A Place Of Healing – 19

Word went round Skerrabost by telephone, by word of mouth, by poster. Over the burns and braes, over the hills and down the glens.

There wasn’t a great deal of competition on the island. The annual flower and produce show, of course, the keenly contested sheepdog trial and the occasional football match between Stanecroft and Drumnagar.

There was plenty of talk about who should do what, plenty of suggestions and encouragement from friends, neighbours and relations. It was because of all such talk and interest that Maura Campbell expressed a particular concern to Paul Bryant at a meeting to discuss the general response and arrange dates.

The same group of people, with the addition of Mary Jordan, was seated around the kitchen table in the manse.

After some discussion a date was agreed and the price of admission. Maura offered any musical accompaniment on the piano or keyboard.

“The show should have a compère, don’t you think?” Mary said. “Someone to introduce each act, perhaps with a little light humour. Someone with a pleasant personality?”

Paul glanced up from his notepad.

“Do you have someone in mind, Mary?”

They were looking at each other.

“Well, yes, actually. I thought Donald Gowrie. I think it’s the kind of thing he’d be good at.”

“Donald Gowrie, eh?”

“Yes.” Mary was colouring a little under Paul’s gaze. “I mentioned it to him, actually, and he said he’d love to do it.”

“Yes. Yes, I expect he would,” Paul said.

The others around the table knew that something was going on but, apart from Cassie, weren’t quite sure what.

“Better a volunteer than a pressed man,” Cassie said brightly, breaking the tension.

Paul looked again at Mary.

“I think Donald would do it well. I really do,” he said.

She nodded and gave him a little smile.

Then Maura raised her concern.

“Something that’s troubling me a little. What if we get, say, twenty or even thirty entrants? What do we do?” She looked around the table.

“Do you think we will?” Paul asked.

“We wouldn’t want to turn anyone away,” Cassie mused, although she couldn’t help thinking Andrew would soon whittle them down. “But we can’t have that many.”

“Well, now,” Gideon said. “You have to be firm. Firm but fair. Ye give each contestant a number – me included, oh, aye, me included – and put the numbers in a hat and draw out as many as ye need.”

He sat back with folded arms. Maura looked at him.

“I think you are quite right, Gideon. Yes, firm but fair. Oh, yes.”

Cassie was beginning to suspect that the fisherman had made a catch.

And Paul had at least taken the first small step in repairing his relationship with Mary. Perhaps “Skerrabost’s Got Talent” would bring the community together in more ways than one.

*  *  *  *

As it transpired, Maura’s fear of a whole army of contestants fell well short of the mark. It seemed that many were prepared and eager to encourage others but were wary of stepping into the limelight themselves.

Much to the relief of Paul Bryant the committee ended up with an ideal entry of ten acts, diverse in age, category and talent.

These ten were invited for an informal rehearsal to try to work out a running order and arrange any music. Cassie was delighted that Jess was involved. She was one of six girls from her school to put on a display of Scottish country dancing.

Two of the older girls were very good and Jess was not out of place among the others. Well, she’d practised enough at home. Andrew had threatened to make her pay for a new carpet out of her pocket money. She had simply giggled.

Then Gideon stepped on the stage in his baggy trousers and fisherman’s jersey, straight from his boat. He nodded shyly to Paul and Cassie. Maura Campbell sat at the piano.

“Good evening, Gideon,” Paul said. “What have you got for us?”

“I am going to sing a song,” he said.

“Right,” Paul said. “Excellent. And what is it?”

“‘Westering Home’. You’ll know it, Maura?”

“Oh, yes.” Maura nodded. “Can I have the key, Gideon?”


“Never mind. You begin, Gideon, and I’ll find it.”


Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!