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The International Writers Magazine: Life Stories

Britt Ekland and Me… in 1973!
Colin Todhunter

I’m in a remote Scottish village, tucked away on a west coast island in the 1970s. There is Gaelic folk music playing downstairs in a local bar awash with conviviality and intimacy. The horse brasses hanging on the walls and the copperware on the shelves about the place sparkle with light from the flames of the fire, which burns in the hearth. The singing and music drift through the midnight air and into the room above where I am staying. I’m from the mainland and the people here are islanders. I’m from another world, yearning to be part of their’s: a place from a bygone age from years ago and days of old.

The smell of locally brewed ale and the tinge of salty sea air; rustling trees and waves crashing in the harbour; howling gales and the power of one; this is unprocessed, this is raw; this is as remote as remote can be in the British Isles. In the 1970s, the world is void of mass cynicism and instant gratification, of needless complexity and lingering apathy. It is simpler and timeless; more alluring and less disenchanted; more mysterious and less precise.
A young woman begins to sing along to the music below in the room next to mine. She is an islander. She is celestial; she is mysterious. She is enchanted. She beats her hands against the wall, in rythme to the music below. She dances alone. She dances naked. She drips with indefinable sensual charisma. She is Aphrodite’s daughter, a goddess of love, beauty and youthful rapture. She is supreme.
She sings to me and only me. She is inviting me. She sings along, almost in a whisper, to the lilting melodies from below…
”Heigh ho…Who is there, no one but me my dear… Please come…Say how do?…  The things I’ll give to you…. A stroke as gentle as a feather… I'll catch a rainbow from the sky and tie the ends together… Heigh ho… I am here… Am I not young and fair... Please come… Say how do?… The things I’ll show to you… Would you have a wond'rous sight?…The midday sun at midnight...”
I recognise those lyrics from the 18th century Scottish poet Rabbie Burns. She has put them to music. This whole room, building, village and island seem a world apart from the place in time that I inhabit. It reeks of ancient Britain itself, with its rural traditions, words and music, harvest time rituals and poetry. The place is covered with shades of pagan symbolism and mysticism and flows in tune to the rythme of the seasons, to the beat of one.
She sings gently. The drum gets louder. Her beating grows wilder. The music becomes frenzied as my heart pounds faster. I wait. I wait too long. Then… nothing! She's gone. The music stops. The waves become still and the trees fall silent. I no longer hear her voice. I drift into frustration, emptiness… then tranquility. And night fades to day.
The next morning: regret, yearning, loss. Just before I leave, I meet her on the stairs.
 She says with casual nonchalance but with a hint of anguish in her voice, “You never came last night. I invited you.”
 She was never to invite me again. She never came my way again. I always looked for her; I never found her. I still remember that night. I still remember her. 
(Inspired from a scene from one of the greatest films made: The Wicker Man, 1973. A very British film!) 
Colin Todhunter March 2008

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