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RAB MCNEIL: Earthlings and otters on my Lonely Shore

Rab's got rather used to his lonely shore.
Rab's got rather used to his lonely shore.

Sometimes, I yearn to see another soul on the Lonely Shore. But if somebody does turn up, I think: ‘Who the hell is this and what do they want?’

Ach well, I’m only human. Allegedly.

When I took a mate on the Lonely Forest walk, he said: “One minute you’re complaining that you never see anybody, the next that there are too many.”

That was after we’d encountered three Earthlings.

Oh look! Footprints!

However, I had not “complained” about never seeing anybody. I’d merely remarked on it for the record.

My mate is a fellow journalist, so it’s no surprise that he twisted what I said.

One day, I became excited when I found footprints in the sand on the Lonely Shore. Fearlessly, I started following them. Then I realised they were mine. It was like that scene in Robinson Crusoe.

I loved that TV series when I was a boy, and now I’m living it. I haven’t yet found a Man Friday and suspect that, these days, I’d have to pay him the minimum wage. Quite rightly.

Signs of Other People

Sometimes, signs of Other People can be found, though: litter.

There are bags of it in a fairly inaccessible slope of woods above the shore. I say “inaccessible”, when I just mean a bit difficult for me to go up and remove. They’re quite big bags.

People turn up at the small parking area in camper vans above the Lonely Shore, look across the sea to the mountains, tell each other “This is beautiful”, then dump their rubbish down the wooded slope.

I should tell the cooncil to get it moved. Recently, volunteers put up a wee sign, asking folk not to drop litter.

Dangerous detritus

On the beach, I pick up bits of detritus, much of it accidental material from boats or creels, I suspect.

Frequently, there are strands of thin, blue rope, but also sometimes long pieces of tape (origin unknown) and sundry small items of coloured plastic (bits of toys or picnicware perhaps).

I take these back to the boot of my wee car, and put them out with the bins later.
In particular, I dislike the lengths of rope or tape because, washed back to sea, they might get eaten by something that should know better.

Some years ago, in the bay beside the Big Village, a dolphin turned up and died, with its insides full of such stuff.

The matter of the otter

I’m always looking out to sea for a dolphin, but might as well be searching for a unicorn.

The best I usually get is a heron, and even he gives me one look before giving an anguished squawk and getting the hell out of Dodge.

Further along the shore, I had my closest encounter with an otter. I was laying on a flat, upright slab of rock thinking great thoughts, and he ambled along without seeing me.

When he did, I stayed still and he or she, just a few feet away, just stood staring at me.

We continued like this for some time, until we both said “Aye” and went our separate ways.

He told his mate from the Otter Inquirer: “Getting crowded with Rabs round here.”

And his mate said: “You were complaining a minute ago that you never saw any Rabs.”

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