Dom Joly: Pop on a kilt, and you will always blend in

Related Topics

Last stop on my Tintin tour of the country. We landed on the beach in Barra in a twin-prop plane. It's an exhilarating ride and apparently the only scheduled flight in the world that uses such a landing strip. The tiny airport building was buzzing with activity for the only plane of the day and we were given a wonderful welcome. This must have been what travel was like before we all had to have our underwear scanned. Mind you, it wasn't long before I was standing in front of complete strangers in my pants. Like Tintin, I had changed into a kilt on the plane to "blend in". It soon became clear, however, that I had not put it on correctly. Two smiling ladies in high-visibility jackets who had greeted us at the door to the airport, beckoned me into an office. There I was told in no uncertain terms to take my kilt and sporran off. As I stood in my pants, the kind ladies put my kilt back on correctly. "Welcome to Barra," they laughed hysterically. I loved this island already.

We took two of the three island taxis and headed for Castlebay, the only town. The scenery was awesome. We drove along the coast as huge waves pounded this westernmost outpost of the United Kingdom. In a little bay to the right of the road I spotted a tiny, derelict building perched on a little island.

"Who lived there?" I asked.

"That was the island dungeon," said the driver. "If you crossed the MacLeans, the island clan, then you'd be locked up there. It completely floods when the tide comes in." We all looked at each other nervously. It was probably best that we behaved ourselves. We didn't want to suddenly spot a wicker man being built on a nearby hill.

I was on the island to try and locate a particular scene from The Black Island, but I was sure that Barra was famous for something else – I just couldn't put my finger on it. Then, as we checked into our hotel, a poster behind the reception desk gave me my answer. This was the Whisky Galore island. In 1941, a ship called the SS Politician ran aground here. To the delight of the islanders, she was carrying 24,000 cases of whisky. Everybody helped themselves and "a good time was had by all" – in the words of the local publican. This was in the middle of the Second World War and rationing was obviously a big deal, so this unexpected booty was manna from heaven for the thirsty islanders. The story became so famous that a movie of the same name was shot on the island during the summer of 1948.

We were also informed that Time Team had been there recently to do their usual nonsense of digging large trenches about the place, finding a couple of stones and then getting an artist in to completely make up what "might" have been there 2,000 years ago. We were, therefore, the third film crew to be on the island, so nobody was that impressed.

We shot as much as we could in the existing daylight but, when the sun set at around four o'clock, we were forced to retire to the local pub for a "research meeting". It turned into an extremely intensive research meeting and we eventually staggered out some time past midnight. The weather had turned and it was blowing a gale. The wind whipped the rain into our faces like little needles. We had to get the flight back to the mainland the following day and it didn't look very likely. But the man at the hotel reception told us not to worry: "The plane flies in almost anything." He was right. We took off on time and banked sharply over a couple of startled cockle pickers as we headed off towards Glasgow. It's good to be Tintin.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Neo-Nazis march in London  

I'm taking my Jewish kids to a vile neo-Nazi rally in London this weekend because I want them to learn about free speech

Richard Ferrer
A police officer carries a casualty to safety  

Tunisia attack proves that we cannot stop terrorists carrying out operations against Britons in Muslim countries

Robert Verkaik
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map