30th November


marks the spot where two laddies hunting golf balls found a fisherman spread like a star beside the fourteenth tee. He was on his back, arms and legs outstretched, and his lips wore a beatific smile. They knew he was a fisherman from his oilskins and his gansey. Shells decorated his beard and a tangle of bladderwrack was round his neck, but he wore no boots or socks. His feet were blue and marbled. Above them were the yellow oilskins, the dark grey wool of the gansey and the lighter grey of the beard and hair. Pink and white were the tones of his face, but the colour of his eyes could not be discerned with the lids closed as they were.

‘He’ll get cauld lyin there,’ said the smaller laddie.

‘He’s no sleepin, Darren, he’s deid,’ his brother Tom said.

They were more curious than frightened. The sea could never have carried him so far above the high-water mark. Had he staggered ashore before collapsing? Or dropped from the sky?

‘Run tae the clubhoose,’ Tom said. ‘I’ll stay here.’

The first foursome were about to tee off. ‘There’s a deid man at the fourteenth!’ Darren shouted. ‘Ye’ve tae come quick!’

Darren was a wee tyke and not to be trusted, but after further interrogation the men commandeered an electric scooter and took it across the fairways, one driving and three puffing along beside it.

Back at the corpse, Tom found the courage to put his ear to the fisherman’s mouth. Not a whisper of breath. He pushed down on the oilskins, below the breastbone, and a little fountain of saltwater parted the smiling lips.

The fisherman sat up.

‘Ye’re alive!’ Tom said.

‘I am now.’

‘Did ye no droon?’

‘I did, but I was saved. Where are my boots?’

‘Dinna ken.’

‘Never mind.’ He got to his naked feet.

‘Who saved ye?’

‘I’ll tell you. But first I want a cup of tea.’

They met the rescue party halfway. By the time the fisherman reached the clubhouse there was quite a crowd.

He was a great orator. The shells in his beard gave him presence.

Darren and Tom’s golf-ball sales had never been better.

Reader: Kirstin McLean
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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