White clouds in a blue sky


I'm a Legend

by David McVey

Competition theme: 'Perspective'

They’ve brought in this new policy here in Heaven. They think we, the residents, should be more in touch with the world we’ve left behind.

It’s a fair point, I suppose; there’s little motivation to take any notice of what’s going on down there. We have the most amazing quality HDTV in Paradise. Why would we stop watching those and instead look back at that dismal world we’ve long since left behind? But now, in accordance with this new practice, they regularly send people back down for a few days to see what it’s like and report back. And last week I looked at the noticeboard and there was my name; Rob Roy MacGregor. Before long, I was back on Earth.

It was strange to be in Balquhidder again, in the year 2022, wearing modern clothes. Ach, and those trouser contraptions are tight, constricting things. A motor car and a driver, name of Gabriel, were provided to help me get around and see as much as I could during my limited time.

I decided to start by visiting my grave; begin my visit, you might say, by contemplating my end. It was very pretty, with lots of flowers and stone memorials, and I had to wait to get a good view because of the numbers of visitors crowding around taking pictures; a coach tour it was, Gabriel said.

I missed my own funeral, as we all must, but now at least I’ve seen my own grave.

We drove to Callander where Gabriel led me towards a large church building that had once been a place for tourists; the Rob Roy Visitor Centre, it had been called. Then we sat by the river eating ice creams: Gabriel handed me a leaflet about something called ‘The Rob Roy Way’.

‘Is everything named after me?’ I said. ‘What on earth is the “Rob Roy Way”?’

‘It’s a long-distance footpath,’ explained Gabriel, ‘people walk along it.’


‘Because they enjoy walking.’

‘They have cars, buses and trains and they walk for pleasure? Modern people are crazy.’

We drove over the Duke’s Pass, and paused to check in for two nights at the Rob Roy Motel near Aberfoyle. As we travelled, Gabriel told me more about how I was remembered.

‘There was a racehorse called Rob Roy. He’s at stud now.’

‘Now there’s a career move, laddie.’

‘And have you heard of the famous novel? It’s over 200 years, now, since it was written -  Rob Roy, by Sir Walter Scott. It’s still in print.’

‘I know,’ I said, ‘I’ve met Walter upstairs. He’s a bit pompous and old-fashioned. I actually read the book. I felt that I had to after speaking to him. He’d turned me into a noble, square-jawed Highland warrior hero. I didn’t like it at all.’

‘That’s right. A bit like what they did with you in that Rob Roy film.’

I’d seen that. We often watch films in Heaven. It passes the time. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I was played by an Irishman.’

‘Oh, and you’re a drink.’


‘The Americans have a cocktail they call a Rob Roy. It has whisky in it.’

I’d heard of ‘cocktails’. What a waste of whisky.

Gabriel parked outside a sports ground. He paid our entry money and I found myself at a match of football; it’s a bit like our camanachd - shinty - but without sticks. One of the teams was called Kirkintilloch Rob Roy. Each of their players wore a badge featuring a noble but fearsome Highland warrior. Me, I suppose.

‘You’ll notice that they play in red and black jerseys?’ said Gabriel.

‘Aye. What about it?’

‘They’re the main colours of the Rob Roy tartan.’

At that moment all those things I was learning about myself, all those new perspectives I’d been given, all the ways I was, seemingly, remembered, began to coalesce. It became clear what had happened in the 250 years since I’d trod the Earth. My grave is a tourist attraction, I’m portrayed as a brave warrior in tourist brochures and books and films, football teams and hotels and cocktails and racehorses are named after me. But that’s nothing to this; I have my own tartan!

I’m a historical figure, a mystery, a fictional character, a name everyone knows, a symbol of Scottishness; but that’s all as nothing now that I have my own tartan. I’m a legend, I thought, a legend!

Of course, nobody seems to know what I was really like. Rob Roy Macgregor, hero, legend… enigma.

The night before we went back to Heaven, I was watching some television in my room at the Rob Roy Motel. There was a programme called Minder on ITV4 that I enjoyed; I hadn’t caught it in Heaven. I really liked the main character, a dodgy-dealing businessman operating on the fringes of the law.

And then it struck me; I wouldn’t be a hero or a badge on a football jersey or a legend if people realised the truth; that I’d been a Gaelic-speaking Arthur Daley.

But history’s been written and it’ll remain written. I’m a legend and I’m staying that way.