Monday, 17 November 2008


When i was about 17 i went to the Scottish Highlands with my parents. I was at a cynical part of my life, i seemed thought that being with my parents on holiday was the next worse thing to prison and i spent most of the time sulking under a greasy Trilby Hat i had found in the Oxfam store and insisted wearing even in bed as it annoyed my mum so comprehensively.

However, when we got to the shores of Loch Ness the cynicism filtered away in the wind that ruffled the majestic waters. I spent what i remember, possibly incorrectly, as HOURS scanning each ripple for a sign of the fabled monster that lurked, possibly inaccurately, beneath the waves.

Last week the newspapers reported the 75th anniversary of the first, possibly imagined, published photograph of Nessie (see above).

I have never questioned the seeming contradiction of having a juxtaposing "monster" - with its connotations of dark and evil, with "Nessie" - which sounds like a distant, eccentric but ultimately eccentric aunt.

I had a distant, eccentric and ultimately benign aunt that would send Christmas cards to both me and my sister, but she forever thought that i was a girl and that Lorraine was a boy. No one ever corrected her and for years the cards continued to arrive and i never understood her confusion. I never had a chance to ask her why as we never ever saw her.

In fact, like Nessie, she may not have existed and suddenly inexplicably disappeared from my life.

I haven't been to Loch Ness since, the guide book to the Highlands and Islands that sat on my parent's bookshelves and which captivated me as a young child with its own startling photo of Nessie has, like my parents, moved on and i never read or hear about the monster though at one time i was as up to date as anyone about the latest underwater/miniature sub/sonar/dive expedition aimed at finding her.

Nothing i have read so far explains why the photos appeared 75 years ago, did people do sketches before or did she only start to exist as photography took hold? And nothing i have read explains how we know she is female.

Come to think of it i don't really have any proof that my aunt was not an uncle.

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