Friday, 12 September 2008

A Case of Mistaken Identity

To meet a rail passenger at Kyle you drive down a ramp from the main road and turn round between the platforms.

On one occasion, while my father was waiting there in his white Vauxhall to collect my mother who had been shopping in Inverness, an elderly stranger tapped on the window and asked whether he might be taken to Carbost. It was only a few miles out of the way and my father, ever polite, said, "Yes, of course". The man opened the rear door and got in, placing a number of bags on the seat next to him.

Shortly after, my mother arrived. He helped her put her shopping in the boot, and she climbed into the front passenger seat, politely greeting the stranger and asking whether he had had a successful day. The old Highlander explained that he had been shopping in the new Tesco's, and then lunched in the hotel. They discussed how handy the new store was, and the bewildering choice there was compared to the Co-op in Portree.

After they had passed through the toll and crossed onto the island, she told my father about her adventures in Inverness, and he reported on his progress servicing the boiler.

As they chattered away, a silence grew in the back of the car (insofar as a silence can grow) until at length, in a pause, the Highlander remarked hesitantly; "This isn't a taxi, is it?"

"No," my father agreed.

It was a very embarrassed Highland gentleman who disembarked in Carbost, trying to proffer notes and thanking repeatedly for the lift.


  1. So that's how he avoided the taxi fare! Canny.

  2. Your father sounds like a great man. I'm thinking something along the kindness of strangers... and smiling. A great story.

  3. I suspect one would get short shrift if one tried it on down here, Laura! (I've just thought what an odd word 'shrift' is, and looked it up. A shrive is a penance doled out at confession. In the C17th criminals were sent to the gallows immediately after sentencing, and only had time for a 'short shrift').

    Thank you Steve, he was.

  4. Your dad sounds like a good ol' chap! My dad was always bringing strangers home, mainly those he found hitchhiking late at night (young women especially) and lost time when we lived in Greymouth he brought home a couple who had their car windscreen shattered by a stone and the lady of the couple went into hysterical shock claiming they were being shot at! Dad couldn't understand a word of it as he didn't speak French, so he brought them home to us in the hope that my school-girl french would be of use! Different times indeed.