Absence last week is justified by being in a lovely part of Scotland – Kintyre – in an old lodge house where the only real social networking possible is in feeding the particularly cheeky male chaffinch outside the kitchen window (endlessly amusing). Specifically we were staying in a Landmark Trust property, one of several on the Saddell Estate. I’m a huge fan of Landmarks and will probably obsess about them some time in the future, but a couple of things are a bit different about this little area of land an coast, the beach looking over to the mountains of the Isle of Arran. The temporary one is that it hosts a fifth of Anthony Gormley’s artwork ‘Land’ which celebrates 50 years of the Trust. This is a life sized man of iron made of polygonal shapes staring out to sea on the shoreline. The other four statues do much the same – three also on the shore, in locations in Suffolk, Lundy (off the Devon coast) and Dorset, while the final one looks in contemplation into a canal in Warwickshire. We both like it a lot and think it unobtrusive and thoughtful. But we don’t live here; the old lady we chatted to in Campbeltown was not at all sure about it (although she did insist she did insist that she did ‘like the Angel of the North’) and I ‘made her day’ when I informed her that it would only be there for a year – after that they are sold for charity. Sometimes something even relatively small can be a problem if it changes a place you are very fond of.
The other notorious connection for the beach at Saddell is physically not visible on site, but impossible to erase; it was where the video to ‘Mull of Kintyre’ was shot. The McCartneys had come to love the Kintyre peninsula over a period of years– Paul to get away from it all (it takes some effort to get there) and Linda for her photography. You would think that being associated with one of the best-selling – but let’s admit it, corny – songs of the seventies would bring some level of embarrassment but the opposite is the case. Only Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie seem to be above this Wings’ single in the desperate attempt to provide some link for pilgrimage. The best is in Campbeltown where there is a Linda McCartney memorial garden in which sits a (rather nice I think) life sized bronze of the champion of vegetarianism and animal welfare, holding a lamb, much as I recall she did in Top of the Pops performances. It is quite sweet, although I have to say she would not be impressed by the amount of meat and fish consumed locally; looking at the wildness of the terrain and the lack of arable land I think she might have been reminded that sometimes you can choose what you eat, and sometimes you have to eat what is available. But when it comes to animal welfare, I think you should understand where what you eat comes from and how it has treated and what that does to the taste in your mouth. But like your reaction to art, ethics of eating is a personal matter and perhaps at best an open minded discussion over a nice whisky (of which this area has many).