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Angus and Mearns Matters: Country roads lead home on a gem of a trip

Jim Clark's 1962 Lotus Elan at his Kilmany memorial statue
Jim Clark's 1962 Lotus Elan at his Kilmany memorial statue

Some days, John Denver sagely told us, are diamonds.

The not so good ones are stones.

Or shoogly days, as Billy Connolly revealed in an open, heartwarming interview last week on a visit back to Glasgow from his adopted home in Florida.

The Big Yin was in the city he loves, and which loves him back, to unveil his latest collection of artworks, Born on a Rainy Day, speaking frankly about his health five years after the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

He encounters the aforementioned shoogly days, but said he was otherwise “perfectly okay”, going on to talk about his love of art, as well as the enjoyment and appreciation of the outpouring of affection he receives from his own folk.

Billy — now, Sir William — has transcended celebrity adulation and is hugged by people on the streets of Glasgow as if they are meeting a favourite uncle.

And the one-time welder is grand with that.

I imagine it was the same situation half a century ago – before his desperately premature demise in a German crash – for Jimmy Clark when he put his race overalls into the wardrobe and pulled on the boiler suit of a Borders farmer.

A brace of Formula One World Championships bear testament to his superlative talent on the track, but by every account Clark was a quiet man out of the cockpit.

Pal and fellow motorsport knight Sir John Whitmore even famously revealed, while Clark was beyond compare when it came to making split second decisions at three-figure speeds, it was matched by his dithering capabilities when required to choose which restaurant they would eat at.

Though the Indianapolis 500 winner perished when I was just a wee lad, the striding statue of the sporting hero at his Kilmany birthplace is a beautiful work of art; a special thing in a special place.

Last week, through the gracious generosity of a good friend, this motorsport fan was handed the key to the pretty red Lotus Elan, whose first owner was Jim Clark, for a jaunt to the Fife hamlet in the black leather bucket seat first occupied by a legend.

I’m certain Country Roads singer Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. would concur with the conclusion it was a 24-carat diamond day.

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