Horses for courses

Big John was the centre lathe turner in the workshops and he could make anything you needed on that lathe of his, and since all his height seemed to be in his legs, he was naturally enough called Split Pin.

Both he and his best pall Bob knew one another from school days. Their respective girlfriends had also known one another from their school days, as they had their prospective husbands. In the early years, when still winching, they would make up a foursome to Blackpool at the trade holidays, dancing the nights away at Butlins Holiday Camp.

They even had a double wedding and of course went off to Blackpool on their honeymoon, this time they stayed at a small boarding house, near the city centre. This was replicated each year, even booking their rooms a year in advance on leaving.

At home, the local working men’s club was their haunt, well-kent faces at the weekend, mostly since they were seldom off the dance floor. Waltz, foxtrot, slow or quickstep, they were masters of their art.

Then something strange happened, Split Pin’s wife said

“I don’t want to go to Blackpool this year, I want a quiet holiday, I fancy going to the Western Islands of Scotland”.

“Why?” was John’s response.

“I don’t really know, just that I would like to see the Scottish islands, I suppose I always have”.

So whilst their friends boarded a train for Blackpool, John and his wife boarded a boat for Eilean Bharraigh, in the Western Isles, and a room in a small hotel in Tangasdal.

The white shell beaches of Barra

Three days on,

The Tower Ballroom was packed to overflowing, and as the couples glided their way around in the river of moving bodies, who should Bob spot coming in the door, none other than their old friends Split Pin and his wife Jean.

In the bar over a drink, Split Pin told their sorry tale.

“Make no mistake, it was a beautiful island, and the boat trip out was a bit special, and you could not fault the hotel, the food or the service. We slept like logs that first night, after all that fresh air. Then the next morning after breakfast we walked all the way out to Kiessimul Castle. Home for lunch, again first class, then a long walk along the shore, in the afternoon. You should have seen it, it had a surface covered in small white seashells, deep as a sandy beach. Home dinner and a few drinks before bed. Up next morning, breakfast, walk along the shore, lunch, walk along the shore, dinner. We did not have to say anything, only when we returned to our room we both knew, we had just about all the quite as we could stand. Next morning early, we caught the first boat to the mainland, and here we are, thankfully we managed to get our old room”.

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