NOW THEN. GLENFINNAN . There are quite a few places that can justly claim to be the midge
capital of Scotland and Glenfinnan is several of them. It also rains a lot. When my friend
Les first moved to Fort William to start work as a teacher, it rained every single day for
the first six weeks he was there. Not a continual, apocalyptic biblical downpour, obvi-
ously - well, not every week - but at least one shower in every 24 hour period, and usu-
ally a lot more than that. Even for a man raised in Greenock, that's a lot of rain.
I suppose I ought to explain here, for those of you not well versed in the geographical
ranking structure of Scottish Iffy Weather Areas, that Greenock has something of a repu-
tation in the west of Scotland for being a rainy old place (the west of Scotland has
something of a reputation in the rest of Scotland for having more than its fair share of
precipitation, too, and it is probably fair to say that Scotland itself is perceived as being
a tad rainier than the rest of Britain, while Britain as a whole is not necessarily a prime
contender for the first word your average foreigner would come up with when asked to
free associate with the word 'desert', or 'arid').
Basically Greenock is the Manchester of Scotland; people make jokes about how
much it rains.
There's always somewhere. In Norway it's Bergen. When I first went there, hitch-hik-
ing round Europe back in 1975, I heard my first - and for a long time, only - example of
Norwegian humour: An Oslo man goes to Bergen on holiday. It rains without pause for
a fortnight. At the end of his holiday, as he's entering the station to take the train back to
Oslo - shaking out his brolly, wringing out his tie, whatever - he sees a small boy and
says, 'Tell, me, small boy, does it always rain in Bergen?' and the small boy says, 'I don't
know, I'm only five years old.' Oh well, maybe you had to be there; if you're wet through
and living inside a permanently anchored dark grey rain cloud with only the prospect of a
half-year-long winter when the heavy rain turns to heavy snow to look forward to I guess
you too would grasp at anything to relieve the gloom.
Even so, six weeks without a totally dry day was probably some sort of record even
for Scotland's west coast, and might, just possibly, have excited comment in Fort Willi-
am, if anybody apart from Les had been counting. Les began to think he might have made
a mistake. However, as the year wore on, a subsequent pleasantly hot and sunny sum-
mer - well, technically a brief but welcome Indian summer; okay, actually a warmish and
not unduly damp weekend some time in late October - alleviated some of this feeling of