Marveling at bits and bobs

Living in the shadow

Chris, the host, takes us to the third floor of the house, the top floor, to look at the power station a few hundred metres beyond the walled garden. Aesthetically unobtrusive, we’d probably forget it was there if it wasn’t the primary focus of our field trip. It is barely visible in the near distance; peeking out from behind a row of tall conifers, practically obfuscated.

We ask about the safety measures, potassium iodide. There is something of a wry air of mirth as he leads us to the kitchen, the medicine cabinet, and roots out a box which looks very much like a standard prescription box, nestled neatly amidst everything else; the spice rack, tea bags and utensils. The everyday mundane.

Later, as the light dwindles, we bid farewell to Hunterston House and finish up at our base of operations?—?a cafe at the yacht marina. I stand at the cafe bar, numb, raw hands clutching a white porcelain teacup, trying to coax warmth back into my soul. The allure of film has the three local cafe waitresses?—?the maiden, the mother and the wee wise wifey?—?all peering over, ogling the tech and whispering to each other, wondering as to the functionality. Marveling at the bits and bobs.

So, for their delectation, and on behalf of our delegation, I play raconteur for a bit; and entertain the girls by explaining away our raison d’être, detailing the gossip and describing the day’s adventure. Strangely, almost surreally, for the entire duration of this brief encounter all three stand practically agog, hang on each word almost theatrically, as I tell them tall tales of the family, the estate, the priceless treasure of the Hunterston brooch, of the compulsory purchase order made by the Government to cede the land from the clan. A rich tapestry of history which had been unfolding for centuries, half a mile down the road, of which they had hitherto been entirely unaware. As had I, prior to the day before.