(With WND’s Middle East Bureau Chief Corbett in transit to Jerusalem
to report on the political and social changes in Israel, today’s
HeartBeat column looks through his memory book and his reminiscence of
EDINBURGH, Scotland — Doctor, doctor, it’s about this burr — a
definite trilling pronunciation of me r’s — aye picked up during me wee
stay in this glorious country of Scotland. What can ye tell me to take
A wee dram and a plateful of Haggis, he said. OK, I’ll give it a try!
The great infection of affection for everything Scottish can be
contagious, for even a laddie’s name can change. Once I was just plain
ol’ Kaye Corbett, but that was before I put on THE kilt and, suddenly, I
was transformed into the Giant Highlander, known as K. MacDonald
Let me spin ye a wee tale.
It was the kind of day in downtown Edinburgh where even the wee
birdies were sweating. Our personable and efficient guide and driver,
Kenny Hanley, told us to get prepared for the Scottish Evening at
Edinburgh’s George Hotel.
During the afternoon, we had climbed the steep inclines of Edinburgh
Castle after coming in from the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, the resting-place
of Sir Walter Scott. It had been quite a climb.
Like a message from on high, your obedient servant and my gentlemen
companions decided to “surprise” the ladies accompanying us. “Let’s rent
us some kilts,” we chimed, with the ladies now out of hearing range.
Hanley, a true Scot, already had his, so it was up to my friends and
I to find suitable attire. Where? Just up the street from the George
Hotel was a haberdashery specializing in all things Scottish. The outfit
rented for 42 pounds for the night, with an extra 50 pounds deposit.
Trying to fit the kilt around this ample waist was a chore. The only
ones that did, belonged to either the Hunting Stewart or the Macleod;
I’m not picky. When it came to the remainder of the attire, it was a
tight squeeze, since we all tried to use a small change room in the
How does it all come together? There was no instruction manual from
the haberdashery, but somehow I managed to arrange the other parts of
the costume including a sporran (pouch) that hangs in front of the kilt;
a doublet (jacket); the stockings and the low-cut brogues and a small
knife, that I almost cut my leg on. The clothier, somehow, had forgotten
cufflinks, which caused an acute attack of indigestion, but I was to
learn the next afternoon that the cufflinks weren’t included.
After tugging with the clothing, and also becoming accustomed with
the breeze sailing through the lower regions, I was ready for the
The ladies were suitably impressed. And with Scottish Pipe Major John
Munro leading the way, the Canadian Highlanders and their ladies wove
their way through the great dining hall.
Following a meal, which included the beloved Haggis, there was
entertainment — the singing of Grant Frazer, accordionist Stuart
Anderson and the George Highland Dancers. Audience participation was on
the menu, including “Roamin’ In The Gloamin’,” “Just A Wee
Deoch-An-Doris,” “I Love A Lassie,” and “The End Of The Road.” It ended
with “Auld Lang Syne.”
Even the next morn at breakfast in the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, I wore
the tartan and didn’t want to part with it, for it engendered feelings
of being swept back into Scottish history with its mystery, romance and
That sense of deja vu crept through my mind’s eye numerous times
during my stay, as I discovered my “roots.” And the one place it was
evident, was at Traquair at Innerleithen, Pebblesshire, where the
present Laird, Peter Maxwell Stuart, is extremely animated as he takes
his “guests” through the shadowy hallways and staircases of this, the
oldest inhabited house in Scotland.
A first-time visitor can actually “feel” the history and I envisioned
Bonnie Prince Charlie riding at the head of his personal guard on that
autumn afternoon in 1745, along the tree-lined avenue sprawling out from
the fortress of Traquair towards the Steekit Yetts (the Bear Gates).
As Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart, son of James III, 1720-88)
departed, the fifth Earl — Charles Stuart (the 11th Laird), a devout
Jacobite — wished his guest a safe journey, with the promise that the
gates would not be reopened until the Stuarts were restored to the
Dool an’ sorrow hae fa’en Traquair,
An’ the Yetts that were shut at Chairlie’s comin’
He vowed wad be opened nevermair
Till a Stuart King was crooned in Lunnon
The Steekit Yetts remained closed to this day — a testimony to the
scars of sectarianism, which had ravished this glorious country.
Another notable experience with the past occurred at Scone Palace,
the ancient crowning place of Scottish kings, including Macbeth and
Robert the Bruce. It is now Scotland’s treasure house, housing fabulous
collections of French furniture, clocks and one of the finest
collections of porcelain in the world.
Besides, the past, the present was given prominence.
If your sport is fishing, then Scotland’s the place to be. Although a
morning of fly-fishing on the River Tay proved futile, except for one
nibble, the splashing of salmon upstream would lure a true fisherman
back to these haunts.
I would like to return to the magnificent vales with their grazing
sheep in the lowlands and border areas and to the Braemar Highland Games
in early September.
By that time, Kenny Hanley will have forgiven me for telling him that
he drives on the wrong side of the wee roads and for also saying Haggis
was akin to hamburgers. Hoot mon! I love hamburgers.
(Courtesy of the Toronto Sunday Sun, July 30, 1989).