That was the
Thursday. By Saturday night—electric guitar night—there was no sign of the fog
lifting. I began to have fantasies. Soon they'd be pointing out Mike and me to
tourist parties together with the Old Man of Hoy and the druidical standing
stones and Bronze Age tombs with which the island was littered. "That's
Gammon and Smith," the guide would say. "They came over originally for
"I'll be in
this bar Always," sang Mike, a new inspiration hitting him. "Not for
just a day, not for just a week, not for just a month—but Always!" He hit a
high, hysterical note on the last Always.
Room 5," I explained to anyone who wanted to listen. "It's beginning to
out of here all the week," said the barmaid conversationally. "Only
out?" said Mike. "Who is this Logan?"
Mr. Logan, it
appeared, had the contract for hauling newspapers from Inverness to the
islands. He had a big black beard, a pilot's license and a tiny twinengined
Britten-Norman Islander. He hadn't missed the paper round one day in four
years, even when the scheduled aircraft stayed cowering on the mainland.
We tracked him
down and, yes, he would take us, even when he saw the size of Leith-Smith and
the amount of gear he carried. The old East African sunshine appeared on Mike's
face again as we lifted out of Grimsetter and found the blue sky above it.
In an hour we
were at Inverness, at the BEA desk claiming a refund. All flights south were
fully booked, but there was no stopping Leith-Smith now. At the lunch counter
sat a man in uniform with pilot's wings. Mike breezily accosted him. "Where
are you bound for, Captain?" he said.
If it had been
me, I'd probably have been asked to leave the building. I turned away to avoid
any embarrassment, but Mike was coming after me with a meek pilot in tow.
"This is Captain Abercrombie," said Mike. "He will be taking us to
He actually had
Abercrombie carry his largest suitcase out to the aircraft, a shiny new Piper
Aztec belonging to a Scotch whisky tycoon. Traveling south he told Abercrombie,
"Been doing a little fishing. Up on Orkney. Overrated, in my