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A Highlander Looks Back
In Business at Newtonmore

FOR nine years I carried on business at Newtonmore, seven miles from where I first saw the light of day. Newtonmore in those days and even now was greatly sought after as a summer resort.

The best asset a man can have in life is a good wife, and now I wanted to put my early affections to the test, and well and truly have I been rewarded. It was a real Highland wedding on 2nd July 1905, driving from Kingussie with a jolly company and a good stepping pair of horses, my groomsman in full Highland dress, my brother Donald playing his bagpipes, along by Glentruin and the Spey valley, passing the spot where I spent my childhood days until we reached the Parish Church, at Laggan Bridge. Here I met my bride who had driven up from Cluny on the opposite side of the Spey.

The service was conducted by the Rev. D. S. MacLennan, the Parish Minister, a man greatly beloved, after which all adjourned to the Drumgask Hotel, where the usual Highland feasting and fun were engaged in, and the send-off to the newly wedded pair was a scene ever to be remembered.

During my years in Newtonmore I took a keen interest in all that pertained to the welfare of the village and was duly elected to the Parish Council of Kingussie, my first experience of local government. I found it very interesting and have been associated with local government ever since.

In those days everybody took a keen interest in government affairs, and a Parish Council election caused more stir and excitement than does a Parliamentary election today. It was a severe test to face the electors and give an account of one’s stewardship for those old worthies could put some very pointed and searching questions to the candidate although, of course, at times not quite relevant. It was all very good fun, the people were interested, and what else mattered.

As a house-letting agent, I came in contact with most locals and visitors. I had a “Guide to Newtonmore” published, one of the first of its kind, and this brought me considerable business. Shooting-lodges were well let, and needed supplies of all kinds. The winter months gave more time for the consideration of local amenities, and I shall always feel proud of the fact that I was one of the committee who were responsible for the building of the new Hall—a spacious building with all modern conveniences, one of the best or perhaps the best asset that the village has got. It is gratifying to see that the present generation has launched out in another direction, with the spirit of adventure maintained, making Newtonmore one of the best holiday resorts in the Highlands.

Here I feel I must relate a rather amusing story. One day one of the old worthies—I should say then bordering on his four score years—came into my premises in apparent pain. I asked him what was the matter. “Oh,” said he, holding his head with both hands and in the best of Gaelic, “the toothache, the toothache. I was at the joiner and the shoemaker, and neither of whom would take the tooth out, but the shoemaker gave me a pair of nippers and sent me to you.”

“Very good,” said I.

My patient never saw a dentist, and certainly I never extracted teeth. He was an old man in agony, and something must be done to relieve him. Taking him to the back premises I asked him to point out the offending molar. In truth they all could have done with an operation. Knowing something about getting teeth extracted, I made sure that I had a good hold and in less than two seconds the offending tooth was on the floor.

Never was there a more grateful man as he said: “Mho mhille beannachd” (a thousand thanks). In my old friend’s estimation I was a fully qualified dentist, and there I rested upon my laurels despite the fact that some other old worthies, having heard of my wonderful skill, wanted me to do the same to them. I should add that my friend lived for years afterwards, and was never again bothered with what Robbie Burns truly defined as the “H— of all diseases”.

In 1914 I left Newtonmore, parting with a most kindly people who for the little deeds I had done during my sojourn there, presented me with a very fine oak roll-top desk, with the following inscription on a silver plate:—“To Angus Macpherson from his many friends in Newtonmore on the occasion of his leaving for Sutherland, May, 1914”.

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