Scotland – the Final Day

Saturday 24th June 2017

On the final day we came to Hill House, the Charles Rene MacIntosh masterpiece. ‘I’ve worked out how many dots there are in a set of dominoes,’ the Laird said at breakfast in the Premier Inn. ‘Do you know?’ I didn’t so he told me. Later, in the van, on the way to Hill House, he mentioned an acquaintance who’d possibly got stuck on the road bridge over the River Clyde. His vehicle might have broken down at the highest point, causing the fullest mayhem. ‘He’s got flat feet,’ the Laird explained.  When we were passing over the bridge ourselves in the van,  he pointed out a grim mansion far below, now a hotel, where he’d perhaps had one of his honeymoons, maybe even with the present Lairdess. In any case, the manager’s got flat feet. But the present Lairdess was preoccupied still with the micro-biologist who’d been wild for the Laird 35 years ago. She engaged in insulting speculation about the state of her intimate parts after all these years. It made no difference how many times one explained that the Laird had repelled the micr0-biologist and therefore could not have engaged in intimacy with her. She didn’t believe it. That micro-biologist was only 19 at the time. She’d been for a ride in the Laird’s Triumph Spitfire, acquired via the family fortune from installing cigarette vending machines in the toilets of pubs. Therefore the matter of her intimate regions  could never be laid to rest. Meanwhile, Laura Malcolm said that Matt Driver had taken to wearing patterned socks. ‘He’s trying to acquire a personality,’ she said. Moira MacMatron was constructing a water-proof wimple for her own wear.

Frequently we recalled the great seagull episode of the day before when Laura Malcolm had seized the abandoned scone fragment from the neighbouring table in the cafe at Culzean. Laura had only to do a seagull squawk and we were paralysed with hilarity. How we roared! It really was one of the most marvellous things that happened on the holiday, just as good in its own way as the Chippendale and the Robert Adam staircase.

It was blowy and wet when we reached Hill House, the masterpiece of Charles Rene MacIntosh. It doesn’t exactly beckon with loveliness. Moira MacMatron put on her waterproof wimple. From without, Hill House resembles in some aspects one of those ancient Scottish castles that are in fact a tower, mostly wall. It’s an unrelieved grey. But the juxtaposition of forms intrigues. It’s bare,spare and incredibly modern, although appearing to resemble to older building. Lutyens pulled off the same genius at Castle Drogo, which could be mistaken for a fake medieval castle but is really as daring and modern as the Bauhaus.

Within Hill House is austere with a glint of Klimt in the fireplaces – as well as ancient Egypt. A good wide hall, but beyond that too pared down and minimal to be comfortable. You can’t helping thinking of all the mean, pinched, dark stockbroker residences that are the bastard offspring of MacIntosh and Lutyens. The best room is the Library, which appeared to be still as originally intended. None of the other rooms were in their authentic state, as far as I could see. The Library is very dark, but the panelling is superb Arts and Crafts, Liberty – really good quality.

After Hill House, we took lunch on The Maid of the Loch, a retired paddle steamer now resting on Loch Lomond. Great things were promised of a beautifully restored paddle steamer but it was a choice of toasted cheese sandwich or toasted tuna – and no mustard, nor indeed condiments of any kind – in rusty surroundings. Of course we embraced the lack of restoration with enthusiasm but the Laird, who had organised our tour down to the very last detail was disappointed. Indeed I think I saw him slipping a small mine under The Maid of the Loch as we departed. Suddenly there was a sign: ‘Designer Outlet Store’. We begged for the van to veer in and it did. I did not allow a dirty cream interior and rack upon rack of anoraks to depress me. It must get better, I thought. At the far end of the Mall was a sign: ‘Leading Labels’. Oh joy! Balenciaga, Prada, Gucci, APC, Paul Smith. A Prada belt would be £75. I could see it all unfolding before me. With Matt Driver, I forged in. There was no noticeable decor uplift. ‘Roman’ is not a leading label known to me. Nor, unfortunately, is ‘Regatta’. But surely, surely.. with persistence, Balenciaga would emerge? On and on we battled, through more of Roman and Regatta until we reached ‘Non-Iron poplin shirts’… and could go no further. There was no more store. That was it.

Then it was time to leave Scotland. We sang hymns of praise to the Laird in the van.

Praise him, praise him evermore

He did laminate the itinerary cards

He did telephone the restaurants

And He did bookèd the Premier Inn

He selecteth all the Places

Oh so great, for evermore

Praise him, Praise Him

All Before

Hill House: Pure Mass and Form

Hill House: Pure Mass and Form

Hill House: Arrangement of Shapes with Minimal Adornment: Both Ancient and Modern

Hill House: Arrangement of Shapes with Minimal Adornment: Both Ancient and Modern

Hill House: Here More Like an Scottish Castle such as Blair Atholl

Hill House: Here More Like an Scottish Castle such as Blair Atholl

Glorious Library at Hill House

Glorious Library at Hill House: Cosy as well as Pared Down

 

Nooky Corner in the Drawing Room at Hill House

Nooky Corner in the Drawing Room at Hill House – Actually V. Nice

The Drawing Room at Hill House

The Drawing Room at Hill House: What do You Think?

Good Wide Hall at Hill House

Good Wide Hall at Hill House: A Bit Japanese?

Moira MacMatron's Waterproof Wimple for The Hill House Visit

Moira MacMatron’s Waterproof Wimple for The Hill House Visit

Designer Outlet Store on Loch Lomond: So Promising

Designer Outlet Store on Loch Lomond: So Promising

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted Sunday, June 25, 2017 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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