Stop 221 On The PCB Guide To The Hebrides

Your tour guide here! Here we are at stop 221, a popular attraction: Phil, The Lonely Fly-Fisherman And His World-Famous Interesting Mutterings. Everyone off the bus!

Phil, the lonely fly fisherman is out fishing again, alone. Let us approach him quietly from behind so we might overhear his mutterings all the more sneakily.

The mutterings of a lonely fly-fisherman are among the most interesting in the world. Now you won’t read that in any book nor hear it from any statistician, but you can count on my word that it’s true, friends. Have I ever steered you wrong? Only a divorced single of mother of 6 living in a mid-priced suburb of Brasilia has the edge on the lonely fly fisherman for interesting mumblings, for she, also, has noone to talk to despite her large and clamorous family.

Right now, sshhoooooooosh! Softly, softly we approach the huddled figure at the loch’s edge. We’re in luck! He’s mumbling. Everybody crouch down behind that boulder there while I swing this fuzzy microphoned boom out over him. Let’s see if we can pick up some mumbles. OK folks, don your headphones!

Lonely Fly Fisherman: “Oh why did I lie that time to Miranda? It was always between us after that, besmirching her trust for me like a lollipop stain on a priest’s surplice. It was such a little thing too, I hardly know why I did it. Why oh why oh…
Wait! Was that a twitch on the water…?

(Silence for 83 seconds)

Why? Why did I have to tell her I was a dangerous and sexy maverick librarian who categorized his own way, the rules be damned? I guess I was desperate for her short-term love. But she saw it, saw the lie behind my eyes. She knew I’m not man enough to mess with the Dewey.

(Silence for 18 minutes.)

I wish I knew why soda bubbles only stream from certain points in the glass. There’s probably some very simple chemistry or physics behind it that I feel I should know about, as a reasonably well-educated man living and fly-fishing in the 21st century. I’m pretty sure there’s no biology behind it. I don’t think. Nah, no biology. Bubbles aren’t living things…although they do grow and move and reproduce… Goddammit! What’s the matter with you, man? Bubbles aren’t alive! I wouldn’t have to think these thoughts if I weren’t so awfully awfully lonely…!

(Phil sometimes has periods of crippling despair like this. Don’t be concerned though, they never last longer than a month or so at a time. And besides, when he’s cheery, he doesn’t come fishing and then we’re left with no stop 221. The mainland press, as I’m sure you’re aware, have tried to imply we’ve paid all his old friends not to talk to him anymore, just so we can cram another stop on the tour in, but there’s no truth in that. Ahahahahaha.)

Oh! Oh, I just thought of a joke! Which world capital has the most junked out automobiles in the world? Khartoum! Ahahahahahahahaha! Oh I must tell that to … to whom? I have noone. There is nobody to whom I can tell my joke… Oh for Chrissakes, why do I have to be so bloody grammatically correct all the time? I’m all by my bloomin’ self out here! Why am I so anal? Why must I be so self-pitying and loathsome?

Biff! Biff!

(Observe as the lonely fisherman slaps himself upside the head, folks…Minutes pass… He’s calming down now…)

Why doesn’t analyse mean bullshit? It’s right there in the word – anal lies! Why don’t therapists just tell you the truth and say they’re going to bullshit you? Oh this is going nowhere…!

(Attraction 221 will occasionally break down and weep like he’s doing now but, again, there’s no cause for alarm. Weeping’s just a form of happiness for Phil, the Lonely Fly-Fisherman.)

Fish? Hello? Fish, if you’re out there, give a guy a break, eh? How about it? You sacrifice your life to my hook and I will tell everyone you were much bigger and more fearsome than you are. Except I have no everybody…There’s only the wind will hear my big-fish lie.

(Silence for 3 more minutes)

Did you know, fish, that the word ovation comes from the Latin ovis – a sheep? I think that might explain why I find myself cheering and clapping loudly at things I didn’t think were as good as all that.

Another thing, fish. Montaigne once said, “Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are only sitting on our own bottom.” I hope he said it more than once. I would have. It’s a good one.

When I was 9 I could play The Well Tempered Clavier by Bach with only two fingers (moving really quickly) and I was hailed as a prodigy. When I hit puberty I lost that ability. Science can’t tell me why.

I should have moved my bowels this morning before i came out. I knew it, and yet I didn’t. I didn’t, and now they’ll be waiting for me when I get back.

How long could a person live if toothpaste was the only thing to eat?… Oy, fish? Any guesses…?

What’ve I got in for my dinner tonight…?”

The fuzzy boom retreats.


Well there we have it, folks. Not as interesting as I’d hoped but you can never tell how his thoughts will turn. I’ve noticed that when there’s cheese in his sandwiches he’s at his most interesting but, as you might be able to see, folks, today it’s some sort of involved fancy schmancy Mediterranean wrap which does actually look quite interesting itself. See, it hasn’t entirely been a waste of time, eh? And it’s certainly whetted my appetite for some of Mrs. MacIver’s lovely scones at Stop 222. Ahahahahaha. Of course, Phil’s really at his most interesting in the early mornings and at sunset but during the day he can lapse into drivel, like we’ve heard. Yeah. Sorry about that. But what can you do? It’s beyond our control. One of these things. You pays your money, you takes your chances etc. Ahahahaha.

‘K, everybody, back to the bus. There’s a pine-fitted gift-shop at the tea-rooms beside attraction 222 and they have copies of The Lonely, Muttering Fisherman: His Greatest Hits available for purchase in both tape and CD formats, if you’d like to hear him a bit more, uh, on form. Ahahahahaha.


The moral of the post is: Stay away from people who are not as interesting as their sandwiches. Also, don’t pay for any Hebridean bus tour until it is over. These people will so screw you over.

33 thoughts on “Stop 221 On The PCB Guide To The Hebrides”

  1. Which world capital has the most junked out automobiles in the world? Khartoum!

    Got any more of those? I suspect there’s a fortune to be made with the cracker companies. Christmas is not far now…

  2. She knew I?m not man enough to mess with the Dewey.

    I haven’t laughed as many since me granny caught her tit in the clothes wringer.

    Pure class! Pure class!

  3. Frankly, Sam, that sounds like an Inner Hebridean tour. I’m reliably informed Outer Hebridean tours are much more informative. Those people actually let tourists frolic in the heather while hidden speakers broadcast Gaelic folk tunes.


  4. Dry or wet fly ?. It is the difference between hunting cod and chasing prawn. And just will colour the quality of the mutterings.

  5. Twenty Major, sir, may I just refer you back to a post from your very own nicotine-stained fingers? A wee post that went a little like this? I think you’ve got the market on Christmas cracker jokes all tied up, my friend. Me, I’m aiming for the lolly-stick sector.

    sneezy, I can’t work out from that if you thought it was funny or not? Was it really funny when your granny got her tit stuck in the mangle? My word, you must have been a dreadful boy! I would have liked to think you’d leapt into action and pulled the tit free, or at least wheeled the crank back to roll her back out.

    Conan, well, we’re on a very tight schedule, you know…Oh all right. But of you’re just going back to buy more of Mrs. MacIver’s delicious scones, please bring enough for everyone, will you? The others will only grumble.

    Rand, you’re right. The Outer Hebrides welcomes all-frollickers. We let our tourists roam where’er they will. That scurrilous Skye lot though, they’d have the fillings out of your teeth if you smiled at them, and you’d never know it til you were back on the boat.

    Vincent, well it starts out dry, I guess, and then you put it in the water…so I’d say…both? How bout I say damp fly, and we split the difference?

    Eryl, You are way, way more interesting than leftover roast chicken and mustard, sweet lady! I have trouble competing with boiled ham some days.

  6. I really don’t often laugh out loud but that is not to say I don’t appreeeeciate like mad. I love his word play. Brilliozo. Sadly I’m not familiar with the Dewey and I can feel my voice suddenly going all Morningside. Shades of Miss Jean Brodie.

  7. He must have been trying to bore the fish into biting the hook. There must be other things to do in the Hebrides. It sounds like a good place for a knobbly- kneed dance or two.

  8. I came tripping over to your blog from R. Sherman’s “Hinterland” (another fairly recent discovery) and I just wanted to pay my respects. I will be back to read lots more. I am proud to say that I am one of those rare Americans who know how many syllables are generally pronounced in “Hebrides.” (two naturally, rhyming with “she brides.”). Cheers.

  9. Never underestimate the pure joy of pensive silence and a stick n’ line.
    It is in these moments we fishers of men have spurts of pure brilliance!

  10. i would very much like to take this tour. when does the next bus leave? does it run more than once a day? where does it meet? ahhh, to be a tourist.

  11. Damp is it woman, DAMP. To those who follow shinty ’tis like the difference between winter and summer hurling. Or the little spat between RC and Prod. Even asking amounts to an insult and for those who normally would help each other off a high cliff friendship.
    It’s like the Celt and the english, one of them is just wrong about everything always.

  12. Ah how true about the sannies. I think mine are wrapped in grease-proof papered plain loafed Milanda right now!

    I hope poor Phil gets a bite soon, and not just a midgie one.

  13. well, I’m just confused. I understood the story, (much laughs!) but this conversation is beyond me…what dialect of english be this?

    And forgive me for my American Ignorance, but…what and where are the Hebrides?

  14. That was like a Roland Barthes script directed by Anthony Burgess with a voiceover by David Attenborough. And full marks for knowing a clothes wringer is called a MANGLE – Sneezy’s comment reminded me to make an appointment for a mammography.

  15. Funnygirl.
    Well done that tchewchter!!

    I suppose you better go through with the citizenship thing now. There’s no going back for you lass.

    em, can’t help myself, forgive me in advance I beg you, but the bubbles are thought to come from intersticial “likely sites” in face centred or body centred molecular arrangements. see AHK Maroon “gaseous solutes in liquid matrices” AAAS 21/1992 pp 213-234. Sorry again Sam.

  16. Oh, this is great!

    In my garden, I could give Phil the Lonesome Fly Fisherman some real competition. I mutter to myself all the time. I’ve definitely wondered about why soda bubbles stream along certain points and where dust comes from — and what those little specks you can always see are all about. I wonder if I could get on a Dumfries and Galloway tour? Mary, the Mad Yank…

  17. About 15 minutes walk from my home is the Bear River; what was the number one fly fishing river in Ma. a few years back. Living besides the river was Japanese man who wrote for a literary magazine back in the home country on the subject of flyfishing. He would have been perfect for me to follow as I not only would have learned Japanese idioms but also come to understand his cultural perspective on loneliness. The Boston Globe wrote an article in their Travel Section on this river and in 24hrs. fisherman lined both banks and were shoulder to shoulder. It was fished out in less then a week. The Upside for him- He opened a Japanese karaoke Bar and fell in love with the waitress from Duluth. They now have a brood of blond slant eyed babies in diapers. He drinks scotch every night and sings love songs to his wife and kids! What might have been…

  18. Pat, the world would be a better place for a few more Miss Jean Brodies, though, wouldn’t it.

    Jen, it would be nice if you could pick your dreams by cheese. Fancy a soothing dream of beaches and soft breezes after a hard day’s work? Pick up a wheel of brie today and relax back into a Caribbean experience! How about a saucy, sultry, steamy dream featuring Daniel Day Lewis and a Parisian garret? A nice hard cheddar’s the way to go.

    Nanas, not only are the dances knobbly-kneed, so are the casual strolls, the teeth-brushings and the goings to the supermarket. There is very little that is done that isn’s knobby-kneed.

    KSV Woolfoot, hi! It’s really like one of these places that are spelt entirely differently from how they’re spoken – like Hawick is H-oy-k or Wybunbury (Wimberry). people are often surprised that the correct pronunciation of the Hebrides is the Whare-prithees.

    Quickroute, I’ve heard that said after people have come home from fishing trips – “I had this huge flash of brilliance! Oh, man, it was enormous! You shoulda seen it, it was this big!” and then they’ll show with their hands how big their flash of brilliance was. “But then it got away, worse luck, slipped the hook, but honestly, it was huuuuuge!

    Kara, schedules are pretty smudgy anywhere North of Perth in Scotland. Things may or may not run more than once a day. They may not run at all. It’s all a matter of chance. Best show up early at the coach station, bring a good book and your food for a couple of days.

    Vincent, my grandpa was a man who knew his flies – me, I’m just concerned with ensuring mine is neatly shut.

    Gimme, I’m afraid Mrs MacIver might not understand your request for a download. She’s not very computery. In fact there’s a real danger she might think you were asking her for a sexual favour and beat you about the head with a plastic replica standing stone.

    Apprentice, I really miss a nice Scottish plain loaf out here. Good sanny choice, missus. There is no finer sandwich bread.

    Rachel, hello! the Hebrides are a wind-blasted island group off the North-West coast of Scotland, and are home to the absolute sanest, most well-balanced, completely rational people on the planet, just ask us.

  19. Daffers, ha! i haven’t had a mammography but when I was breast-feeding the twins I’d also use a heavy, iron German pump to pump and store the excess. The action was more industrial hoover than mangle but my God, these Germans can get at every last drop without mercy. I have real live scars from that machine.

    Medbh, O, the Humanities section! And O, the Elizabethan Agriculture section too!

    Docs, I knew you’d know, you clever shade of purple! You and your funny old likely sites. *Cuffs Maroon about the ear fondly*

    Mary, I read, rather horribly, that most dust is sloughed off human skin cells. I would most certainly sign up for a Mary tour! We could ask Rogan to cater to our scone needs!

    Manuel, ah lordy, you’re lovely, but I just don’t think there’s a huge market, slavering for stories of sheep and broken hearts from the Hebrides. They might be able to shift a few copies on the ferry over. It’s a captive market and there’s three hours to fill trying not to be seasick, after all. A person might buy it under these circumstances but then again, they probably brought a book already. A better one.

    Jeremy, I didn’t even know there was a different Japanese perspective on loneliness! Mary Witzl, (2 comments above your’s) lived for many years in Japan – she’d be an excellent person to ask.

  20. Still far more entertaing than our own Dublinmania tour which lets its passengers off the bus for half an hour to examine and photograph authentic Irish dog-shit.

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