were Dover Castle in Kent, and Blackness) chosen to represent Hamlet’s castle, Elsinore, in the Franco Zefferelli/Mel Gibson movie production of Shakespeare’s tragedy, in 1990. Surrounded on three sides by the sea and on the fourth by a deep natural cleft, it’s the perfect spot for the smoker to enjoy tobacco, when your back ’s to the wall.

You won’t be allowed to smoke inside Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries and Galloway, but you could smoke just outside after you’ve asked them which of its rooms is haunted by a giant ape.It used to be listed as “Yellow Monkey or Haunted Room”. Cortachy Castle in Tayside is also haunted by a young phantom drummer who belonged to Clan Campbell.It’s said he died when Airlie Castle burned down in the 17th century and followed the family to their new home, here. Which is a good enough reason to be careful with your discarded matches as it’s bad enough being pursued by living (and frequently livid) anti-smokers.

Experts have suggested that the key factors that determined the resistance of a castle to a siege were a) the successful creation of an obstacle and adaptation to the environment, b) sufficient supplies and water and c) the morale of the commander and his/her garrison.Bear this in mind if you ever feel the need to build a moat around your home to keep the anti-smokers out.

Although he was born and died in Edinburgh, Scotland’s notoriously bad (some say ‘primitive’, probably out of kindness) poet, William Topaz McGonagall (c1825-1902), has long been associated with Dundee where he lived at numbers 19 and 32 Paton’s Lane.The non-smoking (and no worse or better for it) bard also got evicted from Step Row in 1894.So will you if you try to light up, inside.

Sir Walter Scott was born on 15 August 1771 in a house at the top of College Wynd, the university part of Edinburgh’s old town.A plaque on 8 Chambers Street notes that the great writer’s birthplace was “near this spot”.That’ s close enough to stand in the doorway and light up in the memory of Scotland’s second national poet.

If you smoke in the Grassmarket, a rectangular area under the cliff of Edinburgh’s Castle and once the place of public executions (at the east end is the site of the gallows, marked by a St Andrew’s Cross in rose-coloured cobblestones), contemplate the following jingle:

Up the close an’ doon the stair,
Roon’ the toun wi’ Burke an’ Hare:
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox the boy that buys the beef.

The two notorious villains murdered 16 people and sold their ‘fresh’ bodies to Dr Robert Knox, who was the most popular teacher at the Medical School.

Burke’s name lives on in the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb meaning “To murder, in the same manner or for the same purpose as Burke did; to kill secretly by suffocation or strangulation, or for the purpose of selling the victim’s body for dissection…To smother, ‘hush up’, suppress quietly.” It’ s a good description of what happened to the recent World Health Report on passive smoking.

The Royal Mile is the only street in Edinburgh with five different names. Just off it is a hidden medieval close (Scottish for narrow side street), that few have seen, except by special request to the City Chambers or on one of the recent guided tours.

In 1645 there was a terrible bubonic plague which took thousands of lives in the city, including most of those living in Alexander King’s Close, which ran from the High Street, just east of St Giles Cathedral, towards Cockburn Street.Mary King, daughter of the close’s owner (in those days closes were named after their owners), was one of the dead and the buildings were subsequently sealed up and the name changed to Mary King’s Close.A great fire in 1750 then completely destroyed the old, leaning, multi-storeyed timber buildings, among whose dislodged tenants was the engraver, Andrew Bell, who, with the printer Colin McFarquhar, conceived the Encyclopedia Britannica – which was published 18 years later under the editorship of ‘Blithe Willie Smellie’.

All that remains today of the overlooked close is a 65-yard-long, deep stretch of the original seven-foot-wide cobbled street, complete with a few of the centuries-old shops. If you manage to see it, ask if the original inhabitants smoked.

At the junction of the west side of George IV bridge and Candlemaker Row is a fountain topped by a statue of a Skye terrier – Greyfriars Bobby. Bobby belonged to John Gray, a Pentlands shepherd who brought him to Edinburgh every market day.They had their midday meal at the tavern (now called Greyfriars Bobby, and smoker-friendly) opposite the gate to the Kirkyard of Greyfriars, originally a monastery garden donated by Queen Mary to the city in 1566.

When Gray was buried in the old cemetary in 1858, his faithful dog refused to leave his master’s grave and kept watch there for 14 years, leaving his post only at midday tocontinue his custom of lunching at the local inn. When Bobby died in 1872, his statue was designed in bronze by William Brodie and paid for by Baroness Burdett-Coutts.You can smoke next to the memorial to this icon of Scottish canine loyalty, but please don’t spoil it with your cigarette butts.

Greyfriars kirkyard contains probably the best 17th century monuments in Scotland and was also the scene of one of the key events in Scottish history.It was here that the National Covenant was signed in 1638 – an act of religious defiance which precipitated a bitter internicine war.Scotland ’s smokers are facing a similar battle, but it is largely one-sided and it’s unlikely that anyone will leave a shrine to our memory.

Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) came to Edinburgh in December 1820 with the intention of becoming a regular contributor to Blackwood’s Magazine. Unfortunately, he fell out with William Blackwod in January 1821 and left the city for Grasmere, while his masterpiece, Confessions of an English Opium Eater was published in the London Magazine in 1821, instead of in Scotland’s capital.He settled in Edinburgh in 1830 and for the next decade or so about 35 suits of debt were filed against De Quincey, who often placed himself beyond the reach of his creditors by staying in one of the houses of refuge at the Holyrood Sanctuary, within 100 yards of Holyrood Palace.The only sanctuary there for today’s smoker is on the steps outside.

The most famous single stone in Scotland is the Stone of Scone, or The Stone of Destiny, once used for crowning ancient Scottish kings.Tradition has it that the stone was brought over from Ireland by Fergus I to Argyll, possibly to Dunadd, and by Kenneth mac Alpin to Scone, when the Picts and Scots became united.Edward I had it removed and taken south to Westminster Abbey in 1296 and placed under the Coronation Chair.On 25 December 1950 it was secretly retrieved by Scottish patriots and taken to Arbroath Abbey, where the first Declaration of Independence from England was proclaimed in 1320.

A cushion-shaped, 26-inch, 336-pound block of reddish-grey sandstone was returned to the Coronation Chair in London on 13 April 1951 but some believe the recovered stone was a fake and that the real one lies in a church in Dundee.The ‘Stone’ left Westminster Abbey for the second time in its 700-year history at 7am on 14 November 1996 - with the Prime Minister John Major’s blessing and escorted on its 400-mile journey home by Coldstream Guardsmen, entering Scotland over Coldstream Bridge (Coldstream is the closest Scottish town to the English border).It was then carried through the streets of Edinburgh on an open Land Rover to the sound of a new bagpipe tune entitled ‘The Return of the Stone’ and accompanied by the Royal Commission of Archers, the Queen’s bodyguard in Scotland.

After a thanksgiving service in St Giles Cathedral, the Stone was transferred to the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle, where Prince Andrew (who also happens to be a Scottish earl) surrendered a Royal Warrant confirming Scotland’s rightful possession of The Stone of Scone.A lot of people lit up to celebrate that day, and so should you.

The real irony of director Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave (1994) is that although this stylish and violent black comedy is set in the elegant world of Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town, most of the filming was done in the rival city, Glasgow.The film-makers were lured west by £150,000 from the Glasgow Film Fund and reconstructed the flat where most of the action takes place in a warehouse in Anniesland.The fleeting glimpses of Scotland’s capital in the opening sequence include 17 Heriot Row, former home of smoker-friendly Robert Louis Stevenson.He wouldn’t mind you lighting up there.

The best version of John Buchan’s The 39 Steps was shot by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935 and starred Robert Donat as Richard Hannay.If you’re on a non-smoking train stuck on the Forth Bridge, don’t follow Hannay’s example by jumping off and trying to escape.You can’t smoke in the doorway of your train, or on the tracks, either, at least not on a windy day while overlooking the Firth of Forth.

Smoker-friendly film fans are welcome to light up on the isle of Foula, 16 miles south-west of the mainland of Shetland.Writer-director-smoker Michael Powell was inspired by the evacuation in 1930 of the remote islands of St Kilda in the Atlantic Ocean, 100 miles west of the Scottish mainland. Unfortunately, he was refused permission to film The Edge of the World (where today’s smokers are now encouraged to light up) there in 1937 and instead went to Foula, which shares many similar features.There’s no comforting doorway, just the usual sense of bleak isolation that smokers get when they light up.

While you’re in a Glasgow doorway (especially in Rotten Row, where most evenings you’ll find some of the city’s nurses in their dressing gowns, enjoying that last cigarette outside the non-smoking nurse’s home, just before going to bed), bone up on the local Patter (see Michael Munro’s excellent books, The Patter and The Patter Another Blast) with smoker-friendly Glaswegians, especially useful phrases like:

‘he wouldny gie ye a light in a volcano’, ie don’t ask an anti-smoker for a box of matches

‘dogs always smell their own dirt first’ said to someone who complains of a bad smell, especially if they’re moaning about the smoke from your tobacco

‘there’s ma hand up tae God’ uttered by an ‘independent’ anti-smoking researcher who is making a good living from ‘slagging off’ (London expression) smokers.To give you one example, a Washington lawyer was given over $1 million a couple of years ago to dream up ways to sue tobacco companies.You’ll notice their British equivalents pursuing the same potentially highly lucrative career path – they’re the ones who get interviewed on TV and sometimes admit “well yes, it is a kind of investment but then I’ve put a lot of my time and effort into this case…”

‘mouth like a pocketful of douts’ i.e. the unpleasant after-effects of too much drinking and smoking

‘Ah could eat a farmer’s arse through a hedge’ - an indication of how hungry smokers will be if they decide to wait until some of Scotland’s less tolerant restaurants allow them in for a meal

‘as rare as a Coatbridge Orangeman ‘, i.e. an anti-smoker with an open mind

‘could start a fight in an empty house’, a good description of some of the intolerant fools who go around telling perfect strangers what to do with their lives

‘don’t give us the beef’ meaning stop moaning or complaining, especially about smoking

‘get a kick of the ball’ or the opportunity for a smoker to make his or her contribution to a debate, as in ‘Aye it’ll be a different story when the smokers get a kick of the ball’.It’s amazing how most TV or radio interviewers only want to hear the one thing that is already on their mind (ie smoking’s terrible and you’re killing me with your smoke) when talking to someone who is trying to say something positive about smoking or trying to encourage a little human tolerance

‘if it’s for ye it’ll no go by ye’, confirming that we’re all going to die anyway, whether we smoke or not, and that a healthy corpse is still a corpse

‘ah’m tired of paying yer taxes’, i.e. we’ll all stop smoking and you can pay the extra income tax to make up for the government’s shortfall of £10.25 billion a year

‘what d’ye want me tae dae"Burst oot in fairy lights"’ said by someone refusing to be excited or impressed as the person talking thinks he or she should be – especially when that person is a perfect stranger and hectoring you on the perils of tobacco – as if we haven’t already heard this a million times or are too blind, stupid or illiterate to read the health warnings on packs of tobacco, cigarettes or cigars

‘ah’m no fur havin it’ – which should be memorised by all Scottish smokers who have had enough of being told when they may or may not light up in public.

According to popular belief, in Aberdeen they’ll say ‘you’ll have had your tea"’, in Edinburgh they’ll say ‘do you want your tea"’ and in Glasgow they’ ll say ‘come awa’ in and get your tea.’This is probably not fair as most Scots are very hospitable, but whether they’ll now encourage you to smoke in their home is another story.

In Gullane, East Lothian, are the remains of a 12th century church, whose last vicar was dismissed by James VI for smoking tobacco. The building was destroyed in 1631.Light up in the poor devils’ memory (the king and the vicar).

In Nikolai Tolstoy’s The Quest for Merlin (1985), Hart Fell, Dumfriesshire, was once regarded as the Sacred Centre of North Britain between the Roman Walls, and Harftell Spa was the oracular source of the pagan druid Merlin’s prophesies.Could he have forseen today’s bans on smoking, we wonder"It’s worth thinking about, while you light up.

After their suppression of the last Jacobite rebellion and the defeat of the Scots at Culloden in 1745, the English government set about breaking the military power of the clans.The chiefs were made into landlords and the clansmen into rent-paying tenants.Runrig was overturned in one generation owing, some say, to the influence of sheep and seaweed.

The destruction of the clan system after Culloden and the subsequent Clearances led to mass emigration.Between 1780 and 1808, some 12,000 people left Scotland for America and another 30,000 for the colonies – most of them unwillingly.

The total number of crofts in the Highlands and Islands now accounts for about a quarter of the area’s agricultural output.Scattered across the north-west of Scotland – too cold, wet and windy for most cereal crops – are the traditional ‘biggings’ or buildings, which are usually single-storeyed, straw-thatched, and heated by peat cut from the nearby hills, hauled home on peat sledges and stacked outside the house.The smell of peat smoke goes well with tobacco but you’d better ask the crofter first, before you light up. While you’re there, why not invest in the excellent Harris Tweed, Shetland Lace, or Fair Isle hand-knitted goods.

For those who like to know these things, Harris Tweed is in reality Lewis Tweed but the name stays as it was first manufactured in Harris and is still shipped through Tarbert on Harris.‘Tweed’ is a 150-year-old misspelling of ‘tweel’, as in twill.

George MacDonald (1824-1905) was born in Bogie Street, Huntly, Aberdeenshire, in a building now marked with a plaque.His most famous works include Phantastes (1858) and Lilith (1859), romantic fantasies that influenced the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.His abandonment of Calvinism and the traces of free-thinking which could be perceived in his novels led to his failure to achieve election to the Professorship of Rhetoric at Edinburgh in 1865. One of his friends, C.L. Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll), sent the manuscript Alice’s Adventures Under Ground to the MacDonald family to see if they thought it worth publishing – which they most emphatically did.MacDonald also wrote At the Back of the North Wind and The Princess and the Goblin.Read him, and light up.

Cashmere cloth is still woven in Innerleithen’s mills and they won’t like it if you impregnate it with exhaled tobacco smoke. TheNational Trust for Scotland has completely restored Robert Smail’s Printing Works and is a worth a tour.Ask them if you can use the otherwise lost technology of planers, reglets, quoins and sidesticks to lay out a ‘Smokers Welcome Here’ sign.

From May 1947 until the end of 1948, George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950) lived, wrote and smoked in a remote farmhouse in Barnhill, near the northern end of the Hebridean island of Jura, where he finished Nineteen Eighty-Four (the title reverses the two final digits of the year it was completed in). If you read it carefully, you can see where all this political correctness is leading (or has already led us to).

Floors Castle, near Kelso, was chosen as the location of the ancestral residence of Greystoke – The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984). Tarzan didn’t smoke and neither did Jane or the apes but Sir Ralph Richardson, who played Greystoke’s father, occasionally enjoyed a pipe in real life.Floors Castle is reputedly the largest occupied stately homein Britain, with a total of 365 windows, none of which you can smoke near from the inside, and built in the 18th century as the seat of the Duke of Roxburghe.You probably won’t be allowed to smoke near the main entrance, either, unless you’re careful with your litter but you can light up in the restaurant and in the grounds.

Also in this elegant Borders market town is the oldest cricket club in Scotland (where you can still light up), a smoker-friendly race-course and a ruined abbey – one of many in the Borders and all worth seeing.

American visitors often make a pilgrimage to the attractive village of Kirkbean in ‘the gardens of Galloway’ to trace the roots of Paul Jones, organiser and first commander of the US Navy, who was baptised John Paul in the parish church here.You can’t smoke inside his birthplace cottage on the Arbigland estate but you can read about his exciting exploits during the American War of Independence, which led to the seizing of tobacco estates previously owned by the Tobacco Lords of Glasgow.Smoke outside in the sheltered gardens instead.

On a caravan camp in Kirkpatrick, Dumfriesshire, a derelict mansion marks the site of Dunskelly Castle, ancestral home of Sir William Irving, Robert the Bruce’s standard-bearer at the battle of Bannockburn on 24 June 1314.

Not far away, reached by a wooden platform on the cliffside, is Bruce’s Cave which folklore identifies as the place where Robert the Bruce hid, in 1313, gathering his resolve for the final push against the English, which culminated in the Victory over Edward II at Bannockburn.This is the cave where Robert the Bruce was allegedly inspired by the tenacity of the spider to “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”

Above the cave a monk has carved:

Within this cave King Robert Bruce
From foes pursuant sought a truce,
Like my forebears who for him fell,
I, Irvingguard do guard it well.

If the anti-smokers don’t sign a truce soon, Scotland’s smoker had better hide here too.

One of Scotland’s most dramatic (and most filmed) castles is Eilean Donan, which occupies a little island in Loch Duich, linked to the mainland by a causeway beneath the heights of the West Highlands.In 1986 it doubled as the castle at the heart of Highlander.You’ll need a broadsword to protect your rights, if you light up here.

On the southern slopes of Ben Alder, on Loch Ericht’s west shore, is ‘Cluny’ s Cage’ where in September 1746, ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ (Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender and now a fugitive) hid, following the defeat of the Scottish clans at Culloden on 16 April 1746.The pipe-smoking prince stayed here until 13 September until he heard news of two French privateers in Loch nan Uamh.After travelling 100 miles in a week he boarded l’Heureux at Borradale and on 20 September 1746 left Scotland. In fellow smoker Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped (1886), Alan Breck and David Balfour visit Cluny ’s Cage.It’s still a good place to hide from the anti-smokers.

Or you could board a smoker-friendly cruise on beautiful Loch Lomond in Strathclyde while thinking about the night in February 1692 when the MacDonalds of distant Glencoe were slaughtered in their homes by troops billeted on them – an atrocity which has never been forgotten by most Scots. The story of the massacre is retold in a non-smoking but otherwise courteous visitor centre a little way up the glen.

Monster hunters can write to Steve Feltham at Nessie-Cerll Independent Research, c/o The Old Post Office, Dores, Loch Ness, Inverness, IV12 2TR, or look for his caravan, which has been parked at different locations around the Loch since he first started searching for Nessie a few years ago.Steve is a tolerant non-smoker who survives by donations from kind members of the general public and from selling models of Nessie, and won’t mind if you light up at his door, as long as you don’t discard your cigarette ends and ash in its vicinity.He believes the first sightings of the Loch Ness Monster started in summer 1933 after “dynamiting caused things to come to the surface out of curiosity.”

Some believe ‘the Great Orm of Loch Ness’ is probably one of a small breeding colony of surviving unknown marine animals which became trapped when the land rose after the last Ice Age (about 12,000 years ago), gradually cutting it off from the sea.Loch Ness is said to contain more water than all the reservoirs and lakes of England and Wales put together (265,000,000,000 cubic feet), which may explain the lack of regular sightings of Nessie.

The Gaelic for ‘Are you going to church"’ is Am bheil thu dol d’on chlachan, which literally translates ‘Are you going to the stones"’It’s an old idea that dies hard, especially when you consider that some of Scotland’s churches are on raised circular sites where rings of stone once stood.A good example is Midmar, about 15 miles west of Aberdeen, beyond Echt.In 1914, a graveyard was established around the church there and also around a 57-foot diameter recumbent stone circle which is said to be over 4,000 years old.

If you want to light up in the doorway of a prehistoric site, try Skara Brae on Orkney – the subterranean remains of a compact village, 5,000 years old, the standing stones of nearby Stenness – whose burial cairn is probably the finest megalithic tomb in the UK, the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis or the Mousa Broch in Shetland.Just don’t live your cigarette butts for future archaeologists to dig up and wonder about.

According to Michael Balfour in his excellent book Mysterious Scotland (Mainstream Publishing, 1997), a local lady who describes herself as ‘The White Witch’ told him that her Irish setter has never ventured inside the circle.Whether a smoker should be brave enough to light up here, or in or near any of Scotland’s enormous number of mysterious old stones is up to you.You may find that your lit tobacco probably won’t be the only strange light inside the circle on a dark night.

In 1945, Michael Powell spent six weeks on the Isle of Mull directing I Know Where I’m Going, Emeric Pressburger’s tale of a headstrong young woman (Wendy Hiller) who is on her way to marry a rich industrialist only to be stoped by bad weather within sight of the island where the wedding is due to take place and falling in love with the local laird (Roger Livesey) instead. As Livesey (who smoked cigarettes) was in a play in London at the time, all the location scenes with his character were done in long-shot with a double and later intercut with studio close-ups. It’s something to think about while you’re looking for shelter for your smoke.

A few yards off the Isle of Mull is the most important wreck found since Henry VIII’s Mary Rose.Whether she’ll be excavated in the near future, if at all, depends on funds, most of which at the time of writing, were not forthcoming.Which is a pity because the 350-year-old, Cromwellian man-of-war, The Swan, could teach us a lot about a bygone age.She was discovered in 1979 by John Dadd, a Royal Navy diving instructor, who noticed the blurred outline of three cannons while fishing for lobsters.

The Swan sank in 40ft of water in a violent storm on September 13, 1653, while suppressing the Royalist Maclean clan at Duart Castle, and for all we know may contain traces of tobacco.Why not refrain from buying that pack of cigarettes and donate the money to The Swan’s excavation.

No development is allowed to encroach on Peebles; tree-lined riverside walks by the Tweed, and the town still retains its traditional charm.It still welcomes careful smokers although you can’t light up inside the Tweeddale Museum, Scottish Museum of Ornamental Plasterwork (a good place to bone up on the decorations that adorn so many Scottish doorways) or the medieval Neidpath Castle whose walls still show signs of the bombardments in 1650 by Cromwell’s artillery.

Another fine film by Bill Forsyth is Local Hero (1983), whose idyllic setting was actually the combination of two places on opposite sides of Scotland.Scenes in ‘Ferness village’ were shot in the tiny Aberdeenshire village of Pennan.The beach scenes were shot on the other side of the country at Camusdarrach in Morar.The most popular attraction for the thousands of tourists who come to Pennan, Aberdeenshire, each summer is the village phone box which plays a key role in the film and on its poster.It was actually a prop and the only real red phone box is round by one of the sheds.If you can find it, you can light up inside but do take your cigarette butts home with you.

In one of his Songs of Travel, Robert Louis Stevenson included this verse:

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I"
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Today Stevenson could walk or motor across a 100,000-ton concrete bridge to Skye, with a smoke in his hand, en route to the grave of Flora Macdonald (1722-1790), the Scottish heroine famous for her part in the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie.She met him when he was in Benbecula in the outer Hebrides, and arranged for him to cross to greater safety in Skye, as a member of her party.He was in female disguise and was described as Betty Burke, an Irish spinning maid.Which just shows that not only was Flora tolerant of the prince’s pipe smoking, she didn’t even have any objections aiding a Royal in drag.

While you’re on Skye, look for the Fairy Glen, an area of about 365 conical hills, some 35m high, and light up at twilight while you’re try to figure how they got there.

Years ago in London, I bit my tongue when I heard a primary school teacher tell her class that Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Scots to keep the English out.As most of you know, it is actually a defensive wall stretching 73 miles coast-to-coast across northern England from Bowness on the Solway Firth to Wallsend on the Tyne and built as the northern frontier of Roman Britain.It’s not in Scotland but some people think it is.If you ’re ever nearby, it’s a great place to light up your favourite smoke, near the wall out of the wind.Maybe one day all of Scotland’s smokers will stand on one side, defending their rights.

Copyright James Leavey, 1998.All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the Author.


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