On the 5th February 1941, the S.S Politician, a large cargo ship chugging its way to North America with its precious load of cotton, biscuits and, most importantly, 260,000 bottle of malt whisky, suddenly ran into trouble off the remote Isle of Eriskay in the outer Hebrides, becoming stuck in the sandbanks surrounding the island.
Listing to one side and flooding fast, rumour began to spread among the war-deprived islanders of the vessel’s precious and potent cargo and, in truly enterprising fashion, the islanders set about to take advantage of this surprise landing on their shores and liberate the alcohol from its perilous home…
Although the local authorities were far from impressed with this turn of events, events for which a few hapless individuals were eventually punished, this charming image of craggy old islanders frantically rowing across the waves to claim their bounty is one that has certainly endured and, soon after the event itself, inspired Compton MacKenzie’s 1947 novel Whisky Galore and the classic black and white film of the same name. The book was a sneaky charity shop find of Daddy Relish; the perfect present for the boyfriend; for whom the prospect of a wee dram at the end of a long hard day is becoming increasingly more attractive. What an old man.
In celebration of finally finishing the novel, we both settled down with a cheeky shnifter, turned the lights down low and watched the hilarious 1949 comedy last night, starring Basil Radford and Joan Greenwood. As well as being a thoroughly heart warming tale, particularly for those as fond of that part of the world and its people as we both are, the film really does hark back to a much simpler, more innocent way of life. We really are so over-stimulated and over-sexed nowadays it is really lovely to go back to a time when the simplest jokes and the simplest pleasures were truly the best and when a peck on the lips from your beau whilst sat on the beach was the sexiest, most romantic thing anyone could think of.
Do check out Whisky Galore, I’m assured that you will be as charmed by the book as we were by the film. Aaah I love Scotland!