Tales of Nessie won't stop resurfacing
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Tales of Nessie won't stop resurfacing

Today happens to be the 90th anniversary of the famous photograph claiming to be that of the "Loch Ness Monster". It was on April 21, 1934, that the Daily Mail carried the iconic front page pix of what became known as the "surgeon's photograph" because it was taken by London doctor Robert Kenneth Wilson.

It depicted Nessie's head and neck emerging from the deep waters of the Scottish loch. Although it attracted a lot of attention for many years it is now dismissed as a hoax. Yet for something that probably doesn't exist Nessie has a remarkable gift of still making the news and is also a welcome money-spinner for the Scottish economy.

There was even a "sighting" earlier this month when a tourist couple told the Sun newspaper they photographed "what looked like the black head of an animal bobbing up and down". The photo has since been accepted by the official Loch Ness sighting register as "compelling evidence" that some kind of creature is living in the loch. In all there have been 1,155 sightings.

According to the most accepted explanation of the original 1934 photograph, the "monster" was in fact a toy submarine bought from Woolworth with a monster's neck crafted on it.

Despite Nessie being widely regarded as mythical, it still attracts huge numbers of tourists, particularly Americans hoping to catch a glimpse of the so-called monster. Even today, one of the most frequent questions asked of Scottish tourist authorities is "At what time do they feed the Loch Ness Monster?"

Question time

Every country has to put up with daft questions from tourists and Scotland is no exception. They are of course not all about Nessie. For a start it is not unknown for Scots to be asked if they can speak English. One Scot claims he responded to that question from an elderly woman with "I dinnae ken wah' this ole bat is oan aboot".

Geography can pose problems. One visitor asked "Is Edinburgh in Glasgow?" Now that's enough to make anyone from "Auld Reekie" bristle. Locals were also puzzled when a lady after arriving at the Orkney Islands asked where she could get the bus for the Shetlands.

Among the silliest enquiries the Edinburgh tourist authorities face is "What time is the One O'Clock Gun?" (The famous gun at Edinburgh Castle.) And then there are always visitors who seem to be under the impression that the haggis is some kind of furry marsupial.

Mystery island

It is hardly a surprise that Scottish place names can cause some confusion amongst visitors. Getting your tongue around Ballachulish and Balquhidder is tough enough. But trying to pronounce places like Achahoish, Achadh-luachrach, Auchenshuggle and Auchtermuchty can do your vocal cords serious damage.

Some visitors are more vulnerable than others. An American woman arrived at the Edinburgh tourist office some years ago and after referring to a scribbled note she said she wanted to go to "Ten N A." They hadn't a clue what she was talking about and asked to see the note. It read "Iona", a lovely island in the Inner Hebrides.

Life's a beach

Some years ago the Association of British Travel Agents compiled a list of the more ridiculous complaints received from tourists. After reading them you get the feeling some people should never be let out of their own country.

One of the more entertaining complaints came from a couple who claimed the beach was "too sandy" and something should be done about it. Another family moaned that the sand was "too hot" and were upset that nobody warned them.

The beaches certainly have a lot to answer for. One woman was upset that her holiday was ruined because her husband spent all the time ogling topless young ladies parading along the sand.

Even the sea came in for criticism. One mother complained, "no one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled".

Rain in Spain

Spain has long been a popular destination for British tourists, but this does not stop people whining about the place. One disgruntled lady visiting Spain grumbled that the local shop "had no proper biscuits like caramel creams or ginger nuts".

Another tourist complained "there are too many Spanish people. The receptionist is Spanish. The food is Spanish. No one told us there would be so many foreigners". Perhaps they should have gone to Blackpool instead.

A British couple even demanded the traditional Spanish siesta be banned because they couldn't find any shops open in the afternoon.

Some English tourists had the nerve to complain about the Spanish weather, moaning "Why did they let us book the holiday if they knew it was going to rain all week?" Another whined, "We didn't know it ever rained in Spain". Clearly they were not familiar with the song from My Fair Lady.

Long weekend

Songkran appears to be going on forever this year. There's an awful lot of city folk who disappeared a couple of weeks ago for a "long weekend" and haven't been seen since. They probably won't be spotted again until the end of the month and most likely just in time to enjoy the next long weekend. Well, why not? It's too hot to work anyway.

Assuming Songkran is finally over we can happily go back to normal, whatever that is.

Contact PostScript via email at oldcrutch@hotmail.com

Roger Crutchley

Bangkok Post columnist

A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.

Email : oldcrutch@gmail.com

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