Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Journey with a Difference

Extraordinary Dreams of an Ireland Traveler
Author Jon Magee
Extraordinary Memories
Another wonderful post comes to us from across the seas written by Scotland's prestigious Author Jon Magee.
I ask him to share his life with us once more as well. I know you will find the following truly a  life  of inspiration and be so happy you have met this giving and talented writer.

Thank you Jon for helping me out today with these stories and memories.

Author Jon Magee

A Journey with a Difference
It was May 1984. My wife, Joan, our new born daughter, Elaine, and myself waited in the departure lounge in Glasgow airport. It was an international airport, but for us this was to be a domestic flight to our home on the Isle of Islay in the Hebrides. My youth had always been very nomadic moving around the world to various exotic places. Every journey was one of anticipation, wondering what new experiences would take place each time, but we had already seen sufficient experiences this time having been flown out of Islay by air ambulance a week or two previously. Concerns had been raised about the health of the expected baby, the islands medical resources would not be sufficient and Paisley Maternity was the place to be. Now, it was enough to see a healthy wee girl in our midst.
Looking through the window we could see our aircraft being prepared for its passengers. It was a small DHC-6 Twin Otter, operated by Logan Air. The airport was home to the Scottish regional airline Loganair, who had hangar facilities as well as their head office located on site. As our time to be called came we took the long walk out and climbed aboard. The stewardess took great delight in taking care of Elaine, perhaps never realising the significance of looking so brightly on her, for the name Elaine literally means bright. Taking command the stewardess declared “The mother and baby will sit next to me at the back. Dad, you will need to find another seat.”
 The aircraft only carried 19 passengers, but it did not take long for them all to be filled. There was just one seat left, at the front next to a balding man who was in his early 50’s. He was well dressed, gave the appearance of one who was used to taking such trips, and also being able to take control in times of need. I had no idea why this empty seat had been avoided, but it was the only one left. I sat down and began to adjust my seat belt, relaxed, and then took a look around. I turned to make conversation and only then did I recognise who it was.

It was Russell Johnston, a Member of Parliament representing the northern constituency of Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber. He was first elected to the House of Commons in London twenty years previously in 1964, and by this time was the party leader for the Scottish Liberals. Yet despite being so successful in his political career he aspired to reach out for more and this flight was part of his election campaign to become a Member of the European parliament (MEP). Sadly, this was destined to be the second time he was to be thwarted in is desire to reach the European Parliament, each tie defeated by the Scottish Natonalist Winnie Ewing. I began to wonder what would be driving such a man to stretch himself further in his career when he could have felt satisfied with all he had already achieved, and Russell Johnston was not hesitant to speak, like many a politician.
He was a passionate Liberal enthusiast for both Europe and Scottish devolution before such ideas were fashionable. Clearly he was a genial character and regarded with great affection by those who worked for him. He was popular in his constituency, though I understood there was some concern at his desire to hold down both positions as an MP and as an MEP, with the risk of the constituency suffering.
 As he spoke there was clearly an enthusiasm about this island visit as he spoke of the Isle of Islay with its population of just over 4,000 people, known as the Queen of the Hebrides. He spoke of its 8 working whisky distilleries, and his love of whisky, the stunning scenery, amazing wildlife and all the friendly people. He was a man of the Highlands, and it showed. He was raised on Skye as a bilingual Gaelic speaker and was an enthusiast for shinty (a Scottish variation of hurling). Yet there was strength in his absorption and interest in international affairs. For him, this was an ideal opportunity to bring together the full breadth of his interests.
I was impressed as he spoke, but what I remembered most was his comment after we landed. As the aircraft taxied around to its final destination, he pointed out of the window to a lone piper and said “I guess that’s been prepared to welcome me to Islay”. The politician was about to learn something new at that point. You see, the reason that the Air Stewardess had directed mother and baby to sit at the back was part of the safety rules of the day. All new born babies with their mums had to sit there at the back, next to the door so they could get out first in emergency. As the piper played for the VIP arriving, it was baby Elaine who was piped of, not the politician.
As years go by, Elaine was to develop her own music as she learnt to play the piano and the violin. Could it be those early years of listening to the bagpipes struck a chord of harmony in her life?
In later years we would often recount to Elaine how it was her, not the politician, who was piped onto Islay, a story she still loves to hear. I guess that’s how it always should be, that the VIP title must be given to the honouring of the gift of new life.

The political career of Sir Russell Johnston, MP, later known as Lord Russell-Johnston
Preceded by
Neil McLean
Constituency abolished
New constituency
Constituency abolished
Party political offices
Chairman of the Scottish Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Menzies Campbell
Preceded by
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Malcolm Bruce
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Preceded by
Alan Beith
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party
Deputy Leader of the Social Democratic Party
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Succeeded by
Alan Beith
President of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Please be sure to stop by Jon Magee's site on Amazon for your copy of the incredible books he has to offer. The addresses are:
WHERE Jon Magee's Book can be Purchased:
Author of "From Barren Rocks to Living Stones" & "Paradise Island,
Heavenly Journey"
Thank you once more for visiting my blog.

Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins
Extraordinary Dreams
of an
Ireland Traveler


  1. Oh Jon, what a remarkable and enjoyable story. I love hearing tales of my ancestral home which I'll never get to see. This was simply wonderful! Thank you!

    And thank you, Rosemary, for having him back so we can all enjoy his stories.