Tiree, Tobermory or Tenerife, I automatically gravitate towards the shops that sell tourist tat, even though there is no dedicated tourist trap retail outlet on Tiree.
There is Scotmid, and the butcher. No-one is telling me that lamb chops can be described as a souvenir.
Thank heaven for Caledonian MacBrayne with its well-appointed wee shop aboard the MV Clansman, where I could buy a mug, a keyring and an inflatable ferry.
Yes, I admit, I have a weakness for tourist tat. In fact, I’d go further. I feel legally obliged to buy whatever brightly coloured geegaws weigh down those summery shelves.
Why, how else will the shop owners get through the depredations of a Highland winter, if I have not purchased enough wee Hielan’ Coo figurines, some locally made heather soap and a bag made from recycled tractor tyres? I feel the weight of my responsibilities.
Terrible images haunt my dreams of Morag and Fiona in Glen Touristy, snowbound in November, forced to eat unsold stocks of whisky flavoured fudge whilst throwing the last of the wee tartan clad dollies on the fire as the bitter cold slowly pokes its freezing fingers closer to them, and all because I did not buy enough homemade damson jam and a novelty bottle opener.
The entire economies of holiday destinations rest on my shoulders, and the purchase of the souvenir is a financial imperative that I must obey.
But I am telling you here and now, not even I, with my almost limitless appetite for trinkets, baubles and tat can buy enough T-shirts, keyrings and scale model replicas to pay for the Edinburgh Trams.
Mind you, a nice wee tea towel always comes in handy. . .
Ready for bath-le with the mighty soaking beastie
It was in the bath. And it was looking straight at me. It was so big, I half expected it to turn on the taps and pour in Essence of Loch Remote, the bath oil I bought last year in a shop in the Great Glen. It’s separated now and smells a bit like diesel, but I’m sure it’s fine for monstrous spiders who want to have a bit of a soak.
Not in my bath, sonny. Time to do battle.
Now, it’s a well-known fact that spiders can get into your hair. Actually, I’m not sure it is a well-known fact or just something I made up but, anyway, precautions must be taken. So I dug out the shower cap I got free from that hotel down south. Well, I’m saying free. What I mean is, I just took it.
In the event of the beast leaping for my eyes, I put on the son’s swimming goggles, and then donned rubber gloves. I pulled on my Fringe 2014 blue plastic poncho. Just in case.
By jingo, it put up a fight. I walloped it with two towels – one a souvenir of Center Parcs – a pair of underpants and the Vic Nasal Spray, which I grabbed thinking it was Toilet Duck. I know, what on earth have I been firing up my nose during my recent cold?
It made for the shower curtain, I seized the shower head and swept the beastie into the plug hole, and followed it up with copious quantities of water and Loch Remote Shower Gel.
There is a scene in From Russia With Love, where Sean Connery and Robert Shaw batter nine bells out of each other aboard the Orient Express, smashing the carriage to matchwood. That’s what the bathroom looked like. But I won, my multi-legged friend.
Zombie candle got on my wick
Of course, I am well aware of the life cycle of the souvenir.
Those tea towels of Cornwall are far too nice to use, so they will live in the cupboard. The poster of a steam train bought in the Severn Valley? Well, that will be framed one day, but right now it lurks in the back of the wardrobe.
The amusing candles shaped like Scottie dogs remain unburned, mainly because I did light one, and then glanced up during the evening and realised the wax was melting in such a manner that the wee dog’s head was cleft in twain and one eye was hanging out.
No-one can relax with a split-skull zombie Scottie dog staring at them from a dangling eyeball, looking a bit like a canine version of the Terminator.